MLB trade deadline Q&A: Bowden on trade talks, scenarios and the latest rumblings

I answered 20 questions submitted by subscribers as we head into the final weekend before Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline. Let’s go!

Questions have been edited for clarity and length.

Is Nolan Arenado a real possibility (for the Dodgers) or is this a teaser that will leave me disappointed? If (it’s a possibility), what might he cost? — Jason C. 

I’m hearing the conversations about Arenado started when the Dodgers expressed interest in either Jack Flaherty or Jordan Montgomery. When the Cardinals started asking for Los Angeles’ top pitching prospects in return, the Dodgers responded that the only way they’d trade them is if it were in a package for the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner. Arenado is from Southern California and it is believed he would waive his no-trade clause if traded to the Dodgers. The deal would have to be headlined by at least one of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects — Bobby Miller and/or Emmet Sheehan — and would need to include some combination of pitchers Gavin Stone, Michael Grove and/or Ryan Pepiot. The Cardinals would be looking for at least three young starters. To help balance out the finances, the Dodgers would ask the Cardinals to take Max Muncy back in the trade and also would insist on acquiring either Flaherty or Montgomery. In other words, this has the makings of a blockbuster trade. Not sure if anything will materialize, but it’s a fun potential trade to monitor.


Why Cardinals are entertaining Nolan Arenado talks with Dodgers, no matter how unlikely

What would it take for the Braves to pry Josh Hader away from the Padres? — Sam A. 

I think it would take a package along the lines of right-handed pitcher AJ Smith-Shawver and shortstop Vaughn Grissom for the Braves to land Hader, an impending free agent, at the deadline. Of course, that’s if the Padres decide to sell.


Braves trade scenarios: Jim Bowden assesses 4 proposals to help fill key needs

How badly will the Angels regret it if they buy now and don’t make the playoffs? — (Name not available) 

If the Angels don’t make the playoffs, they’ll have set their franchise back at least three to four years. This was their opportunity to build for the future, but they decided to go all-in and “roll the dice,” as general manager Perry Minasian says. I think they’ve made a huge long-term mistake.

Would you trade David Bednar if you were the Pirates’ GM? Which teams might be a match, and what kind of package would you be looking for? — Daniel C. 

If I’m the Pirates, I would definitely trade Bednar if I could get an everyday position player in return. During my career as a Reds GM, I traded closer Jeff Shaw for Paul Konerko, reliever Jeff Brantley for Dmitri Young and reliever Dave Burba for Sean Casey. All three deals worked out in our favor. Based on where the Pirates are in the standings, I would make the same type of trade if it becomes available. The Orioles, Twins, Rangers and Diamondbacks are among the clubs that could be matches for Bednar, who is under team control for three more years after this season.

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What would you think about Ryan McMahon to the Yankees for DJ LeMahieu and two pitching prospects? The Rockies really need arms and LeMahieu would be a needed veteran presence. McMahon solves third base for New York, with a left-handed bat to boot. The arms would be two of Clayton Beeter, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, Ron Marinaccio and Greg Weissert. — Larry V. 

LeMahieu has a no-trade clause and isn’t going anywhere, especially not back to the Rockies. But McMahon would be a good fit for the Yankees, and I think some combination of the young pitchers you mention would be in the ballpark of a realistic deal that could work for both sides.

Justin Verlander has a 3.24 ERA and a 1.146 WHIP in 15 starts. (Vincent Carchietta / USA Today)

Justin Verlander plus (the Mets paying) half of his salary next year in exchange for (Rangers prospect) Jack Leiter — yay or nay? — Dan H.

If I’m the Mets, I’d need Owen White, Leiter and Justin Foscue for Justin Verlander and Brooks Raley. (Of course, Verlander would have to agree to waive his no-trade clause.) The Mets get two legitimate starting pitching prospects (White and Leiter) and a solid future second baseman (Foscue), while the Rangers get an ace and an important left-handed reliever. This deal would give them a legitimate shot at the World Series this year. 

This feels like a huge moment in Chris Young’s tenure as Rangers GM.  What move will he make to push the Rangers closer to a division title and the playoffs? — Tyler R. 

Young is flat-out going for it. He’s had trade talks with all of the relevant teams, involving all of the best starters and relievers who are available. He has a strong farm system to trade from. I have high expectations for him at this year’s deadline.

Would a Jonathan India/Nick Senzel package from the Reds get back Bryce Miller from the Mariners? — Jim Z. 

Earlier in the week, I suggested trading India for Miller straight up. I think that would be a fair deal.

How do you justify selling if you’re the Cubs? What moves would you make in either a buying or selling scenario? — Sam M. 

If I’m the Cubs, I know that I have the third-best run differential (+55) in the National League and that I’m only four games back in the wild-card race and 5 1/2 back in the division standings. I’m buying, not selling, but I’m also listening. If someone wants to overwhelm me with a prospect deal for Marcus Stroman and/or Cody Bellinger, I would at least listen. Otherwise, I’m keeping them, adding a piece or two, and going for it.

