MLB’s trade deadline presented an opportunity for everyone from juggernaut contenders to distant wild-card hopefuls to choose their path. It was an odd trade season. Seemingly non-contenders in the Reds and Mets landed highly sought hurlers Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman, respectively, while pitching-needy contenders in the Yankees and Cardinals essentially stood pat. To be sure, the trade deadline resulted in a shakeup to the values for MLB Futures bets as the league races toward October.
But let’s not bury the lede. When it came to knocking the deadline out of the park, one team stood above the rest.
World Series Futures Bet: Houston Astros
The Houston Astros were a pretty good pick to claim the American League pennant before July 31, but what they did in the waning hours and minutes before the deadline cemented Houston as the sport’s most formidable team.
Adding Zack Greinke and Aaron Sanchez to the rotation solidified the Astros’ starting five as the deepest in baseball. They slot in alongside Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Wade Miley, whose 3.05 ERA ranks sixth among qualifying AL starters. As if that weren’t enough, Jeff Luhnow also beefed up the bullpen by adding Joe Biagini to the Sanchez deal in return for outfielder Derek Fisher.
Looking at this team, the star power throughout the 25-man roster is just astounding. There should be little doubting the Astros as the odds-on favorite to win the World Series this fall, but of course, that means the potential return on your investment is diminished. After their tremendous deadline-day haul pushed Houston even more firmly into favored territory, is betting on the Astros even worth it?
Well, that depends on where you bet them.
Vegas Insider has the ‘Stros at 2/1 (+200) to win it all, but both FanDuel and DraftKings have Houston at +250. That’s a better value, and it’s only narrowly less return on your investment than betting the NL favorites, the Dodgers, who weren’t nearly as productive before the deadline.
Is it possible for the Astros to stumble somewhere along the way this October? Sure. The MLB playoffs can sometimes take on the characteristics of a crapshoot. The best team doesn’t always win. But Houston truly has no weakness.
Verlander, Cole, and Greinke is a flat-out filthy postseason rotation. When the Astros need a fourth starter, they can confidently throw Miley out there, too. And I’m sure they’ll find a use for Sanchez firing 100-mph seeds out of the bullpen. He can join Biagini, Will Harris (1.73 ERA), Ryan Pressly (2.03 ERA), and closer Roberto Osuna to help Houston protect leads and shorten games in baseball’s most important month.
Oh, and with a lineup that includes Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer, and rookie phenom Yordan Alvarez, you can bet there will be plenty of leads to protect. There’s no such thing as an infallible team, but the Astros are as close as you’re going to find.
World Series Futures Value Bet: Cleveland Indians
I just talked up the Astros to epic proportions, but even at +250, the ROI on an Astros title wouldn’t be magnificent. While the Yankees and Twins currently lead their respective divisions, they both fall within the top-five favorites to win it all according to most oddsmakers. That means their value isn’t quite as strong as my next play. For a longshot value bet out of the AL, I’m looking for two things: a championship pedigree and a pitching staff that can rise to the occasion when it counts.
Though the Indians just traded away one of their best starters in Bauer, the three-time defending AL Central champs still have some rotation firepower in Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger. Plus, the Tribe could get a significant boost with the return of ace Corey Kluber.
Dealing Bauer wasn’t Cleveland waving the white flag. In fact, netting hefty bats Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes in the move puts the Indians’ lineup in position to make some noise during a postseason push. The newcomers join All-Star Carlos Santana, stud shortstop Francisco Lindor, and third baseman Jose Ramirez, who is finally playing to his potential after an atrocious start.
The Indians may have traded away Bauer, but they didn’t sell. The bullpen anchored by Brad Hand remains a force that could benefit Cleveland in a postseason format. This roster, already familiar with success, has added key pieces that could catapult the Indians past the Twins in the Central if the upstart Minnesota squad should suffer a misstep over the final two months. If Kluber returns to form, the Indians could carry some sneaky value with the seventh-highest odds to win it all at a cool +2000 at DraftKings and +1900 at FanDuel.
NL Pennant Futures Value Bet: New York Mets
Believe me, I know how insane it sounds. But if you’re considering a high-value dart throw out of the muddied mess of NL wild-card hopefuls, you better grab the Mets before that value disappears.
New York shocked the baseball world before the trade deadline when acquiring Stroman from Toronto. At the time, the rumor was that the Mets planned to keep Stroman to replace Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard. But a funny thing happened to the Mets on their way to trading Thor: They never got there. Syndergaard stayed a Met, Wheeler stayed a Met, and Stroman joined them to form what could be a dastardly deep rotation behind ace Jacob deGrom.
The Mets have been playing with some swagger of late, winning nine of their last 10 games to pull firmly into the wild-card conversation. Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil have carried the offense this season while complimentary pieces like J.D. Davis are trying to stake a claim for more opportunities over the stretch run.
In a lot of ways, the Mets have looked like the laughingstock of baseball in 2019. Their deadline buy seemed uncharacteristic, and manager Mickey Callaway never seems to run out of ways to step in it. But maybe first-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen knows something we don’t.
Ultimately, when it comes to futures bets, value rules all. It might seem ludicrous given the circus the Mets have been for much of this season, but if their pitching stays healthy, New York could have a leg up on the competition by tossing deGrom, Stroman or Syndergaard in the NL Wild Card Game. After that, who knows what could happen?
The Dodgers are the most obvious choice to win the NL this season, but there’s no fun in betting the favorite at even odds. Heck, you’re not even getting even odds everywhere. On FanDuel, Los Angeles is -105 to claim the NL pennant. When it comes to the NL, I’m reaching for value in my futures bets.
Per DraftKings, the Mets are currently +4000 to win the NL pennant (tied for the eighth-highest odds), and FanDuel has them at a whopping +8000 to win the World Series (16th-highest odds). That’s crazy value for a team that sits just 2.5 games out of a wild-card spot and boasts arguably the best on-paper rotation in the National League — even if it is the Mets we’re talking about.