The Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The news had largely been quiet until Wednesday night, when the Angels broke things open with a massive trade that landed them Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the White Sox.
Just prior to that, it was reported the Angels would also not be trading prized superstar Shohei Ohtani, and the Giolito-Lopez transaction seems to make that clear. That takes away the biggest potential storyline, but there’s still plenty to consider prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline, and some teams seem well-positioned to make moves.
The Reds have some decisions to make. Their contention window opened at least a year earlier than expected, and the team is brimming with young talent up and down the lineup.
The rotation is a different story, as the team has struggled with injuries to Hunter Greene (hip) and Nick Lodolo (leg), while also getting inconsistent performances from the likes of Graham Ashcraft, Luke Weaver and Ben Lively.
If Cincinnati hopes to make a deep run in the playoffs, they’ll almost certainly have to upgrade the rotation, but at what cost? If the team doesn’t consider themselves capable of beating the likes of Atlanta and Los Angeles, they may make only small moves while continuing to build up their prospect capital and perhaps use free agency this winter to bolster its rotation.
New York Yankees
Despite a dreadful stretch offensively with reigning MVP Aaron Judge sidelined by a fractured toe, the Yankees are still in the thick of the AL playoff race while locked in a chase for the last wild card spot against the division rival Blue Jays and Red Sox.
Still looking for their first World Series appearance since 2009, perhaps the Yankees will finally stop prospect hugging and make a splash with a big acquisition such as Juan Soto. Given GM Brian Cashman’s recent history — such as going after the injured Frankie Montas rather than ace Luis Castillo at last year’s deadline — New York’s more likely to tinker around the edges than bring in a true difference-maker.
In that context, a more realistic target could be Cody Bellinger, who is enjoying a bounce-back season with an OPS over .900 for the Cubs after posting a .611 mark over his last two seasons with the Dodgers. Bellinger would give the Yankees a much-needed lefty power bat and outfield option, though there could be some fear of Bellinger becoming the next Joey Gallo under the pressure of playing in pinstripes based on his struggles in LA.
Contenders Searching for Pitching
While New York’s glaring need is offense, most of the teams in competition with the Yankees for AL playoff berths are looking for pitching. The Red Sox and Astros fall into that category, as do the Rangers and Rays. The latter pair could both use upgrades to their rotations despite being comfortably in playoff position at this point.
Along with those AL contenders, NL contenders such as the Dodgers are also in search of starting pitching help, and adding another starter wouldn’t hurt for the Braves and Giants to help preserve their bullpens down the stretch.
Some of the options likely to be on the market include Dylan Cease and Lance Lynn from the White Sox, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery from the Cardinals, as well as the Cubs’ Marcus Stroman.
Those three teams are likely to be sellers, but there’s less certainty over which direction San Diego will take. If the sub-.500 Padres sell, that would put Soto on the market for teams in search of a slugger while also freeing up starter Blake Snell and closer Josh Hader. If Snell becomes available, look for the AL West-leading Rangers to pursue him aggressively.
Many of the teams listed above could also stand to bolster their bullpens, but the team with arguably the most glaring need for bullpen help is Arizona. Even if Hader becomes available, the Padres are unlikely to deal him within the division.
A team that may be less loath to help a division rival is Colorado. The Rockies have already started moving bullpen pieces, and they still have left-handed relievers Brad Hand and Brent Suter to sell. Kansas City’s Scott Barlow is another potential fit for teams looking to improve their relief corps, such as the Astros or the NL Central-leading Brewers.
The Twins lead the dreadful AL Central despite a league-worst .668 OPS against left-handed pitching. Adding even an average right-handed bat would help Minnesota address that deficiency, which could go a long way in helping the Twins hold off the soft-hitting Guardians in the division. Mets outfielder Tommy Pham could fit the bill.
The Marlins are in playoff contention for the first time in forever, so they could benefit from making a splash at the deadline to put them over the top in an NL Wild Card race with razor-thin margins.
Miami needs to add a bat, and a natural fit could be Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Kansas City’s still doing laps on the rebuilding hamster wheel that Miami appears to finally be disembarking from this year. While Perez is nowhere near his 48-homer form from 2021, he would still represent a substantial upgrade compared to the meager offensive production Miami has received from behind the plate thus far in 2023. Nationals third baseman Jeimer Candelario could be another target.
New York Mets
We certainly weren’t expected to ask whether the Mets might be sellers come late July, but that’s a realistic and potentially likely outcome in the next few days.
Like the Padres, the Mets decision about what to do with their roster will have a massive effect on the trade market, as Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander could become the two best starting pitchers switching teams. Likewise, Adam Ottavino and David Robertson would help bullpen-needy teams.
The bats are less enticing, though the aforementioned Pham is playing well, and Starling Marte could also get some interest if he proves to be over his migraine troubles.
Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire
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