Major League Baseball
Ben Verlander's top 5 players most likely to be dealt before MLB trade deadline
Major League Baseball

Ben Verlander's top 5 players most likely to be dealt before MLB trade deadline

Published Jul. 25, 2023 10:32 p.m. ET

We're on the cusp of one of the craziest weeks in the baseball calendar.

The 2023 MLB trade deadline is almost here, so let's break down the five MLB players I think are likeliest to be traded between now and when the proverbial buzzer sounds on Aug. 1 — as well as where I think those players will be headed. 

Yes, we are still on Shohei Ohtani watch, and I've been clear in my opinion that I think the Los Angeles Angels should trade him. I also still think that the Angels will ultimately choose not to as they remain on the fringe of the American League wild-card race, so Ohtani is not on this list.

1. Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs


2023 Stats: .319 batting average, .918 OPS, 14 home runs, 44 RBIs

My predicted destination: New York Yankees

As the kids say, he's so back. What a year Bellinger is having. He may not be back to his 2019 National League MVP level power-wise, but he is also hitting over .300. He will be a big pickup for somebody if and when he gets traded, and I think that somebody will be the Yankees. The more I think about this, the more I can see the Yankees being not just a great short-term fit, but the perfect long-term fit for Cody Bellinger. 

He's done more than what I think the Cubs could have imagined when they signed him in the offseason for one year at $17.5 million, paying him somewhere in between what he deserved as that MVP player and the player he was for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the last few years. He's been much closer to his MVP form especially recently, when he's been on fire. 

I don't think the Yankees go as big as, for instance, Ohtani before the deadline but I do see them going after a guy like Bellinger, who I think is a great long-term fit there in center field until their top prospect, Jasson Dominguez, comes along. Then you can move Bellinger because he has the flexibility to play first base and the corner outfield spots. He's a great defender and can also obviously be a designated hitter whenever. I think he's a really good fit for that lineup, but the important part here is that the Yankees need to keep playing well after sweeping the Royals over the weekend. If they do that and they get Aaron Judge back from the injured list, then they add Bellinger and get offense that this team is desperately missing. Bellinger makes that lineup very different.

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2. Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox

2023 Stats: 20 starts, 115 innings pitched, 6.19 ERA, 10.9 strikeouts per 9 innings

My predicted destination: Arizona Diamondbacks

He's one of a few White Sox players that will probably get moved at this deadline, and he's a pitcher in a market where pitchers will be heavily coveted and there are not a ton of top-tier pitchers out there. So then you will have a lot of teams, or at least a few, who will be willing to overpay to get what they need for this year. 

I'm not saying the Diamondbacks are going to overpay, I'm just saying that is the way the trade market for pitchers is heading this year, because we have a lot of really good teams that are just missing some pitching and could be willing to give up a good bit to get that pitching to put them over the top.

The Diamondbacks are one of those teams. They have two really good pitchers in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, but then a big drop-off with the rest of that starting rotation. Lance Lynn is a veteran arm who has pitched in big games and could help a ton. 

Lynn is obviously not great this year, although his advanced numbers (3.95 expected FIP, 27.3% strikeout rate) look much better. We know what kind of pitcher he is — he's going to throw a lot of fastballs that will move in different directions. He knows how to get outs in big games, and maybe even more importantly, he knows how to eat innings. The Diamondbacks could really use that veteran starter in the rotation to go with their really, really young team.

3. Lucas Giolito, White Sox

2023 Stats: 21 starts, 121 IP, 3.79 ERA, 9.7 strikeouts per 9 innings

My predicted destination: Baltimore Orioles

Just like with Lynn, the White Sox should absolutely offload Giolito before the deadline and get some good prospects in return. The Orioles are another very young team with a great offense that needs some help pitching-wise. I think Giolito is a great fit there, and I've felt this way for a while now ever since the White Sox got off to such a rough start to this season. Even as far back as early June, I thought Giolito could be a perfect fit for the Orioles, and I have not changed my mind.

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4. Eduardo Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers

2023 Stats: 14 starts, 83.2 innings pitched, 2.69 ERA, 9.5 strikeouts per 9 innings

My predicted destination: Cincinnati Reds

Rodriguez is under team control for three more years but may use the opt-out clause in his contract after this season. With rentals like Giolito and Lynn who are set to be free agents this offseason, it's different. Those guys better fit teams like the Orioles who are in win-now mode and do not want to give up a ton in return, whereas I think Rodriguez is a perfect fit for the Reds, who are just now starting to come into their own. I'm not sure the Reds can get into the playoffs and win it all this year, but I really believe they will be right there over the next three to five years with that young core. 

With Rodriguez under control and enough talent in the minor leagues to pay what it will cost to get him, yes, they will have to give up a little bit more to get a guy like him. I don't think it's a bad thing at all to give up a good bit when you already have Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Andrew Abbott in that rotation. You can add Rodriguez and have a perfect arm to complement them. 

Yes, I understand he has an opt-out and Cincinnati is not the most fun home park to pitch in because the ball launches out of there, but the team is so exciting and is set up to stay that way for years in the future. The Reds should be willing to spend a bit more to get a guy like Rodriguez in the building and prove to him this is where he wants to be. 

5. Marcus Stroman, Cubs

2023 Stats: 21 starts, 122.1 innings pitched, 3.09 ERA, 7.7 strikeouts per 9 innings

My destination prediction: Houston Astros

Stroman is perhaps the top arm available at the deadline as of right now. I believe that the Houston Astros are the perfect fit for him. They have what it takes to go get him, and we have seen them be aggressive this way in the past with a mindset of what will make them better in the playoffs. They have the benefit of not thinking like a lot of these other, younger teams do because they are fully in win-now mode with the core they have in place around Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez.

You can say what you want about the Houston Astros, and I understand why they are not liked, but they have also drafted better than just about every other MLB team over the past decade. We are in the midst of this incredible multi-season run by the Houston Astros at the big league level, yet they still have pieces available that they can move in order to add onto their veteran core and try to win another World Series. Right now, Marcus Stroman is the perfect fit for an Astros team looking for that extra piece to help them win a seven-game series.

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