The trade deadline in Major League Baseball is two weeks from Monday. It's August 1 instead of July 31 this year so the deadline wouldn't fall on a Sunday when so many day games are being played. Leading up the deadline, there are a litany of interesting storylines, but let's zero in on five in particular that'll be big ones for the next two weeks.
In no particular order ...
Will the Yankees actually sell?
You have to go back all the way to 1989 to find a season where you could make an argument that the Yankees were sellers in front of the trade deadline. Given their enormous salaries, competitiveness and refusal to accept anything other than a World Series championship, it just doesn't seem like the Yankees to sell. From their perspective, selling is like waving a white flag and that's just not Yankees-like.
Only that they probably should be sellers if they fall a few more games back. Heading into Sunday, the Yankees were 5.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card. Sure, there are tons of teams in the race, but that's a workable deficit and it's reasonable to consider one a contender at that range. If they fall back to, say, nine games back, though?
Sell, sell, sell.
Given the makeup of the roster and what's coming in free agency this coming offseason -- not a ton, notably among starting pitchers -- it makes an awful lot of sense to deal quality veteran talent that is hitting free agency in the winter like closer Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Carlos Beltran. Past that, stud reliever Andrew Miller could fetch a great prospect package and Brett Gardner could possibly bring something back.
I'm not of the "everything's more exciting with the Yankees" mindset, necessarily, but if they are sellers this trade deadline will be much more exciting.
Where will Lucroy be on Aug. 2?
The Brewers All-Star catcher is hitting .303/.360/.493 with 16 doubles and 12 homers this season. Very few catchers outside San Francisco can move the needle offensively like Lucroy can. He's also ridiculously cheap, making only $3 million this season with a $5.25 million club option. So he can provide a boost for both this season and next for his team.
Will that be the Brewers?
They are in the middle of a rebuild and a very unlikely -- especially given the state of the Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals -- to turn things around by next season. After next season, would it really behoove a team in the market of Milwaukee to get into a free agent bidding war for a catcher north of 31 years old? Probably not.
So now is the optimal time to move Lucroy.
There will be a huge market for Lucroy. The hunch is he's moved and it's only a matter of where and when.
Will someone knock Atlanta over for Teheran?
As recently as Saturday, we've heard that the Braves continue to insist they won't trade All-Star starting pitcher Julio Teheran. The young right-hander was nails on Sunday against Colorado, too, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowed only three hits and a walk against five strikeouts.
He's now sitting with a 2.79 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 112 strikeouts in 125 2/3 innings. Further, Teheran is signed on a six-year, $32.4 million deal with a $12 million club option for 2020. He's only 25.
Basically, that's an ace under extreme club control just entering the prime of his career. There's every reason in the world for the Braves to hold onto him for dear life. By the time the rebuild has been completed, he'll still likely be an ace.
What if someone offers a ridiculous package to the Braves? Surely they'll always listen, even if to just say
"no, sorry, we aren't trading Julio." Teams should always listen to offers. You never know what you're going to hear.
In all likelihood, nothing much happens here, but I think there's a non-zero chance that it does. Even if it's only one percent, that's fun to watch.
How will Rays, A's treat aces?
The starting pitching market seems a bit dry, but there are a lot of teams who would like to add to their rotations. Chris Archer of the Rays (4-13, 4.68) and Sonny Gray of the A's (4-8, 5.12) have been ace-quality in the past, but aren't aces this season.
Gray is under team control through 2019, so Billy Beane could elect to keep Gray in order to A) Continue to build around him or B) move him in the offseason after he's, hopefully, re-established his value as an ace.
Archer is signed through 2019 with team options through 2021. So it's a similar situation for Rays boss Matt Silverman.
So the juggling act is to see what kind of offers roll in compared to what kind of offers could be coming in the offseason. Keep in mind, the best free agent starting pitchers will be the likes of Doug Fister, Jeremy Hellickson and -- if he opts out -- Scott Kazmir. Thus, if Archer and/or Gray got hot down the stretch, they could fetch a pretty penny during Hot Stove season.
The downside to passing on big offers right now? What if Archer or Gray never get "it" back? It's possible. It's happened many times before where a pitcher just falls off a cliff, production-wise.
Beane and Silverman definitely have tough choices to make here.
Will Rockies trade another icon?
Last year it was Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays. And if the Rockies are sellers again this year -- and they should be -- it would be Carlos Gonzalez. What, you don't think I can call Cargo a franchise icon? Yes, I can. The Rockies are very young, having only been around since 1993. Only Todd Helton, Larry Walker and Tulowitzki have accumulated more WAR in a Rockies uniform.
Cargo is definitely tradeable, too. He's thus far avoided the DL in both 2015 and 2016. He's only signed through 2017 (he's set to make $20 million next season) and is hitting .316/.365/.546 with 19 doubles, 19 homers and 55 RBI. Yes, those rate stats come down outside Coors Field, but he is a bona fide middle-of-the-order threat.
Now, the Rockies might not get any decent offers for him. If they do, though, it'll be fun to see whether or not they pull the trigger. They proved last year that they weren't scared to do so with Tulowitzki.