Top mlb trade deadline candidates

Who Could Be The Top Players Moved At The Trade Deadline?

Chris Elwell

As MLB’s trade deadline approaches, teams have until August 1 to decide whether they will make a run at the postseason or ship off their top players to contenders. The 2023 trade deadline could end up being one of the most impactful in history, as there could potentially be franchise players and some of the brightest stars in the league calling a new stadium home. 

Teams in the middle of a playoff push will be looking to add players in positions of need to their rosters. While it may not always be a huge splash, a player that can come into the clubhouse and quickly establish a role on the team is something that has proved to be critical for championship contending teams.

The 2023 season has been filled with surprise contenders and massive disappointments so far, which could make for league-altering moves that change the balance of power around the league. 

Around the league there are players that have been rumored in trade discussions, and some have become more expendable than others as the deadline nears. Contract situations and team success become major factors in who will get moved in the coming weeks, and there could be names ending up in new places who were once thought to be unavailable.

Statistics current through the start of play Tuesday, July 18.

Starting Pitchers

Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani could be traded in the midst of the greatest season in MLB history.
Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox

If Chicago decides to have a fire sale this season, Cease could become one of the hottest commodities on the trade market. Cease is under team control through the 2025 season with arbitration, which makes it unlikely for him to be dealt. Unless Chicago gets an offer they can’t refuse, Cease will likely stay with the team in hopes to build a team that can contend in the weak AL Central.

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

Giolito could prove to be a vital middle of the rotation piece for a contender in a pennant race. He had two rough starts in his first two outings of the season, but bounced back posting a 2.66 ERA in his next 8 starts, going six full innings in each start. Giolito is a free agent after this season, making for a perfect rental arm that could plug right into the rotation.

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

Could Ohtani be traded in the midst of the greatest season in MLB history? With Mike Trout sidelined with a broken hamate bone until after the deadline, General Manager Perry Minasian could be faced with the inevitable decision to trade the best player in baseball. The asking price despite being a free agent at the end of the season is incredibly high, making for a small list of teams that could acquire the two-way superstar.

Max Scherzer, New York Mets

Who would’ve expected the Mets to be in the category of sellers at the deadline? Scherzer is in the second year of a 3-year, $130 million deal with a player option for 2024, and at 38 years old, he could potentially push the envelope for a team missing a true workhorse at the top of the rotation to make a huge splash going into the playoff push. It is unlikely that New York sells, but if they continue to fall in the standings, there’s a chance Scherzer could be on the move.

Blake Snell, San Diego Padres

Snell has been one of the hottest pitchers in the NL since the start of June, allowing just 3 runs across 8 starts in that span. San Diego has been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball in 2023, and with Snell set to hit free agency after the season, he could be moved to a contender in hopes to get some kind of return for a resurging arm. 

Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs

Stroman could be one of the most sought after starting pitchers at the deadline, who was once rumored to possibly be getting an extension to stay with the Cubs. No traction has been gained on a deal, making Stroman a huge conversation in trade talks that could be plugged into a contending rotation that can take the ball in any situation. In the midst of a career season, the 32-year-old could make one of the biggest splashes come the trade deadline.

Relief Pitchers

Angels closer Carlos Estevez celebrates one of his 21 saves in 2023.
Photo Courtesy of

Carlos Estevez, Los Angeles Angels

Relievers are always a hot commodity come the trade deadline, and Estevez could be one of the top arms on the move. In his first season with Los Angeles, Estevez is having his best season in the majors with a career-high 21 saves and a career-low 2.19 ERA. The hard-throwing right-hander has a chance to end up in the backend of a bullpen in the middle of a pennant race at the end of the season.

Joe Kelly, Chicago White Sox

The 35-year-old right-hander has been in the middle of trade talks for a majority of the season due to his improved command of the strike zone. If he is able to limit the walks, his arsenal plays in the back end of any bullpen that is looking to make a playoff push. His walk numbers have climbed in recent outings, but he could be a name to follow with a couple strong appearances before the deadline for Chicago.

Keynan Middleton, Chicago White Sox

Middleton is owed next to nothing for the 2023 season, making for an intriguing trade piece with a $750,000 salary. In the midst of his best full season, his electric arm could turn into an interesting follow as the deadline approaches for a team that is in need of another bullpen asset. 


