The 2021 MLB trade deadline is approaching fast, with front offices weighing their biggest needs before 4 p.m. ET on July 30 arrives.
Will the Chicago Cubs deal away some of their best-known players, including Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, before they hit the free-agent market this winter? Are the Minnesota Twins ready to make blockbuster trades sending away Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz and Jose Berrios after a disappointing first half of the season? Could All-Stars Joey Gallo, Max Scherzer and Eduardo Escobar be on new teams by the end of the month?
Which of the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies will be among the teams that add a big-name star to their rosters? And what will the New York Yankees decide to do in the midst of an up-and-down season in the Bronx?
Whether your favorite club is looking to add or subtract — or stands somewhere in between — here’s the freshest intel we’re hearing, reaction to completed deals and what to know for every team as trade season unfolds.
MLB trade deadline buzz
July 22 updates
A reliever to watch … if the Mariners will trade him: Teams and scouts are intrigued by Seattle reliever Kendall Graveman, but no one is quite sure which direction the Mariners want to go. Seattle is on the outskirts of the wild-card race but could capitalize on a career season by Graveman, who is several years removed from Tommy John surgery.
A contender would probably use him as a setup man rather than a closer. If the Mariners subtract at the deadline, one executive thought Graveman would be the best under-the-radar pickup. “He’s not Craig Kimbrel but he gets outs.” As of Thursday, Graveman has given up just 15 hits in 30 innings this season. — Jesse Rogers
When will the Cubs make their moves? Other teams continue to say that the Cubs haven’t set the hard asks on return for their big names yet, but the expectation is they will before the July 30 deadline. Kris Bryant and the New York Mets are a possible fit. Craig Kimbrel could help lots of teams, and Anthony Rizzo fits the Boston Red Sox perfectly. — Jesse Rogers
How Castellanos injury could change Reds’ deadline status: All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos, leading the NL with a .329 average and 29 doubles, revealed that he has a microfracture in his right wrist, an injury that could sideline him for a couple of weeks. Will this change their thinking? They are 6½ games behind the Brewers and have lost five of six since the All-Star break — and also have three key relievers on the IL. Castellanos has an opt-out clause after the season, and he might exercise that given his big year. Castellanos and Luis Castillo would certainly be two of the more interesting trade chips if the Reds do reverse course. Their next seven games, against the Cardinals and Cubs, could decide which direction they go. — David Schoenfield
Red Sox taking big-picture deadline approach: Boston is taking an open-minded approach to the deadline. Don’t expect the team to go all-in on the 2021 season, despite its position atop the American League East. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is keeping his vision of sustained success over a long period of time in mind, so the likelihood of the team trading away top prospects like Triston Casas or Jarren Duran for a short-term rental will likely be slim.
The Red Sox face a big hole at first base in terms of offensive production with Bobby Dalbec struggling throughout the course of the season. Also expect the team to poke around at upgrades around pitching and the outfield. The production of Duran and young starter Tanner Houck will help guide decisions on how to approach trade strategy. Regardless of whether or not they upgrade in the short term to go for a championship in 2021, Boston will explore trades that improve the team’s long-term standing at all positions on the field. — Joon Lee
How does Schoop fit in Detroit’s plans? One of the questions that the Tigers’ front office has to answer is: Does Jonathan Schoop have more value in an asset swap before the July 30 trade deadline or in staying with the Tigers, riding the team’s current wave of success, and continuing to help reset the level of expectation? Schoop, 29, is having a good season, hitting .288 with an OPS of .804. He is swinging well, hitting .328 with 29 extra-base hits in 64 games since May 6. — Buster Olney
July 21 updates
Scouts flock to Cubs-Cardinals series: There were a half-dozen scouts watching the Cubs and Cardinals on Tuesday night, including two from the White Sox. They are in search of some relief help and saw Cubs right-hander Ryan Tepera pitch a clean seventh inning just as White Sox right-hander Ryan Burr was giving up a lead to the Minnesota Twins. Tepera could be on the White Sox’s radar, as could left-hander Andrew Chafin — though their need is more from the right side than the left. The Mets and Phillies were in attendance to see Kris Bryant make a diving catch in the field.
On the other side, St. Louis is less likely to subtract from its team despite being in the same position in the standings as the Cubs. Trading for Nolan Arenado meant competing, not retooling. Getting healthy on the mound is No. 1 on the Cardinals’ minds. — Jesse Rogers
Three California contenders looking for pitching: Sources indicate it’s an arms race in California. From Oakland to San Diego to Los Angeles, contenders are looking for pitching. Cubs starter Zach Davies could end up back on the West Coast, where he pitched for the Padres last season. Expect the Padres, A’s and Dodgers to add starters and relievers by July 30. — Rogers
Rest of NL East could be aggressive as Mets struggle: This has been noted by rival executives: The three teams chasing the New York Mets in the National League East — the Philadelphia Phillies, the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals — are all led by baseball ops chiefs who are historically aggressive in adding to their rosters in-season.
Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves’ GM, has already added outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher Stephen Vogt, and knows that catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Huascar Ynoa will be back in the middle of August. The Phillies’ Dave Dombrowski has a long history of deal-making in his years with the Expos, Marlins, Tigers and Red Sox — and typically, a lot of his in-season trades have worked out for his teams, like the Tigers’ acquisition of Doug Fister. And the Nationals are fronted by Mike Rizzo, whose bullpen additions helped to turn his 2019 team from an early-season disaster to the world champions.
One evaluator said: “They can all see how [vulnerable] the Mets are.” — Buster Olney
Why the Reds could add at the deadline: According to Fangraphs, the Cincinnati Reds have less than a 20% chance of making the playoffs, the sort of numbers that would dissuade some teams from reinvesting in their players. But the Reds’ Bob Castellini is not your typical owner: He’s hypercompetitive and doesn’t make a habit of giving up, and while Cincinnati faces a sizable gap in the NL Central race, it is currently in the market seeking bullpen help. Something that could help the Reds’ chances down the stretch: They appear to have a favorable schedule ahead, with 13 of their final 67 games — and nine of their final 18 — against the Pittsburgh Pirates. — Olney
What Cleveland could do at the deadline: At a time when Cleveland is far behind in the AL Central, the front office may fix its focus to 2022 — and that could mean addressing a catching crunch right now. Roberto Perez, 32, is under contract for $7 million for 2022, and Austin Hedges, 28, will be arbitration-eligible this winter before reaching free agency in the fall. They are similar as players, perceived as defense-first, and so the Indians are open to discussing a deal for either player. Other teams believe that the Indians will also move at least one reliever — and an obvious candidate is Bryan Shaw, the veteran right-hander who has pitched effectively this season and is making minimum wage. — Olney
Mets looking for starting pitching: No team is more desperate for starting pitching right now than the Mets. Acting general manager Zack Scott was on the “Big Time Baseball” podcast Tuesday and confirmed, “That’s definitely our priority and has been for a while.”
The Mets have used 15 starting pitchers already, Jacob deGrom is back on the IL, fill-in starter Robert Stock left his Tuesday start after one inning after injuring himself running to first base, and Carlos Carrasco‘s rehab start in Triple-A was a disaster. He walked three and allowed three home runs in 1⅔ innings. — David Schoenfield
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