MLB Trade Deadline 2021 – Buy-Hold-Sell

Eric Urbanowicz
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July 30th is Major League Baseball’s annual trade deadline. This is the last day teams can make a trade before it has to go through waivers, in which teams can reject a trade for any reason. The weeks leading up usually feature various teams making various trades to better position them either for the short term or long term future.

With all this movement, no one team’s strategy is exactly the same as another’s. Every team is looking for something different and is willing to give up something that nobody else can. It’s what makes this time of the year that much more interesting.

So who is doing what? And should they be doing it? Let’s talk about it:


Arizona Diamondbacks: Sell

Simply put, Arizona needs to hit the reset button. Manager Torey LoVullo may be on the hot seat at this juncture and with that, there’s questions of what needs to come next. Given that Arizona is in no shape to compete with the rest of the teams in their division, now may be a good time for the evaluation and maybe pick up some pieces along the way.


Atlanta Braves: Buy

Atlanta may be in third place, but they’re within striking distance of the first place New York Mets. Improving in left field would go a long way for this team. If they can make up some more ground, this team could be in prime position to make a run.


Baltimore Orioles: Sell

Baltimore has a slightly bright future, but they need to continue building. They’re not quite there yet and realistically could use some additional pieces. But don’t get it twisted, they’re still a few years away (again).


Boston Red Sox: Buy

Boston has been one of the biggest shocks this season in baseball, going from the fourth worst team to the top five. Watch for Boston to look for a first baseman and a starting pitcher at the deadline to help maintain their grasp on the division. This team is pretty good  all things considered, they just need to fill a hole or two.


Chicago Cubs: Sell

Already trading outfielder Joc Pederson to Atlanta, it seems like they’re ready to cash in some of their bigger pieces and contracts for some youth. Truth be told, they’re overdue for an overhaul. Their results have varied over the last few seasons, but now is the time to trade some of their larger contracts for younger talent and look towards the future.


Chicago White Sox: Hold

The Chicago White Sox could be buyers at the deadline. They have a couple of positions, including designated hitter and catcher, which could be addressed. All of that said, they’re young and are still developing at the major league level. This team may not need to make a move during this season, they could advance to the playoffs with this roster and make the necessary adjustments in the postseason.


Cincinnati Reds: Buy

It’s a long shot for Cincinnati to make it to the playoffs right now, they’re six games back in the wild card and seven and a half games in the division. That said, all it takes is one losing streak for them to get there and make a run. Bullpen help, including a closer, is a must for this team, as well as a third baseman.


Cleveland Indians: Buy

They’re not going to catch the Chicago White Sox in their division, but for Cleveland, the wild card is still a possibility. A catcher and a left fielder would definitely provide some help to this team. Some starting pitching could also help, but because they’re so young, it may be just better to get them a veteran signal caller to help them out.


Colorado Rockies: Sell

Colorado has a few key players that could fetch them some valuable pieces, and they should take advantage of that. Since trading third baseman Nolan Arenado, they’ve non-verbally indicated that this team is going to sell. If they only sell off the smaller pieces without considering bigger trades like shortstop Trevor Story or outfielder Charlie Blackmon, then they’ve already failed.


Detroit Tigers: Hold

Detroit is having a down year. Part of it is due to injury, and part of it is due to growing pains with these young players. With that, they should let manager A.J. Hinch work his magic. Give this team longer than a year with him and they could end up like their division rivals in Chicago in a few years time.


Houston Astros: Hold

Houston could use a starting pitcher and some depth pieces, but realistically they may be ready for a dog fight with the Oakland Athletics for the division. They’re waiting on players like third baseman Alex Bregman and second baseman Aledmys Diaz to return from injury. Once they do, this team could be ready to roll.


Kansas City Royals: Sell

Kansas City has a very young team with a potentially good future, they just need to get those final pieces. To do this, they’ll need to trade players like first baseman Carlos Santana and third baseman Hunter Dozier. If they can get some good prospects back, they could be in the driver’s seat a year or two down the line.


Los Angeles Angels: Sell

The Los Angeles Angels don’t have much to sell off but they have just enough. With that being the case, they should try to see if they can salvage something. If this team doesn’t win in the next year or two, they may have to consider trading away outfielder Mike Trout, and considering his cornerstone status, that would be the worst thing for this team.


Los Angeles Dodgers: Buy

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a three-team race with the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres for the National League West crown. Some starting pitching would definitely do wonders, considering Trevor Bauer’s recent legal troubles. Some position player depth would also be much appreciated for this team.


