MLB Trade Deadline: 10 Key Players that could be on the move
Major League Baseball trade deadline for the 2023 season is on Tuesday, August 1st. Unlike other years, there will not be an August 31st waiver trade deadline this year. August 1st marks the one and only MLB trade deadline this season. That’s it.
That means the next two-plus weeks of baseball will be VERY interesting. There are many teams currently within reach of the six postseason berths in each league. The addition of the two additional Wild Card berths last season have more teams believing that they could still contend for a spot in MLB’s postseason. Said teams must decide whether they will contend and be buyers at the trade deadline – or pull a 1997 White Sox, wave the white flag, and sell.
There were eight teams above .500 vying for the six National League postseason slots entering play on Sunday. The Padres (7.5 games back), Cubs (7.5 GB), and Mets (9.0 GB) are currently on the outside looking in at the NL Wild Card race. The American League races are even tighter. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Mariners are all within 5 games or less of the last AL Wild Card berth.
The Guardians are 5.5 games back in Wild Card race but only 1.5 games behind the Twins in the AL Central. By contrast, every team in AL East is currently over .500. The Red Sox are currently in last place – with a 49-44 record! If Boston was in the AL Central, they would be leading that division by 2 games! Luckily for the Red Sox, they are only two back in the AL Wild standings as of Sunday morning.
Trade rumors are already flying left and right. There is a decent amount of player movement expected over the next two weeks. Competing teams are looking to add either another strong bat in their lineups or capable arms to their pitching staff. Some may add both! I’ve put teams into categories based on their record. There are your traditional buyers and sellers. Then there are teams where I’m not sure they even know of the direction they’re headed at the deadline…
Let’s call those teams “Magic 8 Ball Teams.” They may need shake up one of those novelty Magic 8 balls to decide on their direction. They’re not even sure if they can seriously contend for a postseason spot or not. They are somewhat within reach of contention but have a lot of ground to make up.
Buyers: The entire AL East, Twins, Rangers, Astros, Braves, Marlins, Phillies, Guardians, Brewers, Reds, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants
Sellers: White Sox, Cardinals, Tigers, Royals, A’s, Nationals, Pirates, Rockies
Magic 8 Ball Teams: Cubs, Padres, Mets, Angels, Mariners
The “Magic 8 Ball” teams could go either way at the deadline depending on how they perform over the next two weeks. Two teams that will be definite sellers at the deadline will be the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox. Both were expected to compete in their respective divisions but have greatly disappointed. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak straight up told a local reporter that they are “going to trade people.” Some White Sox fans want owner Jerry Reinsdorf, President Kenny Williams, and GM Rick Hahn gone more than they want to win the Powerball.
If you think that’s a stretch check out White Sox Twitter. Personally, give me the Powerball winnings.
There are several players that could be on the move soon. These are players who may be on expiring contracts, need a change of scenery, or couple simply be that missing piece on a contending team. Here are ten key players in Major League Baseball that could be traded to new teams between now and August 1st:
Lucas Giolito (SP), Chicago White Sox
Giolito has had the best season of any White Sox starting pitcher by far this season. He will be a free agent after this season and has maintained his desire to remain on the Southside. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will happen. The White Sox are expected to move several veteran players. Giolito should get them the best return in any trade – if Rich Hahn does it right. That’s a HUGE if.
Possible new team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Paul Goldschmidt (1B/DH), St. Louis Cardinals
Goldschmidt is the reigning NL MVP. He’s also 35 years old on an underachieving team. The current Cardinals first baseman is still a well-above average hitter and fielder. Goldschmidt would instantly make any lineup and defense better. Plus, he’s only under contract through 2024. He could net a fairly decent return for the Cardinals.
Possible new team: Baltimore Orioles
Jeimer Candelario (3B), Washington Nationals
Candelario isn’t the biggest name on this list but is having a career year in Washington. The Nationals are going through a youth movement and the soon-to-be 30-year-old third baseman is likely not in their long-term plans. His contract expires at the end of this season. Candelario could be available to a contending team at a decent cost.
Possible new team: Miami Marlins
Shane Bieber (SP), Cleveland Guardians
If there is a time for the Guardians to trade Bieber for a great return it’s now. Sure, they’re 1.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. Their current ace is under team control until next season. Will the Guardians be able to sign Bieber to a long-term, big money deal that he wants? Other than Jose Ramirez (who gave Cleveland a hometown discount to stay), their recent track record of keeping stars isn’t great. That extra year under contract might be enough for a contending team to overpay.
Possible new team: Cincinnati Reds
Andrew McCutchen (OF/DH), Pittsburgh Pirates
McCutchen signing back with the team that he spent his first nine MLB seasons with was a nice story. The reception that the 2013 NL MVP during the Pirates home opener was great. The young Pirates surprised many by playing winning baseball until mid-June. Will the Pirates opt to keep McCutchen or send him to a contender for a shot at a World Series run? I think the latter will happen.
Possible new team: Houston Astros
David Bednar (RP), Pittsburgh Pirates
Bednar has been a bright spot for the Pirates since coming over from the Padres in 2021. The 28-year-old closer is now a two-time All-Star under team control through 2026 at great value. That sounds like the type of player that a small market team like the Pirates want to build around. On the other hand, Pittsburgh could get a solid return in a trade because of that.
Possible new team: Arizona Diamondbacks
David Robertson (CP), New York Mets
The well-traveled Robertson has played for six different teams since 2018. The veteran relief pitcher may be pitching for a seven team sometime in the next couple of weeks. The Mets have been a huge disappointment but not because of Robertson. The 38-year-old has posted a 2.06 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 12 saves in 2023. He’s pitched well in big markets and won’t be fazed by a pennant race.
Possible new team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Marcus Stroman (SP), CHC
Stroman has told the media and whoever will listen to him that he loves playing for the Chicago Cubs. He has flat out said that the Cubs haven’t offered him a contract extension and doesn’t want to be traded. Stroman has even suggested that he might even try to sign back in Chicago next season even if he is traded! The Cubs could be able to get a decent return should they decide to trade him.
Possible new team: Tampa Bay Rays
Cody Bellinger (OF/1B), CHC
Bellinger signed a one-year “prove-it” deal with the Cubs this past offseason. He’s had a solid 2023 season despite missing a month due to injury. Bellinger is hot at the plate right now. Over his last 10 games he’s hitting .447 with 5 home runs and 13 RBI. If the Cubs are series about competing today AND in the future, they should keep Bellinger and Stroman. If not, Bellinger could be wearing pinstripes – in another city.
Possible new team: New York Yankees
Shohei Ohtani (DH/SP), Los Angeles Angels
Ohtani picked a perfect time to have a career-best season – his contract year. The Angels were making some noise in the AL West as of three weeks ago led by the AL MVP front-runner. On June 27th they were 44-37. The Angels have gone an abysmal 2-10 since and are in danger of falling out of the AL Wild Card race altogether. Do the Angels potentially let Ohtani, who wants to be a free agent, walk for nothing? Or do they trade him for prospects?
I’m not convinced that the Angels will actually trade Ohtani. However, there is a team located right up I-5 that is loaded with prospects. They probably wouldn’t go through with a trade without a long-term commitment from Ohtani though.
Possible new team: Los Angeles Dodgers
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