Major League Baseball’s 2023 trade deadline is just days away – Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. ET – and front offices are frantically trying to get deals done.
With MLB’s expanded playoff field (six teams in each league) meaning more teams are technically in contention, the lines between buyers and sellers are somewhat blurred. Traditional powers like the Dodgers and Astros are making moves, but they’re joined this year by surprise contenders like the Orioles, Rangers and Marlins, all expected to be active on the trade market.
On the flip side, the big-spending Mets, Padres and Cardinals have struggled this season and could deal some key players in the days to come.
USA TODAY Sports’ MLB writers and editors give their predictions for how they see the trade deadline shaking out:
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Will the New York Mets deal Justin Verlander and/or Max Scherzer?
Bob Nightengale (@Bnightengale): The Mets will listen on both pitchers, but they will be staying put. Remember, they each have no-trade clauses, both live in Jupiter, Florida, near the Mets’ spring-training complex in Port St. Lucie, and have expressed no interest in leaving. If the Houston Astros wanted Verlander and his $43 million salary back, they would have signed him in the first place.
Gabe Lacques (@GabeLacques): No – but not after significantly considering it. While stripping down and starting relatively anew in 2023 has its merits, a weak starting pitcher free agent class won’t enable such an easy teardown and buildup in the months ahead. The Mets keep riding with their $43 million men.
Scott Boeck (@ScottBoeck): Future salary commitments will make it difficult to trade Verlander and/or Scherzer. The two starters are pitching pretty well but are only getting older, making a trade of either highly unlikely − unless the Mets are willing to pick up a significant amount of money.
Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner): As much as they’d like to cash in, the Mets are stuck with their aging aces. No team wants to take on their contracts, even if the Mets pay a decent chunk of them, because both have proven to be unreliable this season.
Jesse Yomtov (@JesseYomtov): They’ll both still be wearing blue and orange after the deadline and that’s probably a good thing for the Mets who will enter the offseason with those rotation spots accounted for – albeit at an $86.6 million cost.
Which St. Louis Cardinal won’t be traded?
Nightengale: The Cardinals will keep third baseman Nolan Arenado, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, outfielder Jordan Walker and outfielder Laars Nootbaar. They are listening to the Los Angeles Dodgers about Arenado, but would have to be completely overwhelmed to even be remotely tempted to trade him.
Lacques: Nolan Arenado. Too many long-term considerations for both the Cardinals and any potential suitor.
Boeck: Goldschmidt, Arenado, Nootbaar, Walker and Adam Wainwright (because nobody wants him). The rest of the team will all be on the block.
Gardner: The Cardinals will keep Goldschmidt and Arenado in the nest. Everyone else is fair game though!
Yomtov: St. Louis will keep their All-Star corner infielders, but it’s a bummer that Jack Flaherty’s injured-derailed career with the Cardinals will come to an end.
Come 6:01 p.m. ET, who’s going to have made the biggest splash?
Nightengale: The Texas Rangers. They dropped more than $700 million in free agency the last two years, and aren’t about to stop now. They’ll come away with another starter and a late-inning reliever, maybe from the same team – in starter Jordan Montgomery and Jordan Hicks from the Cardinals.
Lacques: The Chicago Cubs. For doing nothing and not waving the white flag for a change.
Boeck: The Rangers with the Cincinnati Reds a close second. After six straight seasons of finishing under .500, the Rangers sit in first place in the AL West and giving the Astros a run for their money. They could use a couple of relievers to fortify their bullpen.
Gardner: The Astros. They have needs on offense and in the starting rotation. Cody Bellinger and Blake Snell could take them from second place in the division to repeating as World Series champs.
Yomtov: The Dodgers won’t get Arenado but they made some trades in the week before the deadline, and are primed to add another starter (having already scored Lance Lynn) to their injury-depleted rotation.
Which San Diego Padres stars will be moved?
Nightengale: The Padres will keep Juan Soto, but trade All-Star closer Josh Hader and starter Blake Snell. The Padres know they’re not going anywhere, and they can at least rebuild their farm system with prospects for their two pending free agents.
Lacques: None. Club brass will realize that the trade offers coming in can’t match the upside of going for it, hoping a talented team figures it out and keeping fan engagement at its highest point in club history.
Boeck: A lot rides on the their series with the Rangers heading into the deadline. If they lose 2-of-3 or get swept, Snell, Hader, Soto and Trent Grisham could all be on the move. − Scott Boeck
Gardner: Snell could be the deadline’s biggest difference-maker. For the second consecutive season, he’s been an absolute terror after a slow start – putting up a 0.78 ERA over his last 12 outings.
Yomtov: Snell and Hader will each fetch a decent return – even as rentals – and dealing them will help San Diego restock the pantry on the fly, expecting to contend in 2024 and beyond.
What surprise player(s) could get dealt?
Nightengale: Arenado would be a shock. I still can’t see it happening, but as you’ve noticed, the Cardinals haven’t gone out of their way to shut down those trade rumors with the Dodgers, either.
Lacques: It’s going to be a Seattle Mariner and it will likely seem counterintuitive based on their recent results and current standing.
Boeck: Javier Báez. The Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox could all be serious suitors. Báez is in year two of his six-year, $140 million deal that has a player option after the second year.
Gardner: Tim Anderson. If the Chicago White Sox are going to burn things down, they might as well include their longest tenured player.
Yomtov: Eduardo Rodríguez’s trade value will never be higher than it is right now and the Tigers could capitalize on that, dealing the southpaw in the second year of his five-year deal signed with Detroit during the team’s ill-advised 2021-22 offseason.