Each team’s biggest question after Trade Deadline

Detroit Tigers

There were so many questions heading into this year’s Trade Deadline on Aug. 2. Many of them were answered, including the biggest: Where would superstar outfielder Juan Soto end up? But just as there were burning questions going into the Deadline, there are many burning questions coming out of the Deadline, as well.

With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here is the biggest post-Deadline question for each team as we enter the stretch run of the regular season:

Blue Jays: Is this a World Series bullpen?
Toronto’s lineup is stacked. With Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah and José Berríos, the rotation has more than enough to push deep into October, too. It’s the bullpen where the Blue Jays could be vulnerable, even after a pair of nice additions in Anthony Bass and Zach Pop. The back-end group of Yimi Garcia, David Phelps, Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza have looked sharp in front of closer Jordan Romano, but Mayza just hit the IL with a dislocated shoulder and the Blue Jays still need more swing-and-miss, which will be particularly important in tight postseason games. Is there someone who can step up and pitch like the 12-plus-K/9 reliever that would push this bullpen over the top? — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Can they do it?
Here the Orioles find themselves, taking the role of sellers at the Trade Deadline but still winning each of their three games after sending off Trey Mancini, still within striking distance of a postseason spot. Can they leapfrog the couple of teams in front of them and secure a spot in October? Part of the reason the front office decided to sell is that they didn’t like their internal models in how they appear to fare for the stretch run. But the Orioles have already defied the odds this season and Baltimore is one of baseball’s most improbable and entertaining teams with a flair for the dramatic. It might just suit them to secure their first postseason bid since 2016. — Zachary Silver

Rays: Will they get healthy, and will that be enough?
The Rays made modest improvements at the Trade Deadline, adding a much-needed veteran bat in left fielder David Peralta along with a potentially dynamic center fielder in José Siri. Otherwise, they’re counting on the players they have — including a bunch of them who should come off the injured list over the next two months. It’s a wonder the Rays have done as well as they have, given all their injuries this season. And it will certainly help to get back Wander Franco, Manuel Margot, Harold Ramírez, Matt Wisler, JT Chargois, Nick Anderson and others, potentially even including Tyler Glasnow. (Of course, that’s assuming everyone gets and stays healthy.) But with a brutal September schedule ahead of them, will better health be enough to stay afloat in the competitive AL Wild Card race? — Adam Berry

Red Sox: Is the bullpen good enough?
Though Chaim Bloom did add some firepower to the offense with Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer, it was surprising he didn’t make any acquisitions for the bullpen. Is this going to put too much pressure on the big three of John Schreiber, Garrett Whitlcok and Tanner Houck? The Sox also lost a lefty in Jake Diekman in the trade with the White Sox for Reese McGuire. Manager Alex Cora is careful in his handling of Whitlock, typically giving him two days of rest after each multi-inning outing. It remains to be seen if the Sox have enough after their starters to successfully get through the rest of the season. — Ian Browne

Yankees: Can this rotation hold up come October?
MLB’s first team to reach 70 wins this season, the Yankees may have landed one of the top two available starters in Frankie Montas, but after trading away lefty Jordan Montgomery, their rotation doesn’t seem as strong or as deep as it could have been for the postseason. Luis Severino is on the 60-day IL until mid-September, Nestor Cortes has already thrown the most innings of his career and Domingo Germán has only made four starts so far. That puts the onus on Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Montas to carry much of the load. Whether they can is the question. — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: Can the young guys contend?
The Guardians committed to their youth (whether that was the intention or not) when they failed to make any Major League transactions prior to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. But because the organization is adamant about remaining in contention despite being in the middle of a transition period with its roster, it’ll now be left up to the kids to play. So far, that approach has fared well for Cleveland, as Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez, Andrés Giménez and Emmanuel Clase have all been tremendously successful this season — even though they’re all either 23 or 24 years old. Will this young group overcome its inexperience to take home a division title? — Mandy Bell

Royals: What will the young talent show?
The Royals are playing six to seven rookies on any given night, and over the past few days, it’s been fun to watch an offensive outburst from players many have heard about throughout the Royals’ farm system, with Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, Vinnie Pasquantino, Nick Pratto, Michael Massey and Nate Eaton all providing degrees of optimism. This is the core group Kansas City is committing to, so these next two months of the season is all about embracing the youth and taking it for a test drive. There will undoubtedly be mistakes, but the hope is all those young players can start to settle into the Majors, learning as they go and use that to their advantage next year and beyond. The Royals will also be looking for their young rotation — aside for 38-year-old Zack Greinke — to turn the corner on consistency, as both Brady Singer and Kris Bubic have done recently. In theory, the foundation for 2023 will be constructed as 2022 wraps up. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: Which youngsters fit for next year?
The Tigers traded two soon-to-be free agents at the Deadline, but kept everyone with club control beyond this season. Now comes the challenge of how to get this team better for next season, and who can help internally. Daz Cameron has already returned, Spencer Torkelson should do the same at some point and No. 5 prospect Ryan Kreidler and No. 22 prospect Kerry Carpenter are likely to make their big-league debuts by season’s end. Kreidler could fill an infield spot next year if the Tigers nontender Jeimer Candelario. Carpenter could join the outfield mix if his prodigious power in the Minor Leagues translates. — Jason Beck

