The trade deadline is a crazy time. Players that would get a modest return in the off-season are suddenly worth premier prospects because a team has a hole to fill in order to reach the playoffs. On the other hand, some players that would normally command a large return are sold off for nothing because no team has a need. Sometimes this can change from season to season (see Jay Bruce). It's basic supply and demand.
This year the two top prizes to be had are Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray. Each have quality stuff and have shown they can be legitimate aces. With every contender from the Dodgers to the Astros to the Yankees trying to land one of the two, a simple questino needs to be asked: Are they worth it?
Darvish and Gray have WARs of 2.5 and 2.2 respectively. Darvish is the model of consistency and Gray burst into stardom with a lights-out performance in the 2013 playoffs. But are they worth a big package of prospects? It depends. Here's a breakdown of contenders looking to acquire one of the two aces.
TOP TIER TEAMS: Dodgers, Astros, Nationals
For these teams, no. They're probably not worth it at their current asking price. Each of these teams are going to make the playoffs regardless and have a one-two punch in their rotations. The Dodgers, who are deep in discussions with the Rangers, shouldn't give up one of their top-3 prospects, especially for a rental like Darvish. Now, if the Rangers were willing to settle for a guy like Willie Calhoun, the deal would be worth it. The same goes for Gray. The Astros shouldn't give up a guy like Kyle Tucker and the Nationals shouldn't give up someone like Victor Robles. Each of these teams would be better off going after a left-handed reliever like Zach Britton or Justin Wilson. But with the last championship for any of these teams coming in 1988, it's reasonable if their fanbases think otherwise.
SECOND TIER TEAMS: Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Brewers
For the Red Sox, no. They're probably only calling to help get the price up for their rivals in the Bronx. For the Yankees, yes it's worth it, unless it includes Gleyber Torres. With a staff full of injury concerns, including Michael Pineda being out for the season, they need an impact starter for the push to the playoffs. It's not in Cashman's nature to not go after it all whenever he can. The Brewers are in a similar boat. I would say either starter, especially Gray, is worth it. Gray is controllable until 2019 and can help them in the future. However, if the A's want Lewis Brinson in return, the deal isn't worth it. The Brewers are playing with house money this season and can't compromise their future for a possible run this October. Lastly, the Cubs should be all in on Gray. He allows them to let Arrieta walk this offseason and with them trading their number one prospect Eloy Jimenez for Jose Quintana, they might as well go for it all and try to repeat.
THIRD TIER TEAMS: Royals, Rays, Pirates, Rockies, Twins
No. Each of these teams is either not a real contender, or should just be glad they made it this far. Trade for cheaper relievers and hope your pitchers can get through the sixth inning in the playoffs.
The trade deadline makes teams do crazy things. Both of these pitchers should get dealt before July 31st ends. These teams have one week left to decide if risking their future is worth the possible payoff come October.