Trades are caffeine pills for baseball fans, bringing a jolt to good and bad teams alike.
For contenders, it's about filling roster holes ahead of postseason chases without eroding too much farm system talent. For others, it's one of the few times in the season where something of tangible value occurs, the incoming prospects from major deals providing a fleeting dose of optimism.
The peak of trade season, of course, is the trade deadline. Over the next couple of weeks, expect dramatic changes to the landscape of the league.
Sporting News identified the top deadline trade targets for contenders and explained the logistics of trade season below:
When is the MLB trade deadline in 2019?
- Date: July 31
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
This year's trade deadline is at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 31. That's a hard deadline with the elimination of baseball's August waiver deadline in 2019.
How does the MLB trade deadline work?
The MLB trade deadline marks the final date of the season in which teams can make standard trades with other organizations. This year, teams can no longer make deals through waivers in August, meaning July 31 is truly the last opportunity to meaningfully add to a roster through acquisitions.
TRADE TRACKER: Here is every deal made before the deadline
Why did the MLB trade deadline rules change?
The league consolidated its transactional period in part to up the drama of the main July 31 deadline, but also to simplify the processes and force teams to finalize their rosters earlier in the campaign.
READ MORE ON DEADLINE NEEDS
Top trade deadline targets, predictions
Note: These are just some of the impact players potentially on the move this month. As with most deadlines, almost every team will be somewhat active, and surprises will be plentiful.
SP Matthew Boyd, Tigers – The operative word here is cost control. Boyd won't hit the open market until 2023, and his magnificent strikeout stuff this year suggests he could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter on a good team moving forward. What might halt a deal this month, though, is Detroit's asking price, which reportedly comprises multiple elite prospects.
SP Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays – Stroman is enjoying a resurgent year on the hill and has AL East pitching experience. He's also made five playoff starts in his career, further assuring contenders he can fit right in. The Yankees are the early favorites for a guy who seems likely to move on from Toronto, but they'll certainly have significant competition for the right-hander, who will be under contract through 2020. UPDATE: Stroman was traded to the Mets on Sunday.
SP Madison Bumgarner, Giants – Twenty years ago, someone with Bumgarner's profile – a playoff legend with declining stuff but nearly a decade of success – would fetch anything the Giants wanted. Now? We'll see. He's a rental with a 3.86 ERA. His current version does not stand out as the prototype for putting a team over the edge. But his history might just be strong enough to transcend modern baseball trade approaches and help San Francisco get the assets it needs to rebuild. Also of note: The Giants are on a winning run, which might keep them from dealing their ace.
SP Zack Wheeler, Mets – Wheeler is on the IL at an unfortunate time for the Mets, who are reportedly determined to move the right-hander. If he can return before the deadline, however, there's probably a team out there willing to gamble on his impressive pitch repertoire on a rental basis. It's reportedly likely he'll move elsewhere.
RP Kirby Yates, Padres – Though the Padres are near .500, they're still amassing prospects for the future to install around their already capable young core. Yates and several other veterans, then, could be on the move soon.
RP Raisel Iglesias, Reds – Iglesias is under team control through 2021, so a trade for the closer would require significant assets. The Reds are under little pressure to move a man with 80 saves and counting in the past four years. Still, established relievers are in high-demand at this time of year, which will at least garner phone calls to general manager Nick Krall.
RP Mychal Givens, Orioles – The Orioles have been abysmal in almost every facet this year, but Givens is a power arm out of the bullpen that could interest some contenders. Not a blockbuster move, but a potentially helpful one nonetheless.
OF Yasiel Puig, Reds – After an abysmal start to the campaign, Puig has been at his best since June 1, slugging 12 home runs in his past 40 games while batting .318. If the Reds don't make a surprise leap into contention soon, a potential playoff team might bring in Puig to give its offense added firepower. His hot hitting belongs on a roster with higher aspirations this season.
1B/OF Trey Mancini, Orioles – The Orioles are pretty limited in terms of MLB trade chips, but Mancini is an exception as a productive 27-year-old. His defensive shortcomings in the outfield mean his destination team might keep him at first base or designated hitter, somewhat sinking his value, but there's still room on several competitive rosters for a powerful right-handed batter.
OF Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers – Like Mancini, Castellanos is a well-regarded hitter with a less stellar track record in the field. He requested a trade this past offseason, didn't get moved, and recently trashed his home stadium to reporters. He seems probable, then, to join an offensively challenged team this month.
2B Dee Gordon, Mariners – Gordon can be extremely frustrating when he plays like he has so far in 2019, not getting on base and not doing anything spectacular in the field. But every couple of years, the speedster hits well enough to be a net positive, and the selling Mariners will hope another team bites on that chance.