Trade Deadline: Big Arms on the Block


Frank Ammirante| July 16th, 2019

This year’s trade deadline should be eventful because of the abundance of talented pitchers available on the market, such as Matt Boyd, Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, and Noah Syndergaard. There are a number of contending teams seeking to improve their starting rotations, including the Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Twins, Dodgers, and Astros. Let’s take a look at their top prospects who could be the centerpieces of a deadline acquisition.

Houston Astros: OF Kyle Tucker, SP Forrest Whitley, SP J.B. Bukauskas

Minnesota Twins: OF Alex Kirilloff, OF Trevor Larnach, SS Royce Lewis, SP Brusdar Graterol

Philadelphia Phillies: 3B Alec Bohm, SP Adonis Medina


Atlanta Braves: OF Cristian Pache, SP Kyle Wright, SP Bryse Wilson, OF Drew Waters

Los Angeles Dodgers: C Will Smith, SS Gavin Lux, SP Dustin May

New York Yankees: OF Estevan Florial, SP Deivi Garcia, SP Jonathan Loaisiga

The Astros, Twins, Braves, Yankees, and Dodgers are all well-positioned to make a splash at the trade deadline. The Phillies do not have the same level of prospect capital, but they have a clear need in their rotation, so we cannot count them out on any potential moves. 


Let’s take a look at each of these starters and assess their trade values.

Matt Boyd

Age: 28


Controlled until 2023

114.0 IP, 3.95 ERA, 3.34 xFIP, 1.14 WHIP, 5.1 BB%, 32.1 K%, 14.0 SwStr%

Matt Boyd has become a dominant pitcher in 2019, increasing his strikeout rate from 22.4 K% to 32.1 K%. He’s also improved his control, trimming his walk rate from 7.2 BB% to 5.1 BB%. Boyd is pitching for the rebuilding Detroit Tigers who might seek to secure a haul of prospects for his services. The issue is whether or not a contending team will pay the significant cost it would take to acquire Boyd. The Tigers’ lefty is under team control until 2023, making him the most valuable pitcher on this list. It’s going to take a top prospect to acquire him. 


Fantasy Destination: Houston Astros

The Astros would be the best landing spot for Boyd’s fantasy value. Their staff has been able to unlock more potential out of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and Brad Peacock. Boyd would blossom into a bonafide ace in Houston. 

Prediction: Boyd stays in Detroit

Ultimately, I think that the Tigers’ demands will be too steep for these contending teams. There are several skilled pitchers available, so there is no need for the Astros to give up a blue-chipper like OF Kyle Tucker. Boyd will stay in Detroit to help anchor a staff that has studs like Casey Mize and Matt Manning on the way.

Noah Syndergaard

Age: 26


Under Control until 2022

112.2 IP, 4.55 ERA, 4.04 xFIP, 1.24 WHIP, 6.4 BB%, 23.4 K%, 12.3 SwStr%

Noah Syndergaard has followed up consecutive injury-marred seasons with a disappointing first half in 2019. But he’s still under team control until 2022, which makes him the second-most valuable pitcher on this list. Thor would really benefit from a change in scenery, as his 23.4 K% is a career-low. 

Fantasy Destination: Los Angeles Dodgers

It would be something special to see a playoff rotation of Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu, and Thor. The Dodgers would have a perfect lefty/righty mix of aces that would give opposing lineups fits. Syndergaard would likely go on a 2nd half tear that the city of LA has not witnessed since Manny Ramirez came over from the Red Sox. 

Prediction: Syndergaard stays with the Mets

The Mets still have Thor under control until 2022, so there should be no urgency to move him, especially with his downgraded value. They would be foolish to sell low on such an electric arm, so I think he stays put this season.

Zack Wheeler

Age: 29


Unrestricted Free Agent 2019

119.0 IP, 4.69 ERA, 3.84 xFIP, 1.28 WHIP, 6.7 BB%, 25.6 K%, 10.3 SwStr%

Zack Wheeler is another electric arm on this Mets staff who similarly has had a down year. He was just placed on the injured list with shoulder fatigue, which is terrible news for the Mets because it might deprive them of a prospect haul at the deadline. Wheeler is an unrestricted free agent after the season, so the Mets really need to extract some value from this asset. 

Fantasy Destination: Los Angeles Dodgers

Like his teammate Syndergaard, Wheeler would fit in perfectly with the Dodgers, where he could be the #4 starter with much less pressure. Wheeler would remain in the National League on a contending team in another pitcher-friendly ballpark, so his fantasy value would certainly increase with this move.

