Each team's biggest question after the Trade Deadline

August 3rd, 2023

The Trade Deadline is now behind us and the baseball landscape has changed as we head into the stretch run of the regular season with an eye toward October. Following all the wheeling and dealing as teams looked to improve their chances of reaching and succeeding in the postseason, what is each club's biggest question now that the dust has settled?

With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here's a look at what every team is asking post-Deadline:

American League East

Blue Jays: Is the offense enough?
On paper, absolutely, but that’s not where the game is played. The Blue Jays need more out of their stars, particularly Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer, and this lineup needs to be more consistent as a whole. The Blue Jays have struggled with situational hitting, but outside of the addition of Paul DeJong to cover them at shortstop while Bo Bichette deals with a knee injury, there were no further additions on offense. A lefty-mashing bench bat would have looked awfully nice in Toronto, but now, they need this to come from within and that starts with a handful of stars living up to their potential. -- Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Did they add enough pitching?
It was no secret Baltimore was going to target pitching help, and it bolstered its staff with the additions of right-handed starter Jack Flaherty and righty reliever Shintaro Fujinami. Over the past two weeks, Fujinami has already proven to be a high-leverage option out of the bullpen, and Flaherty could be a great fit in the rotation over the next two-plus months. But do the Orioles have the pitching to make a deep October run? They’ll also need to try to keep their arms fresh, with an assortment of pitchers already approaching their career-high innings totals. -- Jake Rill

Rays: Can they catch the Orioles?
The Rays held a 6 1/2-game division lead at the end of June, only to find themselves 1 1/2 games behind Baltimore a month later after their bats went cold throughout a brutal July. But Tampa Bay has its sights set on the AL East title after adding starter Aaron Civale from Cleveland on Monday. The Rays seem to have hit their stride again with a pair of series wins in Houston and the Bronx, but can they close the gap the next two months? It may come down to a four-game series at Camden Yards in late September. -- Adam Berry

Red Sox: Can they bridge the gap until Sale, others return?
With Chris Sale, Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock all on the injured list together over the last month-plus, manager Alex Cora has done a nice job piecing the staff together with bullpen games and bulk-inning performances. You wonder if the bullpen will eventually wear down with so much asked of it. Sale could be back by Aug. 11. Houck and Whitlock could come a week or so later. This final stretch without them could go a long way towards determining if the Sox -- a team that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom labeled an underdog while not making a significant move leading up to the Trade Deadline -- can stay in contention. -- Ian Browne

Yankees: Can they change the storyline?
Reggie Jackson used to say that “as long as you hold a bat in your hands, you can change the story.” That’s a phrase favored by general manager Brian Cashman, who is now challenging his roster to reverse what has been a disappointing campaign thus far. Caught in between buying and selling at the Trade Deadline, the Yanks essentially did neither, adding only a couple of bullpen arms. That hardly solves their season-long offensive issues, and while Aaron Judge’s return makes the lineup more formidable, the simple truth is that this team is going nowhere unless DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton can hit to the backs of their baseball cards. There’s still time to change the story, but it’s running out. -- Bryan Hoch

AL Central

Guardians: Are they still contenders?
At the time the Guardians traded their hottest starter, Aaron Civale, on Monday, the team sat just a half-game behind the first-place Twins in the AL Central. No matter what their record is, they’re still well within striking distance of reclaiming the division title. But can they still do that without one of their main starters and after also trading Amed Rosario and Josh Bell for no immediate offensive help? That may be hard to do. The Guardians are hoping that with more opportunities for younger players, they’ll be able to walk the fine line of developing and winning like they did last year. But with so many injuries to their starting rotation, it may be difficult to repeat the feat. -- Mandy Bell

Royals: How does this set the stage for the offseason?
The Royals have plenty of areas they need to improve to become competitive again, and one way to do that is trading away a few stars while getting a return that doesn’t move the Major League club backward. Kansas City explored a deal involving reliever Carlos Hernández, a 26-year-old who is still in pre-arbitration, but didn’t get the offer they liked. They also explored a deal for veteran catcher Salvador Perez but also didn’t feel like they were going to get the return they wanted for their captain and All-Star. These conversations will be revisited this offseason. How the Royals use them to improve their team remains to be seen. -- Anne Rogers

