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‘MATTer of Opinion’ Sports Column: Put up or shut up time for MLB teams

With just one week to go until the Major League Baseball trade deadline, there are plenty of teams in both leagues with eyes on a spot in the postseason this October. Executives and coaching staffs will be working together to find the right piece to help their team get over the hump.

There are plenty of big names on the block this year, including award winners, World Series champions and some players in the midst of a breakout season. As with every trade deadline in recent memory, it feels like most teams are focused on adding to their pitching staffs for a run at a title.

The biggest name has drawn attention from the best teams in the league, but it is starting to look like he may stay put. Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants has been a part of three World Series championship teams, including an MVP performance when he pitched 21 innings in one series and allowed just one run.

Rumors have swirled throughout the season about where Bumgarner will be playing at the end of July, including the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately for the teams in pursuit, the Giants have turned their season around and are only two games back from a playoff spot.

While Bumgarner may not be as good as he once was, he still provides ace quality and has the experience to get the Giants over the hump if they continue to win. As of Monday, the Giants had won 16 or their last 20 games and if that continues, Bumgarner may be staying put to help his longtime team get into the playoffs.


If that is the case, the league’s top teams will be turning their focus to other pitchers including Arizona’s Zack Grienke, Texas’s Mike Minor and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. All three of them seem more likely to be on the move this week, but it will be all about who is willing and who can put together the best package of young talent to exchange for an extra starter.

Other teams will be focused on adding to their bullpen this season, and while there may not be the big names of the past available, adding an extra relief pitcher has proven to make a big difference in the postseason. The Cubs ended their long title drought with a big help from closer Aroldis Chapman, and even though they gave up some of their top prospects, it’s pretty clear most fans think it was worth it.

This season, the top relief arms on the block include Pittsburgh’s Felipe Vazquez, San Francisco’s Will Smith and Detroit’s Shane Greene. All of them have shown the ability to thrive in late-inning situations, but when it comes to the bullpen, you never know who can make the biggest impact in a new environment.

There are plenty of moves that will likely be made over the next week, and while some will be predictable, some will surprise even the biggest baseball insiders. And even though some of these players have had great seasons to this point, their impact on this season will be judged by what they do with their new teams and how close they can get to a World Series ring.


Matt Harrelson is the co-host of Good Morning Sandhills, Live at 5, the RO Sports Show and ROSS Racing.

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