Rockies catcher Elias Diaz presented with the 2023 All-Star Game MVP award after hitting a go-ahead, 2-run home run to seal the 3-2 win for the National League.
Photo Courtesy of The Seattle Times

Elias Diaz, Colorado Rockies

Colorado has struggled in recent seasons and could potentially be shipping off the 2023 All-Star Game MVP. Diaz is having one of his stronger offensive seasons, but his negative defensive metrics cap his trade value, as well as being a 32-year-old catcher who is just starting to find his stride in the majors. Colorado could be in the market of trading Diaz, but the return will likely not be enough to replenish the farm system.


10-time Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado flashing his greatness at third base.
Photo Courtesy of Redbird Rants

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis has been one of the most disappointing teams in 2023, which could see the end of the tenure for their superstar third baseman. Arenado is under contract through the 2027 season, and in a weak NL Central, the Cardinals may be reluctant to part ways, but GM John Mozeliak said the team is going to be sellers at the deadline. At 32 years old, the return for Arenado may not be as high as expected, but teams will certainly be in the market for one of the top third baseman in the league.

Jeimer Candelario, Washington Nationals

Candelario’s resurgence comes just a year removed from his worst full season in the majors with Detroit, in which he posted a .217/.272/.361 slashline in 124 games. He has bounced back in his first season in Washington, with a 130 OPS+ and playing strong defense at the hot corner with 6 OAA and a 3.8 UZR. If he continues his strong offensive season, Washington may be faced with the opportunity to trade him for more young pieces as they continue their rebuild.

C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies

Cron has been one of the most consistent power bats in the league since 2018, with 25 or more home runs in each of the last 4 full seasons. For teams that are lacking in power numbers from their first basemen and designated hitters, Cron could be plugged into the lineup as a middle of the lineup threat despite injuries and his lowest slugging percentage since 2017. 

Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees

Torres being traded is highly unlikely with the current status of the Yankees lineup that is struggling mightily without Aaron Judge. With Josh Donaldson going on the injured list with a calf strain, it all but keeps Torres in pinstripes, who was mentioned in trade talks prior to the season in an attempt to upgrade the rotation and/or bullpen. For the last place Yankees, the former top prospect has been one of the few productive hitters in the lineup for a majority of the season.


Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. rounding the bases after one of his 27 home runs in 2023.
Photo Courtesy of

Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs

Bellinger looks to have regained some of his form from his MVP days with a 137 OPS+ and playing strong defense in center field. With a mutual option, Bellinger will undoubtedly turn down his part of that option in order to seek a long-term deal. Chicago will certainly be looking to ship him off elsewhere as their struggles continue and could replenish their farm system with a potential deal.

Randal Grichuk, Colorado Rockies

Grichuk has been a recent addition to trade talks as a free agent at the end of the season. He could prove to be a valuable asset for a team that needs solid defense in a corner outfield spot and provide a spark towards the bottom of the lineup. Colorado looks destined to finish at the bottom of the NL West, which could see some of their aging veterans get shipped off to retool their prospect group.

Luis Robert Jr., Chicago White Sox

Robert Jr. is in the midst of his best season with a career-high 27 home runs and 3.9 fWAR. With 4.5 years of team control, he is highly unlikely to be dealt, but if Chicago wants to bolster an aging farm system, trading the former international phenom could bring a massive haul back to the team. As the centerpiece of a young core, Robert Jr. was expected to be the star and despite living up to expectations, the surrounding cast has been largely disappointing, possibly pointing towards another rebuild.

Lane Thomas, Washington Nationals

In his second full season with Washington, Thomas is having his best season of his career, posting a 122 wRC+ and 2.0 fWAR. With a farm system loaded with promising outfielders, Thomas has become expendable for the team to trade to possibly help upgrade the pitching staff. His numbers against lefties have been off the charts with a .364 batting average and just 23 strikeouts compared to 79 against right-handers.

Juan Soto, San Diego Padres

Soto won’t be traded twice within a calendar year, right? Since entering the league in 2018, he has done nothing but establish himself as one of the best young hitters in baseball. After sending a record-breaking haul to Washington for Soto, San Diego has not lived up to expectations, and could potentially ship him out the door in a shocking move.

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