Tigers: What’s next with Eduardo Rodriguez?
Rodriguez’s decision not to approve a trade to the Dodgers, a right negotiated into the contract he signed to join the Tigers as a free agent two years ago, puts president of baseball operations Scott Harris in a potentially tough spot. Rodriguez can opt out of the remaining three years and $49 million of that contract at season’s end and become a free agent. Because the Red Sox extended Rodriguez a qualifying offer two years ago before he signed with Detroit, he cannot be offered another, so the Tigers would not get a Draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere. So Harris’ only option is to try to negotiate a contract extension, assuming Rodriguez opts out. Rodriguez has made it clear he loves Detroit, so that helps. -- Jason Beck

Twins: Did they just make a huge mistake?
In both 2021 and '22, the Twins went into the season with expectations of competing and turned in hugely disappointing results. Will their complete lack of activity at this Trade Deadline send them to an even tougher collapse? The only trade they made was a minor reliever swap of Dylan Floro for Jorge López, as they ultimately didn’t find a deal that cleared their bar and held pat. But if things go awry down the stretch -- injuries or continued lack of offensive consistency -- they could face the notion of a third straight year of disappointment. That could waste their best pitching staff in recent memory and perhaps fall short in the least competitive division yet. -- Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: What direction is the team going?
Rumors ran rampant Tuesday about a potential Dylan Cease trade, which would have been an indication the White Sox might be headed toward yet another rebuild, especially since the club has contractual control over the right-handed ace through 2025. But Cease stayed put, and if he starts next year with the White Sox, what does that indicate in the team’s bigger picture? After trading away six pitchers, the White Sox will need to add arms at the very least. Both general manager Rick Hahn and manager Pedro Grifol acknowledged these moves made the organization stronger overall, but added that the focus is just as much for '24 as it is for '25 and '26. -- Scott Merkin

AL West

Angels: Did they do enough to make the postseason?
The Angels were as aggressive as anyone leading up to the Trade Deadline, acquiring infielders Eduardo Escobar, Mike Moustakas and C.J. Cron; relievers Reynaldo López and Dominic Leone; outfielder Randal Grichuk and starter Lucas Giolito via trades. They made those moves despite being three games out of the AL Wild Card chase, but they’re doing everything possible to make it to the postseason in the last year of Shohei Ohtani’s contract. The Angels are all in on 2023 in an attempt to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. -- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Is reuniting with Verlander and Graveman enough for a repeat?
The Astros addressed their two biggest needs at the Trade Deadline by acquiring a back-end reliever in Kendall Graveman from the White Sox, and a starter in Justin Verlander from the Mets. Both are familiar faces who have had past success in Houston. Sure, the Astros could have used a left-handed bat, but when the lineup is at full strength, it’s good enough. Now the question becomes whether the additions of Verlander and Graveman strengthened their pitching enough to get them back to the World Series and make a run at a repeat championship. -- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Can the young players establish themselves as big leaguers?
With Jace Peterson’s trade to the D-backs creating an opening at third base, the opportunity is there for 22-year-old rookie Jordan Diaz to cement himself as the everyday player at the hot corner. Tyler Soderstrom (Oakland's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and Zack Gelof (No. 3), both of whom are viewed as potential franchise cornerstones, are also now in the big leagues and should get regular playing time over the final two months of the season. -- Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Will they regret not adding more?
This could just as easily be a wider question dating back to last offseason, when Seattle’s offensive additions were Teoscar Hernández, Kolten Wong, AJ Pollock, Tommy La Stella and Cooper Hummel. Only Hernández was on the big league roster after the Deadline, and the others are gone for a lack of production. Couple those misses with a very thin market for bats, and a Mariners offense that has been mostly middling will be on the hook for finding a groove over these final eight weeks, or Seattle will retain its standing on the outside looking in come October. -- Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Should they have gotten another bat?
As general manager Chris Young says, you can never have too much pitching. The Rangers' only Trade Deadline acquisitions were two starting pitchers, a reliever and a defense-first catcher. That will no doubt revamp the banged-up pitching staff, but amid a battle with the Astros in the AL West, did they need another bat for the stretch run? Will the DH rotation of Mitch Garver, Robbie Grossman and Brad Miller be enough to keep Texas afloat? Young said at the Deadline that he’s confident with the depth and versatility of the lineup as it stands. That’ll be put to the test down the stretch. -- Kennedi Landry

