MLB trade deadline 2022: Categorizing all 30 teams as buyers, sellers or something in between

The Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline is one week away, and that means teams are deep in trade discussions right now. Some are looking like obvious buyers — particularly in light of the expanded postseason field — and others are very much in seller territory. Others, however, have a less certain path forward and may not know for sure until the final hours whether they’re trading away vets, acquiring them, or doing nothing much at all. We’re stepping into that uncertain fray to categorize each team as a buyer or seller or, failing that, note the uncertainties that are making things, well, uncertain. 

By way of reminder, there’s only one trade deadline in MLB these days, and that’s been the case since 2019. Players can still be claimed on outright waivers after the deadline, but they can’t be traded. Players must be acquired by Aug. 31, whether by trade before the deadline or via waivers after the deadline, in order to be eligible for postseason rosters. 

Now let’s jump in (teams are listed in alphabetical order).

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Seller

The D-Backs dropped eight of 11 heading into the break, which may have sealed their fate as deadline sellers. They should definitely seek to move Madison Bumgarner, who’s having his first useful season since 2019, and Merrill Kelly should also be shopped. Other swap candidates include Christian Walker, David Peralta, and All-Star Joe Mantiply. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 98.2%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The Braves don’t have many pressing roster needs, but a modest deadline shopping list might include more pitching depth, a right-handed outfield bat with some defensive flexibility, and a better stop-gap at second base until Ozzie Albies returns from injury. GM Alex Anthopoulos has some opportunities for improvement, but he isn’t desperate. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Somewhere in the middle

Given the Orioles’ recent awfulness and surprise relevance this season, the heretofore wearied fan base probably isn’t in the mood for another deep sell-off. That said, don’t expect the Orioles to be major players leading up to the deadline, either. They might seek some marginal improvements in the rotation, ideally those coming with some element of control, but otherwise they should sit tight and see how the chips fall in the second half against what figures to be a fairly brutal schedule. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 15.8%
Buyer or seller?: Neither, probably

The Red Sox badly need rotation help, especially in light of Chris Sale’s broken finger, and an upgrade at first base. Ownership, however, has been remarkably stingy in recent years, and GM Chaim Bloom doesn’t seem the type to agitate for more of an effort from them. There’s also the fact that the Red Sox have been trending downward of late (to put it mildly). It’s hard to imagine they tear it down in such short order, but it’s easy to envision not much of anything happening in Boston before the deadline. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Seller

The rebuilding Cubs figure to be among the most active sellers over the next few days. Available for the right price should be catcher Willson Contreras, closer David Robertson, veteran lefty Drew Smyly, and maybe even later-blooming slugger Patrick Wisdom. Ian Happ would also likely drum up significant interest, but he could be a target for a contract extension in Chicago. Kyle Hendricks is another name to watch, provided he gets healthy soon.

Sportsline postseason odds: 48.8%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

Thanks largely to the fact that they play in the AL Central, the White Sox are still classified as contenders. They have a very real shot at repeating as division champs despite the disappointing first half, but to do that they may need to seek out upgrades at second base and find an impact outfield bat – lefty bats in both cases. They also need reinforcements in the bullpen. The challenge will be that owner Jerry Reinsdorf seems disinclined to increase the payroll much more. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1%
Buyer or seller?: Seller

The Reds would’ve been a playoff contender this season if they’d kept the roster intact, but suffice it to say that didn’t happen. Ownership figures to take another bite out of the roster leading up to Aug. 2. Luis Castillo is perhaps the biggest non-Juan Soto name to watch right now, and Tyler Mahle, now that he’s back from the IL, also figures to be a coveted name on the starting pitcher market. If the Reds move both, then they should be able to do well in terms of prospect return. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 43.8%
Buyer or seller?: Quasi-buyer

The AL Central is an eminently winnable division, but Cleveland ownership is largely indifferent when it comes to on-field success. Assuming the Dolans can even be bothered, addressing the shortcoming at catcher seems like a necessary play for the Guardians. This season, Cleveland catchers – Austin Hedges and Luke Malle, for the most part – have combined to “hit” .169/.260/.255. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Probably neither

The Rockies are the most incompetently run organization in Major League Baseball, and that starts with ownership. On the one hand, it’s refreshing. Front-office homogeneity these days can make for dullness, but the Rockies occasionally spice things up with some pre-Enlightenment decision-making. They are to be thanked for that, at least if you’re not a Rockies fan. On the other hand, they’re not likely to do what they should, which is trade everything they can and start over. We’ll call them sellers, but they’ll almost certainly do nothing. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Seller

