I don’t think Trade Deadline Day is Baseball Christmas — that has to be either Opening Day or the World Series. It might be Baseball Easter, but you’d have to make some sort of rising from the dead connection, and that feels like a stretch. I think if you’ve got to pick a Judeo-Christian calendar holiday to compare Deadline Day to (and you have to) it’d be Halloween. First, and most importantly, both days are primarily fun. You don’t have to pile in a car and drive the two hours to grandma’s house to have some uninspired ham. All you need to do is buy some candy and hand it out to kids. Simple. Fun. Deadline Day is hardly simple, but man, it’s one of my favorite days of the year. How can it not be? You get to see who’s going for it, who’s playing for next year, and, best of all, you get to armchair GM for a day. Some team will do something you disagree with, and you can call them a bunch of buffoons. Satisfying stuff.
I mention the deadline because the players below have been in trade rumors the past few days, made a minor league All Star team, or both. That’s why we’re talking about them today. Themes help. Some of these guys may be helping other organizations in the next week or so, so let’s take a look at what they’ve done this year.
Pennies for Someday
Nick Franklin, IF/OF — Seattle Mariners
It feels like Franklin’s been around forever. You, the loyal readers of PI, know that feeling better than most. Drafted in the first round in 2009, Franklin’s always been good and occasionally great in the minors, but it hasn’t translated to the big leagues yet. And that’s OK, since he’s just 23 years old and not everyone develops at the same pace. His track record in the minors is superlative, and he’s posted a .298/.395/.476 line in triple-A this season. I get that the Mariners want to make a run at the playoffs, but I don’t think you give up on a player with that type of positional flexibility and offensive potential when you’re deeply in third place in your division. The Mariners have about a half dozen 1B/DH types that don’t hit enough to play those positions, and they just acquired another in Kendrys Morales. They need more athletic, up the middle players, not less. Presumably, Jack Z and his cohorts want to keep their jobs, so I’m afraid they might deal away a huge part of their future for an outside chance at getting into a one game playoff. Finally, there have been rumors that the A’s want to trade for Franklin. The A’s have built the best team in baseball by trading for players like Franklin. That’s scary, and evidence enough that the Mariners should hang on to him a little while longer. From a fantasy perspective, if the A’s do manage to trade for Franklin, target him in your dynasty and keeper leagues, as they consistently turn flotsam into studs.
Joc Pederson, OF — Los Angeles Dodgers
Joc Pederson is a fantastic baseball name and his play on the field befits it. His .323/.450/.589 line speaks for itself, but he’s also stolen 25 bases for good measure. The Dodgers are paying four outfielders over $61 million right now, and those four players are all on the books through 2017. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers couldn’t subsidize one or two of them out of town to make room for Joc, but I don’t think that’s the most likely course of action right now. The Dodgers are built to win the World Series this year, and Pederson’s a chip that could be used to acquire a David Price level talent. Pederson is too talented to spend next year in triple-A, so someone has to be dealt relatively soon. If you have Pederson in your dynasty league, you should be rooting for him to go to another organization, and soon. Once he’s up he’ll be able to help in all five categories.
Corey Seager, IF — Los Angeles Dodgers
Seager is the other prospect everyone talks about when everyone talks about the Dodgers making a trade. Why? He’s great at baseball. Kyle’s little brother just got promoted to double-A after hitting .352/.411/.633 in the first half. Seager’s technically a shortstop, but every scouting report I’ve read has the 6-foot-4, 215 pounder moving to third tout de suite. Seager’s not ready for the majors yet, but he’s not nearly as blocked in LA as Pederson is. The Dodgers have said that they’re not trading Seager and Pederson in the same deal, which is prudent. Regardless of position, Seager’s bat will play in the majors once he’s up there — and he may be called up inside of twelve months. Seager’s another target in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Steven Souza, OF — Washington Nationals
God, Souza is having a ridiculous year. He’s hitting .358/.433/.590, with 15 bombs and 22 steals at triple-A. Look at that. Half of the league would’ve called him up weeks ago, but the Nationals have tons of depth in their outfield right now. Even with Ryan Zimmerman being out for the foreseeable future with an injured hamstring, there’s no real at bats to be had for Souza in the majors. The Nats are leading the NL East and want to make that playoff run we all thought they were going to make last season. They could use some help at second base, as Danny Espinosa’s been at or below replacement level since the beginning of last season. Souza’s the type of player that could be the centerpiece for solid second baseman, and he has the potential to be an everyday starting outfielder. I don’t think Souza’s a fantasy star, but I do think he’ll be a pleasant surprise if he’s dealt to another organization where he can get some burn in the bigs.
Sean Coyle, IF — Boston Red Sox
Coyle seemed destined to be a prospect footnote — a guy who had some talent but never fully realized his potential. It’s the path most prospects end up taking, despite their best efforts. Coyle was a third rounder back in 2010, and he toiled for a few years. Then, 2013 happened and he hit 16 bombs in 60 games. The power uptick was unexpected and was met with some cautious optimism. This year, though, everything’s coming together for Coyle, as he’s put up a .322/.396/.555 line through his first 76 games at double-A. Now he’s gone from someone who might be a utility infielder tp a 22 year-old who might just be figuring things out at an age appropriate level. He still strikes out almost once a game and doesn’t walk a ton, but the 12 bombs, 13 steals (without being caught) and that beautiful batting average help balance things out. He’s something more than interesting now, so keep an eye on him the rest of the way this season.