Building off yesterday’s National League scripts for teams’ reach-out calls, today I move on to the American League.
American League East
Tampa Bay Rays
Obviously, we don’t have a ton of room to add in terms of budget. There are some right-handed hitting first baseman out there who could be good fits for us without adding too much to our payroll. We love what Kevin Kiermaier brings to the clubhouse and with his glove, but we could use a center field upgrade. As usual, we have a bunch of no-name relievers pitching like stars, and there are some ‘pen arms out there who check our data boxes who might be of interest, but only if the price is right.
Boston Red Sox
We’re surprised we’re here, too, but we’re also convinced this team is good, so we’re looking to bolster the roster. Our biggest issue is first base, as we can’t afford to keep throwing Bobby Dalbec out there and clearly need an upgrade. With Franchy Cordero cratering and Enrique Hernández not hitting, an outfield piece that allowed us to move Hernández back to more of a utility role, where we think he’d be more productive, would interest us. We’re quite happy with our pitching, but like the rest of the world, we have some bullpen targets to improve upon our depth there.
Toronto Blue Jays
We wish we were more than a handful of games over .500, but at the same time, we made one of the biggest moves of the offseason and he’s only played four games, so we are looking at George Springer as our biggest second-half addition. Catcher is a problem for us, and while we like the bat of Alejandro Kirk, we don’t really trust him defensively in a playoff run, so we’d like to find an upgrade there. But the real focus for us is pitching. We need starters and we need relievers if we are going to make a push into the postseason, and we plan on being aggressive. We think the division is still within reach, and certainly a Wild Card is.
New York Yankees
Frankly, we’re a bit stuck in the mud. We’re not happy with the team, but we’re only a few million dollars below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold in terms of payroll. Our biggest concern right now is the outfield. The Aaron Hicks injury really hurt us and we need a center fielder. We’d also be willing to move Clint Frazier for a more steady presence in a corner. He might figure it out elsewhere, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen here. We’re pretty happy with our pitching, it’s the offense that’s the problem, but it’s not like we’re going to replace some under-performers who are still a big part of our team, so between that and our payroll issue, we might just ride this out unless something really grabs us.
We’re already in active talks about some of our guys, but don’t ask about Cedric Mullins or John Means right now. We’re not shutting down talks on anyone, but we’re certainly not looking to move either player at this time. The most action we have right now is on Trey Mancini, who we think is the best first base target out there, still has a year of control left after this one, and we don’t have to tell you about the makeup. Take a look at Freddy Galvis, who is having a solid year at the plate, remains a steady defender and would have almost zero impact on your payroll.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
We’ve been hit by some big injuries, but we’re still in first place and we plan on being aggressive through the deadline. We hope to get at least one of Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez back at the very end of the season, but neither is a guarantee. So we are looking for an everyday outfielder, preferably one who can play center, in order to move Leury García and Billy Hamilton into more of a bench role, which is where they belong. We are fine with our rotation from top to bottom, but could use some bullpen depth to help us with the middle innings.
Right now, we are in a holding pattern. We are going to see how the next four to six weeks play out before making a decision. Starting pitching will be a focus for us should we look to add, but we’re not in a position to add a big name. At the same time, we don’t have a lot of obvious trade targets in terms of rentals. Both Cesar Hernandez and Eddie Rosario would be available, but neither has performed this year, so we’re not anticipating any kind of real return. In terms of expiring contracts, the guy we’re actually getting the most calls on is the resurgent Bryan Shaw, who has gotten some velocity back while showing a much-improved slider.
Kansas City Royals
It’s too early to tell. We’ve scuffled of late, but the team played too well early in the season for us to just give up now, and organizationally, we’re not big fans of just dumping. There are plenty of places we can improve upon, but will likely focus on starting pitching if we look to add. Should we go in the other direction, we’d expect a lot of action on Danny Duffy, who should be back in time to give your evaluators a few looks before we need to talk. Jorge Soler could be had for a song, and no, we’re not sure what’s gone wrong there either. Jarrod Dyson could be a nice bench outfielder for someone and Greg Holland could help your relief corps. All in all, we’re probably a month away from engaging in any kind of serious discussions.
