Potential MLB Trade Deadline Moves & How They Would Impact Odds
The baseball trade deadline is Friday and there are several big-name stars being dangled as trait bait. Here's how the potential deals should shape MLB betting markets.
The most notable name being discussed as trade bait is Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. Scherzer is a bona-fide ace who could impact the trajectory of any team and division to which he would be traded. Other names of note in the trade rumor mill include Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs, Twins right-hander Jose Berrios and third baseman Josh Donaldson, and Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who are 1.5 games behind Boston in the AL East, scooped veteran DH Nelson Cruz from the Twins last week. Cruz gives the Rays some power in the middle of the lineup and a respected, veteran presence in the clubhouse as the defending AL champs battle Boston in the East.
Max Scherzer To Anywhere
The Play: San Francisco Giants To Win NL Pennant
Odds: +700 at DraftKings
These are the 8 teams known to be in on Max Scherzer, via multiple sources:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 27, 2021
Also heard Yankees checked in & were told he was unlikely to OK a trade there. Mets could be a long shot for the same reason.
Scherzer has reportedly agreed to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, but has the right to veto any trade. So look for him to end up with an established contender poised to reach the playoffs at the very least. The good news for any potential suitor is that his $35 million salary is fully deferred until 2028.
But he’ll still cost his new team $11.8 million (the remainder of his 2021 salary) toward the luxury tax, reports The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The final chunk of Scherzer’s bonus due this year - $7.5 million – will be paid by the Nationals regardless of where he ends up playing in September.
The Red Sox seem unlikely to deal for Scherzer given how close they are to the luxury tax threshold – just $1.04 million. The Rays were rumored last week to be in the hunt for the Nationals ace. Tampa Bay could sign Scherzer nine times over and still not be over the luxury tax threshold. The Rays are the defending AL champs and the addition of Scherzer to their rotation would counter the expectation of Chris Sale re-joining Boston’s rotation in two weeks.
The Giants have $47.4 million of available salary space to use before going over the tax threshold, so a deal for Scherzer is financially palatable. If the return is sufficient and Scherzer is on board, a trade to the Giants makes the most sense because it would ship him to the West Coast and put on the roster of the team in the National League with the most wins. But don’t count out the Rays.
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The Giants remain undervalued across MLB futures betting markets. Their MLB odds to win the World Series are +1200 at DraftKings sportsbook, +700 to take the NL pennant, +275 to win the NL West, -1400 to make the playoffs and +800 to miss the playoffs (all odds also via DraftKings).
Those numbers are only going to shorten after the trade deadline given the possibility of the Giants dealing at the deadline. Take the Giants at +700 to win the pennant.
Given their proximity to Boston in the standings, and the fact that those teams play each other six times in the next two weeks, the Rays at +145 to win the AL East at DraftKings could also be worth a look.
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Anthony Rizzo To The Red Sox
The Play: Red Sox To Win AL Pennant
Odds: +500 at FanDuel
Rizzo began his career in the Red Sox organization before being shipped to San Diego as part of a trade for Adrian Gonzalez in 2010. The Red Sox need an every-day first baseman, more power from the left side, and production from the bottom third of their order. This is as close to a no-brainer as you can get ahead of the trade deadline, which isn’t that close.
Still, this should be a perfect fit for both sides. And the Cubs are dealing. It might pain Chaim Bloom to give up a prospect or two for Rizzo. But he’s not in Tampa Bay anymore.
The Red Sox have surprised many this year. We did take Boston to win the AL East at +2200, to go over their win total of 80.5, and to make the playoffs at +280 before the season.
There isn’t much value left for those wanting to back Boston in the postseason. The peril for Red Sox Nation is that if the Olde Towne Team is caught by Tampa Bay in the East, a one-game playoff against the A’s or Astros could turn out to be a disaster, especially at Fenway Park.
The addition of Rizzo would have a genuine positive impact - especially in the postseason. Rizzo has been there, winning it all with the Cubs in 2016.
With the addition of Rizzo and return of a healthy Sale, it might be time to consider the Red Sox at +1200 to win the World Series and/or +500 to win the AL pennant, both prices available at FanDuel sportsbook.
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José Berríos to the Padres
The Play: Padres To Win NL West
Odds: +525 at BetMGM
Both the Padres and Dodgers are in the market for starting pitchers, and have been mentioned as possible landing spots for Berríos. Unlike Scherzer, the Twins are in complete control of Berríos, who is arbitration-eligible through 2022. Berríos would be very costly given the certainty of his contract status. But the Padres are beginning to slip from the conversation in the NL West, and were 5.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants entering play Tuesday. They’re down three arms this season.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have lost pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer – albeit for disparate reasons. The Giants continue to hold off both contenders. Still, the acquisition of a solid, reliable starter might be enough to get the Padres back in to the NL West hunt or – if nothing else – help stabilize their rotation in the postseason. Be daring and grab the Padres at +525 to win the NL West at BetMGM. It’s a big ask, but this price before the trade deadline might be the best realistic wager of value on your sports betting app.
Craig Kimbrel to The Phillies
The Play: Take A Pass
Multiple teams need help in the back end of their bullpen, but none more than the Phillies. Kimbrel has returned to the form he held when helping the Red Sox win the World Series three years ago.
Kimbrel boasts a 0.49 ERA and 23 saves in 39 appearances. He’s fanned 64 batters, while walking just 13. He has the arm and the head to be a shutdown closer in September and October. His price will be steep, but the Phillies were just 3.5 games behind the Mets entering play Tuesday.
It appears both NL wild-card spots are going to come from the West, so it’s the NL East or bust for the Phils. But even with Kimbrel, ask yourself if that’s enough for Philadelphia to leapfrog over New York. Probably not. Take a pass here.
The other target of note for Kimbrel is the Dodgers. The defending World Series champs have been overvalued all season. Kimbrel would be a difference-maker, but would not deliver the same impact in LA that he could in Philadelphia.
Richard Rodriguez To The Athletics
The Play: Oakland To Win AL West
Odds: +750 at FanDuel
The good news for A’s fans and MLB bettors is that Oakland has more than $107 million remaining under the luxury cap threshold and sits just five games back of Houston in the AL West. Monday, the A’s acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin from the Cubs, giving up a pair of minor-leaguers.
The addition of Rodriguez gives the A’s an ever greater boost from the right side. It’s the sort of deal teams make when they go all-in to make a playoff/division run. Any improvement the A’s make will help in a run against the Astros. The A’s offer tremendous value. Take Oakland at +750 to win the AL West at FanDuel. This is another excellent play ahead of the trade deadline.
About the Author
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose 30-year career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network/Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, the Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post. He has also written for Bleacher Report, the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe's boston.com site. Bill has a strong track record of building, developing and retaining digital audiences. Bill attended Marquette University.