All right, full-season All-Star breaks are done. Onto the next major event on the baseball calendar.
The 2019 Trade Deadline comes in two and a half weeks, on July 31. Between now and then, contending Major League clubs will try to wheel and deal and build up their rosters for the stretch run.
This season's deadline is unique for a few reasons. For one, a rule change goes into effect that makes the July 31 Trade Deadline the only Trade Deadline. No more waiver Trade Deadline a month later. (Waiver claims are still allowed in August, but trades are not.) Second, as of Friday, there are still several teams that could talk their way into being Major League buyers.
For the purposes of this column, however, we'll look at the Major League sellers, aka those clubs that stand a chance to build up their farm systems by trading valuable players from the top level. Below is a breakdown of where potential sellers' farm systems ranked at the start of 2019, where they stand now and who they have available to trade for prospects before the deadline hits on July 31.
San Francisco Giants
Where they stood: 28th
What's happened since: Top prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos spent parts of the first half injured, but both look back on track at Class A Advanced San Jose. In a small sample, Marco Luciano is looking very much like the real deal as a 17-year-old shortstop, and Alexander Canario, 19, showed enough power to move to Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer. Shaun Anderson has graduated to the Major League rotation. The Giants took outfielder Hunter Bishop with their top pick, adding his plus power and plus run tools from Arizona State. Logan Webb's 80-game PED suspension was perhaps the biggest demerit of the first half. All in all, it's a farm system on the upswing, but not one where it needs to be for a full rebuild.
Deadline preview: The big draw here is Madison Bumgarner, whose chances of being dealt have been widely discussed since last offseason. The veteran left-hander would be a rental, since he'll be a free agent this year, but he's a proven postseason performer. Any playoff contender looking for a starter should at least be checking in on him, and that could drive up the price some, potentially giving San Francisco another piece to build around. All-Star closer Will Smith is also available as a rental and could bring his own big return with fellow relievers Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta likely available for less. The sneaky fun trade would be Pablo Sandoval, who has been a well above-average hitter two years after being cut by the Red Sox. Despite his power jump, Sandoval wouldn't bring back nearly as promising a prospect return, but it would be fun to see how much another club would be willing to bet on the 32-year-old switch-hitter.
Toronto Blue Jays
Where they stood: Sixth
What's happened since: A lot of that ranking was tied up in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who opened the season as the No. 1 overall prospect but has since (finally) graduated to the Majors. Cavan Biggio joined him as well, and Trent Thornton is getting regular turns through the Toronto rotation. Bo Bichette shouldn't be too far behind now that he's healthy from a broken hand and destroying the ball at Triple-A Buffalo. Nate Pearson continues to throw heat and feature a plus slider at Double-A New Hampshire, and Jordan Groshans and Eric Pardinho have showed promise (and health concerns) at Class A Lansing. The graduation of Guerrero took a serious shine off the Toronto pipeline, but there's still a good amount of promise heading north of the border. And more could be coming...
Deadline preview: Marcus Stroman. Marcus Stroman. Marcus Stroman. Everyone knows that the All-Star right-hander, in the midst of arguably his best season yet as a Major Leaguer, is on the market, and with one more year of arbitration-based team control beyond this one, he should fetch an impressive return. It might not reach the levels of what Tampa Bay got back for Chris Archer last season -- even Archer for Austin Meadows wouldn't look great now, never mind the additions of Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz -- because Archer had more years of control, but Stroman has also been the better starter. Adding pieces to build around Guerrero, Bichette, Pearson, Biggio and first-half standout Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would be better for Toronto's long-term future than keeping Stroman for one more year. Also keep an eye on the market for closer Ken Giles, who has bounced back tremendously one year after he was included in a deadline deal for fellow reliever Roberto Osuna. As with Stroman, Giles becomes a free agent after the 2020 season and has been special this summer. He has a 1.45 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 31 innings, and his potential return may never be higher.
New York Mets
Where they stood: 20th
What's happened since: New York let Pete Alonso open the season on the Major League roster, and the slugging first baseman has given the club no reason to second-guess that decision. In the Minors, Anthony Kay has been the story of the first half after a 1.49 ERA over 12 starts at Double-A Binghamton pushed him to Triple-A perhaps sooner than expected. Ronny Mauricio has held his own as an 18-year-old shortstop at Class A Columbia, while Andres Gimenez hasn't quite got things going as a 20-year-old at Double-A. Elsewhere on the pitching side, Simeon Woods Richardson has shown signs of popping at Class A, even if his 4.86 ERA isn't rosy. Replacing Alonso with Kay in the Top 100 is somewhat of a loss for the Minor League pipeline, but this wasn't a farm system built for a rebuild. At least not in the first half.
