Yesterday, I went through the best trade candidates from seven AL teams that should be just about ready to wave the white flag. But unlike the AL, where the postseason is basically set already, the NL still has a lot of sorting out to do, with nearly every team still in contention for a playoff berth.
Because of that, this list will be shorter, but there are still a few teams in the National League that will be selling over the next week, and several more could join them if they go on a skid before Monday’s August 31st deadline.
The Pirates are among the few teams that should be listening to offers on all their players leading up to the trade deadline. As far as starting pitchers go, which is the Braves’ most significant need, Pittsburgh doesn’t have too much to offer, especially with Joe Musgrove on the 10-day IL. However, Williams could be a quality pick up for Atlanta. He has a 3.70 ERA in five starts this season and posted a 3.11 ERA over 31 starts as recently as 2018.
The Reds are 11-15, but that leaves them just a game out of the final playoff spot, so it’s doubtful they are thinking about selling right now. However, a poor performance this week could lead to them having no other choice, and they have one of the most attractive names that could be traded on their team.
Trevor Bauer has been the best pitcher in the majors thus far. He’s only had four starts… but he’s tossed two complete-game shutouts, leading to a 0.68 ERA. Bauer also boasts 41 strikeouts in just 26.1 innings pitched (14.0 K/9) and a WHIP of 0.570.
The Reds rightfully believe they have a fantastic opportunity to win a playoff series or multiple with the way their starting rotation is set up, but they have to get there first. A rough week could lead to them moving Bauer, who is in the final year of his contract.
San Francisco Giants
A week ago, the Giants seemed like for-sure sellers, but a recent winning streak has them right back in the mix for a playoff berth, and we’ve seen San Francisco hang on for too long in the past. I’m not sure they’ve learned from not dealing Madison Bumgarner last season, and if they didn’t, they might end up trying to buy at the deadline. However, the reality is they are not contenders, and they should operate that way this week.
Cueto is finally 100% healthy and pitching pretty well for the Giants, posting a 4.35 ERA (4.01 FIP) in six starts. His playoff experience would make him a quality #2 behind Max Fried in the postseason. However, next year, Cueto is owed $21 million and has a $22 million club option in 2022 with a $5 million buyout. I don’t see the Braves taking on that kind of money unless the Giants eat a significant amount.
A couple of weeks ago, the Rockies sat on top of the NL West. However, they were just swept by the Dodgers and are now 13-15 on the year, finding themselves in second-to-last place in the division. Still, they are right in the thick of things for a playoff spot, so there’s no guarantee they will be selling any of their pieces at the trade deadline.
If they do, Jon Gray would be an attractive trade target for the Braves. From 2015 to 2019, Gray has a 3.77 FIP in 114 starts. That’s exceptionally impressive when you consider half of his starts take place at Coors Field. Gray also has one more year of arbitration remaining, so Atlanta would benefit from his services in 2021.
As is the case with every team on this list not named the Pirates, the Diamondbacks are also in contention for one of the final playoff spots despite being in last place in the NL West. If they have a terrible week, though, they will be sellers, and Robbie Ray should be the first to go.
The talented southpaw is having a rough final season for Arizona in the last year of his contract, boasting an 8.33 ERA in six starts. The reason for this has been walks and the long ball. He’s given up the most free-passes of any pitcher this season (25) and has allowed nine home runs in just 27 innings. However, Ray has a lengthy track record of success. From 2015-2019, he had a 3.96 ERA (3.92) FIP in 140 starts. Perhaps Ray would benefit from a change of scenery, and he shouldn’t cost the Braves very much in terms of prospect capital.
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