We're winding our way toward the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and already we've seen some notable deals go down. That means it's trading season, and conveniently enough four potential deadline targets were on the mound on Monday. Let's have a quick look:
On CBS Sports HQ, former GM and current MLB analyst Jim Bowden calls Snell, " ," and that's certainly true. Snell not so long ago was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and he's still just 25 years of age. As well, he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. Snell also looks like he's leveling up in 2018. Throw in Monday night's gem against the Nationals, and he's now pitched to a 2.31 ERA in with 113 strikeouts and 40 walks in 101 1/3 innings. That excellent run prevention plus his youth and years of team control mean that Snell -- if the Rays for some reason decide to deal a young hurler with ace upside -- will demand a heavy cost in trade. "He can pitch a Game 2," Bowden says of Snell. "He can go up against a Gerrit Cole. He can go up against a Rick Porcello or a David Price."
The lefty Hamels is 34, and he's long been a consistent purveyor of innings and better-than-average run prevention. That's the case again in 2018, as he boasts an ERA of 3.61/125 ERA+ in 97 innings. Concerns? His 20 home runs allowed are the most in the majors, and his walks plus hit batsmen add up to 47. In other words, you can argue that Hamels is a bit lucky to have the ERA that he does. "I'm not sure he's going to help an American League team outside of Seattle," Bowden says of Hamels. "I just don't think he's good enough. But if he goes to the National League, he could help back of the rotation."
Hamels' contract includes a $23 million vesting option for 2019, but that's unlikely to kick in. Really, the team that deals for him is getting a $20 million club option/$6 million buyout for next year.
Happ in his age-35 campaign has worked 97 innings with a 3.62 ERA/117 ERA+. Perhaps most impressively, he's running a career-best K/BB ratio of 3.93. He's a fastball-sinker guy much of the time, but Happ can throw four pitches for strikes plus show an occasional curveball. Really, he's been on a higher level since a 2015 trade to the Pirates, after which he rebuilt his approach under pitching coach Ray Searage. So should teams interested in the more decorated Hamels be looking at Happ instead? "Right now," Bowden says, "Happ to me has better stuff and better deception than Hamels does."
Happ's in the final year of a three-year, $36 million pact.
The 29-year-old Straily has done little to raise his stock thus far in 2018, as he's presently lugging around an ERA of 4.80 with a sub-par K/BB ratio of 1.80. This season, he's more fastball-reliant than ever, and it hasn't worked for him. Bowden calls Straily a fifth starter on a contending team. "If you trade for him, it's because you're trying to get in. He's not a guy you want starting in a playoff game for you."
Absent better results or at least the hope for better results (Straily's FIP of 6.03 offers little hope on that front), he doesn't profile as a sensible addition.
Developing? Very developing, people.