Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is less than a week away, and that means we are less than a week from entering the heart of trade-rumors season. The second half of July is always full of dugout hug watches, fake Ken Rosenthal Twitter accounts, and equal parts breaking news and wild speculation as we try to get a sense of which teams are buying and selling before the July 31 deadline.
Before that madness fully envelops us, we wanted to get a sense of what each of the 30 teams has to trade and what it might want in return.
For about a quarter of those teams, it's still unclear whether they're ready, willing or able to go all-in on winning in 2021, or if they're going to try to sell off their impending free agents in hopes of trying again in 2022. Once those pieces fall into place, we'll have a better idea of whether this summer will feature a buyer's or a seller's market.
Until then, who is best suited to win the Trevor Story sweepstakes?
Which team has the prospects and/or the cash on hand to make the biggest splashes?
And is there a single contender that is comfortable with its allotment of relief pitching?
American League East
Toronto Blue Jays: Catching prospect(s) for middle relief
Aside from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto may be the only franchise with a surplus of talent at catcher. Granted, it doesn't feel like that right now with Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire batting a combined .224 with four home runs. But between that duo, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams, the Blue Jays have five capable catchers either 26 or younger.
In exchange for a young backstop, the Blue Jays need bullpen help. Aside from Jordan Romero, they have been a hot mess in the late innings.
To that end, the Angels might be Toronto's best trading partner. Kurt Suzuki (37) isn't getting any younger, and the Halos don't have a single catcher among their top 30 prospects. They also have five relievers on expiring contracts, including Raisel Iglesias and Steve Cishek.
Baltimore Orioles: Freddy Galvis for anything with future value
The Orioles would assuredly love to get out from under Chris Davis' monster contract, but that's never going to happen. They just have to ride out his $21 million salary for the rest of this season and next and then enjoy making his Bobby Bonilla-like deferred payments from 2023-37.
But perhaps they can start building toward a post-Davis future by flipping Freddy Galvis for someone under more team control.
They signed the 31-year-old shortstop to a one-year, $1.5 million bargain of a contract after he had a disappointing 79-game stay in Cincinnati dating back to August 2019. He's currently on the IL with a quad strain, but he has been one of Baltimore's better hitters this season. That isn't saying much, but there's bound to be a team willing to part with someone from its farm system for two-plus months of a middle infielder with more than 100 career home runs and a .720 OPS this season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Middle infield prospect(s) for some immediate pitching help
In Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco, the Rays should be set at second base and shortstop for years to come. Yet they still have Vidal Brujan, Xavier Edwards, Taylor Walls and Greg Jones in a farm system that is top-heavy with middle infielders.
Meanwhile, they have a starting rotation that leaves much to be desired, particularly with Tyler Glasnow sidelined indefinitely with an elbow injury. Shane McClanahan might be their best active starter, and he has yet to pitch into the seventh inning of a game in his MLB career.
If the .500 Angels decide to become sellers, perhaps Tampa Bay could reacquire Alex Cobb. Or maybe the Rays could be the third wheel in a Trevor Story trade in which they ship some prospects to the Rockies, Colorado deals the shortstop to Mystery Team X, and Tampa Bay gets a solid starting pitcher.
Boston Red Sox: Try to get another starting pitcher on the cheap
Boston doesn't need much of anything. With Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts leading the way, the Red Sox are averaging more than five runs per game. And if they have a lead by the sixth inning, they're most likely going to hang onto it, because they have six relievers who have each made at least 24 appearances with an ERA below 2.80.
But if they're able to upgrade upon Garrett Richards or Martin Perez in the starting rotation without breaking the bank or mortgaging the future, they should absolutely do so.
As things stand, the starting rotation is...fine. The thought of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez lining up against basically any other playoff rotation's top three is a bit terrifying, but Boston has the bats and the bullpen to more than get by with an average rotation. With that said, fans sure wouldn't be complaining if they could snag a guy like Max Scherzer or Danny Duffy.
New York Yankees: Trade away dreams of staying below $210M luxury-tax threshold in order to improve the flailing lineup
It's almost unfathomable that the Yankees have scored fewer runs than any other team in the American League considering they are paying more for five batters than the entire payrolls of Baltimore, Cleveland or Tampa Bay. (Giancarlo Stanton, D.J. LeMahieu, Rougned Odor, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge have a combined 2021 salary of $77.3 million.)
But after opening the season as the significant favorites to win the American League, missing the playoffs isn't an option for the Yankees. That likely means exceeding the luxury-tax threshold, but they need to trade for someone who can actually hit the ball.
Trevor Story is the name that keeps popping up among hopeful fans, but Cleveland's Eddie Rosario, Arizona's Eduardo Escobar and Detroit's Jonathan Schoop would also be good, less expensive options.