Each team's strategy for the Trade Deadline

July 16th, 2023

To buy or not to buy? That is the Trade Deadline question.

However, it's not a binary choice for everyone. A team's record, payroll and place in the playoff picture are just a few of the factors considered before one decides to go all-in as buyers, look toward the future as sellers or do something in between. The path can be different for each club.

With that said, here is every team's strategy leading up to the Aug. 1 Deadline.


Blue Jays: Buy … selectively
The Blue Jays should be aggressive, as rosters with this much talent don’t stick around forever, but where is the area they need to upgrade over an everyday player? The rotation will be a major priority as Toronto lacks depth, and another strong right-handed bat is on the list, but these moves could be more complementary than blockbuster. Keep in mind that the Blue Jays are always looking a year or two down the road, as most of the pitchers they’ve acquired at recent Deadlines had multiple years of control remaining. -- Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Buy -- for real this time
Last year, Baltimore was 52-51 at the Trade Deadline and in the thick of the American League Wild Card race. Some expected the O’s to be buyers for the first time since Mike Elias became general manager prior to the 2019 season. Yet, they again acted as sellers, dealing All-Star closer Jorge López to the Twins and fan-favorite slugger Trey Mancini to the Astros. The ‘23 Deadline should be different, as Baltimore is 57-35, giving it the second-best record in the AL and the third-best mark in MLB. In order to bolster their postseason push, the Orioles should trade for pitching, and there’s a good chance they could do so, given their wealth of position-player depth. But Elias isn’t going to overpay, so it will depend on how the trade market develops. -- Jake Rill

Rays: Buy pitching and more pitching
The Rays have the American League’s best record (60-36) and one of the best ERAs in the Majors (3.70). How much pitching could they possibly need? Plenty, as the first half showed. They can feel great about the top three arms in the rotation – Shane McClanahan, Zach Eflin and Tyler Glasnow – as long as they stay healthy. And they believe rookie starter Taj Bradley will continue to get better. But they could use another mid-rotation arm after officially losing Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen for the season. They pursued help in the bullpen during the first half, adding experienced relievers in Jake Diekman, Robert Stephenson and Zack Littell. Right-hander and 2021 All-Star Andrew Kittredge will soon return, a huge boost, but they could use another high-leverage arm to bolster the group in front of Pete Fairbanks. -- Adam Berry

Red Sox: Balancing act
The Red Sox are tied for last place in the loaded American League East, but they are just three games out of third and very much in the AL Wild Card race. The club’s play for the rest of July will have a lot to do with how chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom approaches the Trade Deadline. Whether they are in buy or sell mode, don’t be surprised if the Sox offload a position player to alleviate the logjam so that outfielder Jarren Duran can play every day. The one sure thing if the Sox stay in the race is that Bloom will try to add starting pitching to a rotation that has been decimated by injuries. -- Ian Browne

Yankees: Kicking tires
General manager Brian Cashman says he’s open to anything that would make the Yankees better. This year, they’ll likely try to improve upon the margins as they aim to trim ground on a postseason spot. Cashman doesn’t have much payroll flexibility, as the Yanks are wary of further exceeding the luxury tax threshold. There’s also no temptation to execute a 2016-style selloff, not with key pieces such as Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes and (hopefully) Aaron Judge filtering back into the clubhouse. Early reports have the Yanks looking at pitching, but they really should address left field; the Yanks’ attempt to run it back with Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera flopped hard. -- Bryan Hoch


Guardians: Buy by selling
With starter Shane Bieber now sidelined with right elbow inflammation, shortstop Amed Rosario may be the easiest player to move from the big league roster to get a Major League-ready bat without hurting the club too much (as strange as it may sound). If the Guardians get rid of a hitter who has been one of their most consistent over the past two years and has finally started heating up over the past few weeks, it’d be easy to say the team is selling. But if they can get impact players in return, they can buy by selling. -- Mandy Bell

