1 player from each team to watch before Trade Deadline

52 minutes ago

The 2022 MLB Draft is in the books, and with less than two weeks left until the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline, executives around the game are shifting their focus toward figuring out what’s next for their clubs.

For some, the answer might seem clear. But a lot could still change over the next 13 days.

With this in mind, here are 30 players — one for each team — who MLB.com’s beat reporters believe could directly impact what their teams will do at the Deadline.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Guerrero isn’t going anywhere, but he has more power than anyone on this roster to determine what happens next. Guerrero’s 2022 season has been a clear step back from his ’21 performance, which landed him second in the AL MVP voting, so the Blue Jays need the face of their franchise to lead the surge as soon as possible. A recent skid has put the Blue Jays into a crowded Wild Card race and cost Charlie Montoyo his job, but this star-studded lineup is capable of so much more. This all starts with Guerrero, who has the talent to be one of the best players on the planet. If he gets back to that form, the Blue Jays’ front office will find it even easier to bet on a late run and be more aggressive at the Trade Deadline. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: 1B/OF Trey ManciniWill he stay or will he go? That’s the question being asked around Baltimore these days — and one that’s especially fascinating now that the Orioles entered the All-Star break with a .500 record, within striking distance of an AL Wild Card spot. Mancini is the current face of the franchise, save perhaps for Adley Rutschman, not only for his personal triumph but just as much for his play. Do the O’s elect to keep a clubhouse leader for the stretch run to see out his contract with the organization that drafted him? Or if the Orioles fall out of contention, might he find himself on a team destined for October? — Zachary Silver

Rays: RHP Luis Pati?oWith a prime spot in the AL Wild Card race, the Rays are likely to make some additions leading up to the Trade Deadline. They could use another bat in their lineup, preferably one with some power, while navigating through extended absences from key hitters like Wander Franco. But their pitching is also in a tricky spot, as they’re without a bunch of key arms while several important members of their staff are likely to bump up against workload restrictions in the second half. That could lead to additional trade activity, but one young arm who should have plenty of innings available down the stretch is Pati?o. The 22-year-old righty returned Friday after missing three months due to a strained oblique. With Shane Baz out with an elbow injury, can Pati?o live up to his lofty potential and join Shane McClanahan and Corey Kluber atop the Rays’ rotation? — Adam Berry

Red Sox: 1B Bobby Dalbec/Franchy CorderoThe lack of production the Red Sox have received from first base has been troubling, to put it mildly. Entering the All-Star break, Boston’s first-base position — which has mainly been occupied by Dalbec and Cordero — ranked 28th in homers and RBIs. This, to go along with 29th in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and last in OPS. Unless Dalbec and/or Cordero can start producing more than sporadically in the weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline, it is almost a must for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to upgrade the position. Prior to the season, some projected that Triston Casas, the team’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, would be ready to contribute around now. However, the left-handed hitter missed a surprising amount of time (nearly two months) due to a high right ankle sprain and just started playing in rehab games in the Florida Complex League on July 12. Given all the at-bats Casas missed at Triple-A, it’s doubtful the Red Sox will bring him up and skip the completion of his development. — Ian Browne

Yankees: OF Joey GalloAs the one-year anniversary of Gallo’s acquisition from the Rangers approaches, the clock on his tenure in pinstripes seems to be running out. General manager Brian Cashman acknowledges that the club has not received the production they expected from Gallo, though manager Aaron Boone points out that Gallo — a three-true-outcomes player if there ever was one — has at least provided defense and walks. The New York spotlight may have been too bright for Gallo; like the Yanks’ ill-fated acquisition of pitcher Sonny Gray, a change of scenery seems like the best solution for all involved. — Bryan Hoch

AL CENTRAL

Guardians: SS Amed RosarioRosario has been a nice bat for the Guardians over the last season and a half, but because the team has an influx of young middle infielders knocking on the big league door, Rosario just doesn’t fit Cleveland’s long-term plans. Moving him now will be able to shift Andr?s Gim?nez from second base to his natural position of shortstop, freeing second base for Gabriel Arias and eventually Tyler Freeman or Brayan Rocchio to prove they can be part of the Guardians’ future. The better Rosario plays over the next few weeks can only improve his trade value after he led the Majors in four-hit games in 2021 and has batted .291 with a Major League-high-tying five triples so far this season. — Mandy Bell

