The Most Desperate MLB Teams Heading into 2022 Trade Deadline

Brandon ScottJuly 11, 2022

The Most Desperate MLB Teams Heading into 2022 Trade Deadline

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    It's at the point of the MLB season when it's time for franchises to make tough decisions.

    With the Aug. 2 trade deadline approaching, they have to decide whether to buy, sell or stand pat.

    Some of the fringe playoff teams this season could be just a move away from establishing themselves as contenders.

    Now management for those teams are tasked with figuring out if they fall into that category, or if taking big swings at the deadline is more like burning daylight.

    Let's explore the most desperate MLB teams heading into the deadline, factoring in how close they are to a playoff spot, preseason expectations and, in at least one case, positional surplus.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Philadelphia Phillies have turned their season around since firing manager Joe Girardi after a 22-29 start.

    Since then, the Phillies are 24-11, seven games out of the NL East lead and holding the final wild-card spot.

    The Phillies have made moves since the offseason to indicate they are serious about winning, from signing Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber in the offseason, to pulling the plug on Girardi managing the team.

    They already wasted Bryce Harper's MVP season last year. To miss the postseason again after all of these moves would be a major letdown for Philly.

    It's a fine baseball team. The Phillies are tied with the fifth-most runs scored and have the eighth-highest OPS. They are also eighth in ERA and WHIP.

    The Philly bullpen is not as weak as it's been in previous years, but they could still stand to benefit from the robust reliever market ahead of the deadline.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    The Toronto Blue Jays' needs have been obvious for much of the season. They need pitching, both at the back end of their rotation and in the bullpen, to feel comfortable in a crowded AL East.

    They have the third wild-card spot as of Sunday night, but some pitching help could elevate Toronto, which was a popular pick to emerge as legitimate contenders after a promising 2021.

    The Blue Jays' pitching staff has the ninth-highest ERA and is tied for 11th-highest WHIP in baseball.

    Meanwhile, their offense has the third-highest batting average, is tied for the fourth-highest OPS and ranks in the top eight in runs scored.

    Offensively, this team is close to what it was expected to be. What it could still use is a left-handed bat.

    Two names that come to mind as popular trade targets: the switch-hitting former All-Stars Josh Bell in Washington and Bryan Reynolds in Pittsburgh.

    Perhaps a move for either of those players would be too aggressive for a team with as many talented young hitters as the Blue Jays, but it would speak to their desperation to make good on a season with heavy expectations.

San Francisco Giants

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    With the San Francisco Giants hovering around .500 and 12.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West, it seems obvious they are not competing for back-to-back division titles.

    Just a season removed from winning a franchise-record 107 games, the Giants are fighting for the added third wild-card spot.

    Rather than being obvious buyers at the deadline, like they were a year ago, the Giants could make an equally solid case for being sellers this season.

    But given the success of 2021 and the fact the most recent World Series champions are a National League team which became demonstrably better at the deadline, it would seem irresponsible for San Francisco not to try to get better to make a run.

    The Giants find themselves here despite an All-Star season from Joc Pederson and an All-Star worthy-season from Carlos Rodon, both free-agent signings this past offseason.

    San Francisco's bullpen has the ninth-highest ERA and eighth-highest WHIP in baseball. If the Giants want to compete after the deadline, they could stand to acquire another arm or a catcher.

Seattle Mariners

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    It's a strange feeling when the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles are among the hottest teams in baseball. It's just as strange to suggest a team as hot as the Mariners is one of the most desperate teams heading into the deadline.

    But that's the case here.

    Seattle would need an epic collapse by the Houston Astros in order to have a shot at the AL West title. But the Mariners have a real shot at upsetting one of the three non-Yankees AL East teams for a wild-card spot.

    Seattle sits just a game back of the AFC Wild Card in the midst of an eight-game winning streak. If the Mariners are going to break baseball's longest postseason drought, they will need more offense.

    They already traded for Carlos Santana from the Kansas City Royals at the end of last month. They could add another power-hitting first baseman in the Nationals' Josh Bell, who is expected to be in high demand this deadline.

    If not returning to the playoffs since that magical 2001 season doesn't breed desperation, then it's impossible.

Miami Marlins

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    Despite being fourth in the NL East, the Miami Marlins still feel like a better team than their record indicates.

    Miami's expected record is two games better than its actual record, which would put the Marlins a couple of games above .500 and closer in the mix for a wild-card spot.

    Marlins general manager Kim Ng would not put a number on how close they would have to be in the wild-card standings to be in the market for a veteran as the deadline approaches. But she told the Miami Herald they would like to be in striking distance.

    The Marlins dealt with injuries and underperformance from some of their best players. An abysmal month of May (7-19) put them behind, but they've been 22-16 ever since.

    Yet the Marlins are a long shot to make the playoffs, with it being nearly impossible for them to make up enough ground to compete for the NL East.

    As of Sunday, the Marlins had a 10.3 percent chance at a NL Wild Card, according to PECOTA standings. Depending on how that number fluctuates in the coming weeks, Marlins management has to decide on a direction for the back half of a largely disappointing season.

Chicago White Sox

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    As disappointing as this Chicago White Sox season has been, given the expectations that came with bringing Tony La Russa out of retirement last year to manage a roster built to contend for a World Series, they could still make a run at the AL Central title.

    The White Sox are five games back of the division-leading Minnesota Twins and three games out of the AL Wild Card after Sunday's action.

    They have dealt with injuries and lapses in performance to find themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture.

    The White Sox offense ranks 21st in OPS, 19th in runs scored and 18th in weighted runs created-plus. The pitching staff has the 10th-highest ERA and sixth-highest WHIP.

    There is still time to save this season from being an utter failure. But their needs now are the same as they were going into the season: second base, right field and an improved defense.

    Whatever move they make can't be the waste that was last year's acquisition of Craig Kimbrel.

Cleveland Guardians

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    The Cleveland Guardians have a different kind of desperation than others headed into the deadline. They're working with house money at this point.

    No one really expected the Guardians to be in this position, sitting 4.5 games back of the division lead behind the Minnesota Twins, and a half-game ahead of the preseason division favorite Chicago White Sox.

    Unlike the Twins and Detroit Tigers, the Guardians noticeably did not make moves this past offseason to close the gap between them and the White Sox.

    But they are right in the thick of it all.

    With a young team that is ahead of schedule, it would not be the worst thing in the world if Cleveland faded toward the end of the season. But the Guardians have a surplus of middle infielders to sort out before having some clarity on their future plans.

    No matter what their record is in July, Cleveland needs to sort out its infielder hierarchy between Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Ernie Clement, Owen Miller, Gabriel Arias, Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio.

    Figure out who to keep and who to trade.

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