Quick Bit: Every team has a need. Here’s one move that can best address their needs at the trade deadline this season.

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With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, the MLB trade deadline is upon us. Every team is scrambling to figure out if it is buying or selling this year, which means tough decisions are going to be made in the next week.

Players like Willson Contreras, Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas feel like inevitabilities to be moved. Others, like Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani, are big names being dangled for utterly gigantic returns.

Who will make splash at this year’s deadline? First, we need to determine who is trying to.

MORE: The 20 players most likely to be moved by the MLB trade deadline

Here is the one move every team should make at this year’s deadline.

AL West

Houston Astros: Land a viable replacement at first base

Candidates: Garrett Cooper, Marlins; Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles; Josh Bell, Nationals

The Astros have been one of the best teams in baseball, thanks in no small part to their length in the batting order. Kyle Tucker is one of the best insurance policies in baseball for star hitter Yordan Alvarez, while the top of the order with Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pe?a regularly has pitchers struggling early.

Yuli Gurriel, meanwhile, is a free agent after this season and 2021 — in which he batted .319 on the year — has looked to be a blip. His OPS of .671 is the second-lowest of his career after the shortened 2020 season, and he lacks the power in his bat to make up for his low average. All-Star Garrett Cooper and should-be All-Star Josh Bell would fit well in the Astros order, and they could still hit in Gurriel’s slot.

Seattle Mariners: Trade for a quality starting arm

Candidates: Luis Castillo, Reds; Tyler Mahle, Reds; Frankie Montas, Athletics

The Mariners have been kicked around as potential suitors for Juan Soto, and they have the capital and the GM to do something so bold. But he shouldn’t be their target: They need another quality starter in their rotation.

Robbie Ray has been OK-to-good this year, Logan Gilbert has been good, and their other arms like Chris Flexen, George Kirby, Matt Brash and Marco Gonzalez have been wildly inconsistent. Adding Castillo, Mahle, or, ideally, Montas would add depth to a rotation that desperately needs it. The Mariners have the farm system to make a move at this deadline, but they need to manage it wisely. Don’t sell it all for an outfielder it’s unlikely they’ll pay long-term when their World Series window doesn’t align with Soto’s contract expiring.

MORE: Yankees, Mariners, Blue Jays among best landing spots for Reds ace Luis Castillo

Texas Rangers: Land a quality third baseman with control

Candidates: Patrick Wisdom, Cubs; Miguel Andujar, Yankees; Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays

The Rangers reportedly don’t want to be outright sellers at the deadline, but they know their lot in MLB. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager make up the middle infield, Adolis Garcia is arguably the team’s best player, and Nathaniel Lowe is starting to make a positive impact at first.

That leaves third base, where the Rangers really need to upgrade over Josh Smith. Top prospect Josh Jung hasn’t played in the minors this season due to a torn labrum, so there has to be a contingency plan there. The Rangers are hoping he sees DH at-bats, but if they want to make an impact in the next two seasons, they should push for either Wisdom — who, at 30 years old, is a stretch — or the displaced Andujar or Biggio.

Los Angeles Angels: Offload expiring contracts and improve their farm system

Candidates: Noah Syndergaard, P; Michael Lorenzen, P

What the Angels SHOULD do is trade Shohei Ohtani for the biggest return possible, but we’re trying to stay within the realm of possibility and that isn’t an Arte Moreno-run team’s modus operandi.

Instead, the Angels should trade Syndergaard and Lorenzen for prospects, even with a neutered return with both battling recent injuries. The Angels’ farm system is still in rough shape, and they aren’t going to compete this year. The team is too top-heavy, and that system hasn’t worked. If they insist on keeping Ohtani, it’s time to add some depth.

Oakland Athletics: Sell it all, burn it down

Candidates: Sean Murphy, C; Frankie Montas, P — among others

The Athletics have no delusions about themselves. They’re where the Orioles were last year and the year before that, and owner John Fisher/professional carny Dave Kaval have made it abundantly clear this team won’t get better without a new stadium.

