MLB Trade Speculation: Best-Case Trade Deadline Scenarios for Each Team
Each year around the middle of summer, the MLB contenders emerge as they prepare for a postseason push. These teams often try to bolster their rosters with available talent from around the league.
In turn, teams that are fading become sellers, as they try to unload their free agents in an attempt to gain as much value as possible for players they are likely to lose in the offseason anyway.
Though mid-May is still early in the season, it’s not too early to speculate on what teams may be making moves as both buyers and sellers.
While the contenders hope their short-term deals pan out this year, the sellers hope to gain young talent that can help them in the near future.
Here are the best-case trade-deadline scenarios for all 30 MLB teams.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have been playing much better baseball after their poor start.
Still, to catch the New York Yankees, the Red Sox will need to add some pieces to their roster.
Boston may be in the market for New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Jed Lowrie has been playing well, but Reyes paired with Carl Crawford atop Boston’s order would be dangerous.
The Red Sox may also look to move J.D. Drew, who will be a free agent after the season.
Another Met, Carlos Beltran, may intrigue the Red Sox, especially if Boston is successful in moving Drew.
A possible blockbuster deal involving Reyes and Beltran could be worked out, but it would likely cost the Red Sox top shortstop-prospect Jose Iglesias, as well as several other marquee prospects.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees can hit, and they hit well.
However, pitching has been the major question mark for the team so far. Though the team has received serviceable performances from unlikely sources in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, the Yankees are always candidates to make moves around the deadline.
Pittsburgh Pirates lefty Paul Maholm would excel playing for the Yankees. He’s been a victim of poor run support the past few years, which wouldn’t be an issue in the Bronx.
Left fielder Brett Gardner has struggled out of the gate, so the Yankees could pursue options in left field. The Oakland Athletics have two players—Josh Willingham and Connor Jackson—who could fit the bill.
The Yankees bullpen was touted as one of the best in baseball this spring after the addition of Rafael Soriano. Soriano is off to a slow start, so the Yankees may look to add a dominant eighth-inning man to provide the bridge to Mariano Rivera.
Heath Bell could be an option, but the likely course of action for the Yankees is to stick with their investment in Soriano.
Though far from out of the race, the Baltimore Orioles’ fast start has diminished very quickly. The team sits in the cellar of the AL East once again.
The goal for the Orioles around the trade deadline would be to unload some veteran players and keep bringing in young pitching prospects.
The starting staff, especially Zach Britton, has looked good so far, but is still an arm or two away from being a dynamite staff.
Baltimore should be able to find takers for Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mike Gonzalez—all of whom will be free agents after the season.
Of these, Gonzalez may draw the most attention, since teams covet left-handed relievers.
Tampa Bay Rays
Though many analysts counted them out this year, the Tampa Bay Rays are right in the thick of things in the AL East.
If the Rays are still in contention late in the season, they may be candidates to take a gamble on a two-month rental player.
A move that may be intriguing is trading for Prince Fielder. The Rays lack a consistent power threat in their lineup, but Prince could fill that role and then some.
Tampa likely wouldn’t be able to re-sign Fielder, but he could be a valuable addition for a deep postseason run.
The team could view Ryan Doumit of the Pirates as a fallback option to Fielder. Though he’s not much with the glove, Doumit could provide depth at several positions, and as a bat off the bench.
If the Rays slip, the team could just as easily be sellers. Closer Kyle Farnsworth would be a candidate to be traded, as well as first baseman Casey Kotchman.
Time will tell if the Rays are contenders or pretenders.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have been in a tough bind the last few seasons. The team is on the verge of a breakout season, but falls victim to its tough division.
The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are all poised to leave the Blue Jays in the dust once again.
As a result, the Blue Jays will likely be sellers at the trade deadline.
Aaron Hill has back-to-back $8 million options on the table the next two years. Toronto could look to move him in the right deal.
Jon Rauch and Shawn Camp will likely draw attention among teams looking to strengthen their bullpens.
The Blue Jays still seem to be another year or two away.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox seemed like the bandwagon pick this year in the AL Central after bolstering their offense, coupled with great starting pitching.
However, the White Sox are off to just a 14-23 start, with the bullpen accounting for many of those losses.
If the team can turn it around and find itself in contention around the deadline, strengthening the bullpen would be the top priority.
Heath Bell and Jonathan Broxton could be viable candidates, which would allow Matt Thornton to slide back into the setup role where he thrived last season.
