MLB Future Odds, Picks | Rangers, Reds Division Title Prices Worth Betting
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Elly De La Cruz
The trade deadline is officially over, so the seller versus buyer narrative can be put to rest. The Chicago Cubs shockingly looked like small buyers at the deadline, but this is mainly because the National League Central is weak, and they did not have to give up much prospect capital for Jeimer Candelario.
The New York Mets clearly saw the writing on the wall and dealt Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Mark Canha for some solid prospects in the last couple of days.
However, most other teams within reach of first place or a wild-card spot at least made a move or two to position themselves for the future. With that being the case, there are some interesting betting angles for divisional odds before they sway too much in the next few weeks. Below, I'll lay out two bets I jumped on as soon as the dust settled on the deadline.
For divisional odds and more across a variety of sportsbook, be sure to visit our MLB Futures Betting Odds page.
MLB Divisional Future Bets
The American League West is a contest between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. With the Seattle Mariners trading Paul Sewald and others, they outlined where they assumed things were headed. The Mariners are six games out of first place, while the Houston Astros are a half-game out with the injury-riddled Texas Rangers still clinging to the division lead.
Although All-Star catcher Jonah Heim will be out at least two weeks (and potentially longer) with a wrist injury, the Rangers added depth at catcher. Austin Hedges will split time with Mitch Garver behind the dish. Hedges only carries a .467 OPS into the Rangers’ locker room, but he is potentially the best defensive catcher in Major League Baseball.
most catcher framing runs, 2023:
Austin Hedges: 10
Patrick Bailey: 8
Jonah Heim: 7
Francisco Alvarez: 7
William Contreras: 7
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) August 1, 2023
Hedges is first in catcher framing runs and third in strike rate, trailing only Patrick Bailey and Joey Bart of the San Francisco Giants. Since Mitch Garver owns a .770 OPS and a 46.9% hard hit rate, he can carry the offensive duties in Heim’s absence just fine.
In addition, Nathan Eovaldi hit the injured list with a forearm strain. In case this does not heal soon, the Rangers showed they meant business by adding pitching. They acquired Max Scherzer from the New York Mets and Jordan Montgomery and reliever Chris Stratton from the St. Louis Cardinals. The two starters will help in Texas’ journey to a division title run and possibly further.
Scherzer’s 3.66 xERA shows he still has plenty left in the tank for the Rangers. Montgomery can still produce enough groundballs for a reliable middle-of-the-rotation arm, and Stratton was a really nice addition to Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith in relief.
Going into the deadline, the Rangers have a 121 wRC+ with a 9% walk rate and .799 team OPS on the season. Adding pitching to the mix helps, and if they can turn it around from their little slump, betting them to win the division at plus money is wise.
The Cincinnati Reds did not make any loud splashes, but this is likely because of the bevy of prospects they have promoted to their MLB squad. They also have Hunter Greene returning from the injured list shortly. Andrew Abbott has been spectacular with a 2.35 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 65 innings pitched, Ben Lively has been serviceable (his blow-up on Tuesday night notwithstanding), and Graham Ashcraft has a 1.84 ERA in July over 29 1/3 innings.
If Nick Lodolo can actually come back, the rotation does not look terrible.
Andrew Abbott's 3Ks in the 2nd. pic.twitter.com/lnml6iPnk4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 1, 2023
The Reds have been a touch above average with a 105 wRC+ since June 15. In that time, though, they have a team walk rate of 9% and a .779 OPS. Jonathan India is on the injured list temporarily with plantar fasciitis, but in the meantime, Stuart Fairchild takes his place. Will Benson also has a .430 OBP in that same time frame.
Elly De La Cruz and Joey Votto have been slumping, while Matt McClain, Spencer Steer, Tyler Stephenson, Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl have been great with .330+ OBPs. The lineup is in good shape for a while.
Lastly, the weakest part of this team has been the relief corps. Again, if the rotation heals before the end of the season, this takes a further strain off of the bullpen. The Reds made a trade with the Oakland A's for Sam Moll, who has a 3.03 xERA and a barrel rate in the 99th percentile. This can help Alexis Díaz, Ian Giibaut and Fernando Cruz, who all have sub-4.00 xFIPs this month.
The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Mark Canha and Andrew Chafin at the deadline, but the Reds have a solid core they were already working with. Taking the Reds, who have a 33-20 record since June 1, against the Brewers, who have been 28-24 in the same window, is another solid bet.
The Cubs have also been 29-22 since the beginning of June but find themselves four games out entering play Wednesday.
With that, betting Cincinnati to -110 is the right call.