Deadline preview: Zack Wheeler always seemed like the starting pitcher the Mets were most likely to deal if they weren't going to be competitive in July -- 10 games under .500, they're certainly at that point -- with additional hope they could find a taker for Jason Vargas. The former, whose 3.65 FIP is more indicative of his performance than his 4.69 ERA, will be a free agent this offseason, making him this year's Nathan Eovaldi equivalent. (Eovaldi brought Jalen Beeks to the Rays last July.) That's not farm-system-altering talent, but it's something. However in recent days, Noah Syndergaard's name has popped up in rumors as clubs inquire about what it would take to pry the hard-throwing right-hander -- who wouldn't enter free agency until after the 2021 season -- from New York. Such a deal would certainly bring a new wave of talent to the Mets pipeline, but it would take a serious waving of the white flag for the organization's near future. It comes down to what kind of project Brodie Van Wagenen & Co. want to take on. Based on last year's win-now moves, the bet here is that they hold onto Syndergaard. If they don't, it could be the blockbuster of the summer. In non-pitcher moves, the Mets will likely also try to move Todd Frazier in the final season of his two-year deal, but seeing as Frazier has been a league-average bat since moving to Queens, the return might not move the needle much, if at all.
Where they stood: 26th
What's happened since: Since he got going, Sixto Sanchez has very much lived up to the hype at Double-A Jacksonville and earned a Futures Game invite as a result. Monte Harrison has risen back into the Top-100 ranks by looking like his toolsy self at Triple-A New Orleans, and at the same level, Isan Diaz has been an offensive force. Zac Gallen and Jordan Yamamoto showed enough in the first half to join the Miami rotation, and neither looks ready to give up their spots. Speaking of pitching, first-rounders Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers are starting to live up to the billing at Class A Advanced Jupiter, and No. 8 prospect Edward Cabrera is showing breakout potential after spending the first half between there and Double-A Jacksonville. Unfortunately, Victor Victor Mesa is having difficulty adjusting stateside in the Florida State League, Connor Scott has been inconsistent at Class A Clinton and Nick Neidert has missed significant time with knee tendinitis. For all the good that's happened, this still isn't a farm fitting of team in full-rebuild mode, but there are positive steps here, including the drafting of Vanderbilt star JJ Bleday in June.
Deadline preview: With a 33-55 record, the Marlins will continue their rebuild in any way they can this summer. Unfortunately, there isn't potential for a real blockbuster here. Miami has solid controllable starting pitching in Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Richards and Caleb Smith, but dealing from that pool would serve as more of a move to kick the can further down the road at the Major League level. Relievers Sergio Romo and Austin Brice could intrigue some clubs in need of bullpen help, especially the latter in the midst of a breakout season before he even hits arbitration. The one to watch could be Miguel Rojas. The 30-year-old shortstop has just been average with the bat but has provided plenty of value with the glove; his 13 Defensive Runs Saved are second-most among all shortstops while his 16.1 UZR/150 is tops among qualifiers. That defense, along with the fact that Rojas won't be a free agent until after 2021, could be attractive to some team for a trade that could bulk up the Miami system at least a little more.
Where they stood: 16th
What's happened since: If there was an award for Most Improved Farm System, the Mariners would probably win it running away. Seattle now boasts six Top-100 prospects, more than all but the Padres and Rays, each of which have eight. Top prospect Jarred Kelenic is very much looking like the real five-tool deal in his first full season, while fellow former Met Justin Dunn is off and running at Double-A Arkansas. First-rounders Logan Gilbert and Evan White have climbed into the Top-100 after showing an impressive arm and bat/glove, respectively, while Julio Rodriguez is the next big name to watch at Class A West Virginia. Justus Sheffield, acquired from the Yankees last offseason, struggled with control at Triple-A Tacoma but seems to be back to finding his way at Arkansas as well. Elsewhere, Cal Raleigh and Jake Fraley are enjoying breakout seasons at the plate, and Shed Long has been a Major League contributor when healthy. This is without a doubt a top-10 system now and could be climbing higher if the second half repeats the first and if any more big additions are made.
Deadline preview: General manager Jerry Dipoto loves himself a trade. He's already dealt away Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce after one of the busiest offseasons in baseball. That doesn't leave a lot of obvious trade chips. Dipoto said on MLB Network Radio last month that he would be more focused on dealing veterans than potential franchise building blocks. That would probably point to deals involving right-hander Mike Leake or infielder Dee Gordon, though neither has quite taken off in 2019. Leake could be an innings-eater for a club needing rotation help, while Gordon would likey be bench help (and pinch-running extraordinaire) for a contender. Both are signed at least through 2020. Otherwise, the arrow will likely continue to point up in the M's system, but only because of the prospect talent the club already possesses.
