The most unusual MLB trade deadline in the sport’s history is approaching with a 4 p.m. ET deadline on Aug. 31 for teams to make deals. We’ve got you covered with all of the trade rumors, reaction and analysis you need as your team ponders its next blockbuster move in a shortened 60-game 2020 season with the standings packed leading up to baseball’s first 16-team playoffs.
Will teams off to strong starts such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs make a splash to help their October chances? Will the disappointing Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels or other struggling clubs go into full sell mode? And what about the teams in the hunt for those final postseason spots thanks to the new playoff format?
Whether you root for a buyer or a seller — or someone in between — you can keep up with all of the latest intel on big trade rumors, track completed trades and see what our experts think of it all from now until the 4 p.m. ET deadline strikes on Aug. 31.
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The latest MLB trade rumors and buzz we’re hearing
Deadline day buzz
Don’t expect Angels to deal Bundy: Other teams have been interested in Dylan Bundy, but the sense among at least one evaluator is that the Angels — with pitching needs extending beyond 2021 — are likely to keep him. — Buster Olney
A’s swing deal with Rangers for Minor: The Oakland A’s have acquired left-hander Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers for two players to be named later, sources tell ESPN. A’s needed rotation help and get it with a trade for Minor, who’s a free agent after this season. — Jeff Passan
Minor actually led AL pitchers in WAR in 2019, but it’s been a different story in 2020 as he’s 0-5 with a 5.60 ERA. Or has it been that different? Minor had a 4.25 FIP in 2019, but is at 4.83 in 2020. No, he hasn’t been as good, but this could be a nice little upside play for the A’s, who are 16th in the majors with a 4.84 rotation ERA. — David Schoenfield
Padres add Clevinger in a deadline blockbuster with Indians: San Diego continued its deadline push by adding the most coveted ace of this trade season, Mike Clevinger, in a Monday morning trade with Cleveland. — Jesse Rogers
Cleveland got a six-player return for Clevinger, with RHP Cal Quantrill, LF Josh Naylor, C Austin Hedges, SS Gabriel Arias, LHP Joey Cantillo, SS Owen Miller all headed to the Indians. Quantrill was 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 10 2020 appearances for the Padres and the 23-year-old Naylor should immediately slot into the Indians’ outfield.
Will Braves shift gears and go big? Something to watch as the deadline approaches is if the Braves’ posture adjusts. GM Alex Anthopoulos inherited a strong young core and top-notch farm system, but things have changed over the last few years. With international sanctions and a logjam of young talent in Triple-A and the big leagues, the lower levels of the system are almost devoid of significant prospect value while the upper level impact talent has been yo-yoed between Triple-A and the big leagues and lost value while they try to find footing.
The acquisition posture of this regime has been to make conservative, incremental upgrades, either trading second-tier prospects or taking on guaranteed money to add talent, but never pushing the chips to the middle. Will Anthopoulos choose to fill the gaping hole at starting pitcher by trading top prospect OF Drew Waters and thin out some of the upper-level prospect inventory, shifting the overall farm system into the bottom half of the league and betting on now? Or will he continue to try to tread water with smaller deals, trust the young talent will break through, and keep the competitive window as wide as possible, but at the expense of increasing his chances of a title in the short term? The question of how much payroll the club can add in 2020 and 2021 is also a factor now that wouldn’t have mattered much pre-pandemic. — Kiley McDaniel
Recent trade buzz
Rangers float big names in Lynn, Gallo: In addition to starting pitcher Lance Lynn, the Texas Rangers have been discussing outfielder Joey Gallo in potential trades, sources tell ESPN. The price on both is high, and it’s why one GM said “the Rangers hold the keys to the deadline.” If they do sell, it would be impact guys in pennant races. — Jeff Passan
Dodgers have little interest in rentals: The regular season is more than halfway through, and yet the prospect of completing it still feels uncertain, a sentiment that was most recently reinforced by the postponement of Sunday’s game in Houston because a member of the Oakland Athletics organization tested positive for COVID-19. The circumstances have made teams very wary of acquiring players who are pending free agents, with the Dodgers certainly among them.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sunday that his team — with the best record in baseball — has little to no interest in acquiring players who would be under its control for only the next month-plus. The Dodgers prefer someone who is “gonna move the needle,” Roberts said. They have looked into bigger names such as Lance Lynn, Mike Clevinger and Josh Hader, all of whom are not just difference-makers but are signed beyond 2020. — Alden Gonzalez
Angels could be active: Over these next two days, Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler — on an expiring contract and, by all indications, uncertain about his job status moving forward — will be aggressive in his pursuit of pitching, particularly for arms that can help as soon as 2021.
