Heard a juicy rumor, did you?
Well, you're not alone. This time of year, speculation runs rampant.
Most of it doesn't amount to anything. Some of it does. And then there are those moves that catch us completely by surprise, left wondering how all of those voices tossing around all of those names could have possibly missed one.
But see, no one can predict with any real accuracy the trades that will and won't be completed before Monday's deadline. Trading is difficult. Rumors are easy.
So understand that just because these trade possibilities are all rooted in logic (and some actual reporting, sure), they're not fact -- not yet, and maybe not ever. You shouldn't drop that closer just because his days appear to be numbered, and you can't assume some top prospect is coming up Aug. 1.
But you can prepare for the possibility.
Ozzie Albies Atlanta SS
|The Braves have every incentive to move Brandon Phillips, who's in the final year of his contract, but contenders aren't exactly lining up for second basemen right now. Ozzie Albies -- who has hit .303 (54 for 178) with seven homers, six steals and an .864 over his last 41 games -- is seemingly ready for his next test and may get it at shortstop even if a Phillips trade doesn't open the door.|
Alex Avila Detroit C
|The Cubs have been the team most closely linked to Alex Avila, which is a problem since they kind of already have a catcher -- a great one in Willson Contreras. Avila has gone ice cold in July, but his line-drive and hard-contact rates are still off the charts, which suggests we absolutely want him getting regular at-bats at the weakest position in Fantasy.|
Sonny Gray Oakland SP
|Sonny Gray is the hottest name on the trade market right now and seems like a near certainty to be moved just based on the number of suitors. Getting out of Oakland could only be a good thing for him since he'll have a better chance of winning with just about any team that might be interested (even Atlanta). True, he has fared better at pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum this year, but he has had even splits in the past and is such an extreme ground-ball pitcher that the positioning of the fences doesn't much matter.|
Jonathan Lucroy Texas C
|Jonathan Lucroy is one of the more fascinating cases because his value could go either direction depending on where he lands. The Cubs are said to be interested, but as with Alex Avila, his value would plummet in a backup role (not that he has much value left). But a move to a hitter's haven like Colorado could resuscitate his value, especially if he's not forced to split time like he has in Texas.|
Kenta Maeda L.A. Dodgers SP
|For the first time in months, Kenta Maeda has real job security -- the Clayton Kershaw injury granted him that -- but if the Dodgers acquire one of the big-ticket starting pitchers, as they're angling to do, he's one bad outing away from the bullpen. And once Kershaw and Brandon McCarthy are back, Maeda's performance may not even have a say.|
Lance McCullers Houston SP
|It could be Brad Peacock, Mike Fiers or Charlie Morton who suffers instead, but Lance McCullers is the most interesting case. The Astros have a huge lead, are a near lock for the playoffs and presumably want to preserve one of their best arms for the playoffs, so they'll eventually need to pull back on McCullers, who threw only 89 innings last year. One of these four is already out when Dallas Keuchel returns from the DL, and the Astros would like to add another starting pitcher at the deadline.|
Amed Rosario N.Y. Mets SS
|Rumor has it the Mets have held off on calling up their big shortstop prospect because they're not sure Asdrubal Cabrera could handle it, creating a negative atmosphere that would no doubt impact Rosario's introduction to the big leagues. Frankly, it may not even matter if they find a taker for Cabrera at the deadline. One way or another, they're turning the page at that point.|
Dominic Smith N.Y. Mets 1B
|The Mets have already found a taker for Lucas Duda, shipping him to the Rays on Thursday, so Dominic Smith should arrive in a matter of days. The former first-round pick's power has improved over the past couple years, but he still may have trouble competing at first base in today's offensive environment. He can hit, though, batting .337 at Triple-A Las Vegas this year and .303 over his minor-league career, and I for one like gambling on high-floor prospects.|
Dan Straily Miami SP
|Dan Straily isn't on the level of a Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish, but he's cost-controlled over the next few years, which is why the Marlins have begun to float his name. Marlins Park is perfectly tailored for his skill set, though, since he relies on a high fly-ball rate to keep his BABIP low, and so his success may not translate to a more hitter-friendly venue (he has a 2.82 ERA at home this year compared to 4.92 on the road). Then again, he broke out in Cincinnati last year.|
Justin Verlander Detroit SP
|I do believe a change of scenery can benefit a player, particularly when the reasons behind his struggles aren't so clear. Justin Verlander still throws 99 mph, so it's not like his skills have diminished. He has walked more batters than usual and appears to be missing in the zone as well, so something may be off mechanically. A new set of eyes could help identify the problem, leading to a quick correction.|
The story is the same for these next five. They're closers now, but they likely wouldn't be the best relievers for their new teams. The one buyer who could still stand to upgrade in the ninth inning is the Nationals, and they recently landed Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in a trade with the Athletics. Both could pass as ninth-inning options.
Zach Britton Baltimore RP
|Brad Brach would be the obvious replacement if Zach Britton is dealt, and we already know he can handle the role with all the time Britton his missed. Of course, Brach is a candidate to be moved as well.|
Brad Hand San Diego RP
|Brad Hand just inherited the role after the Padres traded Brandon Maurer to the Royals, so as dominant as he has been -- compiling a 2.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings -- he's not unseating a more proven option for a contender. Kirby Yates has put together some impressive ratios, but the Padres could also turn to Phil Maton or Carter Capps if Hand is dealt.|
AJ Ramos Miami RP
|Kyle Barraclough just went on the DL with a right shoulder impingement, but his swing-and-miss stuff makes him the Marlins' closer-in-waiting even if they need someone else to fill in for the first week or two after dealing A.J. Ramos.|
Addison Reed N.Y. Mets RP
|You won't like whoever the Mets elect to close in place of Addison Reed, at least not until Jeurys Familia is ready to return from a blood clot in his right shoulder. He has begun a throwing program, at least.|
Justin Wilson Detroit RP
|Justin Wilson throws left handed and doesn't have a long history in the role, so he's in the same boat as Hand -- i.e., destined for a setup role. Shane Greene would be the choice to replace him, and with a 2.82 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, he could be serviceable.|
Bonus: Jonathan Villar, SS, Brewers
The Brewers are one of the few buyers at second base, with no shortage of sellers. They're rumored to have interest in Ian Kinsler specifically. Such a deal would force Villar to the bench, giving us one less avenue in our fruitless pursuit of upside among shortstop-eligible players.