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MLB stock watch — buyers, sellers and holders

MLB stock watch — buyers, sellers and holders

Amazingly, very little has changed since last month’s Stock Watch.

Once again, we grouped the teams by one of three trade deadline approaches: Buyers, Sellers and Holders. Only one team has changed groups since last month: The San Diego Padres slipped from Holding status to Selling, but even the Pads are close enough in the NL West to jump back up the ladder.

That suggests we could be in for an interesting next few weeks as the surprising 2018 season continues to sort itself out. As mentioned, we’ve again grouped teams by their deadline status, and within each group, we’ve sorted them by their current win forecast.

Buyers

New York Yankees

Current win forecast: 102.6 (Change from May: 0.3)

Current playoff probability: 90.0% (Up 3.7%)

Current championship probability: 15.1%

If the Yankees stay healthy, there are no holes in their lineup. It’s an impressive group from top to bottom. The bullpen has underachieved, as best evidenced by Tommy Kahnle’s demotion this week, but New York still has unmatched raw stuff in its relief corps.

This all points to the rotation as New York’s area of need over the next couple of months. Luis Severino has fixed himself as a top-tier starter. Sonny Gray seems to be trending in the right direction, and New York can reasonably hope for better things from Masahiro Tanaka. However, the loss of Jordan Montgomery intensifies the Yankees’ need to upgrade the starting pitching because the Red Sox and Astros aren’t going anywhere. Look for the Bombers to be in on everybody from Cole Hamels to J.A. Happ to Chris Archer.

Boston Red Sox

Current win forecast: 102.2 (Change from May: 2.1)

Current playoff probability: 90.3% (Up 6.8%)

Current championship probability: 14.8%

The Red Sox have baseball’s best record, despite ranking 29th in WAR at three positions, per Baseball-Reference.com: catcher, second base and third base. That makes the bar for upgrading an already powerful roster awfully low. The ideal would be for Dustin Pedroia to get another half-season out of his knees and take care of the keystone and for young third baseman Rafael Devers to show progress.

That would allow Dave Dombrowski to target catching and pitching staff additions as the deadline approaches. Remarkably, the two top catchers by WAR this season — Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli and Miami’s J.T. Realmuto — toil for teams that might be looking to sell high on them.

Houston Astros

Current win forecast: 101.6 (Change from May: 5.1)

Current playoff probability: 89.8% (Up 14.4%)

Current championship probability: 19.7%

Houston continues to sport the best run differential in baseball and, in fact, is on a historic pace in that regard. Yet the Astros are not in first place in the AL West. In fact, Houston is chasing its current opponent (the Seattle Mariners), even though its differential is about 100 runs better. Timing isn’t everything in baseball, but it does hold a lot of sway. By FanGraphs’ clutch ratings, Houston is 23rd in hitting and dead last in pitching, while the Mariners are second in both.

Although I wouldn’t bet anything on that disparity continuing, it speaks to some concerns about the back end of the Houston bullpen. According to FanGraphs, Astros relievers rank 28th with a .344 wOBA allowed in high-leverage situations. Fortunately for Houston, this feels like a situation that could be remedied by targeting two or three arms in the Baltimore bullpen, not the least of which could be closer Zach Britton, and the Astros have the assets to get something done.

Chicago Cubs

Current win forecast: 95.4 (Change from May: 5.7)

Current playoff probability: 79.5% (Up 20.5%)

Current championship probability: 15.5%

The Cubs haven’t had that torrid stretch in which they reel off nine or 10 straight wins, but they have been quietly reasserting their dominance over the past three weeks or so. With Anthony Rizzo returning to his usual high levels of production, the starting rotation remains the one area in which the Cubs rank out of the top 10 in baseball by WAR.

The big question about Chicago when it comes to the deadline is just how much the Cubs can or will be looking to upgrade the rotation in light of how much money they spent last winter on Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish and because their prospect inventory is light. I projected the Cubs’ core five starters (Chatwood, Darvish, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana) to post a combined 15.4 WAR this season. They are on pace for 4.4. Will that group’s return to form be enough to put the Cubs over the top in the NL Central?

