Trade winds: The top target for every MLB playoff contender

We’re less than a month away from the MLB trade deadline on July 30, and with teams jockeying for position in various races, executives all across baseball are trying to decide who the player is that could help them make a push toward October.

Here’s one trade target for every team that would be in the postseason if the season ended today.

Trade target: Mason Miller, RP, Athletics

There may not be a move that fits a team better than Mason Miller landing in Baltimore and becoming the Orioles’ closer. Miller’s ability to dominate with his 103-mph fastball that can go through the heart of any order is exactly what a team wants in high-leverage moments. His rise as one of the game’s best closers is eerily similar to the man who he’d take over for in Craig Kimbrel when he was a rookie for the Braves.

Kimbrel has been strong over the last month, but when the Orioles are playing games that matter in September and October, having an electric arm like Miller’s closing out games in the ninth inning could be the difference in the ALCS and the World Series.

Trade target: Zack Littell, SP, Rays

It’s rare that the Guardians are looking for rotation help at the trade deadline, because it’s usually their strength. But this season, Cleveland’s offense has been what has carried them to being one of, if not the best team in the American League. While the offense has been a top-five group in baseball, the rotation has been both ineffective and decimated by injuries. Outside of Tanner Bibee and Ben Lively, the rest of the team’s starting staff has left a lot to be desired.

Zack Littell has shown he can be consistent since converting from reliever to starter in Tampa Bay. The Rays have already begun moving pieces, trading Aaron Civale to the Brewers this week, and could do the same with Littell. The Guardians have always been a place where pitchers could get better, and after being adequate in Tampa, Littell may be the type of under-the-radar piece the Guardians have made into a staple in their rotation.

Trade target: Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets

The Mariners’ struggling offense over the last three seasons is not a trend that they’d like to see continue. Despite having some of the best starting pitching in all of baseball, they just cannot get any consistent production from their lineup, and that includes star center fielder Julio Rodríguez, who is having a season to forget.

Pete Alonso is the type of impact bat the Mariners need and has the ability to change the game in one swing. Alonso’s presence would be a welcomed sight for the M’s quiet bats and hopefully something that could wake up Rodriguez as well. The only downside of acquiring Alonso is that he’ll test the free-agent market this offseason and Seattle could be right back where they are now.

Trade target: Cody Bellinger, OF, Cubs

Like father, like son. Cody Bellinger’s father, Clay, won a World Series in the Bronx as a member of the 1999-00 Yankees, and with the Bronx Bombers looking for their next World Series, acquiring the younger Bellinger would help give them a boost. The Yankees are in desperate need of offensive production outside of Aaron Judge and Juan Soto. And with Alex Verdugo and Anthony Rizzo both struggling mightily, Bellinger’s ability to play both outfield and first base and provide some thump from the left side could be just what the doctor ordered for the Yanks.

The Cubs have disappointed to say the least and without a viable path to the postseason, selling at the deadline seems to make the most sense. Moving Bellinger could allow the Cubs to continue to stockpile high-end prospects as they search for a new core while also shedding salary. But at some point, Chicago will need to look at the now and not just the future.

Trade target: Tyler Anderson, SP, Angels

Twins fans would likely say the team should acquire a plastic bubble to put Royce Lewis in to keep him healthy and crushing baseballs. But in lieu of that, depth for their starting rotation is likely the right answer. Over the last month, the Twins have been one of the best offenses in baseball thanks to the production from the likes of Carlos Correa, who has been having one of the best seasons of his career offensively.

Minnesota’s rotation has not been as successful as of late. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober have been doing their best to carry the rotation over the last month. But with Pablo Lopez not pitching like we’ve seen him in years past, it gives the Twins even more reason to try to supplement their starting staff.

Tyler Anderson has pitched well for the majority of the first half in a lost year for the Angels in Anaheim and been one of the best starters in the American League this season. Anderson, who has a 3.03 ERA in 17 starts this season, has been durable, making at least 25 starts in each of the last three seasons. The ability to eat innings and show he can pitch in the American League could be enough for Minnesota to bring him in.

Trade target: Erick Fedde, SP, White Sox

There weren’t many who believed after the Red Sox’s quiet offseason that they’d be in playoff position a week away from the All-Star break. But after making it through a slow April, Boston has been one of the best teams in the American League over the last eight weeks and is in a real position to add. While much of this season has been headlined by the Red Sox’s starting pitching, headlined by breakout starter Tanner Houck, the offense has really come to life for Boston, ranking top 10 in runs scored over the last month.

While Houck, along with Kutter Crawford, have had strong seasons, the Red Sox rotation could use additional reinforcements. White Sox right-hander Erick Fedde would fit in the team’s rotation. Coming over after pitching in Korea, Fedde has had a resurgence in Chicago and even with Garrett Crochet as the front man, he’s been one of the league’s most consistent starters. After signing a team-friendly, two-year, $15 million deal this winter, another year of club control definitely makes him worth it for the BoSox.

Trade target: Tommy Pham, OF, White Sox

The Phillies are one of the best teams in baseball. They’ve gotten All-Star seasons from both third baseman Alec Bohm and first baseman Bryce Harper, who is squarely in the NL MVP conversation. As a team, Philadelphia ranks first in pitching and fourth in runs scored, showing there are not many holes on the roster.

