With the MLB trade deadline just days away, several big-name pitchers could be available. The network informant ESPN Jeff Passan raised a few names that could change addresses by next Tuesday at 6 p.m., some for whom a trade is more likely than others.
All-around star Shohei Ohtani could also have landed on the list of available hitters, but his season on the mound seems to put him more on the list of interesting gunners this season. Let’s get this straight: no one expects the best player in baseball to be traded. The problem is that the factors that can influence a deal for Ohtani make more sense than for Juan Soto.
Angels are awful. Ohtani will be able to enter the free agent market after the 2023 season and the desire to stay with an organization that has not completed a season above the .500 mark since 2015 is reasonably doubtful.
There are, however, several elements falling under the obligations of Angels owner Arte Moreno that show that a trade for Ohtani is almost impossible. His lack of trust in leadership to make risky decisions is a reality the Angels have to live with right now. Perry Minasian is in his second season as general manager of the Angels and while his decision-making has been strengthened, the Angels’ 41-56 record gives him very little wiggle room.
Another aspect of the Angels’ hesitation lies in Ohtani’s internationality. Getting rid of that popularity by trading it would also mean changes to the team’s revenue and marketing.
Beyond all that, there is also Ohtani’s contract. At $5.5 million this season, Ohtani has the best value among players who could use arbitration. Even with a significant increase in his salary, he will remain an underpaid player for what he can bring to the mound and at bat.
Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas
Castillo and Montas are definitely the two best starting pitchers available, both 29-year-old right-handers. Castillo belongs to the Reds and Montas to the A’s. Of the starters in the Majors, only Triston McKenzie, Dylan Cease and Justin Verlander have an ERA better than Castillo’s 1.00 ERA in the last four weeks. For his part, in his return to play from a shoulder injury Thursday, Montas went three scoreless innings in addition to making five strikeouts.
They will almost certainly be traded in the next week and there is a lot of interest. Among the most interested teams according to Passan’s sources are the St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. Other teams are also on the hunt for pitchers, such as the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres.
Juggling his interest in Juan Soto and a starting pitcher isn’t an easy task for Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. Fulfilling these two wishes would be almost like witchcraft. With Jack Flaherty, Steven Matz and Dakota Hudson on the injured list, St. Louis’ need for a starter is great — and could be the priority even before acquiring Soto.
For the Mariners, the possibility of making the playoffs for the first time in two decades is obviously a motivator. Rookie George Kirby has already thrown a personal career high for innings pitched (69.1 MLs) – dating back to his college days. One of the two players would certainly help in the innings.
The Yankees, who have the best record in MLB, are only looking to solidify an already powerful rotation – and would protect themselves from Jameson Taillon’s threats to go on the free agent market, since they would have control over Castillo and Montas until 2023.
Other good options
The asking price for Castillo and Montas is obviously high and several teams will have to fall back on somewhat inferior pitchers.
Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle is an obvious option, especially after his successful return from the injured list on Sunday with six excellent innings of work. Squads strongly believe he will be traded but it is still unclear if the Reds will force their counterparts to take the 3-man deale goal Mike Moustakas in return. An executive has quipped that the Reds would rather get good prospects and keep Moustakas’ contract, than get lower value for Castillo and Mahle. Another executive, however, believes that the interest in starting pitchers will allow Cincinnati to get rid of Moustakas and that they will go that route.
One of the surprise teams in this category is the presence of Houston. According to several general managers, the Astros have indicated their openness to trading pitchers, which has been a strength for the team. The Astros have six quality starters in Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Jake Ordizzi and Jose Urquidy. In addition, Lance McCullers Jr. continues his rehabilitation and Hunter Brown dominates at the AAA level.
The Astros have several options and Urquidy is the most likely to change address. He’s 27, a playoff-proven player with a 3.69 ERA in 52 games in his career. He will have access to arbitration and he could well be added to a rotation. Javier is in the midst of a great season and Garcia, who won’t reach freelance until the 2026 season, would cost the most of any pitcher in this class.
Some rental launchers
Other than Nathan Eovaldi, who could be available depending on how the Red Sox perform this week, options are slim for starters soon to become free agents. Martin Perez, who is taking the lead in his 11e season in the Majors, could bring the Rangers a nice comeback if they trade him. The problem is that the Rangers aren’t particularly keen on trading him, who are trying to end the season on a high note after offering more than $500 million combined for Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
Another option would be Jose Quintana, a veteran southpaw who is rebounding with the Pirates after a difficult season last year. The most attractive option would be 29-year-old Angels right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who isn’t as dominant as he once was in his seasons with the Mets.