With the calendar flipping to July, trade season has officially arrived. We’ve already seen a couple early deals. The Angels swung a pair of late-June moves for stopgap veteran help on the infield. The Rangers closed out that month with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, arguably the top rental reliever available and a player who was ranked fifth on an early draft of this list.
As we do every summer, MLBTR will look at the top deadline candidates. This is not a strict ranking of players’ trade value, nor is it solely about likelihood of being moved. We’re trying to balance both of those things, which inherently involves subjectivity. A player in the top ten might have significantly less appeal than someone at the bottom of the list, but if they’re far more likely to be dealt for a return of some note, they’ll be higher on this kind of ranking.
With that brief methodology aside, let’s get to the list:
1. Lucas Giolito, SP, White Sox
The #4 player on our recent Free Agent Power Rankings, Giolito is the only member of our top six free agents who has much of a chance to move at the deadline. That makes him a natural fit to top this list.
The White Sox got off to a slow start and have never pulled themselves out. They’re vaguely kept afloat by an AL Central in which no team has consistently been better than .500, but they’re 7 1/2 games back with a -59 run differential. It’s division or bust, and they’re only alive in the division because of the other clubs’ mediocrity.
Giolito isn’t quite an ace, but he has put last year’s struggles behind him and again looks like a #2 arm on a contender. He has been durable, pounds the strike zone, and misses bats at an above-average clip. Over 18 starts, the 6’6″ righty has a 3.50 ERA with a quality 25.6% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk percentage. He’s a clear playoff-caliber starter on a market that might not have many of those.
The White Sox could make him a qualifying offer if they hold onto him for the stretch run. That’s theoretically possible given the divisional context, but they’d get much more future value if they traded him this summer. Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote in May that the Sox were unlikely to try to retain Giolito past the 2023 campaign.
2. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Nationals
Candelario is a virtual lock to move within the next few weeks. Washington signed the third baseman to a $5MM deal after he was non-tendered by the Tigers. The move has worked out beautifully, as the switch-hitting infielder has posted a .261/.338/.477 line with strong defensive metrics.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic last week he was setting a high asking price on Candelario early in deadline season. That’s understandable with a month to go, but the club eventually figures to pull the trigger on the best offer available. Candelario would be a fringe qualifying offer candidate, so Washington’s best chance to recoup future value is by moving him this summer.
3. Scott Barlow, RP, Royals
The Royals already moved Chapman. Barlow seems likely to follow him out of Kansas City. There’s a little less urgency on Barlow, since K.C. can control him via arbitration for 2024. They don’t have a shot at competing this season, though, and Barlow’s appeal would drop next winter or at the ’24 deadline (when an acquiring team would only have his services for one playoff push).
Barlow posted a sub 2.50 ERA over exactly 74 1/3 innings in both seasons between 2021-22. He hasn’t been quite as effective this year, carrying a 4.06 mark over 31 frames. His walks are up and his average fastball velocity is down a couple ticks from where it sat two years ago. Regardless, he has proven himself capable of handling the ninth inning and continues to miss bats in droves. He’s picking up swinging strikes on over 14% of his offerings for a third consecutive season and is striking out just under a third of opposing hitters. With a season and a half of club control, he’s the most valuable realistic trade candidate on the Royals’ roster.
4. Jordan Montgomery, SP, Cardinals
5. Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
The Cardinals are among a handful of National League teams amidst very disappointing seasons. St. Louis has gone from first to last in the NL Central. The division is weak enough it’s still vaguely in sight, but the Cards haven’t gotten on the run necessary to pull themselves back into the mix. They’re a long shot to make the playoffs at this point, so their top impending free agents are strong trade candidates.
Montgomery is one of the better starters on next year’s free agent market. The left-hander is a capable #3 arm, a mid-3.00s ERA type. He has allowed 3.28 runs per nine this season, backing that up with solid underlying marks across the board. He’d almost certainly receive and reject a qualifying offer, so the Cardinals could keep him and get back a draft choice if he signs elsewhere. They should be able to bring in a more valuable prospect package in trade, though.
