With the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline a little more than a month away, we are in what you might call the calm before the storm. Most teams are in the process of assessing their current situation, deciding whether they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline and how aggressive they will be in making moves.
Of course, there’s a lot that can change between now and the deadline, but we think we have a good handle on what teams will be the most active on both sides of the equation. In fact, here are 12 teams that we think are watching closely as the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline approaches.
It’d almost be cruel for the Diamondbacks to trade players because they are already so bad and over 30 games under .500. But they’re obviously going nowhere, so trading away players who are headed toward free agency would make sense.
That could mean Eduardo Escobar and Asdrubal Cabrera will be on the move. However, the D’Backs could potentially go even further toward a full-scale rebuild. Ketel Marte could bring a huge return of prospects if Arizona makes him available. Also, if the Diamondbacks could find a team that’s willing to take some of the money left on his contract, they could look to trade Madison Bumgarner and really start from scratch in 2022.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox probably didn’t expect to be this good in 2021, so they may not have had a game plan for being a buyer at the deadline.
Offensively, there isn’t a lot that needs to be done, but if Boston wants to keep up with the other contenders in the American League, the pitching staff needs an upgrade. The Red Sox could hope for the best with Chris Sale coming back from Tommy John Surgery. But it’ll be interesting to see if they try to acquire a frontline starter who can help lead their starting rotation.
Chicago White Sox
It’s been a while since the White Sox were in this kind of position, so we’ll see how they play it out at the deadline. In theory, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez will be back at some point, so they can expect an internal boost to their lineup. However, are they confident that both will come back and hit the ground running or would they prefer to get insurance?
On the other hand, Chicago has built from the bottom up and is a contender because of young players. Will the White Sox want to take away assets from their farm system to improve in the short-term when they are set up for sustained success?
With Colorado, it’s not a question of if but when. The Rockies are going nowhere in 2021, and they arguably have the best hitter and starting pitcher who could be traded this summer in Trevor Story and Jon Gray, respectively. C.J. Cron, who joined the team on a minor league deal this year, should also have value on the trade market.
Frankly, it’d be irresponsible for the Rockies not to trade those three players, meaning they could be involved in some of the biggest trades made this summer.
With the Tigers sitting more than 10 games under .500, it’s obvious that the rebuilding continues in Detroit. It’s not happening this year for the Tigers, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be ready to compete next year either. That opens the door for Detroit to trade players who are under team control in 2022, which will increase their price on the trade market.
Robbie Grossman falls into that category, as does starting pitcher Matthew Boyd. The same can be said of former Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer, who’s having a strong season as a reliever. Jonathan Schoop is also having a good enough season to become trade bait at the deadline.
The Astros clearly don’t need a lot of help right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking. Remember that this is the same organization that has pulled off late-season trades for Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. They have to be sniffing another championship this season.
Given the state of their mediocre bullpen and their youthful rotation, the Astros have to be looking for pitching help and could be looking to pull off a big deal.
Los Angeles Dodgers
We should all know by now that the Dodgers are always a candidate to make a big move. They’re not going to be content with winning the World Series last year; the Dodgers will want another one. Injuries have held them back this year, so don’t be surprised if Los Angeles looks for reinforcements.
With questions about Corey Seager’s future with the club already being asked, don’t be surprised if shortstop is on the team’s list of needs. The Dodgers will also understand the importance of the bullpen in October, so if nothing else, look for Los Angeles to make one or two additions to the bullpen this summer.
Before the season, the Twins probably expected to be buyers at the deadline. Instead, Minnesota could be selling assets this summer and hoping to hit the reset button next year.
For starters, Nelson Cruz would be the perfect trade option for a team that is looking for a DH. Michael Pineda could also be one of the best starting pitchers who gets moved this summer. Even J.A. Happ could be a trade chip if he gets his act together.
New York Mets
With a new owner in place, we’re all a little curious to see how the Mets approach the trade deadline, especially since they sit atop the NL East.
They were aggressive during the winter in trading for Francisco Lindor, so perhaps they will have a similar approach this summer. With injuries hindering the New York offense most of the season, it’s unclear if they’ll need a serious upgrade to their lineup. However, there’s no doubt that the Mets will need to shore up the back end of their rotation and perhaps the bullpen as well given the injuries that have impacted the team’s pitching staff.
New York Yankees
The Yankees are almost always going to be a team to watch at the trade deadline. This year won’t be any different, as the Bronx Bombers are playing catch-up in the AL East and will surely need reinforcements.
The bullpen is in decent shape but the rotation beyond Gerrit Cole is going to need some help. We’ll also have to play wait-and-see with the lineup. Odds are, the Yankees are going to need to add an outfielder. It’s also possible that they grow tired of waiting for Gleyber Torres to come around and make a play for a shortstop.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are another team that probably didn’t think they’d be in this position at the start of the year. At the same time, they can’t help but think that reinforcements will be necessary if they’re going to hold off both the Padres and Dodgers.
Adding an extra starter at the back end of the rotation or a little bullpen help could both be good ideas. The Giants could also be in the market for some outfield help, especially someone who could play center field. However, it remains to be seen if they want to use prospects to make meaningful trades because, with such an old roster, a rebuilding project could be right around the corner.
The Rangers aren’t guaranteed to make trades this summer, although there could be a lot of teams calling them.
The biggest names to watch are Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson. Both players are under contract through 2022, which means their value will be high right now. Gibson, in particular, is having a huge season and could be the most valuable pitcher available. Gallo isn’t quite having a career year, but his power speaks for itself. If Texas considered trading Gallo and Gibson, conceding that they won’t be ready to compete next season either, the Rangers will have a chance to be one of the biggest winners of the trade deadline among sellers.
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