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As Teams Inch Toward MLB Trade Deadline, Here Are Some Players On The Block


For Major League Baseball fans, it's that time of year when you don't just root, root, root for the home team, but for the home team's general manager. August 1 marks the end of the trading deadline between now and Monday afternoon - GMs who figure their team just might make it to the post-season if they fill that one hole in the lineup and GMs who've given up on this year and want to unload a veteran who's a burden on the payroll.

They all have a long weekend to make their swaps. It's time to think, not just about depth charts, but about spreadsheets, too. And I suspect that baseball writer Jonah Keri of CBS Sports has been doing just that. Jonah, welcome to the program once again.

JONAH KERI: Thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: And can you explain what's the idea here? What's the theory behind there being a deadline on August 1, and what can teams do?

KERI: Well, I mean, you want to set up a situation where there's some fairness. Everybody knows that the same date is in play. And you also want to have a big enough window where if you're making a trade, it presumably has an impact. If you make a trade on the last day of the season, it's not going to help you that much.

If you do it now, you get two plus months of potential performance from a player. So teams that are, as you said, out of the race can say, OK, we want to build for the future. We're going to trade you our veteran player who might be coming up on free agency or, perhaps, he makes a lot of money, and in exchange we would like prospects. We would like players who might be a couple of years from the big leagues, but have a chance to become good players and to become cheap good players at that.

SIEGEL: There are lots of rumored possible trades out there. What are some of the rumors that you're watching more carefully?

KERI: Well, the Milwaukee Brewers have really a chance to be in the driver's seat here because they're a noncontending club with a lot of good players. Jonathan Lucroy is an excellent two-way catcher. He could potentially go to a team like Cleveland or Texas. The Brewers have some really good relief pitchers named Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress. So we could see any of that happen.

And the Chicago White Sox also have become intriguing, at least in name if nothing else. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana - two excellent left-handers who are both signed to very team-favorable contracts - it would require a heck of a lot to acquire either of those gentlemen. But if it were to be done, a team like Boston or Texas, especially with a lot of young talent, has the ability to potentially match up.

SIEGEL: Does the record show that the general manager who is bold on July 31 often does very well and should be praised for his trades?

KERI: Interesting that you say that. I just wrote an article for CBS Sports today that argues you can do it both ways. You can certainly shoot the moon and come up big, and we've seen that work quite a few times. But the Toronto Blue Jays are an example of a team that this week made two deals, and they gave up virtually nothing, but they specifically addressed weaknesses. They didn't get superstars, but they got useful players for very little.

And three examples that I posed were the 2014 San Francisco Giants, the 2010 San Francisco Giants and the 2009 New York Yankees. All three of those clubs were really good. They decided, you know what? We're not necessarily going to make an over-the-top deadline move, and they all went on to win it all. They just relied on the talent that they had, picked up a couple of roll players and just cruised on into the World Series.

And of course, the danger if you trade for a superstar is it might come back to bite you. We've seen Hall of Famer John Smoltz was once a prospect who was traded in a deadline deal. So you have to be a little bit careful if you are going to make that gutsy trade that you're not giving up a guy who could end up being multiples better than the person that you might have rented for two months.

SIEGEL: Jonah Keri of CBS Sports. Jonah, let's hope neither of us gets traded by Monday afternoon.

KERI: Amen, Robert.

SIEGEL: Jonah hosts the Jonah Keri podcast. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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