MLB trade deadline cheat sheet: What to watch for all 30 teams and top targets by position

The MLB trade deadline is only a week away: Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. ET.

We are in for a lot of fun and player movement. Although there may not be as many trades as last year, we could have one or two of the biggest trades in baseball history if the Nationals deal Juan Soto or the Angels receive an enticing enough offer for Shohei Ohtani. It appears the Nationals will trade Soto, who has generated robust interest. Meanwhile, the Angels are reluctant to trade Ohtani and have publicly said they don’t want to, but they are listening to offers from inquiring teams. As difficult as it would be to trade either of those special superstars, the Nationals and Angels need talent at the major- and minor-league levels, and the returns from trades of this magnitude might be the best way to kickstart their organizations.

I have been communicating with all 30 teams to gauge where they stand. Here is the latest I’m hearing on who’s buying, who’s selling and what players are being discussed and targeted in talks between teams, along with my thoughts.

First, this cheat sheet takes a high-level look at what to expect from each team. Then, I provide a position-by-position rundown of the major-league players most likely to be traded; these are the names I’m watching closely.


Which team will win the Juan Soto sweepstakes? (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Sellers

(Listed in alphabetical order)

Arizona Diamondbacks (43-53, .448) — The Diamondbacks will be sellers, but they are not expected to make any major trades. They can offer teams experienced relievers such as Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy. Their most valuable trade asset is left-handed reliever Joe Mantiply, but they’re not shopping him, and it would take a haul for a contending team to pry him away. Power-hitting first baseman Christian Walker could be traded but that might depend on which teams lose out on Josh Bell.

Chicago Cubs (39-57, .406) — Willson Contreras is the headliner of the Cubs’ next trading spree. The All-Star catcher will be a free agent after this season and could be the best bat moved at the deadline apart from Soto. The Cubs could also trade infielder/outfielder Ian Happ (who is under team control through 2023), their closer, David Robertson, and other relievers such as Mychal Givens and Chris Martin.

Cincinnati Reds (37-58, .389) — The Reds have Luis Castillo, the most talented starting pitcher on the market, and the offers have poured in. Cincinnati will get a strong return for Castillo because of how few top-of-the-rotation starters are available (and the extra year of control enhances his value). The Reds could move third baseman Brandon Drury, who’s been one of their most productive position players this season. They would like to trade veterans such as left-hander Mike Minor and infielder Mike Moustakas if they can find a taker for either, even if it requires significantly paying down their salaries. The Reds have seven impending free agents, all of whom could be dealt. They’re just trying to improve for the long term.

Colorado Rockies (44-53, .454) — The Rockies haven’t decided which direction they’ll go at the deadline, but all signs point to them being sellers. Shortstop José Iglesias is available, and they’d like to trade him to make room for one of their top prospects, Ezequiel Tovar, who is ready for the majors. Rockies closer Daniel Bard will be their most sought-after reliever, but they are willing to move other bullpen arms, such as Alex Colomé or Carlos Estévez, in the right trade. Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl is having a solid year but will be a free agent this winter, so he could be on the move, too. At the very least, I expect Iglesias and Bard will be wearing different uniforms by Aug. 3.

Detroit Tigers (39-58, .402) — The Tigers’ most valuable trade asset is closer Gregory Soto, whom they don’t want to move, but if they get the right long-term position player back, they will. Teams have also inquired about right-handed relievers Michael Fulmer and Joe Jiménez and left-hander Andrew Chafin. In addition, outfielder Robbie Grossman, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and second baseman Jonathan Schoop are solid bench bats who could be dealt. The Tigers will be targeting young position-player prospects in all of their trade talks.

Kansas City Royals (39-57, .406) — The Royals are expected to make several trades, most notably dealing outfielder Andrew Benintendi and second baseman Whit Merrifield. There’s a strong possibility both of their top relievers, Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont, could be moved, too. The Royals are looking for solid returns for their rebuild, and they should get them.

Los Angeles Angels (40-56, .417) — The Angels are sellers and want to add depth in all areas for their major- and minor-league teams. They’ll listen to all trade offers, including for Ohtani, who will be a free agent after the 2023 season. They’ve made it clear they don’t intend to trade Ohtani, but that doesn’t mean they won’t if they receive an overwhelming proposal. The Angels will probably move right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who will be a free agent after this season.

Miami Marlins (45-51, .469) — The Marlins continue to seek a long-term answer for center field and will try to acquire more position players who can hit and field. They can use starting pitcher Pablo López and a loaded farm system of top pitching prospects as trade bait.

