Since the adoption of the wild card, people have clamored to push the non-waiver trade deadline deeper into the season to allow for teams to better evaluate their playoff chances. And this year, that wish will come true, if only for a day, as the deadline will move to Aug. 1. The reason? The usual date, July 31, falls on Sunday, and the 4 p.m. cutoff would coincide with games already in progress.
So now that the deadline is less than a month away, the trade chatter will pick up considerably. As of Saturday, 20 teams were within five games of a playoff spot, including the six division leaders: 11 in the American League, nine in the National. With that in mind, here’s a shopping list for the next month, ranked according to value and potential impact.
1. JAY BRUCE, Reds, OF
Bruce was on the Mets’ radar a year ago before they traded for Yoenis Cespedes, and he’s at the top of this class this time with a slash line of .279/.325/.569 to go with 17 homers and 59 RBIs in 74 games. Bruce is owed roughly $6.14 million from this point, and in the last year of his contract, which includes a $13-million option for next season ($1M buyout).
2. JONATHAN LUCROY, Brewers, C/1B
Versatility is a huge plus these days, and Lucroy is putting up numbers that look attractive at either position, batting .303 with an .864 OPS and 10 home runs. He’s also relatively cheap. Lucroy is due $1.96 million for the rest of this season, with a $5.25-million club option for 2017 ($250,000 buyout).
3. AROLDIS CHAPMAN, Yankees, RP
Chapman is an interesting case. The Yankees don’t need to go full- sell mode to move him. But as a pending free agent, the team definitely considered his potential trade value from the moment Chapman was acquired. He’s thrown 104 mph, is 15-for-16 in save chances with 13.7 K/9 and is owed $5.75 million. A game-changer for any contender.
4.JULIO TEHERAN, Braves, SP
Atlanta holds one of the most attractive pitching chips this month in Teheran, who has a 2.46 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and career-best 8.4 K/9 rate. But the rebuilding Braves could keep him for the opening of next year’s new ballpark; Teheran is under control through 2019 at a favorable sum of $28.1 million — with a $12-million team option for 2020.
5. CARLOS BELTRAN, Yankees, OF/DH
While Beltran remains the key piece of the Yankees’ offense, he’s also made himself extremely valuable in the trade market with 19 homers and a .908 OPS. He’s very limited defensively, but as a switch-hitting DH, Beltran would be a nice pickup. He’s owed $7.62 million before free agency at the end of the season.
6. CARLOS GONZALEZ, Rockies, OF
The Rockies have resisted trading Gonzalez in the past, but he’s now moving into the sweet spot, with 1 1⁄2 years left on a current deal worth a guaranteed $28.64 million. Gonzalez is batting .329, his best clip since 2010, with 18 homers, 51 RBIs and a .959 OPS.
7. RICH HILL, A’s, SP
The A’s seem to be in a perpetual state of rebuilding, but it just may be too tempting to trade a cost-efficient gem in Hill, who is 8-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 10.4 K/9 rate. Hill, a free agent this winter, has only $3.05 million left on his current deal.
8. ANDREW MILLER, Yankees, RP
The fact that the Yankees would have three trade chips in the top 10 if they choose to go the sell route is why that debate will only increase in intensity during the coming weeks. And Miller, with a 1.30 ERA and 16.6 K/9, could be more coveted than Chapman, considering he’s signed through 2018 for $22.57 million.
9. MATT MOORE, Rays, SP
Could the thin pitching market persuade the Rays to trade Moore, who is controllable through 2019 on three consecutive team options, but with escalating pay raises? Moore has a 4.67 ERA overall, but it was 3.78 in June with a 1.09 WHIP and 7.9 K/9. He has $3.05 million left this season, with options of $7M, $9M and $10M beyond that.
10. DANNY VALENCIA, A’s, INF/OF
Valencia is putting up walk year-type numbers a season too early. His .324/.373/.527 slash line is on a career-best pace and he already has 11 homers through 59 games. The A’s are his sixth team in seven years, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the move again, and he still doesn’t hit free agency until 2018.
11. EDUARDO NUÑEZ, Twins, SS/3B
After struggling in the Bronx, Nuñez has found his groove in Minneapolis and could be worth even more elsewhere as the Twins try to dig out from this disastrous season. Nuñez, 29, is batting .319 — far above his .277 career mark — with 11 home runs. Only $750,000 left for this season, with 2017 his last arbitration year.
12. JOSH REDDICK, A’s, OF
Reddick spent five weeks on the disabled list with a fractured thumb, but Friday’s return comes just in time to drum up trade interest. He’s batting .304/.380/.437 with five homers in 44 games and is due $3.34 million before free agency at season’s end.
13. JEREMY HELLICKSON, Phillies, SP
For teams looking to fill out a rotation with a serviceable, cost-efficient arm, Hellickson (4.06 ERA, 8.1 K/9) might be attractive with $3.56 million due before he hits free agency. The Phillies should be willing to move what they can before the deadline.
14. YUNEL ESCOBAR, Angels, SS/3B
The free-falling Angels no longer have a need for Escobar’s talents, but there should be other takers, with a slash line of .310/.359/.409 and 10 years’ experience to help with the stretch run. Escobar has $3.6 million left this season with a $7-million option for next year ($1M buyout).
15. BRAD ZIEGLER, Diamondbacks, RP
Ziegler isn’t on par with the Yankees’ elite relief chips, but he’s a solid second-tier option with a 2.80 ERA and is 16-for-18 in save chances. Also a little cheaper at a cost of $2.8 million before free agency.