MLB Trade Deadline 2022: The Biggest Need Every Contender Must Address

MLB contenders will battle for the best players on sellers as the trade deadline approaches Aug. 2.

We’re in the thick of the schedule where borderline teams have tough decisions to make: whether to go all-in for a title run or punt for future seasons.

At this point, every team could use bullpen help, an extra bat, or a starting pitcher who changes the complexion of their rotation.

Here, we’ll look at specific needs for each contender (teams within four games of the last wild-card spot) with less than three weeks to go until the deadline.


American League East

New York Yankees: Outfield Upgrade

It seems like just a matter of time before Joey Gallo is no longer a member of the New York Yankees. It comes down to whether he’s traded by the deadline or simply signs elsewhere in free agency after the season.

The Yankees have a real opportunity to win the World Series this year. Injecting some life into the lineup occupied by Gallo’s .168/.288/.341 slash line would make the Yankees scarier than they already are.

If the Yankees can replace Gallo with Andrew Benintendi or Ian Happ, they solidify their lineup where it is weak.

Like every contender, the Yankees could use another weapon in their bullpen, which has the second-lowest ERA and third-highest WAR as is. However, Michael King has racked up the third-most innings for a reliever, while Aroldis Chapman has given up three runs and five walks and struck out three in four appearances since returning from the IL.


Tampa Bay Rays: Power-Hitter

The Rays have been decimated by injuries lately. Shortstop Wander Franco (wrist) and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (left hip inflammation) were both placed on the 10-day injured list this week.

Tampa already had right fielder Manuel Margot, second baseman Brandon Lowe and catcher Mike Zunino on the injured list. Their pitching staff hasn’t been healthy all year.

At the very least, the Rays could use someone who hits the ball hard. They don’t have a lot of that.

Tampa ranks 22nd in slugging percentage and home runs. The Rays should be taking a long look at David Peralta, Willson Contreras and Sean Murphy.


Boston Red Sox: First Base

The Red Sox have high hopes for Bobby Dalbec, but he just has not been able to put it together.

Dalbec’s woeful triple slash of .208/.292/.340 has contributed to a ranking of 27th in WAR and wRC+ at first base. It’s even worse defensively. Boston ranks last in outs above average and runs prevented at first base.

This team clearly needs an upgrade at that position if they are serious about contending after the deadline.

Their intention, however, is the awkward part. J.D. Martinez spoke recently about the strange position the Red Sox front office is in, considering their proximity to contention and the number of key expiring contracts.

Martinez is among a group of core players like Enrique Hernandez, Christian Vazquez and Nate Eovaldi on expiring contracts. Xander Bogaerts appears set to opt out of his contract. The team risks losing them for nothing if they don’t trade them but also needs these players if they are going to make a run.

Boston, oddly enough, could be buyers and sellers at the deadline. Nationals first baseman Josh Bell should be in high demand to address the Red Sox’ need at first.


Toronto Blue Jays: Starting Pitching

This is a rotation plagued by injuries and underperformance. Hyun Jin Ryu is out for the rest of the season due to forearm inflammation. Kevin Gausman was dealing with an ankle injury but appears ready to take the mound against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Yusei Kikuchi was recently placed on the 15-day injured list with a neck strain. But his poor performance led to former manager Charlie Montoyo calling him out publicly before Montoyo lost his own job.

José Berríos, who Toronto traded for ahead of last year’s deadline and extended this past offseason, has the third worst ERA among qualified pitchers.

For a team that’s invested so much in its starting pitching over the last year, between Berríos, Kikuchi and Gausman, another arm could go a long way for an underachieving group.

Toronto’s starters ranked 11th in WAR and had the 14th-highest ERA as of Wednesday.

Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo are the two most obvious trade targets for a starting pitcher.

Author: Lucy Green