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The All-Star break is over and the trade deadline is less than three weeks away. With the 2023 MLB draft is the rear-view mirror, front offices can now focus exclusively on the deadline. Expect the rumors and trades to pick up very soon. Here are the latest trade deadline rumors as we await baseball's return Friday.

Blue Jays could pick up Cruz

Nelson Cruz
SD • DH • #32
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The Blue Jays have interest in the recently released Nelson Cruz, reports Sportsnet. Toronto is presumably looking at Cruz as a platoon DH option against lefties with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. locked in at first base and Brandon Belt hitting well against righties. The Padres released Cruz earlier this week, which means any team can sign him for the prorated portion of the $720,000 league minimum.

Now 43, Cruz hit only .245/.283/.399 with five homers in 152 plate appearances with San Diego, including .241/.281/.386 against lefties. He is still capable of changing a game with one swing, however, plus Cruz has long been regarded as a positive in the clubhouse. The Blue Jays figure to be in the market for a righty bat to help balance the lineup at the trade deadline.

Dodgers interested in Giolito

Lucas Giolito
CLE • SP • #27
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The Dodgers have expressed interest in White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, reports Los Angeles has a clear need for starting pitching and the 38-54 White Sox are expected to sell at the deadline, at least their rentals like Giolito. The 29-year-old grew up in Southern California and is having a strong contract year after a disappointing 2022.

Giolito ranked as our No. 2 trade candidate earlier this month:

It says more about the state of the American League Central than it does the state of the White Sox that Chicago remains one good week away from being in the thick of things. That could complicate matters with respect to Giolito should the White Sox get hot at the right (or, perhaps, wrong, depending on your perspective) time. Anyway, Giolito is an impending free agent who has fully course-corrected from a rough 2022. Until the White Sox actually make a run, we're going to assume he'll be the best right-hander traded this summer.

The Dodgers have five starters on the injured list (Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Ryan Pepiot, Noah Syndergaard) and three rookies in their rotation at the moment (Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, Gavin Stone). Pepiot and Syndergaard are expected to return soon, but still, the Dodgers are lacking right now. Adding a starter like Giolito feels imperative.

Astros prioritizing rotation help

The Astros are prioritizing starting pitching at the trade deadline, GM Dana Brown said during a recent appearance on 790 AM. Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) and Lance McCullers Jr. (flexor) are done for the season following their recent surgeries and rookie Hunter Brown is approaching his career high in innings. Houston could use at least one veteran starter to pick up the slack.

"With the pitchers that we've had going down, it could put us in a situation where we come up short or we don't get to that next round of the playoffs," Brown said on 790 AM. "A good arm would be really, really helpful … The problem is, there are not many good arms out there."

Five of our top 20 trade candidates (including the top three) are starting pitchers, though of course some will be easier to obtain than others. The Astros have not traded for a starter at the deadline since picking up Zack Greinke in 2019. This year's starting staff is noticeably thinner and less reliable than the last few years, however.

Phillies may be suitor for Soto

According to the New York Post, folks within baseball view the Phillies as a potential landing spot for Juan Soto, though more likely as a free agent after next season than at the trade deadline this year. Soto was close to Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long when the two were together with the Nationals, and of course he was teammates with Bryce Harper and Trea Turner as well.

The Padres won five of six to close out the first half and they enter play Friday with a 43-47 record. They are six games behind the third and final wild-card spot, and given the team's aggressive moves the last few years, it seems likely San Diego will add at the deadline and push for a postseason spot rather than sell. Trading Soto would be a seismic shift in the team's philosophy.