What each team should do at the Deadline

Detroit Tigers

Teams are ramping up to make moves as the Trade Deadline approaches on Aug. 1. Blockbuster deals, sure to remake the playoff race, will be made. Nearly every clubhouse will have new faces or say goodbye to others.

What should each team do before the Deadline? With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here’s a look:

Blue Jays: Be aggressive, here and now
At recent Deadlines, the Blue Jays have upgraded their present-day rosters with one eye always on the future. They’ve preferred to land players with contract time remaining beyond that season, like José Berríos, Whit Merrifield, Adam Cimber, Zach Pop, Ross Stripling and Mitch White. That’s still just fine as a bonus, but the Blue Jays need to be focused on building the best possible team for 2023, even if that means some traditional rentals. Rosters with this much talent don’t come around often, as the Blue Jays learned from 1995-2015, and while the Blue Jays have been extremely inconsistent, they need to be aggressive and find ways to make this roster click. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Add pitchers, preferably ones who aren’t rentals
While the O’s have done a great job of drafting and developing position players — as evidenced by their roster littered with top young hitters — they haven’t been as successful on the pitching front. Now, that could change if former top prospect Grayson Rodriguez’s recent performances are a sign of what’s to come. Nonetheless, Baltimore, making a legitimate push to win the AL East for the first time since 2014, needs to bolster its pitching staff for the short term and is expected to be buying at the Deadline. Sure, it would be nice if help came in the form of a player with an additional year or two of team control. But the Orioles, who already acquired Shintaro Fujinami earlier in July, could use any upgrades they can get in either their rotation or bullpen — mostly the latter to better bridge the gap from starters to setup man Yennier Cano and closer Félix Bautista. — Jake Rill

Rays: Reinforce the pitching staff
The Rays’ early season slugging spree and collective midseason slump may have obscured the fact that this team will always be built on a foundation of run prevention: pitching and defense. While they entered the weekend with an MLB-best 3.67 ERA, there is still room to add. Tampa Bay needs a fifth starter, first and foremost, and another reliever would make a talented bullpen even more dangerous. Would it be nice if Shohei Ohtani became available to solve all their problems? Of course. Could they use a catcher with more offensive firepower or another proven bat? Sure. But the most straightforward solution is making a strong pitching staff that much more intimidating for the stretch run. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: Add a starter, reliever
Despite a barrage of injuries to the starting rotation, the Red Sox have done a nice job staying in the hunt for a postseason spot. They’ve gotten this far, so if things continue to trend in the right direction, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom should have a buyer’s mindset heading into the Trade Deadline. A starting pitcher and another righty reliever are Boston’s clear needs. Trevor Story is expected back soon after not playing all season, so that should bolster an already-strong offense and a middle-infield defense that badly needs him. The Red Sox are deep in the outfield thanks to the emergence of Jarren Duran so it wouldn’t be stunning if the team dangles pending veteran free agent Adam Duvall even if they are in the thick of the race. — Ian Browne

Yankees: A little bit of this, a little bit of that
Cries for the Yankees to execute a full-scale fire sale have been quieted (for now) by a strong weekend against the moribund Royals, not that Brian Cashman seemed to be leaning that way. The big-money contracts on the books will keep the Yankees in win-now mode, though Hal Steinbrenner would like to shave a few dollars from payroll to avoid the highest luxury tax penalties. Jose Trevino’s season-ending injury creates an immediate need at catcher, and left field remains an issue (Cody Bellinger seems like a fit, but hey, why not kick tires on Juan Soto?). There’s no reason to trade Gleyber Torres, who is under contract for another year and has been one of their most consistent bats. Want a surprise trade candidate? Domingo Germán’s stock may never be higher, coming off his June 28 perfect game. Harrison Bader is also a free agent-to-be; the Yankees could at least entertain offers. — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: Bring in some power
How? Well, this is harder to answer now. The Guardians were set up to boost their offense at the Trade Deadline by shopping starter Shane Bieber. Although it was never a guarantee that Bieber would’ve been moved, he would have at least drawn offers from other clubs, giving Cleveland some options. Now that he’s injured, it’ll be much more difficult to address this need. The Guardians once again find themselves at the bottom of the home run leaderboard, well below all 29 other teams. They proved last year that they can win without the long ball, but because they’ve struggled to stay in the win column consistently this season and still have a high chance of remaining in contention in the AL Central, adding power to this lineup would be the biggest difference maker. — Mandy Bell

