MLB trade deadline: Ranking the top 10 starting pitchers who could be traded, and their best team fits

Last week, I shared my first big board of MLB trade deadline targets, which highlighted the 125 players most likely to be dealt between now and Aug. 2. This week, I’ll rank the top starting pitchers and position players who are available, and identify their best team fits. For our purposes, best fits include teams that have expressed interest in a specific player or make sense as a potential trade partner.

Up first: the starting pitchers. I think there are five starters who could be acquired in “game-changing” moves by teams in the postseason race, and five others who could make a difference by providing quality innings and competitiveness at the back of the rotation. Here’s how I rank those 10 starters.


1. Luis Castillo, RHP, Reds

Age: 29
W-L: 2-4 ERA: 3.33 FIP: 3.43 IP: 46
WAR: 1.2 (Baseball-Reference) WHIP: 1.087

Castillo is the most talented starting pitcher who could be traded by the deadline and he’s under team control through 2023, his final year of salary arbitration eligibility. He has posted a 3.33 ERA in eight starts, allowing just 35 hits in 46 innings with 43 strikeouts and 15 walks despite three of those games coming at Great American Small Park. Castillo’s fastball has been sitting 96 to 98 mph, and he throws an 88 mph changeup and an 87 mph slider. Opposing batters are hitting .107 against his four-seamer, .269 against his sinker, .180 against his changeup and .226 against his slider. His fastball velocity ranks in the 91st percentile. His chase rate ranks in the 63rd percentile and his hard-hit percentage is in the 68th percentile. Castillo could fetch the best prospect package of any player traded before Aug. 2.

Best team fits: Dodgers, Braves, Red Sox, Twins, Angels, Mets


2. Frankie Montas, RHP, A’s

Age: 29
W-L: 3-7 ERA: 3.53 FIP: 3.28 IP: 81 2/3
WAR: 0.9 WHIP: 1.139

Montas is the second-best starting pitcher on the trade block. He has started 46 games since the beginning of the 2021 season, the most in the American League. He’s durable, provides innings, competes and can beat the best teams. Last season, he went 13-9 with a 3.37 ERA and finished sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. This season, he’s had similar production despite less run support and worse defense behind him. Montas is throwing his 95-97 mph fastball 10 percent less than last season. His four-seamer has been more effective than his sinker. He’s throwing his secondary pitches, the split-finger and slider, more than last season and to great effect. Opposing batters are hitting .186 (19-for-102) against the split-finger and .161 (5-for-31) against the slider. His cutter has been better than last year; batters are 2-for-16 against it. The A’s have received many offers for Montas, but their asking price is high and no one has met it. However, someone eventually will and he’ll be traded.

Best team fits: Cardinals, Giants, Phillies, Rays, Mets, Dodgers

Author: Lucy Green