<
>

Each team's most untouchable player at the trade deadline

For you kids out there, the trade deadline wasn't always a big deal. Now front offices of playoff contenders are expected to make deals; even fans of non-contenders are looking for their team to use the deadline to replenish their farm systems. In some years, the deadline is anti-climactic and that may be the case in 2016 -- at least compared to last year, when we saw huge names such as Yoenis Cespedes, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist get dealt.

So as teams wheel and deal, which players are untouchable? For the contenders, I considered only prospects or young players who have been mentioned in rumors. For example, the Cubs and Nationals are contenders, so I'm not considering guys like Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper; only players and prospects who may actually be traded. For non-contenders, I considered players on the current major league roster; for example, J.P. Crawford may be the Phillies' most valuable asset, but he's still in the minors, so wasn't considered. Here's my list. Argue away!

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles: Chance Sisco, C.

The O's would love to acquire depth for a rotation that has a 4.91 ERA, but they have one of lowest-rated farm systems. With Matt Wieters once again a free agent, Sisco is the one minor leaguer to hang on to. His power hasn't developed, with just two home runs in Double-A, but he's just 21 and hitting over .300 with a .400 OBP.

Boston Red Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B.

Even after trading Anderson Espinoza, the Red Sox have three of Keith Law's top seven midseason prospects in Andrew Benintendi (No. 3), Moncada (No. 5) and Rafael Devers (No. 7). Dave Dombrowski may already have made his big move in acquiring Drew Pomeranz, but if he wants to make another one, Moncada is the guy I keep, betting on his high ceiling over Benintendi's high floor. He's blocked by Dustin Pedroia, but could move to third base or left field.

Toronto Blue Jays: Vlad Guerrero Jr., OF.

Given the impending free-agent status of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders and R.A. Dickey, the Jays should be in complete win-now mode, so nobody in their so-so system is untouchable. I'd be reluctant to deal Guerrero, however, who is performing well at age 17 in the Appy League. Plus, he's Vlad Jr.!

New York Yankees: Umm ... Dellin Betances, RHP.

Aroldis Chapman is gone and if they can get a better return for Andrew Miller, they should trade him as well. That leaves Betances as the last man standing in the bullpen.

Tampa Bay Rays: Chris Archer, RHP.

Certainly the Dodgers and others have inquired about Archer, but trading him now would be selling low. He still has the stuff, he's smart, and he's signed to a team-friendly contract through 2021.

AL CENTRAL

Cleveland Indians: Clint Frazier, OF.

Yes, Miller would look great at the back end of the bullpen, but with limited resources available, the Indians can't hemorrhage their farm system. They just promoted Frazier and fellow outfielder Bradley Zimmer to Triple-A; they may have to decide which one to keep.

Detroit Tigers: Christin Stewart OF.

There aren't a lot of interesting bats in the Detroit system, but Stewart leads the Florida State League with 21 home runs -- seven more than anyone else -- and has a .410 OBP.

Kansas City Royals: Wade Davis, RHP.

Are they buyers or sellers? They were 48-50 two years ago and nearly won the World Series, so my guess is they'll give the playoffs a run. That means keeping Davis for now.

Chicago White Sox: Jose Quintana, LHP.

You can't trade Chris Sale and Quintana, and if Sale is going to bring a lot more on the market -- even though Quintana has arguably outpitched him this year -- then trade him and add much-needed depth to a team stuck in mediocrity and without much of a farm system.

Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano, 3B.

You can throw Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jose Berrios in here as well. Anybody else? Make an offer!

AL WEST

Texas Rangers: Jurickson Profar, INF.

Is Joey Gallo more Russell Branyan or more Chris Davis? There's enough of a question there that he's not untouchable.

Houston Astros: Alex Bregman, 3B/SS.

He just got called up and even though the Astros just signed Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gurriel, Bregman looks like a future All-Star even if his ultimate position is unclear.

Seattle Mariners: Edwin Diaz, RHP.

I'm counting the Mariners as contenders and considering they don't have a prospect who can be labeled untouchable, let's put Diaz in this category. Since his call-up he has 44 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Dominant setup guy now and the team's closer next season.

Oakland Athletics: Marcus Semien, SS.

Nobody is safe in Billy Beane land, but Semien may actually be more untouchable right now than Sonny Gray.

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout, CF.

If I'm Angels GM Billy Eppler, however, I message all the general managers on the first day of the offseason and say, "We'll consider trading Trout. Send your best and final offer."

NL EAST

Washington Nationals: Lucas Giolito, RHP.

The Nationals lost out on Chapman, and while Giolito hasn't impressed in his three major league outings, I'm not including him in a deal to get Miller.

Miami Marlins: Jose Fernandez, RHP.

The farm system isn't that interesting, certainly nobody who would be untouchable. And since they're buyers and not sellers, Fernandez isn't going anywhere, even if the Red Sox make some sort of godfather offer with Moncada or Benintendi and others.

New York Mets: Amed Rosario, SS.

Dominic Smith's power is finally starting to show up in Double-A, but Rosario is hitting .321 at age 20 and has reached Double-A. He looks like the long-term solution at the more difficult position to fill.

Philadelphia Phillies: Aaron Nola, RHP.

Who is the most untouchable player currently on the big league roster? Nola's 4.75 ERA isn't pretty and he has struggled lately, but his 3.06 FIP suggests there's a lot more upside than the ERA indicates.

Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman, 1B.

Same question here, except the Braves have fewer players to consider. I'd rather keep Freeman than Julio Teheran, given the Braves' lack of other quality offensive players.

NL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber, LF.

What we know: The Cubs kept Schwarber while trading away top prospect Gleyber Torres. What we don't know: Did the Yankees decline Schwarber and demand Torres?

St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes, RHP.

He could probably help the big league team right now out of the bullpen.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Austin Meadows, OF.

They're in the wild-card hunt, but they'll likely play it conservatively at the deadline. In other words, guys such as Meadows, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire aren't going anywhere.

Milwaukee Brewers: Zach Davies, RHP.

Which means Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, Jeremy Jeffress and maybe even Jimmy Nelson could be traded.

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto, 1B.

He's included here because his contract makes him difficult to trade, but none of the other Reds' veterans should be untouchable.

NL WEST

San Francisco Giants: Phil Bickford, RHP.

Bickford is the one Giants prospect who has made a big leap this season, with strong numbers in A-ball. The Giants aren't afraid to supplement their big league roster this time of year (see trading Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran), but Bickford looks like the future replacement for Matt Cain or Jake Peavy.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Julio Urias, LHP.

He's currently back in the minors, but we saw enough from him to know he'll be a key part of the 2017 rotation. They're still loaded with prospects if they want to make a big deal, including Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes, Alex Verdugo, and others.

Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B.

He's untouchable right now, but the Rockies better figure out how to sign him to a long-term deal this offseason or his name is going to become very popular in trade rumors next year.

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers, 1B.

This is the Wil Myers we expected to see back when he won Rookie of the Year honors in 2013.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B.

The season's most disappointing team, even with Jake Lamb's breakout season. Does that make Lamb more untouchable than Goldschmidt, who is signed through 2019 and will make less than $35 million the next three seasons? Probably not, but imagine what the D-backs could get if they did make Goldschmidt available.