Luis Robert Jr. has gotten much attention over the last several weeks as a possible trade candidate, but a more realistic target for the Phillies would be Robert’s teammate, Tommy Pham. If there’s one thing that Pham has always been able to do, it’s his ability to hit, and even after starting the season late, that ability has been on display even with a lack of talent around him. The 36-year-old outfielder was also the D-backs’ best hitter during the World Series, showing he can perform in the big moments.

Trade target: Chris Bassitt, SP, Blue Jays

Brewers general manager Matt Arnold has had a feeling his team has been in need of additional starting pitching and looking to improve in any way possible. In the last two weeks, Milwaukee has acquired both Aaron Civale and Dallas Keuchel in trades. But bringing in a veteran arm like Chris Bassitt could help the Brewers get across the finish line and close out the NL Central.

Since the start of 2018, you’d be hard pressed to find another starter who has been as consistent as the right-hander. Bassitt has always been able to pitch deep into games and limit damage, something he’s continued in 2024. Bassitt’s consistency is exactly what the Brewers need right now, and with a year of control after this season, he could help their 2025 team as well.

Trade target: Garrett Crochet, SP, White Sox

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will always take a big swing when he has the opportunity, and when it comes to what the Dodgers will do at the trade deadline, why should we expect anything different? While the Dodgers have a lot of strengths, one of the weaknesses even after their moves this offseason has been their starting pitching. While Tyler Glasnow has been an NL Cy Young candidate and rookie right-hander Gavin Stone has been phenomenal, the rest of the team’s rotation has had trouble staying healthy with the biggest absence being $325 million arm Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who’s sidelined with a right shoulder strain.

White Sox lefty Garrett Crochet has been one of the most electric starters in MLB this year and the MLB leader in strikeouts is the type of frontline starter that Los Angeles could use. Not only does it give LA an ace type of arm, but a dominant one with club control through the end of the 2026 season. The Dodgers also have the type of farm system with the impact players the White Sox would be looking to acquire for a talent like Crochet.

The one caveat with any team that acquires Crochet is that he’s never thrown this many innings in pro ball and is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Whichever team trades for him will likely have to monitor his innings in the second half to ensure he’s in top form in games that matter.

Trade target: Jesse Winker, OF, Nationals

Not having 2023 NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. would hurt any offense, but the Braves’ lineup featuring Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II and Marcell Ozuna should be able to supplement that loss, right? Well, not this season as Atlanta has struggled mightily to score runs. If not for Ozuna’s All-Star first half and stellar starting pitching, the Braves might not even be in a playoff position. Atlanta’s offense needs some help and their answer may come in the NL East.

The last two seasons have been ones to forget for Jesse Winker, whose time in Seattle and Milwaukee was nowhere close to 2017-21 in his time with the Reds, when he was one of the best left-handed hitters in the National League. While injuries plagued his time with the Brewers and Mariners, he’s reverted back to his old form with the Nationals. Winker currently leads Washington in games played and has shown both power and some surprising speed with 12 stolen bases.

Winker would fit perfectly in the corner outfield for the Braves and provide a consistent bat from the left side to complement the rest of Atlanta’s lineup. But the Braves will need their current stars to find their form to be the team many expected to start the season.

Trade target: Jack Flaherty, SP, Tigers

If there’s one thing Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller loves it’s movement at the trade deadline. This season, Preller didn’t wait until the deadline to make two major moves, acquiring Dylan Cease during Spring Training and Luis Arraez shortly after the season started. Even without right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr., who is currently on the injured list with a stress reaction in his right leg, the Padres’ offense has begun to come to life.

The area where San Diego could likely use an upgrade would be in the rotation, where they’ve dealt with injuries to mainstays like Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish. Even Cease struggled in the month of June as the Padres have clawed back into postseason position.

Jack Flaherty has shown that he can be a fixture in a rotation again during his first season in Detroit. Flaherty, who has a 3.24 ERA in 15 starts, has looked more like the guy who finished the 2019 season as a top-five finisher in NL Cy Young Award voting. The Southern California native has had trouble with his back recently that could give teams pause at the deadline.

Trade target: Luis Rengifo, 2B, Angels

Who would have thought the Cardinals would be in a position to add at the deadline? Despite rough first halves by third baseman Nolan Arenado, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and second baseman Nolan Gorman, St. Louis has found itself in the middle of the NL postseason race. Despite the offense not clicking, the team’s rotation, which was its biggest question mark coming into the season, has managed to keep the team in games.

The Cardinals won’t be able to hold onto their position in the NL postseason picture if Goldschmidt and Arenado aren’t able to play better. But getting an offensive supplement, particularly in the outfield or second base, would definitely help St. Louis make a push.

Luis Rengifo has had a breakout this year for the Angels and is a player with an offensive profile that St. Louis doesn’t currently have. Rengifo has the ability to be a tough at-bat for pitchers and while he doesn’t walk much, he doesn’t strike out, commands the strike zone and hits the ball to all fields. He could be the type of player that sparks the rest of the Cardinals’ lineup.