Royals: Acquire as many prospects as possible
In an evaluation year, the Royals have learned that there are still plenty of pieces missing to take the next step forward out of their rebuild. That’s why they need to acquire quality young players now, in the offseason and next year. It’s clear closer Scott Barlow – who still has a year of control left – is their main priority to trade. But they should be talking to the teams who have already called about reliever Carlos Hernández. They should at least entertain trade proposals about veteran catcher Salvador Perez, who would not be just simply a salary dump for the Royals. It should be a big return. Kansas City has a core to build around, but they can use this Deadline to keep building. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: Trade veteran starters for prospects
A summer on the periphery of the AL Central race has shown little to suggest the Tigers are ready to contend quite yet, while the Twins appear poised to pull away. With that in mind, the Tigers have to see what they can get for Eduardo Rodriguez ahead of his contract opt-out at season’s end and for Michael Lorenzen before his one-year deal expires. Several contending teams in the market for pitching – such as the Rangers, Braves, Reds and Dodgers — have deep enough farm systems that there should be a match or two, and last winter’s trade for Justyn-Henry Malloy showed Scott Harris’ ability to find upper-level hitting prospects who fit the Tigers’ long-term goal of zone control. – Jason Beck

Twins: Add a functional right-handed bat
This doesn’t need to be a star-level player. This doesn’t even need to be an everyday-level player. Here’s what the Twins do need: a right-handed hitter who can be functional against left-handed pitching. The league collectively has a .739 OPS against lefties, and the only Twins regular with above-average performance against them is, oddly, Joey Gallo, as the Twins have posted an MLB-worst .668 OPS against southpaws. For the first time in recent memory, the Twins have enough starting pitching — but Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and company need help. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Trade Dylan Cease
The offer would have to knock GM Rick Hahn’s socks off, and in return, the White Sox would need to receive players who can help compete in 2024 and beyond. Cease is someone who would garner such a haul. The 2022 AL Cy Young Award runner-up is only 27, and unlike other potential White Sox trade chips, is under club control for 2 1/2 seasons, through 2025. It may be unlikely, as White Sox look to trade low-control contracts and likely not wanting to rebuild. But it isn’t impossible after a few disappointing seasons on the South Side. Leveraging Cease’s contractual control is one potential avenue to bolster their outlook. — Tim Stebbins

Angels: Get as much intel on Ohtani as possible
The Angels are in an incredibly tough spot, as they’re still clinging to contention, but two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is set to be a free agent and would command a much-needed infusion of young talent in return if they decide to trade him. Ohtani is incredibly private but the Angels need to get a sense for his openness to re-sign this offseason. If there’s a chance they can re-sign him, they should hold onto him. But if it appears he’s likely to sign elsewhere, it would make sense to trade him and get several top prospects in return instead of just a compensatory pick. Much of the decision will also come down to how they play. If they can gain ground, then it makes sense to keep Ohtani, but if they fall further out of contention, then they should bite the bullet and sell. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Trade for a starting pitcher or two
There’s a glaring need for the Astros at the Deadline. They need starting pitching, badly. The rotation might’ve been considered a strength heading into the season, but then Houston lost Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and José Urquidy to injury. Add in the recent struggles of Cristian Javier and rookie Hunter Brown, and the goal for first-year general manager Dana Brown is clear. Who’s out there? Look no further than the Midwest, where teams like the White Sox (Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease), the Cardinals (Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty) and the Cubs (Marcus Stroman) could offer rentals at a price Brown could swallow. — Nathan Han

Athletics: Continue to add young pitching
The effects of relying on a young and inexperienced pitching staff have shown up by their usage of 33 different pitchers so far this season. Entering Sunday, the combined 5.92 ERA carried by A’s pitchers ranked highest in the Majors. Going through the second year of a rebuild and still looking to identify which players can help them beyond 2023, the A’s could use some of their veteran-type players on the current roster as trade chips to add pitching help that is close to Major League ready. — Martin Gallegos