Royals: Sell … but how much?
The Royals already traded one reliever in lefty Aroldis Chapman, sending him to the Rangers for two Minor Leaguers. Kansas City will continue to be involved in the reliever market with closer Scott Barlow, who has been one of the more reliable relievers in the American League over the past three years and has one year of control left. Beyond relievers, the Royals aren’t looking to move much of their young talent -- at least this summer. That could change as the market heats up, and there are a few players outside the core who could be dealt, such as infielders Nicky Lopez and Matt Duffy, or outfielder Edward Olivares, although he is now dealing with a mild oblique injury. But as much as the Royals are sellers, how busy they are this Deadline remains to be seen. -- Anne Rogers

Tigers: Sell
Sure, the Tigers’ flirtation with contention in the AL Central has been refreshing, but it’s based more on the struggles of the rest of the division than any meaningful step forward by Detroit. As nice as a late-season run might be to see, the smart move is to trade ace Eduardo Rodriguez before he can opt out of his contract at season’s end and leave for nothing, and check the market on All-Star starter Michael Lorenzen and relievers Chasen Shreve and José Cisnero before they walk. After that, it’s a judgment call whether the Tigers can get enough prospects in return to justify dealing relievers Alex Lange and/or Jason Foley, each of whom has four years of control left. -- Jason Beck

Twins: Buy, but not aggressively
The Twins didn’t bring back Carlos Correa and extend both Byron Buxton and Pablo López to sell around them when a playoff berth is within reach -- but president of baseball operations Derek Falvey has also indicated that the majority of the club’s offensive improvement will need to come from within. With the farm system largely depleted by aggressive trades in the past two years, expect the Twins to be in the market for relief help and complementary offensive pieces. -- Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Sellers, or so it finally seems
The 40-55 White Sox are not a good baseball team, but the American League Central being just as poor has provided a season-long glimmer of hope for playoff possibilities. Keeping that fact in mind, the South Siders have a fleeting chance to win this less-than-stellar division even with general manager Rick Hahn almost certainly making moves to change the look of this team, involving players with low-control contracts to try to solidify the organization for the future. Their nine-game road trip to start the second half should be the last-ditch opportunity for the players to change that course. -- Scott Merkin


Angels: Were expected to be buyers, but that could change
The Angels were thought to be obvious buyers, especially after trading for infielders Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas to help with their infield depth. But the Angels struggled to end the first half and need to play well for the rest of July to guarantee that general manager Perry Minasian will be aggressive and continue to add pieces. Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is in the last year of his deal, which complicates things, as the Angels want to get to the postseason and convince him to re-sign. But if they fall out of contention by the Trade Deadline, they could pivot and sell. But they’re not expected to trade Ohtani, no matter their record. -- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Buying … as usual
The defending World Series champions will be buyers, which should come as no surprise. But Astros fans who have gotten used to the team pulling off impact midseason deals for players like Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke might want to temper expectations. There’s a case to be made that getting Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve and José Urquidy back from the IL will be enough to bolster their playoff chances. And if they do add, it probably wouldn’t be a big-name player or pitcher. -- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Sell
The selling of players who once contributed to playoff runs in Oakland continued this offseason when Sean Murphy was traded to the Braves as part of a three-team deal. Veteran-type players who could help a contender include right-hander Trevor May and infielders Aledmys Díaz, Jace Peterson and Tony Kemp. Right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn and designated hitter/outfielder Brent Rooker might be the two players who are most attractive to clubs around the league, though there might not be much motivation on the A’s part to trade either, as Blackburn still has one more year left of arbitration while Rooker has four years of control left. -- Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Get that run-producing bat
The good news in Seattle is that the Mariners went into the All-Star break 7-2, closing their gap for an AL Wild Card spot to only four games. If they had spiraled in the other direction, it would’ve put their front office in a precarious spot to potentially sell, rather than add. And if they buy, the Mariners should swing for at least one high-caliber bat. For the second straight year, the Mariners have had a mostly average to below offense. They reached the break with a collective slash line of .233/.312/.391 (.703 OPS), good for a 101 wRC+ (league average is 100). For a team that thrives on the draft, develop and trade model, this is their time to shine. -- Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Buyers -- for pitching, pitching, and more pitching
The Rangers opened the Trade Deadline floodgates early when they traded for Royals reliever Aroldis Chapman on June 30, but Texas still needs more help on the pitching staff. Texas has two starting pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs in Nathan Eovaldi and Dane Dunning, plus Jon Gray with a 3.45 mark, but the rotation still needs depth to make a playoff push behind them. An even bigger issue sits in the bullpen, where the Rangers have a 4.44 ERA, the seventh worst in MLB. Chapman was an important add and will surely move into the closer role sooner rather than later, but even more additions are sure to come. -- Kennedi Landry