Flaherty is unlikely to receive a QO. He wouldn’t bring back a Montgomery return in trade, but he’d still have some appeal on the market. The right-hander is no longer the Cy Young caliber arm he showed in 2019, as various injuries have limited him over the past few seasons. He has had an up-and-down 2023 campaign, walking over 12% of opponents and posting a 4.60 ERA through 16 starts. Flaherty has decent strikeout and grounder marks, but he’s more of a high-variance rotation add than a lock to start a playoff game at this point.
6. Marcus Stroman, SP, Cubs
Stroman has had an excellent second season in Chicago. The right-hander carries a personal-low 2.76 ERA across 107 2/3 innings with peripherals that closely match his best days in Toronto. He’s inducing grounders on almost three-fifths of batted balls and has consistently prevented home runs at an elite clip. It’s more of a contact management profile than an overpowering one, but his 21.3% strikeout rate isn’t far off the 22% league average for starting pitchers.
Despite a +24 run differential, the Cubs are five games under .500 and six games back in the Wild Card race. It’s not impossible, but they’d need a strong run over these next few weeks to play off the selling bubble.
Stroman isn’t a true rental, as his contract contains a $21MM player option for next season. That’s pure downside for an acquiring team — he’d only exercise it if he has a disastrous second half or suffers a serious injury — but the likeliest scenario is that Stroman continues pitching well and decides to test the open market. Stroman has publicly angled for an extension with the Cubs. The team has seemingly not shown the same interest. Ken Rosenthal and Patrick Mooney of the Athletic wrote over the weekend they were unlikely to explore a long-team deal before the trade deadline.
The Cubs can’t issue Stroman a qualifying offer, since he has already received one in his career and players can’t be tagged with a QO twice under the CBA. A trade would be the only way to land compensation if he declines the player option and the team is not interested in a new contract.
7. David Robertson, RP, Mets
With Chapman off the market, Robertson now appears the top rental reliever available. It’s the second straight season in which the veteran righty could be a coveted deadline piece. The Cubs brought back pitching prospect Ben Brown from Philadelphia last summer; the Mets could do something similar this year.
Robertson signed a $10MM free agent deal and was pushed into the ninth inning by Edwin Díaz’s catastrophic knee injury. The Mets have had a disastrous season, but that’s no fault of Robertson. He has a 1.88 ERA over 35 appearances, striking out 30% of batters faced. It’s rare to find relievers with the consistency and playoff experience Robertson brings to the table. He’ll be in demand, and Mets’ owner Steve Cohen admitted last week the team wasn’t close enough to contention to buy. Perhaps an ongoing four-game win streak can kickstart the season and prevent a sell-off, but New York is still 6 1/2 games out of the Wild Card with five teams to pass.
8. Shane Bieber, SP, Guardians
Bieber’s trade candidacy rests more on the Guardians’ pitching depth than their competitive window. While Cleveland has underperformed, they’re still very much a postseason contender. The Guardians are two games back of the Twins in the AL Central. They were in a similar spot at this point last year before getting hot in September to run away with the division.
Trading Bieber strictly for prospects seems unlikely, but Cleveland could shop him in an effort to inject some life into the offense. Adding controllable outfield talent could be particularly welcome. It’s a script Cleveland has followed on a few occasions in the past. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger have all been shipped off as the organization’s pitching development pipeline churns out similarly productive and less expensive young pitchers. Gavin Williams, Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee have all gotten to the big leagues this season.
Bieber hasn’t been as dominant as he was a few years back. His velocity hasn’t been the same since a 2021 shoulder injury and this year’s 19.3% strikeout rate is the first below-average mark of his career. Even if he’s no longer a Cy Young caliber hurler, Bieber looks the part of an effective #3 type. He’s sixth in the majors with 110 2/3 innings pitched and sports a 3.66 ERA with plus control and a solid 46.3% grounder rate. The right-hander is making a hair over $10MM this season and is eligible for arbitration once more before hitting free agency.
