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Shortened Season Impact: Rental Trades

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Houston Astros Introduce James Click Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

As MLB gets closer to announcing a starting point for the 2020 season, I wanted to start thinking through what the impact of a shortened season would be. One interesting aspects would be the potential increased value of a “Rental” player. In most seasons, players traded at the trade deadline are not eligible for a Qualified Offer, as with the somewhat recent changes, the policy added:

“2. That player spent the entire season on that team’s roster (in-season acquisitions are ineligible).” (Full rules listed here)

So with that said, and in-season rental trades could become more prevalent prior to the start of the season. So I figured I’d start by taking a look at some of the teams who may be putting assets on the trading block who could be QO candidates at the end of the season. To start, let’s make a list of teams who are projected to be in the bottom 12 from a standings perspective based on Fangraphs projected standings.

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Of those teams, there are not many that are above that fell into MLB’s pre-ranking of top 20 Free Agents, but here’s the list:

9. Mike Minor, LHP, TEX, age 33

Minor, another guy for whom age will tamp down the contract length, has proven himself not just a viable starter after missing 2015-16 with shoulder issues but also an upper-class one at that. He earned down-ballot Cy Young Award support with a 3.59 ERA and 144 ERA+ with Texas last year.

So how about some under the radar picks?

My #1: Garrett Richards - Richards is finally back from his injury, and although his first couple appearances didn’t inspire a ton of confidence, he is an excellent bounce back candidate with ace level potential. From 2014-18, Richards pitched to the tune of a 3.15 ERA (3.38 FIP) with a strong 8.5 K/9. He also possesses some of the highest spin rate in the game, and if you haven’t read my article about why I thought the Astros should have signed him prior to the Padres, it goes into why I believe he’d be such a strong Strom candidate.

#2: JT Realmuto - The Realmuto rumors ran rampant through the Astros sites for far too long, so I won’t go too much into why he would be such a great fit. The Phillies are projected at exactly .500, so it’s unlikely they’d be aggressive sellers, but he’d fit well into our team.

What are your thoughts? Does the potential of the full-season / QO change how you feel about a potential rental? What players would you pursue?