Milwaukee Brewers

Current win forecast: 91.0 (Change from May: 5.2)

Current playoff probability: 64.4% (Up 22.8%)

Current championship probability: 3.0%

After a couple of weeks as one of baseball’s hottest teams, the Brewers have cooled off a little over the past week. Nevertheless, Milwaukee remains in good stead atop the NL Central. Despite the good start, Milwaukee has not been shy about churning its roster. Shortstop Orlando Arcia, one of baseball’s best defenders, not to mention an energetic personality in the Milwaukee clubhouse, was optioned to Triple-A. He returned after a few days when his replacement, Tyler Saladino, was injured. It’s too soon to say whether Arcia has altered his approach enough to make a difference, but in a handful of games since his return, he has at least cut down his strikeouts. Meanwhile, with Stephen Vogt lost for the season, David Stearns acquired catcher Erik Kratz, who has mashed during his first few games with the Brewers.

At second base, after a start that suggested he might repeat his subpar 2017 performance, Jonathan Villar has hit .296/.348/.481 since the beginning of May. If that continues, all eyes will turn to the rotation. Even if Jimmy Nelson returns and pitches like he did before hurting his shoulder, it still feels like Milwaukee will need to add an arm.

Washington Nationals

Current win forecast: 90.9 (Change from May: 2.5)

Current playoff probability: 66.1% (Up 8.7%)

Current championship probability: 4.8%

With a 23-9 run, the Nationals have reclaimed favorite status in the NL East, though they probably never relinquished it in the first place. Max Scherzer is on pace to go 27-3 with a 1.95 ERA and 365 strikeouts. Plus, he’s tied for third on the team with one pinch hit.

It might be overstating it to suggest that Washington has a Bryce Harper problem, but it would be nice if he could keep his batting average out of the .220s. Still, as the deadline approaches, it looks like the Nats will again need to target pitching staff additions, most likely in the bullpen. But let’s not forget: Right now, four of Washington’s eight projected starting position players are on the DL. As Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Wieters and Adam Eaton gradually return to health and form, that as much as anything will set up the Nationals for what they hope will finally be a pennant push.

Cleveland Indians

Current win forecast: 90.4 (Change from May: 1.4)

Current playoff probability: 78.5% (Up 6.7%)

Current championship probability: 6.7%

Holes have opened up in Cleveland, which clings to a mediocre hold on first place because of a great starting rotation and the Indians’ unrivaled left side of the infield in Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. The leaky bullpen is the most problematic aspect of Cleveland’s lackluster start, if only because the roster was constructed with the idea of that area being part of the Tribe’s foundation. If the Indians have to cash assets to shore up the relief staff, then that’s going to limit them in chasing a second baseman or outfielder, with the former being a bigger priority.

Still, as you look at the way Terry Francona has used his bullpen in recent postseasons and consider that even a flawed Indians team is a heavy favorite in the AL Central, that’s the area you focus on. That holds true even if Andrew Miller can get healthy and resume pitching like Andrew Miller.

Holders

Seattle Mariners

Current win forecast: 89.6 (Change from May: 4.3)

Current playoff probability: 51.0% (Up 17.6%)

Current championship probability: 2.5%

While the Mariners lack superstar production, they rank in the top 10 by WAR in several areas. Those include both the rotation and the bullpen, second base (though Robinson Cano is suspended), shortstop and right field. Meanwhile, they are at least in the middle of the pack everywhere else except left field. Seattle ranks sixth in OPS+ and seventh in ERA+.

As mentioned elsewhere, the Mariners are second in the majors in both situational hitting and situational pitching. For a team that has the run differential of an eventual 88-win team, that might not be a good thing because those rankings will be tough to maintain.

One thing you know: When it comes to creative acquisitions, Jerry DiPoto will remain on the hunt. Plus, with the way the M’s have been playing of late, they can now almost look at Cano’s eventual return as a key in-season acquisition.

Atlanta Braves

Current win forecast: 88.1 (Change from May: 5.0)

Current playoff probability: 51.0% (Up 17.9%)

Current championship probability: 1.9%

The Braves have played .500 ball over the past month, which isn’t a bad thing, considering they were 10 games over prior to that. After a 5-3 homestand against division foes New York and Washington, it appears that Atlanta is poised to hang around contention for a while.

It’s too early for GM Alex Anthopolous to get aggressive, but it’s not too early to consider whether any holes that crop up can be filled from the club’s deep farm system. That might be a key source for the rotation that seems to be coalescing around Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb. If Luiz Gohara can get his season on track and Mike Soroka can get healthy and resume his ascension, the Braves can then focus on making sure a bullpen that has been heavily leaned upon has enough juice for a stretch run. Among the position players, if third baseman Johan Camargo can continue to perform, there are no obvious holes from a positional standpoint. However, from a skill set standpoint, that group would look more complete with a thumper in the middle of the lineup.