Royals: INF Whit MerrifieldMerrifield’s name has circled trade rumors for years now, as several teams think his versatility could be helpful in the postseason, but the Royals have been reluctant to move him and his veteran voice. The tune has changed this year. Merrifield, 33, is on a team-friendly deal, making $7 million this season and $2.75 million in 2023 with a mutual option for ’24. And while he did not get off to a fast start this year, he’s back to his typical production, hitting .273 with a 107 wRC+ since June 1. The Royals seem more likely to trade him to a contender this year, opening his spot on the roster for a new wave of prospects ready to establish themselves in the Major Leagues. Teams will be watching to make sure the right toe injury Merrifield dealt with for the past week doesn’t hinder him, but expect more discussions to happen ahead of the Trade Deadline. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: LHP Gregory SotoSoto will come back from the All-Star Game and step back into the trade limelight, where the Tigers have a decision to make. He has three more years of control, which could make him a key part of the future, but it also makes him a potentially valuable piece for a team with a few years of contention ahead. He could be Detroit’s best chance to get significant talent back at the Deadline, whether that means an impact prospect or a young Major Leaguer at another position. — Jason Beck

Twins: 1B Miguel San?There’s the San? who gets off to notoriously slow starts and looks lost at the plate for extended stretches — and then, there’s the San? who hits baseballs 440 feet at a time and totally carries a team for weeks at a time. He will spend the All-Star break finishing up a rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul, where he’s already been quite successful — but will there even be room for him on the MLB roster? San?’s return would likely either disrupt a successful platoon between Nick Gordon and Kyle Garlick or boot young backup center fielder Gilberto Celestino, whose role is significant given Byron Buxton’s carefully managed knee. Still, it’s undeniable that this inconsistent lineup could really use a jolt. Will the Twins be able to afford San? their customary patience when it comes decision time on July 24? Will he need that patience? — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: RHP Lance LynnTim Anderson always is the right answer to this question, as the All-Star starting shortstop drives the team. The White Sox also need Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jim?nez healthy for the second-half push. But the team will move toward the postseason and possibly survive in the postseason on the strength of its deep bullpen and an equally deep rotation featuring Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and Johnny Cueto, who was one of the team’s best first-half stories. And the White Sox need Lynn to return to his top-of-the-rotation performances as he featured in 2021. In fairness to the burly right-hander, he’s still working to get to that high level after having surgery to repair a torn tendon behind his right knee on April 5. But after Saturday’s loss to the Twins, Lynn has a 7.50 ERA over seven starts with seven home runs and 30 earned runs allowed in 36 innings. His second-half return to form should be a big boost for the team. — Scott Merkin

AL WEST

Angels: RHP Noah SyndergaardThe Angels rarely are sellers at the Trade Deadline, but they could look to move Syndergaard, who has been mostly solid this year and will be a free agent after the season. Syndergaard has posted a 4.00 ERA in 14 starts but doesn’t have the same kind of velocity he had before his Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the 2020 season and saw him pitch just two innings with the Mets last year. It’s affected his strikeout rate, as he’s only struck out 58 batters in 74 1/3 innings. His salary also might hinder his trade value, as he’s making $21 million this year. But if the Angels eat some of his contract, he could be moved to a contender at the Trade Deadline. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: DH Yordan AlvarezThe Astros’ offense began to take off in June, which, not coincidentally, is when Alvarez was named the American League Player of the Month because of his performance at the plate. Alvarez had thrust himself into the AL Most Valuable Player race before he landed on the injured list July 10 with a right hand injury. Alvarez, an All-Star for the first time this year, is expected to return shortly after the All-Star break, setting him up for a big second half. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: RHP Frankie MontasIt wasn’t long ago that Montas was looking like the crown jewel of the Trade Deadline after taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Mariners on June 23. But things took a turn just two starts later when shoulder inflammation forced him to leave his outing on July 3 in Seattle after just one inning. Yet to make a start since, all eyes will be on Montas post-All-Star break to see how he performs following the shoulder issue. Still under team control through 2023, Montas’ power arm is certainly tantalizing for contending teams. Before the A’s can get the trade package they desire for the right-hander, however, teams will want to make sure they’re not dealing for damaged goods. — Mart?n Gallegos

Mariners: OF Jarred KelenicThe Mariners probably aren’t shopping their former top prospect, and even if they were, his value is far more diminished than what it would’ve been before he debuted after weathering two trying seasons. No, Kelenic’s situation is simply going to be fascinating to watch given that he’s been at Triple-A Tacoma for more than two months, has been raking the past few weeks and for how ambiguous the club has been on his timeline to return. Do they see him as part of their second-half sprint, or will they instead look to acquire more offense to play outfield? What about a combination of both? — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: RHP Spencer HowardFor weeks, the bottom three spots of the Rangers’ rotation — outside of All-Star lefty Mart?n P?rez and righty Jon Gray — have been in disarray and none of the club’s young pitchers has been able to truly grab ahold of the opportunity in front of them. Howard, though, may be taking a step towards it. The 6.97 ERA doesn’t look good at first glance, but the right-hander has clearly taken a step forward in his second stint with the big league club this season. In his last two starts, he’s given up just three earned runs in 10 innings of work, and he’s finally looking like the former Phillies top prospect whom the Rangers traded for at last year’s Deadline. A lot of Texas’ success in the second half hinges on the performance of the young starters, and Howard should be part of the solution. — Kennedi Landry

