Determining whether a team is a “buyer” or a “seller” ahead of any trade deadline is an inevitable exercise for many. In the world of baseball, sometimes it’s just not fair to label a club as one or the other. The 2021 MLB Trade Deadline is set for July 30, a date that’s much different than what it was in 2020. It’s a return to normalcy. Still, the sharp increase in players on the IL compared to past years is bound to add a fascinating twist to the equation.
Quick switch in the Central
A number of teams around baseball have seen their buy or sell status rapidly switch as of late. The most notable being the Chicago Cubs, who as of Wednesday afternoon have lost 11 consecutive games. David Ross’ club was already stuck in an awkward spot when the season began. The pending free agent statuses of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez has dominated much of the team’s storylines this year. And who’s to say other than the club’s brass if the Cubs are trying to contend, or if an upcoming retool is inevitable?
The contrary to Chicago right now is Milwaukee. Craig Counsell‘s Brewers have taken control of the NL Central. Along with owning one of the top pitching staffs in baseball, Wisconsin’s team has enjoyed success from the top of its lineup recently. Not to mention the acquisition of Willy Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays has paid dividends thus far.
Milwaukee and Chicago may have had polar opposite stretches as of late, and as a result, totally different outlooks as the trade deadline approaches. But still, the intrigue surrounding two other teams in baseball has been consistent from the buying perspective all year long.
Los Angeles Angels: Buyer
To say that the Angels have an MVP candidate that’s not named Mike Trout must mean the team sits at the top of baseball, right? Well, not so much. Despite Shohei Ohtani’s AL MVP bid, Los Angeles remains just one game over .500. Nine and a half games back of the first place Houston Astros, Los Angeles is a rare case study ahead of the 2021 trade deadline.
The injured Trout has resumed baseball activities and could be back on the field as early as after the All-Star break. This era of Angels baseball should be about “going for it”. And when that sentiment pertains to this year’s trade deadline, it’s about adding pitching. The team’s record shouldn’t be completely irrelevant, but when a team has a generational talent in Trout, and the story of baseball in Ohtani, expect that club to want to buy.
Los Angeles’ rotation and bullpen has been subpar all year. After the team settled on adding Jose Quintana and Raisel Iglesias in the offseason, this year’s trade deadline acts a way to continue that process.
Toronto Blue Jays: Buyer
The Blue Jays, much like the Angels, have been held back in their respective division because of the lack of pitching. But in the case of Toronto, help has already arrived. Former Marlins hurler Adam Cimber was sent to the Blue Jays last week in a deal that saw Joe Panik go the other way. And there’s the Rowdy Tellez trade to Milwaukee, a deal that saw right-handed pitcher Trevor Richards become a Blue Jay. In the ultra-competitive AL East, Toronto remains as part of the bunch, but others are finding themselves further ahead.
The Rays and the Boston Red Sox have played a game of “let’s battle for first” for much of the season, and the Blue Jays have only been a spectator. However, neither Boston nor Tampa Bay possess a lineup as potent as Toronto’s. That’s why the importance of adding more at the deadline is intensified. Since May 23, Toronto’s bullpen ERA has been near the bottom of the league. Cimber and Richards have started the process of retooling the bullpen, but what’s still to be decided is who finishes it. The aforementioned Cubs are a potential seller, and if that’s the case, closer Craig Kimbrel could be the answer to the proposed question.
Toronto is currently nine games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox, despite an MVP-caliber first half performance from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Follow Logan Lockhart on Twitter @lgllockhart
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images