St. Louis Cardinals

Current win forecast: 86.9 (Change from May: -6.1)

Current playoff probability: 45.8% (Down 23.4%)

Current championship probability: 2.6%

The injury-battered Cardinals have been scuffling for a month now, going just 11-15 since our last Stock Watch. In terms of postseason probabilities, St. Louis’ status as the prime contender to Chicago’s NL Central throne has been usurped by Milwaukee. The next month will be telling, especially since Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina are both back from the disabled list. The Redbirds have missed shortstop Paul DeJong, who likely won’t be back for another few weeks, and the one-game-and-back-to-the-DL sequence from Alex Reyes was discouraging.

Still, Marcell Ozuna has hit .487/.556/.667 in his past 13 games, and if he can turn that into a prolonged hot streak, it could set up the Cardinals for a long run once the roster comes back together.

Los Angeles Angels

Current win forecast: 86.9 (Change from May: -2.8)

Current playoff probability: 37.4% (Down 14.2%)

Current championship probability: 1.4%

The Angels have baseball’s best player, Mike Trout, who is enjoying a season for the ages. They have Shohei Ohtani, baseball’s two-way sensation who has been every bit as good as advertised both at the plate and on the mound. They have Andrelton Simmons, one of baseball’s top three shortstops. Despite that foundation of talent, L.A. is just a few games over .500 with little better than a one-in-three chance to reach the postseason.

Kole Calhoun, currently on the disabled list, is a highlight reel in right field, but he’s also hitting .221/.303/.342 since the beginning of last season. Add Zack Cozart‘s crash back to earth after his career 2017 season and Albert Pujols‘ continued struggles, and the Angels badly need help on the corners.

The Angels’ top prospects — Jo Adell, Kevin Maitan, Jahamai Jones, Brandon Marsh — aren’t going to help this season. The Angels were aggressive in the offseason, and now is the time to continue that push, before the Mariners run away with that second wild-card slot in the AL.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Current win forecast: 86.7 (Change from May: 2.2)

Current playoff probability: 53.6% (Up 15.1%)

Current championship probability: 6.3%

The Dodgers climbed back to .500 and have hung close in a division that refused to leave them behind. But things remain far from well in Chavez Ravine. The good news is that L.A.’s ability to spot fringe or faded talent and turn it into useful production remains strong and has kept the Dodgers competitive. Max Muncy is on pace for more than 3 WAR. Matt Kemp is on pace for nearly 5 WAR and has been L.A.’s best player. Ross Stripling has been a revelation since he was thrust into the rotation out of necessity. (Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu are all on the DL.)

The Dodgers are probably going to need better rotation health over the season’s second half. They might have to keep cycling through middle relief options. However, when it comes to the lineup, even more important than a deadline acquisition is for Cody Bellinger to rediscover a sliver of his rookie season level of play. Since May 16, which happens to be the first date on which he started in center field, Bellinger has hit .115/.229/.295.

Philadelphia Phillies

Current win forecast: 85.8 (Change from May: 3.3)

Current playoff probability: 40.6% (Up 9.8%)

Current championship probability: 1.6%

The Phillies have cooled off a bit, but don’t expect Philly to go into a tailspin. For one thing, the Philadelphia bullpen is emerging as one of the most vicious units in the game. Over the past 30 days, Victor Arano, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos, Yacksel Rios and Hector Neris have all averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. That list doesn’t even include the amazing Seranthony Dominguez. After another perfect inning Tuesday at Wrigley Field, Dominguez had faced 46 batters this season. Only three of them had reached base. In 14⅔ innings, Dominguez had 16 strikeouts and had not allowed a walk or an extra-base hit.

The Phillies might need to add a fifth starter by the deadline, but beyond that, this is shaping up as a complete roster. That said, Jake Arrieta was right about the Phillies’ failings in the shift, and at the very least, the overall Philadelphia defense needs to improve from horrendous to just plain bad.

Oakland Athletics

Current win forecast: 82.3 (Change from May: 1.4)

Current playoff probability: 19.1% (Down 0.6%)

Current championship probability: 0.2%

When it comes to deadline approach, the A’s could very easily go either way. Paul Blackburn is expected to return to the rotation soon, which would give Oakland a stable, productive set of starting pitchers.

