Inside Baseball: Ranking the 29 starters on the trading block

While the Mets are willing to field offers for their two ace pitchers, the chances they trade Jacob deGrom are just about “zero,” according to some people with Mets ties. And while the chances they trade Noah Syndergaard are “significantly higher than that,” according to one Mets-linked person, they are thought to be far less than great, too.

The Mets are listening alright, but some folks believe they are doing so mostly to “pivot” those talks to one of their other starters, who though strong are not quite of that ilk. And even as far as that goes, the strong belief is that they probably won’t trade Steven Matz, either, which leaves only the talented Zack Wheeler as a starter with a decent chance to land elsewhere at the deadline.

Assuming the Mets’ intriguing trade talks amount to no more than their strong No. 4 starter being dealt, that the Orioles — busy with more pressing issues involving Manny Machado, Zach Britton and others — hold onto good young, controllable starters Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, that the Rays don't trade ace Blake Snell (the chances of that may be less than deGrom, which according to the comment would be less than zero), and that the Tigers wait on a trade for their ace Michael Fulmer to recapture even more of his vast trade value, that leaves the market with a large number of serviceable but mostly less-than-star starters.

Some might suggest the starting pitching market is dreary bordering on dreadful. That might be true if an ace is the objective, but the market is at least filled by a long list of decent starters, some of whom have raised their value with strong performances in recent days (i.e. Nathan Eovaldi, Tyson Ross, Wheeler and perhaps Matt Harvey).

In the land of the No. 3 starters, J.A. Happ looks like the current star, followed by Cole Hamels, who has the pedigree but a large salary and long no-trade list, and perhaps the charging Eovaldi.

Here’s the whole field (counting deGrom, Syndergaard and the other Mets starters) of names that are floating out there, in order of value, considering salaries, commitments and the like (the value is graded here, and the chances to be dealt is assessed, too) …

1)  Jacob deGrom, Mets: He’s one of the best five pitchers in the game. The Mets may have to decide they have no chance next year as well as this year to pull the trigger, and with the rotation looking better lately, they probably won’t be willing to do that. They are looking for impact (i.e. Gleyber Torres or someone of that stature). Teams will try to make it tempting, but it’s a big gamble they may not be willing to take, especially without one single GM who’s responsible (more on that to come).
Value (0-5 scale): 5 Stars *****. Odds to go: 7-1 (13 percent).

2) Blake Snell, Rays: The All-Star snub isn't underappreciated by MLB execs. However, it's near to impossible to see the Rays moving him. File this under the heading, "Wishful thinking." 
Value: 4 ½ stars. ****1/2. Odds to go: 3-1 (25 percent).

3) Noah Syndergaard, Mets: Many saw him as the Mets’ ace entering the year. But while he’s extraordinarily talented (and has three years to go on his contract after this one, one more than deGrom), there’s a bit of a reliability issue that could make it (slightly) more possible than deGrom.
Value: 4 ½ stars. ****1/2. Odds to go: 3-1 (25 percent).

4) Michael Fulmer, Tigers: He was once a Met, too! But he went to Detroit for Yoenis Cespedes in a trade that worked for all parties. He had arm surgery over the winter but is throwing well. He’s said to be “available,” but the price is thought “astronomical.” Not that you could blame them. In this market, with his salary, he looks fantastic. Ultimately, rivals think he’s unlikely to go.
Value: 4 Stars ****.  Odds to go: 5-1 (17 percent).

5) Dylan Bundy, Orioles: If the Orioles do a full rebuild, Bundy and Kevin Gausman could go. There’s no indication of that yet, and they already have a lot to think about with Machado, Britton and others. The other problem, should they trade both Bundy and Gausman? As one rival put it: “Who’d pitch?”  
Value: 4 stars ****. Odds to go: 8-1 (11 percent).

6) Kevin Gausman, Orioles: He’s in the same category as Bundy (though we’d rate Bundy slightly ahead).
Value: 4 Stars ****. Odds to go: 8-1 (11 percent).

7) Chris Archer, Rays: Nobody’s been on these lists more the last few years. But his value isn’t as high as it was. He still does have that good contract, however.
Value: 3 ½ stars *** 1/2. Odds to go: 9-1 (10 percent).

8) Steven Matz, Mets: The left-handed hurler is coming on now, showing the potential he flashed early, before he was derailed by injuries. He’s also the Mets’ only lefty, making the chances for a deal even lower.
Value: 3 1/2 stars *** 1/2. Odds to go: 5-1 (17 percent).

9) J.A. Happ, Blue Jays: Very solid mid-rotation starter would look good for the Yankees or Mariners. Or perhaps even the Cubs.
Value: 3 stars ***. Odds to go: 1-9 (90 percent).

10)  Jake Odorizzi, Twins: He’s got another year to go and is a solid, consistent starter. The Twins would seem likely to recover their outlay, and then a bit.
Value: 3 stars ***. Odds to go: 4-1 (20 percent).

