Briefing

What to expect from MLB's 2022 trade deadline

Here's who should start packing their bags

Major League Baseball's annual trade deadline is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2; after that, acquiring new players from other teams becomes considerably more complicated. Which teams are likely to be buyers and sellers as the deadline approaches, and which players are expected to change teams? How will baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement affect the wheeling and dealing? Here's everything you need to know about what is usually a pretty wild week in the sport:

Will changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement be felt at the deadline?

When owners locked the players out after the expiration of their existing labor agreement in December, one of the main issues was "tanking." Players were livid that teams had been deliberately shedding talent in an effort to be unwatchably terrible, thereby obtaining high draft picks in consecutive seasons. The new CBA adds a lottery element to it, with the worst six teams all having a shot at the #1 pick in the draft. But that didn't stop the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds from dismantling competitive teams with spring trades after the agreement was signed, and it appears unlikely to do much to freeze the trade market this year.

The Reds, who started out the year with a horrendous 3-22 stretch, hold one of the most coveted trade chips on the market: starting pitcher Luis Castillo. Since his debut in 2017, Castillo has been consistently effective, and in what promises to be a seller's market for pitching, he should fetch a significant haul of prospects if Cincinnati chooses to deal him. Many of the other cellar dwellers across baseball, including the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, and Pittsburgh Pirates, will likely trade or at least seriously consider dealing their best players. The Nationals may even spin away one of the sport's brightest young lights, outfielder Juan Soto, who just rejected a staggering 15-year, $440 million offer that would have been the largest contract in baseball history. The typically competitive Boston Red Sox are having a down season and might dump contracts at the deadline, including those of outfielder J.D. Martinez and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Will the dominant teams squeeze out the middle of the pack?

The New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers are all on pace to win over 100 games, the mark of a dominant team. Yet even the Yankees, who spent much of the season looking like they might threaten the 2001 Seattle Mariners' record of 116 wins, have huge holes that could be filled by trade. Right fielder Joey Gallo, acquired at last year's trade deadline, has been awful, hitting .161 in 230 at-bats, and the bullpen could use help after a season-ending injury to high-leverage reliever Michael King. The Astros' catchers are hitting well under .200, and 38-year-old first baseman Yuli Gurriel doesn't look like he has much left in the tank. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are looking for help in the bullpen, where closer Craig Kimbrel has been shaky, as well as the starting rotation, which has lost ace Walker Buehler until at least late August with an arm injury. Other first-place teams, like the Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, and New York Mets, could be busy too.

Also in the mix are teams who would currently make the postseason with this year's addition of one playoff spot in the National and American Leagues, like the Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Diego Padres. And then there's a tier of clubs currently trailing in the Wild Card races, particularly the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, who had big expectations heading into the season and whose general managers still might see as being just one smart acquisition away from a playoff spot. Exactly how that new playoff structure will affect team decision-making is another bit of intrigue from this deadline. Will teams value that extra playoff spot enough to cough up the necessary prospects to make an expensive push for a title?

Which players have already moved and who should start packing their bags?

The 2021 trade deadline was busy, with star players like starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Jose Berrios and coveted position players including shortstop Trea Turner, second baseman Javier Baez, and outfielder Kris Bryant heading to contenders. But sometimes it's the less heralded deals that can be most consequential. Last year, after losing superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. for the season, the Atlanta Braves picked up outfielders Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall for peanuts; they helped carry the team to its first World Series championship since 1995.

The Yankees already filled one of their outfield craters by trading for Kansas City's Andrew Benintendi, and the Mets addressed their problems at designated hitter by trading for Pittsburgh's Daniel Vogelbach. While all eyes will be on the pursuit of Soto, the Cubs will almost certainly spin off popular catcher Willson Contreras, one of just three players left from the beloved 2016 championship team, as well as outfielder Ian Happ.

Despite denying that they are fielding offers on Shohei Ohtani, a rare two-way player who is having an incredible season on the mound as a pitcher, the Los Angeles Angels could shock the baseball world by moving him. After all, the team is just 42-56, and news of former MVP Mike Trout's scary spinal condition could convince owner Arte Moreno to rebuild. A's starting pitcher Frankie Montas is almost certain to be dealt, and the Miami Marlins could move starting pitcher Pablo Lopez. And there's always a surprise or two when teams ship out players unexpectedly, which could be the case for someone like Cleveland ace Shane Bieber.

To keep track of what is sure to be a dramatic weekend in the national pastime, check out ESPN's deadline tracker.

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