Twins: Could there be internal bullpen help on the way?
Is this Minnesota bullpen finally deep enough? They hope so after they added Jorge López and Michael Fulmer at last Tuesday’s Trade Deadline to bolster their late-innings core while swapping out Joe Smith, Tyler Duffey and Jharel Cotton. Here’s another consideration, though: The Twins have, in the past, promoted top prospects like Brusdar Graterol or Jorge Alcala from the Minors late in the season to showcase their stuff out of the bullpen. Could such a promotion be in the works for prospects like Ronny Henriquez (ranked No. 10 in the organization by MLB Pipeline) or even Matt Canterino (ranked No. 5)? — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Is this team good enough to win as-is?
There was great attention placed upon the White Sox at the Trade Deadline, looking to see if they would add a left-handed bat, a left-handed reliever and maybe even a starting pitcher. Left-hander Jake Diekman was acquired from the Red Sox to help the bullpen, but that move represented all the White Sox did before 5 p.m. CT on Aug. 2. The current version of the White Sox clearly has the talent to win the AL Central — this core has reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. But the group has played like a .500 team for much of this season, so is there any reason to expect the White Sox can turn it around down the stretch? They have 54 games to prove the naysayers wrong. — Scott Merkin

Angels: Which young players could contribute next year?
The Angels are once again out of postseason contention, and after trading away Noah Syndergaard, Raisel Iglesias and Brandon Marsh, they plan to play plenty of youngsters down the stretch. The Angels will get looks at pitchers such as Reid Detmers, Tucker Davidson, Janson Junk, Chase Silseth and Touki Toussaint in the rotation, much like they did last year with Patrick Sandoval and José Suarez down the stretch. Outfielder Mickey Moniak, who was acquired in the trade that sent Syndergaard to the Phillies, figured to get plenty of playing time but suffered a fractured left middle finger on a bunt single on Saturday. But he could return this season and his injury also opens the door for more playing time for former top prospect Jo Adell. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Can the starting pitching keep it up?
The Astros have had the best starting pitching staff in the AL the entire season, based on ERA, led by Justin Verlander (15-3, 1.76 ERA) making a bid for his third Cy Young Award at age 39, and the evolution of All-Star lefty Framber Valdez. The Astros felt so strongly about the depth of their starters that they traded Jake Odorizzi to the Braves for a reliever. But Verlander didn’t pitch at all last year, José Urquidy is already at a career high for innings, and Valdez and Cristian Javier are facing career-high workloads, too. The Astros will get Lance McCullers Jr. back from his season-long injury later this month and have top prospect Hunter Brown waiting in the wings, so they will have options to help keep Verlander and the young starters fresh for the playoffs. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Which young starters can step up in the rotation?
With Frankie Montas traded to the Yankees, Oakland’s starting rotation is down to three established big league starters. Over the final two months of the season, the A’s hope to see one or two of their young pitching prospects emerge as a mainstay in the rotation for the rest of 2022, and possibly beyond. Those prospects in the mix will include the two left-handers acquired from the Yankees at the Trade Deadline in Ken Waldichuk (No. 3) and JP Spears (No. 19), as well as left-hander Zach Logue (No. 21) and right-hander Adrián Martínez (No. 23). — Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Will they regret not getting a big bat?
Even with a rotation that has been so reliable, consistent and healthy, Seattle opted to acquire frontline starter Luis Castillo at the Deadline instead of adding an impact bat. There was a lot more logic to this decision than on the surface — the dearth of available impact bats, the high cost to acquire them and the Mariners banking on injured hitters returning and being effective — but it’s nonetheless a roll of the dice, given some of their offensive struggles earlier this season. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Will the veteran pitchers earn extensions?
The Rangers shocked everybody by not trading veteran lefties Martín Pérez and Matt Moore at this year’s Deadline, noting their importance to the club both on and off the field. But even more notably, neither was handed an extension afterwards. Both are on expiring contracts and have told the front office their desire is to remain in Texas, but it’s clear that they’ll have to earn it down the stretch this season. Now more than 10 games out of the third Wild Card spot, the Rangers have set their sights on 2023 and beyond. That’ll start with addressing the pitching, both internally and externally. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: Is Ronald Acuña Jr. going to get on a roll?
Acuña entered this weekend’s series against the Mets having recorded a .580 OPS over his past 38 games. The energetic outfielder then went 8-for-19 with two doubles and a homer during the five-game set. Along with creating encouragement with his bat, he also made a play at the wall that indicated he’s growing more confident with his surgically-repaired right knee. If Acuña gets on a roll, the Braves’ lineup will be more than capable of covering some of the concerns with the pitching staff. His success will also significantly influence Atlanta’s bid for a second straight World Series title. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: What will the club look like moving forward?
The injury-riddled Marlins made just one deal at the Trade Deadline, shipping Anthony Bass and Zach Pop for infield prospect Jordan Groshans. They held on to Pablo López, who could be an extension candidate or trade bait this winter. Does the lack of moves — at least for now — indicate the front office believes the pieces are in place to contend in 2023? “I wouldn’t say a lot of moves,” general manager Kim Ng said. “I would say probably some key moves. I think we’ll have to see how the market presents itself.” — Christina De Nicola

