As we approach Friday's Trade Deadline, the Hot Stove is lit and the wheeling and dealing will only ramp up. Trades will be made and blockbuster deals could significantly change the landscape of postseason races down the stretch. But whatever does or doesn't happen, what should each team do before the Deadline? With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here's a look:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Use financial flexibility to create an impact beyond 2021
The Blue Jays, as an organization, are in the sweet spot. They have a young core, veteran talent, a strong farm system and payroll flexibility beyond this season. It’s where they’ve been working to get to, and where other clubs would like to be. With contracts coming off the books next season and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and others not yet into their arbitration years, the Blue Jays have the ability to take on contracts that other clubs might not be comfortable with right now. This could open up more possibilities, especially on the starting pitching front, where the market isn’t particularly deep compared to other seasons.
This Blue Jays team is built to win in 2022 and beyond, as well, so while traditional rentals aren’t off the table altogether, the Jays can use their financial strength to improve the organization as a whole, not just this year’s version. Taking on money is a fine way to limit the prospect cost going the other way, too, and the Blue Jays would love to keep this current pipeline of talent flowing to the Major League roster. -- Keegan Matheson
Orioles: Keep Trey Mancini and sign him to an extension
The rebuilding Orioles will still listen on anyone and have three big trade chips this Deadline, with Cedric Mullins, John Means and Trey Mancini all theoretically available for the right price. You could argue, though, each brings more value to the Orioles than they would to any other club. The most striking example is Mancini, who returned this season from Stage 3 colon cancer healthy, productive (16 HR, 117 OPS+) and the unquestioned club leader and face of the franchise. The Orioles would require a massive package to part with him, and for good reasons. But does that package even exist? Stripped of the sentiment of the situation, the market likely views Mancini as a good but not-elite bat-first corner hitter with limited defensive versatility.
He is not a rental but not a long-term solution either, third-time arbitration eligible this winter and controllable through 2022. Teams look to acquire those players, but don’t empty the farm for them. And the Orioles won’t risk the massive PR hit trading Mancini would result in if they aren’t blown away by the deal’s return. Mancini is on record expressing his desire to stay in Baltimore, and to start winning soon. Adley Rutschman and other top prospects are on the way. The Orioles should sign Mancini long term, grow into a contender over the next 3-4 years, and make sure he’s a part of it. -- Joe Trezza
Rays: Trade for Charlie Morton
The small-market, budget-conscious Rays would probably have to move around some money to realistically acquire Morton after landing DH Nelson Cruz from the Twins, but their front office’s creativity and deep, talent-rich farm system make anything realistic. Cruz is already set to transform the middle of their lineup and take some of the pressure off both their pitching and younger hitters such as Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows and Wander Franco.
Tampa Bay has plenty of pitching depth, so much so that the club traded Rich Hill to the Mets after acquiring Cruz, so it’s probably not worth making a deal for a starter unless it’s a significant upgrade. Morton would be just that, if -- and it’s a big if -- the Braves are willing to move him. Bringing back Morton would provide the Rays with a big-game pitcher atop the rotation, someone already comfortable in their clubhouse and significant insurance for injured ace Tyler Glasnow. Acquiring a reliable power bat plus a proven postseason starter would go a long way toward preparing the defending AL champions for another run to the World Series. -- Adam Berry
Red Sox: Time to bring back Rizzo
Given that the Adrian Gonzalez acquisition didn’t really pan out for the Red Sox, and the fact that hindsight is always 20-20, the Red Sox never should have traded Rizzo, a promising left-handed slugger taken by Boston as a high schooler in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft. During his time in the Red Sox organization, Rizzo overcame cancer. He has gone on to have a solid career, belting 240 homers, all but one for the Cubs. It’s time for Rizzo to come back to his original franchise.
