As we approach Friday's Trade Deadline, the Hot Stove is lit and the wheeling and dealing will only ramp up. Trades will be made and blockbuster deals could significantly change the landscape of postseason races down the stretch. But whatever does or doesn't happen, what should each team do before the Deadline? With the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here's a look:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Use financial flexibility to create an impact beyond 2021
The Blue Jays, as an organization, are in the sweet spot. They have a young core, veteran talent, a strong farm system and payroll flexibility beyond this season. It’s where they’ve been working to get to, and where other clubs would like to be. With contracts coming off the books next season and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and others not yet into their arbitration years, the Blue Jays have the ability to take on contracts that other clubs might not be comfortable with right now. This could open up more possibilities, especially on the starting pitching front, where the market isn’t particularly deep compared to other seasons.
This Blue Jays team is built to win in 2022 and beyond, as well, so while traditional rentals aren’t off the table altogether, the Jays can use their financial strength to improve the organization as a whole, not just this year’s version. Taking on money is a fine way to limit the prospect cost going the other way, too, and the Blue Jays would love to keep this current pipeline of talent flowing to the Major League roster.
Orioles: Keep Trey Mancini and sign him to an extension
The rebuilding Orioles will still listen on anyone and have three big trade chips this Deadline, with Cedric Mullins, John Means and Trey Mancini all theoretically available for the right price. You could argue, though, each brings more value to the Orioles than they would to any other club. The most striking example is Mancini, who returned this season from Stage 3 colon cancer healthy, productive (16 HR, 117 OPS+) and the unquestioned club leader and face of the franchise. The Orioles would require a massive package to part with him, and for good reasons. But does that package even exist? Stripped of the sentiment of the situation, the market likely views Mancini as a good but not-elite bat-first corner hitter with limited defensive versatility.
He is not a rental but not a long-term solution either, third-time arbitration eligible this winter and controllable through 2022. Teams look to acquire those players, but don’t empty the farm for them. And the Orioles won’t risk the massive PR hit trading Mancini would result in if they aren’t blown away by the deal’s return. Mancini is on record expressing his desire to stay in Baltimore, and to start winning soon. Adley Rutschman and other top prospects are on the way. The Orioles should sign Mancini long term, grow into a contender over the next 3-4 years, and make sure he’s a part of it.
Rays: Trade for Charlie Morton
The small-market, budget-conscious Rays would probably have to move around some money to realistically acquire Morton after landing DH Nelson Cruz from the Twins, but their front office’s creativity and deep, talent-rich farm system make anything realistic. Cruz is already set to transform the middle of their lineup and take some of the pressure off both their pitching and younger hitters such as Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows and Wander Franco.
Tampa Bay has plenty of pitching depth, so much so that the club traded Rich Hill to the Mets after acquiring Cruz, so it’s probably not worth making a deal for a starter unless it’s a significant upgrade. Morton would be just that, if -- and it’s a big if -- the Braves are willing to move him. Bringing back Morton would provide the Rays with a big-game pitcher atop the rotation, someone already comfortable in their clubhouse and significant insurance for injured ace Tyler Glasnow. Acquiring a reliable power bat plus a proven postseason starter would go a long way toward preparing the defending AL champions for another run to the World Series.
Red Sox: Time to bring back Rizzo
Given that the Adrian Gonzalez acquisition didn’t really pan out for the Red Sox, and the fact that hindsight is always 20-20, the Red Sox never should have traded Rizzo, a promising left-handed slugger taken by Boston as a high schooler in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft. During his time in the Red Sox organization, Rizzo overcame cancer. He has gone on to have a solid career, belting 240 homers, all but one for the Cubs. It’s time for Rizzo to come back to his original franchise.
The Red Sox have a glaring need for some production at first base, particularly from a left-handed hitter. It could be a no-strings attached deal, as Rizzo is a free agent at the end of the season. The Red Sox could offer up Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis or Franchy Cordero along with some young pitching. None of those three sluggers have panned out yet in the Majors, but perhaps a chance of scenery would help.
Yankees: Trade for Joey Gallo
The Rangers slugger is under team control through 2022, so Gallo could help to answer next year’s lingering questions as well as the ones that affect the current Yankees outfield. Aaron Judge has been the Yankees’ most valuable offensive player, but the rest of the mix has been a hodgepodge following injuries to Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks, forcing Brett Gardner to log many more starts than originally anticipated.
Gallo would add a potent left-handed bat to a lineup that is far too right-handed dominant for a team that plays 81 games in Yankee Stadium, and his propensity for drawing walks fits right into the "Savages" mindset that manager Aaron Boone loves.