National League East

Braves: Should they have added a starting pitcher?
President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos checked in on every available starting pitcher and decided to pass on gaining some insurance. Bryce Elder’s past two starts enhanced hope the Braves can count on at least four of their rotation spots. They can mix and match with AJ Smith-Shawver, Michael Soroka and others in the fifth spot. If Max Fried’s left forearm doesn’t prove to be a lingering issue, the postseason rotation should be strong. But if the fourth and fifth rotation spots are problematic down the stretch, the bullpen could enter October fatigued. -- Mark Bowman

Marlins: Did they do enough to reach the postseason?
In a wide open NL Wild Card race, Miami added 36 homers and 100 RBIs to one of the lowest-scoring lineups by acquiring Jake Burger and Josh Bell. Plus, Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Avisaíl García recently returned from the injured list. Is that enough to complement the pitching staff? And despite David Robertson blowing a save on Tuesday, he and Jorge López's insertion into the bullpen should be considered upgrades. -- Christina De Nicola

Mets: Can they be competitive in 2024?
In trading both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander prior to the Deadline, the Mets shifted their most competitive window from the present day to 2025 and beyond. But general manager Billy Eppler still intends to build a solid roster through free agency this winter. What that looks like (and how expensive it gets) are questions for another day. For now, the most important thing the Mets must do is determine which players will be part of their short-term future. It’s an open question that includes first baseman Pete Alonso, who is only under team control through next season. -- Anthony DiComo

Nationals: Which young talents will contribute this season?
After the Nationals traded veteran Jeimer Candelario to the Cubs in their only move at the Trade Deadline, they called up their No. 27 prospect Jake Alu to see regular playing time at third base. Manager Dave Martinez explained: "The opportunity to give another young kid a chance to play is what we’re looking for right now." Now it remains to be seen which other prospects will get the same kind of opportunity. -- Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Will they hit?
Ask any Phillies fan and they will tell you they wanted the Phillies to acquire a big bat before the Trade Deadline because the offense has been inconsistent for much of the season. They did not, acquiring only utility infielder Rodolfo Castro from the Pirates. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is banking on the superstars in his lineup -- Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber -- finding their groove in the season’s final two months. -- Todd Zolecki

NL Central

Brewers: Did they do enough to bolster the offense?
The Brewers are last in the NL in OPS at first base and right field, so GM Matt Arnold did something about it without emptying the system of prospects. In Carlos Santana, the Brewers even improved the defense while getting a switch-hitter with some power for first base. In Mark Canha, they got a slightly-above-average hitter (102 OPS+) whose history and sub-.300 batting average on balls in play suggest he has upside over the next two months. But while those two veterans can surely help, it was not the big splash many fans were hoping for. Trouble is, there weren’t many -- or any -- splashy bats on this year’s market. -- Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: What can they do now to add starting pitching in 2024?
As if the Cardinals didn’t already have a busy offseason ahead of them, the degree of difficulty ramped up when they were unable to land an MLB-ready starter before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. The Cards have just two established starters -- Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz -- under contract for 2024 after dealing away Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery. Their five deals before Tuesday netted them 10 players (seven pitchers) but only one with MLB experience (John King). To land pitching, the Cards will have to be aggressive in free agency and the trade market. If Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Lars Nootbaar and Tommy Edman can play well, they might increase their trade value and bring back better pitching in a deal. -- John Denton

Cubs: Can Marcus Stroman quickly get back on track?
Over his last seven outings for the Cubs, Stroman has logged a 9.00 ERA, allowing 30 earned runs in 30 innings during that stretch before being placed on the 15-day injured list Wednesday with right hip inflammation. It has been a tough showing that dates back to Stroman’s early exit in his London Series start on June 25 due to a blister on his pitching hand, though Stroman said Wednesday he thinks the hip issue is behind his recent struggles. Stroman, who expects to only miss one start, spun a 2.28 ERA in his first 16 outings and made the All-Star team. That is the pitcher the North Siders need again for the stretch run. -- Jordan Bastian