In other words, the Athletics’ competitive window has to align with them getting out of RingCentral Coliseum. Murphy and Montas are obvious players to move, but look for a lot of interest to drum up around Lou Trivino and Ramon Laureano as well. The Athletics just need to get what they can for what they’ll be losing anyways. It’s pretty simple.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins: Add a lefty reliever to the bullpen

Candidates: Brock Burke, Rangers; Amir Garrett, Royals

The Twins roster is in pretty good shape atop the AL Central, but there are a few pressing needs. The obvious one is another starting arm, but what team doesn’t need a longer rotation? They also should add a catcher, but they don’t need to spring for Contreras or Murphy.

So, that leaves adding a left-handed reliever to their bullpen. Caleb Thielbar is currently on IL, and the Twins’ closing situation is fine with Jhoan Duran starting to share duties with Emilio Pagan. Adding someone with Burke’s velocity or Garrett’s splits against lefties could serve Minnesota well. They need some long relief help.

Cleveland Guardians: Acquire a first baseman to take pressure off Franmil Reyes

Candidates: Hunter Dozier, Royals; C.J. Cron, Rockies

The Guardians are sitting on an embarrassment of riches at the shortstop position, but they need help at the plate now. Franmil Reyes has struggled at DH this year, and Josh Naylor would do well to move into his spot. Both Dozier and Cron have significant years on their contracts, and the Guardians have the prospect capital to at least entice the Rockies to trade Cron.

While ultimately the price may end up being too steep, the Guardians would be remiss not to try. Adding another power bat would serve that lineup extremely well.

Chicago White Sox: Hold onto Jose Abreu

This is an unconventional one. It’s not that the White Sox don’t have needs — lord knows they do — but the urge will arise to trade Abreu to a team looking for his skillset with him set to be a free agent next year. They shouldn’t.

The White Sox fancy themselves competitors in the near future, but let’s say for the sake of argument Tony La Russa rides out the rest of this season (likely). It’s hard to imagine him lasting past that. Abreu needs to be a part of their long-term plans. La Russa doesn’t. It’s that simple in Chicago.

Detroit Tigers: Get something for their relievers

Candidates: Andrew Chafin, P; Michael Fulmer, P

The Tigers have missed the deadline to trade Michael Fulmer about four times in his career. They can’t let it happen again. The Tigers bullpen has been surprisingly solid this year, sitting at fourth in MLB.

Part of that has been the success of Fulmer and Chafin, both of whom can be free agents after this season (Chafin has an opt-out clause in his contract). The Tigers aren’t going to be making any deep runs this year, and those bullpen pieces are valuable. They don’t have the luxury of sitting back and letting things come to them. They thought they might compete this year, they didn’t. They need a return.

Kansas City Royals: See Oakland Athletics

Candidates: Andrew Benintendi, OF; Whit Merrifield, 2B

No one should be off-limits for the Royals to deal this offseason. The team recently suffered the embarrassment of 10 players missing the Toronto series due to not complying with Canada’s vaccination laws, and Merrifield in particular said he would reconsider on a competitive team.

Oblige him. Merrifield absolutely cannot be a Royal on Aug. 3 after those comments. Benintendi is the top target on this roster, and he should go, too. The Royals need to acquire players who fit on Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino’s timelines. The roster isn’t devoid of talent, but there’s a culture problem in that clubhouse.

AL East

New York Yankees: Sell the farm, make a splash

Candidates: Juan Soto, OF; Luis Castillo, P; Frankie Montas, P

The Yankees may have the best record in baseball, but they have a lot of holes to patch that they’ve been using FlexSeal on. For starters, they need another starting pitcher with their rotation finally settling back into (relatively) normal parameters, but above all else, they need an impact bat.

There is understandable trepidation in trading the Anthony Volpes and Jasson Dominguezes of the world. But the Yankees are in their longest pennant drought since the 1980s. They should give up whatever the Nationals are asking for for Soto and acquire him, make their World Series push this year, and reload in the offseason if need be. Their window is right here, right now. They need to be a team that acts like it.

