Major League Baseball's trade deadline falls on Aug. 1 this year, meaning that teams have less than a month left to take stock of their situations and make decisions about whether to buy, sell, or do a little of both. CBS Sports has chosen to honor the calendar flipping to July by highlighting 20 players who could be on the move in the coming weeks,
One name you won't find listed belongs to Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels' two-way phenom who is scheduled to hit free agency this winter. The Angels have insisted they won't move him as long as they're in the playoff hunt. Maybe the bottom falls out between now and Aug. 1 -- -- and the Angels have to alter their stance, but for now, we're proceeding as if that won't be the case.
As for the 20 players who are listed, below you'll find analysis on each individual and their situation, as well as three potential landing spots. We are legally obligated to include a few caveats, beginning with the note that there more than 20 realistic candidates, and more than three plausible suitors for everyone listed -- do not be the person who complains that their team isn't listed often enough; it's unbecoming and misses the larger point of the piece.
Not every player included here will be traded, of course, but we suspect that they'll come up in conversations. The players are ranked in order of their perceived value and desirability based on the usual factors -- expected production, positional scarcity, remaining team control, and so on. Keep in mind this exercise is more of an art than a science.
Now, let's get to it.
1. Max Scherzer, RHP, Mets
Scherzer's inclusion was cinched last week, when a report surfaced indicating he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for the right situation. From our perspective, it would take a once-in-a-century style syzygy for a deal to transpire. Scherzer holds all the cards in more ways than one. He can dictate whether or not he's traded this summer, and he can then opt in or out of his contract for next season. We don't think Scherzer would actually entertain hitting the open market again -- he's sporting his lowest ERA+ in more than a decade, making it unlikely that he'd bail on a $43 million guarantee -- but it does add another layer of complexity to a tricky calculus. Beyond all that, we're not sure the Mets have motivation to move him. Even if this season is lost, New York surely intends to compete next year -- and to lure Shohei Ohtani to town this winter. Scherzer's presence helps in both pursuits, and it doesn't seem probable that any available deal will be worth the damage on those fronts. Potential suitors: Rangers, Astros, Diamondbacks
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP, White Sox
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. Potential suitors: Rangers, Astros, Orioles
3. Jordan Montgomery, LHP, Cardinals
Here's hoping Montgomery is OK with living out of hotels. He was traded last summer as part of a challenge deal involving Harrison Bader and the Yankees. Now, he could be moved again this deadline, just months before hitting the open market. Montgomery doesn't have flashy stuff by any means, but he should be in demand. He's an above-average left-hander who is on pace for his third consecutive 30-plus start season. Those don't grow on trees. Even if they did, those trees would probably be cleared to make room for a strip mall. Potential suitors: Dodgers, Orioles, Phillies
4. Josh Hader, LHP, Padres
It's unclear if A.J. Preller will entertain trading veterans, but if he does concede that this is a lost season, Hader would make the most sense to move. He's an impending free agent having a terrific year. The home run problems that have plagued him throughout his career haven't been an issue in San Diego, and he remains as capable as ever of suppressing contact and missing bats. Potential suitors: Rangers, Diamondbacks, Phillies
5. Paul DeJong, SS, Cardinals
Here's a most unexpected sentence: DeJong looks like the best shortstop target available this deadline. How did we get here? Through a few surprising developments, including Tim Anderson's poor season and DeJong's resurgence after several down years. We're not so sure the latter is built to last. DeJong is hitting the ball hard more frequently than he has in some time, but there are a lot of iffy aspects to be found under the hood. To wit, his whiff rate remains on the wrong side of 30%, and he continues to chase outside of the zone as often as he has since his rookie year. His home run rate also looks unsustainable given his historical norms and his current exit-velocity profile. We're not trying to be overly negative here; it's just the reality of the situation. With all that written, DeJong has produced top-line results so far this season, and his glovework gives him a wider berth than the normal player. We're just not sure we'd want to bet on him going forward (his contract contains two additional club options), which makes him more of a rental in our eyes. Potential suitors: Dodgers, Brewers, Mariners
6. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Nationals
Candelario has given the Nationals more than they bargained for when they signed him in November to a one-year deal worth $5 million. He doesn't have a Statcast percentile box worth framing (or, at the very least, screenshotting), but he could finish with an above-average OPS+ for the third time in four years and that shouldn't be lost on anyone. Although Candelario possesses good high-end exit velocities, hinting at above-average raw strength, he's not someone who consistently hits the ball hard. Rather, he gets his by launching the ball between 10 and 30 degrees more often than the average bear. There don't appear to be many other third-base options available, so it'll have to do. Potential suitors: Phillies, Brewers, Twins
7. Paul Blackburn, RHP, Athletics
Blackburn is probably the most forgotten member of last year's American League All-Star team. He's had bigger problems to deal with since: he missed the end of last season because of a tear of his flexor tendon sheath, and the beginning of this campaign due to fingernail issues. Blackburn has shown no signs of rust since returning. Instead, he's upped his strikeout rate by elevating his bat-missing slider from his least-used pitch last season to his most-used secondary this year. That's the kind of tweak that can unlock a higher level of sustained performance. It's too early to know for certain if that'll be the case with Blackburn. He has several years of team control remaining, so the Athletics might be tempted to hold and find out. Still, there's virtually no chance he'll be a member of the A's whenever they move to Las Vegas. Potential suitors: Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Orioles
8. James Paxton, LHP, Red Sox
Paxton has already made more starts this year than he did during the 2020-22 seasons combined. He's pitched well, too, with better marks than he managed during his Mariners days. Paxton has shown he can turn over a lineup multiple times (and miss a lot of bats doing it) with what amounts to a three-pitch arsenal: mid-90s fastball, slurve, and a cutter. His injury history makes him an unreliable quantity, but he'll be worthy of a spot in a playoff rotation if he can find a way to stay healthy until October rolls around. Potential suitors: Reds, Diamondbacks, Orioles
9. Scott Barlow, RHP, Royals
If we had our druthers, the Royals would've traded Barlow last deadline, when he was in the midst of what proved to be a career season. They didn't, and so now we bang the drum again. Barlow, a year away from free agency, suppresses contact at elite levels thanks to an arsenal that sees him chuck nearly 75% sliders and curveballs. He also has a low-90s fastball that plays beyond its raw mileage because of how far down the mound he gets at release. Add it all up and Barlow is a legitimate late-inning reliever -- just not one who should be toiling away for a moment longer on one of the majors' worst teams. Potential suitors: Diamondbacks, Rangers, Phillies
10. Kyle Finnegan, RHP, Nationals
Give the Nationals credit for a nifty piece of pro-scouting work. They signed Finnegan, then a minor-league free agent, to a big-league deal after the 2019 season. He's since given them around 200 quality appearances, and he's now in position to bring back a return at the deadline, presuming they move him ahead of his 32nd birthday.
Finnegan does most of his work with an upper-90s heater that plays hotter thanks to a deep release point. Don't be surprised if his next team asks him to deploy his splitter and his cutter more often to achieve two purposes: 1) to keep batters honest and 2) to fatten his whiff rate. Potential suitors: Dodgers, Rays, Phillies
11. Yasmani Grandal, C, White Sox
There are red flags in Grandal's profile that suggest he's on the way down -- as he should be seeing as how he's a 34-year-old catcher with more than a decade of service time. He's not hitting the ball as hard as usual; he's taken on an uncharacteristically aggressive approach; and his defensive metrics are below-average. Yet the paucity of realistic catching targets will make Grandal a person of interest for contenders seeking an upgrade behind the plate. Potential suitors: Marlins, Astros, Guardians
You can make the argument that the Cubs should hold onto Gomes. His contract includes a cheap $6 million club option for next season, and he could use that time to help Miguel Amaya prepare to assume the full-time catching duties. We're including Gomes anyway because there are only so many potential backstops on the market. (Besides, the Cubs have Tucker Barnhart in tow, and Amaya seems to be doing just fine.)
