Less than a week remains until the 2023 trade deadline — yet somehow 22 of 30 teams are still within seven games of a playoff spot. The number of sellers figures to climb as we get closer to Aug. 1 — someone’s bound to go on a losing streak over the next few days — but the fact remains that this will be a seller’s market.
That doesn’t mean there’s not value to be had, though. Pitching has been and will continue to dominate the headlines, but there are options at every position who could help contenders down the stretch. And to prove it, we’ve assembled the 2023 All-Trade Deadline Team, with at least one likely trade candidate to watch at every single position on the diamond. Let’s get to it.
2023 MLB trade deadline: One trade candidate at every position
C: Elias Diaz, Colorado Rockies
Teams are always understandably wary of adding a catcher midseason, but Diaz’s solid all-around game will likely attract some contender or another looking for help behind the plate. He’s cooled off a bit since his torrid start to the season, but he’s still slashing .270/.327/.421 with 10 homers and 15 doubles in 90 games — and there aren’t too many other sellers with desirable veteran catchers.
1B: Carlos Santana, Pittsburgh Pirates
Colorado’s C.J. Cron could also be a fit here, but he’s battled back injuries — always a red flag — through a disappointing campaign. Santana, meanwhile, has been a sturdy presence in the middle of Pittsburgh’s lineup and has an .819 OPS over his last 23 games. The 37-year-old remains an on-base machine, and you don’t have to cast your mind back very far to remember him coming up big in the postseason.
2B: Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
The two-time All-Star has struggled through by far the worst season of his career at the plate, but he’s shown signs of life recently:
Anderson’s hitting .378/.439/.432 over his last nine games, and with the 30-year-old set to become a free agent this winter, the rebuilding White Sox would be crazy not to flip him to a contender at the deadline. Anderson comes with a good amount of risk — his ground ball rate has ballooned all the way up to 64.5%, and he swings at everything — but he can play either second or third and put up a combined 122 OPS+ from 2019 to 2022.
3B: Jeimer Candelario, Washington Nationals
Candelario has bounced back from his dismal 2022 season in a big way. And lest you think this is merely a three-month mirage destined to regress down the stretch, consider that the 29-year-old — who was a top-100 prospect once upon a time — put up an .814 over 201 games across 2020 and 2021. He’s got a pretty extensive track record as a significantly above-average hitter, one who can spray line drives to all fields and hold his own against both lefties and righties. And while defensive metrics are split on his defense at the hot corner, he certainly won’t hurt you there.
SS: Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals
A pending free agent, DeJong doesn’t figure to be part of the future for a Cardinals team that already has a bit of a position player logjam. But he’s still just 29 (he turns 30 on deadline day), he remains an elite defensive shortstop, and while the days of him hitting 30+ homers are likely long gone, he’s got just enough pop to be dangerous at the bottom of an order.
OF: Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs; Randal Grichuk, Colorado Rockies; Tommy Pham, New York Mets
Bellinger is easily the cream of the outfield crop this year, red-hot at the plate of late (1.207 OPS over his last 23 games) and offering very good defense at all three spots on the grass. His batted-ball metrics don’t necessarily back up that performance, but — he doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard, for starters — but he’s made huge strides in bringing his strikeout rate down and has a swing designed to do maximum damage.
At 31 years old and about to enter free agency, Grichuk is a stone-cold lock to get traded, and he’s slashing a tidy .313/.370/.487 so far this season — including an .807 OPS away from Coors Field. Pham is also a pending free agent, and he could be on the trading block even if the Mets don’t decide to sell at the deadline. Some team will find a use for his .827 OPS, and he’s unlikely to make the difference between making and missing the postseason for New York.
DH: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
I mean, who else did you expect? Ohtani leads the league in homers, and that’s just half of the value he’d bring to any contender. Of course, the streaking Angels aren’t cooperating as the deadline nears, so who knows if the two-way superstar will actually get dealt.
SP: Blake Snell, San Diego Padres
You could build a pretty strong rotation just out of arms likely to be on the move over the next few days, from Lucas Giolito to Marcus Stroman to Jordan Montgomery to Eduardo Rodriguez. Snell, though, is the biggest fish of all, as the lefty has been just about the best pitcher in the game for two full months now. He has a microscopic 0.70 ERA in 11 starts since May 31, and he’s set to break the bank in free agency this winter; if the Padres don’t get themselves out of neutral soon, GM A.J. Preller could be convinced to move the lefty in order to retool for 2024 while trusting that San Diego still has enough talent to make a Wild Card push this year.
RP: Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
Again, you can construct just about an entire bullpen here, including Padres lefty Josh Hader — another pending free agent San Diego could move without really disrupting its core — and any number of White Sox relievers. Barlow, though, is both surefire bait and a proven closer, ranking near the top of the league in chase rate, strikeout percentage, average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.