Oakland A’s (36-63, .364) — The A’s can finish the fire sale they started in the offseason at the trade deadline, and still have right-hander Frankie Montas, outfielder Ramón Laureano and catcher Sean Murphy they can dangle. They’ve also received a lot of interest in their relievers, including righties Lou Trivino and Zach Jackson and lefty A.J. Puk. The A’s don’t have to move anyone, so they’ll make trades only if it helps them long term.

Pittsburgh Pirates (40-57, .412) — The rebuilding Pirates have virtually no untouchables. They’ll listen to every trade offer with the goal of building a perennial contender as early as 2023 or 2024. The Marlins and Yankees have not stopped calling about center fielder Bryan Reynolds, but so far neither one has offered enough to entice the Pirates. All-Star David Bednar is one of the most sought-after relievers on the market because of his performance since 2021 (2.54 ERA in 100 relief appearances) and his four additional years of control. The Pirates should do well if they decide to move him.

Washington Nationals (33-65, .337) — The Nationals are clearly in sell mode again at this year’s deadline, but it goes beyond trying to trade Soto as Bell and designated hitter Nelson Cruz are expected to also be moved. The Nationals would love to find a team that will take the bad contract of Patrick Corbin off their hands. They also have a bevy of relievers they could move, including Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr. and Steve Cishek. Washington will be busy between now and the deadline.


Buyers

(Listed by winning percentage)


Brian Cashman’s Yankees have a comfortable lead in the AL East, but how will they look to improve for the postseason? (Kim Klement / USA Today)

New York Yankees (66-31, .680) — The Yankees want to upgrade their outfield. They have talked with the Nationals about Soto, the Pirates about Reynolds and the Royals about Benintendi and Merrifield. They are also in the market for pitching, scouring the available starters and relievers, including Castillo of the Reds and Bednar of the Pirates. Go big or go home is what it feels like right now in the Bronx.

Los Angeles Dodgers (64-31, .674) — The Dodgers are always looking for impact moves and this trade deadline is no different. They want to be opportunistic, so like the Yankees, count them in on the best available players, from Soto to Castillo to Bednar to Barlow. The Dodgers are everywhere, and they have the farm system and financial resources to do what they always do (see: Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Max Scherzer).

Houston Astros (64-33, .660) — The Astros are buyers, of course, with interest in several players and positions. They’ve been linked with the Nationals on Bell, the Reds on Castillo and the Cubs on Contreras. The Astros have a strong and deep farm system and a general manager, James Click, who smells another opportunity to win a World Series.

New York Mets (59-37, .615) — The Mets have already acquired DH Daniel Vogelbach in a trade with Pittsburgh and will continue to try to improve their run differential by adding another bat, pitching or both. New York is one of the teams that has talked to the Angels about Ohtani. Mets GM Billy Eppler signed Ohtani in 2017 when he ran baseball operations for the Angels. The Mets’ farm system is stocked at the top, which bodes well for big trades at the deadline.

Atlanta Braves (58-40, .592) — With Adam Duvall’s season-ending wrist injury, left field has become a significant need for the Braves. Benintendi tops their target list because he is a strong defensive player with a high on-base percentage and he’s a left-handed hitter, which would help balance their lineup better. If they have a chance to land a top-of-the-rotation starter such as Castillo, they’ll jump at the opportunity. They’re excited about reliever Kirby Yates (41 saves in 2019) nearing a return from Tommy John surgery, and they’ll monitor his rehab between now and Aug. 2 before deciding whether to trade for another reliever. The Braves will be open to other upgrades, but they’re pretty set in most areas.

Toronto Blue Jays (53-43, .552) — The Blue Jays want to add a starting pitcher and a left-handed bat. They, too, are involved in the Soto and Castillo sweepstakes, and like the Yankees and Dodgers, they have the farm system and financial resources to make a deal happen.

San Diego Padres (54-44, .551) — The Padres have been linked to Soto and could offer the Nationals a strong enough package to land him if they go down that path. (Of note, left-hander MacKenzie Gore exited Monday’s game because of a sore elbow.) They’ve also been pursuing upgrades for the outfield (Benintendi, Merrifield, Reynolds, Trey Mancini, Happ), the bullpen and catcher (Contreras).

Milwaukee Brewers (53-44, .546) — The Brewers’ biggest need is an impact middle-of-the-order bat. They’d like to upgrade at third base, and there are a couple of interesting possibilities in their division: Drury of the Reds and Patrick Wisdom of the Cubs. They’d also like to improve their middle relief.

