Cubs may not be selling, Astros and Dodgers acquire familiar faces

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and the rumor mill is off and running. It can be one of the most exciting and heart-breaking periods of the MLB calendar, as players can go anywhere unexpectedly, teams grow stronger and more formidable (or tear down entirely), and fans of selling teams must say goodbye to their stars and begin to accept their fate of a playoff-free October.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 23 players potentially available at the ’23 deadline.

The MLB trade deadline is 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, Aug. 1

Until then, you can find details on and reaction to all the deals here.

Marcus Stroman, Cody Bellinger may no longer be on market

The Chicago Cubs were long assumed to be sellers when the trade deadline rolled around, but a six-game winning streak might spell bad news for buyers.

Now 51-51 and four games back from the final NL wild-card spot, the Cubs are rethinking their inclination to sell, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. That might remove Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman, two of the top names on the trade market, from the board.

Stroman is probably the bigger news here given how barren the pitching market was already. Lucas Giolito, who is having a worse year than Stroman, netted a legit top-100 prospect in Edgar Quero and another top prospect in Ky Bush for the Chicago White Sox. Lance Lynn, who has a 6.47 ERA, netted Nick Nastrini, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 9 prospect on MLB Pipeline, and more.

Bellinger, currently hitting 317/.364/.546 in 302 plate appearances, is also in the midst of a resurgent year and would represent an outfield upgrade for several contenders.

The Cubs are now in a territory similar to the Angels, being within spitting distance of a wild-card spot and potentially foregoing significant prospect capital for a chance at contention. The San Diego Padres, 2.5 games back from the Cubs with even bigger trade chips, have the same choice to make.

So far, this deadline has been defined by surprisingly high prices for pitchers and middling teams being averse to selling. The two trends are definitely related.

Astros trade for Kendall Graveman, again

For the second time in three seasons, the Houston Astros are acquiring Kendall Graveman at the trade deadline.

The team announced a trade with the Chicago White Sox on Friday for the right-handed reliever in exchange for catching prospect Korey Lee.

Graveman will return to the Astros after previously joining them at the 2021 trade deadline via a deal with the Seattle Mariners. That came during a career season, with a 1.77 ERA in 56 innings between his time in Seattle and Houston.

Graveman is in the second season of a three-year, $24 million deal he signed with the White Sox the following offseason, so the Astros will have him for next year as well. He currently holds a 3.48 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 44 innings and will join an Astros bullpen that ranks 14th in MLB with a 3.84 ERA.

As for the White Sox, they have now traded away five pitchers in a span of three days and could send out even more players before reaching the deadline. In Lee, they get the No. 5 prospect in the Astros’ system via MLB Pipeline and a player who already made his MLB debut last season.

Dodgers add Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly from the White Sox

After a few days of rumors about trades involving the Dodgers, it was announced Friday that Los Angeles is acquiring some pitching depth from Chicago.

The White Sox are sending starting Lance Lynn and receiver Joe Kelly to the Dodgers and will receive starter Nick Nastrini (currently in Double-A), reliever Jordan Leasure (Double-A) and OF Trayce Thompson in return.

Also per Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers will have the right to pick up Lynn’s $18.5 million club option or $1 million buyout in 2024.

The Dodgers have been in desperate need of arms for their starting rotation. Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May are both injured, Walker Buehler hasn’t fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and Noah Syndergaard was just straight up awful until he was traded to the Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday. Lynn has a 6.47 ERA over 21 starts (119 2/3 innings), which isn’t what anyone would call good, but they don’t need him to be an ace. They need him to be healthy and eat innings, which are two things he can do.

Kelly, a reliever with a 4.97 ERA in 29 innings, won the 2020 World Series as part of the Dodgers. He’s the second member of that team the Dodgers have brought back this week, having traded for utility man Kiké Hernandez on Wednesday as part of a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

Marlins grab David Robertson from the Mets

The New York Mets are officially selling.