If the White Sox's struggles continue, the team may look to net a few prospects in exchange for Edwin Jackson. Jackson is no stranger to being dealt at the deadline.
Carlos Quentin’s name would also likely pop up in trade rumors.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Such should be the motto of the Cleveland Indians this summer if they continue their torrid play.
Grady Sizemore has returned with a bang, but the real surprise has been the team’s starting pitching.
The Indians could look to add some depth to their starting rotation in the form of Aaron Harang, Paul Maholm or Livan Hernandez but, if the starters keep up their pace, there likely won’t be a need to change anything.
Cleveland could bring in Xavier Nady, who would be a slight upgrade over Austin Kearns. The team could try to move Kearns as well.
Let’s see how the Indians fare over the next two months to see if they are the real deal.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are currently hovering around the .500 mark.
When it’s all said and done, the Royals will most likely be sellers near the deadline.
The team will likely receive phone calls regarding Jeff Francoeur and Bruce Chen—both of whom could add depth to a contender’s roster.
The name Joakim Soria will likely be mentioned incessantly, but it does not appear as if the Royals are ready to trade their superstar closer.
However, if a can’t-miss deal comes along, would Kansas City pull the trigger?
Who would have thought that at this point in the season the Minnesota Twins would be the worst team in baseball?
The Twins have dealt with the injury bug early, as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have both spent time on the disabled list.
If the Twins can turn it around, they could be in the market for several different additions.
Aaron Harang or Paul Maholm could bolster the back end of the rotation, while Kelly Johnson or Omar Infante could make sense up the middle.
However, the Twins have a long road ahead before they consider themselves buyers. If Minnesota winds up being a seller, Joe Nathan would likely be the first to go.
Matt Capps has emerged as the Twins closer, thus making Nathan expendable.
The Detroit Tigers have been a middling team so far this season.
If they remain in the race, look for them to make some noise around the deadline.
The first step would be to find a taker for aging slugger Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez’s power numbers have diminished, so finding him a new home may be difficult.
The Tigers could be a likely destination for one of the Mets stars, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Reyes would take over at shortstop, moving Jhonny Peralta into a utility role. Beltran, meanwhile, would fill in at one of the corner outfield positions where offense has been tough to come by in Detroit.
If a deal could be worked out, the Tigers may look into acquiring Prince Fielder. Fielder and Miguel Cabrera could split time between first base and DH.
If Detroit is out of the race, Brad Penny would certainly be trade bait.
The defending AL champion Texas Rangers haven’t quite been able to find their groove so far.
Josh Hamilton going down with a shoulder injury hasn’t helped, but Texas may be prime candidates to be buyers at the deadline in hopes of getting back to the playoffs.
The Rangers have a good-looking offense, but the starting pitching has been suspect. Brandon Webb is still recovering from injury, and the loss of Cliff Lee has taken its toll.
Texas could look to add Jeff Francis at the deadline. Aaron Harang or Jason Marquis could also be starting-pitching options.
To add depth to their bench, the Rangers may be in the market for Xavier Nady, who could play both first base and a corner outfield position adequately.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have relied on strong starting pitching to establish a two-game lead in the AL West.
The Angels may look to be serious buyers at the trade deadline.
After an offseason that saw the team get shut out on many free-agent candidates, the Angels should have some money to work with. As a result, the team could make a play for free agents, with the possibility of agreeing to extensions immediately.
Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes would be the two big names for the Angels to keep their eyes on. Though a deal may involve Baseball America’s No. 2-rated prospect Mike Trout, both Fielder and Reyes would be long-term investments.
Until Kendry Morales returns healthy—and that’s a big if—the Angels may look to bolster their offense.
The Seattle Mariners’ No. 1 goal at every trade deadline will be to keep Felix Hernandez. Dozens of teams will present intriguing packages for King Felix, but Seattle should hold their ground.
The Mariners have a special thing going with Hernandez and Michael Pineda, so the team would like to keep that duo intact.
Seattle will likely attempt to rid itself of Jack Cust, whose power numbers have disappeared. He’d come cheap for a team looking to add a left-handed bat off the bench.
The Mariners would love to move the troubled Milton Bradley, but good luck finding any takers unless a team is so desperate for outfield depth.
The main goal, however, is to keep Hernandez.
The Oakland Athletics may be a bubble team around the deadline. The A’s have some of the best young starting pitching in the game, but can they hold it together throughout the summer?
In all likelihood, the A’s should be sellers at the deadline.
Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and Connor Jackson are all free agents, and could each net the A’s a decent mid-level prospect or two.
Oakland has been known for developing pitching prospects, which will be integral in returning to playoffs in the near future.
However, this year may not be that year.
Until Chase Utley returns healthy, the Philadelphia Phillies should be considered buyers, regardless of their hot start.
Utley is playing in rehab games and could be back in as soon as a week.
Even so, the Phillies want to be patient in bringing back Utley, since they’ve been able to win without him thus far.
If Utley can’t find his stroke, the Phillies could think about adding some depth at second base in the form of Aaron Hill or Kelly Johnson.
Even Omar Infante could be an option, especially since he could also spell Placido Polanco at third base.
The Phillies have the pitching side accounted for, and may just look to slightly tweak the offensive roster.
The Atlanta Braves have begun to pick up their pace of play after an up-and-down start.
Though the Phillies may wind up running away with the division, the Braves will definitely be in the race for the NL Wild Card.
The team may look for an upgrade in center field. Nate McLouth has been a total disappointment in Atlanta. The Braves have been patient with him and he’s swung a decent bat as of late, but other options may be available, though moving McLouth could be difficult.
Cody Ross would be a great addition to Atlanta’s outfield, but the Braves would have to offer the San Francisco Giants an involved package.
Coco Crisp may be a more realistic option, and likely wouldn’t cost more than a mid-level prospect or two.
The Florida Marlins have been a surprise team in the NL thus far, and only sit two games back of the Phillies for first place.
If the Marlins can keep this up, they’d be candidates to pick up a few rental players near the deadline.
Florida could reunite itself with Livan Hernandez to shore up the back of the rotation. Aaron Harang and Paul Maholm would also be good choices.
Even if the team is in contention, Omar Infante could be on the move to a team in need of infield depth. Donnie Murphy could shift to second base, making room for prospect Matt Dominguez at third.
If Florida begins to fade, expect Javier Vazquez to be dealt in late July.
New York Mets
The New York Mets will likely be very active around the deadline.
Unfortunately, the team will be acting in the capacity of sellers as opposed to buyers.
Carlos Beltran probably already has his bags packed, and will be ready once the Mets pull the trigger on a deal.
Jose Reyes presents a more interesting situation. The Mets may choose to re-sign Reyes, but his asking price could be too high.
If so, the Mets will seek the deal that nets them the most Major League Baseball-ready talent to make up for the lack of Reyes.
Mike Pelfrey and David Wright have also been mentioned as possible trade candidates, but not as much as Beltran and Reyes.
The Mets brought in several veterans this offseason—Ronny Paulino, Chris Capuano, Willie Harris, Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak—who all may call another city home after the deadline.
The Washington Nationals will likely be sellers at the deadline, as they attempt to add talented young players to their budding core.
Other teams will likely be calling about Livan Hernandez as a possible back-end-of-the-rotation option down the stretch.
Laynce Nix and Jerry Hairston Jr.—who will both be free agents—could provide depth to a contender’s bench.
Even Ivan Rodriguez may draw some attention.
If Washington can net some decent prospects, the trade deadline would be considered successful.
The Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals will likely engage in a dogfight throughout the summer for bragging rights in the NL Central.
The Reds have a versatile roster complete with a good offense and strong pitching.
The team could look to add Heath Bell as a possible late-inning bullpen arm. Other than that, though, the pitching staff appears set.
While Cincinnati’s starting lineup has been productive, the Reds may look to add some offensive depth.
Omar Infante, Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit would all be solid options and would not cost the Reds that much in prospects.
Depth will be a major factor for Cincinnati in defending the NL Central title.
St. Louis Cardinals
There’s very little chance the St. Louis Cardinals deal Albert Pujols anytime during this season, and that’s even if they slip out of contention.
The Cardinals have been hot out of the gate, so moving Pujols via trade is a complete afterthought.
Originally a midseason-trade candidate, Lance Berkman has been a machine offensively this season.
The offense looks intact, but maybe the Cardinals can explore the market for starting and relief pitching.
Paul Maholm would be a great pickup for St. Louis, mostly because he is already familiar with the division. Jon Rauch or Shawn Camp could also help fortify the bullpen.
The Cardinals will need all their parts working together to fend off the Cincinnati Reds.
If the Chicago Cubs keep up their pace of play, they’d likely join the Mets as the biggest sellers around the deadline.
Three underachieving players—Carlos Pena, Kosuke Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez—are all free agents after this season, and the Cubs may be inclined to move them all now.
