MLB trade deadline Q&A: Bowden on trade talks, scenarios and the latest rumblings

I answered 20 questions submitted by subscribers as we head into the final weekend before Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline. Let’s go!

The questions have been edited for clarity and length.

Is Nolan Arenado a real possibility (for the Dodgers) or is this a teaser that will leave me disappointed? If (it’s a possibility) what might he cost? – Jason C.

I hear the talks about Arenado started when the Dodgers expressed interest in either Jack Flaherty or Jordan Montgomery. When the Cardinals began asking for Los Angeles’ top prospects in return, the Dodgers responded that the only way they would trade them was if it was in a package for the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner. Arenado is from Southern California and is believed to waive his no-trade clause if traded to the Dodgers. The deal had to be headlined by at least one of the Dodgers’ top pitchers – Bobby Miller and/or Emmet Sheehan – and had to include some combination of pitchers Gavin Stone, Michael Grove and/or Ryan Pepiot. The Cardinals would be looking for at least three young starters. To help balance the finances, the Dodgers would ask the Cardinals to take back Max Muncy in the trade and would also insist on acquiring either Flaherty or Montgomery. In other words, this has the nature of a blockbuster trade. Not sure if anything will come to fruition, but it’s a fun potential trade to monitor.


Why the Cardinals are entertaining Nolan Arenado talks with the Dodgers, no matter how unlikely

What would it take for the Braves to pry Josh Hader away from the Padres? – Sam A.

I think it would take a package along the lines of right-handed pitcher AJ Smith-Shawver and shortstop Vaughn Grissom for the Braves to land Hader, an impending free agent, at the deadline. Of course, it is if Padres decide to sell.


Braves trade scenarios: Jim Bowden evaluates 4 proposals to help fill key needs

How much will the Angels regret if they buy now and miss the playoffs? — (Name not available)

If the Angels don’t make the playoffs, they will have set their franchise back at least three to four years. This was their opportunity to build for the future, but they decided to go all in and “roll the dice,” as general manager Perry Minasian says. I think they have made a big long-term mistake.

Would you trade David Bednar if you were the Pirates GM? Which teams might be a match and what kind of package would you be looking for? – Daniel C.

If I’m the Pirates, I’d definitely trade Bednar if I could get an everyday position player in return. During my career as Reds GM, I traded closer Jeff Shaw for Paul Konerko, reliever Jeff Brantley for Dmitri Young and reliever Dave Burba for Sean Casey. All three deals worked in our favor. Based on where the Pirates are in the standings, I would make the same type of trade if it becomes available. The Orioles, Twins, Rangers and Diamondbacks are among the clubs that could become matches for Bednar, who is under team control for three more years after this season.

What would you think of Ryan McMahon to the Yankees for DJ LeMahieu and two pitching prospects? The Rockies really need arms and LeMahieu would be a necessary veteran presence. McMahon settles for third base for New York with a left-handed bat to start. This arms would be two of Clayton Beeter, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, Ron Marinaccio and Greg Weissert. – Larry W.

LeMahieu has a no-trade clause and isn’t going anywhere, especially not back to the Rockies. But McMahon would be a good fit for the Yankees, and I think a combination of the young pitchers you mention would be at the bottom of a realistic deal that could work for both sides.

Justin Verlander has a 3.24 ERA and a 1.146 WHIP in 15 starts. (Vincent Carchietta / USA Today)

Justin Verlander plus (the Mets pay) half his salary next year in exchange for (Rangers prospect) Jack Leiter – yay or nay? – Dan H.

If I’m the Mets, I’d need Owen White, Leiter and Justin Foscue for Justin Verlander and Brooks Raley. (Of course, Verlander would have to agree to waive his no-trade clause.) The Mets get two legitimate starting pitching options (White and Leiter) and a solid future second baseman (Foscue), while the Rangers get an ace and a key left-handed reliever. This deal would give them a legitimate shot at the World Series this year.

This feels like a huge moment in Chris Young’s tenure as Rangers GM. What move will he make to push the Rangers closer to a division title and the playoffs? – Tyler R.

Young goes all out for it. He has had trade talks with all the relevant teams, involving all the best starters and relievers available. He has a strong farming system to trade from. I have high expectations for him at this year’s deadline.

Would a Jonathan India/Nick Senzel package from the Reds get Bryce Miller back from the Mariners? – Jim Z.

Earlier this week I suggested trading India for Miller straight up. I think that would be a fair deal.

How do you justify selling if you are the kids? What steps would you take in either a buy or sell scenario? – Sam M.

If I’m the Cubs, I know I have the third-best run differential (+55) in the National League and I’m only four games back in the wild-card race and 5 1/2 back in the division standings. I buy, not sell, but I also listen. If someone wants to blow me away with a prospect deal for Marcus Stroman and/or Cody Bellinger, I’d at least listen. Otherwise I keep them, add a piece or two and go for it.

