Earlier this week, we did a team by team breakdown of each American League team and evaluated their trade needs. Are teams going all-in on winning now and buying at the deadline? Or are they looking to dump salary and build towards the future?
In this article, we will switch gears and head to the National League and breakdown where each team stands just a couple of weeks away from the July 31st trade deadline and what that means for your baseball bets. Let’s get started!
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are the class of the league right now as they have the best record in baseball and don’t show any signs of slowing down. LA has a whopping fourteen game lead in the division, so they really aren’t at all at risk of losing the division lead. But they have made it back to back World Series and have come up short both times, so I know they are going to be aggressive buyers at the deadline this year.
Unlike most teams this season that are in desperate need of starting pitching, the Dodgers have plenty of rotation strength. Their needs are more in the bullpen. And luckily for LA fans, there are several solid bullpen arms available. The sexy name floating around is Will Smith from the San Francisco Giants, and I see the Dodgers as the favorites to acquire the highly coveted reliever.
But don’t be surprised if the Dodgers make a couple of moves to really beef up the bullpen. The championship window is closing soon in Hollywood, and I expect the Boys in Blue to go all out this year to try and win their first World Series since 1988.
This is where things start to get a little weird out west. With the Dodgers running away with the division title, that puts the rest of the division in a position where if they do try and make a run at the playoffs, they are likely only playing for a trip to a one-game wild-card game. Is it worth bankrupting the future for a shot at a one-game playoff?
The DBacks have flip-flopped in the media several times recently, but my guy says this team ends up selling last minute. They are only one game above .500 and would need a huge finish to get anywhere close to challenging the Dodgers for the division title. And when you look at some of the pieces they have for sale, I think someone will blow them away with an offer they can’t refuse.
The DBacks have what everyone needs, and that is starting pitching. Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke are both top of the rotation type of guys that would net hefty returns. And outfield Adam Jones would offer a solid veteran bat that many teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, would love to have. The fans won’t like it but expect a last-minute fire sale in Phoenix.
For my money, the Rockies are the most disappointing team in the National League this year. Coming into the season, many people, myself included, saw the west division as the Rockies to lose. Yet here they are, sitting at four games under .500 and in fourth place. There is little doubt that Colorado will drop out of contention completely, and for that reason, they should look to trade a couple of pieces.
The problem for Colorado is that they would be selling low with some of their best guys. Kyle Freeland and German Marquez were both great last year and are pitching terrible this season. That doesn’t mean they won’t get moved, but you hate to ship a guy like Freeland off, who got Cy Young Award votes last season in just his age 25 season, and not get a nice return. But his ERA is north of seven runs right now, so I can’t see too many teams offering a lot for him.
The Rockies also have a couple of position players they may consider moving. Guys like Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy could end up going. But the core of players consisting of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon likely won’t be traded. As much as they want to get better, I think the Rockies end up more or less standing pat, possible making a couple of lower-level moves, but nothing game-changing.
San Diego Padres
When the San Diego Padres went out and spent $300 million bucks on Manny Machado to pair with up and coming superstar Fernando Tatis Jr, many thought this team would contend for the playoffs. But unfortunately, Tatis has missed playing time with injury, and this team is in the last place. But similar to the Chicago White Sox, this team is nearing the end of a long multi-year rebuilding process, so I don’t think they are going to trade away anyone too important.
But one guy that I do expect to get traded is closer Kirby Yates. Closers always net solid returns, and Yates is the best he has ever been and would be a great sell-high candidate for San Diego. They hate to let a guy go that has been so good, but the king’s ransom they will get in return should be plenty to push the deal through.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have been long rumored as sellers at the deadline this year with several teams eyeballing starter Madison Bumgarner and reliever Will Smith. The Giants have been on absolute fire in July though as they are 12-2 in the month. Will this hot streak change their minds? I don’t think so. On top of Smith and Bumgarner who will both demand heavy returns, the Giants also have guys like Tony Watson, Pablo Sandoval, and Kevin Pillar that should draw significant interest. I think the Giants end up tearing it down and starting over despite the recent surge in wins.
National League Central
When I said above that the Colorado Rockies were the most disappointing team in the NL this year, the Brewers were a close second. After getting all the way to game seven of the NLCS last season, most expected the Brewers to be elite again this year. But they hit a nasty skid in early July that saw them lose eight out of ten games, and while they are right in the mix for the central division title, I expected much more out of them this season.
