13 bold predictions as Trade Deadline approaches

August 1st, 2023

Every Trade Deadline prediction you are about to read is accurate.*

How do I know? Because I’m the guy who told you, one month ago, that the Angels would acquire Lucas Giolito. And my track record of baseball predictions -- an incredible 0.000062% success rate! -- speaks for itself.

*This statement is not accurate.

Thanks to a bevy of standings surprises, this has already been a much more interesting Deadline than people in the industry expected going into the year ... unless you entered the year certain that the Mets would be selling to the Marlins.

So what do the final hours leading up to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline have in store for us? Read on to find out!

(Note: I’m not going heavy here on prospect returns, because I know from past experience that just leads to a bunch of people yelling at me that the returns are too light or too much ... and all of us will be wrong about it, anyway.)

Justin Verlander to the Dodgers
Los Angeles has awoken from its external acquisitions slumber. Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Amed Rosario are all recent additions to a Dodgers team that was quiet last winter and once again proved to be elite anyway. The Dodgers are already projected to be over the luxury tax threshold, so they might as well make a splash that solidifies their potential to overtake the Braves as the NL’s top team.

The Dodgers had pursued Verlander over the winter. Given their pitching injury hits and the Mets’ messiness, perhaps both parties wish things had gone differently. Verlander’s former Astros club is aggressively in pursuit, but the Dodgers have more to offer the Mets, who will become the first team ever to trade multiple three-time Cy Young winners in the same season (and are not expected to celebrate this fact on a Citi Field plaque).

The Orioles and Mariners will make the most interesting trade of the Deadline
The elite O’s and middling M’s are properly paired at this Deadline, because Seattle has young, controllable starters that Baltimore needs, and Baltimore has the young, controllable bats that Seattle craves.

If the Mariners were to ship Logan Gilbert to the Orioles for infielder Jordan Westburg, outfielder Heston Kjerstad and lefty DL Hall, both clubs would be addressing their needs in a dynamic way, and the rest of us would have long-term fodder for deal dissection. Everybody wins!

The White Sox will keep Dylan Cease, Tim Anderson, etc.
The South Siders have been one of baseball’s absolute biggest disappointments the past two years, unable to make hay with what many of us believed to be an exciting core. Now, the fire sale has begun. But in a weak division, the Sox won’t go fully down the rebuild route by dealing their controllable stars, even though there is a very strong argument to do so.

The Cubs will keep Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger
Yeah, the Windy City is not going to cooperate with our demand for trade buzz.

This has already been speculated by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, and it makes sense at this stage. A playoff run may arguably not mean as much to the 2016 World Series champs as, say, the Orioles, Marlins, Reds, etc., but the Cubs have played too well in July to ignore, and franchise-altering prospect hauls for rentals (Stroman has a player option and Bellinger a mutual option for 2024) have become rare. Bellinger, especially, is an extension candidate on the North Side.

A big Royals-Reds swap
The Royals send Brady Singer and Scott Barlow to the Reds in a deal involving Jonathan India and prospects.

Singer’s development has been disappointing, but he’s looked resilient of late (23:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 innings) and is under control through 2026. Barlow has had a difficult, walk-prone year, but he’s been a game-changing reliever in the past and is under control through 2024. India would be an important piece moving forward for a Royals team in need of competent Major Leaguers.

Eduardo Rodriguez to the Astros
Rodriguez is a complicated trade chip. He’s upped the Ks and reduced the walks en route to the best ERA (2.95) of his career. That would lead one to believe he’ll exercise his opt out with three years and $49 million remaining on his contract. But what if the 30-year-old fades or gets hurt (he ruptured a pulley in his left index finger earlier this year) down the stretch? Are you acquiring just a couple months of Rodriguez or three-plus seasons? Hard to say, but it says here an Astros team that’s developed holes in the rotation will bring him aboard.

Jack Flaherty to the D-backs
Arizona is more inclined to find controllable options, but two franchises that came to terms on a big deal before (the Paul Goldschmidt trade) will find common footing again to bring the D-backs the rotation depth they need behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly as they look to make their first playoff push since 2017. (Wherever Flaherty lands, it will be interesting to see if another organization can untap his upside down the stretch before he hits the open market.)

The Rays will go big on bullpen help
In the search for pitching upgrades, Tampa Bay is capable of pulling off just about anything at the Deadline, up to and including Verlander, if he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause. But the guess here is that they go bullpen-heavy, perhaps bringing back old pal Brooks Raley and/or adding the likes of Brad Hand, Paul Sewald, Keynan Middleton, etc. Actually, this is the Rays we’re talking about, so they’ll probably land a couple guys you’ve never heard of and turn them into relief aces in a matter of days.

Update: Sewald was traded to the D-backs on Monday.

Jeimer Candelario to the Marlins
Let’s hear it for those frisky Fish! They’ve already upgraded their bullpen with David Robertson and Jorge López. Now, they’ll move on from the, unfortunately, disastrous Jean Segura experience at the hot corner by dealing within the division for the hotter hand in Candelario, who has surprisingly emerged as one of the better bats in this market.

Update: The Cubs acquired Candelario on Monday

The Padres won’t sell
The siren song of that positive run differential will be too much for the San Diegans to ignore. Their record stinks, their season has been a buzzkill, but the expanded postseason format provides a pulse, and bringing in All-Star MVP Elias Díaz (that’s still a really fun phrase) will be the route of choice over punting on an all-in campaign prematurely.

Teoscar Hernández returns to the Blue Jays
It really hasn’t worked out for Hernández in Seattle, and he’s a pending free agent. The Blue Jays need a right-handed bat who can platoon with Dalton Varsho in left and Brandon Belt at DH, and they’ll bring Hernández back to an organization where he once flourished.

Mark Canha to the Phillies
Philadelphia needs a right-handed outfield bat, and while Canha isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball and plays for a division rival, he’d bring a low-strikeout, high-walk approach to the Phils and help shore them up for the home stretch. He has an $11.5 million club option for 2024.

Update: Canha was dealt to the Brewers on Monday

Michael Lorenzen to the Giants
The headline will be “Giants acquire All-Star pitcher,” reminding everyone that Michael Lorenzen was, indeed, an All-Star.