With the end of the midsummer classic, as teams regroup and look ahead to the second half of the season, many will be on the market for some key acquisitions to make a late season playoff push. Teams who dominated the first half and currently sit as title contenders, such as the Yankees, Astros, Mets, and Dodgers, are all one move away from solidifying their playoff rosters.
Below are some of the top candidates that title contenders and even low seeded playoff contenders should consider trading for ahead of the trade deadline.
Andrew Benintendi, LF (Royals)
Benintendi has had a breakout year for a sorry Kansas City team who is 20 games under .500 and dead last in the AL Central. The first time All-star is batting .317 this season and has put himself in position to hit at the top of the order for a World Series contender. Benintendi would fit very well in New York if the Yankees found a trade partner for Joey Gallo, who they acquired just last season.
Other landing spots for Benintendi could be in St. Louis with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt as well as a potential reunion in Boston with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez if the Red Sox look to go all-in like they did in the offseason when they signed Trevor Story.
Willson Contreras, C (Cubs)
A 3x All-star and defensive wizard behind the plate, Contreras will be one of the most popular targets as the trade deadline approaches. It is essentially inevitable that Contreras will find himself on another team in the coming weeks, but it will be up to the Cubs where he lands. In Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant’s cases last season, Chicago was kind enough to accommodate each player’s requests by sending all three to playoff contending teams so it will be interesting to see where Contreras lands.
Some potential fits include the Astros, who would become a serious threat to the Yankees in the American League if they paired Contreras with Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez, the Giants, who are in desperate need of a catcher as Joey Bart has not lived up to expectations, and the Mets, who are a catcher away from overtaking the Dodgers as the favorites to win the National League.
Frankie Montas, SP & Paul Blackburn, RP (Athletics)
With the term ‘rebuild’ at the focal point of many MLB conversations nowadays, the Athletics are the first team that comes to mind. The A’s want to “clear the decks” this season and their first step will likely be to move starting pitcher Frankie Montas. Montas is arguably the best starting pitcher up for grabs as he and Reds’ starter Luis Castillo should be the first two starters to find new rosters.
His teammate, All-star reliever Paul Blackburn, is also likely to be traded considering the A’s will want to trade him at his peak value. The A’s will likely receive offers from many contenders, including the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Dodgers, who would all be great fits for both pitchers.
Josh Bell, 1B (Nationals)
Superstar outfielder Juan Soto recently declined a 15-year, $440 million contract extension with the Nationals, and if Washington is listening to trade offers for him this offseason, Josh Bell will be on the move no later than the trade deadline. Bell has had a nice year with Washington, hitting .311/.390/.504 with 50 RBI’s, so whoever he lands with will get a quality clean-up hitter.
Bell would put a team like the Red Sox over the top, considering Boston has had to play Franchy Cordero at first base due to their lack of depth with Bobby Dalbec being out. Teams like the Guardians and Mariners are also very good fits for Bell, as both teams are talented with young All-stars and have had unexpectedly successful seasons.
Jorge Lopez, RP (Orioles)
For teams looking for that final bullpen piece, Jorge Lopez is the perfect fit. A former starter, Lopez has turned himself into one of the premier relievers in the game, posting a 0.75 ERA with 13 saves this season. The Dodgers could be a nice fit for Lopez, considering they lost their long-time closer, Kenley Jansen, to the Braves last offseason.
Los Angeles added Craig Kimbrel soon after losing Jansen and still have flamethrower Brusdar Graterol but signing Lopez should be at the top of their agenda if they plan to make a move before the deadline. Ultimately, it would be foolish to hold on to the talented righthander while he’s at his apex in value and the team is far from contention, but it would not be shocking if Baltimore did just that.