The 2020 MLB season is only four weeks old and yet the Aug. 31 trade deadline is a little more than one week away. Teams have 10 days to evaluate their roster, dig through the market, and make upgrades. The rumor mill has been relatively quiet thus far but that could change at literally any moment. Here are Friday's trade deadline rumors.
Angels a clear seller, high asking price for Fletcher
The Los Angeles Angels are a "clear" seller leading up to the trade deadline, reports MLB.com's Jon Morosi. He adds the asking price for infielder David Fletcher is extraordinarily high, which is unsurprising. The 26-year-old is hitting .299/.364/.449 with one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball this year, plus he's a standout defender wherever he plays. Furthermore, Fletcher will not be eligible for free agency until the 2024-25 offseason.
If the Angels do decide to sell, their most marketable pieces are righty Dylan Bundy, super utility man Tommy La Stella, outfielder Brian Goodwin, and perhaps bullpen arms like Ty Buttrey and Felix Pena. Bundy has been marvelous this year and will remain under team control through 2021 as an arbitration-eligible player. He would be in demand in a thin starting pitching trade market. Don't expect the Angels to listen to offers for Mike Trout. Safe to say he's untouchable.
Phillies interested in Workman, add Hale
The Philadelphia Phillies have spoken to the Red Sox about righty reliever Brandon Workman, report Ken Rosenthal and Matt Gelb of the Athletic. Workman, 32, has allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings thus far this season. He is an impending free agent and he emerged as Boston's closer last season, when he struck out 104 with a 1.88 ERA in 71 2/3 innings. The Red Sox are well out of the race and Workman is one of their top trade chips.
To put it nicely, the Phillies bullpen has been an unmitigated disaster this season. Their bullpen has an 8.07 ERA this year, the highest in baseball by nearly two runs, and their most effective reliever (Jose Alvarez) was hit by a line drive Thursday. It's unclear how long he will be sidelined. The Phillies are 1 1/2 games out of a postseason spot with five weeks to play. GM Matt Klentak figures to aggressively pursue bullpen help prior to Aug. 31.
On that note, the Phillies swung a minor trade Friday, acquiring journeyman righty David Hale from the Yankees, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Hale had a 3.11 ERA in 37 2/3 innings with New York last season. He allowed two runs in six innings this year prior to being designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Aroldis Chapman last week. The Yankees will receive reliever Addison Russ in the trade. Russ owns a 2.48 ERA with 200 strikeouts in 152 2/3 career minor league innings.
Blue Jays expected to target rotation help
The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in the postseason mix and they hope to upgrade their rotation prior to the trade deadline, GM Ross Atkins told reporters, including Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Toronto has won five consecutive games and currently sits in the second American League wild-card spot. Here's what Atkins told reporters:
"If I had to say just one (area), it would be starting pitching. If there's ways to continue to build upon that depth, we will look to do that," Atkins said. "Thinking about pitching and preventing runs is where the focus will be."
Blue Jays starters have a 4.93 ERA this season and that's with Hyun-Jin Ryu posting a 3.46 ERA through five starts. Top prospect Nate Pearson is currently on the injured list with an elbow issue, and the typically reliable Tanner Roark and Matt Shoemaker have combined for a 5.02 ERA in eight starts. . The rotation is in need of an upgrade though.
Our R.J. Anderson included four starters among his top trade candidates: Giants righty Kevin Gausman and lefty Drew Smyly, Mariners right Taijuan Walker, and Marlins righty Jordan Yamamoto. The Blue Jays figure to target a pitcher with control beyond 2020 rather than a rental. Bundy would be a fit should the Angels make him available. Another possibility: Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd, who was originally drafted by the Blue Jays and was sent to Detroit in the David Price trade years ago.
D-Backs expected to target bullpen help, DH bat
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Diamondbacks are expected to pursue bullpen help and potentially a DH bat at the trade deadline. GM Mike Hazen acknowledged "the more firepower you have out there the better," when asked about the bullpen. Here's what Hazen said when asked about his offense:
"I think we've swung the bats better," he said. "I think we have put some games together that's not likely sustainable from a hits-per-night basis. We know how the game runs now. Getting four singles to score a run is not a sustainable way of driving offense."
The D-Backs have hit 22 home runs in 26 games, fourth fewest among teams that weren't shut down for COVID-19, and their designated hitters have authored a .242/.321/.347 batting line with one homer. That is well-below-average production at DH. A rental such as Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland or Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo would be a pretty significant upgrade.
As for the bullpen, Arizona's relief crew has been shaky beyond closer Archie Bradley and setup men Stefan Crichton and Junior Guerra, plus stalwart lefty Andrew Chafin is currently on the injured list with a finger issue. Orioles setup man Mychal Givens, Pirates closer Keone Kela, and Royals closer Trevor Rosenthal are the big names on the bullpen market. Kela and Rosenthal are rentals. Givens will remain under team control next season as an arbitration-eligible player.