9. Michael Lorenzen, SP, Tigers
The Tigers are still within shouting distance in the AL Central. Perhaps they play well enough over the next few weeks to hold off a teardown. 11 games under .500 with a -86 run differential, they don’t look like a playoff team and would be more or less buried if they played in any other division. This was always likely to be an evaluation year for a new front office regime, one which saw them deal short-term veterans at the deadline.
Lorenzen is probably the most appealing of the rental players on the roster. The athletic right-hander is playing on an $8.5MM free agent deal. Over 14 starts entering this afternoon’s outing, he carries a 4.28 ERA. He’s missing bats at a career-low rate but throwing plenty more strikes than he has in years past. Lorenzen looks like a stable #5 starter, a player contenders can bring in to fortify their rotation depth and kick to the bullpen (where he’s had success in prior seasons) come playoff time. The return wouldn’t be huge, but this is more or less what the Tigers envisioned when they signed him last December.
10. Tommy Pham, LF, Mets
Pham started the season ice cold, but he has somewhat quietly been one of the sport’s best hitters since the calendar turned to May. He’s up to a .286/.355/.510 line through 217 plate appearances overall. At his best, Pham has combined stellar plate discipline with huge exit velocities and solid contact skills. He hits a few too many grounders to be a prototypical power threat, but he’s a well-rounded offensive player who can hit left and right-handed pitching alike.
The 35-year-old is a fringe corner outfield defender at this stage of his career. He’s an affordable bat a contender could feel comfortable plugging into the middle of a lineup for the stretch run. Pham is playing this season on a $6MM salary, and Cohen already showed a willingness to pay down money on Eduardo Escobar to facilitate a better trade return. New York could do the same on Pham, who acknowledged to Bill Ladson of MLB.com last week that the club’s surprising struggles make him a viable trade candidate.
11. Cody Bellinger, CF/1B, Cubs
Bellinger signed with the Cubs on a one-year, $17MM free agent guarantee after being non-tendered by the Dodgers. The buy-low flier initially looked like an excellent move. The former MVP hit .271/.343/.493 through 163 plate appearances while playing plus center field defense through mid-May. His exit velocities were still nowhere close to peak levels, but he’d dramatically sliced his strikeout rate to put together a well above-average overall batting line.
A left knee contusion interrupted that hot start and cost Bellinger nearly a month of action. He’s hitting .317 in 62 plate appearances since returning but has walked just four times and doesn’t have a home run in 17 games. After easing him back to action at first base, the Cubs returned him to center field last week.
Bellinger isn’t back to his MVP form, but he’s amidst easily his best season since 2020. It’s rare to find plus defensive center fielders with any kind of offensive upside. Bellinger can impact the game on both sides of the ball, even if it’s now more of a contact-first profile than an all-around impact bat. He’ll return to free agency next winter, likely by declining his end of a mutual option, making him a straightforward rental trade candidate. Unlike Stroman, Bellinger is eligible to receive a qualifying offer. The Cubs could land draft pick compensation, but they’d probably do better than that in trade.
12. Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Tigers
Rodriguez just returned from a finger injury yesterday. He got lit up by the A’s, but he carried a 2.13 ERA through 11 starts before landing on the shelf. The veteran southpaw has punched out over a quarter of opponents and shown his typically strong control. After his first season in Detroit was marred by injuries and personal issues, Rodriguez looks like the mid-rotation arm the Tigers expected when they signed him to a five-year, $77MM guarantee two offseasons back.
Few pitchers who could be available in trade have performed as well as Rodriguez has through the season’s first half. Were he a pure rental, he might be at the top of this list. His contract makes a trade far trickier to execute. Rodriguez can opt out of the final three years and $49MM on his deal at season’s end. He’s ineligible for a qualifying offer on a non-competitive team. If the Tigers hold onto him past the deadline, there’s a strong chance they lose him next winter for nothing.
On the other hand, the remaining money represents rather significant downside for a potential acquiring club. If Rodriguez suffers another injury or sees his performance tail off, the team could be saddled with a contract that looked like a landmine just a few months ago. It’s a more extreme version of the downside present with Stroman, thereby pushing him down the list a few spots.