MORE: Juan Soto landing spots: Yankees, Mets lead list of best fits

Toronto Blue Jays: Give Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman help

Candidates: Tyler Mahle, Reds; Jose Quintana, Pirates

The Blue Jays would, undoubtedly, love to land a Montas or a Castillo. But if there’s one thing we know about the Jays, it’s that they love their guys. Jose Berrios has been out of form all season, Hyun-jin Ryu is out for the year, and Yusei Kikuchi is injured.

Mahle or Quintana are solid second-tier pitching options who can complement Manoah and Gausman in the rotation. They’d add some desperately needed length, and they’d give the Jays a chance to win outside of Manoah and Gausman. Come the playoffs, these trades could be essential if the Blue Jays get into a slug-fest with the Yankees or Astros.

Tampa Bay Rays: Stop messing around, trade for Willson Contreras

Is this significantly outside of Tampa Bay’s MO? Yes, 100 percent. But with Mike Zunino (not to mention Kevin Kiermaier) out for the season, the Rays desperately need another bat and help behind the plate.

While it’s always tempting to get cute and pursue a guy who might be next next up, the Rays’ timeline hasn’t worked out to a championship yet. They’ve come close, but they always run into a buzzsaw. Tampa Bay needs to find a way to become the buzzsaw, particularly with key pieces missing.

MORE: Willson Contreras landing spots: Mets, Astros make list

Boston Red Sox: Toe the line, don’t be true sellers

Candidates: J.D. Martinez, DH; Enrique Hernandez, OF

The Red Sox are in a perilous position. They aren’t good enough to compete, but if they sell just three games out of the wild card they’re conceding an important season for their franchise with J.D. Martinez set to be a free agent and Xander Bogaerts holding an opt-out clause.

The moves you don’t make can be as important as the ones you do, and that’s a school of thought Chaim Bloom is all too familiar with. The Red Sox are coming off an utterly disastrous week, but that shouldn’t affect their long-term plans. Martinez is a good selling option, as is Hernandez. But the Red Sox need to figure out their Bogaerts and Rafael Devers situations. The thought of being whole-hog sellers is undoubtedly enticing. But the Red Sox aren’t true sellers.

MORE: Xander Bogaerts and five other Red Sox who could be dealt if Boston opts to sell at trade deadline

Baltimore Orioles: Don’t be hasty, don’t be reactive

Candidates: Trey Mancini, DH/1B; Anthony Santander, OF

The Orioles are also in a weird spot, but for the opposite reason of Boston: They didn’t expect to be in wild card conversations this late in the season. With that in mind, it may be a hard pill to swallow that the Orioles still aren’t in their winning window, but O’s fans can take solace in the fact they’re close.

Mancini and Santander should still be on the move at the deadline, and their standings position shouldn’t change that. Baltimore isn’t going to magically become a buyer to make a playoff push and get rocked by the Astros or Yankees — this is a long game. Mancini’s value hasn’t been higher with the universal DH, and Santander can immediately improve several teams’ orders. Line up the acquired pieces with Adley Rutschmann, and the Orioles have themselves a stew going.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers: Get a top-flight starter

Candidates: Luis Castillo, Reds; Frankie Montas, A’s

The Dodgers don’t like to pursue relievers at the deadline — they like to work in-house for that. But Andrew Friedman is no stranger to pursuing new starters. With a rotation that has been in constant flux and held together by duct tape this year, it’s time for the Dodgers to lock down some support.

Castillo and Montas are tied to every buyer that needs pitching, but they’re really the only two the Dodgers would likely pull the trigger on if the price is right. If Friedman looks for starting pitching, he’s going to be ambitious about it. Montas and Castillo would give Dave Roberts more flexibility with his staff as we enter the home-stretch of the season.

Alternatively, the Dodgers could look for a new closer option with Craig Kimbrel struggling (e.g. David Bednar or Daniel Bard). But they may be biding their time for the return of Blake Treinen.

Getty Images

San Diego Padres: Put another bat in the outfield

Candidates: Juan Soto, Nationals; Andrew Benintendi, Royals; Ian Happ, Cubs

The Padres have playoff aspirations in their first season under Bob Melvin, despite the absence of Fernando Tatis Jr., but they need some help if they’re going to get over the hump in the playoffs.

