Even with as much success as these teams have experienced so far in 2019, there are always instances in which players need to move on, regardless of how good the situation is. For the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and the tied Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, each of these National League teams have at least one player who would be better suited moving onto a different squad.
Currently sitting as leaders of their respective divisions in the National League, each team has its weak spots, which correlate with players needing a fresh start. Regardless of being a pitcher or a positional player, the need to move on at some point, either this year or in the offseason, may be best for both parties.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Russell Martin, C
When the Dodgers committed to not bringing back incumbent backstop Yasmani Grandal, they needed to address their catching concerns. With longtime backup Austin Barnes now sliding into the starting role, this team needed a backup.
Clearly having worn out his welcome north of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays, the two teams struck up a deal, sending Martin and $16.4 million of his $20 million owed to the Dodgers for two farm prospects. While at the time it was seen as a good deal, Martin’s production has been quite limited and mostly non-existent.
While hitting well across 81 at-bats, the lack of willingness of the team to give Martin considerable playing time shows his lack of worth to this squad. Being familiar with the pitching staff is a great reason to bring him back into the fold, and his veteran presence is always a bankable asset, but Martin’s best years are behind him, and the 36-year-old is on the wrong side of 36.
While not being owed a ton of money by the Dodgers, his time with the team should be cut short, as there are many other better second-tiered catching options that would be more valuable to this team than having Martin fill that bench role. While Barnes has been doing quite well in his first season as the starter, there needs to be a better, more viable option that exists behind him than an old, former Dodgers great.
Philadelphia Phillies – Maikel Franco, 3B
Sporting the best record in one of the tougher divisions in baseball is tough, so the Phillies can most certainly hang their hats on that achievement. However, the lack of growth displayed by infielder Maikel Franco is holding this team back from excelling more.
Franco, who rose up through their farm system and looked to be the part of exactly what the Phils needed in terms of a youthful prospect who could tear the cover off of the ball, has completely fallen flat and seemingly forgotten how to hit the baseball.
Currently sporting a dreadful .209 average across a healthy amount of plate appearances (211), Franco’s spot on this team seems to somewhat be in danger. However, due to the injuries that keep hitting Philadelphia hard, Franco will be counted on to deliver much better approaches at the plate because with the season-ending setback to Andrew McCutchen, Scott Kingery will see more time in the outfield, paving the way for Franco to get more time over at third base.
Chicago Cubs – Yu Darvish, SP
More of a pipedream to get rid of Yu Darvish and his bloated contract, but the Cubs have a money problem, surprise surprise. Although their reasoning for being able to shell out big money for closer Craig Kimbrel fell on the contract of Ben Zobrist currently not being on the books due to a pending divorce, their payroll looks atrocious.
As was the case last season, money does not always equal results, and the Cubs found that out first hand, losing the division and their wild-card matchup all in the matter of a few days. Bringing Darvish in the offseason before the 2018 season seemed like a good move, but then he got hurt and was shut down for pretty much the entire season with arm issues.
In 2019, and feeling bad for letting the team down, Darvish has already started more games than he did last season, but with as-troubling results, as he produced in 2018. Not being able to go long in games, combined with a high amount of walks per appearance and Darvish’s deal is looking more and more like the deal the club gave to Jason Heyward.
One albatross deal is a lot easier to deal with than two for a squad, yet Theo Epstein and company have proven that the task will be even harder this season with two on the books and with no relief in sight. Needing to offer extensions to their core player in the near future, the Cubs window to compete in the National League may be closing, and quickly.
Milwaukee Brewers – Taylor Williams, RP
The team’s first base situation was a close second, as the combination of Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames both have had disappointing seasons, although Thames has been on a tear as of late. Regardless, the role that Taylor Williams plays in this team’s bullpen has been quite bad, to put it nicely.
Across seven games and 10.1 innings, Williams has a one win, one loss record and a 12.66 ERA, which is quite gross. While currently in the minor leagues, Williams has been riding the shuttle back and forth from Triple-A San Antonio and the National League squad in hopes to finally make a positive impression.
Last season, Williams was one of the team’s workhorse arms, appearing in 56 games and earning a 4.56 ERA, which is respectable for that many contests. While never seen as the big-money shutdown arm, Williams stuff does translate decently well to the big-league level, although not as of late.
The Brewers would be smart to cut bait with him at some point so they can open up a 40-man roster spot and use it on someone more worthwhile and who has the abilities to make more of an impact in 2019 and beyond. While he has been a quality arm for them in the past, Williams seems to have lost his ways and is destined to be wearing a different uniform next season.