Teams are about to enter the last month of the regular season, so you know what that means — the MLB trade deadline!
As the Aug. 2 deadline approaches, some teams will make moves to get players who will have an immediate playoff impact, while other clubs are looking to trade their star to turn their attention to long-term playoff hopes.
The Yankees have all but secured their postseason berth, but they have begun to show cracks coming out of the All-Star break, meaning they could look to acquire talent at the deadline. The once-struggling Blue Jays have won seven of their last eight games, so they might attempt to do the same. The Nationals, meanwhile, are the talk of the deadline due to the potential departure of their star outfielder, Juan Soto.
How do all 30 squads stack up ahead of the trade deadline?
Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we’ve seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers, Joon Lee and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.
Previous ranking: 3
The Dodgers have been heavily linked to Juan Soto, which shouldn’t surprise anyone — they have the prospects to make any deal, the finances to afford any star and a recent history of pulling off blockbusters. But their big question is pitching, mainly because it’s difficult to determine what it is they need.
On one side, their staff boasts the lowest ERA in the majors. On the other side, it’s littered with questions — throughout their rotation and in the back end of their bullpen. Dustin May and Blake Treinen are on their way back, and Walker Buehler could return at some point in September, but it’s hard to count on all that. It’s also reasonable to question whether Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Heaney will stay healthy, and whether Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson will remain effective. The Dodgers need help here — more so than they need Soto. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 1
The Yankees face a slew of injuries, highlighted by Giancarlo Stanton and reliever Michael King hitting the injured list. New York doesn’t have much to worry about in regard to the division lead, but it needs to make sure it maintains its consistency across the pitching staff as it deals with several key players needing time off to get healthy. If the team struggles leading up to the deadline, there might be more urgency to make a move. — Lee
Previous ranking: 2
The rumor mill has connected the Astros with the Nationals’ first baseman. It’s a natural fit. Bell is having a career season in terms of average and on-base percentage, and while he’s not having a huge power season, Houston has plenty of power up and down the lineup. Bell profiles as the kind of hitter who can balance an attack that has been built around secondary average more than recent Houston offenses that also hit for average. A switch-hitter, Bell has been much better against righties this season, but he also has hit lefties.
Yuli Gurriel has continued to struggle, and while it’s not impossible he could get it going, he’s 38 and the Astros can’t afford to cross their fingers with him when they get into the postseason. Bell just makes sense for Houston. The complication: Bell makes sense for other teams, too. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 4
The Mets made their first move of the trade deadline, but probably not their last, acquiring designated hitter Dan Vogelbach from the Pirates for rookie reliever Colin Holderman (who had pitched well in 15 appearances, going 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA). Vogelbach is a solid OBP guy, especially against right-handers (he’s hitting .264/.374/.528 against RHP in 2022), and should be an upgrade to what they’ve been getting at DH — although reports suggest the Mets are still interested in Josh Bell, C.J. Cron and Willson Contreras as other offensive options. They will likely add a bullpen arm or two, especially since Holderman had been pitching key innings, and would have to be viewed as long-shot contenders for Soto. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 5
The Braves lost to the Angels on Sunday and the Phillies on Monday, their first two-game losing streak since June 17-18, when they dropped two at Wrigley Field (following their 14-game winning streak). But they bounced back to win on Tuesday and still have yet to lose three in a row all season. The hottest Atlanta hitter: Austin Riley, who did end up making the All-Star team. He went 2-for-3 (both doubles) on Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, a stretch that included nine doubles and eight home runs while hitting above .400. That streak ended at 18 games on Wednesday. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 14
Toronto is on a tear offensively, scoring runs at a historic pace since the All-Star break. The Blue Jays became just the second team since 1933 to score at least 50 runs in the first four games of the second half, which includes their 28-run outburst against the Red Sox. John Schneider is also the first manager since 1884 to have a run differential of +50 through his first nine games. — Lee
Previous ranking: 6
