MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (2024)

With a month until the July 30 trade deadline, it’s normally time for rumors to start swirling across MLB, but the recently expanded playoff field makes it trickier than ever to separate buyers from sellers this soon.

There are a handful of teams at the top that will definitely be looking to add talent for postseason pushes, and a handful of teams at the bottom that will obviously be very motivated sellers. But the majority of both the American League and National League find themselves somewhere in the middle, perhaps waiting a little longer to determine where they stand.

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As of Thursday morning, 23 of 30 teams are either currently slotted into a playoff spot or within five games of postseason position. FanGraphs projects 22 of 30 teams as having at least a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs. On one hand, that should lead to lots of teams looking to buy, if not impact players then at least names who can improve the margins of the roster. On the other hand, what’s a buyer without a seller?

To bring some semblance of clarity to this inescapably chaotic early look at trade deadline possibilities, today we’re focusing strictly on players from teams with a .500 or worse record as of this morning, whether or not they’re currently expected to sell.

We’ve broken the potentially available players into hitters, starting pitchers and relievers, and further into categories based on their post-deadline (and, in some cases, post-2024) value, with an emphasis on impending free agents (marked with an asterisk).

Hitters

Stars

1. Luis Robert Jr., CF, White Sox
2. Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays
4. Jazz Chisholm Jr., CF, Marlins
5. *Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
6. *Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
7. *J.D. Martinez, DH, Mets
8. *Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks
9. *Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (1)

Jazz Chisholm Jr. offers speed, power, versatility and two additional years of team control. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

There’s plenty of uncertainty around the league about the Blue Jays’ plans as they struggle just to get to .500, but they have the high-end talent to become one of the biggest drivers of deadline action if selling ends up being the path in Toronto.

It starts with 25-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and 26-year-old Bo Bichette, two prime-aged, multi-time All-Stars under team control via arbitration through 2025. But don’t overlook impending free-agent catcher Danny Jansen, whose .796 OPS the past three seasons ranks fifth in MLB at a position where midseason upgrades are always at a premium due to scarcity.

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Similarly, although the White Sox are very obviously sellers, it’s unclear if that will include 26-year-old center fielder Luis Robert Jr., one of the league’s best two-way players when healthy, who is under team control through 2027. In terms of talent and contract, Robert could be the most valuable player made available and the White Sox’s rebuilding effort will eat up most of his remaining team control.

Pete Alonso and J.D. Martinez are two of the best sluggers in the league, and the Mets could make both impending free agents available. Any offer for Alonso will need to beat the draft-pick compensation the Mets would have coming if he were to sign elsewhere as a free agent, although that may be a moot point if there’s still hope of signing the 29-year-old first baseman to a long-term extension.

Christian Walker lacks Alonso-level name recognition, but he could be a similar fit as a right-handed slugger, first baseman and impending free agent. In the past three years, Walker has hit .250 with 86 homers and an .814 OPS, compared to .244 with 102 homers and an .835 OPS for Alonso. But would the Diamondbacks actually sell a longtime lineup staple coming off a World Series run?

Based on the results of The Athletic’s player poll, much of the league might not see Jazz Chisholm Jr. as a star, but since switching to center field last season, his .766 OPS ranks among the position’s top 10. Miami gave up Zac Gallen to get Chisholm in a 2019 deadline deal, and the latter is still just 26 years old and under team control through 2026, but rumors persist.

Impending free-agent third baseman Alex Bregman has turned his season around after an ugly start, but so have the Astros, who have worked their way to .500 and figure to avoid becoming sellers at all costs. Contenders would no doubt line up to add Bregman to the middle of the order, but that won’t matter if the Astros are convinced they’re still contenders. — Aaron Gleeman

GO DEEPERMLB trade deadline watch: The industry’s read on Luis Robert Jr., the crowded NL and more

Good regulars

1. Randy Arozarena, COF, Rays
2. Taylor Ward, COF, Angels
3. Brent Rooker, DH, A’s
4. Luis Rengifo, IF, Angels
5. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, White Sox
6. Lane Thomas, COF, Nationals
8. Yandy Díaz, 1B, Rays
9. *Elias Díaz, C, Rockies
10. Joc Pederson, COF, Diamondbacks
11. *Jesse Winker, COF, Nationals
12. *Josh Bell, 1B, Marlins
13. *Michael Conforto, COF, Giants
14. *Justin Turner, 1B, Blue Jays
15. Starling Marte, COF, Mets
16. *Mark Canha, COF, Tigers
17. Eloy Jiménez, COF, White Sox

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (3)

Luis Rengifo is batting .308/.357/.419 with 20 stolen bases. (Jessica Alcheh / USA Today)

Teams that can’t snag Guerrero, Alonso, Martinez, Walker or another star-caliber hitter should have plenty of palatable fallback options. This deadline market looks likely to have an abundance of above-average bats, particularly for contenders that don’t require their offensive upgrades to come at key defensive positions.

