Royals, Yankees, Mariners, White Sox, Rockies have decisions to make before Trade Deadline
By Richard Justice
No general manager faces a tougher couple of days than Dayton Moore of the Royals. He has a team on the fringe of the postseason race and veteran players who might bring a bounty of young talent.
Buy or sell?
For some teams, it's obvious. The Rays, Athletics and Padres are willing to listen to offers for virtually anyone on their rosters. For other teams -- the Royals, for instance -- the path is less clear.
Kansas City could still make a postseason run, but it would take a significant turnaround. With the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Monday at 4 p.m. ET, this is the weekend when decisions have to be made.
Let's look at five teams who'll likely have stressful weekends:
4th place in American League Central, 9 games back
7th place in AL Wild Card race, 6 1/2 games back
Moore is attempting to evaluate what the market is for his closer, Wade Davis, arguably the best in the game. What if Kansas City can get two elite prospects, or maybe three? Moore has other players who have drawn interest, particularly right-hander Edinson Volquez.
Moore has had a simple answer: He's listening to what other teams have to say, but he hasn't decided to make deals that would be viewed as pulling the plug on 2016.
These decisions are the toughest any GM will ever be asked to make. It's one thing to evaluate another team. It's totally different to assess your own.
One thing Moore has prided himself on is making the tough call, and this one is a doozy for the defending champs. The Royals have six teams to pass just to get an AL Wild Card berth. Some of those teams -- Red Sox, Astros, Tigers -- are playing better than Kansas City. But while the standings announce one reality, the other reality is that the Royals are one good stretch from getting right back in the hunt for a playoff berth.
The Dodgers and Nationals see Davis as someone who potentially could get them to the World Series. If he's traded, the Royals would still have Kelvin Herrera to pitch the ninth inning. If some of the pitchers Moore had counted on get healthy, Kansas City could still play meaningful games in September while putting the club in a better spot for 2017.
4th place in AL East, 6 games back
4th place in AL Wild Card race, 3 1/2 games back
This is an easy call. As long as the deficit is reasonable, the Yankees are in it. If it's the AL Wild Card Game, so be it. Two years ago, the World Series featured two Wild Card teams -- Royals and Giants.
When general manager Brian Cashman traded closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, it wasn't an indication the Yanks were pulling the plug on the season. Instead, it was an acknowledgement that the Cubs had made an overwhelming offer. To reject it would have been silly.
New Yankees closer Andrew Miller probably would fetch more than Chapman, but Cashman apparently hasn't come close to dealing him. He may also find some interest in veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran, who has been one of the players who has helped the club creep back into contention.
For now, the Yanks are going to let things play out. To play two meaningless months of baseball simply isn't in their DNA. They've played well enough lately to justify that thinking.
3rd place in AL West, 6 1/2 games back
5th place in AL Wild Card race, 4 games back
The Mariners face few critical free-agent issues after the season, so general manager Jerry Dipoto is free to play things out. If Felix Hernandez gets hot, Seattle has a chance to play meaningful games in September. The Mariners' other issue is an inconsistent bullpen, so Dipoto becomes one of about 20 general managers looking to upgrade that part of his team.
Dipoto could be a motivated buyer depending on what happens over the weekend. One of the teams in front of the Mariners, the Rangers, has had a terrible month. The other, the Astros, faces a brutal schedule the first two weeks of September. Seattle still might have an opportunity to make some noise in the postseason picture.
White Sox: 50-52
3rd place in AL Central, 8 1/2 games back
6th place in AL Wild Card race, 6 games back
Chris Sale and Jose Quintana aren't available, at least for a price any club has been willing to pay so far. General manager Rick Hahn might be willing to move third baseman Todd Frazier, but it's Sale and Quintana who could bring impactful talent.
The White Sox began this season in a win-now mode, and unless something changes by Monday afternoon, that's how they'll finish it. Hahn seems likely to keep the current group of players together and add to the core in the hopes of a run in 2017.
3rd place in National League West, 9 games back
5th place in NL Wild Card race, 5 games back
Few teams are more optimistic about their immediate future than the Rockies, who are loaded with young talent. They may be aiming toward a 2017 playoff run, but they find themselves in the 2016 NL Wild Card race after Thursday's dramatic win against the Mets.