An exceedingly encouraging sign emerged in Detroit on Tuesday afternoon, when Fernando Tatis Jr., who has spent all year recovering from surgery to his left wrist, went through on-field batting practice for the first time this season. The Padres’ offense has been one of the worst in the sport this season without him — even with Manny Machado’s MVP-caliber production — and they are seen by many as the favorites to land superstar outfielder Soto. And that brings us to a not-so-encouraging sign: MacKenzie Gore, viewed by many as the key piece of any Padres deal for Soto, exited a recent outing with elbow soreness. The Padres hope it isn’t serious, but there’s no telling yet. And that injury could reshape the trade market entirely. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 8
Milwaukee’s hold on first place in the NL Central has been steady but not noteworthy. That could change around the trade deadline, as the Brewers are likely to be active for a bat, an arm or both. A vaunted starting staff entering the season ranks outside of the top 10 in ERA. But, help could be on the way. Freddy Peralta began a rehab assignment recently — and getting him back might feel like a trade in itself. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 10
As much as there might be a fit in St. Louis for Soto, if the team really wants to contend in 2022, it needs more pitching. Cardinals starters rank in the bottom half of the league in ERA and simply haven’t been the team’s strong suit. Meanwhile, Paul Goldschmidt continued his MVP-caliber year with a hot start to his second half. Named Player of the Week in the NL, Goldy went 6-for-13 with four home runs in a weekend series against Cincinnati. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 11
As the trade deadline approaches, the Twins remain atop the AL Central, where they’ve been since April 23 with the exception of one day in June. Yet Minnesota has not been able to gain any real separation in the division race. The Twins’ biggest lead all season was five games and they’ve bounced between a lead of two and 4½ games for most of July. Among the three contenders in the division, the Twins have played the easiest schedule, but the rest of the way, they play the toughest.
All this suggests that Minnesota can’t really take a passive approach to the deadline. While pitching is needed in the form of both relievers and starters, Minnesota could also boost the offense with an upgrade at a corner position. In this race, every marginal win will matter. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 12
Depth is gonna be the biggest test for Tampa Bay, with 15 players currently on the IL. The team has seen 31 players make pitching appearances so far. Depth has long been the strength of the Rays organization as a whole, but they will need more of it in order to keep up their spot in the current wild-card standings — and with Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino ruled out for the season. — Lee
Previous ranking: 13
Julio Rodriguez stole the show at the Home Run Derby for the first two rounds before losing to Soto in the finals. Unfortunately, he returned from the break with a sore wrist and missed the first four games, which coincided with three losses to the Astros at home in front of large crowds. Rodriguez returned on Tuesday and homered in his first at-bat — a big sigh of relief for the Mariners as his absence showcased how precariously thin the Seattle lineup is — and followed that up with the go-ahead home run on Wednesday. In other news: Mitch Haniger did start a rehab stint at Class A after the break and the club is rumored to be in on Soto, but such a trade might have to include starter George Kirby, plus top prospects Noelvi Marte and Emerson Hancock. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 9
The Phillies came out of the All-Star break with three ugly losses at home to the Cubs: 15-2, 6-2 in 10 innings when the Cubs scored five runs off Jose Alvarado, and then 4-3 when Bailey Falter allowed three home runs. Without Bryce Harper, the offense continues to struggle to get enough runners on base. Following Tuesday’s game, the team ranked 20th in the majors in OBP — and 26th since Harper went down. The Phillies have been hitting 27-year-old minor league vet Darick Hall cleanup. While he had 20 home runs at Lehigh Valley and got off to a hot start in the majors, he has 25 K’s and three walks as his OBP has now dropped to .288. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 15
With a 7-3 loss to the D-backs on Tuesday night, the Giants dropped below .500 for the first time since the sixth day of the 2021 season. It ran their losing streak to seven coming out of the All-Star break, dropping them 3½ games back of a playoff spot. Through their first 23 games of July, they had a .348 winning percentage and their relievers had posted a major-league-worst 5.68 ERA. It stands to reason that the Giants — presumably still going for it while within striking distance of a third wild-card spot — will seek bullpen help ahead of the trade deadline. But perhaps their biggest flaw this season has been their defense. They rank 29th out of 30 teams in outs above average, and that is no easy fix. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 16
