Coming into the 2019 season, MLB teams tried their best to address any open holes they had with patchwork before they got their true solution. With teams not having used Spring Training to develop their solutions, now begins the long process of turning to other teams that may have their solutions and striking up a conversation that results in an accepted trade.
Even teams that were big-time players in the 2018 MLB playoffs have holes to fill, and thus are looking, or should already be looking, at how they are going to take care of these speed bumps that are holding their franchise back.
Every year it seems that the trade season gets going at a different time, which is exactly what makes the sport of baseball so interesting. Unpredictability at its finest, the art of making a trade is such a long, drawn-out process that media now seems to have an in on, so fans are able to follow at every step of the way.
Here are five teams that are in need of reinforcements early on in the season and are already looking to make good on deals with underperforming teams.
Coming into the 2019 season, their bullpen was one of if not the, strongest facets of their franchise, headlined by Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader. Struck by injuries, this team now is down to 1.5 of their fully-staffed three members who were looking to take a big step forward after their 2018 shutdown performance.
Knebel underwent Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, a procedure that he put off for four seasons as he has had discomfort in his pitching arm ever since 2015. Going under the knife, Knebel will not don a Brewers uniform and step foot into an MLB game until sometime in the 2020 season, a huge blow to Milwaukee.
Jeffress got going slow this offseason, to the point where he was held back in extended spring training to help build up his arm strength again. Having finally joined the big-league club recently, he looks to be slowly but surely getting his shutdown stuff back and is almost back to becoming a part of a 1-2 punch with Hader.
Being the only shutdown arm in the pen now, Hader has been getting his big-time strikeout numbers, but he has also been getting shellacked by opposing hitters, allowing many home runs in the first month of the season.
Their starting rotation has been having major issues too, as their three-headed combination of youngsters, Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, have struggled mightily and only Woodruff has a solidified spot in the rotation at this point. Both Peralta and Burnes have suffered control issues, and Peralta was just taken to town by the Colorado Rockies on May 2, a team that he had had a lot of success against until this most recent game.
This team is in the market for pitching, pitching and more pitching, regardless of it is starters or reliever – they just need help. Calling up the San Francisco Giants for old friend Will Smith would be a great starting point, and there are other teams (Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez) who have their starting pitcher they so desperately need.
Sitting under .500 is a real accomplishment for the Rockies, who lost a key piece in their closer Adam Ottavino as he succumbed to the New York Yankees money curse and went to play in the Bronx this offseason. Having to plug and place arms in their pen has made any success earned and not given in 2019.
Outside of Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, this team also needs more offense, especially at catcher. The combination of Nate Wolters and Drew Butera behind the dish is not exactly a strength, so this team would be very smart to look to update this position.
Bringing in a player like Francisco Cervelli from the Pittsburgh Pirates (who are sleeper contenders) or Welington Castillo of the Chicago White Sox would constitute as a sleeper upgrade but one that could pay big-time dividends in the long run.
Tampa Bay Rays
Baseball still exists in Florida guys and gals, and not just whatever the Marlins are doing (because that is not baseball). The Tampa Bay Rays are here to stay, and they need help from their fellow MLB competition to make sure that reigns true.
Relying on starters Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, as well as bullpen arms Jose Alvarado and Chaz Roe, this team needs more offense, especially upgrades at first base, right field and maybe even catcher.
Always on a low budget and not normally in the position to upgrade through trades, the Rays are in a peculiar spot this season. While on the outside looking in for winning the American League East division, which should be handled by either the Yankees or the ‘18 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, winning a Wild Card spot is well within their reaches this season.
There are a plethora of players that they could go out and get, but trading for Mychal Givens and Jonathan Villar from the Baltimore Orioles would be a solid, but cheaper, step in addressing open holes on their roster. While this team will not make any big-time additions, they will nickel and dime their way into playoff competition come July and beyond.
For a team that does not need much, what the Houston Astros need is important: starting pitching, pretty much like every other playoff-dreaming team in the league.
After having let Dallas Keuchel go in free agency, Keuchel still, for some reason, sits out there without a team wanting to pay for his services. Is a reunion likely? No, because there may be a bit of bad blood from the team letting him walk. Is it possible that Keuchel would sign back on for the rest of the year? Yes, but only if the situation is 100% known and easy to read.
The Astros will most likely go another way, and through the trade market, Stroman from the Blue Jays or Madison Bumgarner from the Giants would be two likely additions that they would look into. While both would require big prospect packages, the Astros have Kyle Tucker and other farm system guys who would fit exactly what the Blue Jays and Giants would be looking for in a deal.
In what may resemble a surprise addition to this list, the San Diego Padres have a legitimate chance to compete for a playoff spot, whether it be by winning the National League West or by earning a Wild Card spot. By bringing in Manny Machado this offseason, this team has absolutely announced what their window of competition looks like: now.
By pairing Machado with incumbent big contract Eric Hosmer, this team has the offense in most roles already in place, with a need for a few minor additions. Pitching-wise, their unheralded starting rotation looks to be solid to begin the year but lacks any experience to hang tough in August.
Therefore, this team, as they already have, needs to swing for the fences in terms of who they acquire, and they seem to be quite alright with sacrificing the future for present results. Needing more pitching on their roster, the name that may surprise some but jumps out a lot as a likely trade candidate for them: Felix Hernandez.
King Felix, who has only known what Seattle Mariner uniforms feel like, could be that home run guy for this team in terms of making a decision to bring more attention and fanfare to this team. General manager A.J. Preller is a go-getter type of executive which shows in how he runs the team, so this kind of move would be seen as just that. While Hernandez would need to approve the move, the likelihood of his interest in this team would probably increase as the Mariners get farther and farther away from competing this year.