Transactions have been predictably minimal so far, but the dialogue remains active. Eppler has spent most of this week speaking with rival executives from 8 a.m. to midnight. He has three pending free agents in shortstop Andrelton Simmons, catcher Jason Castro and starting pitcher Julio Teheran. But he also can use outfielder Brian Goodwin, infielders David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo, and starting pitcher Dylan Bundy to entice other teams. The problem: With so many clubs still in the race, major-league-ready starting pitching will be difficult to come by. Any impact pitching might have to come on the prospect front, which is made difficult by the lack of a scouting presence at alternate sites.
“We’ve called a lot of clubs on pitching,” Eppler said. “If the circumstances present themselves, that’s what we’re aiming for.” — Alden Gonzalez
What is Trevor Bauer‘s trade value? Remember, the Reds can give him a qualifying offer and recoup draft-pick compensation if they keep him. Any acquiring team would have to top that value for just five or six starts.
Additionally, Bauer will make about $2.9 million for the last month, in a year when every dollar matters, in the words of one exec. He’s one of baseball’s best pitchers right now, for sure, and for an acquiring team, a deal for him would be very expensive — in salary and player compensation. — Buster Olney
Could the San Francisco Giants actually be buyers? Their walk-off victory over the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers gave them their seventh consecutive victory and put them only a game below .500. If the season ended on Tuesday night — five and a half days before the trade deadline — they’d be in the postseason as the eighth seed. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who held back on trading major pieces in a similar situation last year, once again faces a difficult decision.
His phone has probably been ringing off the hook with teams interested in starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, who is a pending free agent. But maybe the return on a rental like that might not be good enough to break this group apart rather than seeing what it can do amid such an unconventional year. Maybe the Giants, with a decent rotation and a fun lineup, actually look to add — particularly to a bullpen that carries a 5.37 ERA. A rival executive wouldn’t rule out anything with them at this point. — Alden Gonzalez
Keep an eye on Tampa Bay: Other teams say the Rays are being very aggressive in conversations, six days away from the trade deadline. — Buster Olney
Atlanta likely on lookout for rotation help: The Braves have the 26th-best rotation ERA in baseball but also a 91% chance to make the playoffs, per FanGraphs. The rotation doesn’t look good to the eye, either, with Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels injured, Felix Hernandez opted-out, and four pitchers optioned due to ineffectiveness: Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Kyle Wright, and Bryse Wilson.
The other three current members of the rotation behind ace Max Fried are two journeyman swingman types in Josh Tomlin and Robbie Erlin and a hot-and-cold young arm in Touki Toussaint. The 35-year-old Tomlin was very good out of the bullpen in eight appearances this year, but has been iffy in his two starts including giving up three homers to the Phillies over three innings.
No rotation is deep enough to lose seven projected contributors, but the Braves are deep enough in young talent that my 49th-ranked prospect in baseball entering the year, RHP Ian Anderson, is at the alternate site and is rumored to be an option soon. Since Anderson isn’t on the 40-man roster, the Braves seem hesitant to bring him up until it’s clear he’s the best option.
Indians RHP Mike Clevinger is the best arm expected to be available for trade, but with only one set-in-stone name in their rotation, the Braves will need more than one answer to their rotation question. Atlanta added veteran lefty Tommy Milone in a trade with Baltimore on Sunday. — Kiley McDaniel
Who could the Angels deal away? Teams were already calling the Angels about some of their players before the weekend began, but their front office advised other clubs to give them a week or so to see how they fare and decide whether they will be active before the trade deadline.
The Angels, of course, went into the season with hopes of contending, but their pitching hasn’t necessarily cooperated. They got off to the worst 25-game start in franchise history and sit 11 games out of first place after dropping two of three to the Oakland Athletics.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler is on an expiring contract and uncertain if this might be his final few weeks with the organization. Still, if he decides to sell, it would be with the hope of adding arms that would augment the pitching staff in 2021 without having to venture into the free-agent market for cheap stopgaps.