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Impending free-agent first basem*n, designated hitters and corner outfielders with the ability to step into a prime lineup spot include Joc Pederson, Jesse Winker, Josh Bell, Justin Turner, Michael Conforto, Eloy Jiménez and Mark Canha.

Brent Rooker, Taylor Ward, Randy Arozarena, Starling Marte, Yandy Díaz, Lane Thomas and Andrew Vaughn are each under team control beyond 2024, but their teams may be motivated to move them now if the market is decent.

Quality bats may be plentiful, but as always, finding starting-caliber deadline help at up-the-middle positions is a lot more challenging.

Teams that balk at Toronto’s price tag for Jansen could focus on fellow impending free-agent catcher Elias Díaz, who’s having a career year for the Rockies at age 33. Colorado’s front office is among the game’s most unpredictable, but he’s not in the long-term plans and the catching market is extremely thin. Why not cash him in?

Contenders searching for reasonably priced, non-star help at shortstop, third base, second base and center field might not like what they find, which is why Bichette and Chisholm could be in such high demand.

One name to watch on the infield market is Angels utilityman Luis Rengifo, who has turned himself into a very good all-around player at age 27. He can play anywhere in the infield and is a switch hitter with an above-average OPS in each of the past three seasons. Rengifo is under team control through 2025, but presumably the Angels will be open for business. — Aaron Gleeman

Role players

1. *Harrison Bader, CF, Mets
2. *Kevin Kiermaier, CF, Blue Jays
3. Miguel Andujar, COF, A’s
4. *Tommy Pham, COF, White Sox
5. *Randal Grichuk, COF, Diamondbacks
6. *Amed Rosario, SS, Rays
7. Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Cubs
8. *Paul DeJong, SS, White Sox
9. *Kevin Pillar, CF, Angels
10. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS, Blue Jays
11. Wilmer Flores, 1B, Giants
12. *Tim Anderson, SS, Marlins
13. Eugenio Suárez, 3B, Diamondbacks
14. *Brandon Drury, IF, Angels
15. Jeff McNeil, 2B, Mets
16. Javier Báez, SS, Tigers
17. Andrew Benintendi, COF, White Sox
18. George Springer, COF, Blue Jays

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (4)

Three in a row? Tommy Pham was dealt at the trade deadline in each of the past two seasons. (Dan Hamilton / USA Today)

Teams shopping in this aisle are generally looking for impending free agents in one of two variations: lower-wattage hitters with some starting-caliber upside likely to be available at an affordable price, or higher-caliber part-time players able to provide upgrades in platoon or backup roles.

Most contending teams probably have better center field options than Harrison Bader, Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar, but as glove-first fourth outfielders, they can be more appealing. Similarly, no contenders will look at Amed Rosario, Paul DeJong, Isiah Kiner-Falefa (signed through 2025) and Tim Anderson as starting shortstops, but what about as insurance in utility roles?

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Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk are still-productive hitters on the wrong side of 30 who can contribute in part-time roles but are probably overmatched as everyday players now. Eugenio Suárez, Brandon Drury and Patrick Wisdom have upside, but would require a leap of faith after seeing their production plummet in the first half. And in purely a platoon role, most teams could find room for Wilmer Flores.

One intriguing bat-first name to watch is Miguel Andujar, who has resurrected his career in Oakland after flopping with the Yankees and Pirates. Still just 29 despite seemingly being around forever, Andujar has been a productive righty bat for the A’s and is under team control through 2025, but can 30 good games after five shaky seasons convince contenders he’s for real?

