As the 2018 MLB season saunters toward Memorial Day, we here at FAM decided it might be high time to take a look at the standings and see who can already safe say that… Well, this just isn’t going to be their year.
Some may say that a shade under 25% of the way through the season may be too early to decide definitively to sell, but these clubs can all be safely assumed to be in SELL, SELL, SELL mode as mid-summer approaches and the playoff races come more clearly into focus. Today, we’ll take a look at the NL clubs who should be selling everything that isn’t bolted down.
14-26 record, last in NL East
It comes as a surprise to literally not one person that the Marlins are in this position. Following Derek Jeter’s offseason firesale that saw the club offload star outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, the Marlins went into full tear down mode and were expected to be one of the worst teams in all of baseball this year. Truth be told, they’re not as bad as many expected, but they’re still out of contention. Trade inquiries from other teams are likely to begin with star catcher JT Realmuto, who many tried to pry away from Miami in the offseason, but found the asking price to be prohibitive. Luckily for Miami, Realmuto has justified that price by posting a .302/.368/.523 slash, good for 146 wRC+ through around 100 plate appearances. He’s also just 27 years old and won’t be a free agent until 2021, so if the Marlins trade him, they should get a lot.
Taking a look beyond Realmuto, the Marlins have other perfectly viable trade candidates that should be used to boost their languishing farm system. 2B Starlin Castro, acquired from the Yankees in the Stanton deal, is having a perfectly fine season and provides some pop at a position that often lacks it. Elsewhere on the club, slugging lefty first baseman Justin Bour and relievers Kyle Barraclough and vet Brad Ziegler are worth a look for teams to fill some more specific needs. Bour would be an especially nice fit for an AL club with a need for some left handed power at 1B/DH.
14-28 record, last in NL Central
While there are many worthwhile contenders, this might end up being the worst team in baseball. The Reds have been “rebuilding” for several years now and unfortunately, due to some trades where they offloaded vets for young talent, the young guys simply have not worked out. The club now finds itself languishing in the middle, trying to figure out how to move forward. They can start by unloading some guys who are soon to be free agents, and I’d start with infielder Scooter Gennett. The lefty hitting Gennett has great splits this season (.323 vs lefties, .317 vs right handers) and has posted a 133 wRC+ so far on the season. He is a below-average defender at second base, but he has corner outfield experience as well and his bat would play nicely in any lineup in need of some left handed pop. He’s also not eligible for free agency until 2020, so one more year of control is nice.
Elsewhere in the clubhouse for the Reds, despite their lack of… Well, winning baseball games, they have some really nice pieces in their bullpen. The headliner is closer Raisel Iglesias, who sports a robust 10.59 K/9 rate and is surrendering just a .154 BABIP. Reportedly many teams tried to trade for him in the offseason, but the asking price was so high that they immediately backed off. He’s under contract for two more seasons at around 5.7 mill per year. Past Iglesias, the Reds also have vet Jared Hughes, Dylan Floro and Amir Garrett lurking in their pen who have all had solid seasons and could be valuable assets to competing teams seeking late inning help. Oh, and they should trade Joey Votto because he’s a stud. But he has full no-trade and doesn’t wanna leave for some odd reason. Must be because he’s Canadian, and too nice to quit The Queen City.
San Diego Padres
16-27 record, last in NL West
Yet another last place team, yet another in the middle of a rebuild. But one thing the Padres have going for them is that they already have a great farm system. The big league club just isn’t there yet, see Atlanta or Philly the last couple of years, but the young talent is beginning to arrive at the big league level and this team could be pretty good before long. We’re in the here & now though, and the Padres are highly unlikely to compete in 2018. With that in mind, the club can start with strongly considering dealing closer Brad Hand. The Padres love Hand, and they signed him to a three year extension in January, but a playable closer isn’t THAT difficult to find and what he could return in prospect value to a needy club could be substantial. The lefty closer currently touts a 14+ K/9 rate, and has shown excellent durability in working 82 and 72 games respectively over the past two seasons.
Looking past the Friars pen, they have a couple of vets in the starting rotation who could be of some use to contenders who may be looking for a bit more depth. Let’s start with Tyson Ross, who suffered through some injuries in 2016 and 2017, but has turned things around so far in 2018 with 10.01 K/9 rate and 3.39 xFIP. He’s a pure rental, so San Diego has all the incentive in the world to sell high on him if someone calls. The second veteran member of the Padres rotation who might get some looks is lefty Clayton Richard. While his 5.20 ERA might scare away the layman, Richard sports a 3.96 FIP and 3.55 xFIP which suggest that he’s been snake bitten by some bad luck and poor defense. He’s also signed through next season, so he may carry a bit more value than Ross if his peripherals remain fairly solid.
Los Angeles Dodgers
16-24, fourth place in NL West
Raise your hand if you knew the Dodgers would be in this position in mid-May. If you have your hand up, you’re a dirty liar. After posting the best record in MLB last season, the Dodgers have stumbled badly out of the gates in 2018 and are floundering for answers. They’ve been badly bitten by the injury bug, having been without star 3B Justin Turner since spring training, are now down SS Corey Seager for the year, and have been without Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Yasiel Puig and more at various times due to injury. To compound all of the injuries, guys like Puig, Logan Forsythe, Chris Taylor, Kenley Jansen and others simply have not performed up to expectations.
The Dodgers have too much talent to be deemed a seller just yet. While Seager is gone, Turner will return soon, as will Kershaw (presumably), and LA still has some ammo left in the minors if they want to go out and make some moves to try and improve their situation. They’ve been tied by many as contenders to try and acquire Manny Machado, which would more than plug the hole left by Seager at short, but more than anything the Dodgers simply need the guys they already have to perform the way they were expected to. If they continue to slide, in the next month or so, LA GM Andrew Friedman will have some exceedingly difficult decisions to make about the long term future of his club.
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