The 2018 MLB trade deadline is looming, and top prospects are already flying off the board. Francisco Mejia and Yusniel Diaz already found new homes this past week, and there are certainly more prospects about to be on the move.
So, who may be used as bait in the coming weeks? Let’s take a look at some big-name prospects that could be changing uniforms, or at the very least will be asked about.
Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, New York Yankees: It seems that GM Brian Cashman is indeed intent on Justus Sheffield being an untouchable. It also seems likely that Estevan Florial will be asked for by any and every team dealing with the Yankees. With that said, the Yankees need some help at several positions and have some nice options to go and get it. Gleyber Torres has exceeded expectations and despite the injury, should stay off the market, no matter what the possible return is. That makes Andujar and Frazier the two most attractive pieces outside of the Yankees big three. Andujar has been an outstanding extra-base machine in his rookie season, even hanging at the hot corner better than most expected. Frazier would likely be in the bigs on any other roster by now, but with an overcrowded outfield, Frazier’s big bat and 20/20 potential becomes a valuable trade chip. His MLB readiness may make him more attractive than the younger Florial who is still a bit away.
Atlanta Braves pitching: It’s too hard to narrow down just one Braves pitcher with the depth they have on the farm. The Braves have the luxury of having MLB-showcased talent like Max Fried and Luiz Gohara as well as high-end pitching prospects like Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright. That’s quite a few lefties, some very nice breaking pitches, and electrifying heat, three things that make other front offices drool. While Wright and Anderson are not likely to be moved, everyone else seems to be fair game. That doesn’t mean that they are all expendable, but with guys like Joey Wentz, Bryse Wilson, and Kyle Muller a little further down, one or two of those guys become trade chips. You can never have too much pitching, except when you do in fact have too much pitching, and that’s when you turn it into a needed piece.
Keston Hiura, Corbin Burnes, or Corey Ray, Milwaukee Brewers: Hiura and Ray may be a bit of a reach. The Brewers have a nice foundation and are looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2011 and only the third time since jumping ship to the National League in 1998. Depending on how big a splash they want to make, the Brewers may have to be willing to part with one of their two elite offensive prospects to go get a big gun.
The Brewers have attractive names like Luis Ortiz, Brett Phillips and Marcos Diplan that could net maybe a J.A. Happ type whom they are rumored to be linked to. But there are also the Brian Dozier rumors afloat. If the Minnesota Twins sell off Dozier, they are committing to a rebuild and they will want stud talent in return. That’s where the steady-hitting Hiura and 20/20-potential Ray come into play. It is possible the Brewers go quantity and package a bunch of lesser names with their top pitching prospect Burnes to hold on to Hiura and Ray, but if they make a couple of moves to stay in the hunt in the logjam called the NL, it may cost them one of their top prospects.
Chris Shaw, San Francisco Giants: Check your calendars, folks. It’s an even year, and that means the Giants are in the mix, for now at least. The Giants are two games over .500, but in a tight race in the stacked NL West. If they want to stay afloat, they are going to have to make a move. They have been linked to names like Nathan Eovaldi, Whit Merrifield, and even some speculation on Jeurys Familia. If the Giants are going to make a move with any of those rebuilding teams, it will cost them.
It’s hard to imagine the Giants parting ways with Heliot Ramos under any circumstance, so Shaw becomes an intriguing candidate. His power is undeniable, but the Giants have shifted him from first to left, being that he wasn’t replacing Brandon Belt any time soon. There are questions on how he lasts as an everyday corner outfielder, but his versatility and big bat may be enticing to other teams.
Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox: Dalbec is having a breakthrough season, and now that he is on everybody’s radar, that makes him a trade chip. The Red Sox are going to likely need 100+ wins to win the AL East, so they could benefit from making a move. They also aren’t incredibly deep on the farm thanks to Dealin’ Dave Dombrowski, so Dalbec, who currently leads the Carolina League in doubles (27), home runs (23) and RBI (78) with a .961 OPS that is second on the circuit, becomes that much more valuable. Add in that he plays third base, a position that Rafael Devers should have locked down for years to come with Michael Chavis back from suspension and ahead of him in the minors, and Dalbec becomes expendable.
Adonis Medina, Philadelphia Phillies: This one is pretty obvious as he was already reportedly dangled in front of the Orioles in the proposed Manny Machado deal. With Sixto Sanchez apparently off the market (and rightfully so) that makes Medina the most attractive piece on the Phillies farm. Young, still somewhat projectable and armed with a nasty fastball-slider combo already, there is plenty to like about the righty. If he is packaged with a Franklyn Kilome-type of mid-tier prospect, the Phillies should get what they want to hold on to one of the wild card spots or possibly even win the NL East.
Carter Keiboom, Washington Nationals: Remember how the Nationals were rumored to be in hot pursuit of J.T. Realmuto in the offseason? Well, he’s that much better now, and if the Nats make a move with the Marlins, Keiboom is likely the piece. With Bryce Harper’s future still in question the nation’s capital, Victor Robles is a big gamble to trade as his heir apparent. But with the rise of Juan Soto, Robles does become a little bit more expendable, albeit very unlikely. That said, either Keiboom or Robles could land one of the premier catchers in the game right now at a very favorable contract. The 20-year-old shortstop reached Double-A and hasn’t really missed a beat, featuring a nice hit tool that highlights both contact and power.
Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners: One thing we know is that Jerry Dipoto is not afraid to trade prospects. Lewis’ professional career has been hampered by that pesky knee, but we saw at Mercer what kind of star he can be when healthy. That potential is still there, he just needs a full go at it to show it off. That said, the Mariners need a starter and maybe some bullpen help and Lewis is easily their most attractive piece. This is the closest the Mariners have been to ending that long playoff hiatus, so you have to think anything goes.
Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros: It’s somewhat amazing that the Astros still have firepower in the minor leagues with the trades they’ve made and the graduations that helped shape the reigning World Champs. You have to assume that Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker are off the board, and that makes Alvarez the best looking prospect. The Astros could use help at the closer position, and the versatile big-hitting lefty could easily do the trick. Cionel Perez, who skipped right over Triple-A and to the Astros bullpen, is another name likely to be asked for, but it will be interesting to see what the Astros do with the young lefty who was lights out in Double-A this season.