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The Boston Red Sox should start looking for takers for J.D. Martinez.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Though the 2020 Major League Baseball season hasn’t even been going for two weeks, some teams are already 20 percent into their 60-game schedules.
Teams should therefore know what they do and don’t have—and how they must react accordingly.
We thought we’d help by suggesting one roster move that each team should consider. Some of these are as simple as injured list activations, prospect promotions and role changes. In other cases, we suggested trades that clubs should look into.
We’ll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Note: Stats and records are current through Tuesday, August 4.
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Kevin CronMatt York/Associated Press
After scoring five runs per game in 2019, the Arizona Diamondbacks surely didn’t expect to have problems with their offense in 2020.
Yet they do. The club has thus far mustered only a .533 OPS, two home runs and 2.5 runs per game. All three figures rank among the dregs of MLB.
The D-backs might consider their trade options down the line, but their position is too precarious for them to aggressively pursue any deals now. Instead, they must try to find an offensive boost from within.
Kevin Cron might provide it if the Snakes recall him from their alternate training site. He’s coming off a 45-homer season in the minors and majors, and Arizona’s designated hitter spot looks tailor-made for him.
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Mike MinorJeff Chiu/Associated Press
Promising though Atlanta’s start to the 2020 season has been, serious issues have arisen in the club’s starting rotation.
It has just a 4.82 ERA and, more alarming, it has been hit hard by injuries (Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels), an opt-out (Felix Hernandez) and a designation for assignment (Mike Foltynewicz).
Brian Snitker’s club does have some young talent it can call on, including well-regarded right-hander Ian Anderson. But at this point, Atlanta should also be considering its options on the trade market.
In light of how the Texas Rangers have started, a reunion with old friend Mike Minor is a possibility. And lest anyone forget, he’s coming off a season in which he posted a 3.59 ERA and led all pitchers with 7.8 rWAR.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
The Baltimore Orioles were supposed to be a non-factor in 2020. But in the wake of their weekend sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, they’re in second place in the American League East.
Is this sustainable? Probably not, but the O’s have excuses—i.e., the expanded playoff field and a general shortage of valuable trade chips to cash in—to lean in to their strong start anyway.
If they’re going to do so, deepening their pitching staff must be a priority. Specifically, a rotation that has a 5.13 ERA so far.
They might give 24-year-old right-hander Michael Baumann his shot. Though he’s made it only as far as Double-A, he impressed with a 2.31 ERA in 13 appearances at that level last season.
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J.D. MartinezElise Amendola/Associated Press
Still another reason that the Orioles might consider running with their early success is that one of their top rivals in the American League East clearly isn’t a threat to them.
Just two years after winning 108 games and the World Series, the Boston Red Sox are missing Mookie Betts in their offense and cracking under the weight of a pitching staff that has a 5.78 ERA.
Frankly, there’s no coming back from this. The Red Sox should be planning on cutting their losses on the trade market, onto which anyone with talent and limited club control must go.
That includes J.D. Martinez. Even though the veteran slugger is off to a slow start, his track record and the temporary expansion of the DH into the National League would be good for his value.
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Brandon WorkmanJohn Minchillo/Associated Press
Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs are turning the clock back to 2016.
Their hitters are enjoying a .792 OPS and 5.2 runs per game. Cubs starting pitchers, meanwhile, have excelled with a 2.01 ERA.
Yet the Cubs must beware a bullpen that has flat-out stunk in posting a 7.64 ERA. It hasn’t helped that veteran closer Craig Kimbrel still looks like a shell of his former self.
It’s not too early for the Cubs to look to the trade market. And speaking of the Red Sox, they could be open to parting with pending free agent Brandon Workman. Though he has his own troubles with walks, he’s made up for that by allowing only 33 hits in 74.2 innings since the start of last season.
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Dane DunningGregory Bull/Associated Press
The Chicago White Sox are winning because of their offense, as they’re hitting a collective .284 and scoring 5.4 runs per game.