Tampa Bay Rays (52-44, .542) — The Rays will look to improve this year’s team as much as possible while also keeping one eye on the future. As always, they are open-minded and will attempt to be opportunistic. They are targeting offense and relievers and would love to add an experienced veteran like they did at last year’s deadline when they acquired Nelson Cruz from the Twins.

Minnesota Twins (52-44, .542) — With one of the smartest front offices in MLB, led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the Twins do a great job of making stealth moves, like this past offseason when they surprised the baseball world and landed Carlos Correa. At last year’s trade deadline, they dealt Cruz for Joe Ryan, a standout young starter. This year, they will try to add more pitching at the deadline, such as Bednar, Barlow or maybe even Bard. Also, don’t be surprised if the Twins make a run at Mancini or Bell.

Seattle Mariners (52-45, .536) — The Mariners want to add a starting pitcher. They’ve had conversations with the Reds about Castillo, the Marlins about López and the A’s about Montas. And yes, Jerry Dipoto and company are players for Soto and Ohtani if they’re traded.

St. Louis Cardinals (51-46, .526) — The Cardinals need starting pitchers, and they’d like to add one or two of them. They have the offense, defense and bullpen to win the NL Central and return to the postseason, but starting pitching is their biggest question mark because of injury and underperformance. Montas and López are likely the most attainable higher-end options for them. In addition, they should be in the mix for Soto because they have too much to offer to not be.

Philadelphia Phillies (50-46, .521) — The Phillies are analyzing the return dates for some of their key injured players, such as Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and Zach Elfin, before they decide exactly what they’ll do. They’re in the market for a back-of-the-rotation starter and will look to make other upgrades, possibly in the bullpen and outfield.

Boston Red Sox (49-48, .505) — Despite their recent struggles, the Red Sox mindset is to try and improve this team and make a postseason run. They could use a bat, ideally a first baseman and/or outfielder, as well as a right-handed reliever.

Cleveland Guardians (48-47, .505) — One of the most underrated teams in MLB, the Guardians are fundamentally sound on offense and defense. They are 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins and 3 games back in the wild-card race, but adding at the deadline is imperative if they want to play October baseball. The Guardians need a middle-of-the-order bat, like Mancini or Bell, and bullpen help. They’ll be a fun team to watch at the deadline.

Baltimore Orioles (48-48, .500) — The Orioles are the one team that could still go either way at the deadline. If they buy, it will be smaller moves. They have no interest in trading any of their best prospects and will stay true to their long-term plan. But if they remain close to wild-card position on Aug. 2, they could add a player or two. If they sell, Mancini is the most likely player to be moved. The Orioles haven’t extended Mancini, who will be a free agent after this season. He’s the most popular Orioles player among fans, so if they do trade him, they’ll want to get strong value back; otherwise, they’ll just keep him.

Chicago White Sox (48-48, .500) — The White Sox are having discussions with teams about many of the available premium players, from Soto to Castillo, and they’re also interested in free-agent outfielder Michael Conforto. They are 4 games back in the division and all-in on trying to return to the playoffs. They are also targeting bullpen help and upgrades at second base and in right field.

San Francisco Giants (48-48, .500) — The Giants’ priority at the deadline will be to improve their team defense. A play for Benintendi, a Gold Glove left fielder, and Contreras could make sense.

Texas Rangers (43-52, .453) — The Rangers could be characterized as buyers and sellers. What I mean is they will try to add starting pitching or outfield help if the players are controllable beyond this year. But they’ve also had talks with other teams about selling, including starting pitcher Martín Pérez, several of their relievers and even some of their prospects.


Big Board: Players who could be traded

(Ranked by position and trade value) 

Catchers


Willson Contreras (Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

Willson Contreras, Cubs: A three-time All-Star, Contreras and the Cubs have been unable to agree on a contract extension so he almost certainly will be traded. The Padres, Mets, Astros and Giants are the most likely landing spots.

Sean Murphy, A’s: The A’s are loaded with catching prospects, from Shea Langeliers to Tyler Soderstrom to Jonah Bride, and they just drafted catcher Daniel Susac in the first round. It’s only a matter of time before Murphy is traded, opening the door for Langeliers, whom Oakland acquired in the Matt Olson trade with Atlanta. Murphy is under team control through the 2025 season.

Tucker Barnhart, Tigers: Barnhart won two Gold Gloves with the Reds and will be a free agent after this season. He has struggled in his first year with the Tigers, hitting .211 with six extra-base hits.