As a lifelong Orioles fan, (I need to know): Will GM Mike Elias pull the trigger on a starting pitcher this weekend? If so, which available pitcher is the best fit, and which one makes the most sense without giving away the farm? — Ernie S. 

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This is the biggest moment of his career. I think Elias needs to get a legitimate starter and relievers, and he’s officially on the clock. I’d love to see him land Josh Hader or Blake Snell from the Padres, but that would come with a significant cost to the farm system. Therefore, it might be more realistic for the Orioles to acquire either Jack Flaherty or Jordan Montgomery from the Cardinals.

The Red Sox should get old man Rich Hill back from the Pirates. Maybe flip Bobby Dalbec to the Pirates. Ji Man Choi is hitting below .200 and Ke’Bryan Hayes is hurt. Dalbec probably would fit right in. Hill, meanwhile, gives (the Red Sox) a veteran presence in the rotation and although he doesn’t eat innings like he used to, he’s a good bridge to the team’s long relief, which has been lights-out. What do you think? — Mike L. 

I like it, Mike. I’ll text Chaim Bloom and throw him your thoughts.

Will the Mariners be trading Teoscar Hernández? Will the Phillies be interested? — Nicholas B. 

Hernández crushes left-handed pitching (.896 OPS against) and has legitimate power, which is clear from his 16 homers this year, 25 last year and 32 the year before that. However, he’s a below-average defender, he struggles to get on base (.288 OPB), and he’ll be a free agent after this season. I’m not sure I like the fit with the Phillies.

When does (Phillies president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski make a blockbuster trade (like he’s known for)? Or does he continue to keep the farm system intact while adding small upgrades around the edges? — Andrew R. 

I think Dombrowski will look to upgrade left field and his rotation at the deadline, but I’m not expecting a blockbuster.

Do you see the Giants using Joey Bart and/or Heliot Ramos in a trade for a high-profile player? Or sticking with lesser-known prospects and getting a mid-tier player? — Travis L. 

The Giants have been looking for upgrades at shortstop and in the rotation, and I think they’ll dangle both Bart and Ramos in those types of trade talks.

This feels like the year the Rays could finally win a World Series. How do you see them upgrading their starting pitching at the deadline? Is Marcus Stroman a possibility? — James C. 

The Rays have a strong farm system from which to trade, and president of baseball operations Erik Neander and GM Peter Bendix are being aggressive as they look to improve their team in all areas, including the rotation. I’m not convinced Stroman is getting traded, but the Rays have at least talked to the Cubs about him.

The Twins have way too many lefty batters, (Alex Kirilloff, Edouard Julien, Max Kepler, Joey Gallo, Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner), which is the cause for their massive struggles against left-handed pitching. … Whom do they ship out in hopes of returning an explosive right-handed bat? — Charles B. 

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Well, if I’m the Twins, I’m not trading Kirilloff or Julien, period. I would shop the other four for a right-handed hitter. I would spend a lot of time talking to both the Orioles and Cardinals about their surplus of right-handed-hitting outfielders. I also would target Lane Thomas of the Nationals.

How much should the Diamondbacks give up to secure a better chance (at the postseason) this year? — Tim T.

If the Diamondbacks have an opportunity to land a proven veteran starting pitcher, I think it would be reasonable to trade one of their prospects ranked in the 10 to 15 range in their organization and one in the 25-30 range.

If the Cardinals can find a way to move Steven Matz and Paul DeJong, does that leave them in a position to re-sign Jordan Montgomery? — Chad H. 

I believe they’ll trade Montgomery and consider signing him in the offseason, when his price comes down from his present demands.  I’m not sure anyone will take Matz’s contract (he’s owed $12.5 million in 2024 and $12.5 million in ’25), but DeJong could get dealt to a team such as the Giants in a smaller type of trade.

Does the thread-the-needle approach of buying and selling simultaneously ever work? Teams on the fringes of the playoff bubble do this, but it would seem that an all-in-buy mode or all-in-sell rebuild mode would be more successful. The threading-the-needle concept seems to just tread water and make no progress toward a championship nor a rebuild. — Michael O. 

The thread-the-needle approach works best for teams that are “in the hunt” for a wild-card berth but aren’t really a playoff team. In other words, they should focus on future years, but if you can add a player that helps you win this year without affecting future years, then make those kinds of moves, too. It can be done, especially when you’re trading impending free agents.

If you are a first-year GM with high job security, would you rather be in the buyer or seller camp? As a seller, you have a chance to start fresh and implement your own ideas with your players without instant pressure from ownership to win. But as a buyer, you have a chance to be an instant success and even further your job security if the moves you make go well. — Adam W. 

If you’re a GM, you better not worry about job security. You better realize that you’re blessed to be the steward for the organization you’re working with. You just focus on doing your best to improve your organization, no matter what position it is currently in, whether buying or selling, etc. If you’re worried about keeping your job, then you better find a different occupation.


The life of an MLB GM at the trade deadline

(Top photo of Nolan Arenado: Rich Storry / USA Today)


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