13. Lance Lynn, SP, White Sox
Lynn has had a rough 2023 campaign. He owns a 6.47 ERA over 96 innings, a figure almost entirely attributable to an MLB-worst 22 home runs allowed. That’ll be tough for a number of fans and some front offices to look past. Still, there’s some amount of appeal for teams that feel Lynn can get the longball under control — either via natural regression or with a move to a more favorable home park for pitchers.
The veteran righty is striking out just under 27% of batters faced while racking up whiffs on an excellent 13.5% of his offerings. He doesn’t issue many walks, hasn’t missed a start this year, and posted a sub-4.00 ERA every season between 2019-22. The homers and a slight velocity dip are obvious concerns, but Lynn’s ability to miss bats is strong as ever. The White Sox hold an $18MM option on his services for 2024. That’s probably beyond their comfort zone, which makes marketing him this summer a logical choice.
14. Mark Canha, LF/1B, Mets
15. Brooks Raley, RP, Mets
Canha and Raley are the next tier down of Mets’ trade candidates. Unlike Robertson and Pham, they’re not certainly headed for free agency. New York could bring both players back via club option — Canha at $11.5MM ($2MM buyout), Raley at $6.25MM ($1.25MM buyout). Both prices are a little lofty for their current production but not out of the question for a Mets’ club that spends more freely than any other.
If New York is leaning towards a buyout on either player, they could make them available to a clearer ’23 contender. Canha’s a veteran righty bat who plays decent corner outfield defense. He’s hitting .248/.344/.405 on the season, including a .239/.360/.437 mark against lefty pitching. Raley is a situational left-hander out of the bullpen. He owns a 2.35 ERA with an above-average 26% strikeout rate. He’s been better against right-handers than lefties this season but carries traditional platoon splits over the course of his career.
16. Paul Blackburn, SP, Athletics
Blackburn might be the most valuable trade chip on a stripped-down A’s roster. The righty spent the first couple months on the injured list with fingernail/blister issues. He’s been effective in seven starts since returning, working to a 4.50 ERA with good control and a solid 24.7% strikeout rate over 36 innings.
While he’s not overpowering, Blackburn has looked the part of a strike-throwing back-end starter when healthy. Already 29, he’s probably not a core piece of the ongoing rebuild. He’s an affordable arm who should appeal to contenders looking for stability at the back of the starting staff. Blackburn is making $1.9MM this season and is arbitration-eligible through 2025.
17. Joe Kelly, RP, White Sox
18. Keynan Middleton, RP, White Sox
19. Reynaldo López, RP, White Sox
If the White Sox decide to look ahead to 2024, they’d be a major factor on the relief market. Chicago has a trio of potential impending free agent relievers (Kelly’s contract contains a ’24 club option at a net $8.5MM decision) who’d attract varying levels of interest.
Kelly is one of the game’s hardest throwers and has a track record of an enviable strikeout/ground-ball combination. He has had an up-and-down career but looks like a high-leverage arm when he’s going well. He just landed on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation this afternoon. That could obviously impact his trade candidacy, though it’s unknown how long he’ll be out of action.
Middleton appeared on his way to journeyman status a few months ago. He has proven to be one of the top minor league signees of last winter, pitching 30 innings with a 2.70 ERA and above-average strikeout and ground-ball marks. López has struggled with walks and home runs and has an ERA above 5.00, but his fastball pushes triple-digits and he misses plenty of bats. Another club figures to roll the dice on that upside despite his subpar overall production.
20. Aaron Civale, SP, Guardians
To a lesser extent, Civale’s trade candidacy follows the same logic as Bieber’s. The Guardians have ample young pitching that could allow them to cash in a veteran arm for short-term offensive help. Civale isn’t as appealing as Bieber. The 28-year-old righty has been more of a back-of-the-rotation type throughout his career. This year’s 2.96 ERA over eight starts is more attributable to batted ball and sequencing fortune than an overhaul in his approach.