The Tigers’ 2022 season has been a tremendous flop so far, which means they should be looking to move any veterans they can. Robbie Grossman seems to be drawing some trade interest, which is odd considering how much he’s struggled this year. Michael Fulmer, who’s transitioned to a bullpen role with much success, might be their best trade piece. Others they could move include Michael Pineda, Andrew Chafin, and Gregory Soto. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 100%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer but not a desperate one

The Astros are a lock to win the AL West, and their focus should be on securing a first-round bye in the postseason. Fortunately for GM James Click, his wish list is a fairly modest one. Houston could use bullpen help from the left side, catcher depth, and maybe a lefty-swinging reserve infielder to spell the aging Yuli Gurriel on occasion. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Seller 

The Royals probably need a new front office moving forward, but in lieu of that at the moment a deadline sell-off will have to do. Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor, and Hunter Dozier all look like viable candidates to get moved, and they may even be able to get something for Zack Greinke. They should be open to pretty much anything, as an organizational reset at all levels is needed. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Seller (but not who you’re thinking of)

While you’re hearing some idle speculation about a Shohei Ohtani trade at the deadline, that seems highly unlikely to happen. The Angels, though, have been consistent in their inability to contend with top-end stars like Ohtani and Mike Trout on the roster. What they’ll likely do is trade Noah Syndergaard and perhaps Michael Lorenzen and then ponder a more all-encompassing sell-off heading into the offseason. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 100%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

Obviously, the Dodgers are one to watch when it comes to any potential Juan Soto blockbuster, but they should be active even if such a thing doesn’t come to pass just yet. While their pitching has been predictably excellent, they could still use an additional rotation arm given the uncertainty surrounding Walker Buehler and his injured elbow. The L.A. bullpen is also pretty banged up right now and figures to be for some time. That could be a concerning situation come October. 

Sportsline postseason odds: <1%
Buyer or seller?: Sellers, mostly

The Marlins are on the fringes of the race for the last wild-card spot in the NL, so they could justify either approach. Given their embarrassment of riches when it comes to pitching, they should seek to move some of those arms in exchange for young to semi-young controllable hitters who can address a few of the many weak spots in the lineup. The back injury to Jazz Chisholm likely eliminates the Marlins as full-on buyers. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 77.0%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The biggest concern right now for the NL Central leaders is rotation health. Adrian Houser (elbow) and Freddy Peralta (lat) are both on the IL with no clear time-tables. The hope is that they’ll be back in August, but the Brewers may need to guard against worst-case scenarios by adding some rotation depth leading up to the deadline. Elsewhere, a true center fielder may also be needed. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 45.0%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The first-place Twins have a below-average bullpen in terms of relief ERA, and they grade out even worse when it comes to the more forward-looking FIP, or fielding-independent pitching. On top of all that, the Twins’ pen has been worked hard thus far. The priority in Minny should be bullpen upgrades and bullpen reinforcements – plural, you’ll note. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 99.0%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

If the Mets are going to fend off the reigning-champion Braves in the NL East, then they’ll likely need an upgrade at the DH spot – preferably one with power. Newly acquired Dan Vogelbach could be the primary half of a nifty platoon that addresses that weakness, but that shouldn’t be the end of things. They could also use a fix at catcher given James McCann’s injury and some bullpen depth. Willson Contreras of the Cubs would be an ideal fit in Queens. Will the Nats consider trading Juan Soto within the division? That’s a pressing question right about now. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 100%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

They need outfield help to lessen their dependence upon Joey Gallo, who’s shown no signs of emerging from his season-long slump. Mostly, though, the Yankees need multiple additions to the rotation in order to better their chances of a deep playoff run, and one of those pieces needs to be a frontline type. Luis Castillo would be an ideal fit. As well, the bullpen injuries are mounting, and additional depth is needed. The Yankees are on pace to breeze past 100 wins, yes, but there are some real roster holes here. 

Oakland A’s

Sportsline postseason odds: <1%
Buyer or seller?: Seller

This past winter, the A’s were determined to turn themselves into a terrible team, and, well, they did it. Congrats. That means there’s no reason not to trade anything else of value as the Aug. 2 deadline approaches. Frankie Montas looked good in his first start back from a shoulder injury, so his market should be accordingly hot. As well, catcher Sean Murphy could help any number of contending teams.  