That being said, I think Milwaukee is still clearly in the buyer category this year. The Brewers have been rumored to be looking at basically all of the high-profile starters on the market including Noah Syndergaard, Robbie Ray, Madison Bumgarner, and Marcus Stroman. I wouldn’t at all be shocked to see them nab one of the bigger named starters available. I also think they would love to add a power bat to the lineup. A guy like Justin Smoak makes sense. Maybe the Brewers bull a double whammy of a move and pick up Smoak and Stroman both from Toronto?
The Cubs have also underwhelmed somewhat this season. But that might just be me hating on them a bit much as they have been in first place for much of the season. The Cubs will certainly be looking to add talent as well this year at the deadline. They signed closer Craig Kimbrel recently addressing their biggest need. But they would love to add a bat to their lineup, specifically an outfield bat. Kole Calhoun from the Angels will likely be available and seems to be a good fit.
The Reds were hanging around until a recent slump that has dropped them back to last place. Now that the Reds seem to be out of it, they can probably move a couple of players to try for some salary relief. The Reds have a bunch of veteran expiring contracts, and I am sure we will see some of those guys moved. The marquee names are Scooter Gennett and Yasiel Puig. And with the need for starting pitching so high this year, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood could also net big returns for Cincy. Expect several moves from the Reds.
Along with the Reds, the Pirates have toyed with contention most of the season and have to make the decision whether or not they want to stay in the race. They tricked everyone last season when they should have been sellers instead of buyers, and that blew up in their faces, so I expect them to not make that same mistake again this year. The Pirates don’t have many guys that other teams would want, with the untouchable Josh Bell being the outlier. The Pirates will listen to offers, but I would expect only minor moves from Pittsburgh.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals badly want to get back to the playoffs this year. We knew that coming into the season when they brought in superstar Paul Goldschmidt. But Goldy hasn’t delivered as of yet, and this team is stuck in third place. But I still think they do whatever they can to get better. The Cardinals never really completely rebuild, and I don’t see that happening this year either.
The problem for the Cardinals is that they don’t have any obvious needs. They could use another starter, but who couldn’t right now? I see them making a lower end move for a back of the rotation kind of guy. Maybe someone like Zack Wheeler or Mathew Boyd.
National League East
I am not sure I can remember a time that a team had this many great young players all at once. Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and Max Fried headline this group of Baby Braves that are really young, and really good. The Braves are cruising along in first place and would love to add some talent. The issue for Atlanta is similar to the Cardinals, in that they don’t “need” anything specific.
This team is loaded and outside of maybe adding some bullpen help, they are in pretty good shape. Ken Giles would fit nicely in the bullpen, as would Will Smith. I would expect a couple of minor moves out of Atlanta, but nothing that will make front-page news.
Along with the Rockies and the Brewers, the Phillies have been quite disappointing this season. After an off-season that saw them bring in guys like JT Realmuto, Jean Segura, and Bryce Harper, most expected the Phillies to be the class of the NL East. And that just hasn’t happened as they are in third place. I do think they are still in buy mode though as they are just a half of a game back of the wild card.
The Phillies would love to add a starting pitcher to their rotation, and all of the usual suspects have been rumored to be talking with Philly. Stroman, Bumgarner, Boyd, and Greinke are all being rumored to head to the city of brotherly love. But I think the guy they end up with is Rangers All-Star starter, Mike Minor.
The Nationals have all the sudden emerged as a true contender in the NL. After a slow start, the Nats have caught fire, and they are now solidly in the buy category. The Nats bullpen was historically bad earlier in the season and has been better since, but they would still like to add a couple of arms. Mychal Givens and Jake Diekman are a couple of guys they have their eyes on right now. With a starting rotation with Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are just a decent bullpen away from being very good.
Only one team is truly out of contention in the National League right now, and that is the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are the worst team in the league by a wide margin, and they are always open to trading away talent. The problem for them is that they have already traded most of their key MLB ready players away. Expect the Marlins to listen to any and all offers with Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker being the bigger names they have available.
New York Mets
As usual, the New York Mets came into the season looking to win, and have ended up being awful. The Mets are once again looking to sell off pieces. The big-name here is starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The Mets have been hesitant to break up their young, dynamic duo of Syndergaard and fellow starter Jacob deGrom, but I think this is the year that all changes. I expect New York to dump everything not named Jacob deGrom or Pete Alonso. Syndergaard, Vargas, Wheeler, and Frazier will all go at some point as the Mets finally burn it to the ground a decade overdue.
And here they are folks, my team by team breakdown of the trade needs for the National League. The NL is more competitive than I can ever remember, with every team besides the Marlins having a real shot to make the playoffs. That makes this trade deadline more important than ever. Make sure you keep a close eye on all these moves so you can make the most informed bets as possible. Thank you for reading and good luck betting baseball in the second half of the season!