It’s almost July, which means the fireworks are coming – MLB trade deadline fireworks. The deadline is August 2 this year, which gives us just over a month for baseball contenders to shuffle their cards and play their best hands.
There are also a couple of twists and turns that could make this deadline especially unpredictable.
There’s a little over a month left before the deadline, and now we really have questions. Until the dust settles on August 2, answering these seven questions will spark conversation and set the stage for a long run.
1. Better teams, better payrolls: how much more will the Yankees, Mets, and Dodgers add?
The New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers have three of the biggest payrolls in baseball. In terms of Monday games, they also have… the top three records in baseball.
That correlation doesn’t always work in MLB, and it’s not guaranteed this season, but it’s safe to say that high-spenders have plenty of incentive to go for it in 2022. All three have already ended. the base competitive tax balance threshold at which they will pay extra for every dollar of wages they add. The Dodgers and Mets are already threatening to eclipse the highest bar where they would pay tax plus a 60% surcharge.
TL;DR: This trio invested in it. There probably won’t be too many financial delays to make any needed additions.
What will these necessary additions look like?
The Yankees, who could jeopardize the winning record if they maintain their current pace, predictably don’t do so with a bunch of egregious holes. Their top priority should probably be adding an outfielder who can be counted on defensively in midfield. Other than that, another reliable bullpen arm would be helpful. It is worth noting that their rotation was very healthy after the start of the season with a lot of injuries. It won’t be a surprise if general manager Brian Cashman proactively upgrades or adds insurance.
The Mets are more in a race against the attacking Braves, and they have more obvious reasons to be concerned. Max Scherzer is gearing up for a comeback soon and Jacob de Grom is dropping, but neither of them will have had time to completely allay health concerns by August. Tylor Megill on the shelf. Mets grandmaster Billy Eppler will almost certainly be rummaging through phone lines looking for a starting pitcher.
The Dodgers, who have a habit of making flashy, shocking deadline deals, may have reason to pull off another one. Their rotation has been supported by amazing performances from Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson, but will Andrew Friedman trust those hands to keep him going? With Walker Buhler out for an extended period of time and Mookie Betts suffering right now, almost any form of major addition seems possible.
2. Will more playoff spots mean more or less activity in the deadline?
Playoff third place in each league was created to encourage competition. He was also codified after spring training was due to begin, meaning he didn’t have much of an impact on strategy this offseason. Will this change the timing of trading?
It feels like we might have to wait until next year with this one as well.
Each league currently has eight teams either in the playoffs or in five games. One of those teams, the Phillies, just lost their best player, and two AL bubble teams, the famed thrifty Races and Guardians. The other teams outside right now are the San Francisco Giants and the snakebitten Chicago White Sox. The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are in the game at the moment but could be in the mix.
There may be sharper competition for the top two seeds that get a division streak farewell, but even that is already mostly limited to the NL.
When Stephanie Upstein of Sports Illustrated asked Rays president of baseball operations Eric Neander about the incentives of a larger playoff field.he called the first places a “significant advantage” but called the playoffs the biggest hurdle to overcome.
“Just entering gives you a chance,” he said. “And I think the biggest difference between being able to win a World Series and not being able to win is just making the playoffs or not.”
3. Is there a big enough star to make a real blockbuster?
To put it mildly, there is no obvious Max Scherzer or Trea Turner on the block right now. The best player most likely to be traded is Wilson Contreras, a Chicago Cubs stalwart who leads all catchers with 12 homers this year.
Contreras, however, will become a free agent after this season. Rentals don’t spawn blockbusters unless they’re MVP-level talent. So you’re looking for a star who has a few years of control left.
The most tempting hitter with some chance of moving is probably Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Brian Reynolds. (Hey, I warned you there weren’t going to be any big names.) His numbers are down a bit this year, but the 27-year-old combines on-base ability with some success in an MVP vote package that a pursuer can have three more under his team’s control. season.
However, Reynolds is more taut. The starting pitcher is likely to make the most profit during this time frame.
The top contenders are A’s starter Frankie Montas, Reds’ starter Luis Castillo and Marlins’ starter Pablo Lopez.
Montaz and Castillo are obvious candidates given everything their teams have done to rid their major league teams of talent. They each have one full season left on their contract after 2022.
Lopez, like Reynolds, won’t necessarily move, but there’s a chance. The 26-year-old switch artist manages a 2.61 ERA for the Marlins, who have developed an assembly line of strong starting pitchers. Given the chance to really improve their offensive outlook, they might be tempted to drop Lopez, even if he doesn’t become a free agent before the end of the 2024 season.
4. What about Juan Soto?
No, he did not sign a long-term extension with the Washington Nationals. And, yes, they are in deep recovery. But general manager Mike Rizzo said they are not trading a precocious superstar who is regularly among the best hitters in the game.
Add to that the uncertain ownership and management situation, and you have a franchise that just won’t work on a deal of this magnitude.
They must find a way to re-sign it. They have over a year left. They will not surrender in July 2022.
5. Who is the best player in the trading block?
Contreras, the catcher of cubs: The 30-year-old has long been one of baseball’s top quarterbacks. A number of contenders could use him seriously in the roster, but some may not want to change any part of the catcher equation, a position that is inextricably linked to pitching success. Think of the Astros and Yankees as two teams that see the Contreras as a huge offensive upgrade, but can stick to organizational priorities for their defensive-focused catchers.
Ian Happ, Cubs outfielder: Having greatly improved his strikeout rate, Happ is posting a career-best .376 on base. He won’t become a free agent until 2023.
Josh Bell, National Championship first baseman: He’s not consistent, but when Bell is good, he’s really good. We seem to be having a really good year for Bell. He mashes up a tune .308 batting average with 11 homers and nearly as many walks as strikeouts.
Sean Murphy, Seeker A: Murphy makes almost comical sense to the Rays or the Guardians, or any team in general that is looking for a promotion without putting all their chips in specifically for 2022. One of Oakland’s last stars, Murphy hasn’t even made it to arbitration yet. He hits with some power, albeit very little, and is among the best defensive catchers.
Andrew Benintendi, Royals outfielder: Swinging southpaw Benintendi rediscovered some of his early Red Sox form in Kansas City. He will flirt with .300, play solid left field and become a free agent after this season.
6. Who is the best pitcher in the trading block?
Montas, starter A: A consistently superior player since a difficult 2020, Montaz will soon join his former rotation mates on the opposition. The solid right-hander is using his splitter more and more, and the attackers continue to miss him. He has a 3.21 ERA in 2022 and has averaged almost six innings per start.
Castillo, starter of the Reds: The pitcher with the best track record of any trading lure this season, Castillo missed April with injuries. He didn’t miss bats like he usually did after his return, but expect someone to bet on proven talent.
Martin Perez, Rangers starter: The 31-year-old southpaw, who has been downright mediocre for nearly a decade, has popped up with a 1.96 ERA in 2022. He has a one-year contract for $4 million. The Rangers will have to decide if he is a discovery worth keeping or a mirage to be sold while things are going well.
Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks starter: Kelly initially revitalized his career in Korea, and this spring he raised his eyebrows again with increased speed. He capped homers well and scored a 3.64 ERA.
Someone in the bullpen of the Orioles: Here’s a real fact that I swear I’m not making up. The Baltimore Orioles have FOUR MLB-level pitchers with at least 20 innings and an ERA of less than 2.00 this season. Four – Jorge Lopez, Felix Batista, Sionel Perez and Dean Kremer. At least one is likely to move. The best bet is Lopez, who served as the dynamite closer with a 0.75 ERA.
7. Is there a surprise seller lurking that could shake up the market?
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