Miami Marlins: Sell

Miami is facing a tricky situation with players like outfielder Starling Marte and first baseman Jesus Aguilar, in the fact that the team is struggling to build upon last year’s successes. As such, it may be a better idea for them to trade these players and just get some help for the future. That’s how they made the postseason last year, it’s what they can do to ensure that this team can compete going forward.


Milwaukee Brewers: Hold

Simply put, the Milwaukee Brewers are going to win the National League Central, and could be a serious threat to win the National League pennant. Some starting pitching could be helpful to this team, but honestly, if they keep rolling like they are, they’re going to do damage.


Minnesota Twins: Sell

Minnesota has a lot of young talent that’s going to be good, but they’re also at the point that they could command a lot of money soon. They don’t have that much money, so they may need to start selling if they aren’t competing this year. Outfielder Byron and pitcher Jose Berrios are already rumored to be on the trading block. This could be a sign that they’re selling.


New York Mets: Buy

The New York Mets need depth urgently. This team has been hit by an injury bug and it could make the road even harder for this team to continue on their war path. Some infield help and some long relievers who could spot start may be good targets for this team at this juncture.


New York Yankees: Buy

Once again, the New York Yankees are seemingly going to buy at the deadline, but this time it may not be the best idea. The team has underperformed and now has pundits questioning if manager Aaron Boone is the right guy for this team. In the week leading up to the trade deadline, if the team can get in a groove and make up ground in the division and wild card, then buying is the right move. If not, they really should consider selling.


Oakland Athletics: Buy

Oakland could hold and they’d be alright: they hold the second wild card spot and are in striking distance of the American League West leading Houston Astros. Still, some pitching may not hurt. A starter and some relievers could be a key to success for this team, it’s just a question of how much general manager Billy Beane is willing to trade.


Philadelphia Phillies: Buy

Right now for Philadelphia, it’s the National League East or bust. They’re six games out in the wild card race but only two and a half games out in the division. Some pitchers may not hurt the team right now, and some depth in the field would be a good call at the deadline if they’re serious about making a run.


Pittsburgh Pirates: Sell

Pittsburgh has some young talent, but it’s time to let go of some of the older talent. Pitcher Rich Rodriguez and second baseman Adam Frazier are two names that have been brought up a lot, and should fetch them some help. Unfortunately, they’re a ways away from competing but they should let some of their young guys play and see what they ultimately have.


San Diego Padres: Buy

As mentioned before, San Diego is in a dog fight for the National League West with San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Early word is that they’re looking at Texas Rangers’ outfielder Joey Gallo, so it seems they’re looking for some power. They have the pitching, but they could use some more production from their position guys.


San Francisco Giants: Buy

San Francisco is in that National League West dog fight, and to maintain their lead in the division they’ll need some additional help. Some pitching could be helpful, as well as just some overall depth. This team could pull off the surprise of the early decade by defeating the two favorites of their division, they just need to keep on them.


Seattle Mariners: Buy

At first look, Seattle could be seen as a seller. Then you realize that they’re only three games out of the wild card. Outfield help is a necessity at this point, and a second baseman would be a good investment. But realistically, they could do something here and really surprise the baseball world.


St. Louis Cardinals: Buy

St. Louis is down by eight and half games in the National League Central and seven games in the wild card, but they’re not out of it. This team needs to get some starting pitching if they’re going show a sign of life. They’re line up is set, they just need to let get some arms.


Tampa Bay Rays: Buy

Don’t count Tampa Bay out yet, they could still make a run here. Pitching should be the key for Tampa Bay here. If they can outpitch their competition, they should be able to hold down a wild card spot at minimum, and win the division at maximum.


Texas Rangers: Sell

If they didn’t have valuable pieces like pitcher Kyle Gibson and outfielder Joey Gallo, then you could argue that they should hold. However, because they have those pieces, it would only benefit them to get more young pieces. They’ve hit the jackpot with players like outfielder Adolis Garcia and second baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but they need more if they’re going to make any kind of run in the next couple of years.


Toronto Blue Jays: Buy

Toronto is right there: they’re three and a half games out of the wild card, and could take a spot if they can get on a roll. However, they’re not going to get anywhere until their starting pitching is addressed. They could wait until the end of the season, but with the year first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is having, as well as second baseman Marcus Semien, they can’t afford to waste this season. They’re close, they just need to reel it in.


Washington Nationals: Hold

Washington should probably sell, however realistically, the pieces that would sell may cost too much (pitchers Max Scherzer and Brad Hand) or may not be available (outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Juan Soto). They’re six games out of the National League East and could climb, so maybe holding right now isn’t the worst idea.

Eric Urbanowicz


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