The Fourth of July is behind us, but there are still plenty of fireworks to come in the baseball world.
We’re less than four weeks from the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline, and while a handful of teams will be focused on selling off pieces, the expanded postseason has left 23 teams within eight games of a playoff spot.
Some clubs will have more than one hole to fill, but here’s a look at the most glaring need as executives look to bolster their roster for the second half.
(Note: Although multiple teams are likely to pursue some of the same players, each player listed as a potential fit was used only once.)
Yankees: Corner Outfielder
The Joey Gallo experience in the Bronx may have reached a breaking point as the slugger continues to struggle badly in pinstripes. The Yankees have plenty of power — they lead the Majors in home runs — but the lineup would benefit from the addition of a more well-rounded hitter in Gallo’s place.
Potential fit: Andrew Benintendi, Royals
Red Sox: First baseman
It wasn’t long ago that the Red Sox were widely considered to be future sellers this summer, but Boston’s 20-6 record in June has thrust them into one of the more intriguing buyers. First base has been a black hole for the Sox, whose collective .609 OPS at the position ranks next-to-last in the Majors.
Potential fit: Josh Bell, Nationals
Blue Jays: Starting pitcher
Toronto currently owns one of the American League Wild Card spots despite an underachieving 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 group would seem to be a priority.
Potential fit: Zach Davies, D-backs
Injuries to Brandon Lowe and Mike Zunino have sapped significant power from Tampa Bay’s lineup, leaving the Rays in need of some pop. Nelson Cruz was a great influence in the clubhouse during his brief stint with Tampa Bay last season, so perhaps a return engagement could be in the cards.
Potential fit: Nelson Cruz, Nationals
Orioles: Controllable pitching
Baltimore’s inclusion on this list is based upon the standings, but the Orioles could find themselves as both buyers and sellers. With players such as Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander and Jorge López potentially on the block, the Orioles will look to bolster their pitching depth for 2023 and possibly beyond.
Potential fit: Pablo López, Marlins
Twins: relief pitcher
Minnesota has put itself in position to win the AL Central, but the Twins’ bullpen could prove to be susceptible come October. Jhoan Duran has been a revelation, but the Twins need at least one more reliable high-leverage arm.
Potential fit: David Bednar, Pirates
Cleveland’s .505 OPS from its catchers ranks 27th in the Majors, so while the Guardians could use offensive upgrades in multiple spots, catching appears to be the biggest need. Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins came from Cleveland, so he knows the Guardians’ system as well as anybody. Could a Willson Contreras move be a natural fit?
Potential fit: Willson Contreras, Cubs
White Sox: Lefty-hitting outfielder
Chicago’s .665 OPS against right-handed pitching ranks 26th in the Majors, making the addition of a solid left-handed bat imperative. Adam Engel, AJ Pollock and Gavin Sheets have been three of the primary culprits, leaving the White Sox in search of a lefty-hitting outfielder to help balance the lineup.
Potential fit: David Peralta, D-backs
Astros: Starting pitcher
The Astros have a rock-solid top of the rotation with Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, but they could use another starter to bolster their championship expectations. Houston could take a run at one of the top starters, but the Astros have excelled in getting the most out of whichever pitcher they bring into the fold.
Potential fit: Tyler Mahle, Reds
Mariners: relief pitcher
Seattle’s bullpen has gotten solid contributions from three or four pitchers, but depth remains an issue. The Mariners rank in the middle of the league in terms of bullpen ERA, but they will have to add a reliable arm or two if they hope to end their 21-year postseason drought.
Potential fit: Carl Edwards Jr., Nationals
Texas made headlines over the winter with its signing of free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and while the Rangers could try to make another big splash with a trade for Frankie Montas or Luis Castillo, it is just as likely that the club tries to bolster the middle of the rotation at a cheaper price.
Potential fit: Jose Quintana, Pirates
Angels: Third baseman
The Angels remain on the outskirts of the AL Wild Card race, and although pitching continues to be a need, Anthony Rendon’s season-ending injury created a hole at third base. Rendon is expected to be fine by next spring, so a third baseman on an expiring contract makes sense for the Angels.
Potential fit: Brandon Drury, Reds
Mets: relief pitcher
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. GM Billy Eppler is quite familiar with David Robertson from their time together with the Yankees, and the right-hander’s experience in New York — and in the postseason — should be attractive to the Mets.
Potential fit: David Robertson, Cubs
Atlanta’s rotation has been in the middle of the pack in terms of ERA, but rookie Spencer Strider has helped turn that unit around. Here’s the rub: Strider has already thrown 59 2/3 innings, just 37 2/3 shy of his career high, set last season. He may be a better bullpen weapon late in the season, giving the Braves a reason to add a starter for the stretch run.
Potential fit: Chad Kuhl, Rockies
Bryce Harper’s thumb surgery will keep him sidelined until mid-to-late August, leaving a huge hole in the Phillies’ lineup. Adding a versatile outfield power bat to fill the void won’t be easy to find, but there are options out there that could help ease the burden on the rest of the lineup.
Potential fit: Joey Gallo, Yankees
Marlins: relief pitcher
Miami’s recent play has pulled the club back into the Wild Card mix, leaving GM Kim Ng in wait-and-see mode when it comes to being a buyer or seller. Should the Marlins decide to buy, a high-leverage reliever figures to be on the team’s shopping list.
Potential fit: Jorge López, Orioles
Brewers: Center fielder
Lorenzo Cain’s DFA has left the Brewers with Jonathan Davis and Tyrone Taylor (currently on the injured list) in center field, leaving the spot as an obvious area to upgrade. Milwaukee’s .565 OPS at the position ranks 27th in the Majors.
Potential fit: Ramón Laureano, A’s
Cardinals: Starting pitcher
st. Louis is looking to send Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina (and Adam Wainwright?) out with another ring, but in order to do so, the starting rotation will need an upgrade. Miles Mikolas and Wainwright have been very good this season, but the back end of the rotation has been an issue. Adding another frontline starter could put the Cardinals in the same class with the Mets, Dodgers and Braves.
Potential fit: Frankie Montas, A’s
Despite having the best rotation ERA in the Majors, the Dodgers could use a starter thanks to Walker Buehler’s flexor strain, which 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 fit: Luis Castillo, Reds
Padres: Impact bat
San Diego’s collective .656 OPS in the outfield ranks 25th in the Majors, leaving much room for improvement. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return this summer will help the offense, but adding another bat in a corner spot or at designated hitter would be a boost for the Padres in the tight NL West race.
Potential fit: Ian Happ, Cubs
Joey Bart’s transition as Buster Posey’s successor didn’t go well, and he was sent back to the Minors on June 8 before getting called back up on Wednesday. San Francisco had been using Curt Casali and Austin Wynns behind the plate, but Casali landed on the IL with an oblique strain this week. Adding a more productive backstop could be in the team’s plans.
Potential fit: Sean Murphy, A’s
D-backs: Righty-hitting outfielder
Arizona could take a buy-and-sell approach as it has done in the past, dealing away areas of depth to bolster the roster’s holes going forward. The D-backs would benefit from the addition of a righty-hitting outfielder with some club control.
Potential fit: Tommy Pham, Reds
Rockies: Starting pitcher
Antonio Senzatela’s shoulder issues and Austin Gomber’s ineffectiveness have created a need within the Rockies’ starting rotation. Colorado would benefit from the addition of a ground-ball pitcher that could eat innings.
Potential fit: Brad Keller, Royals