Nineteen of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams are either in a playoff spot or within 4½ games of one. All could be looking to make improvements leading up to the August 2 trade deadline, creating a potentially wild flurry of activity in the next six days.
The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, and other top-tier clubs are obvious buyers. For today, we’ll focus on a few teams on the outside looking at who we’d like to see step up to the table.
Chicago White Sox
One of the most disappointing teams in baseball after most pegged them to win the American League Central, the Chicago White Sox have crawled back into the picture. They’ve won 10 of their last 15 to cut their deficit behind the first-place Minnesota Twins in half and moved over .500 on Tuesday for the first time since May 23.
Injuries were a major issue earlier in the season. Slugger Eloy Jimenez is back, albeit a bit banged up, and young star Luis Robert (blurred vision), could return soon. Yoan Moncada is finally heating up amid a season filled with physical issues.
The rotation has had its ups and downs, but there are five healthy, capable starters. The bullpen, an area that received a massive boost at the deadline last season with the addition of Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera, is a potential place of need.
Expect the White Sox to bolster the pen and perhaps add another starter for depth. They’ve already been linked to old friend Jose Quintana. With the bats getting healthy, this is a team that should continue its climb in the AL.
Because why not? You’re an organization that has finished fourth or fifth in the five-team AL East in 18 of the last 24 years. You’ve lost more than 100 games in the last three seasons that did not include a COVID-shortened schedule. And suddenly you’re in contention for an AL Wild-Card spot. So go for it. Sell off some pieces from one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball to make some upgrades and try to give October baseball to the fans in Baltimore.
This team still doesn’t feel like a true contender, ranking in the middle of the pack, or even lower, in many major statistical categories. The MLB lines suggest as much, giving the Orioles a +1600 tag on the playoff odds list. Just once, though, it would be refreshing to see an organization show faith in the efforts of the players they have and give the coaching staff a little more to work with.
It doesn’t have to be a hard push for high-end talent. But an upgrade and a signal that the organization would like to win and not just give pats on the backs for effort would go a long way with the current crop of young talent.
All that said, veteran slugger Trey Mancini has already been rumored as a trade piece. That’d be a shame.
This is a pipe dream, to be sure. All indications are that the Marlins will be sellers. With a 4½-game deficit in the Wild-Card race and an offense that is doing next to nothing with several key bats on the injured list, it makes sense.
But we can dream. Miami has perhaps the best starting pitcher in baseball in Sandy Alcantara and another in Pablo Lopez who is pretty solid. If Trevor Rogers could rediscover his 2021 form, this would be a top-tier rotation.
Alas, Rogers has been abysmal and the rumors have Lopez going somewhere to help bolster the club going forward. Those betting online with their MLB picks will find the Marlins at +1400 to make the playoffs.
General manager Kim Ng can’t pin anything on the prospect of several injured offensive players coming back strong. That’s not a realistic way for a GM to operate. However, power hitter Jorge Soler, speedster Jon Berti, All-Star Garrett Cooper, and longtime third baseman Brian Anderson are all due back relatively soon from their respective injuries. Budding star Jazz Chisholm Jr. (back) won’t be back until September, though.
The minors are laden with talent. Just imagine shipping away a couple of prospects for a veteran arm, getting the lineup back together in a few weeks, and riding Alcantara and Lopez to a late-season push.
Not likely, but Ng and the company can toe that line and at least avoid being sellers.