Mets: Did the Mets do enough?
Credit to the Mets, who have spent nearly the entire season in first place. Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are healthy now, giving the organization unbounded optimism heading into the stretch run. But many around the club wonder if the Mets added enough at the Trade Deadline, which saw them shore up the margins of their roster rather than make a significant splash for a starting catcher or another ace reliever. The Mets are a clear playoff team, but they didn’t improve to the extent that the Braves, Phillies and Padres did. Ultimately, the road to the World Series will go through one or more of those clubs. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: No Soto, what next?
The Nationals traded Juan Soto — the face of their franchise — at the Trade Deadline to the Padres with Josh Bell. In return, they acquired six players, including five prospects who are projected to be part of their foundation moving forward. The question is: When will the Nats’ new identity begin to take shape? This season, left-hander MacKenzie Gore is rehabbing from a left elbow injury and shortstop C.J. Abrams is expected to join the team after getting acclimated in Triple-A. Looking ahead, High-A outfielder Robert Hassell III became Washington’s new No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, while Single-A outfielder James Wood is ranked No. 4 and Florida Complex League right-hander Jarlin Susana is ranked No. 8— Jessica Camerato

Phillies: When will Bryce be back?
The Phillies made four acquisitions before last Tuesday’s Trade Deadline: right-handers Noah Syndergaard and David Robertson, outfielder Brandon Marsh and infielder Edmundo Sosa. Jean Segura rejoined the team last week, too. Now the biggest question is Bryce Harper. When will he be back after breaking his left thumb on June 25? Harper had the pins removed from his thumb on Aug. 1, and there is some belief he could be back before the end of the month. The Phillies have been more than just holding their own without Harper in the lineup. They are dreaming big when they think about Harper in the lineup. He was having one of the best seasons of his career when he got hurt. If he picks up where he left off, the Phillies’ offense could take off. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: Are they better than they were a week ago?
The Brewers knew they would take a public relations hit for trading Josh Hader with the team in first place, but they thought they could pull off a series of moves to improve the roster for a run at a second straight division title and a fifth straight postseason appearance. Trouble was, that plan included adding a bat, and in the end that didn’t happen. Instead, the Brewers’ moves amounted to subtracting Hader, the three-time NL Reliever of the Year, and adding a good arm in the midst of a tough stretch in Taylor Rogers, plus reliever Matt Bush now and Trevor Rosenthal later in August or early September, once he’s recovered from a hamstring injury. In terms of a bat, sources said the Brewers’ targets included the Andrew Benintendi, the Brandon Drury, Joc Pederson and J.D. Martinez, among others. Without naming any names, Stearns said, “Ultimately, we didn’t make those deals because I made a decision that the talent asked was too high.” — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: What can they get out of newcomers Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery?
St. Louis got resounding answers to that question earlier this week when Quintana and Montgomery pitched nearly flawlessly against the Cubs and Yankees. Quintana allowed an early home run to former teammate Willson Contreras, but the 11-year MLB veteran settled in and got five of his seven strikeouts with a sweeping curveball. As for Montgomery, he had to battle the emotions of facing the team that had traded him just four days earlier and he passed the test with flying colors. If Quintana and Montgomery are solid — and Jack Flaherty somehow returns to form — the Cardinals could hit the playoffs with a formidable rotation. — John Denton