There aren’t really any glaring holes on this roster, and there is plenty of the good sort of upside variability on hand in Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas and Dustin Fowler. If Oakland continues to hang on the fringes of contention, then Billy Beane will have a big decision to make with free-agent-to-be Jed Lowrie, who is making just $6 million this season. Lowrie is on pace for 5.7 WAR and ranks with the likes of Scooter Gennett and Whit Merrifield — other possible trade candidates — as baseball’s best second basemen in 2018 among the non-Jose Altuve class (though they could be overtaken by Gleyber Torres very soon).

It wouldn’t be like Beane to hang onto a tradable player in his walk year, so it might be on Bob Melvin and his players to make their statement on the field by turning up the flame on their slow burn of a season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Current win forecast: 82.3 (Change from May: -7.2)

Current playoff probability: 30.2% (Down 27.3%)

Current championship probability: 1.6%

Arizona’s playoff odds have more than halved since the previous Stock Watch. Things might be normalizing, but we need to see some success over teams better than the Reds and Marlins to buy into a resurgence. The Diamondbacks are the epitome of a Hold team, if only because we need to see what happens when A.J. Pollock, Steven Souza, Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller come off the disabled list. It would be nice if that happened in time to inform GM Mike Hazen’s approach at the deadline.

San Francisco Giants

Current win forecast: 79.9 (Change from May: -3.3)

Current playoff probability: 21.6% (Down 11.6%)

Current championship probability: 0.5%

Madison Bumgarner is back, though rotationmates Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto remain on the shelf. Both are due to resume throwing soon, though. If they can get back by the end of the month and Brandon Belt‘s recovery from appendicitis is a quick one, we’ll get a decent chance to see if San Francisco’s offseason plan can still pay dividends. It will have to be the offseason plan because, as we’ve written many times, there is no wiggle room under the luxury tax threshold for the Giants to make an impactful in-season addition.

Still, hopes for another even-year run remain alive.

Tampa Bay Rays

Current win forecast: 78.8 (Change from May: -0.4)

Current playoff probability: 10.9% (Down 5.9%)

Current championship probability: 0.1%

The Rays’ strategy of getting the most from the least always leads to great stories, and so it is again this season. First of all, turning the noun “bullpen” into the word “bullpenning” is a nice bit of lexicography.

Beyond that, two of the more surprising position players in baseball this season have been the Rays’ Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson. Wendle, a 28-year-old rookie second baseman, is on pace for a 3-WAR season and ranks fourth among all rookies. In the American League, only Ohtani ranks above him. Before this season, Wendle had just 29 career base hits. Meanwhile, Robertson is on a nearly 5-WAR pace that is tops on the Rays and ranks 52nd in all of baseball. Robertson is in his second year and, as a rookie, he hit .206.

As for the deadline, the Rays will seek to turn short-term surplus value into longer-term surplus value. But they don’t need a deadline for that.

Minnesota Twins

Current win forecast: 78.5 (Change from May: -0.6)

Current playoff probability: 19.8% (Down 6.7%)

Current championship probability: 0.5%

Despite a star turn from Eddie Rosario, the Twins still find themselves looking up at both the Indians (expected) and the Tigers (not so much) in the division standings. Injury returnees could provide a boost, with Joe Mauer, Byron Buxton and Ervin Santana all currently on the sideline. The shortstop position will be bolstered on July 2, when expected starter Jorge Polanco will be eligible to be reinstated from the suspended list.

Surely, better things lie ahead from the bat of Miguel Sano. All in all, the Twins have reason to hope that their best baseball lies ahead of them, especially since only the Indians and Nationals have easier remaining schedules. As for Rosario, if he hasn’t caught your attention, here are his recent numbers: Since April 27, he has hit .362/.401/.658 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 37 games.

Colorado Rockies

Current win forecast: 78.1 (Change from May: -5.7)

Current playoff probability: 15.7% (Down 18.9%)

Current championship probability: 0.4%

The average big league team this season already has used 7.7 starters. The Rays lead the way unsurprisingly with 11, while the Padres have used 10, and seven teams have used nine. We are, just to remind you, only in the second week of June. Only two teams have used just five core starters thus far. One is obvious: the Houston Astros.

The other is obvious too, given that this is where we’ve chosen to deploy this factoid. Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray and German Marquez have combined to start every game thus far for the Rockies, who rank seventh in rotation WAR. That stability of performance should continue, as Anderson regresses upward toward his forecast and Freeland falls more in line with his. It’s not a spectacular group, but it is stable. That should allow Jeff Bridich to focus on finding a corner player other than Nolan Arenado who offers some kind of offensive authority.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Current win forecast: 77.8 (Change from May: -1.7)

Current playoff probability: 12.1% (Down 8.3%)

Current championship probability: 0.3%

A 4-13 stretch has, for the time being, stalled hopes of Pittsburgh being a surprise contender. The Pirates still could right the ship over the next month, but perhaps it would be best if the focus remained on their soft rebuild.

