Starting the second half in the first place is something important. But that’s no guarantee that they will win the division title, much less that they will be successful in the postseason.
There are many reasons for the top six teams in each of their divisions to be active by the July 20 trade deadline. With this in mind, we brought together a group of MLB.com writers to each propose a trade for those outfits.
All data is up to Friday.
East Division: Rizzo on his way to Boston
Red Sox get: 1B Anthony Rizzo, RHP Ryan Tepera
Cubs get: OF Franchy Cordero, RHP Brayan Bello (Boston’s 18th best prospect), RHP Durbin Feltman
Why would it work ?: There is some link here because Rizzo was originally selected in the Amateur Draft by the Red Sox in 2016 and became a prospect on their farms, but was traded prior to his arrival in the majors. It also makes a lot of sense, because the Red Sox are one of the three worst teams in the majors in offensive production from the start.
Rizzo and Tepera would significantly improve the lineup and bullpen respectively.
Who says no?: Even if the Cubs decide to sell, they would rather keep Rizzo, given his importance to the franchise in the last decade. Also, the Red Sox may be focusing on starting pitching.
Central Division: Another major trade between White Sox and Rangers
White Sox get: OF Joey Gallo
Rangers get: OF Yoelqui Céspedes (No. 2 Chicago), RHP Caleb Freeman (No. 19)
Why would it work ?: These two teams reached an agreement last December, when Lance Lynn arrived in Chicago and Dane Dunning and Avery Weems in Texas. Both parts have done well, so why not do it again?
Sure, the offense will receive reinforcements later in the season when Eloy Jiménez and Cubans Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal return from injuries, but the White Sox lack a powerful southpaw to defend the prairies. Gallo would solve both problems and is under control until 2022, so it would not be a rental.
Who says no?: Probably the White Sox. Gallo would be a great fit, but with reinforcements on the way, the team is not desperate to part with Cespedes.
West Division: Astros reinforce bullpen
Astros get: RHP Raisel Iglesias
Angels get: RHP Tyler Ivey (Houston No. 8), RHP Peter Solomon (No. 12)
Why would it work ?: The truth is, the Astros are the leaders who seem to lack the least. The lineup has regained the power of 2017-2019 and their young arms have been on par with Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jake Odorizzi and even their bullpen is average. But Houston knows that if it wants another pennant they must be strengthened.
Iglesias would not have the same impact that Justin Verlander had in 2017 or Greinke in 2019, but in addition to Kimbrel, the Cuban should receive a lot of interest in the coming days.
Who says no?: Perhaps the Astros are more satisfied with their bullpen than we think, plus they are already close to reaching the Competitive Balance Tax. But the Angels have more to lose, with the return of Mike Trout in the coming days.
NL East: Donaldson brings his thunder to Queens
Mets get: 3B Josh Donaldson, RHP Kenta Maeda
Twins get: 3B Mark Vientos (No. 8 NY), RHP Ryley Gilliam (No. 16), RHP Tyler Megill (No. 21)
Why would it work ?: Anteroom is a focal point for the Mets and they have been well connected with Kris Bryant and Josh Donaldson. We go with the second here, because the pact solves two problems. The depth of the rotation has been in question with Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Noah Syndergaard trying to come back from injuries. Maeda is a proven veteran.
Who says no?: Twins. They’re probably willing to trade 35-year veteran Donaldson, who is owed four years and $ 92 million on a contract, but Maeda has a friendly deal ($ 3 million for the next two seasons).
Central Division: Brewers add a bat
Brewers get: INF Eduardo Escobar
D-backs get: C Payton Henry (Milwaukee No. 19), SS / 1B David Hamilton (No. 27)
Why would it work ?: The Brewers’ great starting pitching has been the main reason for the team’s success, but the offense hasn’t been on the same level. Milwaukee is tied for 20th place in MLB at wRC +. Venezuelan Escobar has defended the anteroom for most of the year, which would improve the production of the position, with Travis Shaw on the disabled list and Mexican Luis Urías playing in his place.
Who says no?: Probably the Brewers, who may not see Escobar as the immediate solution to being a rental.
West Division: Giants bet on Rogers
Giants get: LZ Taylor Rogers
Twins get: OF Luis Matos (SF No. 7), 1B Logan Wyatt (No. 17)
Why would it work ?: The Giants have the best record in baseball, but the bullpen has been a constant problem. Overall, San Francisco has the fourth-most wasted saves in the National League. That’s when diver Tyler Rogers arrives on the scene, who has an ERA below 2.00 but is on his way to making 76 appearances and that’s not counting the wear and tear on the bullpen in the postseason.
Rogers is very consistent and has one of the best chased pitching rates in baseball.
Who says no?: Maybe Minnesota. We don’t know how Twins officials view their team this season – either bad luck or a sign that they have to redo everything. If it’s the second, Rogers will likely stay, understanding that he’s under the club’s control until 2023.