Braves: Buy a starting pitcher … maybe?
General manager Alex Anthopoulos will not just sit still over the next couple of weeks. He’ll explore many different opportunities. The main question is what is his team’s biggest need? The bullpen has been strengthened with the improvements made by Joe Jiménez and Kirby Yates. A backup infielder might be the only need from a position player standpoint. So, even with Max Fried possibly just a couple of weeks from being activated, acquiring a starting pitcher might be the best potential move. Bryce Elder has been great. But, like Jared Shuster, AJ Smith-Shawver and Michael Soroka, there’s reason to wonder if he may fatigue in September. -- Mark Bowman

Marlins: Buyers … if there’s a match
As one of MLB's surprise clubs, the Marlins are ready to be buyers for the first time in general manager Kim Ng's tenure. As was the case at last year's Deadline, however, they will not make a move unless they receive appropriate value back. Unfortunately for Miami, it's not much of a buyer's market at the moment with other clubs still trying to figure out where they stand. Adding an impact bat will continue to be the focus. -- Christina De Nicola

Mets: Mostly stand pat
The Mets have played themselves into a difficult position. Buying seems aggressive, considering this bunch was recently 10 games under .500 and has virtually no chance to win the NL East. The Mets are also reluctant to trade any of their top prospects. But selling even minor parts feels like doing the team a disservice, considering the Mets possess the most expensive roster in Major League history, complete with enough talent to mount a realistic run at a Wild Card spot. Most likely, then, the Mets will do little at the Deadline, unless opportunities arise to improve the 2024 team without sacrificing their competitiveness down the stretch. -- Anthony DiComo

Nationals: Sell to build for future
Just as they have done the past two Trade Deadlines, the Nationals are expected to be sellers. Their roster is constructed with several veterans on expiring contracts that could be moved to acquire younger players for their future. Notable players on one-year deals are third baseman Jeimer Candelario, left fielder Corey Dickerson, first baseman Dominic Smith and right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. -- Jessica Camerato

Phillies: A corner outfielder
Bryce Harper will make his first start at first base during the team's upcoming series against the Brewers. As a result, Kyle Schwarber is expected to move from left field and see more time at DH. The Phillies could look to acquire a corner outfielder, preferably somebody who can hit for power and play at least average defense. It would make an already deep lineup even deeper. The Phillies might also try to upgrade the No. 5 spot in their rotation. -- Todd Zolecki


Brewers: Bats and bullpen
In terms of Major League acquisitions, the Brewers’ past two Trade Deadlines netted Eduardo Escobar, Daniel Norris and John Curtiss in 2021, and Taylor Rogers, Matt Bush and Trevor Rosenthal in ‘22. Only Escobar made an impact, unless you count flipping ‘22 pickup Esteury Ruiz for catcher William Contreras and right-handed reliever Joel Payamps, who have been terrific. GM Matt Arnold should not be deterred. The Brewers need arms to solidify the relief corps in front of Payamps and Devin Williams, and they also could use an impact bat at first or third base. -- Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: Refuse the urge to make wholesale changes
Ignore the rumors of the Cardinals looking to move superstars Paul Goldschmidt or Nolan Arenado; it’s just not likely to happen. Team president John Mozeliak was asked in late June if the Cardinals are allowed to rebuild considering their strong attendance and a demanding fanbase, and his response was this: “I would hope that the Cardinals are not allowed to rebuild. … As for a message to the fan base, we’re not looking to blow up this team, but we are looking for ways to improve this team.” -- John Denton