This seems like a great chance to move Francisco Cervelli, 32, who ranks in the top 30 by WAR in baseball. Still, after the way the Pirates’ fan base exploded in quasi-revolt because of the team’s moves this winter, it might not be a great time to move their highly popular catcher. However, turning over the middle of the infield (Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer) might be a good idea. Also, with the emergence of rookie Austin Meadows, the Pirates might consider selling high on left fielder Corey Dickerson.

New York Mets

Current win forecast: 77.5 (Change from May: -1.9)

Current playoff probability: 11.2% (Down 8.9%)

Current championship probability: 0.2%

Just this week, GM Sandy Alderson said that chances of a 2018 fire sale are “remote.” It’s a fair thing to say at this point of the season, which has gone off the rails for the Mets in a major way. The high point of New York’s campaign came way back on April 13, when the Mets won to improve to 11-1.

That was a long time ago, but that start has been enough to keep the Mets within shouting distance in the NL East. The shouts grow fainter with each passing day, however, and if Alderson isn’t going to pull the plug, then he’s going to have to start papering over holes at some point. The problem is, we don’t exactly know what those holes might be because of injuries to key performers such as Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard. As bad as it seems right now, there is still time for New York to right the ship and do so in time to find some clarity for Alderson before the deadline is at hand.

Sellers

Toronto Blue Jays

Current win forecast: 75.7 (Change from May: -6.8)

Current playoff probability: 5.2% (Down 18.1%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Toronto’s odds have taken a serious plummet over the past month, and it seems clear that the curtain on the Blue Jays’ recent run of contention has fallen. It could be a dismal rest of the season with Toronto’s attendance already in a free fall. That could get worse as more and more familiar faces are shipped out.

Sure, the arrival of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could create a lot of buzz, but with each passing week, there is less and less reason to call him up. With questions about ownership, revenue and the Rogers Centre as a viable venue, there is a lot in flux with this franchise. For GM Ross Atkins and his staff, the next few weeks will present a delicate path to traverse.

San Diego Padres

Current win forecast: 74.3 (Change from May: 6.1)

Current playoff probability: 7.5% (Up 5%)

Current championship probability: 0.2%

Teams go on seven-game win streaks all the time — even bad ones. If the Padres were to start a seven-game win streak with Wednesday’s game against Atlanta, they would end up at .500 and likely be just two or three games out of first place. And we’re halfway through the month of June. Yet the Padres are not a good team. They are what we thought they were, with a run differential that ranks in the bottom six in the majors.

San Diego has hung in even though Wil Myers has been limited to just 40 plate appearances. So who knows what could happen? San Diego isn’t going to start cashing in prospects, but if prospects such as Luis Urias, Cal Quantrill and Walker Lockett start impacting the big league level, this still could be a turning point kind of season for San Diego. But it’s probably not.

Detroit Tigers

Current win forecast: 72.6 (Change from May: 5.4)

Current playoff probability: 6.0% (Up 1.6%)

Current championship probability: 0.1%

When you focus intently on underlying indicators such as run differential, preseason forecasts and finely tuned power rankings, sometimes you forget to look at a column that everyone who reads the daily standings fixates upon: games behind. There are two rebuilding teams that are stunningly close to the lead in their divisions. One is the Padres, and the other is the Tigers, who are less than a year into their rebuild. Don’t go dreaming of that 1984 World Series rematch just yet. It’s not like the Tigers and Padres have been good.

But they have been mediocre, which is the bar you have to clear in their respective divisions to be in the playoff race. Right now, the Tigers have a 6 percent shot at the playoffs, despite being only 4½ games behind Cleveland in the division. That tells you more than a little about the quality of the roster that manager Ron Gardenhire has taken this far. As for Detroit’s approach at the deadline, nothing has really changed. The Tigers are very much in talent-acquisition mode.

Texas Rangers

Current win forecast: 67.8 (Change from May: -1.2)

Current playoff probability: 0.8% (Down 1.6%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Let’s see: Have things gotten better for the Rangers since our latest Stock Watch? Um, no. It’s exactly as bad. In the AL, only the Royals and White Sox have worse run differentials.

