With an extra playoff spot available in each league, this year’s MLB trade deadline is shaping up to be one of the more dramatic periods in recent memory.
The Seattle Mariners made a big splash earlier in the week by acquiring starter Luis Castillo, considered the top starting pitching option on the market, from the Cincinnati Reds for a gaggle of high-end prospects.
The Castillo move is expected to trigger an avalanche of other exciting activity around MLB as we inch closer to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET deadline.
Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals in on Frankie Montas
Note: Since the publication of this story, reports surfaced that the New York Yankees had secured Frankie Montas from the Oakland Athletics, pulling another starter from the market. Read more about that deal here.
Now that Castillo is off the market, Oakland Athletics starter Frankie Montas becomes the most attractive starter. The Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals are the top contenders for the 29-year-old’s services, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
Montas has pitched just once since coming off the injured list with a shoulder injury, but has been otherwise excellent this season, pitching to a 3.18 ERA (117 ERA+) in 19 starts.
Either the Blue Jays or Yankees would be delighted to nab Montas’ services, as both clubs need starting pitching. The Bronx Bombers were "close" in the Castillo sweepstakes, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, indicating New York’s willingness to deal from its farm system. Toronto swung a trade with the A’s before the season and also has a reputation for being aggressive at recent deadlines.
Keep an eye on Montas as a strong candidate to head to the AL East.
Tigers and Blue Jays a natural fit
Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi recently suggested the Jays are prioritizing top-notch relief arms, which makes a deal with the Detroit Tigers very logical. Michael Fulmer, Joe Jiménez, and Gregory Soto are all having great seasons and would immediately offer Toronto a reliable late-inning option in front of closer Jordan Romano.
At this point, Toronto isn’t thought to be seeking a left-handed bat, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The focus remains on swing-and-miss bullpen arms.
Padres pushing for Juan Soto
After reportedly turning down a massive 15-year, $440-million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto has immediately become the “white whale” of this year’s deadline targets. Right now, it appears the San Diego Padres are the front-runners, as they are reportedly willing to move several of their top prospects in a potential Soto trade.
By his standards, the 23-year-old is having a "down season," batting only .243 this season, but his OBP (.403), home run power (20), and 2.5 years of control make him by far the best player available. As such, a trade for Soto might command the heaviest return in MLB history.
While the Padres are favored to land Soto, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reported that the Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers are the other two clubs involved in trade talks.
Shohei Ohtani unlikely to be traded
As fun as the speculation has been, all signs are pointing to the Los Angeles Angels holding onto Shohei Ohtani through the trade deadline, reports SNY’s Andy Martino.
An MVP-calibre hitter and an ace-like starting pitcher, the Japanese phenom reportedly won’t be moved by the Angels unless the package is outrageous. The New York Post reported the current price for Ohtani is “something like your top four prospects.”
Instead, the Angels, who sit fourth in the AL West, are more inclined to deal starter Noah Syndergaard, closer Raisel Iglesias and relievers Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup.
Mets, Padres, Astros, Rays pursuing Cubs’ Contreras
The New York Mets are reportedly the most aggressive pursuers of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, though the Amazins aren’t yet ready to meet the high price, per Jon Heyman of The New York Post.
The Mets’ reluctance to pony up for Contreras opens the door for other catcher-needy teams to swoop in, such as the Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, or even the Houston Astros, who seem dedicated to upgrading over the offensively limited Martin Maldonado.
Contreras, a free agent at season’s end, is having his best year since 2019, slashing .252/.365/.453 (129 OPS +) with 14 homers in 86 games.
Giants, Red Sox shifting into sell mode
The San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox, two playoff teams in 2021, haven’t kept to their winning ways in 2022, which is why both clubs are taking trade calls on some of their veterans.
Carlos Rodon is the biggest name on the block for the Giants. The left-hander is rocking a 3.00 ERA (136 ERA+) in 21 starts and has an opt-out at the end of 2022. Joc Pederson is also a candidate to be dealt, with the Atlanta Braves seemingly a good fit to re-acquire him, as they’re reportedly seeking outfield help.
Boston, on the other hand, has reportedly told Xander Bogaerts he won’t be traded, though the Red Sox are hearing offers on other veterans, such as J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Christian Vazquez, per Heyman. The Mets and Red Sox have been connected in trade talks.