The Red Sox have a glaring need for some production at first base, particularly from a left-handed hitter. It could be a no-strings attached deal, as Rizzo is a free agent at the end of the season. The Red Sox could offer up Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis or Franchy Cordero along with some young pitching. None of those three sluggers have panned out yet in the Majors, but perhaps a chance of scenery would help. -- Ian Browne
Yankees: Trade for Joey Gallo
The Rangers slugger is under team control through 2022, so Gallo could help to answer next year’s lingering questions as well as the ones that affect the current Yankees outfield. Aaron Judge has been the Yankees’ most valuable offensive player, but the rest of the mix has been a hodgepodge following injuries to Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks, forcing Brett Gardner to log many more starts than originally anticipated.
Gallo would add a potent left-handed bat to a lineup that is far too right-handed dominant for a team that plays 81 games in Yankee Stadium, and his propensity for drawing walks fits right into the "Savages" mindset that manager Aaron Boone loves. -- Bryan Hoch
Indians: Trade a middle infielder
The Indians are always looking for ways to build for the future and beyond, and the Trade Deadline has always been a prime time for them to do just that. The team has moved a prominent starting pitcher before each of the last two Deadlines (Trevor Bauer 2019, Mike Clevinger ‘20), but this time, the biggest area of depth to dip into will probably be its middle infielders.
Second baseman Cesar Hernandez sits at the top of the list to be moved, although his trade value is unclear in a season when he's hit just .224 but has socked a career-high 16 homers. The club could also consider moving shortstop Amed Rosario, who it just acquired in January in the package for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. Cleveland has Andrés Giménez waiting in Triple-A with another middle infield option in Owen Miller. Eventually, the club’s No. 2 overall prospect (according to MLB Pipeline) Tyler Freeman will also be ready to man either middle infield spot. So, that could be the easiest move for the team to get some help (preferably an outfield bat) in return. -- Mandy Bell
Royals: Trade Whit Merrifield
Is this the year the Merrifield trade rumors become reality? Perhaps it should be. The Royals are adamant that they expect to contend in 2022. Trading Merrifield, one of their more versatile defenders and a reliable leadoff hitter, would send a different message. But maybe, after seeing how quickly this season turned from hopes of contention to another development year, the Royals would benefit in 2023-24 from acquiring prospects for Merrifield now.
A team like Seattle has a clear need for Merrifield, who is under contract through 2022 with a team option in ’23, and the prospects to send over. It has to be the right offer, though. The Royals could use a steady reliever and an everyday center fielder. Then next year, they can continue to grow their young talent before making a real push in 2023. -- Anne Rogers
Tigers: Trade Jonathan Schoop
Interest has been light with so many other hitters available around the league, but even for a potentially small return, it remains the logical move. Schoop said last week he'd like to stay with the Tigers long term, which is a testament for the team’s direction. But he's heading into free agency and hired Scott Boras as his agent earlier this year.
While emotions and fan sentiment might suggest keeping Schoop, the smart play for 2022 and beyond is to find the best trade possible, add a prospect, get more playing time to evaluate Isaac Paredes and even Kody Clemens down the stretch, then revisit Schoop's situation in free agency, a tactic that teams in similar situations have executed with pending free agents in years past. -- Jason Beck
Twins: Don’t trade José Berríos
With Nelson Cruz already out the door, Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles and Andrelton Simmons possible to follow him, and the recent report from The Athletic that the Twins couldn’t come to terms with Byron Buxton on a contract extension, the Twins will have a lot of retooling to do this offseason and at this Trade Deadline if they hope to make another division push in 2022. That starts with the pitching staff, which has been the biggest disappointment of the year in Minneapolis and will see considerable attrition with departures following this season. If the Twins trade away Berríos, their already formidable task in assembling a winning rotation will grow even tougher.