Where they stood: 15th
What's happened since: It's still all about the pitching in the Tigers system. Casey Mize and Matt Manning would give any farm system a desirable 1-2 punch, and they even combined to do the same in the Erie rotation before Mize hit the IL with a shoulder issue. At the same level, Alex Faedo has shown signs of getting back on track. In terms of position players, Isaac Paredes has been a solid hitter for a 20-year-old at Double-A, and catcher Jake Rogers -- a defensive wizard behind the plate -- showed enough with the bat to push a move to Triple-A Toledo. Going much further down, 2019 first-rounder Riley Greene has already pushed a move to Class A Short Season Connecticut after he was barely challenged in the Gulf Coast League. There's still a good amount of disappointment to go around here though; Franklin Perez still can't get rid of the injury bug, Kyle Funkhouser has really struggled at Triple-A and outfielders Daz Cameron and Parker Meadows aren't close to their offensive ceilings. If this is going to be a full rebuild, the Tigers need to add more than Greene to the mix.
Deadline preview: All-Star Shane Greene is having the best season of his career as the Tigers' closer (22 saves, 1.09 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 34 K in 33 IP), and it should get him an opportunity to pitch in the playoffs for the first time. With another season of control before Greene hits free agency and many clubs in need of bullpen help, the return on the 30-year-old right-hander could be substantial enough to give the Tigers more to build around at the top than the usual suspects. Elsewhere, Matthew Boyd would probably bring back the biggest return in his breakout season, considering he's only in his first season of arbitration, but it would take a boatload of young talent for the Tigers to let go of the 28-year-old southpaw. Expect him to stay unless one club is willing to really go all in. Also, expect Detroit to try to find a taker for Nicholas Castellanos before he enters free agency, though a dip in his offensive production (along with the limited control) takes away a good amount of his value on the trade market.
Kansas City Royals
Where they stood: 22nd
What's happened since: A real mixed bag here. The pitching class of 2018 (Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic) thrived early on with all but Lynch -- who has popped into the Top 100 but is currently on the IL with arm soreness -- moving up to a new level. Success at those higher rungs has been so-so, with Singer especially struggling to get outs against Double-A bats. On the position-player side, MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto and Seuly Matias were hoping for big things at Class A Advanced Wilmington but have each stumbled. Nicky Lopez was an elite hitter at Triple-A Omaha and has since graduated to the Majors, where he hasn't nearly been the same. Adding No. 2 overall pick Bobby Witt Jr. might have been the biggest success of the first half, so Kansas City could use more help if this is the system to provide its next World Series winner.
Deadline preview: As of last month, the Royals weren't willing to part with building blocks Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, but would they consider moving All-Star Whit Merrifield? The 30-year-old has been even better in 2019 while splitting time between right field and second base, and he's signed through at least 2022 with a team option for 2023 at a very affordable rate (he would be due $25 million over the next four seasons, if that $10.5 million option is picked up). Any team in need of help at either position would do well to pick up that contract, but it'd take an absolute blockbuster to make it happen, one that would likely move Kansas City's system up several notches in the rankings. Veterans Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy could also be on the move, though both would provide more depth than ceiling.
Where they stood: 23rd
What's happened since: The new Baltimore regime's hope to turn around the old belief that the O's couldn't develop pitching has been aided by the first halves of Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, each of whom went to the Futures Game last weekend. Rodriguez, last year's first-rounder, has particularly been a revelation with a four-pitch mix that has been hard for Class A hitters to touch. Meanwhile, Hall has shown perhaps even more velocity in his second full season, keeping his promise despite some hiccups in the control department. Elsewhere, Ryan Mountcastle has shown a good enough bat at Triple-A that it won't matter this his position is likely to be first base, and DJ Stewart was good enough at the same level to push his way to the Majors. Yusniel Diaz's stock has slipped as he continues to look average in his third season at Double-A. No matter what happened in the Minors, the talk was always going to be what happened with the No. 1 overall pick, and the O's did the right thing in taking the best talent in Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. The rest of the Baltimore system will be built around him (Rodriguez, Mountcastle and Hall included), but he could still use more help, considering where Baltimore wants its youth movement to go.
Deadline preview: The Orioles have a couple of impressive first-half performers in All-Star John Means and outfielder Trey Mancini, but don't expect either to head out of Charm City. The more likely two to go are starting pitcher Andrew Cashner and reliever Mychal Givens. The veteran Cashner has a 3.83 ERA over 96 1/3 innings and a $10 million team option for 2020 -- conditions that would be attractive for clubs that want to add depth to their rotation. Givens' overall numbers (4.76 ERA, 1.29 WHIP in 34 innings) aren't as rosy, but there could be a team willing to bet on his 13 K/9. Long story short: don't expect any Manny Machado-type deals this time around.