There are fewer sellers this year than seasons past as the MLB trade deadline approaches, and that will have an impact on how any deals affect the current baseball futures odds.
Adding another wild-card team to the playoffs obviously increased October baseball by one in each league, albeit a short postseason round. But perhaps the biggest change it brought about was keeping more teams in the hunt, thus decreasing the number of sellers come trade deadline.
That is certainly the case this season; not only are there more teams in the mix for one of the wild-card slots, there are more squads still hopeful of winning their divisions with three of the groups – AL East, AL Central, NL Central – packed inside of 10 games from top to bottom. That has sharply reduced the number of available players for the top contenders, driving up the price for those names. That could drag out negotiations for any deals a little longer, but once we do see pieces start to move, it will have a dramatic effect on the MLB futures odds.
Dodgers, Astros Could Bid Against Each Other For Pitching
The two teams at the top of that list right now and most likely to be buyers on the trade market the next few weeks are the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. BetOnline has LA on a +400 line to win the 2017 World Series with Houston next at +500. The Astros have the better farm system of the two and might be able to afford to overspend compared to a Dodgers offering a little to get what they need -- and what Houston needs is pitching. Ace Dallas Keuchel is due back to the team with Lance McCullers Jr. and Brad Peacock, so adding another frontline starter with their offense would immediately leapfrog the Astros as the team to beat. I believe their bigger need is another arm in the bullpen, perhaps an Addison Reed from the Mets, Brad Hand from the Padres or David Robertson from the White Sox, and Houston recently got to showcase two of their top prospects, outfielders Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker, in the MLB Futures Game who could be dealt away to shore up the pitching staff.
It’s difficult to find a weak spot on the Dodgers’ roster; Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood lead the rotation, Kenley Jansen shuts games down at the back end of the bullpen, plus the young duo of Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager have LA second in the NL in scoring. All of that adds up to why the Dodgers are up 18.8 units against the MLB odds. But there are health concerns in the rotation behind Kershaw and Wood, so they might be the best candidates to chase Oakland’s Sonny Gray or Chicago’s Jose Quintana. Could LA perhaps pry Yu Darvish away from the struggling Rangers? The Dodgers have a couple of big arms on the farm, Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez, plus a nice bat in Alex Vedugo to deal away.
Bullpen The Biggest Need For Nats
Another top contender is Washington, the Nationals priced from 6/1 to 15/2 at various sportsbooks to win the World Series. It’s no secret they’ve been looking for relief help since the start of the season, Washington ranking dead last in bullpen ERA (5.20). Robertson from the White Sox would seem to be the most likely target, but he’s due another $13 million on his contract that runs through 2018 and the Nationals only have a few prospects above A-ball to deal away right now.
The Red Sox and Yankees are always players at this time of the year and in a dogfight for the AL East once again. Boston and New York can also be very aggressive going for the one piece to put them over the top, so they can’t be discounted from the trade market. The Red Sox could use a big stick, and Todd Frazier from the White Sox could help fill that need plus a hole at third base. The Yankees might be interested in one more starter, and they have a great farm system to offer up prospects. I feel, however, New York is more likely to not make a big move and keep their young stars to add to the mix and be among the World Series favorites in 2018.