We’re ready to talk right now, and understand that our rental-type pieces will not generate any kind of sizable return. We just need Wilson Ramos out of here so we can figure out what we have by giving playing time behind the plate to Eric Haase and Jake Rogers. Jonathan Schoop is a decent bat who can play either position on the right side of the infield. Nomar Mazara could be had for next to nothing. In terms of pitching, Daniel Norris still has stuff and might be able to harness it for half a season to build some free agent value. We would be willing to talk about a couple of players signed through 2022 as well. Robbie Grossman has on-base skills, earns $5 million next year and could be a fit for any number of teams looking for outfield help. We would discuss Matthew Boyd, who enters his final year of arbitration next year, but the return would need to be significant.
We’re close to moving pieces, but not quite there yet. We keep waiting for the club to get going, but we’re running out of time and there are no real signs of a turnaround. If we do decide to go into selling mode, we anticipate plenty of interest in our impending free agent group. Andrelton Simmons remains a premium defensive shortstop that can give you postseason comfort, while Nelson Cruz can transform the middle of the lineup for any American League club. We have a couple of mid-tier starters to talk about in J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda, with the latter being a bit more expensive. If anyone thinks they can fix Alex Colomé, he’d be available for little return, while Hansel Robles would require an actual prospect back. We’re not interested in talking about any players with control post-2021 at this time.
American League West
Moving the team? I don’t know anything about that; that’s above my pay grade. We’re just focused on the roster. We don’t have much room in terms of adding salary, but we’d like to find a corner bat/designated hitter, maybe of the platoon variety, to help there and we’re not sure how much longer we can keep rolling out Elvis Andrus at shortstop. We feel good about the rotation, but will look to add a couple of bullpen pieces on the cheap. Then again, we’re the Oakland A’s, so “on the cheap” can just be assumed. We’re not happy about it either, but you got to play the cards you are dealt.
Our lineup remains one of the best in baseball. Our rotation is well above-average. Our bullpen is a bit of a mess. We’re 100% focused on relievers and anticipate acquiring multiple ‘pen arms to help us deliver the innings the get us to Ryan Pressly, as we’ve already lost multiple games because our middle relief group couldn’t get the job done. We have one million pitching prospects with big velo and/or big spin rates who we are sure interest you.
We feel like we’ve taken a step forward this year, but we’re not ready to make a push for the playoffs. That said, we really don’t feel like July will really be too busy for us. We will certainly listen on Mitch Haniger, but he’s under control for 2022, and his last year of arbitration should still be a bargain as he’s building off a base of just over $3 million because of the missed year. We’re always looking to move Kyle Seager, but the weird clause that makes his 2022 option a player one if he is traded remains a roadblock. We’re willing to get creative here and use it to buy a prospect if you think something could make sense there.
Los Angeles Angels
The Trout injury and our bad pitching have killed any chances for a playoff run, so we anticipate a very busy next two months. We could end up dealing six to eight players to help replenish the system, but we will be focused on 0-3 players or prospects who are close when engaging with potential dance partners. Thus far, most of the calls we’ve taken want to discuss our pitching. We have three mid-tier starters in Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney and Alex Cobb who could all help most contenders, although they might not be starting in a playoff series, so our asks will be reasonable. Raisel Iglesias is generating a lot of attention as a high-leverage relief piece who misses bats and throws strikes. Steve Cishek, Alex Claudio and Tony Watson are a trio of bullpen pieces we expect to simply auction off towards the end of July to the highest bidder if they don’t generate earlier interest. José Iglesias can play every day for some teams, but works as a plus utility type nearly everywhere. If you are looking for power, we’d talk Justin Upton. The last year of his contract balloons to $28 million in 2022, and we’d be willing to pick up a healthy chunk of that in the right deal. He has no-trade protection, but that’s always negotiable and he hasn’t played in the postseason since 2013, so he might be open to the discussion.
We’re obviously still in rebuilding mode, and are happy to talk about our players, but we don’t anticipate a busy July in terms of number of trades. We are listening on Joey Gallo, but we don’t feel like we have to trade him by any means. We could wait until the off-season, or even next summer. We’ll need to feel like we are really winning the deal to move him before the deadline. The message is similar on Kyle Gibson, who is under contract for 2022 at a great price, but again, we are open to ideas. We have a couple of smaller pieces in Charlie Culberson and Brock Holt as great makeup utility types with postseason experience. Ian Kennedy is an above-average reliever at a good salary who has already generated some interest and we’re not going to wait on moving him if the right deal comes along.
Kevin Goldstein is a National Writer at FanGraphs.