But unless they improve their starting pitching, they may have trouble sticking around in the playoff race.
The 5.84 ERA attached to Chicago starters is one of the worst in baseball. Even though All-Star Lucas Giolito is rebounding from a difficult start on Opening Day, the rotation is still thin after him and Dallas Keuchel.
That’s where Dane Dunning might be able to help. He thrived with a 2.71 ERA at High-A and Double-A in 2018, and he’s healthy after missing all of 2019 because of Tommy John surgery. It can’t hurt the White Sox to promote him to see what he can do.
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Aristides AquinoBryan Woolston/Associated Press
To some extents, the 2020 season is going exactly according to plan for the Cincinnati Reds.
They’re getting dazzling pitching—e.g., a combined 1.84 ERA—out of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer. They’re also getting more than they bargained for out of Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas, who have a 1.183 OPS and eight homers between them.
Yet Cincinnati’s supporting cast has lagged behind, and nowhere more than in left field. The position has produced just a .450 OPS and zero homers.
Though he’s a natural right fielder, Aristides Aquino could be a solution if the Reds recall him and let him start. All it would take is for him to play the way he did when he hit 19 home runs in only 56 games down the stretch in 2019.
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Jake BauersChris O’Meara/Associated Press
Elsewhere in Ohio, Cleveland has offensive shortcomings of its own.
Terry Francona’s squad is averaging only 2.7 runs per game, which is what happens when a club’s hitters struggle to get on base (.282 OBP) and hit for power (.270 SLG). This is a collective failure, as only Jose Ramirez has started hot.
More specifically, Cleveland simply has to wring more offense out of an outfield that’s produced just a .411 OPS. A good start would be to supplant Oscar Mercado with Bradley Zimmer in center field and then install a new starter in left.
Cleveland’s best in-house option is Jake Bauers. Though he flopped with a .683 OPS in 2019, his career .780 OPS at Triple-A inspires some optimism that he could get the job done.
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Brendan RodgersDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press
Though the Colorado Rockies are off to a hot start, the key reason for it has sketchy lasting power.
That would be the 2.44 ERA the Rockies are getting out of their starters. With respect to that group’s very real talent, that number simply isn’t going to last unless the Rockies start playing their home games somewhere other than Coors Field.
As such, they need to prepare their offense to make up for their starters’ inevitable regression. That would ideally involve making room for top prospect Brendan Rodgers, whose .855 OPS in the minors portends a productive career in the majors.
The Rockies could recall Rodgers to play second base and move Ryan McMahon to first and Daniel Murphy into a platoon with Matt Kemp at DH.
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Casey MizeCarlos Osorio/Associated Press
Speaking of prospect promotions, how about one from the file marked “Duh”?
The Detroit Tigers are only two years removed from choosing Casey Mize with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, yet there isn’t much doubt he’s ready for the majors. His stuff (especially his splitter) sizzles, and he commands his pitches well.
Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire hasn’t bothered hiding his fondness for Mize, and there were reports that the 23-year-old was going to make his debut Sunday. Until, of course, he didn’t.
But no matter. Though nothing is official, all signs point toward the Tigers’ promoting Mize sooner rather than later. Once he arrives, he’ll be tasked with contributing to a surprisingly competitive squad.
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Robbie RayKelvin Kuo/Associated Press
Some of the problems the Houston Astros have now will probably work themselves out.
Namely, their offense should be a lot better than it’s shown. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez will return soon, and Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and George Springer will heat up eventually.
Yet there’s less hope of an immediate turnaround for their diminished starting rotation. Especially with Justin Verlander on the injured list for the foreseeable future, the Astros should already be looking to the trade market for reinforcements.
With the Diamondbacks having already fallen behind in the NL West, the Astros might have a shot at strikeout-happy left-hander Robbie Ray. They’ve asked about him before, and there’s little question his stuff would fit well in the Houston rotation.
