This is AJ Preller’s world, and the rest of the baseball industry lives in it.
OK, maybe that’s overkill. But true to form, Preller is chasing a dizzying array of deals and looks virtually certain to make at least one major move before Tuesday’s trade deadline at 6 p.m. ET.
Will it be with the Nationals for right fielder Juan Soto? The Cubs for receiver Willson Contrerasleft fielder Ian Happ and maybe even relieving David Robertson? The Athletics for right-handed Frankie Montas and maybe receiver Sean Murphy or outfielder Chad Pinderwho all played for padres manager Bob Melvin in Oakland?
At this point, even Preller probably doesn’t know. To some degree, he is exploring each of the above possibilities, according to major league sources. He also raced angels for Shohei Ohtanino one in the industry expects the two-way star to move.
Other GMs are keeping their pulse on the overall market, but few are as creative and aggressive as Preller. Some teams might act on the players he’s interested in first and close some options for the Padres. New avenues could open up for some clubs depending on the path taken by Preller.
Preller has trade prospects, shortstop JC Abrams and outfielder Robert Hassell III to start, but also two high-cap players from the 2021 draft, shortstop Jackson Merrill and outfielder James Wood, both from Maryland, making them relative venues for championships nationals. Preller also has contracts he would like to move, including that of Eric Hosmerto whom we owe the balance of his salary of $20 million this season and $39 million from 2023 to 2025.
The Padres and Cubs have talked about different concepts over the past 12 months, including one last summer that would have sent first baseman Hosmer and one of Chicago’s top prospects to an unspecified return. If the Padres land Contreras, it could force the Dishes pass on a JD Martinez-Christian Vázquez package from Red Sox. The Mets, however, are exploring many other possibilities, sources said.
Besides the Padres, Montas is a target for the Twins, Yankees and blue jays (Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com first noted the Jays’ interest). The Astros, looking for a receiver, are among several clubs reporting a high price on Contreras. According to a source, they are focusing more on Vázquez.
The last hours will be intense. And Preller, as always, figures to be in the middle of the action.
Mookie, Trea, Freddie… And Soto too?
Don’t exclude the Dodgers on Soto. They’ve been in touch with the Nationals, and if the Padres make a splash elsewhere, it could create the opening LA needs to pull off another stunning delay.
This all assumes that Preller is willing to concede Soto (unlikely, especially if he fears the Dodgers are in on it) and that the Nationals are indeed willing to trade him (which no one will know until 6 p.m. Tuesday). ).
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman keeps tabs on every big name, a routine he followed even during his days with the budget-conscious Rays. A year ago, the Dodgers seemingly came out of nowhere to beat the Padres for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. A bigger package would be needed to land Soto, but imagine the Dodgers adding him to a roster that already included Turner, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. Scary.
Brewers‘ Hader: Really available or not?
The Brewers are again listening to openings for closer Josh Hader. Conversations could be little more than due diligence. But as the Brewers head to their fifth straight playoff appearance, their motivation to trade Hader could increase.
• Hader’s $11m salary will likely rise to $16m next season in his final year as a referee before becoming a free agent.
• His preference for limiting his appearances to one inning limits his value to the club and would be of particular concern in the playoffs.
• Devin Williamswho has produced 30 straight scoreless appearances, striking out 47 in 28 2/3 innings, could replace Hader as the Brewers close in.
Hader, 28, has allowed just one point in his last four appearances, recovering from a tough six-game streak that dropped his ERA from 1.05 to 4.50. Trading him would only make sense if the Brewers could acquire a hitter they desire or young players who could help them meet various needs.
For the Blue Jays, a diminished need
Despite all the talk about the Blue Jays needing a left-handed hitter, Sunday entered the majors second in OPS against right-handed pitchers and third in points per game. They don’t appear strongly in Soto’s mix. They might not add a left-handed bat at all, instead focusing on relievers with swing-and-miss stuff.
Adding any significant left-handed hitter would likely require the Jays to trade a right-handed bat, a complicated two-step process that would likely be difficult to pull off. The Jays are also keen to disrupt their chemistry. Their right-handed corner fielders, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.are among the most popular players in their clubhouse.
Don’t get caught up in labels
Neither the giants nor are the Red Sox likely to be pure sellers. Both teams will be reluctant to concede when their playoff odds hover around 20%, and both will want to bounce back quickly in 2023.
Thus, the Red Sox are looking for major leaguers in exchange for rentals such as designated hitter JD Martinez and catcher Christian Vázquez. And the Giants, even if they move some of their own rentals – notably, left-handed Carlos Rodon and outfielder Joc Pederson – figure to focus on improving their athleticism and defense in the major leagues in the short term.
The Rays, following their usual practice, are another club considering all angles. For example, at a time when they need offense, they can actually trade a batter like a first baseman Ji-Man Choi.
The Astros, sources say, are interested in Choi as a possible alternative to their apparent starting No. 1 pick, the Nationals. Josh Bell. The Rays are currently playing shorthanded with shortstop Take a walk Francoand outfielders Manuel Margot and Harold Ramirez on the injured list. But if they traded Choi, they would make other moves to recoup the offense they lost, trying to create the best 13-man squad possible.
around the horn
• Bell, from Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, told me over the weekend that he wouldn’t mind a trade to Houston. Bell and his wife, Lia, welcomed their first child, a daughter named Noa, in December. Houston is about a 3.5 hour drive from Dallas, and Bell’s parents would be in a better position to help with the baby if he were to spend the final months of the season with the Astros. He is a potential free agent.
• Reds infielder Brandon Dry, arousing the interest of several clubs, is not certain to be exchanged. The Reds may be interested in exploring an extension with Drury, who turns 30 on Aug. 21 and hit his 20th career homer as a hitter on Sunday. Of course, the Reds could always trade Drury and re-sign him as a free agent. But if they move him, they would lose their right to trade exclusively with him until the market opens.
• The Guardians are part of the teams express interest in the Athletics Murphy, but a deal remains more likely in the offseason than at the deadline. The A’s will only move Murphy in the next two days if they have enough motivation. Otherwise, they prefer to wait until the offseason, when more teams are open to adding a receiver.
• And finally, the Nationals infielder Eire Adrianza could one day be in the middle of the deadline action, but not as a player. Adrianza wants to become a general manager, and to that end, he’s taking online sports management courses through Miami-Dade College’s Honors College.
Classes take place during the school year on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. While those hours can be tough for a major league player, Adrianza says the job keeps him from thinking about baseball.
(Willson Contreras top photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)