Prediction: Wheeler is traded to the Dodgers in a deal revolving around SP Dustin May

While Wheeler is a UFA after the season, the Mets are still maintaining a high price for the right-handed flame-thrower. I think that the Dodgers will have to overpay to acquire him at the deadline. It’s clear that the team would prefer Maeda and Stripling as bullpen arms in the postseason, so Wheeler is a natural fit. 

Marcus Stroman

Age: 28


Unrestricted Free Agent 2020

110.2 IP, 3.25 ERA, 4.09 xFIP, 1.27 WHIP, 7.4 BB%, 19.1 K%, 9.9 SwStr%

Stroman remains a strong groundball pitcher, with the ability to eat innings and thrive under the bright lights. He would benefit from a trade out of the bandbox that is Rogers’ Centre in Toronto. Stroman has had a strong year for the rebuilding Blue Jays. Despite being under team control for an additional year, he is a virtual lock to be dealt at the deadline. The relationship between general manager Ross Atkins and Stroman has been tarnished. 

Fantasy Destination: Los Angeles Dodgers

The best move for Stroman would be to get dealt to a contending National League team that plays in a pitchers’ park. The bright lights of LA would be no problem for Stroman, who tends to thrive under pressure. He would put up big numbers down the stretch if he were dealt to the Dodgers.

Prediction: Stroman is traded to the Yankees for a package centered around SP Deivi Garcia

For the second straight year, the Blue Jays will trade their prized deadline asset to the division-rival Yankees. This time, instead of focusing on MLB-ready players, they will pursue a top prospect. Deivi Garcia has put up a strong strikeout rate of 37.3 K%, he just needs to find his control. Stroman grew up in New York, so this is a natural fit. 

Madison Bumgarner

Age: 29


Unrestricted Free Agent 2019

116.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 3.96 xFIP, 1.22 WHIP, 5.1 BB%, 24.9 K%, 11.8 SwStr%

Bumgarner has bounced back from consecutive injury-riddled seasons to post solid numbers for a rebuilding Giants’ team. While he is no longer a dominant ace, he still can eat innings and his playoff experience is highly coveted. Bumgarner is a UFA after the season, so it’s highly likely that he’ll be traded.

Fantasy Destination: Houston Astros

It would be interesting to see whether the Astros’ front office can continue to work their magic and revive Bumgarner’s career in a trade scenario. I think we could see an uptick in strikeout rate if he were to be dealt to Houston.

Prediction: Bumgarner is traded to the Minnesota Twins in a deal revolving around SP Brusdar Graterol

Bumgarner has the lowest value on this list due to his impending free agency. He’s a great fit on the Twins because he would be a stabilizing veteran presence in a rotation that has virtually zero playoff experience. The Giants would do well to acquire Graterol, a solid pitching prospect with some control issues. 

Robbie Ray

Age: 27


Under Control until 2021

111.0 IP, 3.81 ERA, 3.88 xFIP, 1.31 WHIP, 11.9 BB%, 30.8 K%, 13.7 SwStr%

Ray has proven that he could rack up strikeouts with the best of them, he just needs to figure out his control. The Diamondbacks have him under control for a couple of years, but this is a rebuilding team that will try to replenish their farm system.

Fantasy Destination: Houston Astros

Which team is better equipped to help Ray find his control than the Houston Astros? Ray could evolve into a dominant lefty in Houston. He would fit in perfectly behind righties Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Prediction: Ray is traded to the Houston Astros for SP Forrest Whitley

Forrest Whitley was widely considered the top pitching prospect in baseball coming into this season, but he’s struggled mightily in Triple-A. Whitley is currently dealing with shoulder issues, so despite the big name, this could be a risky move for Arizona. The Astros badly need a controllable starter, as Gerrit Cole is an impending free agent, so they will need to have MLB-ready starters for 2020. Ray is a perfect fit in Houston.

The Outsiders: Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves

Despite their efforts, the Phillies won’t be able to acquire any of the big-name pitchers available at this year’s deadline. They do not have the same prospect capital as the other contenders. The Braves already signed Dallas Keuchel and are less inclined to make a big move given their young pitching depth. I think both of these teams could pursue cheaper options, similar to the Red Sox acquiring Andrew Cashner

Final Thoughts

Whatever happens, the MLB wins here! With so many talented arms available, this could be the best trade deadline in years. Let’s hope that we see some fireworks!

Questions and comments?

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