The All-Star Game is in the books, thrusting the league into the heart of trade season.
With the July 30 Trade Deadline just two weeks away, all 30 clubs will be scouting players at all levels, some looking to fortify their roster for the stretch run and others looking ahead to next season and beyond.
Nothing can boost a player’s trade value more than recent performance, so as we embark on the second half, which potential trade candidates have seen their stock rise the most since the calendar turned to July? Here are nine players whose names should be prevalent as we inch closer to the end of the month.
Jesús Aguilar, 1B, Marlins
The Marlins made one of the first moves of trade season when they sent Corey Dickerson to the Blue Jays on June 29, but Miami is far from finished. Starling Marte might be the biggest prize, but Aguilar has quietly put together an outstanding season, entering the second half with a National League-high 62 RBIs and an .800 OPS. He’s been especially hot this month, posting a 1.054 OPS with three homers and 11 RBIs in 10 games -- plus he’s owed only about $2 million this season and comes with an additional year of club control.
Potential fits: Indians, Red Sox
Tyler Anderson, LHP, Pirates
Anderson has been relatively consistent in 2021, with two bad starts accounting for nearly one-third of the runs he’s allowed in 17 outings. He’s posted a 2.66 ERA in his past four starts, walking just four batters in 23 2/3 innings. The Pirates are headed for a last-place finish, putting GM Ben Cherington in position to take advantage of Anderson’s affordable contract (he’s on a one-year, $2.5 million deal) in a weak pitching trade market.
Potential fits: Angels, Mariners
Javier Báez, SS, Cubs
The Cubs appear headed down the path of selling, and given Báez's impending free agency, he seems like an obvious candidate. Despite a slow start to the season, Báez has been on fire of late, posting a .346/.379/.731 slash line with three homers and seven RBIs in seven games this month. Chicago might have to pay down Báez's salary -- he’s owed about $5.5 million -- to get a better return for the rental.
Potential fits: Athletics, Indians
C.J. Cron, 1B, Rockies
Cron has had a solid season with the Rockies, who signed him to a one-year, $1 million deal this year. Cron has 12 homers and an .834 OPS in 74 games this season, but his .960 OPS in nine games in July -- which includes a stellar .459 on-base percentage -- could make him a trade target for contenders.
Potential fits: Brewers, Rays
Eduardo Escobar, 2B/3B, D-backs
Escobar was reportedly on his way to the White Sox a couple weeks ago, but the two teams have yet to work out a trade. Given his performance thus far in July -- he has a 1.061 OPS with three homers and seven RBIs and just four strikeouts in 10 games -- there should be other suitors calling Arizona about the versatile infielder, who is owed about $3.5 million this season and is headed for free agency at the end of the year.
Potential fits: White Sox, Giants
Joey Gallo, RF, Rangers
The Rangers slugger might have been eliminated in the first round in the Home Run Derby, but Gallo has been making it count in real games this month. He leads the Majors with a 1.488 OPS in July, belting five home runs with an impressive .333/.529/.958 slash line in eight games. Several teams will make a push to acquire Gallo before July 30, especially given his club control through 2022.
Potential fits: Yankees, Padres
Robbie Grossman, LF, Tigers
Detroit’s rebuilding process is taking a turn for the better with the emergence of its young pitching staff, but the lineup has struggled. Grossman has been one of the club's best players, but at 31, he isn’t a part of the team’s long-term future. He’s been very productive in July, posting a 1.046 OPS with two homers, drawing 13 walks against just five strikeouts in nine games.
Potential fits: Braves, Cardinals
Charlie Morton, RHP, Braves
It would have been a stretch to think the Braves would become sellers just a week ago, but Ronald Acuña Jr.’s season-ending injury could force GM Alex Anthopoulos to change his plans for 2021 if things don’t turn around in the next couple weeks. Morton has been his typically solid self this season, posting a 3.64 ERA in 99 innings over 18 starts. He has held opponents scoreless over seven-plus innings in three of his past five starts, pitching to a 1.91 ERA in 33 innings. Morton is owed about $7 million for the remainder of the season before returning to the free-agent market.
Potential fits: Angels, Yankees
Carlos Santana, 1B, Royals
The 35-year-old continues to excel at getting on base, posting a .368 on-base percentage this season despite a pedestrian .246 average. He’s flexed those skills in July, putting up a .303/.425/.545 slash line in 10 games this month. The Royals have nose-dived after a strong start, and while Santana’s veteran presence is a plus in Kansas City’s young clubhouse, he could help a contender. Santana is also not a rental; the switch-hitter is owed a little over $3 million this season and is signed for $10.5 million in 2022.
Potential fits: Red Sox, Yankees