Civale is a control specialist with a 3.95 ERA in just shy of 400 career innings. It’s #4 starter production on a rate basis, although he’s battled injuries and never topped 125 MLB frames in a single season. Civale is making $2.6MM this year and eligible for arbitration twice more thereafter.
21. Paul DeJong, SS, Cardinals
DeJong has reemerged as a viable trade candidate with a nice 2023 campaign. The righty-hitting shortstop is hitting .234/.310/.449 with 12 homers over 229 plate appearances, including a .275/.387/.510 showing against left-handed pitching. After two dismal offensive showings in 2021-22, he has played his way back into regular shortstop duty in St. Louis.
The Cardinals hold a $12.5MM option ($2MM buyout) on his services for 2024. That’s not an outlandish number, particularly in light of a dreadful upcoming shortstop class in free agency, but it still seems likely St. Louis would opt for the buyout with Tommy Edman on hand and prospect Masyn Winn not far off. With hope for a playoff push getting fainter with every demoralizing loss, the Cardinals should gauge the trade market.
22. Justin Turner, 3B, Red Sox
23. James Paxton, SP, Red Sox
24. Nick Pivetta, RP/SP, Red Sox
25. Adam Duvall, CF, Red Sox
The status of this group could well come down to the next few weeks. The Red Sox are above .500 but in last place in a loaded AL East. They’re four games out of the Wild Card with two teams to surpass. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has acknowledged the deadline could go in a number of directions based on the team’s upcoming performance.
If Boston were to fall more clearly out of contention, anyone in this group could go. Paxton and Duvall are pure rentals. The veteran left-hander has rebounded from two injury-plagued seasons to post a 2.70 ERA with an elite 31.1% strikeout rate over 10 starts. Duvall was on a tear early this year before breaking his wrist and missing two months. He has been ice cold since coming back but has a long track record of right-handed power production and solid outfield defense, albeit with on-base concerns.
Turner looks likely to join Paxton and Duvall on the open market. He has a $13.4MM player option. That comes with a $6.7MM buyout, meaning he’d only need to top the matching $6.7MM difference on the open market to make opting out a reasonable financial strategy. Considering he’s hitting .282/.354/.461, he looks on his way to doing that with ease.
Pivetta has never consistently found his stride as a starting pitcher, but he’s been excellent since moving to relief a couple months ago. Over 24 frames as a reliever, he owns a 2.63 ERA while striking out more than 32% of batters faced. He could draw interest either in his current multi-inning bullpen role or from a team looking to stretch him back out for rotation work. Pivetta is making $5.35MM and eligible for arbitration one more time.
26. C.J. Cron, 1B, Rockies
Cron is an impending free agent on a last place team. He’s a fairly straightforward trade candidate if he’s performing well enough to draw interest. The veteran first baseman has had a tough season to this point, hitting .248/.293/.441 and missing a few weeks with a back problem. He returned to the diamond last week and has around a month to try to play his way into some interest.
The right-handed hitter topped 25 home runs in each of the four full seasons between 2018-22. He’s making $7.5MM and could draw attention as a role-playing power bat, particularly if the Rox pay down some of the deal.
27. Brad Hand, RP, Rockies
28. José Cisnero, RP, Tigers
29. Jordan Hicks, RP, Cardinals
30. Chris Stratton, RP, Cardinals
31. Michael Fulmer, RP, Cubs
Each player in this tier could be an impending free agent reliever on a fringe or worse contender. Hand has had a nice bounceback season after signing with Colorado over the winter. His contract contains a $7MM club option that becomes a mutual provision if he’s traded. Cisnero is a 34-year-old righty with a 2.18 ERA and above-average peripherals in 33 innings for the Tigers.
Hicks throws as hard as anyone in the game. He’s running huge strikeout and ground-ball numbers while walking nearly 15% of opponents. Stratton, his St. Louis teammate, has fanned just over a quarter of opponents and soaked up 42 1/3 innings through 31 outings in middle relief. Fulmer started his Cubs’ career slowly but has allowed only two runs in 16 innings going back to the beginning of June.
