MLB Trade Deadline: A Look at Available Top Players in 2023

MLB Trade Deadline: A Look at the Top 23 Players Who Could Be Available in 2023

As the Major League Baseball (MLB) 2023 trade deadline looms just two weeks away, teams are in a frenzy, strategizing their moves to improve their chances of success before the Aug. 1 cutoff. Among the prominent names stirring the narrative dust is Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way player, who has garnered significant attention. Each team is considering its direction and identifying players that can best assist them in achieving their goals.

While the market initially appeared to have few confirmed sellers, it is now gradually taking a more typical shape, with some teams declaring their intention to sell players. In this article, we will examine the potential movers and shakers in the trade market, the players whose names are circulating in the rumor mill, and the dynamics shaping their teams’ decisions.

Confirmed Sellers and Contenders

Amidst the trade deadline buzz, some teams have made it clear that they are sellers. As one MLB executive puts it: 

The trade market is starting to heat up, and several teams have already signaled their willingness to part ways with valuable assets to bolster their future prospects.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals have officially confirmed their stance, openly stating that they are prepared to make moves to strengthen their teams in the long run. Similarly, the Chicago Cubs are also leaning towards the seller’s path. On the other hand, the San Diego Padres and New York Mets face the dilemma of contending in 2023 or reloading for 2024, as they confront the challenging math of the trade market.

The Most Notable Players on the Trade Rumor Mill

As we approach the deadline, let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable players who are likely to be involved in the trade rumors.

1. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Two-Way Player)

The uncertainty surrounding Ohtani’s future in the trade market is evident. Even Angels’ general manager Perry Minasian, much like the rest of us, is unsure if Ohtani will be traded. The Angels’ current record of 47-48 and their 8.1% chance of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs, adds to the complexity of the situation, especially with Mike Trout sidelined due to injury.

Ohtani’s exceptional performance this season, with the potential for 60 homers, 237 strikeouts, and impressive MVP-worthy statistics, makes him a highly sought-after player. The decision on his future will largely rest with Arte Moreno and the ownership level.

The Angels must consider the possibility of missing the playoffs and losing Ohtani in free agency, potentially gaining only a middling draft pick in return. Additionally, the impact of moving him on the team’s chances of re-signing him must be taken into account.

The demand for Shohei Ohtani’s talents is immense, and come August 1, another team might have the chance to experience his brilliance. Despite the limited time of only two months, such a trade would undoubtedly be one of the most significant in recent baseball history.

2. Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs (Starter)

One noticeable theme is the extreme imbalance between available pitchers and hitters in the trade market. Left-handed pitcher Snell (2.71 ERA) and right-handed pitcher Stroman (2.88 ERA) are both among the top 10 starters in park-adjusted ERA-. Their success in the league this season makes it increasingly likely that they will both be traded for the stretch run.

The Padres’ Snell, in the final year of his extension with the Rays, has been in outstanding form, allowing no more than two runs in a game since May 19. Over the past 10 starts, he has an astonishing 0.62 ERA, with a remarkable 40.1% strikeout rate. Stroman, on the other hand, achieves his impressive numbers through inducing weak grounders rather than high strikeouts. Nevertheless, he has been consistently effective throughout his career, making him an attractive target for potential suitors.

With Snell’s dominance and Stroman’s reliability, both pitchers are highly sought-after in the trade market. Several teams, including the Cubs, are likely to consider making moves to secure these valuable assets.

3. Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs (Outfielder)

Regarding the Cubs, Bellinger is expected to be the top non-Ohtani hitter traded. While his .305 batting average, 12 homers, and 12 steals suggest success after the change of scenery, there are some underlying complexities. Bellinger has reduced his strikeout rate but seemingly compromised his power potential, reflected in his average exit velocity. However, his improved performance against breaking balls and offspeed pitches makes him an attractive addition for deadline dealers. Bellinger’s defensive skills in center field also add value to his market appeal, making him a valuable player to acquire despite the unfamiliar shape of his current performance.

4. David Robertson, New York Mets (Reliever)

Two expected postseason teams are currently out of the picture and might trade away short-term pieces like Hader and Robertson, both set to reach free agency at the end of the season. Despite their teams’ struggles, neither pitcher can be blamed, as they rank second (Hader) and 12th (Robertson) in ERA among qualified relievers. If Hader is traded, his younger age and exceptional talent might demand a larger return.

5. Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox (Starter)

There’s a chance, albeit surprising, that either of these starters could be traded. Scherzer, at 38, has struggled to maintain effectiveness with a 3.99 ERA, his worst since 2011. However, his track record as a future Hall of Famer might attract interest from better teams, hoping to unleash his old form by reducing his workload. Cease, under team control through 2025, has a mediocre 4.18 ERA but remains sought after due to his strikeout ability and durability. The White Sox are unlikely to move him unless they decide on a more drastic rebuilding approach.

As for Shane Bieber, a potential trade candidate, an elbow injury has put him on the injured list and likely off the trade block.

6. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals (Starter)

More realistically, this group will form the second tier of available starting pitching options, all with the potential to hit free agency after the season.

Montgomery and Giolito are bright spots on struggling teams and represent steady options. Montgomery, the 30-year-old lefty, has an impressive 1.48 ERA since the start of June. Giolito’s fastball-changeup combo may have lost some potency, but he’s compensated well with a solid slider and regained his 2021-level results. However, he had a rough start recently, giving up five runs in the first inning against the Mets.

Rodriguez, who can opt out of his deal after 2023, began the season as a top arm on the trade market but missed a month due to injury and hasn’t fully regained his form since returning. A few strong starts could significantly increase his trade value.

