The Major League Baseball trade deadline is, generally speaking, a time of order and sense-making. Good teams try to get better. Bad teams try to re-tool for the future. Buyers buy, sellers sell. This is the way of things.
And then something like Sunday happened: the New York Mets, positioned as sellers after a disappointing season, go out and grab one of the biggest trade chips out there in Marcus Stroman and things suddenly don’t make that much sense.
In the last day before the trade deadline — which is at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday — I’m all about things that make sense. I’m all about returning the general order of things.
So here are five deals that, in my estimation, make a lot of sense for five contenders. They may not be altogether cheap or easy to pull off (and I touch on that in the capsules below) but they’re players and teams that are good matches. These are solutions for how the Houston Astros and New York Yankees should address their rotation, how the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers should help their bullpen and how the Cleveland Indians can boost their lineup.
Now, I’ll leave it to the real GMs to figure out how to actually make the deals work.
1. Robbie Ray to the Astros
The Astros need a starting pitcher for the stretch run, the postseason and possibly into 2020, once Gerrit Cole could depart in free agency. They’ve been linked more frequently to Mets free-agent-to-be pitcher Zack Wheeler, but why not create a new Gerrit Cole? The Astros can do that with Robbie Ray, the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher who hasn’t ascended to Cy Young levels yet despite some obvious talent that needs to be harnessed.
Ray, 27, has been averaging 12 strikeouts per game over the past three years in Arizona, but — like Cole when he was with Pittsburgh — hasn’t been able to put it all together. The Astros have a knack for taking pitchers to the next level, which would make this a win for both the player and the team. If the Astros can’t get Ray, Detroit Tigers starter Matthew Boyd could offer the same type of upside. He’s under control longer than Ray, so would likely be more expensive.
2. Yasiel Puig to the Indians
For some reason, trade-deadline talk about the Indians has been about whether they’ll trade Trevor Bauer. But the Indians have nearly caught the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central standings — so they should be buying. They’ve got strong pitching and a talented infield. What they need is an impact bat in the outfield.
While Puig brings with him some baggage, there’s no doubt that he’s an energizing force. He’s hit 22 homers this season with the Cincinnati Reds, which is more than any Cleveland outfielder. He’d be a rental, so not a long-term solution for Cleveland, which might also be just the right dose of Puig. If not Puig, the Indians could be in the market for Seattle Mariners slugger Domingo Santana or Tigers outfielder Nick Castellanos.
3. Edwin Diaz to the Red Sox
The Red Sox were stubborn about not acquiring a top-notch closer this past offseason. They might just be running into a deal that can make up for that. The New York Mets are said to be interested in trading Edwin Diaz, who they got from the Mariners last offseason. Diaz hasn’t been stellar with the Mets, but was lights out last year with 57 saves. If the Red Sox can buy low on Diaz and his near 5.00 ERA, it could be a shrewd move. He’s under team control until 2023.
There are still grumblings the Red Sox don’t want to pay big for a closer, which is fine — I’m not here to talk them into it, just that it’s a great fit. Surely, the Red Sox would be able to give up less than the Mets did for Diaz. And if you’ve watched Dave Dombrowski teams dating back to his powerhouse Tigers, you’d know they’re often lacking bullpen weapons. This is a chance to change that for the long-term.
4. Felipe Vasquez to the Dodgers
The Dodgers need a relief pitcher. Specifically, a left-handed relief pitcher — a bonus would be a lefty who can close games if Kenley Jansen isn’t right. Pirates closer Felipe Vasquez is the guy. He’s been an All-Star the past two seasons, with 48 combined saves. His ERA this year is 1.87. The price may be high because Vasquez is on a team-friendly contract with control until 2023.
This one comes with complications. The Pirates, as Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday, may not be ready to move Vasquez even though others in the industry think this is the right time to do so. It’s been reported the Dodgers don’t want to give up prospect Gavin Lux, which could make for a tough decision for one team or the other — because Vasquez may be the perfect fit in L.A.
5. Mike Minor to the Yankees
The Yankees, without question, need to bolster their starting rotation. Since they didn’t get Stroman, probably won’t get Noah Syndergaard and I’m also advocating for the Indians not to trade Bauer, that seems like Texas Rangers starter Mike Minor is the best fit for the Yankees.
Truth is, they just need someone who can win a game in October. Minor has been quite good for the Rangers this year, owning the best ERA in baseball for a while, although now it’s up to 3.00. He’s under contract next season too, which will also help the Yankees. The Yankees have also been linked to Robbie Ray, who as we mentioned above has a ton of upside.
More from Yahoo Sports: