Now we've moved past the All-Star break, the next big bullet point in the 2019 MLB season is the trade deadline. While deals could and have occurred after the deadline in the past via the league's waiver system, this is no longer an option.
Major League Baseball has done away with the August waiver deadline, so beginning this year, the trade deadline is a hard one. After 4 p.m. ET on July 31, no trades will be permitted under any circumstances.
This is significant because buyers—teams looking to bolster their rosters before the postseason—and sellers now have a shorter window in which to make moves. With the deadline in sight, there is naturally plenty of speculation floating around the baseball world.
Let's dig into some of the latest rumors.
Nationals Eying Reliever Help
Though the Washington Nationals have won seven of their past 10 games and hold a promising 52-45 record, they are still more than five games back from the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Washington is in the running for a wild-card spot, but with four other National League teams—the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers—chasing the wild card and holding at least 50 wins, winning the division is the Nationals' best chance of making the postseason.
Could strengthening the bullpen help Washington to move past Atlanta? According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and The Athletic, the Nationals are eying relievers Shane Greene and Sam Dyson ahead of the trade deadline:
#Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke on @MLBNetworkRadio about acquiring controllable players. Per sources, team is interested in #Tigers’ Shane Greene and #SFGiants’ Sam Dyson, two relievers who fit that description. Both under control beyond this season. Others also on list.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 20, 2019
The Detroit Tigers' Greene is the more enticing option of the two. He holds an ERA of 1.03 and already has 22 saves on the season. He also has an arbitration year in 2020, which means he would not merely be a rental.
Dyson also has an arbitration year in 2020, though his 2.68 ERA is less enticing. He could, however, be a fallback option if Greene cannot be acquired and if the San Francisco Giants are willing to deal him. That may not be the case, though, as with a 49-50 record, San Francisco is still very much in the wild-card hunt.
Braves Considering Stroman
The Nationals may well make a move to catch the Braves before the deadline, but it's unlikely that Atlanta is simply going to stand by and watch it happen. They are reportedly looking to bolster their own pitching staff and may be considering Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman.
According to David O'Brien of The Athletic, the Braves were one of several teams scouting Stroman during his start against the Tigers:
#Braves were among many teams that scouted Marcus Stroman’s start at Detroit on Friday, which some believe could be his last for Toronto before he’s traded. The asking price will be high; Blue Jays were said to be looking for an Archer-like package of prospects in return.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) July 20, 2019
As O'Brien pointed out, Stroman isn't going to come cheaply. He mentioned last year's Chris Archer trade. That deal netted the Tampa Bay Rays a trio of young players, including outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Tyler Glasnow.
Would the Braves be willing to part with a package of prospects to acquire Stroman? If they are all-in on this season, it's possible. Though he has an underwhelming 6-10 record as a starter this season, Stroman has a strong 3.06 ERA.
If Atlanta views the asking price for Stroman as too high, it will likely consider other options. According to CBS Sports' R.J. Anderson, the Braves are considering Stroman and other top starting pitchers before the deadline.
"League sources have informed CBS Sports that Atlanta is pursuing other top-of-the-rotation options as well," Anderson wrote. "It's not clear that any deal is close."
Phillies Also Considering Stroman
After their high-profile acquisition of Bryce Harper in the offseason, many expected the Phillies to be contenders in the NL East. At 51-48, they still are, but they are also 7.5 games back from the Braves and trailing in the wild-card race.
With pitching improvements one of the quickest ways to turn around a team's form, it comes as no surprise to learn that the Phillies are also sniffing around Stroman. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Phillies and the New York Yankees were also in attendance during Stroman's start against the Tigers on Friday:
The Phillies acquired right-handed reliever Mike Morin from the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in exchange for cash considerations, but they are probably not done adding to their pitching staff. According to Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies are looking at all avenues of improving their rotation.
"The Phillies hold some level of interest in every available starting pitcher, ranging from the top and most expensive tier to the marginal upgrades," Seidman wrote.
Don't be shocked if Philadelphia makes several more pitching additions before the July 31 trade deadline.