First basemen


Josh Bell (Scott Taetsch / USA Today)

Josh Bell, Nationals: Bell is a rental but his switch hitting and ability to play first base or DH increase his trade value. The teams interested in him include, but are not limited to, the Mets, Astros, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays.

Christian Walker, Diamondbacks: Walker has 22 home runs, but his low batting average (.205) and on-base percentage (.314) lower his trade value. He’s under team control through 2024.

Hunter Dozier, Royals: Dozier’s ability to play first base, third base, right field and left field, and his power from the right side, could make him an important bench addition for a contending team.

Jesús Aguilar, Marlins: Miami is ready to move on from Aguilar, who is having a down year but still provides 20 home run power.

Second basemen


Whit Merrifield (Jordan Johnson / USA Today)

Whit Merrifield, Royals 2B/OF: The Royals have resisted offers the last couple of trade deadlines, but not this time. Merrifield will be moved by next week. Because of his versatility and base-stealing ability (15 in 18 attempts), he brings a special element to an acquiring team.

Jon Berti, Marlins: Berti has stolen a league-leading 28 bases in 31 attempts and can play all over the diamond. A perfect 26th player for a contending team.

Jonathan Schoop, Tigers: Schoop provides right-handed power off the bench and can play second base and first base.

Rougned Odor, Orioles: Odor provides left-handed power off the bench. He has 10 home runs and 36 RBIs, but is hitting .199 with a .263 OBP.

Shortstops


José Iglesias (John Leyba / USA Today)

José Iglesias, Rockies: Iglesias is still a plus-plus defender at shortstop and is having a strong offensive year. He’d be a great fit with the Cardinals.

Miguel Rojas, Marlins: Rojas has been the Marlins’ clubhouse leader and starting shortstop for several years, but it’s time for him to transition into a utility role, which should happen with his next team if he’s dealt before the deadline. He’s signed through next year.

Third basemen


Brandon Drury (Katie Stratman / USA Today)

Brandon Drury, Reds: The versatile Drury has been one of the Reds’ most productive players this season, slashing .274/.333/.523 with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. He’d be a great fit with the Brewers.

Patrick Wisdom, Cubs: Wisdom has hit 17 home runs, driven in 47 runs and played solid defense at third base. The Cubs aren’t motivated to trade Wisdom, but he is already 30 years old, and this would be a good time to maximize his trade value. He’s under team control for four more years.

Jeimer Candelario, Tigers: He’s the definition of a solid-average major-league player across the board. Candelario, 28, is under team control through 2023. 

Outfielders


Bryan Reynolds (Eric Espada / Getty Images)

Juan Soto, Nationals: Soto is a cross between Hank Aaron and Ted Williams and if he’s dealt, it will probably result in the biggest trade haul of prospect talent going the other way. The Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, White Sox, Mariners, Mets, Cardinals, Padres, Giants and Dodgers are all in play, along with other teams. Soto buzz will dominate this deadline and a deal could reshape the league’s power dynamics. He’s under team control through 2024.

Bryan Reynolds, Pirates: Reynolds is the most sought-after outfielder not named Soto, with the Yankees and Marlins showing the most interest over the last couple of years. Last year, Reynolds slashed .302/.390/.522 with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs. This year he’s slashing .257/.339/.459 with 15 home runs. He got off to a slow start but then began raking in June, when he hit .333 with eight homers. It will take a strong package to land Reynolds, or the Pirates will just keep him.

Andrew Benintendi, Royals: Benintendi is in the running to win a second consecutive Gold Glove in left field. He’s hitting .322 with a .390 OBP. The Yankees, Braves, Padres, Giants, Brewers, Mets and White Sox are good fits. He’s as good as gone.

Ian Happ, Cubs: Happ has an .812 OPS, 24 doubles and nine home runs, good enough to make his first All-Star team this year. His ability to play second base and in the outfield increases his trade value.

Trey Mancini, Orioles: Mancini hits for both average and power and can play first base, left field and DH, but he’s so much more to Orioles fans. He’ll be a free agent after this season and it’s 50-50 whether he’s traded in the next week. It may come down to their position in the standings the morning of Aug. 2.

Tommy Pham, Reds: When he’s not slapping Joc Pederson over fantasy football, Pham has produced on the field with 11 home runs and seven stolen bases in 85 games. He can help a contender if he stays healthy.

David Peralta, Diamondbacks: Peralta has hit 18 doubles and 12 home runs so far in his ninth major-league season. His left-handed bat would fit nicely on a team like the Braves.

Randal Grichuk, Rockies: The Rockies aren’t planning to trade Grichuk, but I could see them moving him if the right deal materialized. Grichuk hasn’t done much this season, batting .248 with nine home runs, but he might interest a contender as a right-handed bat off the bench or in a platoon role.

