DETROIT – The MLB trade deadline is starting to heat up this week, with a handful of players already on the move. The Detroit Tigers have been quiet so far, but general manager Al Avila is surely listening to offers for Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene, Matt Boyd and others.
By far the Tigers' most valuable trade piece is Boyd, who is averaging more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings, has a 3.3 WAR and is still under team control for a bargain the next three seasons.
Will the Tigers hang onto Boyd? It's certainly an option, but his value might never be higher. More than a dozen teams have been linked to Boyd, and many contenders have a desperate need for starting pitching.
Here's a look at the likelihood of every MLB team trading for Boyd.
Not contenders for Boyd
Other than the Tigers, there are seven MLB teams at least 10 games out of a playoff spot: the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Obviously, these teams aren't buyers this trade deadline.
Sure, Boyd could help a team that hopes to contend in the next couple of years, but the price tag is way too high for rebuilding teams to part with young prospects.
Extremely unlikely to trade for Boyd
While they aren't quite out of the playoff race yet, the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers have played their way into precarious positions and likely won't be aggressive buyers at the trade deadline.
The Rangers are said to be shopping their own starting pitchers, so they certainly wouldn't be looking to acquire Boyd.
Zack Greinke is said to be potentially on the move this week, so that would appear to eliminate the Arizona Diamondbacks from any starting pitcher sweepstakes.
It's impossible to know what the New York Mets will do at any given moment, but since they already traded for Marcus Stroman this week, we'll assume they aren't interested in shipping more prospects to Detroit for Boyd.
Situation doesn't seem to fit
There's only one team with a losing record that hasn't been mentioned on this list: the San Diego Padres. Now 6 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot, San Diego probably isn't going to mortgage the future at the deadline, even though it made a big splash by acquiring Manny Machado in the offseason and called up top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack, Cal Quantril and Luis Urias.
If the Padres want to add Boyd on the off chance they get hot and make a run at the wild card game, it wouldn't be unjustified, especially since he could help their young pitching staff over the next three years.
San Diego would be a better trade partner if it hadn't fallen out of the NL West race. A deal with the Padres probably isn't happening.
The Tigers also wouldn't prefer to trade Boyd within the AL Central Division. The Cleveland Indians are absolutely not in the market for another starting pitcher. The Minnesota Twins would actually be a good fit for Boyd, but again, it would take a lot for the Tigers to trade him to a division rival with three years of team control remaining.
The Chicago Cubs might make a move for Castellanos and Greene, but a high-end starting pitcher probably isn't on their shopping list. With Cole Hamels nearing a return, the Cubs have all five spots nailed down in the starting rotation. They also don't have a farm system that matches up with the Tigers' needs.
Probably not, but can't count them out
There are several teams around baseball that haven't been linked to Boyd but would appear to be a good match.
Take the Milwaukee Brewers, for example. Despite a recent rough patch and a minus 16 run differential on the season, the Brewers are just one game out of first place in the NL Central Division. Christian Yelich is having another MVP season, Yasmani Grandal has been excellent and Keston Hiura is mashing as a rookie.
All the pieces are in place on offense and in the bullpen, but the starting rotation is looking rough.
Milwaukee's best starter, Brandon Woodruff, just hit the injured list until at least September. Zach Davies is sporting a terrible 5.8 K/9. Jhoulys Chacin and Freddy Peralta have been just plain bad.
The Brewers don't have an ace, and that will cost them in the postseason. Boyd could fill that hole.
Milwaukee isn't higher on this list because the farm system isn't strong. Only one Brewers player is ranked in the top 100 prospects, and it's Brice Turang at No. 81. It would take a handful of Milwaukee's top hitting prospects to land Boyd, and that's not a move a small market team likes to make.
The Washington Nationals have No. 22 overall prospect Carter Kieboom and nowhere to put him, but their need in the starting rotation isn't as great. Washington rolls out Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin for 60% of its games, and Anibal Sanchez and Erick Fedde haven't been bad options at the end of the rotation.
Boyd would make the rotation even better and give the Nationals perhaps the best top four pitchers in the league. But is that enticing enough to part with Kieboom?
Both the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels are in the thick of the wild card race, and both could use a No. 1 starting pitcher.
Oakland lost Frankie Montas to an 80-game suspension and is relying on the likes of Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson and Chris Bassitt. Even if the A's call up elite prospect Jesus Luzardo, they'll need more help in the starting rotation to become true World Series contenders.
The Angels have a tough decision to make this week, as they've fallen 5 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot after Monday night's loss to the Tigers.
Tyler Skaggs' death, injuries to Andrew Heaney and inconsistency from Griffin Canning, Jaime Barria and others has left Brad Ausmus in a tough spot. He's familiar with Boyd, but his team appears to be fading from contention a little too early. Plus, the Angels aren't going to trade top prospect Jo Adell, and the farm system has a big drop-off after him.
Teams to keep an eye on
Most of the teams left on the list have already been linked to Boyd this month, with the exception of a few that simply appear to be good fits.
Tigers fans won't be surprised to know the Boston Red Sox have very few top prospects under the watch of general manager Dave Dombrowski. Triston Casas is the only top 100 prospect in the system, and he wouldn't be enough to land Boyd.
But if Dombrowski and Avila get creative, there's certainly a need in the starting rotation behind Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and David Price.
Rick Porcello won't get kicked out of the rotation, but he's having a terrible season and there are no reliable options behind him. Even Rodriguez and Sale have been iffy at times this year. The rotation could really use another reliable starter.
Maybe Michael Chavis would be a player included in a possible deal, but the Tigers would definitely want more.