Currently mired in fourth place in the NL East at 47-54, the team traded closer David Roberson to the Miami Marlins, it announced Thursday. In return, the Mets will receive infield prospect Marco Vargas, ranked No. 18 in the Marlins’ farm system by MLB Pipeline, and catching prospect Ronald Hernandez, ranked 21st.

Robertson currently holds a 2.05 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 48 strikeouts and 14 saves in 44 innings across 40 appearances this season. His arrival bolsters a Miami bullpen currently led in saves by A.J. Puk, who holds a 4.45 ERA.

It’s a rare trade between divisional rivals but one that makes sense given the relative stations of each team. The 55-48 Marlins are still competitive in the wild-card race, sitting 0.5 games back from the third and final playoff spot. In fact, they’re only one game back from the San Francisco Giants, who hold the top wild-card spot.

Meanwhile, the Mets are languishing at seven games back from that last wild-card spot. It’s a position few expected them to be in this year after they went 101-61 last season.

Padres reportedly listening to offers for Juan Soto, others

Shohei Ohtani once appeared to be the Juan Soto of this year’s trade deadline. With Ohtani now off the board, that title could belong to … Juan Soto?

The San Diego Padres have begun listening to offers for last year’s blockbuster trade acquisition, as well as starting pitcher Blake Snell and closer Josh Hader, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

San Diego Padres' Juan Soto tosses his bat as he walks during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Juan Soto’s first full season with the Padres has not gone as planned. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The Padres reportedly still hope to buy but are hearing teams out in case their situation further deteriorates. A Soto trade is especially unlikely, given that the All-Star outfielder remains under team control through next season, but it’s apparently a possibility. Hader and Snell are both free agents after this season.

San Diego is experiencing one of the most disappointing seasons in MLB. After expecting to contend for the NL West with the likes of Soto, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, the team sits at 49-54, 6.5 games back of the final NL wild-card spot. Their +51 run differential (third in the NL) indicates they are somewhat the victims of bad luck, but the Padres simply haven’t been the superteam many were expecting.

Soto’s upcoming free agency should play a significant role in any decision to keep him. The 24-year-old is expected to sign one of the richest contracts in MLB history when he hits free agency in 2024, with numbers likely north of 15 years and $440 million. Few teams have spent as aggressively as the Padres in recent years, but the fact that there has been little meaningful chatter about an extension might indicate that they are unwilling to meet Soto’s price. That leaves them with a lot of thinking to do over the next five days.

Brewers add Carlos Santana from Pirates

First baseman Carlos Santana is reportedly heading from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, according to ESPN.

The Pirates will reportedly receive shortstop prospect Jhonny Severino in return.

Santana fills a major area of need for the Brewers, whether he stays at first base or goes back to mostly playing designated hitter. Milwaukee is low on players at both positions due to injuries to the likes of Rowdy Tellez, Darin Ruf and Jesse Winker. Brewers designated hitters are collectively hitting .194/.297/.241 with an MLB-worst .254 wOBA (weighted on-base average, a catch-all hitting statistic). The first basemen aren’t much better, at .231/.290/.354 with a .281 wOBA, second-worst in MLB.

Santana hasn’t been much better this year, at .235/.321/.412 with 12 homers, but the Brewers will probably take anything close to league average at this point.

Angels nab Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López in first big move

The Angels are indeed going for it.

After reportedly deciding to keep Shohei Ohtani at the trade deadline, the Angels made the first big move by trading for starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and relief pitcher Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox.

Giolito was one of the top arms expected to be available at the deadline, when seemingly every contender was expected to be pursuing upgrades for the rotation. López wasn’t a bad addition either, as the flamethrower holds a 4.29 ERA on the year after a career season in which he had a 2.76 mark in 65 1/3 innings.

The trade cost the Angels catcher Edgar Quero and pitcher Ky Bush, who are respectively ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 and 3 prospects in a thin Angels system.