Cubs: Who fits in the 2023 picture?
Expect Cubs manager David Ross to give a lot of younger players innings and at-bats the rest of the way as Chicago starts to map out its 2023 plans. Nico Hoerner has established himself as the everyday shortstop, and starters Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson look like future rotation staples. But a lot of other things are up in the air. Standout rookie Christopher Morel will get action in center and around the infield, Nelson Velázquez’s playing time should increase in the outfield and new addition Zach McKinstry will get plenty of looks. In the bullpen, the wave of trades means Ross will be mixing and matching with a pile of arms, trying them out in various scenarios. The decision to not trade Willson Contreras or Ian Happ only pushes talk of their place in the ‘23 picture to the offseason. The Cubs have a lot to solve as this rebuild moves to this season’s final months. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: Which internal options receive playing time the rest of the way?
The Pirates had a, relatively speaking, mild Trade Deadline, but several additions to the Major League roster could come internally. On Wednesday, infielder Tucupita Marcano was recalled and infielder Yoshi Tsutsugo was designated for assignment, and more moves could be on the way. Right-hander Roansy Contreras and outfielder Jack Suwinski will likely be called up at some point. Left-hander Cam Alldred and right-handers Cody Bolton and Mike Burrows could get consideration, too. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: Can Jose Barrero hit well enough to be the shortstop in 2023?
Even though Barrero didn’t have the offensive numbers at Triple-A that would usually warrant another promotion, the Reds called him up following Tuesday’s Trade Deadline and moved Kyle Farmer from shortstop to third base. In big league stints over 2020 and ’21, Barrero didn’t hit well but the Reds wanted to use these final two months of 2022 to see what he can do with regular playing time in the Major Leagues — especially with other prospects on the rise in the system including Elly De La Cruz. The club likes Barrero’s big frame and ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field. After doing some extra pregame work on Saturday, Barrero hit the first two homers of his big-league career in a win over the Brewers. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: Who will be part of the next playoff team?
Under GM Mike Hazen, the D-backs have built one of the better farm systems in the game. Some of them have already matriculated to the big leagues — outfielders Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy, along with shortstop Geraldo Perdomo. The rest of this season will be dedicated to giving even more young players a look. Left-handed starter Tommy Henry made his big-league debut last week in Cleveland and he is likely the first of several young arms that could get some big-league innings before the end of the year. Then there’s top prospect Corbin Carroll, who is currently with Triple-A Reno — and he, too, could get a look. This will be a chance for a lot of the prospects to show what they can do as the team continues to sort out its future. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Which injured pitchers will return and make an impact?
Despite being in on Juan Soto and a couple of other players, the Dodgers were unusually quiet at the Trade Deadline. Their biggest move was acquiring Joey Gallo, who will be a platoon player in the outfield. The Dodgers still feel confident, however, mostly because of the players that are scheduled to come off the injured list over the next few weeks. Dustin May, Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen could be back in August. Walker Buehler and Danny Duffy could follow at some point in September. The big question will be: Just how many of those pitchers will make it back and return to their old selves? If the answer is most of them, the Dodgers will go into October with one of the deepest pitching staffs in the field. If the answer isn’t that, things will get a bit more uncomfortable for Los Angeles. — Juan Toribio

Giants: Are they good enough to climb back into the Wild Card race?
Despite a nightmarish start to the second half, the Giants elected to hold on to their biggest trade chips, most notably All-Stars Carlos Rodón and Joc Pederson, to give themselves a chance to stay in the hunt for a National League Wild Card spot. But they haven’t been able to stop their downward spiral thus far, causing them to fall even further behind the rest of the playoff field. The Giants are hoping the returns of Pederson, Brandon Crawford, Thairo Estrada and Evan Longoria will give them a boost down the stretch, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be enough to vault them back into contention. — Maria Guardado

Padres: Have the Padres closed the gap on the Dodgers?
Judging from the early results, that answer is no. The Dodgers swept San Diego this weekend in Los Angeles for their sixth straight series victory over the Padres. But nobody said these Trade Deadline moves would flip the script instantly. The Padres undoubtedly got better over the past week. They landed a generational superstar in Juan Soto. They also bolstered the rest of their roster by acquiring closer Josh Hader, first baseman Josh Bell and infielder Brandon Drury. Eventually Fernando Tatis Jr. will return to the mix as well. The object of all those moves was never to catch the Dodgers in the 2022 NL West race. For all intents and purposes, that race is over. But are the new-look Padres good enough to get themselves into a short October series against the best team in the NL? And, if so, are they good enough to win it? Stay tuned. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: How does the new blood figure in the future?
After the Rockies were unable to trade at the deadline – potential matches found more favorable options – there was a same-old same old feel to the club. But manager Bud Black unleashed corner infield prospect Elehuris Montero, who had a few shorter looks earlier in the year. With consistent playing time over the last week, he has shown a potential impact bat. The Rockies also made a waiver claim on righty Dinelson Lamet, who was a tough opponent for them with the Padres. With Lamet under club control next year, the Rockies can get a good early look now at a pitcher who could be part of next year’s rotation. The best prospect closest to his debut is shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who was speeding toward the Majors until sustaining a right groin injury before the All-Star break. The club would like to see Tovar, but not at the expense of his health. — Thomas Harding

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