The 4th of July is behind us, but there are still plenty of fireworks to come in the baseball world.
We’re less than four weeks away from the August 2 trade deadline, and while a handful of teams are focused on selling coins, the expanded playoffs have left 23 teams less than eight games away from a place in the playoffs.
Some clubs will have more than one hole to fill, but here’s a look at the most dire need as the leaders look to bolster their roster for the second half.
(Note: Although multiple teams may pursue some of the same players, each player listed as a potential candidate has only been used once.)
Yankees: corner fielder
The Joey Gallo experience in the Bronx may have reached a breaking point as the slugger continues to struggle in the scratches. The Yankees have plenty of power — they lead the Majors in homers — but the roster would benefit from adding a more all-around hitter in Gallo’s place.
Potential compatibility: Andrew Benintendi, Royals
Red Sox: first baseman
It wasn’t too long ago that the Red Sox were widely seen as future sellers this summer, but Boston’s 20-6 record in June propelled them among the most intriguing buyers. First base was a black hole for the Sox, whose .609 OPS collective at the position ranks second-to-last in the Majors.
Potential match: Josh Bell, Nationals
Blue Jays: starting pitcher
Toronto currently has one of the Wild Card spots in the American League despite an underperforming starting rotation. Hyun-Jin Ryu is on the 60-day injured list, while José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi have been ineffective for most of the season, so finding a mid-rotation starter to stabilize the squad seems like a priority.
Potential compatibility: Zach Davies, D-backs
Spokes: power bat
Injuries to Brandon Lowe and Mike Zunino sank the power of the Tampa Bay roster, leaving the Rays in need of pop. Nelson Cruz was a big influence in the clubhouse during his brief stint at Tampa Bay last season, so perhaps a return commitment could be in the cards.
Potential compatibility: Nelson Cruz, Nationals
Orioles: Controllable Launch
Baltimore’s inclusion on this list is based on rankings, but the Orioles could find themselves both buyers and sellers. With players such as Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander and Jorge López potentially on the block, the Orioles will be looking to bolster their throwing depth for 2023 and possibly beyond.
Potential compatibility: Pablo López, Marlins
Twins: backup launcher
Minnesota has put itself in position to win the AL Central, but the Twins’ bullpen could prove sensitive in October. Jhoan Duran was a revelation, but the Twins need at least one more reliable high-leverage arm.
Potential compatibility: David Bednar, Pirates
Cleveland’s .505 OPS from its receivers ranks 27th in the Majors, so while the Guardians can use offensive upgrades in multiple places, catching seems like the biggest need. Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins hailed from Cleveland, so he knows the Guardians system as well as anyone. Could a Willson Contreras move be a natural fit?
Potential compatibility: Willson Contreras, Cubs
White Sox: left-handed outfielder
Chicago’s .665 OPS against right-handed pitchers ranks 26th in the Majors, making adding a solid left-handed bat imperative. Adam Engel, AJ Pollock and Gavin Sheets were three of the main culprits, leaving the White Sox looking for a left-handed outfielder to help balance the roster.
Potential compatibility: David Peralta, D-backs
Astros: starting pitcher
The Astros have a rock-solid top rotation in Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, but they could use another starter to bolster their championship expectations. Houston could make a run against one of the best starters, but the Astros have excelled at getting the most out of the pitcher they bring into the fold.
Potential compatibility: Tyler Mahle, Reds
Mariners: backup launcher
Seattle’s bullpen has had solid contributions from three or four pitchers, but depth remains an issue. The Mariners rank in the middle of the league in bullpen ERA, but they’ll need to add a dependable arm or two if they hope to end their 21-year playoff drought.
Potential match: Carl Edwards Jr., Nationals
Rangers: starting pitcher
Texas made headlines this winter with the signing of free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and while the Rangers could try to take another big dip with a trade for Frankie Montas or Luis Castillo, it’s just as likely. which the club are trying to reinforce in the middle of the rotation at a cheaper price.