While Jurickson Profar has flashed for moments for San Diego and Nomar Mazara has been solid with a small sample size, Trent Grisham has been abominable for the Padres this year. They need to get help out there. They’ve emerged as a favorite in the Soto Sweepstakes, and even if that involves moving Tatis, it makes them better this year. How that works long-term is TBD, but if the Padres were ever going to make a big move, the time has to be sooner than later.

FAGAN: Two truths to keep in mind about Juan Soto as the trade deadline approaches

San Francisco Giants: Get help on the infield

Candidates: Vidal Brujan, Rays; Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays; Adam Frazier, Mariners

Try as they might, the Giants simply cannot hide Thairo Estrada. This pick comes courtesy of a Ken Rosenthal report, in which The Athletic insider said the Giants are seeking defensive help on the infield.

Doing so would move Estrada to DH. Brujan and Biggio make the most sense, but Frazier has less and less of a place in the Mariners lineup, and is being used in a utility fashion instead. The Giants might be able to get him for a pittance.

Colorado Rockies: Get returns for some permutation of Chad Kuhl, Daniel Bard, C.J. Cron

The Rockies desperately need to figure out their identity. Despite still being in a rebuild, they spent good money on Kris Bryant this offseason. Now they need to recoup some of that and reload the farm a bit.

They would get the best return for Cron, who isn’t a free agent until after 2023. But they could capitalize on teams in need of either starting pitching or bullpen help and flip either Kuhl, Bard, or both. Either way, the Rockies need to establish themselves as buyers or sellers early on. They might be closer than many think, but right now they simply aren’t a competitive team.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Shorten up the outfield depth chart

Candidates: Zach Davies, Ian Kennedy

The future is now in Arizona. They’re still sellers, but they’re past selling prospects as add-ons. Veterans Ian Kennedy and Zach Davies need to make room for rising outfielders Daulton Varsho and Alek Thomas.

Corbin Carroll, Arizona’s top prospect, is hitting .311 this season, though his numbers have dropped in Triple-A Reno. The Diamondbacks likely want him to debut next season, so the reality is their older players on expiring contracts don’t fit in their plans. They need to start bringing guys up from the farm system.

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers: Add another bat

Candidates: Josh Bell, Nationals; Andrew Benintendi, Royals; J.D. Martinez, Red Sox

The Brewers have not been a powerhouse at the plate this year. They’re 22nd in MLB in batting average, but they have power at the plate.

They could use a player who can hit for average to create a harder part of their lineup to pitch around. Bell or Benintendi would be the most natural fits, whereas Martinez would come at a steeper price but would bring both power and contact hitting. It all depends on how the Brewers see themselves for the time being.

St. Louis Cardinals: Add to the rotation

Candidates: Chad Kuhl, Rockies; Pablo Lopez, Marlins; Noah Syndergaard, Angels

Of course, every Cardinals fan wants to land Soto. But they need another starting pitcher as well.

While it’s unlikely they outbid other competitors for the likes of Montas or Castillo, rotation pieces like Kuhl, Lopez, or Syndergaard would be perfectly viable consolation prizes for the right price. The Cardinals don’t like to unload all of their prospects. All of these players would come for a reasonable price. Lopez, who is likely the most expensive player here, doesn’t happen without Masyn Winn being involved. That’s an important caveat to any deal with him.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Make sure you aren’t selling next year

The Pirates are sellers this year, and they should be. They should get value back for Bryan Reynolds and David Bednar. But they need to make absolutely certain they aren’t doing this again next season.

There are some good young pieces in place for Pittsburgh right now. Oneil Cruz has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of, Colin Holderman fell into their lap for Daniel Vogelbach, and Ke’Bryan Hayes is an everyday player. The Pirates, however, need to set and adhere to their timetable, one way or another. Pick up players who are one or two years away in the trades they make rather than four or five. Make sure you’re creating a clear plan to capitalize on the youth movement in Pittsburgh right now.