Read more about the details here.

What does this mean for the Angels?

If the report Wednesday that the Angels would not be trading Shohei Ohtani didn’t convince fans and rival front offices that the Angels aren’t trading Shohei Ohtani, one of the first major moves of the 2023 trade deadline should. The Los Angeles Angels — owners of a third-place, 52-49 record, who have not made the postseason since 2014 and would not this year if the season ended today — acquired starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox in a definitive declaration of Going For It.

As the employers of Ohtani for the next three months, the Angels were destined to be the most interesting team at the deadline — buy or sell. Their ambivalence thus far reportedly slowed down the entire market as other teams waited to see whether they would act aggressively one last time to build a contender around the two-way star or part with him now for the sake of what surely would’ve been a historic haul for a rental. The addition of Giolito, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, is an emphatic signal of the former. Outside Ohtani himself, pitching has been a problem for the Angels. Essentially every team in the buyers column could benefit from another starting pitcher, but the Angels’ rotation is bottom-10 in ERA, WHIP, runs allowed, FIP, (etc.). Giolito’s 3.79 ERA will immediately be second-best among the Halos’ starting staff — behind only Ohtani — and his 121 innings pitched will be the most.

While the Texas Rangers and reigning Houston Astros duke it out for the American League West, the Angels will have to make their way into October through the crowded AL wild-card field. Right now, they’re four games back of the third wild-card berth, one of seven teams either currently in wild-card position or within five games. — Hannah Keyser

Angels reportedly aren’t dealing Shohei Ohtani

The biggest domino of the entire trade deadline reportedly won’t be falling.

The Los Angeles Angels have decided to take Shohei Ohtani off the market after days of internal discussions and fielding offers, according to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci. Instead, the Angels have reportedly decided to be buyers at the deadline.

The Angels entered Wednesday four games back from the final American League wild-card spot, with former MVP Mike Trout and other key players still working back from injuries. The team hasn’t reached the postseason in eight years, tied for the longest drought in MLB, and still has plenty of ground to make up.

Adding a starting pitcher and reliever will be the Angels’ deadline priority, but they will be competing with half of MLB on that front, and with one of the worst farm systems in MLB as their acquisition war chest.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is seen on the bench during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Teams will have to look elsewhere to make a trade deadline splash after the Angels reportedly decided to not trade Shohei Ohtani. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Ohtani is a free agent after this season and widely expected to land the richest contract in MLB history. Keeping him for the rest of the season can’t hurt the Angels’ odds of re-signing the new face of baseball, but the team will be under even more pressure to show it can win, something Ohtani has spoken about as a priority for his long-term future.

Read more about the details here.

Dodgers add Amed Rosario to their pile of shortstops, deal Noah Syndergaard

The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t come close this year to matching the production they got from Trea Turner and Corey Seager in recent seasons. To fix that, they seem to be going with a quantity-over-quality approach.

The Dodgers agreed Wednesday to a trade with the Cleveland Guardians for shortstop Amed Rosario, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, adding another name to an already crowded depth chart. In exchange, the Dodgers reportedly dealt struggling starter Noah Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched since June 7.

The initial plan to replace Turner, who departed for the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency, was for former top prospect Gavin Lux to move from second base to shortstop, with trade acquisition Miguel Rojas backing him up. That plan fell apart when Lux tore his ACL in spring training, leaving Rojas as the starter. So far, Rojas has hit an uninspiring .225/.283/.273 with zero home runs in 254 plate appearances, making shortstop a clear area of need for the Dodgers.

Chris Taylor and, in a pinch, Mookie Betts provided the rest of the depth behind Rojas until earlier this week, when the Dodgers acquired Kiké Hernández (see below). Hernández can play shortstop but is most valuable as a utilityman, so it’s conceivable that Rosario and Rojas split most of the playing time at short.