Mariners: Add a bat
So the current team might not have done enough to motivate the front office to splash the way it did at the Deadline last year when acquiring the market’s top available starting pitcher. But president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has even taken a brunt of the blame for not doing enough last offseason to bolster a lineup that had glaring holes. If the Mariners continue to swing on an upward trend, an accountable measure from Dipoto’s staff would be to add to a lineup that clearly needs help — because at the very least, their elite pitching staff deserves more support. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Add lots of pitchers
Lots may sound dramatic, but the Rangers have glaring holes in both the rotation and bullpen that likely won’t be fixed by a single trade. Texas already opened the trade floodgates by acquiring Aroldis Chapman on June 30, but the bullpen still has a 4.78 ERA as a whole. A starter has been an obvious need since Jacob deGrom went down, but it’s become dramatically obvious that Nathan Eovaldi (2.69 ERA) and Jon Gray (3.31 ERA) are the only consistently reliable arms in the rotation. If the Padres end up selling, the combination of Josh Hader and Blake Snell could fortify the staff, and both Chicago teams could end up dealing veteran starters like Marcus Stroman and Lucas Giolito. There are plenty of arms on the market, the Rangers just have to decide who they’re willing to trade valuable prospect capital for. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: Acquire a starting pitcher
Even with Max Fried set to return next week, the Braves need to erase some back-end uncertainty by acquiring an experienced starter like Lance Lynn. Michael Soroka might be capable of filling the fifth spot and Kyle Wright might be productive when he returns in September. But to be safe and to guard against taxing the bullpen, Atlanta should add some certainty to the back end of the rotation. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: Make a statement by buying
Since the second half began, the Marlins have gone from holding the top National League Wild Card spot to being on the outside looking in due to a season-long eight-game skid. While the club could certainly use more pitching, especially a right-handed high-leverage reliever, of the utmost importance is acquiring a game-changing bat to help out All-Stars Luis Arraez and Jorge Soler. — Christina De Nicola

Mets: Little or nothing
While it may seem strange to advocate for a team standing pat at the Deadline, the Mets find themselves in a notably strange position: close enough to playoff position to have a puncher’s chance, but not so close that buying makes sense. Selling also seems like a suboptimal strategy, considering the Mets won’t save much money or bolster their farm system in a meaningful way by trading a few of their pending free agents — and deals of high-salaried players such as Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander, who possess no-trade clauses, would be difficult to consummate. So what should the Mets do? Keep the roster intact, maybe add a controllable reliever, and see if they can make a late run up the standings. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: Trade for the future
The Nationals have had success the past two Trade Deadlines acquiring key pieces for their future, including Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore and No. 4 overall prospect James Wood. They have flexibility with expiring contracts, such as Jeimer Candelario and Carl Edwards Jr., to do the same this year. There also is a possibility to garner deeper trade packages by moving players with multiple years of team control, such as Lane Thomas. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Find a right-handed bat with pop
Rhys Hoskins tore the ACL in his left knee in March, and the Phillies never really replaced his bat in the lineup. But if Bryce Harper proves he can handle first base, Kyle Schwarber will move from left field to DH. That should give Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski an opportunity to find a right-handed bat to help the Phillies’ lineup. It doesn’t have to be a superstar, but somebody who can give the Phillies a little more depth to an already deep lineup. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: Get a bat
The Brewers went into Sunday with an 88 wRC+, fourth-lowest in baseball. They are the only first-place team below 100, which represents league average in that measure of offensive production. They were 24th in runs per game, lowest of every contender but the Guardians. This weekend’s promotion of No. 2 prospect Sal Frelick should help, since the Brewers were last in the National League in production from that position, but there are other areas – the infield corners, for example – which could use a boost. GM Matt Arnold said he is looking to add “responsibly,” meaning he’s not willing to mortgage too many prospects for a short-term add. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: Decide a path and be decisive
With their recent hot streak and drastically improved play, the Cardinals still aren’t fully convinced that they should be sellers. The volatility in the NL Central certainly plays a role in that because the Cardinals – the NL’s winningest second-half team since 2000 – feel that they have a run in them that might allow them to track down the Cubs, Reds and Brewers. The likelihood, however, is that they will have to sell off pieces they could potentially lose after the season. The Cardinals must decide which starting pitcher (Jack Flaherty or Jordan Montgomery) and which closer (Jordan Hicks or Ryan Helsley) is most likely to return and trade the other for 2024 building blocks. (Helsley is still under control for two more seasons, but has a history with injuries.) The Cardinals have zero intention of moving Paul Goldschmidt or Nolan Arenado, so their focus will likely go to alleviating the logjam in the outfield. Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson and/or Alec Burleson might fetch them the starting or relief pitching they desperately need to contend next season. – John Denton