Chicago Cubs: Move Ian Happ for value

Ian Happ has become a good sleeper trade in the last month or so. While the marquee outfielders will always demand more attention, Happ could sneak in and command a nice return.

Moving Willson Contreras is obvious for Chicago, but Happ also makes a lot of sense for several teams. With another year of team control, that should also help his return. The Cubs shouldn’t move him just to move him, but if they get a good offer, Happ might be part of the best move they make.

Cincinnati Reds: Retool, get ready for next year

Candidates: Luis Castillo, P; Tyler Mahle, P; Mike Minor, P; Tommy Pham, OF

No one outside of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, or Tyler Stephenson is probably untouchable on the Reds roster, but Castillo and Mahle borderline have to be moved by Aug. 2.

The Reds have a long timeline before they’re looking to make any playoff runs again, so they need to get solid returns for these players on expiring contracts from teams looking for strong rentals. Minor and Pham are on mutual options after this year as well, meaning they’re also good candidates. Not listed above, Brandon Drury could also be on the move. Prospects are the name of the game in Cincinnati until further notice.

NL East

New York Mets: Get another right-handed bat

Candidates: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox; Trey Mancini, Orioles

The Mets could use a bit more pop from the right side of the plate, even with the trade for Daniel Vogelbach. Vogelbach is strictly a platoon hitter, and he is more or less unplateable against left-handed pitching.

If the Red Sox do make Martinez available, the Mets could make a play for the veteran slugger. Mancini would also be a good fit in New York, and his name has been kicked around since the season began. The Mets don’t have many needs, but with injuries rearing their head, another everyday bat would be beneficial to them.

Atlanta Braves: Find a second-base contingency for Ozzie Albies

Candidates: Jon Berti, Marlins; Paul DeJong, Cardinals; Brandon Drury, Reds

Robinson Cano is not a long-term replacement for them in the absence of Albies, who broke his foot in June, and the infield as a whole could use some help.

While the hope and expectation is that Albies will return this season, the Braves are in a tight race with the Mets for the NL East title. Worst-case scenario, they have an extra player in the rotation if Albies returns. The Braves traded for four players to massage the loss of Ronald Acu?a Jr. last season. They may well follow that blueprint to backfill for Albies now.

Philadelphia Phillies: Get a viable center fielder

Candidates: Ramon Laureano, A’s; Bryan Reynolds, Pirates; Michael Taylor, Royals

The Phillies need to get someone out in center, because Odubel Herrera is struggling out there. While starting pitcher is an ever-present need for them, there are some good center field options on the market.

Michael A. Taylor is probably the best fit for the Phillies, as they’ll likely be outbid for Reynolds. Laureano also has several years of arbitration left, making him an enticing target. Taylor, a free agent after 2023, could help to make an impact this year for the Phillies as they continue to strive for the playoffs.

Miami Marlins: Sell, but cautiously

Candidates: Jesus Aguilar, 1B; Garrett Cooper, 1B

The Marlins have enough power at first base to realistically trade either Aguilar or Cooper and not hamstring themselves come free agency.

With Jazz Chisolm out long-term and the Marlins looking sluggish out of the break, their playoff prospects are slim despite ostensibly being in the race. While they shouldn’t be too quick to sell off their top pitchers without a Godfather offer, there’s enough in their roster to sell and get a decent return where they don’t have to enter a full teardown.

Washington Nationals: Offload as much as they can

It’s a bit depressing seeing a 2019 World Series champion preparing for new ownership by stripping itself of its identity and contracts, but this is the situation the Nationals are in so they have to abide by that.

Juan Soto, of course, is the most obvious player they’re trying to move, and they want that tied to Patrick Corbin. Josh Bell is another player who will likely be inevitably moved. It’s hard to pin down one move the Nationals have to make as much as several, but the reality is this: It’s out there that they’re open to dealing Soto. They have to do it now. His value will never be as high as it is now. Either that, or they could buckle down and extend him by Aug. 2. But that isn’t going to happen.

Originally found on Sporting News Read More

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