Quick Bit: Any number of players could be on the move come Aug. 2. Here are the 20 most likely candidates.
Will the 2022 MLB trade deadline be more sizzle or steak?
With the MLB playoff picture expanded to 12 teams this October, a number of teams could make a move to shore up lineups, bullpens and rotations to jump into contention over the closing months on the season. On the other hand, teams that are already in the hunt might not feel the need to give up prospects for rentals.
While a big-splash trade can change the complexion of a lineup, it’s usually the smaller trades that help push teams to postseason contention and beyond. Depth pieces, bullpen arms all play big roles in October baseball. Certain names on the market outside of the Luis Castillos and Juan Sotos could help any number of teams.
Here are the 20 players who are probably going to be on the move at or around the Aug. 2 trade deadline:
Juan Soto, Nationals
With Washington and Soto seemingly not working toward a contract extension, reports indicate that the superstar outfielder could be on his way out of the nation’s capital sooner rather than later. Any inquiring team would likely be on the hook for a new mega-deal, somewhere in the area of $500 million, and a load of prospects, too. It might take heaven and Earth to get Soto, but he’s a top-10 player in baseball, on a controllable contract, and he’s just 23. It’ll be worth it.
Willson Contreras, Cubs
One of the last big pieces of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, Contreras has expressed desire to stay with Chicago, but it doesn’t seem like Chicago wants to give him a big-money extension. If nothing else, Contreras could be a rental for a competing squad and re-engage the Cubs in contract talks following the year.
Andrew Benintendi, Royals
Any team looking for a shot of offense could turn to Benintendi this summer. The 27-year-old is in the middle of one of his better offensive seasons, hitting .317 with 14 doubles and three home runs (as of July 25). While the homer power might not be there, having a contact-heavy lefty bat can only help an offense.
Frankie Montas, Athletics
The A’s have a few pieces left to move if they’re shifting into another rebuild, and that starts with Montas. The right-hander is putting together another very good season, pitching to a 3.16 ERA (3.24 FIP) while striking out just under 10 per nine innings. To sweeten the deal: Montas is under team control through 2023.
Josh Bell, Nationals
Bell is in the middle of his best season in the majors: As of July 25, he was slashing .305/.388/.496 with 13 home runs and 22 doubles this year. He’s also a plus defensive first baseman and a switch hitter. All that should hold plenty of value for the Nats, who are going to blow it up sooner rather than later.
Bryan Reynolds, Pirates
Reynolds hasn’t quite reached the highs of his 6.0 bWAR season from 2021, but maybe a change of scenery could help jumpstart his second half. He’s still a very good bat (.261/.343/.465), and plugging the switch-hitter into a more well-rounded lineup should certainly help. Reynolds is dealing with an oblique injury at the moment, and those are always tricky to navigate.
Luis Castillo, Reds
Years of trade rumors surrounding the ace of the Reds staff may finally come to a head in the coming weeks. The 29-year-old is in the middle of one of his best seasons, pitching to a 2.77 ERA in the first half. What’s particularly intriguing about Castillo is that he has one more year of team control, meaning he won’t be a rental for inquiring front offices.
Ian Happ, IF/OF, Cubs
Happ has three very desirable traits entering the trade market: He’s a switch hitter, he’s got great positional versatility, and he’s under team control for another season. Recent reports of no extension talks between both sides could lead to a move. With the Cubs likely looking to offset some more assets to try and kickstart a rebuild, Happ and Contreras could both find themselves in new uniforms come Aug. 3.
Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, Orioles
Mancini has been Baltimore’s best player in recent years, but his timeline doesn’t add up with the ascent of the current Orioles core. Mancini can slot in at both first base and in the outfield, and is an average defender with good power. What could make matters interesting with a Mancini trade is his contract: He has a mutual option for 2023 valued at $10 million. That could be a discount for an acquiring team, if Mancini doesn’t want to test the free agent market.
Joey Gallo, IF/OF, Yankees
Gallo is still an above-average defender in the outfield with a hole in his bat. The Yankees will probably move him in a trade for another outfield bat as a throw-in.
Sean Murphy, C, Athletics
The A’s are going to keep tearing their roster down, and Murphy is blocking several of their top catching prospects in the minors. He’s under team control through 2025, can hit a bit and is a plus defensive catcher. Murphy’s 6 framing runs are second most in MLB, according to Statcast.
Dom Smith, IF/OF, Mets
Smith was looking like a big piece of the Mets’ future — that was, of course, until the emergence of Pete Alonso. It’s unclear where Smith could land that’ll give him consistent playing time at first base, but he’s proven he can hit at the MLB level in years past.
Tyler Mahle, SP, Reds
Mahle has emerged as a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy in the last two years and has another year of control under his belt. He’s coming back from a shoulder injury, but that shouldn’t deter his market if he has a few good starts between now and the deadline.
Jose Quintana, SP, Pirates
Quintana was a savvy pickup by Pittsburgh, considering he’s signed to a one-year deal. Quintana makes for an intriguing lefty starter for teams looking for rotation depth: He’s pitched to a 3.70 ERA (3.27 FIP) through 19 starts, though his strikeout rates are a bit down from recent years.
Michael Fulmer, RP, Tigers
Fulmer has spent the majority of his career involved in trade discussions. Those will start again in the next week with the Tigers continuing to scuffle: The righty has shifted from an oft-injured starter to a pretty solid bullpen arm. He could be a good depth piece in a contender’s bullpen.
David Robertson, RP, Cubs
What a comeback for David Robertson: He holds a 1.83 ERA through July 24 as a bullpen arm for the Cubs. He’s a free agent following the season.
Miguel Andujar, 1B/OF, Yankees
Andujar flirted with the Rookie of the Year award in 2018, but injuries and a lack of playing time have forced him into a Quadruple-A role with the Yankees. Andujar requested a trade earlier in the season, and a team that could be looking for a DH/fourth-outfielder type could take a swing at squeezing some more baseball out of him.
Brandon Drury, IF, Reds
For the first time in a long time, Drury has found consistent playing time, this year with the Reds. There aren’t many openings for him to slot in as a starting third baseman among contenders this year, but Drury has already hit a career-high 18 home runs. His bat might be too enticing for teams to pass up on.
Garrett Cooper, 1B, Marlins
The Jazz Chisholm injury complicates a lot for Miami: No one will mistake the Marlins for World Series contenders, but they’re on the fringes of wild-card contention, leaving them with difficult roster decisions ahead of the deadline. After taking a flyer on Cooper in 2018, he’s performed very well offensively for Miami: He’s hit .279 with a 118 OPS+ in 310 games since then, making him a potential boost for any team looking for some offense at the deadline.
David Bednar, RP, Pirates
Relief pitching is always en vogue at the trade deadline, and Bednar might be the best reliever on the market. Bednar has pitched very well out of the pen in his last two seasons: He holds a 2.54 ERA (2.64 FIP) in that span, with a 1.025 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings. He throws in the mid-to-upper 90s with sharp breaking stuff, and a sinker he leans on, too.
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