Potential compatibility: José Quintana, Pirates
Angels: Third baseman
The Angels remain on the periphery of the AL Wild Card run, and while the pitch continues to be needed, Anthony Rendon’s season-ending injury created a hole at third base. Rendon should be fine next spring, so a third baseman on an expiring contract makes sense for the Angels.
Potential compatibility: Brandon Drury, Reds
Mets: relief launcher
The Mets roster is among the best in the game, and while the bullpen has been good this season, the addition of another high-leverage arm makes sense. General manager Billy Eppler knows David Robertson well from their time with the Yankees, and the right-hander’s experience in New York — and in the playoffs — should be attractive to the Mets.
Potential compatibility: David Robertson, Cubs
Braves: starting pitcher
Atlanta’s rotation has been in the middle of the pack in terms of ERA, but rookie Spencer Strider has helped transform this unit. Here’s the rub: Strider has already pitched 59 2/3 innings, just 37 2/3 off his career high, set last season. He may be a better bullpen weapon late in the season, giving the Braves reason to add a starter for the stretch run.
Potential Fit: Chad Kuhl, Rockies
Bryce Harper’s thumb surgery will keep him out until mid-August, leaving a huge hole in the Phillies’ roster. Adding a versatile power bat to fill the void won’t be easy to find, but there are options that could help ease the burden on the rest of the lineup.
Potential compatibility: Joey Gallo, Yankees
Marlins: backup pitcher
Miami’s recent play brought the club back into the Wild Card mix, leaving general manager Kim Ng in wait-and-see mode when it comes to being a buyer or a seller. If the Marlins decide to buy, a high-leverage reliever will be on the team’s shopping list.
Potential compatibility: Jorge López, Orioles
Brewers: center fielder
Lorenzo Cain’s DFA left the Brewers with Jonathan Davis and Tyrone Taylor (currently on the injured list) in center field, leaving room as an obvious area for improvement. Milwaukee’s .565 OPS at the position ranks 27th in the Majors.
Potential compatibility: Ramón Laureano, A
Cardinals: starting pitcher
St. Louis is looking to send Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina (and Adam Wainwright?) with another ring, but to do that the starting rotation will need to be improved. Miles Mikolas and Wainwright have been very good this season, but the end of the rotation has been a problem. Adding another front-row starter could put the Cardinals in the same league as the Mets, Dodgers and Braves.
Potential Compatibility: Frankie Montas, A’s
Despite the best rotational ERA in the Majors, the Dodgers could use a starter thanks to flexor tension in Walker Buehler, who will keep him out until September. The bullpen could also use a lift with Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle all on the IL.
Potential compatibility: Luis Castillo, Reds
Padres: Impact Bat
San Diego’s .656 OPS collective in the outfield ranks 25th in the Majors, leaving plenty of room for improvement. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return this summer will help the offense, but adding another at-bat in the corner or at the designated hitter would be a boost for the Padres in the tight NL West race.
Potential compatibility: Ian Happ, Cubs
Joey Bart’s transition as Buster Posey’s successor did not go smoothly and he was returned to the minors on June 8 before being recalled on Wednesday. San Francisco had used Curt Casali and Austin Wynns behind the plate, but Casali landed the IL with an oblique stump this week. Adding a more productive backstop could be in the team’s plans.
Potential Compatibility: Sean Murphy, A’s
D-backs: right-handed outfielder
Arizona could take a buy-and-sell approach as it has done in the past, eliminating deep areas to bolster roster holes in the future. D-backs would benefit from the addition of a right-handed outfielder with some club control.
Potential compatibility: Tommy Pham, Reds
Rockies: starting pitcher
Antonio Senzatela’s shoulder problems and Austin Gomber’s inefficiency created a need in the Rockies’ starting rotation. Colorado would benefit from adding a ground ball pitcher who could eat innings.
Potential compatibility: Brad Keller, Royals