Don't expect a blockbuster move by Guardians at trade deadline

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Jul. 30—The trade deadline is Aug. 2, and the only thing that has changed for the Guardians over the last month is if they are going to acquire bullpen help, a catcher that can hit or a corner outfielder, they had better make a move quickly.

The Guardians, 51-48 before playing the Tampa Bay Rays on July 30, are one game behind the Twins in the A.L. Central. They are 1.5 games out of the wild-card race. They have a two-game lead on the White Sox.

The emergence of Nolan Jones, and the pending return of Oscar Gonzalez from an abdominal strain has lessened the need for an outfielder. But there is always the danger opponents will find a weakness in Jones' swing the more games he plays. Plus, it now appears Franmil Reyes will be swimming against the current all season. He is a power hitter, and a power hitter with one home run in his last 15 games isn't much help.

Jeff Passan of ESPN has reported the Guardians are willing to trade a starting pitcher — Aaron Civale or Zach Plesac — for the right return. That player could be Oakland A's catcher Sean Murphy.

Murphy is steady behind the plate. He is bating .241 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI. Austin Hedges, the Guardians' primary catcher, is batting .172 with six home runs and 18 RBI. Murphy won't hit free agency until 2026. That makes him a player the Guardians would normally covet. But they have Bo Naylor, Josh Naylor's brother, playing well in Columbus and close to being ready to take over as the every-day catcher.

Wilson Contreras of the Cubs is another catcher most insiders expect to be traded before the 6 p.m. Aug. 2 deadline. Trading a starting pitcher for Contreras would at least be a mini-blockbuster. Contreras will be a free agent in 2023, which means there will be an opening for Bo Naylor next season if the Guardians do acquire Contreras and don't re-sign him. Contreras is making $9.6 million with the Cubs this season.

Carl Edwards Jr. of the Washington Nationals, David Bednar of the Pirates, David Robertson of the Cubs and Joe Mantiply of the Diamondbacks are relievers Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti will have his eye on.

My guess is if the Guardians do make a move, it will be to shore up the bullpen. Anything more than that will be a bonus.