7. C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies (First Baseman)

If you’re looking for a hitter other than Bellinger as the best non-Ohtani option, the Washington Nationals players could present a compelling case. Thomas, who once faced a logjam in the Cardinals’ lineup, has proven himself as a consistently above-average hitter since finding regular playing time in Washington. This season, with a greater emphasis on pulling the ball, he has already launched 14 homers and is on track to surpass his career-high of 17, boasting an impressive OPS+ of 130.

Meanwhile, Candelario’s decision to sign a one-year deal has paid off as he has been showcasing his skills, dispelling doubts from his down 2022 season. While he may not have eye-popping statistics in any one category, he consistently gets on base and displays stellar defense at third base, making him a valuable asset.

Beyond these players, Pham has been one of the top-20 hitters in baseball since the start of June, slashing an impressive .308/.368/.542, earning him more playing time on a struggling Mets team. Additionally, Díaz’s outstanding performance recently earned him the All-Star Game MVP honors, displaying his serious power at the plate.

Both Díaz and Cron are unlikely to be part of the Rockies’ future plans, making them potential trade candidates. Given the weak hitter market, it would be wise for the Colorado Rockies to consider dealing these sluggers to acquire valuable assets for their future.

8. Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals (Outfielder)

The Cardinals have been struggling with their hitters all season, and juggling too many players has contributed to their current situation. To address this, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak may prioritize dealing away short-term options like Montgomery and Flaherty to focus on acquiring long-term pitchers. This strategy could also provide an opportunity to draw down their well of young hitters and seek upgrades.

DeJong, the 30-year-old shortstop, has shown improvement in his walk year after a challenging stretch that led to stints in the minors during 2021 and ’22. He remains a power hitter with defensive abilities.

O’Neill, on the other hand, has battled injuries and managerial decisions affecting his playing time. Considering the promising potential he displayed in his impressive 2021 season, a fresh start might be in store for him. Other position players that could be trade options include Brendan Donovan and Dylan Carlson.

9. Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals (Reliever)

Lawrence is the most intriguing arm but unlikely to be traded, given his success. The Rockies tend to retain pitchers finding success at Coors Field.

Barlow and Hicks are likely to be traded. Both have impressive stuff but occasional control issues. Hicks, known for his triple-digit fastball, has been solid recently, making him an attractive target for other teams.

Teams’ Trade Strategies

While some teams have already declared their intentions to buy or sell, much could still change before the trade deadline. The landscape may shift dramatically as teams reassess their positions and make tough decisions based on their current standings, injuries, and long-term plans. As teams plot their trade strategies, they must weigh the potential benefits of acquiring star players like Shohei Ohtani or Max Scherzer against the cost of parting with valuable prospects and draft picks.

To provide a clearer overview of the potential trade targets and their likely suitors, we’ve created a table listing the players and interested teams:

Player NameCurrent TeamPositionPotential Suitors
Shohei OhtaniLos Angeles AngelsTwo-WayMultiple Contending Teams
Blake SnellSan Diego PadresStarterContending Teams with Weak Starting Pitching
Marcus StromanChicago CubsStarterTeams in Need of Solid Starting Pitching
Cody BellingerChicago CubsOutfielderContending Teams Needing Outfield Depth
Josh HaderSan Diego PadresRelieverTeams Seeking Reliable Bullpen Arms
David RobertsonNew York MetsRelieverContending Teams with Bullpen Deficiencies
Max ScherzerNew York MetsStarterTeams with World Series Aspirations
Dylan CeaseChicago White SoxStarterRebuilding Teams Looking for Young Talent
Jordan MontgomerySt. Louis CardinalsStarterTeams Seeking Mid-Rotation Pitching
Lucas GiolitoChicago White SoxStarterContending Teams Needing High-Impact Starting Pitchers
Eduardo RodriguezDetroit TigersStarterTeams in Need of Veteran Starting Pitching
Seth LugoSan Diego PadresStarterTeams Seeking Versatile Pitching Options
Jack FlahertySt. Louis CardinalsStarterTeams with Deep Farm Systems and Prospect Capital
Lane ThomasWashington NationalsOutfielderTeams with a Focus on Defensive Upgrades
Jeimer CandelarioWashington Nationals3BContenders Seeking Offensive Contributions
Tommy PhamNew York MetsOutfielderTeams in Need of Veteran Leadership and Versatility
Elias DíazColorado RockiesCatcherTeams Looking for Catching Upgrades
C.J. CronColorado Rockies1BPower-Hitting Teams with First Base Needs
Paul DeJongSt. Louis CardinalsShortstopTeams Seeking Defensive Upgrades in the Infield
Tyler O’NeillSt. Louis CardinalsOutfielderTeams with a Focus on Outfield Defense and Power
Justin LawrenceColorado RockiesRelieverBullpen-Needy Teams Eyeing Young Talents
Scott BarlowKansas City RoyalsRelieverContending Teams in Search of Reliable Relievers
Jordan HicksSt. Louis CardinalsRelieverTeams Wanting High-Velocity Arms in the Bullpen

In these final weeks before the trade deadline, the league is buzzing with speculation and excitement“, – says MLB insider, Sarah Johnson.

As teams deliberate over their strategies, the potential movement of notable players like Shohei Ohtani, Max Scherzer, and Blake Snell adds excitement to the trade market. Some teams have already declared themselves as sellers, while others are still deciding their course of action based on their current standings and long-term goals. The final weeks leading up to the deadline promise to be filled with drama, as teams seek to improve their rosters and position themselves for a successful season and beyond. With a myriad of possibilities and potential trades on the horizon, MLB fans can expect a thrilling and eventful trade deadline this year.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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