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The Trade Deadline is just a week away, with clubs having until 6 p.m. ET on Aug. 2 to make moves to improve their present or future. A 2019 rule change eliminated the previous tradition of swapping players via waivers after the cutoff, so any deals will have to be completed by next Tuesday evening.
Each year, we try to identify a tradeable prospect for all 30 organizations. We realize this is highly speculative, and we don’t expect last-place teams such as the Athletics and Nationals to part with developing talent in the next seven days.
Yet we still come up with a candidate for each team, and our 2021 list included two prospects involved in deadline deals and another who headlined an offseason blockbuster. Last July, the Dodgers did part with Keibert Ruiz to land Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals and the Giants surrendered Alexander Canario to get Kris Bryant from the Cubs. In March, the Mariners gave up Brandon Williamson as part of the Jesse Winker/Eugenio Su?rez trade with the Reds.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (No. 2/MLB No. 36)Time will tell what kind of players the Blue Jays will be on the trade market, but one would have to think they won’t be looking to move top prospect Gabriel Moreno. Martinez makes more sense, even if it might be selling low. The 20-year-old infielder continues to show incredible power for his age with 22 homers in 78 games at Double-A New Hampshire, and that’s what another club would be buying here. A career-high 29.9 percent K rate has hurt Martinez’s stock in 2022, and he’s playing more third base than ever, making it more likely he slides away from the middle of the diamond permanently. But he’s still plenty young, and few farm systems boast bats with his 30-homer potential.
Orioles: Terrin Vavra, 2B (No. 12)The Orioles’ resurgence has been fun to see, but they’re not quite in buyer mode. If they were to trade, it might be from their infield depth. With Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg close to knocking on the door, Vavra — who was called up Tuesday — could be a bit more expendable as a super-utility type who can play second and the outfield and who has always hit (.306/.410/.468 in his career).
Rays: Xavier Edwards, INF (No. 5)Already traded once from the Padres to the Rays in the Tommy Pham deal, Edwards might make sense to move to another organization more lacking in Major League-ready middle-infield options. The 22-year-old switch-hitter has always been a high-average, low-strikeout performer throughout the Minors, and that’s continued this season at Triple-A Durham (.296 average, 17.8 percent K rate). He’s swinging with more intent these days too, leading to a career-high four homers, and his speed will always be a plus-plus asset. The Rays aren’t wanting for options on the dirt, however, and if they swing a move, trading Edwards while he’s shown improved pop could be a solid way to dip into their deepest part of the organization chart.
Red Sox: Matthew Lugo, SS (No. 12)It’s unclear whether the Red Sox are buying or selling or trying to do a bit of both, but three of their top five prospects are middle infielders, and they just added two more with their first two selections in the 2022 Draft. A 2019 second-rounder from Puerto Rico and a nephew of nine-time All-Star Carlos Beltr?n, Lugo is a promising hitter with solid speed and defensive skills. He’s batting .276/.330/.497 with 11 homers in 76 games in High-A.
Yankees: Oswald Peraza, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 38)The Yankees system is overflowing with shortstops, including top prospect Anthony Volpe, so that could make the talented Peraza expendable in the right deal. Signed for $175,000 out of Venezuela in 2016, he has 20-homer potential along with plus speed, arm strength and defensive ability. He’s hitting .255/.326/.436 with 12 homers and 23 steals in 72 Triple-A games at age 22.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Angel Martinez, SS/2B (No. 10)The Guardians have a surplus of sweet-swinging middle-infield prospects that includes Martinez, the son of former big league catcher Sandy Martinez. Signed for $500,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, he’s a switch-hitter with a high baseball IQ and solid defensive tools. He already has set a career high with eight homers this year and is batting .276/.393/.476 in 61 games as a 20-year-old in High-A.
Royals: Angel Zerpa, LHP (No. 11)Kansas City is not buying at the Deadline. It’s already proven that by acquiring Drew Waters, Andrew Hoffmann and CJ Alexander for a Draft pick. But sometimes deals for Major Leaguers (think Andrew Benintendi) get even larger if an MLB-ready prospect gets tossed in. Zerpa — a 22-year-old left-hander with a mid-90s fastball and a good slider and change — has already gotten Major League looks in 2021 and 2022 and could be plugged right into a bullpen of a contender. The Royals should be loath to trade anyone who could be with the club for years, but if the inclusion of a Triple-A southpaw who hasn’t stuck with the big club nets a bigger return, it might be explored by the front office.
