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2023 MLB Trade Deadline: Top 10 Players on the Block

The MLB trade deadline is upon us.

The August 1st MLB Trade Deadline is quickly approaching. Between the expanded playoffs and the surprise teams throughout the league, this deadline appears to have more buyers than sellers. Although the deadline is less than a week away, many teams are still on the bubble between buying and selling.

Will this year’s disappointments like the Mets, Padres, and Cardinals consider trading their veterans? Will the 4th-place Yankees and 5th-place Red Sox buy despite their tough division? What about the 49-50 Guardians, who are just 2.5 games back of a playoff spot despite their sub-.500 record? But the biggest question of them all is whether or not the Angels will move on from AL MVP frontrunner Shohei Ohtani, who is just months away from receiving what will likely be the largest deal in American sports history.

10. Paul Blackburn, Athletics SP

The Oakland Athletics should be scraping their Major League roster looking for anybody who they can get pieces back for at the MLB trade deadline. Brent Rooker got off to a hot start to the season, but his stock has taken a hit as he’s struggled for the last two months. Trevor May has pitched to a 2.55 ERA in his last 19 appearances, but his 18.4% walk rate is alarming.

That leaves us with Paul Blackburn, a 29-year-old former All-Star starting pitcher. Blackburn has only been in the majors full-time since 2022 but has pitched to a 4.52 ERA, 4.12 FIP, and 4.02 xFIP in 30 starts over the past two seasons. He’s not a free agent until 2026, but even that is likely out of the Athletics’ next contending window, especially with a potential move incoming. Starting pitching will be a commodity at this year’s deadline, and Blackburn is a decent option to strengthen the back end of a playoff team’s rotation.

9. Yan Gomes, Cubs C

The Cubs may decide to hold on to Yan Gomes at the MLB trade deadline, who has an affordable club option for next season. But if they decide to sell at the deadline, Gomes may be on his way out of Chicago. Gomes isn’t having an outstanding year by any means, but he sports a solid .263/.306/.416 (93 wRC+) slash line as a 36-year-old catcher. Alongside Yasmani Grandal of the crosstown White Sox, Gomes may be the only catcher available at the deadline while a few teams (Astros, Guardians, Marlins) could be in the market for a backstop.

8. Justin Lawrence, Rockies CP

Justin Lawrence is having a career year for the Rockies, as he’s thrown 50 innings to the tune of a 2.52 ERA, 25.4% K%, and 2.95 FIP. He has another five years of team control, but it’s not unheard of for relievers to be dealt early on in their careers, especially at the MLB trade deadline where relievers are highly sought after. Lawrence ranks in the top 10 percent of baseball in xERA, xBA, and Barrel%. He’s a two-pitch pitcher but hitters are hitting just .103 off his near 3000 RPM sweeper that he throws 49.5% of the time.

7. Jordan Hicks, Cardinals CP

Jordan Hicks has completely turned his season around following a terrible start. Since a three-run outing on May 5th, Hicks has posted a 1.95 ERA, 1.88 FIP, and 2.64 xFIP in his past 25 outings. Hicks has a five-pitch repertoire, but he relies on his sinker which he throws 59.2% of the time. One of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the league, Hicks has been clocked as high as 105 MPH while his sinker averages 100.5 MPH.

The Cardinals may not be ready to sell off their core pieces Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt at the deadline, but expiring contracts like Hicks and Jack Flaherty seem more likely to be moved. Especially given the commodity that relievers are at the time of the MLB Trade Deadline, the Cardinals should consider moving on from their fireballing closer if the right offer arises.

6. Lucas Giolito, White Sox SP

Originally acquired by Chicago for Adam Eaton in the 2016-17 offseason, Giolito has been a staple of the White Sox rotation for over six years. Now 28 years old, the former All-Star is in the midst of another solid season, currently sporting a 3.96 ERA and 4.56 FIP through 116 innings across 20 starts. From 2019 to 2021, Giolito was one of the best pitchers in the American League but his strikeout rate has taken a hit over the past couple of seasons. In 18 games since April 12th, Giolito has posted a 3.53 ERA. He’s a great middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who can be relied on for six innings a start.

5. Jeimer Candelario, Nationals 3B

Jeimer Candelario has had good seasons before, but his first season in Washington has been the best of his career. He’s slashing .257/.334/.478 (117 wRC+) and has accumulated 2.7 fWAR in 386 plate appearances. Candelario is also having a career year with the glove, ranking in the 94th percentile with 6 Outs Above Average (OAA) after posting -6 OAA in 2022. He might be the most likely to be moved out of any player on this list, as a 29-year-old expiring contract on a team that just entered their rebuild. While Candelario was signed to a one-year deal to help fill out the roster, he’ll surely net the Nationals a decent prospect or two at the MLB trade deadline.

4. Marcus Stroman, Cubs SP

One of the bigger questions at the MLB trade deadline is whether or not the Cubs will sell high on Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger. Stroman is having a career year but his last five starts have been ugly. Through June 20th, Stroman led the National League with a 2.28 ERA. Just a month later, his ERA has ballooned up to 3.09, which still ranks 3rd in the National League. Stroman has expressed interest in staying with the Cubs long-term, but extension talks haven’t gone anywhere. Stroman will have plenty of suitors as one of the league’s top arms, but the Cubs are heating up and may be inclined to hold on to their ace.

3. Dylan Cease, White Sox SP

I’ll preface this: the White Sox likely will not move on from Dylan Cease at this year’s MLB trade deadline. He’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball for three years and doesn’t hit the free-agent market until 2026. But if the Sox decide to blow it up, Cease could bring in the type of haul to kickstart a rebuild. In 85 starts across the past three years, Cease has put up a 3.26 ERA, 11.48 K/9, and 11.3 fWAR. A trade for Dylan Cease could look similar to the one that sent Luis Castillo to Seattle last year, as the acquiring team will have to pay a premium for Cease’s extra years of control.

2. Cody Bellinger, Cubs 1B/OF

Cody Bellinger is having a career resurgence after signing a one-year contract with the Cubs in the offseason. The former National League MVP is slashing .319/.369/.549 (144 wRC+) on the year and has put up a .457/.487/.771 (238 wRC+) slash line in the month of July. Despite missing a month due to injury, Bellinger has already accumulated 2.7 fWAR. His peripheral numbers are a little concerning, as he has an xwOBA of just .320 (110 points lower than 2019) and his barrel rate is just 5.7%. But even if you’re not buying Bellinger’s offensive resurgence, he could still be a four-win player with a 110 wRC+ and his glove in center field.

1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels DH/SP

The Angels will probably hold on to Shohei Ohtani. Trading an all-time great in the middle of their prime is almost unheard of, as only a few recent examples come to mind (Alex Rodriguez, Mookie Betts). But Ohtani has expressed interest in playing for a World Series contender and the Angels have failed to build one around Ohtani and Mike Trout.

Ohtani is having one of the best seasons in MLB history, with a league-leading 36 home runs and 184 wRC+ at the plate and a 3.71 ERA in 111.2 innings on the mound. Ohtani’s 6.8 bWAR leads the league by nearly two whole wins. It’s hard to imagine what a trade for Ohtani would look like, but he’s an expiring contract so don’t expect a team to cough up their entire farm system like the Padres did for Juan Soto a year ago.

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