AL Central trade deadline guide: Outside of the Twins being obvious buyers, all else is uncertain
What is each team in the AL Central looking to do before the trade deadline? Here's our buy and sell guide
Major League Baseball's July 31 trade deadline is now less than two weeks away. Some trades have already gone down (, , ) and more are sure to follow. The single deadline -- instituted this year -- forces teams to make calls a month earlier than they would otherwise, putting added pressure on fringe contenders.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, we here at CBS Sports are going to take a division-by-division look around the league to see which teams are buying, which teams are selling, and which teams might do a little of both. Our venture continues today with the AL Central. Here is our buy or sell guide for a division that has two contenders and three sellers of somewhat uncertain degrees.
Surprisingly, the Twins have thus far been one of the power teams in 2019. Thanks to Cleveland's recent surge, though, the Twins aren't locks to prevail in the AL Central. As well, they'll be looking to fortify that roster with an eye on the postseason. As such, Minnesota will no doubt be looking to add an impact arm to the bullpen -- possibly one capable of working high-leverage spots in the late innings. As well, fortifying the rotation may also be in their plans. The Twins have been linked to notable names like Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman. However, their reluctance to trade their very best prospects may take them out of the running for top-tier starters. The Twins might instead focus on relievers like Will Smith and Kirby Yates.
Status: Wild card
As noted above, the Indians are very much back in contention. They're alive in the AL Central despite being 11.5 games out in early June, and they're right now narrowly in possession of the second wild-card spot. They also have definite needs in the outfield and at DH. Given that they're locked in a tight race with playoff status hanging the balance, they're precisely the kind of team that can move the needle with a targeted deadline addition.On the other hand, the Indians are fresh off an offseason in which ownership cut payroll despite having won three straight division titles. That voluntary retrenchment also occurred in the face of obvious roster needs. Even as the Indians have improved to their current 92-win pace, trade rumors have swirled about Trevor Bauer and Brad Hand. Perhaps the Indians are backing on returns to health and form from Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, and they'll leverage their pitching depth for improvement on offense. The cynic, though, says it's just a path to get cheaper. Whatever the case, how the Indians play it leading up to July 31 will indeed be something to watch.
Status: Soft seller
The Sox have designs on a vaguely respectable season, but it would take a minor miracle for them to snag a wild-card berth. As such, they should be looking to move vets for young, almost-ready talent. The problem is that they don't have much that fits that description. Jose Abreu in his walk year would seem to qualify, but dealing him seems unlikely for a couple of reasons. One, the Sox by all accounts value his leadership and want him to continue being such a presence through the rebuild (via contract extension). Two, Abreu appears to be in decline at the plate and as a bat-only sort likely has limited trade value. Maybe instead the Sox shop James McCann and his newly productive bat? Perhaps there's a market for veteran reliever Alex Colome? The White Sox probably won't be moving any big names, and don't be surprised if that add a back-end veteran to the rotation just to get through the season.
Status: Likely seller
The Royals are self-evidently bad and have little hope for contention within the next two or three seasons. As such, they should be firm sellers. GM Dayton Moore, however, seems to be a practitioner of half-measures when it comes to tearing it down in the service of better tomorrow. Hence his possible reluctance to trade Whit Merrifield, who's the most valuable trade piece on the roster. Whether the Royals are truly sellers or merely continuing to operate with one toe in the Footbath of Rebuilding will largely be determined by whether Merrifield gets dealt. If wisdom prevails, then he will. Jorge Soler might also have some appeal on the market, as could Ian Kennedy, Bullpen Addition. There's a strain of organizational loyalty in KC (this is a compliment), which makes it unlikely that Alex Gordon will be moved. However, if Gordon desires a late-career stint on a contender, then he certainly has the standing to force the issue.
In Matthew Boyd, the Tigers have what may be the most valuable trade asset around. You can also persuasively argue that he has a long-term future in Detroit, so there's no real wrong answer here. Nick Castellanos seems likely be traded at last, and Shane Greene figures to fetch GM Al Avila a nice return. Detroit will be open for business. The only question is whether they decide to flip Boyd in exchange for multiple frontline prospects.
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