MLB Trade Deadline: 3 moves that could change division races

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After Manny Machado was sent to the Dodgers, trade deadline activity has really picked up. While there aren’t too many major players linked to rumors right now — the price we’ve paid for teams valuing team control very highly these days — the post-break increase in activity that many predicted has finally arrived.

So although another superstar swap probably isn’t happening this deadline, good players are out there who can very much help contenders take things to the next level in the next few months. The Red Sox and Yankees have already started their tit-for-tat trades on the East Coast in order to try and one up each other and secure the division title.

But what of the other division races out there? There are moves that could help a number of teams in their race to avoid the wild card matchup — or win it if they fall into the one-game playoff anyway.

J.T. Realmuto to the Nationals

Realmuto is on the market, but the Marlins are rumored to be asking a lot for one of the last big trade chips that they didn’t move over the offseason. Realmuto is under team control until 2021, so the asking price (if as high as it seems) isn’t unexpected and any contender that wants him would have to pay up.

The Nationals are probably a team that should pay up, and if they did it could change their 2018 trajectory. Both Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy have suffered through injuries this season and they could use a bat.

Realmuto is hitting .304/.355/.529 with an .884 OPS and a 146 OPS+. and is owed pennies for the rest of this year as he’s on a one-year, $2.9 million deal and eligible for arbitration next year. Nationals catchers are hitting as follows this season:

Matt Wieters: .202/.299/.319

Spencer Kieboom: .233/.299/.267

Pedro Severino: .171/.256/.254

With the Phillies and Braves showing Washington who’s boss in the division for the first time in years, and Bryce Harper probably leaving town in a few months, they need to make a move. Balking at a high asking price for someone who could make as much of a difference for them as Realmuto could doesn’t seem like the smartest move.

One of the Rangers’ available pitchers to the Oakland A’s

The A’s already made one move to help their pitching staff with the Jeurys Familia trade, but they could use a starter as well to shore things up. Their rotation, led by Sean Manaea and Edwin Jackson, are faring alright as it is, but there are two options on one team that could help.

Bartolo Colon has pitched more than 110 innings in 18 starts with the Rangers this season after it looked like he would struggle to stay on a roster before the season started. A barely sub-5.00 ERA isn’t great but Colon has held his own and been a reliable innings eater this year, which will help if the A’s can’t land another reliever before the deadline and they need someone to go deep into games early in the postseason while they save their bullpen.

There’s also Hamels, who has comparable surface stats as Bartolo but has been struggling lately with command. Not to mention the $20 million team option or $6 million buyout anyone who traded for him would have to figure out. Any Hamels trade would have to involve some money from the Rangers as well, but either of these are options for the A’s to pursue. They aren’t blockbuster starters but they could make a huge difference in avoiding rotation fatigue if the Mariners (only two games up on Oakland for the second wild card spot) can’t pull off a deal of their own or run into injury issues in August and September.

Matt Harvey to the Seattle Mariners

Speaking of the Mariners, they’re also a team who could stand to add a starter to their rotation just in case anyone currently doing well (Wade LeBlanc, Marco Gonzales) backslides or if Mike Leake or Felix Hernandez stop even being people who look like they have two workable arms.

Seattle is also a candidate for Hamels or Colon, but let’s look at Matt Harvey for now. Harvey has a sub-5.00 ERA in his 13 starts since getting traded to Cincinnati, compared to the 7.00 ERA he was putting up in eight starts this season with the Mets. In 68 innings with the Reds he has a 4.64 FIP and a 1.221 WHIP, which should be more than enough for another team to at least take a chance on him as another arm for postseason situations.

Harvey isn’t under contracted past the end of this season and the Reds didn’t give up a lot for him so whoever is interested won’t have to give up a lot if Cincinnati decides to flip him either. Practically an ideal rental in this pitching market.

Jacob deGrom to the Milwaukee Brewers

Everyone spent the offseason urging the Brewers to make a big pitching move. They didn’t. Now, they’re (as of this update) 2.5 games back from of the NL Central lead and one game up on the Braves for the first Wild Card spot. That’s a precarious situation, even though they’re in postseason territory and look safe enough to stay there, and with the recent Brent Suter injury they — guess what! — need pitching help.

Everyone pat yourselves on the bat for seeing this coming. Because apparently the Brewers’ front office couldn’t.

Which is why deGrom is a fit, and the Brewers are one of the few teams that should actually sacrifice the prospects or players it would take to land a target of deGrom’s caliber. While the Mets have seemed reticent to fully take calls for one of their two best pitchers, a legit offer would probably get them to open their minds a little more about parting with him. He’s under team control through 2020 and has a 1.71 ERA, a 2.28 FIP, a 10.9 SO/9 rate, and a 0.967 WHIP in 131.1 innings so far this season.

Plus, he’s the Mets pitcher who doesn’t have hand, foot, and mouth disease. So that’s a plus. If there’s one target at this deadline who’s worth a high price it’s him. And the Brewers could start commanding the NL Central instead of surviving in it if they got him.

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