Consider, also, that the Twins will likely be seeking a return ready to impact the Majors, and the uncertainties around last season’s COVID-19 pandemic could make contenders more hesitant to part ways with potential MLB depth -- more valuable this season than ever. Even if the Twins can’t work out an extension with Berríos, they’ll be able to ride his right arm next season and see what happens, and the right-hander would still likely fetch a good return at the 2022 Trade Deadline if things don’t work out with another playoff push. -- Do-Hyoung Park
White Sox: Trade for Whit Merrifield
With the White Sox looking for a second baseman and bullpen assistance, the original plan written about here was to acquire Adam Frazier and Richard Rodriguez from the Pirates. That idea was squelched Sunday night with Frazier’s trade to the Padres. So why not go after one of the most talented players available to take over at second with Nick Madrigal out for the season due to a right hamstring tear? Merrifield is under control through 2022, with a club option for ‘23, and can play the outfield if Madrigal comes back fully healthy for ‘22. The issue for the White Sox is what Merrifield would require to acquire. The AL Central leaders aren’t giving up high-end reliever/future starter Michael Kopech or current left fielder Andrew Vaughn, as a couple of examples. So, would they actually have a talent group to entice the Royals? The team needs to add somehow in both areas mentioned above, even if this idea doesn’t come to fruition. -- Scott Merkin
Angels: Extend Alex Cobb
The Angels appear likely to sell and closer Raisel Iglesias is their best chip. There's also interest in veteran right-hander Alex Cobb. The Angels, though, should hold onto Cobb and try to work out an extension, as they need starting pitching going forward and he's been a good fit. Cobb has been reunited with Joe Maddon, who was also his manager with the Rays early in his career, and has turned it around this season after a slow start. Cobb has posted a 3.82 ERA in 15 starts, including a 1.09 ERA over four outings in July. -- Rhett Bollinger
Astros: Trade for Craig Kimbrel
If the Cubs are willing to deal Kimbrel, the Astros should be at the front of the asking line, if they aren’t already. Sure, there’s a case to be made to add a starting pitcher (Max Scherzer, anyone?), but a reliever with Kimbrel’s track record would immediately revamp their bullpen from a weak point to a strength. Kimbrel and All-Star closer Ryan Pressly could give the Astros one of the best back-end bullpen combinations in baseball and set them up nicely for the playoffs, where relief pitching and closing out games is magnified. (Veteran Pedro Báez should be back off the IL soon, too.) The Astros entered Sunday tied for the best record in the American League, and that’s even with third baseman Alex Bregman on the injured list since mid-June. They’re in a great position to make another run at a World Series, and owner Jim Crane will assuredly do what he can to go for it. Adding Kimbrel would make Houston the favorites in the AL once again. -- Brian McTaggart
Athletics: Trade for Joey Gallo
It’s unclear whether or not the Rangers are ready to part ways with Gallo. If they are, there might not be a better fit for the All-Star slugger than Oakland. The A’s have been sluggish on offense coming back from the All-Star break, entering Sunday with the third-fewest runs scored (30) in the American League during the second half. They’ve received very low production from the designated-hitter and right-field spots, both spots Gallo could fill.
Not only would Gallo provide a potent bat in the middle of the order to form a dynamic duo with fellow All-Star Matt Olson, but his left-handed bat would also bring more balance to a righty-heavy A’s lineup. If they want to catch the Astros and repeat as AL West champions to avoid another dreaded Wild Card scenario in the postseason, Gallo might be just what they need to do that. -- Martín Gallegos
Mariners: Don’t just keep Mitch Haniger -- extend him
With 30-homer potential, Haniger would immediately be a force in any lineup. Add in the fact that he’s earning a very affordable $3.1 million this season and has a final year of arbitration eligibility for 2022, and his value on the market soars even further. Yet a legitimate argument can be made that, for the rest of this season and next, no team would benefit from having Haniger more than the Mariners, who are in postseason contention thanks in huge part to Haniger’s production. He’s also the most veteran player on one of the Majors’ youngest teams other than Kyle Seager, who will almost certainly be gone next year.