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: RHPs Spencer Strider and Ian AndersonAnderson has righted himself since stumbling at the end of June. But the Braves may still be looking for insurance by acquiring an experienced starter before the Deadline. If Anderson can pitch like a No. 4, he’ll sufficiently fill his role. And while Strider has significantly strengthened the rotation, there’s a chance he could fatigue down the stretch of what is his second pro season. Adding a proven innings-eater could allow the Braves to rest Strider, who could also be an asset as a multi-inning reliever down the stretch and into the postseason. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: 2B Jazz Chisholm Jr.Chisholm was voted the NL’s starting second baseman, and for good reason. Before landing on the IL with a right lower back strain, which has kept him sidelined since June 28, he was one of three Major Leaguers with at least 12 homers and 12 steals. How soon Chisholm returns to aid a scuffling offense could determine the club’s direction. “We do miss that left-handed [bat], the way that he plays, just the energy,” manager Don Mattingly said. — Christina De Nicola

Mets: 1B Dominic SmithIt’s probably too late for Smith to save his job following a first half that saw him hit below the Mendoza Line, receive a demotion to the Minors and struggle to fill the role of departed designated hitter Robinson Can?. At this point, only a red-hot stretch from Smith could give the Mets pause as they search for DH help; of greater note might be whether rival teams have interest in Smith as a buy-low project they could take on in a trade. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: RF Juan SotoSoto has been the centerpiece of the Nationals, and there is a chance he could become the centerpiece of another blockbuster trade. After Soto — who does not become a free agent until end of the 2024 season — turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension, the Nats became open to trading the 23-year-old All-Star slugger, sources told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. A megadeal like this would change not only the trajectory of the Nats, but also the landscape of the entire league. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: RHP Zach EflinEflin has a history of knee problems, and another one popped up in June. He has been slowly working his way back to the mound, but he felt soreness in his right knee after pitching in a simulated game Saturday in Miami. He will be evaluated again in Philadelphia. The results from that exam could change the Phillies’ thinking about the Trade Deadline. Why? Well, if Eflin is going to miss significant time, then the front office probably will need to add another item to its to-do list. Besides, center fielder and bullpen help, the Phillies might want to find a more reliable starter to round out a rotation that includes Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson and Ranger Su?rez. — Todd Zolecki

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: RHP Freddy PeraltaPeralta posted a 2.81 ERA last season and was in the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award before a minor arm issue derailed him. We mention that here to explain how important he was to the Brewers’ plans this season, and how much it hurt when he went down in late May with a strain to one of the small muscles behind his right shoulder. Peralta spent the rest of the first half in rehab mode and was nearing his first live batting-practice sessions as of the All-Star break, meaning the Brewers can start to pinpoint when they expect him back in the starting rotation. His progress in the next two weeks will be absolutely critical to the question of whether Milwaukee needs any starting-pitching depth among its Trade Deadline adds, which may also include a bat (Center field? Third base?) and bullpen reinforcements. If Peralta is on a good trajectory and Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are solid atop the rotation, it could free the Brewers to focus their efforts on other needs. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: LHP Steven MatzThe Cardinals gave Matz a four-year, $44 million free-agent deal last fall to bring some balance to their right-handed-heavy starting pitching. Matz was mostly up and down early in the season, going 3-3 with a 6.03 ERA. Then, disaster hit on May 22 when he had to leave a game against the Pirates after just four pitches because of discomfort in his left shoulder. That injury cost Matz nearly two months as he needed two cortisone injections in his shoulder and four Minor League starts to get MLB-ready again. The Cardinals hoped to use a Sunday start to see what they have going forward with Matz, however the game was rained out. The lefty’s next start likely won’t come until next week against the Blue Jays, the team he won 14 games with last season. Matz’s ability to bounce back from his shoulder injury could weigh heavily in the direction the Cardinals go before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. If they think Matz can be a strong factor who also can be counted on in a potential playoff start, the Cards could shift their focus to adding bullpen depth or another bat. If Matz is shaky, St. Louis will likely need to focus on adding another starting pitcher before the Trade Deadline. — John Denton

