Playing MLB GM for a day like today

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Farhan Zaidi / Lonzo Wire (USATSI)

 

We woke up today as the general manager of all five teams of Major League Baseball’s National League West Division. All of our dreams have come true. With the authority and leadership to make the right moves, here is how the July 31st  trading deadline could play out before us.
Arizona Diamondbacks 

Status: The Diamondbacks have already acquired outfielder Jon Jay as A.J. Pollock continues to battle through injuries. With starting pitchers Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Shelby Miller all on the disabled list, their most glaring remaining need is a starting pitcher. The Diamondbacks are currently in first place, but the Dodgers 18-6 record since the middle of May is the best in baseball. The divide between the first and last place team is 6.5 games.

Move: The team has two starting pitching options that will propel them into the playoffs to compliment Zach Greinke and Patrick Corbin at the top of the rotation; Jacob deGrom and Cole Hamels. deGrom will be the more expensive pitcher to acquire as he is not a free agent until 2021 and under team-friendly terms. Hamels is a free agent in 2020 (with a $6 million buyout with conditions for 2019) is older and not as dominant as deGrom, but may be a better lefty-righty compliment to Greinke and insurance to Patrick Corbin’s pending free agency after the 2018 season.

Package: The Diamondbacks farm system is very bottom-heavy, having traded away several top prospects in Shelby Miller and other trades. Pitchers Emilio Vargas, Wei-Chieh Huang and first baseman Kevin Cron, could be the right package to pry Hamels from the Texas Rangers. Otherwise, their current prospects, without giving up Major League players and talent, are just not enough to acquire deGrom from the New York Mets, even if his entire salary was taken in an exchange. Other team’s offers would be a lot better, including in their own division

 

Colorado Rockies 

Status: Coors Field, where the Rockies play their home games, is the most pitching-challenged ballpark in baseball because it is the most offensively explosively. As a GM, we have the problem of trying to bring in more pitching that will be harmed by the environment versus adding to the team’s offense and using the home field to its advantage.

Move: The team needs a boost of offense at first base and in left field as, unfortunately, Ian Desmond has struggled and Gerardo Parra does not have the power of a traditional left fielder. Desmond can play both infield and outfield, so depending on who is picked up in a trade, depth is automatically added via Parra and Desmond.

Package: Brendan Rodgers, Colton Welker, Garrett Hampson, Tom Murphy, Forrest Wall, Chad Spanberger and Vince Fernandez headline a Rockies farm system that is deep in offensive talent, but short on high-end pitching prospects. The Rockies should look to trade some of that depth for a major league veteran power bat at first or in left field for short-term relief and some Triple A, Major League-ready pitching for long-term depth. It is also possible to recruit a high-end starting pitcher for a rental, but try convincing a top-level pitcher to waive his no trade clause and/or produce in mile-high land. The Rockies would love to have the Baltimore Orioles’ shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado, but nearly every infield position, except first base, is taken by recent All-Stars.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers 

Status: Disabled list. The Dodgers need to get and stay healthy. The Dodgers’ entire starting pitching staff, except Alex Wood, with Kenta Maeda coming back Wednesday, are on the disabled list. Ross Stripling is the ace of the staff and Walker Buehler, the rookie, was just placed on the disabled list. Justinis struggling with post-wrist surgery pain and swelling. Corey Seager is out for the season. 
 

Farhan Zaidi / Lonzo Wire (USATSI)

Move: The Dodgers need another bat as insurance for Justin Turner and protection for Matt Kemp in the lineup. The Dodgers have bought themselves some time by playing so well lately, with bench players stepping up to fill the void via Max Muncy. Meanwhile, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor are beginning to swing the bat really well. However, their lack of starting pitching going deep into games has led to bullpen over-usage.

Package: The Dodgers front office would be wise to wait to make a move as long as they can keep it close in the National League West, currently 3 games out of first place. Their current depth and roster won 104 games last year and although bullpen help is always needed, their moves might be less drastic as players return from injury. The Dodgers do not want to take on extra salaries to avoid getting further tax penalties, but if they want to trade three to five, top prospects to acquire shortstop Manny Machado and reliever Zach Britton, both the offensive and relief needs would be met. The question is whether the cost is too much prospect wise or whether another team can offer both the prospects and the salary relief. Look for Andrew Friedman’s front office to stay informed on the Machado sweepstakes, acquire a starter, a bullpen arm and a veteran bat, but likely not via a blockbuster trade (i.e., deGrom, Hamels, etc.) that costs too much in money or prospects.

 

San Diego Padres 

Status: The Padres are building, but are not a playoff team this year. They would be wise to trade one or two of their highly-effective bullpen pieces to acquire Triple A-ready pitching and hitting talent.

Move: Acquire top prospects from playoff teams immediately. While the Padres already have one of the best farm systems in baseball, theyshould acquire more to build their farm’s foundation and to use as trade bait to acquire Triple A/Major League talent next year and the year after for a playoff run.

Package: Starting Pitcher Tyson Ross might be available and could add to a rotation, but Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen and Adam Cimber are four, excellent relievers with sub-3.00 and 2.00 ERAs in the Padres bullpen who can help any playoff-bound team immediately. The Padres have an opportunity to stock up and prepare for 2019 and 2020.

San Francisco Giants 

Status: The third place Giants, like the Dodgers, need to get and stay healthy. The difficulty for the Giants is they did not reach the playoffs in 2017 with a similar roster and with the team’s offseason additions, they are the third oldest by age in all of baseball. The other issue is the Giants have the second highest payroll in all of baseball behind the Boston Red Sox at $208 million. The next closest team, the Dodgers, is nearly $20 million less. The Dodgers 25-man, active roster is actually ranked 17th (rather low for a recent playoff team) showing their youth and depth, something the Giants unfortunately lack as built in 2018.

Move: The Giants’ 27th ranked farm system is not as bad as advertised, as they contain some good, offensive prospects that might help the team this year and/or help them land a starting pitcher. The Giants need both a starting pitcher and an outfielder with home-run power.

Package: Chris Shaw (featured above) is the Giants’ top prospect and is a first baseman/outfielder. He and two other prospects might start the discussion to obtain Cole Hamels to compliment Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto (should he come back strong and healthy) at the top of the rotation and maybe another Major League-ready bat. deGrom is too expensive in prospects from what other teams can offer and would deplete the Giants’ farm system. If the Giants are in it, look for Brain Sabean and Bobby Evans to swing a trade to add a starter and a bat.

We can all watch as the July 31st trade deadline approaches and whether it propels certain teams into and throughout the 2018 playoffs.

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