With the All-Star break now in the rearview, the next benchmark during the 2022 Major League Baseball season is the trade deadline. The traditional July 31 deadline has been pushed back two days to Aug. 2 this year. Keeping in mind there are now three wild cards per league, theoretically there could be a larger number of buyers than usual, though an awful lot of teams don't resemble contenders, so maybe we'll still get a similar number of sellers.
Let's dive in.
Keuchel DFA, again
Southpaw starter Dallas Keuchel has been designated for assignment for the second time this season, according to Jeff Passan.
Keuchel, 34, started the season on the third year of his three-year, $55 million deal with the White Sox. He was good in 2020, pitching to a 1.99 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 11 starts, but then regressed to a 5.28 ERA last season and 7.88 with 20 walks and 20 strikeouts in 32 innings for the White Sox before they let him go. The Diamondbacks then grabbed him and in four starts he posted a 9.64 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Walks weren't quite as big an issue and his strikeout rate rose in Arizona, but it's a tiny sample and overall, hitters have destroyed Keuchel all year, to the tune of a .338/.407/.564 triple slash. Basically, every opposing hitter has performed like an MVP candidate against him.
The two-time All-Star and 2015 AL Cy Young winner should continue to find work, but it's possible he's made his last MLB start this season.
Multiple suitors for Smith
The Mets are in first place in the NL East and on pace to win 100-plus games, so they obviously aren't "sellers" by the traditional definition. They are in position to cut bait on Dominic Smith, though, so they could deal him.
The Cubs and Red Sox "and others" have shown interest in Smith, according to Robert Murray. A possibly complicating factor: Smith was placed on the injured list Thursday, retroactive to July 17, with a sprained ankle. He should be back before the deadline and anyone looking for Smith as a change-of-scenery guy might not care about this minor injury at this moment.
Smith, the former top-100 prospect, is now in his sixth MLB season. He was very good in 2019 and in the shortened 2020 season he hit .316/.377/.616 (168 OPS+) with 21 doubles and 10 homers in 50 games. Last year, though, he hit .244/.304/.363 with 112 strikeouts in 446 at-bats. This season, he's gotten even worse, hitting .194 with a paltry .284 slugging percentage. He hasn't even hit a single home run. His 61 OPS+ and -0.4 WAR are simply unplayable for a team with postseason aspirations.
Any acquiring team would be looking for a post-hype breakout from Smith and, hey, those happen sometimes.
Romo elects free agency
Reliever Sergio Romo, who was previously designated for assignment, has cleared waivers and has decided to become a free agent, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Romo is 39 years old and in his 15th MLB season. In 23 appearances this season, he has a 7.50 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 18 innings. He was somewhat serviceable for the A's last season but it's probably fair to say he hasn't been good for extended stretches since 2019. He'll catch on somewhere else, but his MLB career is likely winding down.