The 2023 trade deadline is now less than a week away, and with seemingly every team in the league still at least on the fringes of the Wild Card race, this could be among the wildest deadline seasons in recent memory. Which players will be on the move in the next few days? Who should your team look to acquire? We’re running down the best starting pitchers (well, and one two-way unicorn) who figure to be on the block.
2023 MLB Trade Deadline: Best available starting pitchers
Shohei Ohtani, SP, Los Angeles Angels
Stats: 8-5, 3.71 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 148 K, 111.2 IP
And that’s just on the mound. Sure, “available” might be a bit strong right now considering the Angels have won six of their last seven games, but those seven games have come against the Aaron Judge-less New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers — not exactly indicative of a real, sustainable surge. This remains a largely mediocre (and injury-riddled) roster, and they could absolutely drop back below .500 before the deadline. Either way, Ohtani is likely gone this winter, and the thought of losing him for nothing might be enough to convince L.A. to pull the trigger on a deal. If they do, well, you know what some lucky team is getting: a unicorn the likes of which baseball has never seen before.
Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox
Stats: 6-6, 3.79 ERA, 1.223 WHIP, 131 K, 121 IP
The righty has yet to recapture the ace form he flashed a couple of years ago, but he’s enjoyed a nice bounce-back season, including quality starts in six of his last nine outings. He’s among the sturdiest arms on the market, a guy who will work deep into games and almost always give his team a chance to win, and he’s been a consistently good starter for four of the last five years now. A free agent this winter, he’s among the best bets of any player to be on the move over the next week as the White Sox look towards 2024 and beyond.
Marcus Stroman, SP, Chicago Cubs
Stats: 10-7, 3.09 ERA, 1.144 WHIP, 105 K, 122.1 IP
The Cubs remain in limbo between buying and selling, although they did pick up a big win over their crosstown rivals on Tuesday night. Stroman will almost certainly turn down his player option for 2024 and elect free agency, meaning Chicago could look to deal him rather than lose him for nothing this winter — it’s hard to believe a reunion would in order after extension talks between the two sides earlier this year fell flat. He doesn’t have the gaudiest strikeout totals, but he’s been among the steadiest starters in the game this season, and he comes with plenty of experience pitching in big games.
Jordan Montgomery, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Stats: 6-8, 3.37 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 105 K, 115 IP
With the 30-year-old set to hit free agency this winter, the Cardinals figure to be moving on as they look to retool their rotation for 2024 and beyond. Montgomery’s been a very underrated pitcher for pretty much his entire career, posting a 139 OPS+ this year with St. Louis and a 114 mark in eight years as a big leaguer. He’s allowed one or fewer runs in seven of his last nine starts, and while it’s not the most electric of arsenals, the veteran just knows how to turn over a lineup.
Blake Snell, SP, San Diego Padres
Stats: 6-8, 2.67 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, 143 K, 108 IP
Snell might not even be on the block, but with San Diego continuing to flounder, there’s a chance that Padres GM A.J. Preller looks to retool for 2024 without blowing up the team’s long-term core — in which case Snell, a pending free agent out for a big payday at age 30, could be moved for future value. The lefty has been quite simply the best pitcher in baseball for two months now, with a microscopic 0.62 ERA and 89 strikeouts across 58 innings over his last 10 starts, and he’ll be in high demand should Preller make him available.