It has been hard to watch Rougned Odor‘s continued flailing. His contact rates have retreated even further, and he has just one home run in 129 plate appearances this season. His recent numbers have been modestly better and will especially be encouraging if he can rediscover his power stroke. If not, we’ll start to forget why we were so high on him in the first place.

Meanwhile, the focus the next few weeks will be on finding good homes for Cole Hamels, Adrian Beltre and Bartolo Colon.

Cincinnati Reds

Current win forecast: 65.8 (Change from May: 2.1)

Current playoff probability: 0.6% (Down 0.1%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

As the contending Brewers continue to mine for middle infield answers, it’s hard not to look at the rise of Scooter Gennett and wonder what might have been. Last year, Milwaukee waived Gennett near the end of spring training, the Reds claimed him, and since then Gennett, according to FanGraphs, ranks second to Philadelphia’s Cesar Hernandez among National League second basemen. This season, Gennett stands alone, ranking a half-win ahead of Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies.

Gennett is making $5.7 million this season, beyond which he will enter his final year of arbitration eligibility. The Indians rank 25th in second-base WAR. The Red Sox are 29th. Milwaukee is 18th. The Nationals are 20th (but still waiting on the return of Daniel Murphy). The Diamondbacks are 19th.

Seems like there is a deal somewhere in there to be made.

Kansas City Royals

Current win forecast: 62.9 (Change from May: -2.1)

Current playoff probability: 0.7% (Down 2.3%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

The Royals’ rebuild kicked into high gear with this week’s draft, in which Kansas City chose five college pitchers in the first 58 picks.

Now the focus turns to the trade deadline, which will be the first since K.C. made its pivot. With Danny Duffy struggling, the primary trade pieces appear to be third baseman Mike Moustakas, who has built upon his fine 2017 season, second baseman Whit Merrifield and closer Kelvin Herrera. There are other veterans who could attract interest as well (Lucas Duda, Jason Hammel). There also are guys the Royals might like to keep but who could bring a little better return (Salvador Perez, Jorge Soler).

We’ll have to see how it plays out, but there’s a chance that the Royals’ roster will look very, very different come August.

Chicago White Sox

Current win forecast: 60.1 (Change from May: -3.1)

Current playoff probability: 0.4% (Down 1.3%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Don’t look now, but reinvented pop-fly artist James Shields has pitched himself into viable status as a deadline target. He’s on pace for a 2.6 WAR season, which would upgrade the back end of the rotation for pretty much any contender. Chicago won’t get a huge return for him, and even with the Padres picking up much of the tab on Shields this season, the Sox might have to eat some cash. But they could get a prospect back for the veteran righty, which is not an outcome you would have considered after his combined 5.60 ERA in 2016 and 2017. That Shields is a top-notch clubhouse presence doesn’t hurt his trade value one iota.

Baltimore Orioles

Current win forecast: 59.9 (Change from May: -1.7)

Current playoff probability: 0.0% (Down 0.2%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Now that Dan Duquette’s Memorial Day deadline has passed, Baltimore can finally get on with its much-needed makeover. Really, though, as you hear of volatility within the Orioles’ front office, the reset has to begin there. That’s not to call for Duquette’s head. After all, Duquette oversaw Baltimore’s recent five-year run of competitiveness that included the franchise’s first three postseason trips since the 1990s. But if reports such as those by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal are accurate and Baltimore’s management hierarchy is in flux, then clarity needs to be established there even as the rebuild begins to unfold.

If Duquette, who is in the last year of his contract, is going to be point man on the rebuild, fine, but establish that. If it’s going to be Brady Anderson or someone else, fine, but make that clear. Once that is cleared up, the race is on to find a package for Manny Machado that eclipses the compensatory pick the O’s would end up with if he leaves as a free agent. Almost as compelling will be the form of free-agent-to-be closer Zach Britton, who is nearing a return from his Achilles injury.

Miami Marlins

Current win forecast: 57.5 (Change from May: -7.6)

Current playoff probability: 0.0% (Down 1.3%)

Current championship probability: 0.0%

The Marlins stink as much as we thought they would. But at least the defense has been good, especially up the middle with J.T. Realmuto, Miguel Rojas and Lewis Brinson. Brinson has struggled badly at the plate, and helping him turn the corner there is a big priority for the rest of the season. As for the deadline, the focus will be on Realmuto and whether the Marlins cash in their last, best trade chip.

Starlin Castro, who has been almost exactly league average at the plate and in the field, also should draw some interest. Really, though, it doesn’t feel like the Marlins have created much trade value from their big league roster based on what has happened so far during the regular season.

Article written by #ESPN

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