With the 2019 MLB All-Star game in the past, trade season is officially fully upon us. Once again, the Detroit Tigers are in full-sell mode and left-handed pitcher Matthew Boyd will be one of the most sought-after commodities available. The 28-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season atop an otherwise below-average pitching staff, ranking fourth among qualified MLB starters in strikeout rate, fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio, 15th in fWAR (2.8), and 17th in FIP (3.55).
To go with his impressive numbers, Boyd’s contract situation figures to be extremely appealing to most contenders. He is only making $2.6 million in 2019 and has three seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining before he reaches free agency.
Naturally, this makes him a hot commodity on the July trade market. Several teams have already expressed interest in Boyd, and the rumors can be a bit much to keep up with sometimes. Let’s take a look at the teams interested in the lefty.
The Tigers could once again deal an ace to a Houston team that is squarely in the World Series race. Hey, it worked out last time for the Astros.
According to Jon Morosi, the AL West leaders have marked interest in Boyd, and for good reason. After Justin Verlander, Gerritt Cole, and Wade Miley, Houston’s rotation options are thin. Boyd could be the perfect fit to slot in and give Houston arguably the best top-four in baseball.
The Tigers have already asked for outfielder Kyle Tucker, a top-10 overall prospect with plus hit and power tools. The Astros are adamant that the 22-year-old is untouchable, for now. If he is, the next name out of Al Avila’s mouth should be Yordan Alvarez — another 60-grade guy with a strong bat. Unlike Tucker, Alvarez has flashed his massive potential in MLB action. In 90 MLB plate appearances, Alvarez is hitting .363/.433/.788 with nine home runs and 27 RBI — numbers that would rank second and sixth among Tigers players this season. Alvarez has played 21 games.
The Yankees have already checked in on Boyd. Al Avila asked for All-Star second baseman Gleyber Torres in return. That is not going to happen.
One name that could come up is Clint Frazier. The first thing Tigers fan could look forward to with him is that he would once again be allowed to grow out the luscious red hair he once sported in the Cleveland Indians’ system. The cost, though, is that he is nearly 25 years old and has only enjoyed modest success at the MLB level so far. Outfielder Estevan Florial flashes elite speed and elite defense to go with a good-not-great bat. His tools project him to stick as a top-level center fielder for years as long as he can keep getting on base... something that has not happened much this season.
The Yankees could be extra motivated to provide a handsome package to outbid a certain division rival, though.
No starting rotation has been as utterly disappointing as the defending champions’. With Cy Young winners Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello, only one (Price) has an ERA under 4.00; Porcello’s is a sky-high 5.33. From there is the serviceable yet hardly lockdown left arm of Eduardo Rodriguez.
Obtaining Boyd seems like it should be an obvious priority for GM Dave Dombrowski, who has already acquired Boyd once, as it would not only help bolster their shaky situation but take away a potential asset from the Yankees.
The tricky part becomes how they will do that considering their prospect pool barren of potential stars. Their top prospect is 2018 first round pick Triston Casas, who is a corner infielder with serious power and a slick glove. At 19-years-old, he should be ready to jump up to the big leagues once the Tigers are contending again. That said, his potential is not on the level of those offered by other contenders. If the Red Sox really want to spice things up, 24-year-old Michael Chavis could be thrown into the conversation.
The Brewers may have the reigning National League MVP, but they do not have a top-end rotation to go with it. While Zach Davies and Brandon Woodruff have been quite reliable for the Crew, there are plenty of holes around them. They have already checked in on Boyd this year, but we haven’t heard much since.
If the Brewers want Boyd, it may require moving Keston Hiura. Drafted in 2017, Hiura has already made his MLB debut and is currently starting with the big league club. The second baseman carries a smooth swing with an eye for the ball allowing him to make solid contact regularly with above-average raw power. Like Houston’s Kyle Tucker, Hiura has been noted as untouchable so it will take some convincing to get Milwaukee to part with their prized prospect.
The Rays are trying to piece things together following Tyler Glasnow’s injury, and according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, they have shown some interest in Boyd. With Boyd, Tampa would add yet another talented lefthander under team control for a while, and solidify their place near the top of the league’s rotation hierarchy. Wander Franco, baseball’s top prospect, is going nowhere. The rest of the Rays’ system is flush with other high-end talent to choose from, though. Pitchers Brent Honeywell, Shane Baz, and Matthew Liberatore, outfielder Jesus Sanchez, second baseman Vidal Brujan, catcher Ronaldo Hernandez and pitcher-but-also-DH Brendan McKay could all serve as key pieces in any move.
With the Padres come one of the most interesting teams to watch during the 2019 deadline. They entered the All-Star break at 45-45 and 14 1⁄2 games out of the NL West, but they sit two games back from the second Wild Card spot. That said, there are eight National League teams within four games of each other.
Now is the time for the Padres to set themselves apart from the crowd and gain an upper hand. Boyd can do that now while settling in nicely with their talented young core, which should keep them in contention for years to come.
Lefthander MacKenzie Gore is the team’s top farmhand, but second baseman Luis Urias and others make up an absolutely loaded Padres farm system.
With the best rotation ERA in the NL and the top record in baseball, the Dodgers do not suit the prototypical “must trade for starter!” type, yet here we are. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News indicated that Los Angeles is interested in Boyd. Whatever their plan, the Dodgers are clearly thirsty for the World Series title that has eluded them in the last few years.
Who knows what goes into their reported interest? What we do know is that they have plenty of high-end prospects to build a package around, including infielder Gavin Lux, pitcher Dustin May, and catchers Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.
The Phillies have also checked in on Boyd, but as Brandon noted earlier, their farm system lacks the top-end talents others listed above can offer. Third baseman Alec Bohm is an absolute must-have in return for Boyd, and one of their top secondary pieces (like righthander Adonis Medina) might also be a necessary inclusion.
It seems odd that a team so flush with pitching prospects would need someone like Boyd, but the Braves are also on McCosky’s list of parties interested in the lefthander. Atlanta certainly has the prospects to pry Boyd away from Detroit, but Tigers fans will hope that one of Cristian Pache or Drew Waters would headline the deal, giving Detroit another top-end bat to balance out their system.