Even after trading Tommy La Stella, the Angels possess several appealing infielders: Luis Rengifo, Andrelton Simmons and David Fletcher, though they might want a lot in return in a Fletcher deal. They could move Brian Goodwin, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who has proved capable of filling the strong side of a platoon. They also would love to unload the remainder of Justin Upton‘s contract, but that’s probably a stretch. — Alden Gonzalez
Reliever market heating up for National League Central contenders: Like elsewhere around the league, the battle for relievers in the trade market should be intense in the NL Central. And as you might expect, left-handers will be a hot commodity. Annually, the Cubs are always looking for someone to get out lefties, and they’ve already openly stated they’re doing the same this year. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers — even with Josh Hader — could be looking for the same, while the Cincinnati Reds‘ bullpen also has struggled. The St. Louis Cardinals are the only contender in the division who might not add anything on the mound. — Jesse Rogers
Completed trade tracker
Padres continue deadline spree with Clevinger trade
San Diego landed Cleveland ace Mike Clevinger in the first true blockbuster trade of this deadline. Right-hander Cal Quantrill, shortstop Gabriel Arias, outfielder Josh Naylor and catcher Austin Hedges are all going back to Cleveland in the deal, with Naylor expected to immediately slot into the Indians’ outfield.
Padres keep dealing, get Austin Nola from M’s
The Padres completed their fourth deal of the weekend Sunday night, acquiring catcher Austin Nola from the Mariners as part of a seven-player deal. Part of the return for Seattle is one of San Diego’s top prospects, outfielder Taylor Trammell. Other players included in the Mariners’ haul are infielder Ty France, catcher Luis Torrens and right-handed reliever Andres Munoz. Headed to the Padres are relievers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla. A big-time right-handed arm who struck out 51 in 31 innings last year, Adams has been recovering from ACL surgery but will return soon.
Busy Padres add catcher Castro from Angels
The Padres made another deal in landing veteran catcher Jason Castro from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for minor league reliever Gerardo Reyes. The 33-year-old Castro was batting .192/.323/.385 in his first 62 plate appearances, but has been lauded for his pitch-framing and blocking skills.
Rockies add bullpen arm in Givens
The Colorado Rockies traded for Orioles right-handed reliever Mychal Givens, who has a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 13 innings this season. Baltimore receives infielders Tyler Nevin and Terrin Vavra and a player to be named later from Colorado.
Cubs land DH Martinez from Rays
The Chicago Cubs added lefty masher Jose Martinez, acquiring the DH from the Rays for two players to be named. Martinez has struggled in his first season with Tampa, batting .239 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 24 games, but had a strong track record against left-handed pitching while with St. Louis, including a .997 OPS in 2019.
Braves add lefty Milone to rotation
The Atlanta Braves acquired Baltimore Orioles left-hander Tommy Milone in hopes of aiding their struggling rotation. Baltimore will receive two players to be named. Milone, 33, is 1-4 with a 3.99 ERA in six starts this season and has 31 strikeouts in 29⅓ innings. Atlanta’s rotation has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency with Braves starters completing fewer than five innings in 20 of 32 starts this season. Even so, Atlanta entered Sunday atop the NL East standings.
San Diego adds some pop in Moreland
The Padres acquired veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has been one of the Red Sox’s best hitters this season, for a pair of minor league prospects, outfielder Jeisson Rosario and third baseman Hudson Potts. The left-handed hitting Moreland, 34, is batting .328 with eight home runs, 21 RBIs and an 1.177 OPS in 22 games, largely in a platoon role.
Padres bolster bullpen with Rosenthal
The San Diego Padres acquired reliever Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City, sources told ESPN, in a deal that sent outfield prospect Edward Olivares and a player to be named to the Royals. Arguably the best reliever on the market, Rosenthal should provide a huge boost to the Padres.
A’s add former All-Star La Stella in rare swap with Angels
Trading within the AL West, Oakland acquired infielder Tommy La Stella from L.A. to give them some present-day punch at second base, sending infield prospect Franklin Barreto south to join the Halos. La Stella was hitting .273/.371/.475 with the Angels, good for a slightly better OPS than his injury-abbreviated All-Star 2019 season. It’s a classic stretch rental, as La Stella is a free agent after this season, while Barreto is 24 years old and under club control through 2024 (but is out of options). Barreto had been one of the key elements of the A’s-Blue Jays deal that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto after 2014, but struggled in limited big league opportunities. In Anaheim, he’ll get every opportunity to show that his hitting .289/.352/.482 (with 112 stolen bases) in the minors was no fluke.
White Sox land Dyson in deal with Pirates
The Chicago White Sox are acquiring center fielder Jarrod Dyson from the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The speedy Dyson is hitting just .157 in 2020, but provides value in the field and as a pinch runner.
Blue Jays acquire Walker from Mariners
Phillies land pair of relievers in deal with Red Sox
The Philadelphia Phillies got an early jump on the trade deadline, moving to fortify their ineffective bullpen by acquiring relievers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.
Key questions and team needs
From the names you are hearing about to some you haven’t yet, here’s what could really go down between now and Aug. 31. Jeff Passan’s MLB trade deadline preview