32. Kyle Hendricks, SP, Cubs
Hendricks has been effective in eight starts since returning from last year’s season-ending shoulder injury. Through 47 innings, the veteran righty carries a 2.64 ERA. His 44.2% grounder rate is roughly average, and he’s never missed bats or thrown hard. Few pitchers have better control, though, and Hendricks is currently healthy and producing.
This could be his final season with the Cubs. Chicago likely wouldn’t bring him back on a $16MM club option, so he’s more or less a rental starter on a fringe contender. Maybe the trade returns wouldn’t be significant enough for the Cubs to part with a player who has meant so much to the franchise — especially if they can still see a path to contention — but it wouldn’t be surprising if his name comes up in discussions.
33. Josh Hader, RP, Padres
34. Blake Snell, SP, Padres
The Padres are riding a three-game win streak, pulling them to 41-46. They’re six games out of a Wild Card spot with three teams to jump. It’s an uphill battle but one an underperforming San Diego team feels they can achieve. Both president of baseball operations A.J. Preller (via AJ Cassavell of MLB.com) and chairman Peter Seidler said last week the team is still focused on contending this year.
San Diego probably isn’t listening to trade offers on Hader or Snell yet. If they flounder again over the next few weeks, the standings might force the club’s hand to put their impending free agents on the market. If that happens, Snell and Hader would vault near the top of this list in a hurry.
35. Tyler O’Neill, LF, Cardinals
36. Joey Bart, C, Giants
37. Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Red Sox
38. Jo Adell, LF, Angels
39. Josh Rojas, 3B, D-Backs
40. Nick Senzel, 3B/CF, Reds
Broadly speaking, this group of six players are speculative change-of-scenery candidates. O’Neill has paired 30-homer power with Gold Glove defense at his best. He hasn’t performed as well since the start of 2022 and has spent the past couple months on the injured list with a back problem. He’s likely to be back in the majors by the trade deadline. The Cardinals have a number of younger, more affordable outfielders and could try to move O’Neill this summer rather than face a tough call on whether to tender him a contract for his final arbitration season.
Bart is a former second overall pick who has been leapfrogged on the Giants’ catching depth chart by Patrick Bailey. He’s a .223/.293/.342 hitter at the big league level but has been better in Triple-A.
Dalbec has been inconsistent as a big leaguer, flashing huge power but striking out a ton. He’s having a monster season in Triple-A (.298/.415/.654 with 20 homers in 54 games) but only gotten 14 scattered MLB plate appearances this year. Dalbec recently admitted to Christopher Smith of MassLive that he doesn’t see a clear path to regular playing time in Boston with Rafael Devers, Justin Turner and Triston Casas all on the roster.
Adell is another former top prospect who has mashed in the upper minors but struggled to make contact against big league pitching. He’ll be out of options next season and has only appeared in three MLB games this year. Maybe the Mike Trout hamate injury clears the path to everyday playing for Adell at Angel Stadium, but the Halos are under pressure to win now and could try to move him for a lower-upside but more stable veteran outfielder.
Rojas was a good bat-first utility player for the Diamondbacks in 2021-22. He had an awful start to the ’23 campaign, hitting .235/.301/.306 without a home run in 57 games. Arizona optioned him late last month, and he recently landed on the minor league injured list. His value is at perhaps its lowest ebb, but he’d be a non-tender candidate next winter. Arizona could sell low to a team like the Tigers or Royals that can afford to give him a few months to rediscover his previous level.
Senzel is a former second overall draftee who hasn’t found much big league success. The Reds have graduated a number of infield prospects and pushed him to the bench. He’s not hitting right-handed pitching at all but carries a .373/.422/.627 line against southpaws. Senzel can play multiple positions and could be of interest as a righty-swinging utility piece.
41. Hunter Harvey, RP, Nationals
42. Kyle Finnegan, RP, Nationals
43. Alex Lange, RP, Tigers
44. Jason Foley, RP, Tigers
This crop of relievers all has multiple seasons of control on non-competitive teams. They’re less likely to be dealt than the rental relievers mentioned above but would bring back stronger returns if made available.