In terms of current standing and pitching struggles, few teams could use Boyd more than the New York Yankees. They've allowed 79 runs in their last eight games and could use a cheap starter to go along with an otherwise massive payroll.
New York's trade chips aren't a great fit, though, even if outfielder Clint Frazier and top hitting prospect Estevan Florial are included in a deal. That's why the Tigers asked for Gleyber Torres, but the Yankees aren't going to part with the young infielder.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have the prospects to get a deal done, but there's no way they would part with Gavin Lux when they already have a solid starting rotation.
Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda are a strong top four starters. Ross Stripling, Julio Urias and Rich Hill provide great depth when healthy. There's no pressure to make a move, but the Dodgers have reportedly checked in on Boyd, probably because Kershaw, Ryu, Stripling and Hill have all had injury issues and Buehler and Urias are still young.
Kershaw, Ryu, Hill and Urias are all left-handed, so the Dodgers don't necessarily need to add Boyd in that regard, either.
The Dodgers are seemingly always involved with every big trade chip, so they can't be counted out completely, but the need might not be great enough to justify paying the price.
Six teams meet all three criteria to be a seemingly perfect match for a Boyd trade:
- Elite hitting prospects.
- A need in the starting rotation.
- A good chance to make the playoffs.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants probably wouldn't part with Joey Bart, but the Tigers just called up Jake Rogers and likely want to give him a chance, anyway. But the Giants still have three strong hitting prospects in Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano and Hunter Bishop.
With Bruce Bochy in his final season and the Giants charging back into contention, a deal for Boyd isn't out of the question.
Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija have been consistent this season, but the rest of the starting rotation is a mess. Nobody else who's made at least five starts for the Giants this season has an ERA under 4.85, a WHIP under 1.39 or a WAR above 0.1.
Boyd would be the ace of the staff, and the cavernous Oracle Park could only help the one weakness in his game: home runs.
San Francisco is only 2 1/2 games behind the second wild card spot with 58 games remaining.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are typically stingy with their prospects, but Boyd is the type of player they would consider in a potential blockbuster.
As a small market team, the Rays have to be attracted to Boyd's three remaining years of affordable control. He would be an ideal veteran to add alongside the likes of Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Brendan McKay in the rotation over the next few years.
Add in Cy Young candidate Charlie Morton next season and the Rays would be right back in the mix for a division title, if healthy.
This year, Boyd would fill the gap left by Snell and Glasnow, who are both dealing with long-term injuries. Tampa Bay isn't in the AL East race, but sits just 1/2-game behind Oakland for the second wild card spot.
The Rays won't mortgage the future to get into a one-game playoff, but Boyd isn't a three-month rental, so the move might be easier to make.
No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco isn't going anywhere, but Jesus Sanchez, Vidal Brujan and MLB-ready Nate Lowe could be part of a deal that sends Boyd to Tampa Bay.
If the Atlanta Braves didn't have so many young pitchers, a Boyd deal would make perfect sense. Instead of trading away pieces for an outside fix, the Braves could elect to hope Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright or others can give them a boost.
Christian Pache and Drew Waters would be perfect prospect targets for the Tigers, though, so Avila needs to be aggressive. It might take a package that includes Boyd and Greene to get a deal done, but that might be the best option.
Dallas Keuchel has been decent since signing with the Braves, and Mike Soroka looks excellent. Julio Teheran and Max Fried aren't as reliable, but they're still solid options.
The fifth spot in a rotation only matters during the regular season, but Boyd would be an upgrade over Teheran or Fried in the postseason.
Boyd gave the Philadelphia Phillies a first-hand look at his swing-and-miss stuff last week, going six strong innings with eight strikeouts in Detroit.
Philadelphia has Aaron Nola, who matched Boyd pitch for pitch, at the top of the rotation, but not much else. Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff have all been bad, yet the Phillies are one game out of a playoff spot.
The Phillies went out and landed Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen this offseason, so they're all in on a playoff run. Boyd would give them a strong one-two punch with Nola and still be around with the new core for the coming years.
His home run issues would be amplified in Philadelphia, but that's the case for most pitchers.
No. 37 overall prospect Alec Bohm would have to be the centerpiece of a Boyd trade. Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery would be tough to pull away from the Phillies, but if the Tigers included Greene and/or Castellanos, the Tigers might be able to get something done.
If the Phillies drop the ball at the trade deadline after going all out in the offseason, fans won't be happy.
St. Louis Cardinals
A recent stretch of red-hot hitting has the St. Louis Cardinals tied with the Cubs atop the NL Central, but that won't last if they don't address their pitching woes.
The Cardinals don't have an ace, though Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas have been OK through 21 starts.
St. Louis has Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson and Daniel Ponce de Leon rounding out the rotation. In other words, the Cardinals badly need an upgrade.
Nolan Gorman and Dylan Carlson are both intriguing offensive prospects the Tigers could target. St. Louis likely wouldn't move Tyler O'Neill, but if Avila is set on getting an MLB ready player, he's another one to watch.
The Houston Astros eventually paid up for Justin Verlander two years ago, and they look like a good match once again.
Avila reportedly asked for elite outfield prospect Kyle Tucker in previous talks, and if the Astros remain unwilling to move him for Boyd, a deal probably won't get done. But a stacked outfield and a limited window with all their top young players under contract could push the Astros to make a move.
George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick and Jake Marisnick are all signed through next season, and Yordan Alvarez has the designated hitter spot locked up for the foreseeable future.
If Tucker becomes available, the Tigers should make a move.
Boyd would give Houston a fourth reliable pitcher along with Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley. Since the Astros have a recent tendency of getting the most out of pitchers, Boyd would probably be a star.