Cubs: Keep Cody Bellinger, and try to extend him
Bellinger, a Scott Boras client who continues to put together a bounce-back 2023 season, seems destined to become a free agent this winter and explore the market; he has a mutual option for 2024. His performance also has made him a top potential trade chip for a Cubs team that has been inconsistent and in a gray area regarding whether to buy or sell. Nevertheless, we’re talking about a 28-year-old former MVP who looks revitalized and can be a centerpiece for this team moving forward. The Cubs could trade him for a big return and look to bring him back this winter. They should start laying the groundwork for keeping him in Chicago, and trade others without club control beyond 2023 — if they want to sell. — Tim Stebbins

Pirates: Keep the veterans
The Pirates fit the bill of a Deadline seller, but considering how many rookies are currently at the Major League level, their best move might be to keep the veterans around and let them mentor the kids for two more months. Quinn Priester can learn from Rich Hill. Endy Rodríguez and Henry Davis can learn from Austin Hedges. Just about every position player can learn from Carlos Santana. Keep them around and let them keep dishing out wisdom. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: Get a starting pitcher, maybe two
The Reds surged to first place in the first half despite having a rotation that is ranked 28th in ERA. Injuries are part of the reason for the struggles as only two of the five starters from Opening Day are still active. Key starters Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo have been hurt and aren’t expected to return until August and September, respectively. Now that Cincinnati is contending, general manager Nick Krall can use some of the organization’s vast prospect capital to go for it. The Reds can land an experienced starter – or two – that would provide both innings and a track record for success. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: Add bullpen help
With an outstanding first half, the D-backs have put themselves in the postseason conversation, but they would be well served to bolster their bullpen and possibly their rotation as well. While the bullpen has been much improved over the past two seasons, closing games has at times been a problem. A proven closer and another reliable reliever would be huge additions. With three young players possibly filling spots in the rotation, a veteran starter would also provide a boost. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Get pitching help
The Dodgers have three rookie starters in the rotation right now. If they want to make a deep run in October, that probably has to change before the Deadline. Of course, it’s not the easiest market to navigate through, but adding a starter – maybe even two – is a real need for the Dodgers. In the bullpen, Los Angeles would also benefit from a veteran presence now that Daniel Hudson will be out for the foreseeable future. — Juan Toribio

Giants: Pick up a starting pitcher or two
San Francisco currently does not have a starter on the IL — but health is never a guarantee, as Logan Webb is the only member of the rotation who has not missed time with injury. The Giants have performed just fine without five healthy starters, but they risk overtaxing their relievers if they continue to rely on bullpen games as heavily as they did in the first half. A middle-of-the-rotation starter to follow Webb and Alex Cobb could go a long way down the stretch. — Sonja Chen

Padres: Plan to buy; be ready to sell
These Padres were built to win now, and even though they find themselves on the fringes of the playoff picture, they should still try to maximize their window. So long as they’re within striking distance, it’d be prudent to bolster the roster with players who have multiple years of team control – perhaps a middle reliever and a corner-outfield/bench bat. (It shouldn’t cripple the farm to acquire those pieces.) But the Padres also need to be ready for a major sell-off. If they sputter and find themselves fully out of contention, it’s time to pivot and recoup serious value on two elite rental pieces: Josh Hader and Blake Snell. – AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Sell and make room
Veteran relievers such as right-hander Pierce Johnson and left-handers Brad Hand and Brent Suter are usually in demand this time of year, and all are pitching well enough to help a contender. What’s intriguing is first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk also are hitting for power, and Jurickson Profar is a switch-hitter – a roster asset. Any deal for the Rockies needs to add prospects who can be developed, and make room for players already in the Majors or on the cusp. — Thomas Harding

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