Sportsline postseason odds: 38.2%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The Phillies have worked their way into wild-card contention in the NL, but they have needs. The greatest of these is for rotation help behind the imposing front line of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Injuries and ineffectiveness have had their way with the middle and back ends. Additional relief depth from the left side may also be in order. Bryce Harper can’t get back soon enough.

Sportsline postseason odds: <1%
Buyer or seller?: Seller

The big question for the Corsairs is whether Bryan Reynolds can recover from his oblique injury before the trade deadline. He’s a coveted switch-hitting center fielder, but it seems unlikely that he’s going to be back on the active roster in time. Still, that’s not a crisis for Pittsburgh. He’s good, relatively young, and under team control through the 2025 season. So keep him. Instead, find a new home for Jose Quintana and maybe All-Star closer David Bednar. They’ve already gotten a nice return for Dan Vogelbach. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 65.9%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The priority – as is the case with any team having legitimate designs on him – is a trade for Juan Soto of the Nationals. He’s a generational batsman, and if you can add him to the current core in St. Louis then you do so at basically any cost. Recent reports suggest the Cardinals are the frontrunner for his services. Beyond that, additional rotation depth is badly needed – particularly with Steven Matz’s latest injury – and they could always use more bullpen help. The time to address the rotation was this past winter, but the front office barely did that. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 70.7%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The Pads are another team reported to have interest in a Juan Soto blockbuster, and they’re also eyeing the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. from injury at some point in the second half. Speaking of Soto, he would also address the Padres’ greatest need, which is more outfield production. Even if a deal with the Nats proves impossible for San Diego, the team can be expected to target outfield upgrades.  

Sportsline postseason odds: 50.2%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer, maybe

The Giants have tumbled from the heights of 2021, but they’re still in the mix for a wild-card berth in the NL. As for needs, their attempts to replace Buster Posey behind the plate have gone poorly, and the Giants as such would be a great landing spot for Willson Contreras or Sean Murphy from across the Bay. Also very much worth noting is that the Giants could be in the mix for Juan Soto. All that said, a true impact deadline for San Fran would be a bit of a surprise.

Sportsline postseason odds: 63.7%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The M’s had an active offseason, they’ve surged back into contention, and they’re lugging around the longest playoff drought in all of major men’s North American team sports. That’s a team who should be buying, and buy they shall. The specifics remain to be seen, but Seattle could use an upgrade at second base and additional depth in the rotation and bullpen. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 84.4%
Buyer or seller?: Soft buyer

As always, owner Stuart Sternberg’s chronic refusal to invest in payroll is something the Rays must work to overcome. In the here now, the Tampa Bay offense, which ranks 10th in home runs, total bases, and slugging percentage, could use an injection of power – particularly in right field. They’ve also been hit hard by injuries in the rotation, and could use at least an innings-eater type added to the fold. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 1.9%
Buyer or seller?: Likely buyer

The Rangers aren’t particularly close to a playoff spot, but they’ve spent a great deal of money to contend in the near- to mid-term. Pivoting to even a soft selloff would be a bit of a shock. Their most pressing need is for help at the back end of the rotation, and like pretty much any other contender, aspiring or otherwise, they could use additional bullpen depth. 

Sportsline postseason odds: 95.3%
Buyer or seller?: Buyer

The Jays are significantly invested in succeeding in the near-term, and right now they need pitching in all its forms. The bullpen has been a pronounced weakness in 2022, and injuries and the inconsistency of Jose Berrios have compromised the rotation. There’s a lot of talent on this roster, but the front office needs to land multiple needle-moving arms before the deadline. 

Washington Nationals

Sportsline postseason odds: <1.0%
Buyer or seller?: Deep seller

And here we have the main character of the 2022 trade deadline. Will the Nats trade Juan Soto now or wait until the offseason? When they do, will they seek to maximize the quality and number of prospects they get in return, or will they insist that the team that trades for Soto also takes on Patrick Corbin’s contract (thereby lessening the prospect return)? Those are unknowns right now, and all eyes will be on D.C. for the answers to those questions. Regardless of whether GM Mike Rizzo decides to wait out the market, he’ll still likely sell off a handful of lesser names – Josh Bell, for one. Soto, though, is the dominant figure of this deadline.