It’s a Monday morning in July and not every MLB player has been traded, making this the most boring trade deadline in the history of the sport. Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox? Is there an un-sexier trade to be made this season? Maybe a deal involving Rich Hill and his popped blister going to, like, Detroit or something; but at this point, the most interesting moves exist only in theory.
In fact, the aspect of all of this that teams are willing to be most open about is their desire to not trade certain players. Maybe a front office is asked upfront if they will trade a star, and have to laugh it off just so the question has an answer; maybe saying they will never trade a certain player is merely posturing in preparation for a complicated, six-team deal.
But whatever their motives, there are some high profile ball players whose teams can only shake their heads in disgust at questions of a trade.
A starting pitcher having a bad time on a last place team? The phone must be ringing off the hook in Tampa GM Matt Silverman’s office, but each time it does, he’s given a firm “not interested,” according to Buster Olney.
Rays have told teams Chris Archer is not available unless somebody totally overwhelms them. So, he's not available.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 17, 2016
A firm “not interested,” with a soft “unless...” at the end of it, I mean.
Olney doesn’t seem to believe a realistic deal exists that could pull Archer and his 4.68 ERA in 117.1 IP away from Tampa. Despite the ballooning of the wrong numbers on his stat sheet this season, Archer’s ceiling stretches very high above his current output, and Tampa seems willing to wait out the tough times.
Everyone knows it’s the Dodgers who have been bothering the Rays the most about Archer, and with Clayton Kershaw hitting the disabled list, there’s probably a cacophony of people running around screaming and small fires breaking out in the background of L.A. GM Farhan Zaidi’s calls. Despite this, there does not appear to be a pursuer of Archer with deep enough wealth to really keep the Rays on the phone, so when the 27-year-old resurfaces from this sea of poor luck, he will so do in a Tampa uniform.
It can be tough to recall Schwarber - he’s that young, extremely talented Cubs player, remember? They all seem to blur together occasionally into a giant blue ball of World Series favoritism. It’s also more difficult to remember the 23-year-old left fielder because he hasn’t been seen since tragically tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee back in April.
Still though, you probably saw back there where I mentioned that he is only 23 years old. I’m not saying his body is probably fully healed right now (though he was just named the grand marshal of a 10K), but he’s at a point in his career where a season-ending injury doesn’t have the executioner putting on his hood. Plenty of teams other than the Cubs can see Schwarber’s value, and one of them is represented by a GM named Brian Cashman.
And now, with [Brian] Cashman, the New York Yankees’ general manager, controlling the July trade market with his cache of dominant relievers, he gets to covet whomever he pleases. And atop that list is Schwarber, whose monstrous left-handed swing is made for Yankee Stadium.
Granted, Passan’s excellent column is built on following a logistical trail through a maze of hypotheticals, so Cashman getting Schwarber in exchange for one or two relievers (and the Cubs having the ridiculous depth to actually sell Schwarber for pennies if they wanted to) is still fiction.
But this is not going to happen, Passan admits, going as far to say that even talking about it is “a time-waster.” Which makes so much sense; imagine the hubris of a Cubs team willing to package a promising slugger whose monster home run ball served as the icon of Chicago’s playoff run last season for Andrew Miller because Miller can pitch the eighth or ninth inning! Imagine having to explain that to a room full of people who are probably mad at you. Even if Theo Epstein wrangled Miller and Aroldis Chapman out of New York, Chapman as an impending free agent and pure rental... somehow I would even be mad, and I have no stakes in this whatsoever.
Well, it’s that part of the year when we talk about the Angels trading Mike Trout again, an exhilarating time for people who sit at desks all day, formulating lunatic baseball transactions.
You're the GM of your favorite team, we are Billy Eppler. Give us your best offer for Mike Trout.— MLB Daily Dish (@mlbdailydish) July 17, 2016
And with that, a storm of chaos was unleashed upon the cosmos, and the world was erased by instinctively poor trade ideas and freak-out .gifs.
The Angels love Mike Trout. Mike Trout seems to feel okay putting on an Angels uniform. Everybody’s getting paid (but not much compared to what Trout will get in free agency), and everybody’s playing well. The Angels do not want to lose Mike Trout to a trade, or to eventual free agency, or to a decline as he gets older, or to a passing star ship that sucks him up in a beam of light.
But hey, man; the Angels are in last place. They’re not the most last place team in baseball, but they’re tied with the A’s at 40-52 in the AL West basement, 14.5 games out of the running for a division flag. They are not a good team and they are probably not going to the playoffs in 2016. Trout has played in one single playoff series since debuting as a big leaguer in 2011 - the 2014 ALDS, in which he went 1-for-12 and the Royals swept the Angels out of the post season before Trout could stop to take a breath and say “Finally!”
So it doesn’t take people more than a few leaps of logic to imagine Trout wanting out, or the desperate Angels waking up with a deranged trade idea in their heads that could really shake things up.
But that is apparently not going to happen. As Jeff Passan put it in the same column cited above,
In other words, barring some sort of voodoo magic from Billy Eppler, yes, the Angels will be wasting Mike Trout’s prime in glorious fashion.
The problem is, Trout - having just grabbed the No. 1 spot on Keith Law’s list of the Top 25 players under 25 - is too good. There’s no price tag that a team could meet to acquire him, and columns gushing over his godlike powers that use words like “godlike” and “powers” to describe him are only building up the impossibility of it all.
I mean, sure; maybe there is a trade that would technically make sense, but regardless of what it is, everyone would blast the Angels for trading a 24-year-old who is the closest thing modern baseball has to Mickey Mantle and is making something like $27 million a year - and back in May, GM Billy Eppler knew it.
Eppler has already been asked about it and told Fox Sports over the weekend that he has no "intent or desire to consider moving" Trout.
Maybe things have changed now. Maybe the way Eppler’s most recent “win-now” roster has fallen apart - Andrelton Simmons, Andrew Heaney, and Garrett Richards are all out - has made him rethink a lot of things. But no matter what, any team that has Mike Trout on it has to feel that regardless of everything else, it is in their best interest to keep Mike Trout on their team. At least until society crumbles.