This is all purely speculative on my part, but it looks as though starting pitching might be a common need for most MLB trade deadline buyers.
From July 1, 2017 to August 31 2017, there were a total of 57 MLB trades.
Of those 57 deals, just 13 included Major League starters.
Among the starters changing uniforms were Jose Quintana, Marco Gonzales, Jaime Garcia, Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill (they were, in part, traded for each other), Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia again, Francisco Liriano, Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray, Tom Koehler, Mike Leake, Miguel Gonzalez and Justin Verlander.
Admittedly, not all of the starters found success in their new locals. Hellickson, Gonzalez, Wood and Cahill all imploded with their respective franchises.
Meanwhile, Liriano and Koehler were actually used as relievers by the Astros and Blue Jays, respectively.
However, all that being said, some of the starters dealt were amongst the most impactful trade deadline acquisitions.
Verlander and Darvish were instrumental in helping their new squads reach the World Series, while Quintana and Gray helped key deep postseasons runs from the Cubs and Yankees.
Much of the rest of the trades last season involved relievers switching originations.
Considering the shift in the modern game to rely more on the bullpen, relievers may very well change teams at a high rate this summer.
Still, if the early returns of the 2018 season are any indication, starting pitching could be in just as much demand, if not more so. *
(*This is, of course, all speculative mind you.)
Contenders across the country are in need of starters.
Teams in need
Whether it be the Mariners, who need a frontline hurler to pair with James Paxton, or a team like the Yankees or Nationals, who need depth pieces to eat innings, the needs are there.
Teams rarely are able to use just five starting pitchers in a season. In other words, depth is both a necessity and a key to staying successful.
One of MLB’s most successful teams, the Red Sox, could do with another starter—a swingman perhaps—to fill in should injury or ineffectiveness strike a rotation that currently consists of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz.
The Sox do have Steven Wright on hand in the bullpen, but he’s thrown just 31 innings (7.28 FIP, 1.774 WHIP) since earning All-Star honors in 2016, making him far from a reliable depth option.
More teams in need
Another 2017 playoff team, the Twins, are also in desperate need of rotation help.
Getting Ervin Santana will obviously be a boon to Minnesota’s playoff chances, but the current group hasn’t cut it.
Minnesota’s starters also haven’t given Paul Molitor much help in preserving the bullpen. Twins starters entered Wednesday ranked 27th in innings pitched.
A lack of starters going deep in games is fine for teams like the Brewers and Yankees (21st and 22nd in innings pitched among starters) when those organization’s bullpens are elite.
The Twins bullpen—which is 21st in fWAR and 26th in WHIP—isn’t.
Seattle’s rotation needs are also aplenty. Besides Paxton, the M’s best starters have been Gonzales and Wade LeBlanc. The latter duo have been solid.
However, the Mariners will need more to keep pace with the Astros and Angels for the entirety of an 162-game schedule.
There need is more of the depth variety, but they still have a need, especially if they want to claim a spot in what is shaping up to be a crowded American League postseason field.
Even more teams in need
Over in the National League, Arizona could use some extra starting options, what with Robbie Ray on the disabled list, Taijuan Walker having undergone Tommy John surgery this year and Shelby Miller recovering from the same procedure, which he underwent last year.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the trade market develops as the number of rebuilding or selling clubs has shrunk.
For the most part, 2017 contenders have stayed in contention, while young teams in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Detroit have been better than expected.
That isn’t to say that some of those teams could stay in contention all season, but they certainly haven’t stayed rooted to their respective division cellars.
It will also be worth watching to see when teams start to make trades and if they wait until July to bring in upgrades.