It was a light schedule for Monday's games, though the Nationals celebrated a big victory over the Braves when Anthony Rendon's Grand Slam interrupted a 2-2 draw in the sixth inning against Chad Sobotka. The Blue Jays Bo Bichette delivered the first hit of his career in his first game. We had two more Grand Slams – Red Jose Iglesias and Pirate Colin Moran – to give us nine Grand Slams in the last three days. The Mets exchanged Jason Vargas for the Phillies and Jon Gray delivered a gem to defeat the Dodgers at Coors Field.
Here's Bichette's hit in his first at-bat:
The first of many 🔥
– Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 30, 2019
The whole discussion continues to revolve around Wednesday, 4:00 pm. ET trading deadline. In this sense, here are the six teams that I suspect are under the greatest pressure to make an important appointment:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are on the way to a seventh consecutive title in the National League West and have so far two defeats in the division series, two defeats in the championship series and two defeats in the World Series to prove it. This could be their best team yet, and another trip to the World Series will not be enough to calm a hungry fanbase. The Dodgers have not won the last post-season game since 1988 – before 12 playoff games.
Here are the latest information we hear, names to watch, reactions to completed deals, and shopping lists for each team as July 31 approaches
Reporting on MLB Trading Deadlines
So good they are also, their main vulnerability is the same as in October: the bullpen for the late game, and that does not even take into account Kenley Jansen's problems in the last two World Series (three blown parades and one loss). When the Cubs were in this position in 2016, they paid too much to get Aroldis Chapman and gave up the valued Gleyber Torres. Will the Dodgers be ready to make a similar deal for a relief like Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates? Vazquez is the most dominant potentially available helper and will be contracted until 2023, so he is promised.
Will the Dodgers do that? They will do something. They added Rich Hill, Yu Darvish, and Brian Dozier to each other in the last few years, but they did not really have to break their best in any of these deals. Vazquez, with his contract and years of control, will cost more than these three players. The Dodgers should be ready to pay.
2. New York Yankees
It's been 10 years since the Yankees played in the World Series. They are currently running away with the American League East and have not won the division since 2012, which seems almost impossible given all their financial resources. Their current win percentage of .638 would be their best since 2002. All that would be nice: a championship title, 100 wins, a dream season despite all injuries.
But it will not be enough. The pressure on general manager Brian Cashman is to deliver a championship. As Sam Miller emphasized in his column on Monday, the teams with a clear lead in their divisional race usually make the biggest deals on the deadline. I would expect the Yankees to do the same – make a strong team even better. With Marcus Stroman, who is now with the Mets, and the uncertainty over the trading status of Madison Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer, and Noah Syndergaard (not that the Mets would sell him to the Yankees), this might not be a starter pitcher. Cashman could add one or two reliefs and build a super bullpen for the postseason.
Curt Schilling (twice!), Corey Kluber and "For what the hell did you swap Jay Buhner?!?" We are experiencing summer blockbusters that went awry and that GMs would like to forget. David Schoenfield
3. Milwaukee Brewers
When the Brewers finished last year's Journey to the National League Championship Series, they put all their chips on the table in 2019, placing them on the table highest payroll in the franchise history. They have managed to stay in the NL Central race despite being seventh in the races per game and thirteenth in the eligible runs per game. So there's plenty of room for improvement – and Jordan Lyles, who was taken on Monday by Pittsburgh, is hardly a solution to their pitching problems.
The pressure on GM David Stearns is that the Brewers' window could suddenly close after this season. This is not a young team – the lineup is the second oldest in the NL, behind the Giants, after baseball's weighted season. Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal both have mutual options for 2020, so they can cancel their contracts and make their free choice after the season. Keston Hiura looks like a great addition to Christian Yelich, but the farm system is considered one of the worst of the majors. It could be now or never for the brewers.
4. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are a good team, but as this Rendon Grand Slam has shown, the Bullpen needs one or two additions:
🗣️ DO NOT SLEEP ON ANTHONY RENDON!
(You'll probably want to turn on your sound for this one.)
– Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 30, 2019
The Braves are in a better position in the long run than Milwaukee, with their young core of hitters and a strong farming system, but that does not mean they should not be ready to improve their chances of winning in 2019. The Dodgers are not invincible.
While Mike Soroka has had a great rookie season, the rest of the young starters have mixed results: Max Fried was hot at the start and has slowed; Sean Newcomb is now in Bullpen; Touki Toussaint was up and down; and Kyle Wright fought in his few major league starts and was just fine in Triple-A. In other words, you do not know what the future will look like. If you have a chance of winning, try to improve your chances. If Bumgarner is available, the Braves have the prospect of getting closer to him and Giants Will Smith in a parcel business.
5. Washington Nationals
I have the Nats at the top of the list for two reasons: (1) Having won on Monday, they have their deficit in NL-East on only 4½ games behind the Braves reduced. and (2) they have a conspicuously obvious hole to secure it in the bullpen. The Braves can be caught – assuming Max Scherzer's load on the upper back, which has forced him onto the list of injured, will not be a long-term affair – but it's hard to imagine that this team with his current bullpen deep into the playoffs penetrates, even with a healthy Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg headlining a rotation that has dominated lately.
The added pressure on GM Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez is that they missed the playoffs last season. Of course, the Nationals have played the playoffs four times since 2012 and lost all four times in the division series. Rizzo signed an extension that runs until 2020, and Martinez's contract also runs until 2020 (with a 2021 club option), but a second non-playoff consecutive season would likely jeopardize both jobs.
Speaking of windows: The Indians are trying to solve the difficult task of a (also bad-looking) retail franchise that is now trying to win To reconcile and at the same time maintain an extended dispute window. They have won three titles in a row and are only two games behind the twins. It helps keep the other three teams in AL Central in bad shape – not just for 2019, but probably for 2020 as well. If Bauer is not traded now, he will also trade in the offseason, and Francisco Lindor will stand only in 2021 under the control of the team, so that he will later trade food.
This means that this is their best chance to break their drought in the World Series – they have not won everything since 1948 – and their last chance with this group of players that broke through in 2016. I would keep Bauer and try to add a bat or two – maybe Domingo Santana from the Mariners or Yasiel Puig from the Reds.