Gomes doesn't grade as well as he used to defensively -- his framing has slipped and his arm has weakened -- and his offensive game is largely built around hitting singles. You can do worse; you just might not be able to do better this deadline. Potential suitors: Astros, Guardians, Marlins
13. Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox
Anderson missed time earlier this season with a sprained knee, and he's more recently dealt with shoulder soreness. You can't help but to wonder if (and maybe even hope that) those ailments have had an outsized impact on his campaign -- that's how dreadful he's played this season. Anderson is hitting everything into the ground at the plate, and he's not moving as well as he usually does in the field or on the basepaths (though he's still been a capable basestealer). Anderson's contract includes a $14 million club option for next season. The White Sox may well hold onto him and let him rebuild his stock. Potential suitors: Mariners, Brewers, Dodgers
14. Lane Thomas, OF, Nationals
Thomas has been one of the most productive batters in the majors this season against left-handed pitching and is closing on exceeding his career-high in home runs despite it being only early July, which makes up for his lackluster performance versus righties. It's anyone's guess as to whether or not the Nationals would seriously entertain moving him. Thomas has several years of team control remaining, but he's nearing his 28th birthday and the limited nature of his game makes him more valuable to a contender than a rebuilding club. Potential suitors: Brewers, Guardians, Yankees
15. Jordan Hicks, RHP, Cardinals
Hicks looked like he was on the cusp of being designated for assignment as recently as May 5, when his ERA peaked at 7.62. He's since turned his season around in dazzling fashion -- to the degree that he's on pace to finish with an ERA+ north of 100 for the first time since 2019. Hicks still has as much arm strength as anyone or anything else in Creation, as well as a sweeper that has generated more than 50% whiffs so far this season. He's an impending free agent, so the Cardinals don't have to proceed with a larger teardown to justify moving him at the deadline. Potential suitors: Dodgers, Blue Jays, Rangers
16. Cody Bellinger, CF/1B, Cubs
Two things can be simultaneously true: 1) Bellinger is having his best season in years, and 2) it's hard to feel great about his underlying metrics. He's sporting the worst average exit velocity of his career (he's in Nico Hoerner territory), and he's both pulling and popping-up the ball more frequently than last season. Bellinger is making more contact than before, to his credit, but on paper this doesn't look like a career revival to us. Maybe some teams disagree. Potential suitors: Phillies, Guardians, Mariners
17. Randal Grichuk, OF, Rockies
You never know what the Rockies are going to do at the deadline. They operate by a different set of rules, and thank goodness for that. (Baseball could use more heterogeneous front offices, in complexion and philosophy.) The Mike Moustasks trade does suggest they're open to selling this summer, which is the right call. Grichuk, then, should draw interest from contenders. He's an impending free agent and a perfectly solid platoon option against left-handed pitching. You're not going to want him taking at-bats against most righties, or playing center field on a steady basis. Stick to his strengths, though, and he can provide value in his own way. Potential suitors: Giants, Brewers, Mariners
18. Adam Duvall, OF, Red Sox
The Red Sox are still within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they should probably be realistic about their chances and trade a few impending free agents before Aug. 1. Duvall was, at one point anyway, the most productive hitter in the majors back in April. He then sustained a fractured wrist on a fielding attempt that cost him two months of action.
He's scuffled since returning to the lineup, though he's always been prone to variance on account of how often he strikes out and pops up. Duvall's above-average raw power and ability to play across the outfield should still make him an appealing trade candidate. Potential suitors: Twins, Mariners, Phillies
19. Justin Lawrence, RHP, Rockies
Lawrence is a shining example of one philosophical difference between front offices and fools like us. Whereas the Rockies likely see him as a long-term building block because of his substantive remaining team control, we see a reliever who has likely achieved his peak value. Lawrence is already 28 and, for as fun as his profile is (he delivers a hellacious sweeper and a mid-90s fastball from a sidearm slot), he's struggling to keep his strikeout-to-walk ratio over 2.00. Add in the inherent attrition risk with relievers, and there's no telling if Lawrence will be worth rostering in two or three years. Even so, we concede that we should've given this spot to Brad Hand -- he's far likelier to be dealt. Potential suitors: Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays
20. Brent Rooker, 1B/OF, Athletics
Rooker was perceived as a Quad-A player coming into the season: someone good enough to feast on minor-league pitching, but who is unable to do so consistently against big-league arms. He challenged that assessment with a white-hot April, hitting .353 and launching nine home runs in 22 games. Although Rooker still has good numbers overall, it's easier to understand the skepticism about his profile now that he's struggled for two-plus months. His game features an unholy amount of swing and miss, to the extent that he has one of the majors' worst contact rates. Of course, it takes only one team to remember April, or to view Rooker as a bench or platoon bat. There's probably a decent enough chance of the latter for him to merit inclusion here. Potential suitors: Brewers, Guardians, Giants