Each should likely land a prospect or two, as contending teams could use the depth.
A name to watch out for is Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano is 4-1 through eight starts this year.
He might be a candidate to be traded, as his contract ends after 2012. The Cubs will finally rid themselves of a giant headache.
The Yankees could be a possible landing spot for Zambrano, especially if their starting-pitching situation remains as is.
The Milwaukee Brewers are built to win now. Though it hasn’t worked out great in the early going, there’s no reason why this team can’t go on a torrid run over the summer and down the stretch.
If such is the case, the team will 100 percent hang onto Prince Fielder. In an ideal world, Fielder helps the team make the playoffs, and may even consider signing long term for a reduced price.
However, it seems more likely that Fielder will seek a lucrative multi-year contract, so the Brewers may be wise to acquire as much talent as possible in exchange for their hefty slugger, especially if the team falls out of contention.
If the team is competing down the stretch, a back-end starter like Aaron Harang or Paul Maholm could be an option.
The Houston Astros are digging an early hole for themselves, as they sit in last place in the NL Central.
The team is likely to be sellers at the deadline.
Brett Myers may be available, with the Yankees rumored to have some interest.
Bill Hall has a mutual option, but a team needing a super-utility player could make the Astros an offer for Hall they can’t refuse.
Even Carlos Lee and Clint Barmes could be on the trading block.
The idea for the Astros is to keep acquiring young talent during their rebuilding phase.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have opened some eyes in the NL, as they are hovering around .500 early on.
The young players on Pittsburgh have begun turning themselves into solid major leaguers.
Still, the Pirates are a few years away from contending for a postseason berth.
Pittsburgh will look to unload expensive contracts to continue amassing good prospects.
Paul Maholm and Ryan Doumit appear to be the prime candidates to be traded. The Pirates will likely receive many calls for these players, but mainly Maholm.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are having serious financial troubles and, as a result, might be sellers at the trade deadline, even if the team is competing.
The Dodgers could look to move Rafael Furcal (if he returns healthy from injury), Casey Blake, Jamey Carroll, Rod Barajas and Jonathan Broxton.
All these players are outright free agents after the season, except Furcal, who has an option that is unlikely to be picked up anyway.
Until the Dodgers can straighten out their finances, the team may go through a few years of rebuilding.
Andre Ethier’s name will likely be murmured around the deadline, but the Dodgers may opt to keep their impressive right fielder.
The Colorado Rockies have a very deep roster, which has led them to a hot start.
If anything, the Rockies may look to bring in Heath Bell or Jonathan Broxton to team up with Matt Lindstrom in forming a deadly setup tandem in front of Huston Street late in games.
Both Bell and Broxton are familiar with the NL West, so the move would make sense.
Even so, the Rockies already have a strong bullpen, so any move may be nitpicking.
Once Carlos Gonzalez gets in a groove and Troy Tulowitzki rediscovers his early-season stroke, Colorado will be on the fast track back to the playoffs.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are another team with a deep roster.
From strong starting pitching, to a strong bullpen, to offensive depth, there may not be too many areas the Giants are looking to add this offseason.
The team may field offers regarding Cody Ross and, assuming Andres Torres is back, moving Ross could be an option for the right group of prospects.
The Giants may also think about trading Pat Burrell to an AL team, where he would be better suited as a DH.
Expect the Giants to be right in the thick of things as the deadline approaches, though they may not be one of the more actively trading teams.
The Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t in a position to compete this year, and will thus be sellers at the deadline.
The team has several intriguing parts that may appeal to other teams.
Kelly Johnson is a free agent, and would likely net the D’Backs a few good prospects. Aaron Heilman and Xavier Nady may also be on the move.
Arizona’s main goal at the deadline should be to hang onto Justin Upton. He’s the type of player the team can build around.
Though teams will be interested in acquiring Upton, the Diamondbacks are unlikely to give in.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are also likely to be sellers at July’s trade deadline.
Aaron Harang will likely draw plenty of attention among teams needing starting pitching, while Heath Bell might be one of the hottest commodities of any relief pitcher available.
First baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe would be a guy who could provide versatility and depth to a contending team.
If the Padres happen to turn it around, the team could be in the market for a Xavier Nady-type player who can play multiple positions.
Though the Padres have a normally good bullpen, lefty Mike Gonzalez could be an option.
Of course, San Diego would only be buyers if the team felt it had a chance to contend with the Rockies and Giants.