Cubs: Use next couple of weeks to pick a lane
The Cubs find themselves in a kind of gray area when it comes to picking a buy or sell lane for the Deadline. At 43-49, Chicago’s record is not what the club hoped for early in the season's second half. That said, the Cubs aren’t entirely out of the postseason picture (eight games back in the NL Wild Card race and the division). The next couple of weeks before the Deadline will be critical for how Chicago reacts. The team has some veteran trade chips, with Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger topping the list. If the Cubs do want to add, the biggest needs would be offensive power -- the corner infield spots being the best avenue -- and an impact arm in the bullpen. -- Jordan Bastian

Pirates: Sell
At the end of April, the Pirates were on pace to become buyers at the Trade Deadline for the first time in several years. Given how the past two and a half months have gone, however, the Pirates might be best served to employ a familiar strategy: trade the team’s litany of veterans on expiring contracts. That list includes Rich Hill, Carlos Santana and Austin Hedges. Andrew McCutchen has been included in trade rumors as well, but he emphasized his desire to remain in Pittsburgh moving forward. -- Justice delos Santos

Reds: Find some pitching
General manager Nick Krall has made it clear the Reds would like to be buyers. The club has a clear need for a veteran starting pitcher who can provide deeper outings. Supplementing the bullpen would also be useful. Cincinnati has a deep farm system with coveted prospects and a few big league players that are moveable. The unanswered question ahead of the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline: How much prospect capital is Krall willing to deal to meet what is expected to be very high demand for pitching? -- Mark Sheldon


D-backs: Buy without mortgaging the future
For the first time in a number of years, the D-backs figure to be buyers at the Trade Deadline. They have an outstanding Minor League system but don’t expect GM Mike Hazen to part with top prospects such as shortstop Jordan Lawlar or outfielder Druw Jones. Arizona does have some Major League pieces it could deal, too, given the club's outfield depth. The D-backs' top target will likely be backend bullpen help. -- Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Pitching, pitching and more pitching … and a right-handed bat
As good as the offense has been so far this season, the Dodgers know they’ll need to make aggressive moves to fix a pitching staff that has been extremely disappointing in 2023. The Dodgers will be searching for one -- maybe even two -- starting pitchers and they’ll need a pair of relievers to go along with that. On the offensive side, they need a right-handed bat because their lineup against left-handed pitching hasn’t been great. Getting Chris Taylor back from injury this past weekend is a big boost, but they still need help there. -- Juan Toribio

Giants: Stay opportunistic
The Giants are comfortable with their starting pitching depth, but they will likely continue to monitor the market for frontline arms, as Logan Webb and Alex Cobb have been the only true constants in the rotation this season. With Thairo Estrada expected to miss the rest of the month with a left hand fracture, the Giants could also seek out middle infield help, especially if rookies Casey Schmitt and Brett Wisely don’t get going offensively in the coming weeks. -- Maria Guardado

Padres: Be ready to ‘pivot’
Speaking on a local radio station a couple of weeks ago, general manager A.J. Preller espoused his belief that his team remains a legitimate contender, noting, "If things change, then we'll pivot from that standpoint. But right now, the feeling with our group is: We're capable." So that's the plan. The Padres are buyers until they're not. If they buy, there aren't too many glaring holes, but the team could certainly use a bat -- perhaps for a right field/DH role -- and a bit more pitching depth. If the Padres sell, then things get awfully interesting. Blake Snell, Josh Hader and Seth Lugo hit free agency after the season. If the only goal is to win in 2023, all three are too integral to deal. But if the standings change over the next couple of weeks, Preller must be open to that pivot. -- AJ Cassavell

Rockies: The bullpen is open for business
Left-handers Brent Suter and Brad Hand, and right-hander Pierce Johnson have all pitched for contending teams. Depending on what the Rockies can receive in trades, they can be with contenders again. The deals most likely will resemble the one that sent veteran infielder Mike Moustakas to the Angels for High-A right-handed pitcher Connor Van Scoyoc, so scouts need to know other farm systems. It will help if position players such as Jurickson Profar, C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk turn hot and can be moved to contenders, freeing up increased playing time for younger players. -- Thomas Harding