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Whit MerrifieldCharlie Riedel/Associated Press
After losing 103 games in 2019, the Kansas City Royals aren’t exactly picking up the pace in 2020.
Not that this is surprising. The Royals have quite a few interesting players but few real stars. That won’t change until they add more prospects to their farm system and then give them time to grow.
At this juncture, the Royals can’t accomplish the first step of that plan without making some trades. What stars they do have should be on the table ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline.
None would attract as big a crowd as Whit Merrifield. As a .300 hitter with power, speed and a versatile glove, he’s a fit for just about every team in the majors. Factor in his team-friendly contract, and he is basically a perfect trade chip.
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Julio TeheranDarron Cummings/Associated Press
At long last, the Los Angeles Angels called up uber-prospect Jo Adell for his major league debut Tuesday.
If his power, speed and hitting acumen translate to the majors, Adell will make a fine addition to a lineup that already has Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani. As a result, the Angels might be able to hit their way to October.
Yet in light of their 4.83 ERA and Ohtani’s latest arm injury, there’s still a question of whether they have enough pitching. At least in the short-term, their best hope on that front is an active Julio Teheran.
The right-hander has been missing in action since testing positive for the coronavirus. Yet he is progressing well, and he should at least serve the Angels as a dependable innings-eater upon his return.
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Gavin LuxGregory Bull/Associated Press
There isn’t a whole lot that’s gone wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers to this point, but they might like to have more production out of second base.
It’s a position without a clear regular, and it’s looked the part in putting up a .588 OPS. With stars all over the field, it would be nice if the Dodgers had one there too.
What we’re getting at is this: It’s time for the Dodgers to give Gavin Lux another shot.
Granted, the 22-year-old’s history with the yips isn’t exactly a minor concern. But in the wake of a minor league season in which he slashed .347/.421/.607 with 26 home runs, the Dodgers can dream as big as they want when it comes to his bat.
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Sixto SanchezBrynn Anderson/Associated Press
At this precise moment, the Miami Marlins simply need to focus on getting their bearings again.
Their season had barely begun before the coronavirus swept through their clubhouse, resulting in more than a week’s worth of postponed games. They didn’t finally return to action until Tuesday.
Once the Marlins do get their bearings, the question will be how they might maximize their chances of pulling an upset and earning a playoff spot. Promoting players from the farm system is their best bet, and none is as obvious a potential asset as Sixto Sanchez.
The 22-year-old has electrifying stuff—plus a pretty good idea how to use it. And after posting a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts at Double-A in 2019, he is ready to be tested in the majors.
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Keon BroxtonGregory Bull/Associated Press
The Milwaukee Brewers were already off to a rocky start. Then they had a couple of games (and later the series) against the St. Louis Cardinals postponed, which was followed by Lorenzo Cain’s decision to opt out.
Losing a player of Cain’s caliber hurt. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. And after slipping in 2019, he had been bouncing back at the plate with a .333 average through five games.
Still, the Brewers might have a shot at replacing Cain’s bat if Ben Gamel keeps up his own warm start. And at least in the late innings, they can replace Cain’s glove by recalling Keon Broxton.
Though the offensive upside he teased in 2016 hasn’t panned out, he has remained an excellent defensive center fielder to the tune of 19 defensive runs saved over the last two seasons.
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Jake OdorizziAssociated Press
Not everything is going swimmingly for the Minnesota Twins.
Yet after winning 101 games in 2019, the Twins are progressing pretty much as expected in 2020. They’re also not wanting for much, save for maybe extra stability in their rotation.
They can take care of that by simply activating Jake Odorizzi when he’s recovered from a sore back. When they do, they will be welcoming a 2019 All-Star back into their midst.
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Marcus StromanKathy Willens/Associated Press
For the New York Mets, it could be worse.
Back-to-back Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is doing his usual thing, at least. And while the Mets are waiting on Pete Alonso’s bat to heat up, the rest of their offense is mostly doing OK.