The beauty of the expanded playoff field can be spotted in Cleveland, though we should keep in mind that whole “in the eye of the beholder” thing. The Guardians have been perfectly middling in the aggregate which, this season and likely for all seasons to come, is all you need to be in order to be in range of a playoff spot. The cluster for the last AL slot is headed up by Tampa Bay, which has the league’s toughest remaining schedule. The Guardians, like the White Sox, will benefit in the race by simply playing AL Central schedules. But the Guardians need upgrades as well with catcher and first base jumping out as the biggest areas for potential short-term improvement. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 7
It wasn’t long ago that the Red Sox found themselves in second place in the division — but Boston had a brutal month of July. At a crucial time ahead of the trade deadline, the Red Sox faced a barrage of injuries including Chris Sale’s return to the IL after he was hit by a comebacker in the finger. While executive Chaim Bloom says that there’s been no discussion about trading Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers, the team does have a bunch of players other teams could find valuable heading into the playoff stretch. — Lee
Previous ranking: 19
The White Sox are in the midst of what has likely been their longest sustained hot stretch of the season. For all the travails during Chicago’s underachieving season, it has managed to stay within reasonable striking distance of a playoff slot with the trade deadline closing in. Early this week, GM Rick Hahn pointed at bullpen help as the team’s biggest need, though all contending teams can probably say the same thing.
Given the competition in the reliever trade market and the fact that the White Sox’s biggest hope for improvement in that area might be for their key arms to get healthy and produce at career norms, Chicago might get more of a boost from upgrading at second base, right field or both. One non-trade hope for positive regression: The White Sox have the easiest remaining schedule in the majors. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 17
The Orioles find themselves in a place few expected coming into the season: fourth place in the AL East. Baltimore fans have to find optimism in the marked improvement that the team has made this season, even with catcher Adley Rutschman needing time to make adjustments at the major league level. This team is still a little bit away from contending, but the fan base can find hope that the future is brighter at Camden Yards. — Lee
Previous ranking: 18
With losses in four of their first seven games coming out of the All-Star break — after losing five of seven entering the break — the Marlins will reportedly now listen to offers on starter Pablo Lopez, according to local reports. Lopez is 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA and just matched his season high with 11 strikeouts on Tuesday. Acquiring Lopez will require a significant outlay: He’s making just $2.45 million this season and is under team control for two more years. Don’t expect a deal, but with few top starting pitchers available, Lopez would be of considerable interest to any playoff contender. — Schoenfield
Previous ranking: 20
Texas has underwhelmed this season. After flirting with .500, the Rangers have gone backward, losing a series to lowly Oakland right after the All-Star break. The Rangers rank just midpack in several key offensive and defensive categories and don’t have a regular hitter with an OPS over .800. One bright spot is outfielder Leody Taveras, who has taken positive steps in 2022 — his OPS-plus of 156 stands out. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 22
The D-backs, near the bottom of the standings once again, will be sellers at the trade deadline for a third consecutive time. And if history is any indication, they won’t be moving long-term players such as Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. One intriguing name to watch, though, is Christian Walker — a 31-year-old, right-handed-hitting first baseman who could provide contenders with upper-echelon power and would be controllable through the 2024 season. Veteran outfielder David Peralta, a left-handed hitter who’s producing well and will venture into the free agent market this offseason, will also draw plenty of interest. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 23
Kris Bryant has rebounded from a rough start to his first season in Colorado of late, batting .329/.394/.588 in 21 games since returning from a troublesome back injury in late June. But word now is that he’s playing through plantar fasciitis, which inflames a thick band of tissue that runs through the bottom of one’s feet and makes it painful to even walk. The Rockies hope he plays through it, but they won’t risk further damage if he can’t. They’re going nowhere once again. And teams are calling on their pitchers once again. But — once again — they probably won’t make the major trades that would signal any hint of a rebuild. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 21
All eyes will be fixed on Shohei Ohtani over the next six days, with the Angels once again floundering and rival executives inevitably expressing interest. In all likelihood, Angels GM Perry Minasian will keep Ohtani — even though he’s a free agent after the 2023 season and given how it has gone in Anaheim these past few years, probably wouldn’t have much interest in re-signing. But Minasian will probably remain open to the possibility of being blown away by an offer.