We’ve included Javier Báez, George Springer, Jeff McNeil and Andrew Benintendi in this category because they’ve declined into role-player status (if that), and their teams would jump at the chance to unload their under-water contracts, but don’t expect a contender to take them on without being heavily incentivized via prospect capital or cash considerations. — Aaron Gleeman

GO DEEPERMLB trade market: Why it's not so easy to swing a deal before the deadline

Starting pitchers

Front-line starters

1. Garrett Crochet, LHP, White Sox
2. *Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Blue Jays
3. *Jack Flaherty, RHP, Tigers
4. *Max Scherzer, RHP, Rangers
5. *Justin Verlander, RHP, Astros (IL)
6. Blake Snell, LHP, Giants ( IL)
7. *Luis Severino, RHP, Mets
8. *Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Rangers
9. *Frankie Montas, RHP, Reds

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (6)

Garrett Crochet leads the AL in strikeouts. He is under team control through 2026. (Justin Casterline / Getty Images)

The prize of the trade deadline, at least when it comes to starting pitchers, may not get traded at all. Bartering over White Sox starter Garrett Crochet will be a complicated enterprise, as the converted reliever is already 30 innings clear of his career high, and the acquiring team can’t feel super confident that their new pitcher will even be able to start in the postseason.

The consolation prizes are pretty good. The Tigers’ resurgent Jack Flaherty is in a virtual tie with Crochet atop the strikeout minus walk percentage leaderboard, and that’s powerfully predictive. Yusei Kikuchi has harnessed his stuff with some of the best command numbers in his career this year. The Blue Jays’ starter has seen his fastball and slider combo propel him to nearly top-10 status in Stuff+ over the past month, and the lefty might offer a wrinkle to a contender with an all-righty rotation — like the Brewers?

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander may not have the stuff they used to, but they still project as above-average pitchers, and their track records suggest they could be huge additions to the right team — but will their organizations sell? Both the Astros and Rangers seem capable of putting in a hot month and getting back in it.

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Blake Snell’s lost season and $30 million player option make him a difficult trade target even if his stuff was Cy Young Award-worthy just last year. He’s probably going to be back off the injured list in time for the deadline — which likely won’t be the case for the Marlins’ Jesús Luzardo — but there are a lot of questions about the Giants’ lefty.

Luis Severino is probably the best of the rest, but the fact that his strikeout rate has not returned to his previously established levels will probably make some teams wonder if he’d be a playoff starter. That’s definitely a concern for the trio at the bottom of this group, although Eovaldi has been excellent in nearly 80 career postseason innings. — Eno Sarris

GO DEEPERMLB trade deadline watch: White Sox scout contenders, Mason Miller's value and more

Mid-rotation starters

1. Jordan Montgomery, LHP, Diamondbacks
2. Erick Fedde, RHP, White Sox
3. Tyler Anderson, LHP, Angels
4. Cal Quantrill, RHP, Rockies
5. *Alex Cobb, RHP, Giants (IL)
6. *Andrew Heaney, LHP, Rangers
7. *Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Rangers
8. Paul Blackburn, RHP, A’s (IL)
9. Griffin Canning, RHP, Angels
10. *Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs
11. *Martín Pérez, LHP, Pirates (IL)
12. *Marco Gonzales, LHP, Pirates (IL)
13. *Jose Quintana, LHP, Mets

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (8)

Tyler Anderson is 11th in the majors in innings. He’s in the second year of a three-year, $39 million deal. (D. Ross Cameron / USA Today)

This group is ranked by our best guess at these pitchers’ true talent abilities, but that’s not the only concern when it comes to the trade deadline. Just a couple of months after most teams passed on signing Jordan Montgomery, will they really give up minor-league assets to pay him again next year? His $20 million option for 2025 vested with his 10th start — he’s made 12 already this season — and could increase to $25 million if he makes 23 starts.

At least when teams are considering Erick Fedde, Tyler Anderson and Cal Quantrill, who are all either signed or arbitration-eligible next year, they’ll be looking at two starters who are pitching better right now and going to be much less expensive than Montgomery in 2025. (Then again, the teams trading them away will also be considering that they are decent pitchers on decent contracts.)

What’s probably more likely to happen is that the rental pitchers on this list will be the ones on the move (and probably even as the clock expires on the deadline). Nobody in this group is likely to be a playoff starter unless it’s an all-hands-on-deck type of mix-and-match game, so these are the starters who’d help you get to the postseason more than starters who’d help once you’re there.