Rosario isn’t exactly hitting the cover off the ball either, with a .265/.306/.369 slash line plus three homers and nine steals, but his .303/.345/.477 line against lefties should give the Dodgers a much-needed platoon bat on that side of the plate. His track record, with a .282/.315/.412 line the four previous seasons, also offers hope for him as a bounce-back candidate.

All it cost the Dodgers was Syndergaard, who was one of the worst pitchers in the majors this season, with a 7.16 ERA, until the Dodgers sidelined him due to a blister last month. Maybe the Guardians, who needed pitching, think they can fix him, though it’s also conceivable the Dodgers are covering the remainder of his $13 million salary.

Both Rosario and Syndergaard are free agents after 2023.

Marlins and Twins swap struggling relievers

Sometimes, a trade isn’t about filling a whole so much as finding a fresh start.

The Minnesota Twins acquired reliever Dylan Floro from the Miami Marlins in exchange for reliever Jorge López, the team announced Wednesday.

Floro and López are not having what you would call career years; López, an All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles last season, currently holds a 5.09 ERA, while Floro has a 4.54 mark, the worst of his career in a season with at least 10 innings. There’s reason for hope for each, between López’s previous stardom and Floro’s 2.78 FIP, but this is basically each team rerolling the dice on part of its bullpen.

Mariners add Trent Thornton from Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays traded relief pitcher Trent Thornton to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday in exchange for minor-league infielder Mason McCoy. McCoy will be assigned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

Read more about the deal here.

Dodgers acquire Kiké Hernández from the Red Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Boston Red Sox utility player Kiké Hernández on July 25, The Athletic reported. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Red Sox will receive right-handed relief pitcher Nick Robertson and Triple-A relief pitcher Justin Hagenman in return.

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 06:  Enrique Hernández #5 of the Boston Red Sox bats during the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday, April 6, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Carl Jones/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández is once again a Dodger. (Photo by Carl Jones/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Hernández, 31, previously played six seasons with the Dodgers from 2015 to 2020. He was a member of the 2020 World Series championship team. In 86 games this season, Hernández is slashing .222/.279/.320 with six home runs, 31 RBI and three stolen bases.

Braves trade for Pierce Johnson from the Rockies

The Braves acquired relief pitcher Pierce Johnson from Denver in exchange for minor-league RHPs Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon.

Atlanta also added LHP Taylor Hearn from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.

Read more about the deals here.

Blue Jays acquire Génesis Cabrera from the Cardinals

Toronto traded 19-year-old catching prospect Sammy Hernandez to St. Louis in exchange for Cabrera, who was designated for assignment by the Cardinals on July 17.

Read more about the deal here.

Orioles trade for improving A’s reliever Shintaro Fujinami

Trading for a reliever with an 8.45 ERA from the worst team in baseball typically isn’t the best way to make a splash at the deadline, but you should at least hear out why the Baltimore Orioles did exactly that with Shintaro Fujinami and the Oakland Athletics.

The deal was confirmed Wednesday.

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami walks to the dugout after striking out Cleveland Guardians' David Fry during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Shintaro Fujinami is on the rise after a nightmare start to the season. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Yes, Fujinami has struggled in his first MLB season after signing a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the A’s. He began the season as a starter and racked up a 14.40 ERA and four losses in four starts before moving to the bullpen. He remains the worst player in MLB by bWAR this season at -2.0 due to his ghastly first two months.

Fujinami has turned a corner since then, though, holding a 3.26 ERA since June 1 with improved velocity and a revamped pitch mix. Reliever performance in MLB can change on a dime, and while it often feels like they’re always changing for the worse, Fujinami has looked like a reliever worthy of a contender for weeks now.

The Orioles sent back left-handed pitching prospect Easton Lucas on their end of the deal. Lucas is not in the Orioles’ top 30 prospects on MLB Pipeline but is currently playing at Triple-A and could provide a quick bullpen reinforcement for Oakland.


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