With the MLB season being two months in, teams are getting to the stage of deciding whether they will be buyers or sellers when the July 31 trade deadline comes. Here are five players that contenders will be making lots of phone call about, and the teams that should be making them.
5. David Robertson (Relief Pitcher) (Chicago White Sox)
In 2016, we saw two of the nastiest relievers in baseball get traded with Aroldis Chapman going to the Cubs and Andrew Miller to the Indians. Bullpen arms of that quality likely will not be available this year, but David Robertson is probably the best option for teams in search of a closer. Robertson has a 3.38 ERA so far in 2017 and has been successful in nine of 10 save opportunities. Robertson’s numbers are not eye-popping, but he has been a reliable late-inning reliever with the Yankees and White Sox since the 2011 season.
The Washington Nationals are standing out as the team most desperately needing a closer currently. Washinton has had lots of late-inning trouble this season, and its bullpen ERA ranks No. 26 in the big leagues. The Texas Rangers could also be interested along with the Orioles if they feel that Zach Britton will not be able to return to dominant form.
4. David Freese (third baseman/first baseman) (Pittsburgh Pirates)
David Freese is famous in the major leagues for his extremely clutch hitting in a victorious 2012 World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals. Freese has been nothing more than average since, but he is having his best season since 2012 currently, hitting .273 with six home runs. Whoever tries to make a move for Freese will be hoping his playoff magic will come to life once again.
Two teams looking for upgrades at the hot corner are the Tigers and Mariners. Neither are for sure buyers right now, but both would like to be if they can play good baseball over the next 40 days.
3. Jason Vargas (starting pitcher) (Kansas City Royals)
With Kansas City struggling and Vargas being a free agent this upcoming offseason, he is almost certain to get moved while pitching the best he has over his entire career currently. Vargas has a 2.18 ERA so far in 2017 and undoubtedly is at his highest trade value. There seems to be a good chance he will be one of many players the 2015 champs are planning on moving before the deadline.
There are a ton of teams that could use a starter like Vargas to throw into the rotation. The Baltimore Orioles have the fourth worst starter ERA right now, and it seems like they are always looking for more reliable starters. If the first place Twins decide to go for it in 2017, they are in need of a starter to pair up with Ervin Santana. The Blue Jays are getting healthy and look like they will end up getting their way into the playoff race. Vargas and Stroman could be a strong 1-2 punch in Toronto. The Rockies and Diamondbacks could also be interested out in the NL West.
2. Matt Kemp (outfielder) (Atlanta Braves)
Matt Kemp has been better than the Braves could have ever imagined since they traded for him last August. This season he is hitting .325 with 10 home runs and will likely be an All-Star. He is certainly at his highest value, and the Braves may choose to move him because he is not necessarily part of their future plans.
The reigning American League champs could really use another big bat to put in their outfield with Michael Brantley. The Indians have been somewhat treading water this season and are looking for a boost. If the Twins and Rangers decide to be buyers, an all-star veteran outfielder will certainly be on their wish list. The Arizona Diamondbacks could also add Kemp to an outfield that already has David Peralta and A.J. Pollock.
1. Marcell Ozuna (outfielder) (Miami Marlins)
Ozuna has put up numbers in Miami this year that are not even close to any of his previous seasons with the Marlins. His batting average stands at .329 with 15 homers and 43 RBI. Ozuna is only 26 and might be a candidate for an extension, but he will also be at extremely high value if the Marlins look to move him.
The teams looking to add Ozuna will be hoping to acquire a star for their organization for at least the next two seasons. The Milwaukee Brewers stood out to me as a team that could be interested if they decide to be buyers. Ozuna would get put between Domingo Santana and Ryan Braun in the Milwaukee outfield. Braun is coming off the DL soon, and Santana is hitting .281 with 11 home runs. The Indians could be interested if they do not add Kemp or another outfielder first, and the Tigers are also in desperate need of a centerfielder.