Robbie Grossman, Tigers: Grossman is having a disappointing season, but he can still help a contender as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He’s a career .348 OBP player who knows how to work a count.

Designated hitters


Shohei Ohtani (Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)

Shohei Ohtani, Angels: I don’t think the Angels will trade Ohtani before this deadline. However, a team that misses out on Soto could call the Angels and their package of four or five elite-to-good prospects and young major leaguers might be enough for GM Perry Minasian and owner Arte Moreno to consider it, though the Angels are expected to seek established major leaguers in return for Ohtani. He will be a free agent after next season and by all indications, he’s unlikely to re-sign with the Angels.

Nelson Cruz, Nationals: Cruz is no longer an impact middle-of-the-order bat, but he does have eight home runs and 48 RBIs.

Starting pitchers


Luis Castillo (John Fisher / Getty Images)

Shohei Ohtani, Angels: Ohtani is the reigning AL MVP and the front-runner, ahead of Aaron Judge, to repeat this year. On the bump, he’s 9-5 with a 2.80 ERA and a 2.42 FIP in 16 starts with a stunning 134 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings. 

Luis Castillo, Reds: Castillo, 29, is expected to be the best starting pitcher traded at the deadline, and his new club will control the right-hander through the 2023 season. He’s sporting a 2.77 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 78 innings. The Reds should get a haul of top prospects for Castillo, who is worth 3.2 WAR this season, according to Baseball-Reference.

Frankie Montas, A’s: Montas went 13-9 last year with a 3.37 ERA in 32 starts (187 innings) and 207 strikeouts. This season, he’s posted a 3.16 ERA in 18 starts (99 2/3 innings) with 105 strikeouts. However, he missed two and a half weeks this month because of a shoulder injury, returning last Thursday to pitch three scoreless innings. His medicals will determine his trade value.

Pablo López, Marlins: López has one of the best changeups in the league (.188 batting average against) and he’s putting together another solid season that includes a 3.14 ERA in 19 starts and 2.3 WAR. If the Marlins trade him, they’ll want a long-term answer for center field in return.

Martín Pérez, Rangers: Pérez is having a career-best year, going 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 19 starts, which helped him make his first All-Star team. The Rangers are not motivated to trade him but let’s be real: He’s a free agent after this season, and if he’s not extended by the deadline, they should trade him for prospects and then try to re-sign him in the offseason.

Tyler Mahle, Reds: Once the Reds trade Castillo, they can turn their attention to moving Mahle, who is also a free agent after the 2023 season. Mahle, 27, is 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 18 starts (2.1 WAR). However, he’s only a year removed from going 13-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts.

Noah Syndergaard, Angels: The Angels signed Syndergaard in the offseason to a one-year, $21 million contract, but it has not worked out as well as both sides hoped. Still, he has made 15 starts, pitching to a 3.83 ERA in 80 innings. However, he has only 64 strikeouts and does not have the velocity nor the break on his pitches that he did a few years ago, before Tommy John surgery.

Chad Kuhl, Rockies: Kuhl is 6-5 with a 4.11 ERA and can provide innings for a contender in a back-of-the-rotation role.

José Quintana, Pirates: The Pirates have been thrilled with Quintana’s numbers (3.70 ERA in 19 starts). He can help the back of the rotation for some team down the stretch.

Relief pitchers


Gregory Soto (Rick Osentoski / USA Today)

Gregory Soto, Tigers: Soto is one of the best left-handed closers in the game. He has 18 saves, a 2.56 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. He’s under team control through the 2025 season.

Scott Barlow, Royals: Barlow has a 1.93 ERA in 42 relief appearances and has converted 16 of 18 save opportunities. He’s under team control through 2024.

David Bednar, Pirates: Bednar has followed up last year’s success with another strong season, converting 17 of 21 save opportunities and posting a .206 batting average against. He’s under team control through 2026.

Daniel Bard, Rockies: Bard, 37, has posted a 1.91 ERA and 21 saves. His trade value will never be higher so this is the time to move him.

David Robertson, Cubs: Robertson, who had Tommy John surgery in 2019, must be in the discussion for Comeback Player of the Year. He’s put up a 1.83 ERA in 39 1/3 innings with 14 saves.

Mark Melancon, Diamondbacks: Melancon is having a “down” year, but because of his experience and past success, several contending teams have interest, and they should. He’s converted 13 of 15 save opportunities.

(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic / Getty Images)

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