The second half of the season kicked off Thursday, kicking off an 11-week sprint to the playoffs.
For the league’s top teams, the next week and a half will be an opportunity to strengthen their roster for the stretch run, while clubs with disappointing seasons will likely spend this time looking to take steps to improve their prospects. of future. The following 22 teams appear to have set their course for this year’s trade deadline:
Buyers (13): Astros, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Rays, Twins, Yankees
Sellers (9): Angels, Athletics, Cubs, D-backs, Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Royals, Tigers
But what about those teams in the middle?
With six playoff spots in each league this season, identifying buyers and sellers has become trickier than ever. Some executives might choose to do a bit of both, eliminating prospects or expiring contracts for major league players with control beyond 2022. Others might just stick with it, believing their teams are out. a winning streak of being a playoff threat.
Here’s a look at the eight teams currently on the bubble and whether they could emerge as buyers, sellers, or both (listed in order of first-half record).
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been loath to sell over the past few years, with the most notable example coming in 2019. The Giants started the season 35-47, leaving it almost certain that free agent to-be Madison Bumgarner would be dealt before the trade deadline. San Francisco kicked off a run that propelled the club into the Wild Card picture, as Zaidi said the final 10 days before the deadline would determine the team’s course.
The Giants, who entered the last day of July just a game above .500, ended up hanging on to Bumgarner and closer All-Star Will Smith, although Zaidi also made five trades on the day of the deadline – giving out more bullpen pieces while adding the 2018 Gennett All-Star Scooter. Next week could very well determine the course Zaidi takes this year, as the Giants remain in the Wild Card mix despite a huge deficit in the NL West.
Red Sox (48-45)
Boston was 14-22 in mid-May, sparking talk of a huge summer fire sale, including impending free agents JD Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi, not to mention Xander Bogaerts, who is expected to retire from his contract and become a Free Agent at the end of the season. At the end of June, the Red Sox were 43-33, which put them first among the AL Wild Cards. The flea market was suspended.
July relaunched trade talks; Boston lost 12 of 17 games before the All-Star break, leaving them two games behind the Blue Jays for the third and final Wild Card spot. It’s hard to imagine the Red Sox throwing in the towel with just a few games left in the days leading up to the deadline, but with Chris Sale out indefinitely after finger surgery, the boost the club have been waiting for from returning the ace is no longer an option.
A good week could have Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom exploring trades for a starter, reliever and first baseman, while a bad week could spell the end for Bogaerts, Martinez and/or Eovaldi in Boston.
After a 46-44 first half, Cleveland looks like a team destined to flirt with the .500 mark all season. The good news for the Guardians is that despite their uneven year, they entered the break just two games behind the Twins in first place in the AL Central and 2½ games away from a Wild Card spot.
The majority of the roster is under control beyond 2022, although Amed Rosario – who is last eligible for arbitration next winter – could be moved to bring back a starting pitcher or possibly a catcher . Regardless of what next week looks like, it seems unlikely that Cleveland’s front office will make any huge moves one way or the other, leaving the current group to try their luck at landing an October ticket.
For the Orioles to even make this list is incredibly impressive, as Baltimore plays in the toughest division in the game and was projected by many before the season as a 100-game losing streak. With a 27-37 record as of mid-June, there was little reason to think impending free agent Trey Mancini would be on the roster after Aug. 2, while Anthony Santander and Jorge López (two additional arbitrage each) were also thinking of being on the trading block.
Since then, the Orioles are 19-9 (including a 10-game winning streak), improbably cutting their record to .500 to propel them into the AL Wild Card mix, just 3 1/2 games from last place. It seems unlikely that Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias will dole out some of the team’s scouting capital for short-term help, but that doesn’t mean the Orioles are destined to be sellers. Baltimore could make moves for controllable assets with an eye to 2023 and beyond, though the idea of swapping fan favorites Mancini, Santander and/or López seems unlikely given the excitement that the latest run in the team created with the fanbase.
White Sox (46-46)
The White Sox have been the picture of mediocrity for most of the season, never dropping five games below .500 and never moving more than four games. Chicago had up to 6½ games of first place in the AL Central, but the average state of the division kept a White Sox team that entered the year with high expectations in the mix of playoffs.
The rotation ranks ninth in the AL in ERA, while the bullpen ranks 10th. The offense? He ranks ninth in the AL in OPS and 11th in home runs. The fact that Chicago entered the break just three games out of first place and 3 1/2 from a Wild Card should keep the Sox from selling — not that they have many expiring contracts to move. The Farm System entered the season ranked No. 30 by MLB Pipeline, which did not include a single White Sox prospect in its Top 100 list. For better or worse, Chicago’s roster doesn’t seem to change all that much, although the Sox will try to add a left-handed bat and a left-handed reliever if possible.
The first of three teams under .500 on this list, the Marlins opened the season with a win in April (12-8) before slipping up in May (7-19). Miami was three games above .500 from June 1 to the break, leaving the Marlins 5 1/2 games out of last place NL Wild Card.
If Kim Ng decides to become a seller, she should have a myriad of teams bringing in players such as Jesús Aguilar (2023 mutual option), Anthony Bass (2023 club option) and Garrett Cooper (2023 arbitration eligible) . The Marlins have been ranked the sixth-best farming system in the game by MLB Pipeline, with six prospects in the Top 100. Four of the top six are pitchers, so if another club overwhelms Miami with an offer for a controllable arm like Pablo López, the Marlins may have to think about it.
A strong start gave the Rockies hope of a playoff berth despite losing Trevor Story last offseason, but May (10-17) and June (11-17) left them 10 games under .500 and maybe thinking about next season.
Colorado opened July with 10 wins in 17 games heading into the break, including a five-game winning streak last week. The Rockies remain on the periphery of the Wild Card race (6 1/2 games back at the break), though their minus-62 point differential is the worst of any team in either league in the 7 1/2 games from a Wild Card location. If Colorado sells, players like Jose Iglesias, Chad Kuhl. Daniel Bard and Alex Colomé – all pending free agents – could become available.
Texas entered the break 7 1/2 games on a Wild Card spot, but unlike the Rockies, the Rangers’ minus-1 differential suggests they should be better than 41-49. After signing Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray this offseason, Rangers were hoping they could compete for a playoff spot, and given that the vast majority of the club remains under control beyond this season, Texas feels like a “stand pat” type of team from now on.
If Rangers close in on a playoff berth by the deadline, it’s possible the club will try to make a pitching improvement or two both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Texas was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 farm system in the league heading into the season, although it would be shocking to see the Rangers trade one of their top prospects unless they can land a starter. controllable such as Luis Castillo or Frankie. Go up.