MLB Trade Deadline Targets 2023: Top 5 Players to Watch

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Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani, from Japan, watches his solo home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Saturday, June 17, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Rachael Millanta @rachaelmillanta Jun 27, 2023, 2:27 AM
  • The MLB Trade Deadline is Aug. 1, 2023 at 6 p.m. ET.
  • Shohei Ohtani, Lucas Giolito, and Marcus Stroman top the list of players to watch.

This season, the MLB Trade Deadline date is Tuesday, Aug. 1, meaning teams have mere weeks left to assess their chances of contention in 2023 and decide whether they’re buyers or sellers.

For teams likely to make the postseason this year, the focus will be on acquiring (or buying) players to fine-tune their roster for October. On the other hand, teams that are effectively out of contention will turn their focus to selling high-value players for promising prospects, hoping to build a stronger roster for future years.

So which top players should you watch for trade announcements as the deadline approaches?

Top 5 Players to Watch at the MLB Trade Deadline

Shohei Ohtani

Ohtani becomes a free agent at the end of 2023, and regardless of whether he leaves the Los Angeles Angels at the trade deadline or the offseason, the two-way star will unquestionably be the hottest player available. 

If the Angels are smart, they’ll trade Ohtani at the deadline, but that’s a big if. While there’s even a slither of hope that Los Angeles could make the postseason or re-sign Ohtani at the end of the year, owner Arte Moreno is almost certain to be stubborn about holding onto him. Considering the Angels are looking likely to secure an AL Wild Card to advance to the playoffs, Ohtani may be staying exactly where he is – for now.

Despite a potential playoff berth, it’s far too ambitious to call the Angels realistic World Series contenders this season, so perhaps if a good enough offer comes his way, Moreno will consider trading Ohtani. I don’t think there’s any chance at all of Los Angeles re-signing him this winter, so they may as well get something in return at the deadline. 

Regardless, Ohtani is the number one player to watch this season, and not just because he’s leading MLB with 24 home runs, as of June 21. As a pitcher, he has an ERA of 3.29 with 105 strikeouts, and as a batter, he’s sitting on .295 with a 1.002 OPS. There will be no shortage of teams wanting the superstar, so it’ll be interesting to see how much impact Moreno’s pride and borderline delusion have on his trade plans.

Lucas Giolito

I foresee the flailing White Sox having a fire sale at the trade deadline, but among all the players likely to be made available, Giolito stands out. The 28-year-old starter is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, and after a very underwhelming 2022, he’s rebounded to establish himself as one of the top starters available on the market.

As of June 21, Giolito has a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with 89 strikeouts through 15 starts. Despite the White Sox failing to impress even the most supportive of fans, Giolito has been consistent this season, and I expect him to get plenty of attention from teams looking to bolster their starting rotation. The Astros and Phillies are my top picks to be in the conversation, though the Dodgers and Padres may also be on the phone.

Even if Chicago were playing better this season, I’d expect Giolito to be a top player to watch at the deadline. While it’s hard to say exactly what figure he’s looking at in a new contract, I doubt the famously-frugal White Sox would be prepared to pay even close to it, so trading him now is definitely the smartest move for the struggling franchise.

Marcus Stroman

After an unexpectedly strong start to the season, the Cubs have fallen off in a major way. Despite declaring their rebuild to be over, it appears there’s at least another season or two before Chicago is a serious contender for the World Series, and Stroman is a very hot trade chip to bolster the rest of their roster.

Despite the Cubs’ struggles, Stroman has managed to shine extremely brightly this season, sitting on a 2.28 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 83 strikeouts as of June 21. This is the final year of his contract in Chicago, so with free agency looming, the Cubs should trade him at the deadline to get something in return rather than just watch him walk away this winter. 

While Stroman’s expressed some interest in staying with the team after 2023, there seems to be no discussion of a contract extension from the Cubs. His deal has a $23.66 million player option for 2024, but since he received a qualifying offer earlier in his career, he’s not eligible to receive it again. If he declines the player option, the Cubs will lose their ace with absolutely nothing in return, so I expect him to be very much available this deadline.

As a half-season rental player, Stroman’s return on the market will obviously not be as high as it otherwise would be, but I’m sure a few teams looking for a hot starter for the playoffs will jump at the chance to snag him. The All-Star pitcher will likely be more affordable for teams looking to contend but not spend too big, so I think he’ll definitely be a player to watch as Aug. 1 approaches.

Tim Anderson

Anderson’s name is basically synonymous with the White Sox, so it’s hard to imagine him packing his bags to play for another team. Still, if Chicago wants to go all in on a rebuild (and they really need to), Anderson is a trade chip they should definitely put out there.

Admittedly, it’s very difficult to predict Anderson’s worth on the market right now. The All-Star shortstop has had a rough season, batting .249 with an OPS of .582 and no home runs as of June 21. He finished 2022 with a batting average of .301 to mark his fourth consecutive season batting over .300, but even then, his errors in the field and mere six home runs left a bit to be desired.

The much-replayed clips of Anderson’s walk-off homer at the 2021 Field of Dreams Game and star moments in the 2023 World Baseball Classic tell a different story to the one currently playing out in Chicago. He’s only 29 and very likely to rediscover his former glory, but Anderson will need a team prepared to take a bit of a risk right now for a potentially very high reward.

The Dodgers have needed a shortstop since spring training, when they lost Gavin Lux to an ACL tear, so I expect them to be a top contender for Anderson at the trade deadline. Now it’s just up to the White Sox to decide if he’s officially available.

Corbin Burnes

The tense relationship between Burnes and the Milwaukee Brewers really boiled over last offseason during contract arbitration, so even with one more year of club control after 2023, I can see the Brewers listening to trade offers.

As of June 21, Burnes has posted a 3.96 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP and 86 strikeouts through 15 starts. His stats are noticeably worse than in previous years, especially after consecutive All-Star seasons in 2021 and 2022, but they’re still very good. Burnes is a reliable performer on the mound, and with a change in setting, I don’t question he’ll find his formerly spectacular numbers again very quickly.

Especially with another season of arbitration left before free agency, I expect Burnes would fetch a pretty high return if the Brewers make him available at the deadline. The Dodgers, Orioles, and Astros are all contenders this season who could use another reliable starter in their rotation, so Milwaukee will likely have a few offers to pick from.

It’s time for Burnes to move on from the Brewers, and hopefully, he’ll leave behind a lesson in why you should always play nice with your star players.

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About the Author

Rachael Millanta

Read More @rachaelmillanta

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Rachael Millanta is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM focusing on Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Her work has been published in SB Nation, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Slackjaw Humor. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Rachael now resides in Chicago, Illinois.