The hot stove is heating up with Major League Baseball's annual trade deadline fast approaching.
MLB has made some significant changes to the deadline in recent years that have impacted the way teams handle trade season. The waiver deadline, which used to run through Aug. 31, was dropped prior to the 2019 season.
Another change to the deadline this year is the date. The traditional non-waiver deadline has been July 31, but that has been moved to July 30 this season. There have already been a few notable moves made, though contending teams are always looking to do more.
Here's all of the information to prepare you for what might happen this trade season.
2021 MLB Trade Deadline Information
Date: July 30
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Latest Rumors and Predictions
Will the Nationals Sell?
Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn't accustomed to selling at the deadline, but it's also been a long time since the franchise has been in this position.
The Nationals enter Wednesday 7.5 games behind the New York Mets in the National League East with a 46-54 record. Stephen Strasburg is going to miss the rest of the season and will undergo neck surgery Wednesday.
Given their current spot in the standings, the Nationals have become a popular source of trade speculation.
Dan Federico of SI reported Washington is willing to discuss anyone on the roster in a trade except Juan Soto.
Per ESPN'sJeff Passan, the Tampa Bay Rays have had "preliminary discussions" about Max Scherzer. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported Monday that there has been "a lot of interest" in Trea Turner.
Turner's situation got slightly more complicated on Tuesday night when he was removed in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies due to MLB's COVID-19 protocols.
Scherzer will be difficult to move because he has no-trade rights as a player with at least 10 years of experience and five years with the same team. His contract is also structured oddly with $15 million in deferred money that will be paid out between 2022-28.
Per MLB Network's Jon Heyman, Scherzer has said he would prefer to be traded to a contending team and play on the west coast.
All three National League West contenders—San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres—have a need for a starting pitcher of Scherzer's caliber.
To this point, there's been no indication any of them will make a play for the 37-year-old. It's possible a move could happen, but the Nationals will likely ask a high price for their ace.
The same could also be said for Turner, who is under team control through the 2022 season. He will probably cost even more than Scherzer because of that additional year of control.
Given all of these factors, it's hard to envision the Nationals going into a full-scale sell mode. They might move a few secondary pieces, but none of their top stars seem likely to be dealt.
Prediction: The Nationals won't sell
Where is Kris Bryant Going?
Unlike the Nationals, the Chicago Cubs have already indicated they will sell. Joc Pederson and Andrew Chafin have been dealt. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez seem like strong candidates to be moved in the next 48 hours.
Bryant, in particular, could be spending his final days in a Chicago uniform. A number of playoff contenders have reportedly checked in on the 2016 National League MVP.
Per Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Giants have talked with the Cubs about Bryant.
Morosi added the Cubs are "evaluating" Joey Bart, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, as a possible piece to request from San Francisco.
Passan also reported the Rays have checked in on Bryant. After already acquiring Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins, adding Bryant would make the reigning AL champions a strong threat to get back to the World Series.
If the Giants were willing to use Bart in a deal, he is good enough to headline a package for Bryant. The 24-year-old is the No. 17 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com. He's hitting .310/.372/.532 with nine homers in 44 games at Triple-A this season.
Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reported the Giants "are backing off" any discussions with the Cubs that include Bart.
The Rays have a wealth of prospects they can deal, though there will undoubtedly be some untouchables. Wander Franco seems unlikely to be moved for a player who is going to hit free agency after the season.
Based on how different the financial situations are for both teams, the Giants should have a huge edge in that regard. They would seemingly have no problem fitting in the remainder of Bryant's $19.5 million salary.
Prediction: Bryant goes to Giants
Who Will be the Best Player Traded?
There doesn't appear to be a huge number of stars available, but rumors about some have been floating around in recent days.
Assuming Bryant gets traded, he will probably be the biggest star on the move. One potential sleeper candidate is Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The Twins, like the Cubs, have already started to sell after moving Cruz to the Rays last week. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the Milwaukee Brewers have checked in on Donaldson, though he did note it could be a long shot since the former AL MVP is still owed around $60 million through 2023.
Milwaukee has been one of the best teams in the NL this season. Its 59-42 record has given the club a seven game lead in the NL Central.
The Brewers' success has come largely on the strength of a dominant pitching rotation. The lineup ranks 29th in batting average (.223), 15th in runs scored (439) and 22nd in OPS (.697).
Third base has been a problem spot in Milwaukee. Its getting a .231/.307/.397 slash line with 14 homers from the position this season.
Donaldson is having an outstanding 2021 with a .250/.357/.482 slash line and 16 homers in 82 games.
The Twins may not want to get rid of players signed beyond this season. It wouldn't be hard for the front office to talk itself into believing this year's struggles are more of an aberration than a symptom of a larger problem.
On the off chance the Twins do try to tear things down, Donaldson could be a prime trade candidate. He is owed a lot of money, but his production suggests that contract will age well.
A team like Milwaukee, which is built to win now and has quality high-end prospects like Garret Mitchell and Brice Turang it could include in a deal, should be motivated to go big in a trade this season.