The July 31 MLB trade deadline is creeping up. Over the next two weeks, swaps will be consummated, or they won't.
Based on the latest rumors and credible rumblings, plus a dollop of informed speculation, here are nine deal or no deal predictions for some of the top potential trade candidates.
To be clear, if we say "deal," we believe the player in question will change laundry on or before July 31, and we'll go out on a limb and predict the destination. If we say "no deal," we believe the player will remain with his club through the season and possibly beyond.
No Deal: The Tigers Hang On to Nicholas Castellanos
The Detroit Tigers are in the midst of a rebuild and appear unlikely to extend right fielder Nicholas Castellanos.
An impending free agent, Castellanos is 27 years old, owns an .805 OPS and has hit an MLB-leading 31 doubles. You'd think that would make him an obvious trade candidate for a contender looking to rent a bat.
Not so fast.
As Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter pointed out, the Tigers could opt instead to keep Castellanos through the season and then extend him a qualifying offer. He'd almost surely reject it, which would give Detroit a compensatory draft pick.
Of course, if a team wows them with a multiprospect package before July 31, the Tigers should pounce. But given Castellanos' notable defensive limitations, that seems unlikely.
Deal: The Nationals Acquire Will Smith from the Giants
The Washington Nationals own the top position in a crowded National League wild-card race and should be buyers at the deadline.
To say they need to upgrade their bullpen is an understatement of Mariano Riveraian proportions.
Their relief corps ranks dead-last in the NL with a 5.93 ERA and is tied for second in baseball with 18 blown saves. If the Nationals have designs on a legitimate postseason run, this is the leak they need to plug.
There are multiple interesting relief targets potentially on the market, but San Francisco Giants left-hander Will Smith might top the list.
The 30-year-old southpaw owns a 2.11 ERA and has struck out 54 in 38.1 innings while locking down 24 saves. He also has experience as a setup man and would give the Nats the versatile, shutdown late-inning arm they need.
Smith will be a free agent after the season, but he'd be a more-than-worth-it rental.
No Deal: The Royals Hang On to Whit Merrifield
The Kansas City Royals will be sellers, but it says here they won't sell Whit Merrifield.
The Royals' All-Star second baseman is hitting .307 with an .855 OPS and paces MLB with 122 hits after leading both leagues with 192 knocks in 2018.
He's also making just $1 million this season, $5 million in 2020, $6.8 million in 2021 and $2.8 million in 2022 with a $10.5 million team option for 2023.
That means he could be a prime trade asset given his production and affordability or a piece of the rebuilding Royals' future.
"I mean, the players, the young people in our community identify with Whit. That's really important for us," Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore told reporters. "He's, I believe, one of the best players in all of baseball right now. So, I mean, the ask would be just crazy."
Those don't sound like the words of a man ready to make a deal.
Deal: The Braves Acquire Madison Bumgarner from the Giants
In addition to Will Smith, the Giants' most obvious and high-profile trade asset is left-hander Madison Bumgarner. He's a playoff legend any contender would love to carry into October.
Yes, he's an impending free agent. And sure, he owns a career-high 3.86 ERA. He's also struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings and, at age 29, is far from over the hill. It's possible MadBum could author another riveting postseason chapter.
Suitors will surely line up, but the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves are an obvious fit.
Despite the signing of lefty Dallas Keuchel, the Braves rotation ranks 15th with a 4.39 ERA. And Atlanta is a young team that could use an injection of veteran leadership.