We are less than two weeks away from the 2022 MLB trade deadline, so today we will go over the five best available trade targets. With the recent news dropping of Juan Soto declining the Washington Nationals’ extension offer and sequentially being made available to trade, you can bet he makes this list.
There’s no doubt you know the names on this list, and all of them will garner a king’s ransom in return. The real question is where each of them will end up. That is just what we will try to predict today. Right or wrong, this trade deadline is setting up to be a great one with teams that were not expected to compete in the mix as well as teams that were expected to compete being nowhere close. Let’s dive in and see what we can do!
5 Best Available Trade Targets & Their Landing Spots
5. Frankie Montas
No stranger to trade rumors, Oakland A’s pitcher Frankie Montas has seemingly been on the block from the moment he set foot on a Major League diamond. This season, that trade may finally come to fruition. As one of the best pitchers on one of the worst teams in baseball, Montas will more than likely be dealt to a contender like we have been perennially promised for years.
Through 17 starts this season, Montas has posted an ERA of 3.26 to go along with 100 strikeouts and a 113 ERA+ over 96.2 innings. He is in the midst of his age 29 season, so he should still have a few solid years ahead of him, plus, he’s still arbitration eligible through next season. So any team that trades for him, would not lose him this off-season to free agency.
No contender ever has enough pitching, so Montas would be a good candidate to go to any of them. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently without Walker Beuhler for an extended period of time and have the prospect capital to get the deal done. Expect Frankie Montas to be donning a blue cap instead of a green one in the near future.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
— LA Dodgers Fans (@DodgersViews) July 3, 2022
4. Luis Castillo
We go from one starting pitcher to another as we move to the NL Central for our next contestant, Luis Castillo. One of the many potential trade pieces belonging to the Cincinnati Reds, Castillo is the best player the Reds have to offer. A disappointing year for the Reds saw their contention hopes slowly fade away as the offense has not been anywhere near as good as advertised.
Castillo has had some injury trouble this season, but when on the field he has pitched better than any other year before per ERA+. Over 78 innings and 13 starts he currently holds a 2.77 ERA to go along with 82 strikeouts and a 166 ERA+. When healthy this season, Castillo has been one of the best pitchers in the game.
Averaging six innings a start is a quality not found in most starting pitchers in today’s game of baseball. There is one team that has put a premium on starting pitcher durability, however, and that is the Philadelphia Phillies. With their top two starting pitchers (Aaron Nola, and Zack Wheeler) averaging a combined 6.28 innings a start, Luis Castillo would fit right in behind them and bolster the Phillies rotation for an even more credible Wild Card run.
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies
3. Andrew Benintendi
We now move to the AL Central for one of our next best available trade targets in Kansas City Royal Andrew Benintendi. The Royals are a team that has mostly floundered since winning the World Series in 2015 but with the emergence of top prospect Bobby Witt Jr, and a resurgent Michael A. Taylor, they look to be on the upswing of their rebuild. Tendi just does not factor into the equation for their future.
Formerly a member of the Boston Red Sox, Andrew has not fully lived up to expectations for his career. Coming into today with a career line of .279/.352/.433, he has not been the star everyone expected, but he has proven to be a key role player that has made him one of the best available trade targets this season.
There are a few contenders in need of outfield help, and the New York Yankees were in on Tendi before trading for utility man Tyler Wade. Reports now are that they are no longer interested, but I tend to think that is just a ploy to drive the asking price down. Expect Andrew Benintendi to don pinstripes by August 3rd. “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” -Red Sox fans everywhere
Prediction: New York Yankees
2. Willson Contreras
Next, we have the older of the Contreras brothers in Chicago Cub Willson Contreras. The Cubs are yet another team that has mostly been middling since winning the World Series, there’s coming in 2016. They capped it all off last year by trading away the big three from their World Series victory, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez.
Contreras is one of the few holdovers left from that season, but he is in the middle of a contract year and boy has he played like it. This being his best season to date, he’s hit to a line of .253/.366/.455 with 13 home runs and a 130 OPS+. All of that production also comes from a position in which teams are always seeking offensive production: catcher.
At age 30, and being in a contract year, the price on Contreras won’t be as high as it is for some of the other best available trade targets on this list, but he will still garner a nice return for the Cubbies. This one is probably the easiest one to predict as there is only one playoff contender with a glaring hole to fill with offensive production and that is the Houston Astros. You can see Willson Contreras hitting bombs into the Crawford Boxes in less than a month.
Prediction: Houston Astros
1. Juan Soto
That brings us to not only one of the best available trade targets this season, but also a man who could very well be the best hitter in all of baseball, Washington National Juan Soto. The Nationals, outside of 2019, are a perenially perplexing club that can never seem to do anything right. From signing pitchers made of glass to exorbitant contracts to being extremely petty and not chartering Juan Soto a flight to the Home Run Derby all because he did not sign a contract extension with them, they could use a massive overhaul.
Not only did Juan Soto have to buy his own plane ticket to this year’s Home Run Derby, but he also won the thing by beating out Julio Rodriguez in the final round on a walk-off. Add that to his season line of .250/.405/.497 with 20 home runs and a 162 OPS+ and you have a 23-year-old mega star in the making. Did I mention that his career OPS+ is 160 and that his lowest full-season OPS+ is 142?
If Juan Soto does in fact get moved before the trade deadline, he will far and away command the biggest return we will see this season. Multiple top prospects, maybe even some everyday Major League guys, but it will definitely be 5+ players for the one. Just who is desperate enough to give up that many players so that they don’t succumb to their annual post-All-Star-Break collapse you ask? Why the New York Mets of course!
After blowing a huge division lead last year to the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves, the Mets will look to keep up their first-half successes in any way possible, even if that means quite literally selling the farm for one of the best available trade targets.
Prediction: New York Mets
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 21, 2022
This year’s trade deadline comes to us on Tuesday, August 2nd. As always, trade season is a top three time not just of the baseball year, but the whole year. How many of the best available trade targets will be moved? We will find out soon enough!