Harvey has had myriad injury issues throughout his career but been healthy and effective this year. He owns a 3.16 ERA while striking out nearly 28% of opponents over 37 innings. Finnegan has a 3.34 ERA with average peripherals across 35 frames.
Lange has spotty control but misses bats and keeps the ball on the ground at plus rates. He’s taken over as Detroit’s closer and is under arbitration control through 2027. Foley is also controllable through the ’27 campaign and has somewhat quietly had a breakout year. The righty averages north of 97 MPH on his fastball and has induced grounders on over three-fifths of batted balls. He has a 2.17 ERA in 37 appearances.
45. Rich Hill, SP, Pirates
46. Carlos Santana, 1B, Pirates
The Pirates have faded after a strong April and could find themselves listening on short-term players. Pittsburgh isn’t truly rebuilding anymore, but both Hill and Santana are veterans on a team that’s now six games under .500. The seemingly ageless Hill has a 4.50 ERA with roughly average strikeout and walk numbers over 17 starts. Santana has a modest .241/.320/.407 line over 321 plate appearances, but he’s a switch-hitter and a plus defender at first base.
47. Yan Gomes, C, Cubs
Gomes is another of the Cubs’ potential impending free agents who could find some interest. It’d be relatively modest in his case, but he’s a respected veteran backstop having a decent season. The 35-year-old is hitting .265/.308/.412 with seven homers in 185 trips to the plate. His contract contains a $6MM club option for next season.
48. Teoscar Hernández, RF, Mariners
The Mariners are another team that finds itself on the fringe of contention. Seattle is a game under .500 and five out of a Wild Card spot with four clubs to surpass. They’re not likely to sell off veterans until right up to the deadline, but a bad few weeks could force the front office to listen.
Hernández hasn’t hit as expected during his first season in Seattle. He owns a .252/.301/.441 line with 15 homers over 85 games. That’s below the level he’d shown over his past few years in Toronto. Hernández has picked things up after a terrible first two months, though, and he’d surely find some interest if the M’s were to put him on the market.
49. Lane Thomas, RF, Nationals
Thomas has proven an excellent pickup for Washington since heading over in the 2021 deadline deal that sent Jon Lester to St. Louis. The right-handed hitting outfielder is amidst a career year, hitting .304/.351/.509 with 14 homers through 365 plate appearances. He has been a nightmare for opposing southpaws, teeing off at a .385/.434/.683 clip when holding the platoon advantage.
Soon to turn 28, Thomas is eligible for arbitration for two seasons beyond this one. The Nationals would hold firm to a lofty asking price given that extended control window, but they’re near the nadir of a rebuild and probably won’t contend for a postseason spot until Thomas’ final year of arbitration at the earliest.
50. Max Scherzer, SP, Mets
There might be no more fascinating potential trade candidate than Scherzer. The three-time Cy Young winner is the second season of a record-setting free agent deal that pays him $43.333MM annually. He can opt out at year’s end, leaving the Mets in an interesting position.
If New York feels Scherzer is likely to opt out and they’re not viable contenders this season, exploring trade possibilities makes sense. The contract makes him a very difficult player to actually move, however. Scherzer has full no-trade rights for one, although there’s been some chatter he could waive that to facilitate a trade to a contender. The salary is high enough a number of teams wouldn’t even try to make it work, though Cohen’s willingness to pay down contracts for a better return could solve that issue.
That’s before getting to Scherzer’s performance, which has been more good than exceptional this year. He has a 4.03 ERA across 82 2/3 innings. His strikeout and walk numbers are excellent but below typical levels. He’s allowing more home runs than ever before. There’s no doubt Scherzer is still a playoff-caliber starter, but his production this season hasn’t been that of a true Game One ace.
Others To Watch
Cardinals: Giovanny Gallegos
Mariners: Tom Murphy
Orioles: Jorge Mateo
Padres: Luis García
Pirates: Austin Hedges
Twins: Max Kepler
* Currently on injured list