On Monday at 4 p.m. ET, the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline shall come to pass. Obviously, we've already seen plenty of notable deals go down, as names like Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Drew Pomeranz, and Mark Melancon change teams. That said, we're sure to see more needle-movers go down before the deadline bell tolls and deafens us all. To get set for the final flurry, here are five storylines to watch on Monday ...
Will Jonathan Lucroy stay or go?
The Brewers' catcher was almost traded to the Indians over the weekend, but he wound up vetoing the trade, as was his right per the terms of his contract. That, of course, doesn't mean he won't be dealt. After all, it's a partial no-trade clause that Lucroy has in his Brewers deal ...
After the Indians deal got squelched, the Mets and Rangers re-emerged as players for Lucroy, and he could be dealt to either of those clubs with or without his approval. Needless to say, Lucroy would be a big catch. He's an excellent defensive catcher who also -- when healthy -- puts up big numbers at the plate by positional standards.
And what if he's traded to a team that eventually runs into the Indians in the postseason? Wouldn't that be something.
What about the other big bats remaining?
It's pitching that usually in high demand this time of year, but contenders are also often spoiling for power. The name of Reds outfielder Jay Bruce has been bandied about quite a bit, thanks to his resurgent season. Right now, he's slugging a robust .559 on the season with 25 homers in 97 games. Yes, his glove isn't an asset these days, but the power drives his appeal. Perhaps an AL team with at least a partial need at DH will be among the hot pursuers.
There's also Carlos Beltran. The Yankees have proved to be in sell mode with the Chapman and Miller deals, and Beltran, a future Hall of Famer in a just universe, might be the next out of town. Yes, he's 39, but this season he's batting .304/.344/.546 with 22 spanks. There's already reportedly a multi-team market for Beltran, so don't be surprised if he goes before the buzzer.
There's also Josh Reddick of the A's. He's more of a two-way threat, what with his excellent glove in right, but he's got a 32-homer season in his recent past, and last year he hit 20 out. Reddick's also getting on base at a strong clip this year.
Enough with the bats, let's talk about the starting pitching market
As noted, pitching -- especially starting pitching -- is always a leading deadline focus. Already we've seen some rotation arms get dealt, most notably Pomeranz. That said, there's plenty more out there. Chris Archer has endured a down year, but he has ace stuff and a Cy Young-grade season (2015) in his dossier. Will a team overlook Rich Hill's recent blister problems and pry him away from Oakland? Or are the A's, as rumored, working on a contract extension with Hill?
While it seems unlikely, perhaps the Rangers, Red Sox, or Dodgers will pay the steep cost necessary to get Chris Sale or Jose Quintana from the White Sox? The Braves seem inclined to keep Julio Teheran, but he has been the subject of past trade rumors. Jake Odorizzi? He's a candidate. The Phillies seem likely to flip Jeremy Hellickson before he turns back into Jeremy Hellickson, and Hector Santiago and Ervin Santana may also be in play. Among contenders, the Rangers, Dodgers, Orioles (even after dealing for Wade Miley), Blue Jays, and perhaps Tigers could use rotation help.
What will the AL's most compelling deadline team do?
The Rangers are in first place, yes, but if you look at their run differential then they should really be just barely above .500. If you look at their more granular indicators at the plate appearance level, then they've played like a sub-.500 team. In part, that's why the SportsLine Projection System expects the Rangers to play .474 ball the rest of the way.
You can dispute those forecasts, of course, but what's not disputable is that the Rangers have roster needs. If they're to stave off the Astros in the AL West, then the Rangers would do well to fortify the rotation and add some velocity and swing-and-miss to the bullpen. As long as we're making out a grocery list for Texas, a new catcher is also in order (as demonstrated by those Lucroy rumors above). The Rangers are flush with young positional talent, some of it blocked, so they have the resources to swing a major trade (as demonstrated by those Sale rumors above). GM Jon Daniels will surely do something before the ball drops, but how much will he do?
What will the NL's most compelling deadline team do?
Time was when you could survey the Dodgers roster and see nothing but layer of depth upon layer of depth. Well, it's August now, and injuries have waylaid the L.A. roster. They need reinforcements, especially in the rotation and the outfield. Yes, they might eventually get healthy in the rotation to the point that they have a surfeit of arms there, but they can't assume that will be the case. Right now, for instance, they have Bud Norris in the rotation, and Evolving Situation is the No. 5 starter. In matters related, they have 80 percent of a rotation on the disabled list, including Ace of All Aces Clayton Kershaw.
As for the outfield, it's part injuries (Andre Ethier, mostly), but it's also widespread under-performance (Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke, Enrique Hernandez). As well, Howie Kendrick remains a defensive stretch out there. You've heard a lot about a deal that would land both Reddick and Rich Hill in L.A., and that would indeed make a lot sense from the Dodgers' standpoint. Even so, the Dodgers since the Andrew Friedman hiring haven't exactly been a predictable front office, so it'll be interesting to see how they play it on Monday.