If Alex Cobb comes back and shows that his splitter is back, he would be the best pitcher on this list. Andrew Heaney has games where he looks like an ace and games where hitters are locked into his slim, low-velo pitch mix. Jose Quintana is the archetype of the bottom of this list: capable, and if available, worth a low price to raise the floor of a playoff-bound rotation. — Eno Sarris

Relief pitchers

Late-inning relievers

1. Mason Miller, RHP, A’s
2. *Tanner Scott, LHP, Marlins
3. *Paul Sewald, RHP, Diamondbacks
4. Ryan Pressly, RHP, Astros
5. *Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Pirates
6. *Carlos Estévez, RHP, Angels
7. *Kirby Yates, RHP, Rangers
8. Tyler Rogers, RHP, Giants
9. Kyle Finnegan, RHP, Nationals
10. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox
11. Jake Diekman, LHP, Mets
12. *Adam Ottavino, RHP, Mets
13. Lucas Erceg, RHP, A’s
14. Emilio Pagán, RHP, Reds (IL)
15. Yimi García, RHP, Blue Jays (IL)

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (9)

Teams that want “Miller Time” at their ballpark will have to pay a high price for the coveted rookie reliever. (Darren Yamash*ta / USA Today)

With the injury rate so high on the highest-velocity arms, and the fact that the A’s control Mason Miller’s rights until after the 2029 season, it just doesn’t seem likely that a match will materialize that makes both teams happy. The A’s should rightly want a lot, and other teams may just see the risk.

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There’s also a pretty good supply of mid-level closer types on expiring contracts who will attract buyers with smaller price tags. Paul Sewald, Tanner Scott, Carlos Estévez or Kirby Yates don’t have the same stuff as Miller, but they’re all capable back-end relievers. Sewald brings funk, Scott’s 97 mph fastball and 88 mph slider have him in the top 10 among relievers in Stuff+, and opponents have “hit” .094 off Yates’ splitters this year.

It’s a decent list. On it, you’ll find lefties with 100 mph fastballs (Aroldis Chapman), righties who throw nearly underhand and befuddle hitters (Tyler Rogers), elite sweepers (Adam Ottavino) and low-slot, high-velo lefties (Jake Diekman). All sorts of closers and former closers populate the list — though you might wonder how exactly to value the closer experience that Estévez and Kyle Finnegan bring to the table. No matter what a team is looking for, though, it should be here.

That said, teams increasingly make decisions on relievers based on the physical characteristics of their pitches, and often in a what-have-you-done-lately sort of manner. Therefore, it might be fun to bookmark this custom list of these pitchers’ Stuff+ numbers over the past 30 days, so you can spot some perhaps surprising names that teams will be interested in acquiring — like how about a year-plus of Michael Kopech, the reliever with the best-rated four-seamer in this group? — Eno Sarris

Relief fliers

1. *Andrew Chafin, LHP, Tigers
2. *Luis García, RHP, Angels
3. *Trevor Richards, RHP, Blue Jays
4. John Brebbia, RHP, White Sox
5. *Lucas Sims, RHP, Reds
6. Shelby Miller, RHP, Tigers
7. *Matt Moore, LHP, Angels
8. Héctor Neris, RHP, Cubs
9. Derek Law, RHP, Nationals
10. *Jalen Beeks, LHP, Rockies
11. Drew Smyly, LHP, Cubs

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (10)

Andrew Chafin, 34, is an interesting lefty reliever to watch. (Junfu Han / USA Today)

You might learn a fair amount about what teams are looking for if they make a smaller trade for one of these relief fliers.

Do they just want someone to match up against lefties? Andrew Chafin has struck out twice as many lefties as he’s walked over the past two years, and has the best overall numbers against them. Jalen Beeks could help, and Trevor Richards’ changeup makes him effective in that role.

Do they just want the best stuff and aren’t as concerned with command? Then Lucas Sims and his list-leading fastball would be top of their list. Shelby Miller should be on the move to a team like that, too.

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Do they love sliders — are they just looking for a middle-relief guy who will come in and throw a ton of breaking balls? John Brebbia and his beard are on line two.

Is it a funky look they want? Drew Smyly is one of the most over-the-top pitchers in baseball, and Derek Law is legitimately throwing six pitches right now, which is not the norm for a reliever.

Trades off this list won’t make waves, but they will tell you a bit about what the acquiring team values when it looks at relievers. — Eno Sarris

GO DEEPERMLB execs predict Crochet, Chisholm and 16 other players most likely to be traded at deadlineGO DEEPERMLB trade deadline report: Targets and teams to track in murky market

(Top image: Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic. Photos: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: Tim Warner / Getty Images; Luis Robert Jr.: Eileen T. Meslar / Chicago Tribune / Getty Images; Jack Flaherty: Mark Blinch / Getty Images)

MLB trade target tiers: Ranking 92 hitters, starters and relievers who could be available (2024)
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