Tigers: Kerry Carpenter, OF (No. 23)Same deal as with the Royals and Zerpa. The Tigers are highly unlikely to shop anyone with prospect eligibility. That said, there could be something to moving Carpenter when his stock has never been higher. The 2019 19th-rounder has used a swing change to unlock more loft, and as a result, he’s been among the Minor League home run leaders for much of the season. He enters this week with 26 dingers in 83 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and his performance in Toledo hasn’t slowed his train. Because of a lack of speed, he’s a left-field/DH option, and he’ll turn 25 in September, so he’s on the older side of prospectdom. But he could be helpful quickly to any team in need of a lefty bat and could give Detroit a more long-term option in the pipeline in the high unlikelihood he’s moved.
Twins: Spencer Steer, 2B/3B (No. 7)Last year, the Twins were sellers but they’re on the other end of things now, sitting atop the AL Central. While the pitching at the upper levels has struggled, there are some offensive performers who could bring in some talent, like Futures Gamers Matt Wallner or Steer, who has hit 20 or more homers in each of the past two seasons and can play three infield positions.
White Sox: Lenyn Sosa, SS/2B (No. 21)Sosa has demonstrated some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the White Sox system since signing for $325,000 out of Venezuela in 2016 and making better swing decisions has led to a breakout 2022. He’s hitting .317/.367/.508 with a career-best 14 homers in 76 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and he made his big league debut in June. He profiles best as an everyday second baseman or offensive-minded utilityman.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Jeremiah Jackson, SS (No. 7)While the Angels continue to build toward the future, they do have a glut of middle infield prospects in their system. Most are really far away or struggling, but Jackson is showing his power at age 22 in Double-A (.500 SLG) while playing on both sides of second base defensively.
Astros: Colin Barber, OF (No. 5)The Astros liked Barber’s promising combination of power and speed enough to pay him an over-slot $1 million in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft, but the California prep product lost time to the pandemic shutdown and shoulder surgery in his first two full pro seasons. He’s finally getting a chance to show what he can do this year, batting .303/.410/.470 with seven homers in 56 games in High-A.
A’s: Zach Logue, LHP (No. 18)The A’s have a couple of upper-level starters who could be of interest if they decided to make a move. Acquired in March as part of the Matt Chapman deal, Logue has a big league resume this season and previous Triple-A success, not to mention his left-handedness, which might give him a slight edge over righty Adrian Martinez.
Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP (No. 4)The Mariners have gotten two of their last three college arm first-rounders to the big leagues (Logan Gilbert and George Kirby) and they might want to wait to make it 3-for-3 with a now-healthy Hancock. But they also might want to sell high after Hancock’s impressive outing in the Futures Game, especially if they want to be a player in the Juan Soto Sweepstakes.
Rangers: Josh Smith, 3B/SS (No. 8)The rebuilding Rangers aren’t looking to trade prospects, but they do have an abundance of infield prospects whose best position isn’t shortstop. That includes Smith, who arrived via the Joey Gallo trade with the Yankees last summer and exhibits fine hitting ability along with solid speed and arm strength. He has taken over as Texas’ regular third baseman, batting .208/.317/.267 with one homer in his first 31 big league games, but faces future competition at the hot corner with Josh Jung and Ezequiel Duran.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Tucker Davidson, LHP (No. 5)Sure, the Braves’ system is thinned out, especially after the Matt Olson deal, but that’s never stopped them, and they still have some pitching depth to deal from. Davidson has shown he has the stuff from the left side to compete in the big leagues and a rebuilding team could give him a longer audition in a rotation or a bullpen role.
Marlins: Sixto S?nchez, RHP (No. 5)The key prospect for the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto trade with Phillies in February 2019, S?nchez made a rousing big league debut in 2020 to help Miami make the playoffs but hasn’t pitched since because of shoulder issues that led to surgery last July. The Marlins are a fringe Wild Card contender, and S?nchez just began facing hitters two weeks ago, but it’s interesting to contemplate what they could get for a pitcher who has reached 99 mph with his fastball, possesses a well-above-average changeup and provides a ton of strikes.
Mets: Mark Vientos, 3B/1B (No. 5)If the Mets are truly in on Juan Soto, then everyone should be on the table, including Francisco ?lvarez. If they’re looking at a more traditional Deadline deal, then Vientos might be the perfect candidate to head elsewhere. The 22-year-old slugger continues to show plus power at Triple-A Syracuse (17 homers, .510 slugging percentage), and it looks more and more likely that he’s a future first baseman, putting him directly in Pete Alonso’s shadow. Another organization could be more accommodating to that path and give Vientos to Major League at-bats within weeks, if not days.
Nationals: Matt Cronin, LHP (No. 12)The most famous sellers on the market only want to deepen their system, and the farm could look a lot different as it did after last year’s moves involving Max Scherzer, Trea Turner and others. That said, Cronin may have yet to debut, but he does fit the profile of a typical smaller Deadline move as a left-handed reliever that is always in demand come late July/early August. The former Arkansas Razorback throws in the mid-90s and features an above-average curveball, giving him two options that could get MLB batters out now. He turns 25 in September too, so he may not be as big a part of any rebuilding plans in DC.