Cubs: OF Ian HappThe obvious trade candidates for the Cubs right now are All-Star catcher Willson Contreras and veteran late-inning arm David Robertson. There is also a group of players on short-term deals who could be flipped before the Aug. 2 Deadline. Really, though, Happ could be the most telling part of Chicago’s equation. A first-time All-Star, Happ is in the midst of a career year after several seasons of up-and-down production. The standout left fielder is also under contractual control through the 2023 season. Happ has said he wants to be around when the Cubs are contending again, but trading him now could maximize the potential return. It might also offer another data point for trying to project the timeline for Chicago’s ongoing rebuilding process. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: LHP Jos? QuintanaBryan Reynolds is also an interesting candidate here, but we know what he is capable of, he’s in his prime and he’s less likely to be dealt. What is interesting about Quintana, whose one-year deal makes him one of the most likely Pirates to be traded at the Deadline, is how his performance has trended the past few starts. The 33-year-old left-hander began the season in resurgent form, posting a 2.54 ERA through the first two months of the season while averaging more than five innings a start. But since June 1, he has a 5.48 ERA (despite a 3.45 FIP) and two of his worst starts this season are his past two against the Brewers and Rockies. This could reduce the return he would give the Pirates, but he still has a few more starts slated between now and Aug. 2. — Jake Crouse

Reds: RHP Luis CastilloNo starting pitcher may carry more value on the trade market right now than Castillo, who has been sensational over the past month. Despite a shoulder injury that delayed his season until May and a slow start after that, the 29-year-old has a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 13 starts. Over his last four starts, he is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA, 17 hits, nine walks and 33 strikeouts in 27 innings. The last three of those starts were against serious contenders in the Braves, Rays and Yankees. The two-time All-Star’s four-seam fastball has tracked in the 98-99 mph range and has become tougher to hit while his changeup remains effective. With a $7.35 million salary in 2022 and free agency not until after the 2023 season, Castillo will be attractive to numerous clubs. — Mark Sheldon

NL WEST

D-backs: OF David PeraltaPeralta is the longest-tenured D-backs player, and at 34, he is a free agent at season’s end. As the D-backs begin to transition to a younger roster and give some of their prospects increased playing time, Peralta may get squeezed out. With Alek Thomas and Daulton Varsho already starting in the outfield, the team may want to open some playing time for Jake McCarthy or even top prospect Corbin Carroll, who was recently promoted to Triple-A Reno. Peralta is a proven hitter, who has a Gold Glove to his name in left field. If he can get hot between now and the Trade Deadline, it could increase the return the D-backs get in any potential deal. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: RHP Dustin MayMay will begin a rehab assignment in about two weeks. If all goes well, he could be back with the Dodgers by mid-to-late August. Having May join the team as a starter would give the Dodgers yet another boost in the rotation. It also could give L.A. more clarity when it’s looking around in the trade market. Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas have been linked to just about every contender. But if May returns and shows signs of being the pitcher he was before undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers might be more than happy to stand pat with the rotation and attack other needs, such as the bullpen and the end of the bench. — Juan Toribio

Giants: LHP Carlos Rod?nRod?n has been as advertised in his first year with the Giants, earning his second consecutive All-Star nod after logging a 2.66 ERA with 131 strikeouts over 105 innings. Despite his lengthy injury history, Rod?n didn’t miss a start in the first half, leaving him only five innings shy of reaching the threshold that would allow him to opt out of the final year of his two-year, $44 million contract and re-enter free agency this offseason. A recent 4-14 slide left the Giants on the playoff bubble, so if they continue to struggle after the All-Star break, they could be forced to pivot from buyers to sellers at the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. Rod?n would be a major trade chip and could shake up the starting-pitching market if the Giants decide to entertain offers for him over the next couple of weeks. — Maria Guardado

Padres: OF Esteury RuizRuiz, who swiped 60 bags and posted a 1.028 OPS in 77 games in the Minors, has turned heads all season. That hasn’t changed since his promotion to the big leagues earlier this month. For a number of reasons, the Padres’ speedy rookie figures to be one of the most fascinating players on the roster ahead of the Deadline. First, if Ruiz continues to hit, he could begin to form a serviceable center-field platoon with the lefty-hitting Trent Grisham. The Padres will likely trade for an outfielder no matter what. But Ruiz’s presence might turn their focus away from acquiring a center fielder, and toward acquiring a corner thumper. Or … Ruiz is also a 23-year-old rookie with some truly unique tools. If he proves that those tools play on a big league stage, there are plenty of teams that might be interested in him as a trade chip. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: OF Kris BryantHow much difference can one man make? The Rockies started strong with Bryant in the lineup, even though his back was bothering him after a short Spring Training. During his 52-game absence when the injury became too much, the Rockies sank to last in the National League West. But Bryant is back, much of the lineup is performing much better and the team went into the break with 12 wins in its final 20 games. What happens next? The Rockies still have to play better on the road and pitching is always a question. But as long as Bryant is healthy, they feel they have a shot at surprising nearly all observers and playing meaningful games in the second half. If Bryant isn’t available, however, the depth questions scream, and the questions of the degree to which the team will be a seller at the Trade Deadline will be deafening. — Thomas Harding