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MLB trade-deadline predictions

What to look for leading up to the 2018 MLB trade deadline.

Chicago+Cubs+second+baseman+Javier+Baez+%289%29%2C+right%2C+steals+home+plate+for+a+run+as+Detroit+Tigers+catcher+James+McCann+%2834%29+reaches+for+the+late+tag+in+the+fourth+inning+at+Wrigley+Field+Wednesday%2C+July+4%2C+2018%2C+in+Chicago.+%28John+J.+Kim%2FChicago+Tribune%2FTNS%29
Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez (9), right, steals home plate for a run as Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (34) reaches for the late tag in the fourth inning at Wrigley Field Wednesday, July 4, 2018, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez (9), right, steals home plate for a run as Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (34) reaches for the late tag in the fourth inning at Wrigley Field Wednesday, July 4, 2018, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

TNS

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Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez (9), right, steals home plate for a run as Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (34) reaches for the late tag in the fourth inning at Wrigley Field Wednesday, July 4, 2018, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Jordan Zuniga, [email protected]

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There aren’t many sports with a trade deadline more exciting than the one the MLB provides. Most other sports have a bunch of big possibilities, most of which don’t pan out; baseball can have a real fireworks show in the final week of its trade period.

While most of this year’s fireworks have already been set off — most notably with the Orioles trading Manny Machado to the Dodgers — there still are plenty of moves that, if made, could have major import come October.

It is unlikely that any household name such as Jacob DeGrom will change uniforms, but it isn’t always the DeGroms of the baseball world who have the biggest impact in the playoffs.

“Small” players such as Marco Scutaro and David Freese each have MVP hardware from October, but neither will even sniff the Hall of Fame. The former of these two was acquired by the Giants at the deadline and went on to be the NLCS MVP.

So while there won’t be a big-time player on the move, a team could add its version of a Scutaro.

Here are the gaps some big teams have and how they might try to fill them.

Astros and Dodgers need relief.

Arguably the most valuable assets for teams playing October ball have become relief pitchers. Every season, it seems managers have been pulling starting pitchers earlier and earlier in playoff games. Gone are the days where playoff games are decided in epic battles such as the one between Jack Morris and John Smoltz in the 1991 World Series.

Because of that, bullpen pitchers are more valuable than ever, and both the Astros and the Dodgers lack in that area.

The Dodgers have a shutdown closer in Kenly Jensen but lack anything remotely threatening in front of him.

Houston lives on the other end of the spectrum; the Astros have a decent number of solid pitchers to get themselves to the ninth inning but lack a true shutdown closer that October teams covet.

With Zach Britton off the board, there isn’t really a top-of-the-line reliever left, but there are some viable options for both teams. Kirby Yates on the Padres has had a solid season this year and would be a good fit for either of these two teams and seems like the best option with a 1.43 ERA in 37 innings.

The other big possibility could be Keone Kela of the Rangers. He has playoff experience and has yet to blow a save this season.

Yankees, Cubs need starters.

While its importance has diminished in recent years, starting pitching is still an important aspect of the game.

Both the Yankees and Cubs have shown some weakness in this area and are bound to look for someone to bolster their rotations.

The starter most likely to be traded seems like J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays; he would probably be a good fit for the Cubs. Happ is not a long-term solution and is just a mid-level starter, which would fit the Cubs’ needs quite well.

The Bronx Bombers would really prefer a long-term option such as DeGrom, but it’s unlikely that he will make the move north from Queens to the Bronx. What seems like a decent move for the Yankees would be to go for the Twins’ Kyle Gibson, who is having a career year and is also under contract through 2019.

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