Despite the prospect reports raving about the perceived surplus of outfield potential that the Mariners have for the long term, with Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Kyle Lewis and more, that talent is mostly unproven at the big league level. Haniger is 30 years old, a one-time All-Star and, in part due to his injuries, has amassed just $7,148,100 in career earnings. So any multi-year offer in the $10-15 million-per-year range would certainly get his attention. General manager Jerry Dipoto has said that this offseason will be the one that Seattle spends, and the club only has a little more than $53 million on the books for 2022, per Cot's Baseball Contracts. So why not hang on to Haniger, show the clubhouse that management is committed to winning now and beyond and lock up the team’s top player? -- Daniel Kramer
Rangers: Decide whether to trade or extend Joey Gallo
Texas is definitely a seller this year, and veteran pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy are more than likely gone. But the decision to trade or extend Joey Gallo will no doubt be at the forefront of the Trade Deadline for the Rangers. The longer the front office takes to make a decision, the less likely it is that Texas gets any kind of package in return if he walks in free agency. Coming off his second All-Star bid, there’s no better time to deal Gallo for a package of prospects, especially coming from a club with a deep farm like the Padres or Blue Jays.
Gallo is under team control through the 2022 season and would be a notable addition to multiple contending teams, but president of baseball operations Jon Daniels emphasized that the organization is not taking this decision lightly. Gallo has made it clear that he wants to be in Texas and an extension would indicate that the Rangers hope to return to playoff contention while he’s still in his prime. -- Kennedi Landry
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Acquire at least one reliever
There’s a need for a bat, but the depleted lineup hasn’t been as problematic as the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel will be the prize of the relief pitching market and there will be buzz about the great closer possibly returning to Atlanta. But it may make more sense to take the more financially friendly decision to acquire the Angels’ Raisel Iglesias or the Twins’ Taylor Rogers. -- Mark Bowman
Marlins: Trade Starling Marte
Both Marte and the Marlins expressed interest in finding a way to keep the outfielder in Miami for the foreseeable future earlier this month, but it was recently reported he wanted to stop extension talks so they wouldn't be a distraction. The 32-year-old can become a free agent for the first time in his career this winter, and he won't have much competition on the market. One wouldn't blame Marte for wanting to see what he can command, and Miami should try to get something for him.
Contending teams like the Astros and Yankees would deal for a rental, and the Marlins could use a controllable MLB-ready bat. Most of the organization's top prospect bats have been struggling in the Minors this season. Since Derek Jeter's ownership group took over in 2018, the Trade Deadline has been a hybrid buy/sell time (See: Zac Gallen for Jazz Chisholm Jr.). -- Christina De Nicola
Mets: Trade Mauricio for a non-rental starter
As long as Francisco Lindor is around (and he’s signed through 2031), second-ranked prospect Ronny Mauricio has no clear path to playing time at shortstop in Queens. The Mets stand a strong chance of trading him eventually, so why not now while his stock is high, using him as the centerpiece of a deal to bring a non-rental pitcher to Flushing?
Many potentially available starters, such as José Berrios of the Twins or John Means of the Orioles, remain under team control past this season. The Mets need a starter at any cost prior to the Deadline, so it would make sense to acquire one who can help next year, as well. That would not only ease the sting of parting with Mauricio, but also provide leverage against the potential departures of pending free agents Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. -- Anthony DiComo
Phillies: Go over the luxury tax, if needed
The Phillies have been one of baseball’s biggest spenders ever since they signed Jim Thome to a free-agent contract before the 2003 season. But they have never exceeded the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. They might need to go there this year to get the pitching they need to give them a shot to win the NL East. Is it worth it? It depends on perspective.
The Phillies are a flawed team playing in a flawed division, so they will not be favorites to win the NL pennant. But they also have not been to the postseason since 2011. And once you’re in the postseason, anything can happen. (Just ask the 2011 Phillies.) It is time to take a real shot. -- Todd Zolecki
Nationals: Explore all options for Scherzer
The Nationals have one of the biggest trade chips in baseball on their roster in veteran right-hander Max Scherzer and his expiring contract. He has posted a 7-4 record and 2.83 ERA through 18 starts this season, and he already has proved what he can do in the playoffs. The Nats plan to wait until closer to the Deadline to assess where they’re at, but if they are not in the position for a strong postseason push, they could build toward their future by acquiring prospects and/or controllable Major Leaguers.