One thing to keep in mind about Minasian: Those who know him well often say, “If something isn’t working, he’s unafraid to make a difficult change.” We’ve seen it already, with Albert Pujols, Justin Upton and, more recently, Joe Maddon. If he determines that the Angels require a long rebuild, he could be swayed to move Ohtani. But ultimately, the owner, Arte Moreno, would have to sign off. — Gonzalez
Previous ranking: 25
The Cubs are getting hot for the first time all season — just in time to subtract from their roster at the trade deadline. Chicago produced a shocking sweep of the Phillies on the road in its first series out of the break while All-Stars Ian Happ and Contreras continued their productive seasons. Both are likely to be traded by next week — along with several relievers. The Cubs could make out even better than they did last July when they traded Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 24
The Pirates aren’t in the playoff race, but this might be as productive of a nonwinning season as you’ll find. They’ve debuted a dozen players and identified some keepers along the way, including the ultratalented Oneil Cruz. Yes, he has struggled at the plate, but the athletic gifts are a marvel to watch. Experience might be the only thing holding him back. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 28
Change is afoot in Kansas City. Not only are the Royals positioned to leverage their noncontention status into future value at the trade deadline, with players such as Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi attracting interest, but a good part of the lineup has been turned over to prospects since last season. Before Bobby Witt Jr. was sidelined with a hamstring issue, the Royals were able to feature four key hitting prospects in the same big league lineup for the first time. Those games came in Toronto last Friday and Saturday, when Witt, Vinnie Pasquantino, Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez were all listed on Mike Matheny’s lineup card. The Royals split those games with that quartet going 11-for-35 with three RBIs and five runs scored. It’s a start. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 27
Cincinnati took two of three from the Cardinals and scored 29 runs in its first four games after the All-Star break, with Jonathan India notching his first career grand slam. It made the Reds one of the top hitting teams to start the second half, giving scouts plenty to watch. But are the right hitters hot? Two trade candidates — Brandon Drury and Tommy Pham — were just 3-for-16 out of the break. — Rogers
Previous ranking: 26
As bad as this season has been in Detroit, it could be far worse if not for a solid collective performance from manager A.J. Hinch’s bullpen. Through Tuesday, the Tigers were 22-23 in games decided by two runs or fewer, which isn’t that exciting, but it’s only that good because Detroit leads the majors in saves percentage. The good news is that with so many contenders looking for relief help, you can expect GM Al Avila to get plenty of calls about pitchers like Alex Lange, Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez and Gregory Soto. The bad news is that if some or most of the players are moved, the rest of the season could become downright ugly for the Tigers. — Doolittle
Previous ranking: 30
The best news for Oakland is that Frankie Montas is no longer on the injured list. In his first start, he struck out five in three scoreless innings. Montas’ performance has the most impact on the future of this Oakland roster given that he will be the most sought-after player on the team’s roster heading into the trade deadline. — Lee
Previous ranking: 29
As the Nationals continue to sink to the worst record in the majors, only two things matter right now: Will they trade Soto (probably) and what will they get for him? It’s difficult even to speculate what a trade might bring given that a young hitter of Soto’s caliber and with more than two years of team control hasn’t been traded in the free agency era.
The last trade that remotely compares would be the Miguel Cabrera trade from the Marlins to the Tigers, but even that came in the offseason with Cabrera two seasons from free agency, not Soto’s two-plus seasons. Expect one of the most interesting blockbusters in decades. Oh, and since his average fell to .214 on June 24, Soto has an OPS over 1.200. — Schoenfield