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The MLB’s trade deadline on August 1st is quickly approaching and as usual, there are various rumors floating around. In one of the most chaotic times for baseball fans, things can go off the rails quickly with moves happening in an instant.
In recent years, teams like the 2021 Atlanta Braves and 2022 Philadelphia Phillies made moves at the deadline that took them from missing to the playoffs to World Series bound. Inversely, teams like the 1997 Seattle Mariners had it blow up in their face and gave another team multiple crucial pieces for a future World Series run. The trade deadline is truly a roulette wheel that can change fortunes around.
As the build up to this year’s deadline ramps up, some of the names of potential teams and players have already revealed themselves, it’s just a question of the trigger being pulled. So what can happen before August 1st? Here’s a look:
1. All Of The American League Buys Or Holds
The American League East is once again showing that they’re the best division in baseball. However this year, they’ve out-lapping an entire division as their fourth and fifth best teams have better records then the first and second place teams in the American League Central. This type of domination also means that any team outside of first place has a good chance of finishing in the Wild Card race, possibly even occupying all three Wild Card slots.
With that kind of possibility, it would likely mean every team is going to be buying in some way. It’s already been reported that the Boston Red Sox are looking for starting pitching and a left handed hitting middle infielder, while the the New York Yankees are aiming for a catcher and outfield help. Everybody else will be looking for ammunition in an arms race for the Wild Card and divisions races.
2. New York Mets Sell
At the beginning of the year, we predicted the New York Mets would finish in second place and with 98 wins. So imagine the disappointment that this team is now more than 15 games out of first place and is battling to stay out of last place. Even worse, they’re more than five games out of a Wild Card spot, likely signaling that this team may be one of the biggest busts in recent memory.
With reports that team will be “measured sellers” at the deadline, watch for big names like pitchers Max Scherzer, David Robertson, Carlos Carrasco and Omar Narvaez, as well as outfielder Mark Cahna to be potential targets for other teams. Owner Steve Cohen and his front office need to reconvene and come up with a better strategy because the one they’re employing just isn’t working.
3. The South And North Side Both Sell
Another season, another down year for the city of Chicago. Neither the Cubs nor White Sox have really hit their stride and face the question of who to sell.
The big issue both teams have: most of the trade pieces they have are players that are seen less as rentals and more as players to build around. Players like outfielder Luis Robert Jr., first baseman Cody Bellinger and shortstop Tim Anderson are 30 years old or younger. They have to ask themselves: is it worth it to give up potential building blocks to success for lottery in the form of prospects in this instance?
4. San Diego Bluffs
It seems like there’s a slow burn in San Diego right now. Throughout the season there’s been reports of trust issues between star right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr., clubhouse issues with multiple star players and even some financial issues…all paired with the fact that the team has severely underwhelmed this year.
Nonetheless, players like pitcher Blake Snell think the team will be buyers at the trade deadline. It’s unlikely and it’s not even because they need to shed some of the money they’ve tacked on, but because they’re losing the clubhouse. There’s a chance that manager Bob Melvin could lose his job if things don’t turn around and with the amount ego that’s currently in the locker room. If they can’t get it under control, players will want out with it falling on the manager’s desk.
5. Atlanta Keeps Adding
The Atlanta Braves are sitting pretty right now: they have most of their young talent locked up and they’re cruising comfortably in first place in their division. That doesn’t mean they should sit the deadline out, however. There’s always work to be done.
Atlanta should look to bolster both their bullpen and their starting rotation, as well as add some depth pieces. They’re already looking like a lock to make the playoffs – this is just insurance for them.
6. Reds Sell For Good Reason
Usually when a team sells, it’s because they’re too far out of the playoff hunt and is looking to sell expendable pieces to build towards the future. Very rarely is it because they want to make room for someone they see as an asset now while they’re still in the playoff hunt. That’s the situation the Cincinnati Reds find themselves in.
Former rookie of the year, second baseman Jonathan India, has been having a decent season but it seems like the team is ready to make corner infielder Christian Encarnacion-Strand a full time starter. To do so, they would either need to trade first baseman Joey Votto (not happening) or move rookie of the year candidate Elly De La Cruz over to shortstop from third base. To do that, Matt McLain would have to move to second base leaving India without a starting job, making him prospect bait. So why not cash in here?
7. Legends Stay Put
Kansas City Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez and Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen are at the end of the road. Even if they stuck around with their respective teams for one more season, they’d still be in the twilight of their careers. That’s why they’re probably not going anywhere.
While both deserve one more run at a title and it could lead to some prospects to help build towards a future, neither side wants to head towards a divorce. Both Perez and McCutchen want to finish careers in Kansas City and Pittsburgh respectively.
8. Cleveland Makes A Push
Right now, the Cleveland Guardians trail the Minnesota Twins by a catchable margin. While the American League Central is too weak to compete for a Wild Card spot, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the divisional race come down to a photo finish between the two.
If that’s going to happen, Cleveland will need another starting rotation piece and possibly another bat. If they can get to the playoffs, manager Terry Francona may be able to get them farther than most may predict in the future, but they need to get there first. It will all come down to what president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff can do.
9. Dave Dombrowski Goes All In (Again)
The Philadelphia Phillies are right in the thick of things in the National League Wild Card race. This team has some 2019 Boston Red Sox vibes (coincidentally a team that was lead by then president of baseball operations/current Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski). They are still in it and competing but need more to get there, and it may be too much.
Coming off an appearance in the World Series, “Dealin’ Dave” needs to keep his team afloat to try and shed his reputation of having one good year before running his team into the ground in terms of the future. They’ll more than likely look for an outfielder as well as some hitting, but the clock is ticking.
10. The Winner Of The Shohei Ohtani Sweepstakes Is….
Everyone is wondering who the Los Angeles Angels will trade pitcher/outfielder/designated hitter/possibly Batman and Superman and Spider-Man at the same time, Shohei Ohtani to. The thing is, he may not get traded and could stay in Los Angeles.
He has said in recent weeks that he is tired of losing and while he would fetch a few good prospects, will teams pay enough for someone that is seen as a top five player in the league, even if it’s as a rental? Los Angeles holds all the cards here and won’t undersell themselves just because he’ll probably leave after the season. Unless someone shells out an unbelievable offer, it wouldn’t be shocking if Ohtani stayed in Los Angeles.