Of course, Scherzer has no-trade rights and would have to agree to a potential deal, but the idea of going to a contender in need of pitching (like, say, the Dodgers for example) for a few months to vie for another World Series championship could be enticing. -- Jessica Camerato
Brewers: Get an impact bat
The Brewers’ most pressing need is bullpen help, since they traded away J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to land Willy Adames and Trevor Richards from the Rays in May, then flipped Richards to the Blue Jays for Rowdy Tellez. But they should go for a big bat. Adames has been the Brewers’ runaway MVP since coming over and Tellez made the most of his first regular playing time with a big weekend series against the White Sox, including a two-homer game Saturday night, but with Christian Yelich still not producing any power, the Brewers rank in the lower half of baseball in most offensive categories. Obviously Trevor Story is the big bat on this summer’s market, and even though Adames has been wonderful at shortstop, David Stearns & Co. have a history of making pieces fit defensively if they can acquire a bat they like. In the next tier is Miami’s Jesús Aguilar, whom Stearns dealt away at the 2019 Deadline to the Rays in one of the Brewers’ most regrettable deals. With Keston Hiura stuck in a two-year slump, Aguilar would give the Brewers the right-handed thump they have been missing at first base while not totally boxing out left-handed hitting Tellez and/or Daniel Vogelbach once the latter escapes the injured list in mid-August. -- Adam McCalvy
Cardinals: Set yourself up in the rotation for 2022
Flirting with contention thanks to some cleaner baseball in July, the Cardinals still find themselves in third place, well enough behind the first-place Brewers that trading for a rental doesn’t make a lot of sense. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak, too, has shot down the notion of being sellers. So that leaves two options: buying, or holding pat.
If the former option, the Cards would likely target a starter -- and one with control past 2021. Think Kyle Gibson, Matthew Boyd or José Berríos (if they’re willing to make a splashier deal). The impending returns of Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty help their cause, but truth is that the Cardinals would benefit from having one more starter even when fully healthy. Their operating past -- with Paul Goldschmidt, with Nolan Arenado, with Jim Edmonds, with other big Cardinals trades -- suggests an offseason deal may be more likely, though. -- Zachary Silver
Cubs: Trade core piece that is not part of future plans
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has made it no secret that he has one eye firmly on the future of the franchise. That was clear even before this season, when Chicago dealt ace Yu Darvish for a package that included a quartet of young prospects. With Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo set for free agency this coming winter, and Willson Contreras on pace to follow them after '22, Hoyer and his front office need to determine which core pieces fit in the 2022-and-beyond plan. If extensions are not realistic, then the Cubs need to set aside sentimentality and deal away one (or more) within that group to continue to inject some prospects into the team’s pipeline. Chicago does not want to go into a full-blown rebuild and it might be possible to thread that needle with some of the youthful (and affordable) foundation that is in place. -- Jordan Bastian
Pirates: Trade as many veteran arms as possible, beginning with Tyler Anderson
The Deadline deals for the Pirates began on Sunday, when they dealt Adam Frazier to the Padres for three prospects, including San Diego’s No. 5 prospect Tucupita Marcano. Those deals are sure to continue leading up to Friday at 4 p.m. ET, and though their biggest trade asset is off the board, there are a few Bucs arms that are intriguing. The most obvious are Tyler Anderson -- a reliable left-handed starter who rarely has short performances and is trending up this month -- and Richard Rodríguez, a premium set-up reliever with a high-spin fastball. But what about Chasen Shreve, a left-handed reliever who has slowly but surely gone from a Minor League deal to becoming one of the Pirates’ most turned-to and effective arms? A long shot: Chris Stratton is under contract through 2024, but his value has never been higher. The Pirates will have to parse these decisions with the potential return, but they have at least a few candidates who make a ton of sense and whom we should expect to be traded. -- Jake Crouse
Reds: Trade for shortstop Trevor Story