Otherwise, this is not the start the Mets wanted. They especially need to get their house in order on the mound, where most of their non-deGrom pitchers have existed somewhere between bad and mediocre.
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Mike MinorRichard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press
When a team starts a season as hot as the New York Yankees, looking for faults can quickly become an exercise in picking nits.
But in this case, they have some real problems in their rotation. J.A. Happ was about as hittable as he was in 2019 in his debut, and James Paxton has lost nearly 4 mph off his average fastball.
Rather than dip into their farm system, the Yankees ought to force the issue with an impact trade. To this end, they might beat Atlanta to Mike Minor if they rekindle the interest they had in him last season.
If the Yankees were to add Minor, they could move Paxton or Happ into a bullpen that recently lost live-armed righty Tommy Kahnle, who seems ticketed for Tommy John surgery.
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Franklin BarretoRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press
The Oakland Athletics started well by winning three of four against the Angels, but the struggle since then has been real.
That has a lot to do with their offense—or lack thereof. Even after an 11-run outburst in Seattle on Monday, their hitters have thus far managed just a .638 OPS and 4.2 runs per game.
Those numbers should go up once Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien find their strides. But none of them plays second base, so the A’s will have to look elsewhere to fix for the position’s .511 OPS.
Why they haven’t already entrusted the spot to Franklin Barreto is baffling. He is a former top prospect, after all, and he’s yet to get a real opportunity to translate his .861 OPS at Triple-A to the majors.
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Alec BohmCarlos Osorio/Associated Press
Like the Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies are only now getting back into the swing of things after a drawn-out layoff brought on by the coronavirus.
Their exposure to the Marlins during MLB’s opening weekend thankfully didn’t result in any of their players catching the virus. They lost that series and were then defeated in their return against the Yankees on Monday.
If the Phillies fancy giving themselves a jolt, they have the option of calling up their two best prospects: Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard.
The former is a capable hitter who could help out at third base, first base and DH. The latter is a talented pitcher who could boost the club’s rotation depth after Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
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Joe MusgroveGene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 93 games in 2019 and declined to improve their roster during the offseason. As such, their slow start to 2020 is no great surprise.
There also isn’t much hope of a turnaround. The Pirates have allowed 17 more runs than they’ve scored, primarily because they have struggled at the plate with a .575 OPS.
The Pirates do, however, have solid arms to offer a trade market that figures to be loaded with pitching-needy contenders. Arguably the most intriguing of the bunch belongs to Joe Musgrove.
The veteran righty has mediocre career numbers, but any team that fully unlocks his stuff might get more out of him. To wit, he could take off if he uses his filthy slider more often.
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MacKenzie GoreGregory Bull/Associated Press
The San Diego Padres are for real, folks.
They’re trending toward their first winning season in a decade, and it has much to do with their surprisingly dangerous offense. They’ve gotten 10 home runs out of just Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers and Trent Grisham and have scored 5.3 runs per game.
Yet things have been a bit more adventurous on the mound. Padres hurlers have a modest 4.64 ERA, in part because their bullpen hasn’t lived up to its outstanding on-paper potential.
MacKenzie Gore, who rates as MLB.com’s best overall pitching prospect, could help with that. The 21-year-old lefty understandably wants to start, yet he surely has the goods to excel as a shutdown multi-inning reliever in the interim.
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Joey BartRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press
Much like they did last year, the San Francisco Giants are putting up a tough fight even though neither their offense nor their pitching is all that great.
Regardless of whether they can keep it up, the biggest question facing them in 2020 is whether to promote top prospect Joey Bart.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has thus far resisted the idea—and for fair reasons. Bart is only two years removed from being drafted, and he’s played just 22 games at Double-A.
Yet Giants players really want Bart to spell Buster Posey (who opted out of the season) behind the dish. And while the downside of his not being ready is real, the upside of his gaining experience and potentially helping a Cinderella playoff run is also real.