11)  Nathan Eovaldi, Rays: The hard thrower was drawing interest, even before he bid for a perfect game against the Mets. Two-time Tommy John patient has looked pretty good and has a very low salary.
Value: 3 stars ** 1/2. Odds to go: 3-5 (63 percent).

12)  Zack Wheeler, Mets: It’s funny that the Mets are the prime player here. Word is they are getting loads of interest, which I interpret to mean he is more likely than not to go. 
Value: 3 stars. Odds to go: 4-5 (56 percent).

13)  Matt Harvey, Reds: He’s looked much better of late, and while some will stay away, he may be worth the risk. The velocity is back up to 95-plus, which is a great sign. “He’s getting better every start,” says one scout. “His tempo is back. The arm speed is back. He’s got life on his fastball again.”  
Value: 2 ½ stars **1/2. Odds to go: 2-5 (71 percent).

14)  Cole Hamels, Rangers: He’d love to go to the Phillies, but it’s unclear who leads now. He’s on the Yankees’ list, but not especially high. The pedigree value is strong, but so is the contract, and he may want the option picked up to approve a deal, as he’s allowed if traded to a team on his extensive 20-team no-trade list. “The Rangers may have to paydown some of the deal,” if they want good prospects back, says one exec.
Value: 2 ½ stars ** ½. Odds to go: 1-9 (90 percent).

15)  Sonny Gray, Yankees: Yes, he’s made the list, as some Yankees people have noticed that Yankee Stadium may not be the best spot for him. We haven’t heard he’s being offered around, but it wouldn’t surprise some if he is. The value is way down from a year ago, of course, but considering the contract status, it’s still something. Also worth noting: he looked back on track Wednesday night in Camden Yards.
Value: 2 1/2 stars ** ½. Odds to go: 3-1 (25 percent).

16)  Tyson Ross, Padres: He’s thriving, but some will hold it against him that he’s doing it in San Diego.
Value: 2 1/2 stars ** 1/2, Odds to go: 1-5 (83 percent).

17)  Lance Lynn, Twins: He’s pitched much better lately after his late start to the year (except for one outing) and is a competitor. Free agent to be likely to go.
Value: 2 ½ stars **1/2. Odds to go: 2-5. (71 percent).

18)  Francisco Liriano, Tigers: He’s off the DL and doing solid work back as a rotation piece. The price is also right for the well-traveled Liriano.
Value: 2 ½ stars. Odds to go: 3-5 (63 percent).

19)  Kyle Gibson, Twins: His name is definitely out there, and there’s interest.
Value: 2 ½ stars ** ½. Odds to go: 2-1. (33 percent).

20)  Dan Straily, Marlins: He’s pitched well at times, and even better, he makes nothing (by baseball standards). That could be a reason to keep him, however.
Value: 2 stars **. Odds to go: 2-1 (33 percent).

21)  Marco Estrada, Blue Jays: He’s pitching better lately. Though he’s a soft tosser, he’s come through in big spots in the past. The contract is higher than you’d think.
Value: 2 stars **. Odds to go: 2-5 (71 percent).

22)  Ivan Nova, Pirates: Solid mid-rotation starter has had his moments. Contract is no bargain, however.
Value: 2 stars **. Odds to go: 2-1 (33 percent).

23)  Ervin Santana, Twins: It sounds now like he could be back soon after the Al-Star break, though we’ve had a couple false starts along the way. If healthy, he could help someone.
Value: 2 Star **. Odds to go: 7-5 (42 percent)

24)  Clayton Richard, Padres: San Diego has many valuable pieces in the bullpen, but it’s not easy to move a No. 5 starter, even a solid one, at the deadline.
Value: 1 ½ stars. Odds to go: 5-1 (17 percent).

25)  Bartolo Colon, Rangers:  He looked better earlier, before he turned 45. Still, a marvel.
Value: 1 ½ stars *1.2. Odds to go: 2-1 (33 percent).

26)  James Shields, White Sox: Big game James may be winding down, but he had a nice streak of six-inning games going. He can still provide innings. The salary is out of whack, but that can be dealt with.
Value: 1 ½ stars * ½. Odds to go: 3-5 (63 percent).

27)  Andrew Cashner, Orioles: The O’s may have their hands too full dealing with Machado, Britton and the other free agents to get to Cashner, who has another year to go on his deal. He posted a few good ones lately, but is currently on the DL with a neck injury, which probably makes a deal unlikely.
Value: 2 Stars **. Odds to go: 2-1 (33 percent).

28)  Danny Duffy, Royals: He’s pitching better, but between the slow start and his contract, the Royals would have to pay it down.
Value: 1 star *. Odds to go: 5-1 (17 percent).

29)  Jaime Garcia, Blue Jays: He made it back nicely from thoracic outlet syndrome and was good enough to be traded twice last July. But he’d have to get back, then step it up to draw any interest now.
Value: 1 star *. Odds to go: 6-1 (14 percent).

Others to consider: Matt Moore (Rangers), Ian Kennedy (Royals), Jason Hammel (Royals)