Each position's best Trade Deadline option

June 30th, 2021

As play began Tuesday, 18 of MLB's 30 teams found themselves within six games of a postseason spot. That means at least 60 percent of Major League clubs should enter July with a legitimate shot at the playoffs, giving team executives plenty to think about with the Trade Deadline just one month away.

As is often the case, pitching figures to dominate the trade talk, as every single team could benefit from the addition of an arm or two (or, in some cases, more). But a number of contenders will look to shore up other spots on their respective rosters. So which players could help fill those needs?

Here, MLB.com looks at the best player available at each position, along with the “Buzz Factor” surrounding them as the calendar prepares to turn to July.

C: , Padres
Although we don’t typically include prospects on this list, we’ll make an exception for two reasons. First, there aren’t many notable big-league catchers that appear to be available, and not many contenders are in need of help behind the plate. Second, the Padres are set at the position with Victor Caratini and Austin Nola, so if general manager A.J. Preller plans to make a big splash at the Trade Deadline, Campusano appears to be a top prospect that could be expendable in a deal.

Buzz Factor: Low. Campusano is the Padres’ No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline (and No. 31 overall in MLB’s Top 100), so it will take a major deal for him to be moved. Then again, when it comes to Preller, it’s difficult to discount almost anything.

1B: , Rockies 
The Rockies signed Cron to a one-year, $1 million contract this offseason, a deal that has paid off for Colorado. Cron has 10 home runs and an .804 OPS through 64 games, providing solid production at a bargain price. For a team in need of help at first base, Cron could be one of the best -- and most affordable -- options.  

Buzz Factor: Medium. Colorado will almost definitely be among the more aggressive sellers during the next month, and given Cron’s expiring contract, there’s no reason to think the Rockies would hesitate to move him. He’s been hot in recent weeks, and with mid-market clubs such as the Indians and Brewers potentially in the mix for a first baseman, he figures to be a popular name in trade rumors.

2B: , Pirates
Possibly the most buzzworthy player on this year’s market, Frazier is a potential fit for a number of contenders. His positional versatility (he has played all three outfield positions in his career and made cameos at shortstop and third base) and additional year of control should make the 29-year-old an appealing candidate, bringing back a decent return for the Pirates.

Buzz Factor: High. Frazier’s name has already been attached to multiple clubs including the Yankees and White Sox, and while the Pirates could opt to hang on to him and field offers in the offseason, his strong season at the plate (.871 OPS through 76 games, more than 100 points higher than his career average) has vaulted his value to an all-time high.

SS: , Rockies
Arguably the biggest name on the trade block this summer, Story should be wearing a new uniform sometime after the Rockies host the All-Star Game next month. Story started out slow in 2021, but his recent hot streak has reminded everybody why he’s considered one of the top shortstops in the game.

Buzz Factor: High. Story is headed for free agency at the end of the season, and given the minuscule chances that he remains in Colorado, the two-time All-Star is a near-lock to be traded. The only question is which team will make the move and what kind of return the Rockies can get for their best player.

3B: , Diamondbacks
Based on recent reports, Escobar could be the next player to be moved, as a source confirmed that the Diamondbacks and White Sox have engaged in talks. Escobar has rebounded from a subpar 2020 season, posting a .768 OPS with 17 home runs through his first 76 games. Chicago needs help at second base following Nick Madrigal’s season-ending injury, making this a solid match given Escobar’s versatility.

Buzz Factor: High. If this deal isn’t done by the time you read this, it could happen at any moment. If it falls through, Escobar -- who is owed about $3.75 million for the rest of the season and will be a free agent at the end of the year -- should be highly coveted by a number of contenders.

OF: , Mariners
The Mariners have climbed above .500 following a 10-3 run over the past couple weeks, though it remains to be seen whether this latest surge will stop GM Jerry Dipoto from selling this Trade Deadline. Haniger has finally stayed healthy following a pair of injury-riddled seasons, posting a .789 OPS with 17 home runs in his first 74 games. With outfield prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez in the mix, the Mariners are in a position to move Haniger to add more young talent to the roster.

Buzz Factor: Medium. Many expect Haniger to be moved by July 30, but what if the Mariners continue to play well and move within striking distance in the AL West? The 30-year-old is earning just $3.01 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for one more year, making him an affordable option for numerous contenders.

OF: , Rangers
Texas has just three players making more than $5 million this season, and given the Rangers’ record it won’t be surprising to see them try to move payroll. Gallo -- who is earning $6.2 million this season -- has 16 home runs and a propensity for getting on base, evidenced by his league-high 61 walks, making him a fit for teams in need of some pop. Although Gallo has played exclusively in right field this season, he has experience at both corner-infield positions during his career.

Buzz Factor: Medium. Gallo is arbitration-eligible for one more year, so the Rangers could wait to shop him in the offseason in order to get more teams involved. But several teams are in need of an outfield bat, putting Texas in good position to move the 27-year-old in the coming weeks.

OF: , Marlins
The Marlins dealt Corey Dickerson to the Blue Jays on Tuesday, but don’t expect him to be the only Miami outfielder on the move before July 30. Marte -- who is earning $12.5 million this season, more than double the Marlins’ next-highest-paid player -- will be a free agent at the end of the year, putting him firmly on track to be traded.

Buzz Factor: High. High-profile teams, including the Yankees, could use help in center field, and Marte is among the best of the available bunch. Miami could pay down some of his salary to improve the caliber of prospect it receives in return.

DH: , Twins
The Twins expected to contend for their third consecutive American League Central title, but the season started off poorly and Minnesota has never recovered. Cruz, who turns 41 on Thursday, has been one of the few Twins players to thrive, belting 17 home runs with 42 RBIs and a .935 OPS through 67 games. A handful of AL contenders could use a power boost at the DH spot, making Cruz a prime candidate for a trade given his expiring contract.

Buzz Factor: High. The Twins figure to be sellers in the coming weeks, and as much as Cruz has meant to the team during his three years in Minnesota, his bat is being wasted during the Twins’ disappointing season.

SP: , Rangers
There don’t seem to be many big-name starters hitting the trade market, leaving Gibson as the best of the bunch. The 33-year-old righty leads the AL with a 2.00 ERA, his finest season since he pitched to a 3.62 ERA in 32 starts for the Twins in 2018.

Buzz Factor: Medium. Gibson isn’t a lock to be dealt, as he is under control through 2022 for a total of roughly $12 million and could be moved in the offseason. But the Rangers are rebuilding and could benefit by acquiring a prospect or two in exchange for Gibson, who is the highest-paid player on the team at $9 million.

RP: , Pirates
Relievers are always in demand come July, and this summer should be no different. Rodríguez is having a superb season for the last-place Pirates, posting a 1.78 ERA and 0.692 WHIP in 30 1/3 innings. For a contender in need of a late-inning arm, Rodríguez -- who is earning $1.7 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for two more years -- would be a sensible target.

Buzz Factor: Medium. The Pirates are expected to be sellers, but given Rodríguez’s two-plus years of control, GM Ben Cherington won’t have to settle for the best offer if he isn’t overwhelmed. Given Rodríguez's performance this season, however, plenty of offers should be out there.