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Jarred KelenicElaine Thompson/Associated Press
For good and ill, the Seattle Mariners are having precisely the kind of season that anyone could have expected.
They’re obviously not very good, particularly where their pitchers are concerned. And yet their youth movement is bearing some fruit, especially in Kyle Lewis’ and J.P. Crawford’s corners of the offense.
If the Mariners want to supercharge this movement, they’ll promote outfielder Jarred Kelenic.
His situation isn’t all that dissimilar from Bart’s, in that the Mariners are understandably wary of rushing the 21-year-old. Yet he’s shown time and again that he has all five tools—including rapidly developing power—and there happen to be wide-open spaces for him in left and right field.
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Dylan CarlsonJeff Roberson/Associated Press
After having multiple players test positive for the coronavirus, the Cardinals’ immediate priorities are getting those players healthy and containing the spread.
Once they do that, then they can see to their punchless offense.
They must be happy with how Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill have come out of the gate, but the lineup looks worse than the unit that struggled its way through 2019. It owns a .663 OPS and has thus far scored only 18 runs.
This road will inevitably lead to Dylan Carlson’s call-up. The 21-year-old put himself on the doorstep of the majors with a .914 OPS, 26 homers and 20 stolen bases at Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, and there’s now an opening for him in center field.
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Randy ArozarenaElise Amendola/Associated Press
The Rays looked pretty good amid their 4-1 start, but that look was quickly upended by their five-game losing streak.
This skid laid bare Tampa Bay’s lack of offensive stars, as their hitters produced only a .525 OPS and 13 runs during it.
The Rays activated All-Star right fielder Austin Meadows from the injured list Tuesday. But as much as he should help, he won’t fill the club’s need for an impact right-handed bat.
For that, they might look to Randy Arozarena once he’s also ready to come off the IL. He’s only played in 19 major league games, but all those came in the Cardinals system at the tail end of a 2019, when he posted a 1.003 OPS at Double-A and Triple-A.
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Mike MinorRichard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press
Apologies for bringing up Mike Minor over and over again, but a trade of the veteran lefty is looking like a fixed point in the Rangers’ future.
Their thin offensive depth and Corey Kluber’s injured shoulder suggest they won’t pull out of their slow start. If they don’t, they’ll have to sell at the Aug. 31 deadline.
Whereas fellow ace Lance Lynn has another year left on his contract, Minor is in the last season of his. He’s also an iffy candidate for a qualifying offer, which is all the more reason for the Rangers to cash in his value.
To be fair, how much one month of Minor is worth is a fair question. But given how many contenders lack rotation depth, his value might be greater than one would think.
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Chase AndersonFrank Franklin II/Associated Press
Despite all that was said about their young and exciting offense before the season, it’s actually the Toronto Blue Jays pitching that has stolen the show so far.
Though Matt Shoemaker bombed against Atlanta on Tuesday, Toronto’s starters had previously been doing well with a 3.16 ERA. They might keep it up if veteran ace Hyun-Jin Ryu heats up and they upgrade over Trent Thornton at the back end.
To the latter end, the Blue Jays might consider a trade. But for the time being, they can simply wait on Chase Anderson to make his way back from an oblique strain.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, that’s due to happen by the weekend. If all goes well, Anderson will revert to the form that led to a 3.37 ERA with Milwaukee in 2017 and 2018.
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J.D. MartinezDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press
Though the Washington Nationals have gotten off to a slow start, they have some silver linings going for them.
Yet the reigning champs should be concerned about their offense. Soto’s return should help it improve on its pedestrian .725 OPS, but the hole left by Anthony Rendon still looms.
J.D. Martinez is obviously not a third baseman, but the Nationals should consider him to play Rendon’s former role as a middle-of-the-order righty slugger. He could DH for them this year and play right field in 2021 if he doesn’t opt in to free agency this offseason.