The trade deadline is upon is! Teams have until 5pm CT today to complete trades. This is the fifth year of the one true trade deadline — it’s been a half decade since MLB officially did away with revocable August trade waivers and capped all trades of Major League players (i.e. anyone presently on a 40-man roster or who has, at some point, previously been on a 40-man roster at any point in the current season). With so much possible activity, today’s Opener will be asked to cover more than one inning, so to speak. Here are six things we’ll be watching most keenly today…
1. Will Verlander be on the move?
The Mets already traded Max Scherzer to the Rangers, David Robertson to the Marlins and Mark Canha to the Brewers. Major League Baseball’s largest-ever payroll has begun to be whittled down as a wildly disappointing Mets roster is picked apart and sold off at the trade deadline. There’s no bigger name on the Mets — and perhaps no bigger name in the sport — on the trade market right than Justin Verlander now. Mets general manager Billy Eppler has spoken to his counterparts with the Astros, Dodgers and others about a potential deal involving Verlander. The three-time Cy Young winner is still owed about $14.444MM of this year’s salary, plus $43.333MM for the 2024 campaign — his age-41 season. And, if Verlander reaches 140 innings in 2024, he’ll trigger a $35MM player option for the 2025 season. Verlander has a full no-trade clause that only further complicates a potential deal.
The Mets will also be active elsewhere. Outfielder Tommy Pham is a free agent at season’s end and a veritable lock to be traded. Lefty Brooks Raley is controlled through 2024 via club option but could easily be dealt. Catcher Omar Narvaez and righty Adam Ottavino both have player options for the 2024 season (though the former has struggled badly and seems likely to exercise his).
2. The Tigers’ inevitable trade(s)
There aren’t many likelier players to be traded today than Tigers righty Michael Lorenzen. The team’s lone All-Star representative is playing on a one-year, $8.5MM deal and has delivered a solid 3.58 ERA, 19.9% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk rate and 42.2% grounder rate in 105 2/3 innings for a selling Tigers club. He’s drawn interest from the Orioles, Marlins and Astros, among others.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t as straightforward a trade candidate, given the three years and $49MM remaining on his contract after the current season. He can opt out of that remaining sum at season’s end, however, which creates ample risk for any acquiring team; Rodriguez would only forgo that opt-out if he pitched poorly enough and/or suffered a notable injury following a trade to warrant it. Effectively, if he pitches well, he’s a rental. If he flames out or gets hurt, the new team is on the hook for this year’s remaining salary plus another three years and $49MM. E-Rod has still pitched well enough to merit widespread interest, though he’s struggled in two of four starts since returning from a six-week absence due to a tendon injury in his finger.
3. All eyes on Flaherty, Carlson, DeJong in St. Louis
The Cardinals’ widely expected sell-off has already seen Jordan Montgomery, Chris Stratton and Jordan Hicks shipped out — and by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak’s own admission, it’s likely not over. Right-hander Jack Flaherty is right up there alongside the aforementioned Lorenzen when talking about the likeliest players to be traded today. The 27-year-old righty is a free agent at season’s end who has posted a decent (if unspectacular) 4.43 ERA in 109 2/3 innings. Flaherty’s fastball, strikeout rate and walk rate have all gone the wrong direction since his 2018-21 peak, but the demand for pitching is strong and the Cardinals will likely find a deal.
Shortstop Paul DeJong’s glove and ability to hit lefties should lead to him being moved, too, and the Cardinals have ostensibly been shopping outfielder Dylan Carlson after pushing him to a bench role.
4. What’s next for the Mariners?
The Mariners won more games than any team in baseball in July. They also traded closer Paul Sewald to the D-backs yesterday, shipped struggling veteran AJ Pollock to the Giants, and have reportedly at least listened on Teoscar Hernandez, Ty France and some members of their outstanding young rotation. The Mariners are only 3.5 games out of the AL Wild Card spot. Many will assume they’re straight sellers after the Sewald trade and the rumors of listening on several veterans, but Seattle president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto added Major League-ready help in the Sewald talent and could very well end up blurring the line between “buyer” and “seller,” as he’s done multiple times in the past. As usual, the Mariners are one of the most interesting teams to watch as the deadline looms.
5. How will the Padres approach the deadline?
The Padres swept the AL West-leading Rangers over the weekend and have pulled themselves to within three games of the .500 mark. In a largely underwhelming season, they’ve begun to turn the tide and now sit just five games back in the NL Wild Card hunt. Owner Peter Seidler pushed back on the notion of “reversing course” and selling players earlier this month, and San Diego is reportedly on the lookout for bullpen help and upgrades to the offense. There’d been talk of potential trades involving free-agents-to-be Blake Snell and/or Josh Hader, but the team’s recent play and Seidler’s commitment to the 2023 season set the stage for president of baseball operations AJ Preller to once again add to the roster.
6. Will the Yankees sell?
The Yankees don’t have much to sell, but they’re said to be open to offers on impending free agents. That opens the door for possible deals of center fielder Harrison Bader, southpaw reliever Wandy Peralta and/or utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa; the rest of the Yankees’ rental players (Josh Donaldson, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas) haven’t been healthy enough and/or productive enough to carry much in the way of trade value. If the Yankees were willing to take it a step further and sell off players controlled/signed through the 2024 season, that’d be far more interesting. Gleyber Torres and Clay Holmes, in particular, would be intriguing trade candidates in that scenario.
There are, of course, plenty of other storylines to watch throughout the day. The White Sox could continue to sell. The Brewers want another bat. Neither the Reds nor the Orioles have added the pitching they’ve reportedly sought. The Twins have been looking for bullpen help and a right-handed bat. Do the Angels or Rangers have another move up their sleeve? The Phillies have been looking at right-handed bats. Will the Braves get the bullpen arm they’re seeking? And the possibility of a last-minute, unexpected entrant joining the trade market always looms on deadline day.
As always, we’ll be covering all of the day’s action here at MLBTR. Follow us on Twitter, download our free iOS and Android app (and set up notifications for your favorite teams and/or trade targets of interest), and or just go the traditional route and mash the refresh button throughout the day! If you like the coverage we provide, consider an ad-free subscription to support our efforts.