(CBS New York/CBS Local) — Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is just a couple days away. And half the teams in the league are within three games of a wildcard spot. Still more are within striking distance, or at least think they are.
So the trade market is a little murky. Teams thought to be sellers may end up as buyers, and vice versa. Lots of teams need pitching, and some quality pitching is still available, for the right price, though probably not enough to fill all the needs. Quality hitting is a little more scarce.
How will it all shake out?
The New York Mets aren’t waiting to find out, trading prospects over the weekend for Toronto Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman. The wisdom of the team’s thinking (and their next steps) remains to be seen. But their bold move and whatever might follow have drastically changed the landscape.
The Baltimore Orioles are far, far from contention this season, regardless of any moves they make this week. But that didn’t stop them from securing an unusual win over the Los Angeles Angels late last week, and notching a Major League first in the process.
This week’s Baseball Report discusses trade deadline scenarios, examines the Mets trade and highlights an unusual Orioles first.
MLB Trade Deadline Fast Approaching
The MLB trade deadline is this Wednesday, and over half of the league fancies themselves contenders. Still, trade activity has been pretty slow so far. Players have been added to rosters, and prospects have been added to farm teams. But the Mets’ Stroman acquisition was the first deal to move the needle.
There should be others this week.
Pitching is the main need among contenders and wannabes. And many of the teams looking for pitching help, including the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, have minor league assets that should pique interest among potential trade partners.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke has stayed productive at 35 years old. In addition to his 2.87 ERA, he’s collected 128 strikeouts against just 18 walks over 141 innings. The Philadelphia Phillies, among other teams, could use his arm.
With Stroman soon to be a Met, the team’s ace, Noah Syndergaard, more so than Zack Wheeler, seems to be on the market. Sydergaard is slogging through a down year — his 4.33 ERA measures more than a full point above his career average. The speed and resulting strikeouts are still there. The Astros could easily slot a power pitcher like him into their rotation and make the small adjustments that return him to elite status.
Starter Matthew Boyd from the lowly Detroit Tigers should attract some interest. The same goes for lefty starter Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers and lefty reliever Felipe Vazquez from Pittsburgh Pirates. Madison Bumgarner, for all the interest in his services, probably won’t be traded, with the Giants in the National League playoff hunt.
The selection of hitters still available is much less enticing. Mets catcher Wilson Ramos, who’s hitting .259, with 10 HRs and 45 RBI, and Reds right fielder Yasiel Puig, who’s hitting .257 with 22 HRs and 59 RBI, could help a contender in the stretch run. But middle-of-the-lineup production seems a little sparse.
Stroman Traded To Mets
The Mets, who sit five games below .500, six games out of the wild card and fourth in the NL East weren’t expected to be a buyer in free agency this season. But their recent good fortunes, winning four in a row and 10 of their last 15 games, may have changed their outlook. Have the Mets decided to double-down on this season?
As mentioned before, the team traded pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson for Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman. The right-hander, who was thought to be on his way to the Yankees, has gone 6-11 the season with a 2.96 ERA (fifth best in the American League) for the brutally bad Toronto Blue Jays.
Stroman is better than his stats indicate, however. He doesn’t rack up strikeouts, getting batters to hit groundballs instead. One minor problem with his approach could be that the Mets’ infield just isn’t that great defensively. Then again, neither is the Blue Jays’.
Adding Stroman to the Mets’ current starters (he’s under contract through 2020) would give the team a strong rotation next season. So this trade may not be a play for this season — which, recent good fortunes aside, already seems like a lost cause — but for the future.
Then again, the Mets are also thinking about trading Noah Syndergaard and/or Zack Wheeler, both current starters. Stroman’s arrival makes Syndergaard’s departure more likely. Maybe we’ll get some clarity in the next couple days, or maybe we won’t. These are the Mets, after all.
Orioles Wilkerson Notches Unlikely Save
The Orioles achieved a first late last week, and for once it was good news for one of MLB’s worst teams. Center fielder Stevie Wilkerson became the first position player in MLB history to record a save.
It was the 16th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels that lasted over six hours. Wilkerson was the team’s 10th pitcher of the night. While none of his 14 pitches topped 60 miles an hour, he got three outs to end the game, logging a save.
The Orioles Jonathan Villar was probably the game’s unsung hero. He threw out the Angels’ potential winning run at the plate in the bottom of the 15th inning and then hit a two-run homer in the top of the 16th to give his team the lead.