Pirates: How does the starting rotation cover innings the rest of the way?
Entering Spring Training, the Pirates had eight starters on their 40-man roster who projected to toss Major League innings. Of those eight, three had season-ending surgery (JT Brubaker, Mike Burrows and Vince Velasquez) and one was traded (Rich Hill). Additionally, Roansy Contreras is with the Rookie level FCL Pirates after struggling for weeks, and Luis Ortiz is struggling in Triple-A. Newly acquired Bailey Falter should contribute innings, but the Pirates will have to figure out who covers innings moving forward. -- Justice delos Santos

Reds: Can the rotation get them into the playoffs?
They may have been buyers seeking rotation and bullpen help, but the Reds came away from the Trade Deadline with only lefty reliever Sam Moll arriving from Oakland. Cincinnati starters entered Wednesday ranked 28th in ERA, but have performed significantly better since the All-Star break. The club is also banking on Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo both returning from injuries before the end of August. Without a big addition, the Reds will have to hope that Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft, Greene, Lodolo and any other arm they use is enough to get them into October. -- Mark Sheldon

NL West

D-backs: Did they do enough?
The D-backs believe they got the kind of lock-down closer they’ve been looking for over the past few years when they acquired Paul Sewald from the Mariners. They also added infielder Jace Peterson to give them some depth and outfielder Tommy Pham provides a power right-handed bat for a left-handed-heavy outfield. They also picked up Peter Strzelecki for some bullpen depth. But will that be enough to help get them going in the right direction? Arizona was 8-16 in July, falling from first place in the NL West to third. They were not able to add a starting pitcher and will instead have to rely on their young hurlers to get the job done. -- Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Will the starting pitching hold up?
The Dodgers went into the Trade Deadline needing a pair of quality starters to help a shockingly poor rotation, and they did close to nothing to fill that need. Los Angeles acquired Lance Lynn from the White Sox, and he is expected to be a big help. But after striking out on Eduardo Rodriguez, who didn’t waive his no-trade clause to come to Los Angeles, and Justin Verlander, the Dodgers are left with a lot of questions about a rotation that posted a 6.18 ERA in July. -- Juan Toribio

Giants: Will the veteran bats pick it up down the stretch?
Despite ranking 30th in the Majors in virtually every offensive category in July, the Giants made only one move at the Trade Deadline, acquiring outfielder AJ Pollock in a minor deal with the Mariners. Without making any significant upgrades to their slumping lineup, the Giants will need regulars like Michael Conforto, Joc Pederson, Brandon Crawford, J.D. Davis and LaMonte Wade Jr. to deliver steady production over the final two months and take some pressure off a pitching staff that has performed well despite regularly using openers to fill three of their five rotation spots. -- Maria Guardado

Padres: Can they turn their season around and make this all worth it?
Other teams made bolder moves at the Trade Deadline. But there may have been no bolder team at the Deadline than the Padres, who -- despite sitting five games out of a playoff spot, needing to jump three teams in front of them -- decided to add to their roster in three separate trades. Meanwhile, they hung onto Blake Snell and Josh Hader, who might’ve become the two best players on the trade market. The reality of San Diego’s Deadline acquisitions is that they were mostly depth additions, making a thin roster far more complete. The Padres were already pot-committed this season, and they pushed a few more chips to the middle on Tuesday. They’re going to need a playoff berth (at least) to make it all worth it. -- AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Who is next?
Trades that moved veterans out of Denver mean that, for most games, rookies Ezequiel Tovar (who has been in the lineup since Opening Day), Nolan Jones, Brenton Doyle and Michael Toglia, as well as second-year man Elehuris Montero have a good shot to be in the starting lineup. Will there be more prospects coming to Denver? Catcher Drew Romo (Rockies' No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline) and catcher/utilityman Hunter Goodman (No. 13) are among touted prospects that have been at Double-A Hartford all season and providing power -- Goodman all year, Romo recently. Outfielders Yanquiel Fernandez (No. 87 in the MLB Pipeline Top 100, No. 3 for the Rockies) and Jordan Beck (No. 98 and No. 4) moved up from High-A Spokane to Hartford, and are clearly on the radar. -- Thomas Harding