The Reds slashed payroll in the offseason so it would be even more dynamic for them to take on the nearly $7 million left on Story’s expiring contract. They also have a bigger need for bullpen help. But in a division that is still winnable, adding Story would be an instant message to the clubhouse that the Reds front office is backing up their words about wanting to contend. He would be an immediate upgrade offensively and essentially he could help the club score more runs. Those bigger leads could give their struggling bullpen more runway to finish games without middle- or late-inning heartbreak. Exciting prospect Jose Barrero, currently at Triple-A Louisville, would still be the shortstop of the future in 2022 or beyond while Story helps the Reds in the present. Cincinnati has prospect capital, especially with outfielders like Michael Siani -- a top 10 prospect -- to get such a deal done without compromising the future for a rental player. -- Mark Sheldon
D-backs: Get what they can for Eduardo Escobar and other veterans
The D-backs are clearly in need of either a rebuild or at least an extensive remodel of their current roster. GM Mike Hazen has correctly pointed out that these days it is tough to do a complete roster makeover at the Trade Deadline as opposed to the offseason, but the D-backs can begin the process by dealing some veterans on expiring contracts. Infielder Eduardo Escobar is probably the most valuable player they have that fits that criteria. Escobar can offer a lot to a contender with his positional versatility -- he can play third, second and short in a pinch, and is a switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate. He’s also a clubhouse leader. The D-backs should also explore what they can get for closer Joakim Soria and Asdrúbal Cabrera. They may not get huge returns, but they need to start the process of redoing the roster. -- Steve Gilbert
Dodgers: Trade for Max Scherzer
On paper, there’s probably no better fit for the Dodgers than trading for Scherzer and adding him to their rotation. The Dodgers are trying to win another World Series and they badly need a starter because of the uncertainty around Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw still rehabbing from an injury. Accepting a trade to the Dodgers also makes a ton of sense for Scherzer, who wants to win another title but would have to waive his no-trade clause. Simple enough, right? Not so fast. The Dodgers likely won’t part ways with multiple top prospects for a rental and it’s unclear if Scherzer is OK with getting traded to a team that won’t give him a long-term extension. The Nationals also still don’t know if they want to be buyers or sellers. If the Nats decide to be sellers, they’ll surely be getting a call from Dodgers’ president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. -- Juan Toribio
Giants: Trade for Craig Kimbrel
With the best record in baseball, the Giants don’t have a ton of major holes to fill on their roster, but they could bolster their club even more by adding a bona fide closer such as Kimbrel at the Trade Deadline. San Francisco’s bullpen has undergone significant turnover since the beginning of the season and has evolved into one of the best units in the Majors, but bringing in an established ninth-inning arm would help shorten games down the stretch and fortify a back-end mix that already includes Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers.
Kimbrel wouldn’t necessarily be a rental, as he has a $16 million club option for 2022, so he probably won’t come cheap, but general manager Scott Harris’ background with the Cubs’ front office could help the clubs strike a deal. -- Maria Guardado
Padres: Add a bat, a starter and a reliever
Step one is already in the books. On Sunday night, the Padres swung a deal with the Pirates for Adam Frazier, the Majors’ hits leader. Don’t rule out another offensive upgrade, but the Padres focus now turns to pitching. They should be in on everyone -- whether it’s an ace like Max Scherzer or a No. 4/5 type who can fill out their rotation and chew up innings. They need one more starting pitcher, and whatever the best deal is -- take it. The bullpen need is less pressing. But the Padres should aim high there, too. Add one more back-end arm, and this bullpen goes from very good to elite. -- AJ Cassavell
Rockies: Begin a two-part process to make a quick turnaround
The going opinion is the Rockies are years from winning -- that it may take until a strong group of position players at the Class A level make it for them to be relevant again. But for better or worse, the Rockies tend to go their own way. The team needs are many -- power, improved catching (although Elias Díaz looks like a keeper as part of a tandem), left-handed hitting and (assuming they deal Mychal Givens, Daniel Bard or both) relief experience. But there is starting pitching -- maybe enough to feel good about it even if they deal Jon Gray, their most marketable asset -- and some of the younger parts of the roster. If some of the needs can be filled at the Deadline and others are addressed with smart offseason moves, Denver fans may be spared some time and pain. -- Thomas Harding