Top-Tier, but Unlikely to Move
Beyond those four guys, there are a few other top-tier starters worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.
Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals
The Nationals got off to a rough start this season, but have started to find their stride as the summer’s heated up. There’s next to no chance that they’ll consider moving Max Scherzer as a result of their recent improvement given that they’ve built a roster meant to contend for a title right now.
If by some crazy stroke of fate he became available, he’d undoubtedly be the top target of every team. Scherzer has been, arguably, the best pitcher in baseball for several year running, and is having another Cy Young worthy season for the Nationals this season. He’d be the ace of any pitching staff in the big leagues and would take any team up a level if he became available.
2) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
Unlike his fellow teammate, Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard seems unlikely to move this summer for three reasons. He’s been injured again for the third consecutive season, he’s just 26, and he has two years of team control left beyond this year.
The Mets may listen to offers for him, but they seem disinclined to actually go through with trading him because of his age and years of control. They see him as a key part of their future.
Who can blame them either? When he’s healthy, he’s one of the most electric starters to watch in the Major Leagues. He’s part of a select few pitchers in the major leagues capable of manning the top of a rotation.
3) Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds, like the Nationals, got off to a slow start this season, but have gotten themselves back into the thick of the playoff race in an extremely competitive National League. Luis Castillo‘s breakout season has been a major reason for that resurgence.
Castillo has posted the second best ERA in the majors at a 2.20. He’s averaging a career best K/9 rate of 10.53 this season while giving up just 0.76 HR/9 over 106 innings pitched.
Castillo is very unlikely to be moved. He has five remaining years of team control left, has improved in each season he’s been in the big leagues, is young (26), and is a key part of the Reds success so far. Even if the Reds fade before July 31st, there’s probably no chance that they’d move such a valuable young pitcher at the deadline.
4) Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Ray has emerged in recent seasons as one of the best strikeout pitchers in the major leagues. He’s averaging 11.78 K/9 so far this season after averaging over 12 per nine innings pitched in each of his prior two seasons.
He has major issues with walks, giving up 4.64 BB/9 so far this year after averaging over five per nine innings last season. But, he can overcome much of that with his ability to limit hits and strikeout batters.
Ray is the closest of these four starters to being available at the trade deadline. He’s a free agent after the 2020 season, making him an awkward fit for a Diamondbacks team that’s taken some steps to move on from other players approaching their final year of control, like they did with Paul Goldschmidt this past winter.
Arizona also seems unlikely to remain a playoff contender. Their underlying stats are solid, but their on paper talent is inferior to many of the NL teams they need to compete against if they want to make the playoffs this fall.
Given all of that, It’s not hard to envision Arizona listening to offers for Ray in the coming weeks.