Phillies: Francisco Morales, RHP (No. 9)Everyone needs bullpen help, right? Morales’ move to a relief role has been a good one, allowing his power repertoire to play up. He could have future closer potential if he can improve his command, with the ability to miss a ton of bats (14.5 K/9 in the Minors this year).
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Ethan Small, LHP (No. 8)Injuries have hurt Milwaukee’s starting pitching depth, and while Small has a role in that part of the NL Central leader’s depth chart, he could be a better option for a rebuilding club over the win-now Brewers. The 25-year-old southpaw has relied heavily on a deceptive low-90s fastball and plus changeup to post impressive ERAs across the Minors, though control continues to be a problem. A team lower in the standings could offer more opportunities to iron those out against Major League hitters.
Cardinals: Jordan Walker, 3B (No. 1/MLB No. 7)This can only happen in an earth-shattering blockbuster. But so long as the Cards are tied to Soto rumors, Walker remains a potential trade candidate. Start with the fact that he’s a stellar prospect — a 20-year-old who’s handled an aggressive Double-A assignment well and shown a plus bat with potential plus-plus raw power. Add in the fact that he’s a third baseman in the same organization as Nolan Arenado and Nolan Gorman. Walker could certainly be a star anywhere on the diamond for St. Louis, but when you’re as good a prospect as he is, your name will pop up in potential big swings for other current stars.
Cubs: Owen Caissie, OF (No. 8)The Cubs won’t be dealing prospects, but they do have a deep stock of outfielders that includes Caissie, part of the Yu Darvish deal with the Padres in December 2020. He fits the classic right-field profile with big power potential and a strong arm, and he’s batting .268/.348/.417 with nine homers in 75 High-A games during his age-19 season.
Pirates: Travis Swaggerty, OF (No. 12)Swaggerty has had trouble gaining traction, with injuries and a lack of expected production holding him back. While he has been passed by in the organization by young outfielders like Jack Suwinski and Cal Mitchell, Swaggerty did touch the big leagues this year, is a former first-rounder and has a skill those others do not: He can play center field.
Reds: Ivan Johnson, 2B/SS (No. 18)Injuries (hamate surgery last offseason, for example) have impacted Johnson’s production, but he’s a switch-hitting middle infielder who has shown the ability to hit — and with power — when he’s healthy. He profiles best as an offensive-minded second baseman, but a team could buy low here.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Seth Beer, 1B/DH (No. 10)Already traded in a 2019 Deadline move, Beer hasn’t quite stuck in Arizona three years later. He hit just .210/.301/.284 in 27 games earlier this season but continues to produce with a .250/.390/.469 over 54 contests at Triple-A Reno. A team already in talks with Arizona in need of a lefty bat off the bench could inquire about adding Beer to a larger deal and make him a DH option, and the expansion of the DH to both leagues only helps his case.
Dodgers: Michael Busch, 2B (No. 3/MLB No. 42)One of the best all-around offensive talents in the 2019 college crop, Busch went in the first round out of North Carolina and has lived up to his reputation in pro ball while proving better at second base than anticipated. He’s hitting .277/.371/.544 with 22 homers in 85 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and the Dodgers have so much talent in the Majors and Minors that they could afford to include him in the right trade.
Giants: Ryan Murphy, RHP (No. 11)Signed for just $22,500 in the fifth and final round of the shortened 2020 Draft out of NCAA Division II Le Moyne, Murphy has greatly enhanced his prospect stock since turning pro. He ranked third in the Minors in strikeouts (164), fourth in whiff rate (13.8 per nine innings) and sixth in K/BB ratio (6.3) in his 2021 pro debut, showing a 91-95 mph fastball with good carry, a solid low-80s slider and advanced control and command. He missed the start of this season with a back injury but since has advanced to Double-A.
Padres: Luis Campusano, C (No. 2/MLB No. 54)Despite a .305/.373/.460 line this season at Triple-A El Paso, Campusano has managed to crack the Padres’ Major League roster for only four games while Austin Nola and Jorge Alfaro split time behind the plate in San Diego. The 23-year-old backstop’s best value to San Diego might be in a trade at this point because he’s shown enough bat and arm in the Minors to squeeze out more Major League looks somewhere as a catcher of the present, never mind future.
Rockies: Ryan Vilade, OF (No. 10)Could Vilade use a change of scenery? He’s always had a very good approach at the plate and it looked like he was starting to get locked in as a more productive hitter last year, even getting up to the big leagues briefly. The power has yet to really show up, but he’s also just 23, so there’s time yet.