As a lifelong Orioles fan, (I need to know): Will GM Mike Elias pull the trigger on a starting pitcher this weekend? If so, which pitcher available is the best fit and which one makes the most sense without giving away yardage? – Ernie S.

This is the biggest moment of his career. I think Elias needs a legitimate starter and relievers and he is officially on the clock. I would love to see him land Josh Hader or Blake Snell from the Padres, but that would come at a significant cost to the farm system. Therefore, it may be more realistic for the Orioles to acquire either Jack Flaherty or Jordan Montgomery from the Cardinals.

The Red Sox should get old man Rich Hill back from the Pirates. Maybe flip Bobby Dalbec to the Pirates. Ji Man Choi is hitting under .200 and Ke’Bryan Hayes is injured. Dalbec would probably fit right in. Hill, meanwhile, gives the (Red Sox) a veteran presence in the rotation, and while he’s not eating up innings like he used to, he’s a good bridge to the team’s long relief, which has been light. -out. What do you think? – Mike L.

I like it, Mike. I will text Chaim Bloom and give him your thoughts.

Will the Mariners trade Teoscar Hernández? Will the Phillies be interested? – Nicholas B.

Hernández crushes left-handed pitching (.896 OPS against) and has legitimate power, which is evident from his 16 homers this year, 25 last year and 32 the year before that. However, he is a below average defender, struggles to get on base (.288 OPB) and will be a free agent after this season. I’m not sure I like the fit with the Phillies.

When does (Phillies president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski make a big hit (like he’s known for)? Or does he continue to keep the farm system intact while adding small upgrades around the edges? -Andrew R.

I think Dombrowski will look to upgrade left field and his rotation at the deadline, but I don’t expect a blockbuster.

Do you see the Giants using Joey Bart and/or Heliot Ramos in exchange for a high-profile player? Or stick to lesser-known prospects and get an intermediary? – Travis L.

The Giants have been looking for upgrades at shortstop and in the rotation, and I think they will dangle both Bart and Ramos in those kinds of trade talks.

This feels like the year the Rays could finally win a World Series. How do you see them upgrading their starting pitching at the deadline? Is Marcus Stroman a possibility? – James C.

The Rays have a strong farm system to trade from, and President of Baseball Operations Erik Neander and GM Peter Bendix are aggressive as they look to improve their team in all areas, including the rotation. I’m not convinced that Stroman will be traded, but at least the Rays have talked to the Cubs about him.

The Twins have way too many lefties (Alex Kirilloff, Edouard Julien, Max Kepler, Joey Gallo, Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner), which is the reason for their massive struggles against left-handed pitching. … Who do they send out hoping to return an explosive right-handed bat? – Charles B.

If I’m the Twins, I’m not trading Kirilloff or Julien, period. I would shop the other four for a right-handed hitter. I would spend a lot of time talking to both the Orioles and Cardinals about their surplus of right-handed hitting outfielders. I would also target Lane Thomas of the Nationals.

How much will the Diamondbacks have to give up to secure a better shot (at the postseason) this year? – Tim T.

If the Diamondbacks have the opportunity to land a recognized starting pitcher, I think it would be fair to trade one of their prospects ranked in the 10 to 15 range in their organization and one in the 25-30 range.

If the Cardinals can find a way to move Steven Matz and Paul DeJong, does that enable them to re-sign Jordan Montgomery? – Chad H.

I think they will trade Montgomery and consider signing him in the offseason when his price drops from his current asking price. I’m not sure anyone will take Matz’s contract (he was owed $12.5 million in 2024 and $12.5 million in ’25), but DeJong could be dealt to a team like the Giants in a smaller type of trade.

Does the thread-and-pin approach of simultaneously buying and selling ever work? Teams on the fringes of the playoff bubble do this, but it seems like an all-in-buy mode or all-in-sale rebuild mode would be more successful. The thread-the-needle concept seems to be just treading water and not making progress toward a championship or a rebuild. – Michael O.

The thread-the-needle approach works best for teams that are “in the hunt” for a wild-card spot but aren’t really a playoff team. In other words, they should focus on future years, but if you can add a player that will help you win this year without affecting future years, then make that kind of move as well. It can be done, especially when trading impending free agents.

If you’re a first-year GM with high job security, would you rather be in the buyer or seller camp? As a seller, you have a chance to start fresh and implement your own ideas with your players without immediate pressure from ownership to win. But as a buyer, you have a chance to be an instant success and even more so your job security if the moves you make go well. – Adam W.

If you’re a GM, you better not worry about job security. You better realize that you are blessed to be a steward of the organization you work with. You just focus on doing your best to improve your organization, no matter what position it is in at the moment, whether you are buying or selling, etc. If you are worried about keeping your job, then you better find another job.


The life of an MLB GM at the trade deadline

(Top photo by Nolan Arenado: Rich Storry / USA Today)

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