It’s nearing that time of year when the 30 major league teams are stratified into two distinct classes: buyers and sellers.
The bad teams with useful players become baseball Etsy shops, selling off bits of their roster for the right price. Teams on the cusp of the playoff race, or those looking to reinforce their vice grip on a first-place standing, comb through each of those shops in hopes of adding just the right piece that will get them over the hump.
In recent years, trade deadline acquisitions have become integral parts of their new team’s championship march. The 2017 Astros added Justin Verlander just months before winning the franchise’s first World Series title. Several other big names have gone from rudderless teams to World Series bound ones, including Manny Machado in 2018, Aroldis Chapman in 2016 and Yoenis Cespedes and Johnny Cueto in 2015.
But for every trade pickup written in boldface, there are several written in eight-point font that become postseason heroes as well. Journeyman first baseman Steve Pearce earned World Series MVP honors for the 2018 Red Sox after joining the team in exchange for a 23-year-old minor leaguer. The Nationals’ 2019 World Series stunner may not have happened if not for Daniel Hudson, the closer they snatched up midseason for a pitcher that’s still years away from the big leagues.
Now that the 2021 season is approaching the All-Star break and the standings are starting to congeal, let’s look at some players who could be fitted for a new jersey come July 31, beginning with the splashiest candidates.