Trade winds are swirling as the July 31 deadline fast approaches. The Cubs struck first, acquiring Jose Quintana from their cross-town rival last week, while the Nationals addressed a major need Sunday by adding two veteran relievers (Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle). With so many teams selling—the A’s, Tigers and White Sox all appear to be bottoming out—this could be one of the busiest deadlines we’ve had in years.
Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Jaime Garcia, Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, J.D. Martinez, A.J. Ramos, Jeff Samardzija and Justin Wilson are a few of the many names surfacing in trade discussions and most, if not all of them, will change hands before 4 PM ET on July 31. Remember, teams aren’t moving parts just to spin their wheels. Clubs broker trades with very specific interests in mind. The White Sox, for example, are gathering prospects in hopes of building an Astros-esque powerhouse in a few years while the Cubs and Nationals are pursuing World Series aspirations.
They don’t always work out, but don’t underestimate the power of a timely trade. Who knows how the World Series would have played out if the Cubs hadn’t acquired Aroldis Chapman or the Indians hadn’t pulled the trigger for Andrew Miller at last year’s trade deadline. If this year’s deadline lives up to its already considerable hype, these Power Rankings could look much different in a few weeks. With that in mind, let’s shine a light on the Dodgers at No. 1.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 1
While Yasiel Puig isn’t checking off all the boxes—he’s still hitting in the low .250s and hasn’t stolen a base since June 13—he’s certainly filled his quota in the home run and temper tantrum departments. Cody Bellinger’s season of outrageous accomplishments continued Saturday when he became the ninth Dodger in history to hit for the cycle. It’s been 414 calendar days since Alex Wood’s last loss. This might be a good time to remind you that the Dodgers, winners of 29 of their last 33, are the best team on Planet Earth right now.
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 2
Not satisfied with being the best team in the American League, the Astros are scouring the trade market for a starting pitcher. Bay Area hurlers Sonny Gray and Jeff Samardzija appear to be at the top of their wish list. The Big Three of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer has drawn most of the accolades but Josh Reddick has been no slouch, slashing .307/.356/.500 in his first year with Houston. Can we get Andy Dwyer and Mouserat to record a song about Carlos Beltran’s deceased glove? It would be a fitting sendoff.
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3. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 3
It’s been an eventful week in the nation’s capital. Ryan Zimmerman passed Vladimir Guerrero for the most home runs in franchise history, Bryce Harper extended his hitting streak to 12, Joe Ross found out he needs Tommy John surgery and Anthony Rendon slugged his way to NL Player of the Week honors. While all that was going on, the Nats still found time to beef up their bullpen by acquiring Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in a five-player swap with Oakland. Winners of five in a row and nine of their last 11, the Nats should waltz to their second straight NL East crown.
4. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 5
David Price turned in his best start of the year on Sunday (with some help from Jackie Bradley) limiting the Bronx Bombers to seven hits over eight shutout innings. That came just one day after Chris Sale hurled 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball while matching a season-high with 13 strikeouts. Saturday’s gem lowered Sale’s lifetime ERA against the Yankees to 1.17. Pablo Sandoval ended his disastrous tenure in Boston with a .237 average, 14 HR, 59 RBI and -2 WAR in 161 games. And he’s still owed $49.5 million.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 6
Who would have guessed that Jimmy Nelson, who entered this year with a lifetime ERA of 4.38, would emerge as Milwaukee’s ace? The 28-year-old’s 9.88 K/9 ranks seventh among NL starters, putting him ahead of studs like Carlos Martinez, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Jonathan Villar’s 0-for against the Pirates on Monday night spelled the end of his eight-game hitting streak. The 26-year-old ranks fourth in the National League with 18 steals but is also fifth in strikeouts with 98.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 4
Props to the Diamondbacks and Reds for arranging the Ray/Romano matchup we never knew we needed. It’s been a lean month for the D’Backs, who have dropped five straight and eight of their last nine. Something’s up with Jake Lamb. The first-time All-Star has managed just two hits in his last 22 at-bats while seeing his average slip from .285 to .272. Zack Godley tallied a career-high nine strikeouts Sunday against Atlanta but lost his third straight, falling to 3-4 on the season.
7. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 7
Here’s a scary thought—this might be Nolan Arenado’s best month of the season. The 26-year-old has launched three homers over his last seven games while boosting his NL-leading RBI total to 73. DJ LeMahieu is the biggest second baseman in baseball at 6’4” and he also swings one of the mightiest bats. The LSU alum has hit .432 since July 1 while boosting his season average from .302 to .315. Even after a miserable June, the Rockies still hold a 5.5 game lead over the Cubs in the NL Wild Card.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 10
With the trade deadline looming, Tampa Bay is reportedly targeting lefty relievers Tony Watson and Justin Wilson. Either one would be an upgrade to a Rays bullpen that ranks 20th in bullpen ERA. Everyone’s playing for silver behind Rookie of the Year shoe-in Aaron Judge but Jacob Faria has made a compelling case. The 23-year-old has tacked on a 2.00 ERA over seven undefeated starts since joining the Rays’ rotation last month.
9. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 8
The Indians improved by acquiring All-Star reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees at last year’s trade deadline and are looking to make a similar splash this season. Right now their top target is A’s ace Sonny Gray, who carries a 1.33 ERA over his last four starts. Gray would be a great addition to a rotation that already features one of the game’s top starters in Corey Kluber. The Klubot has been a strikeout machine, fanning at least 10 batters in seven of his last nine starts. His 2.86 ERA ranks second in the American League behind Chris Sale.
10. New York Yankees
Last Week: 9
I still think it’s a myth that players fare worse after doing the Home Run Derby. But if you wanted to make that argument, Aaron Judge has collected just one hit in 21 at-bats since winning the Derby last week. Aroldis Chapman has looked flat lately, struggling to a 5.06 ERA with two blown saves this month. Michael Pineda was hoping to cash in as a free agent this winter. Instead he’ll be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
11. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 13
Jose Quintana was feeling it in his Cubs debut. The left-hander embarrassed the Orioles by delivering a season-high 12 strikeouts over seven shutout frames. Kris Bryant broke the dam and now the floodgates are open. The reigning NL MVP has cruised to a .379 average with three homers over his last seven games. The Cubs have won four straight while narrowing Milwaukee’s division lead to 3.5 games.
12. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 11
Zach Granite was an absolute boss at Triple-A (.360 AVG, 15 steals for Rochester) but he’s had trouble adjusting to the big leagues (2-for-18 with no homers or RBI). Remember Brian Dozier’s epic second half last year? Well he’s doing it again. The power-hitting second baseman has jumped out to a .389 average with two homers and five RBI since coming back from the All-Star break. Everyone’s favorite spirit animal Bartolo Colon will be suiting up for his 10th MLB team when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Yankees.
13. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 14
You know how many players have homered more than Mike Napoli this month? Just one—that would be Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Manager Jeff Banister has been a chemist mixing and matching in the Rangers’ bullpen, but it seems he’s finally stumbled upon the right formula. Alex Claudio has been lights out since ascending to closer status while Matt Bush, who looked overmatched in the ninth inning, has been terrific since returning to a setup role. It would take a Herculean effort to climb past Houston in the AL West, but the Rangers only sit 2.5 games back in the AL Wild Card.
14. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 12
Rather than crying uncle and letting Cleveland cruise to another division title, it looks like the Royals are going all in. KC is in the market for pitching and could be players for Jaime Garcia and Lance Lynn. Speaking of pitching, Nate Karns is headed for season-ending surgery. The 29-year-old pitched to a career-best 10.13 K/9 before coming down with thoracic outlet syndrome in mid-May. After slumping to a .257 clip in June, Whit Merrifield has come to life by hitting .316 with seven steals this month.
15. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 18
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks in Atlanta with the Braves open to trading both Jaime Garcia and Julio Teheran. The Braves are reportedly eyeing Michael Fulmer and Jurickson Profar but only time will tell if anything comes of those pursuits. One arm the Braves won’t be trading is Michael Foltynewicz. His name may be a pain to spell but the 25-year-old can deal. He’s compiled a superb 3.21 ERA during his eight-start unbeaten streak.
16. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 17
How does Nelson Cruz do it? The 37-year-old has been a wizard at the plate, hitting .333 with six homers and 15 RBI over his last 10 games. Even his Instagram game has been on point. Whatever Cruz is doing, it seems to be rubbing off on teammate Kyle Seager. The older and (slightly) less heralded Seager brother has homered in three straight games including Monday’s extra-innings win over Houston. Meanwhile Jean Segura has taken back the AL lead in batting average by hitting a fierce .411 since July 1.
17. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 15
Apparently a Jersey Shore reboot is in the works but until that day comes, my favorite reality show will continue to be the Cardinals’ bullpen. Brett Cecil, Seung Hwan Oh, Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist have all been vying for save chances, though Cecil appears to have the upper hand right now. Might the Cardinals be sellers at the deadline? If so, Lance Lynn would likely be their best trade chip. The walk-year right-hander has pitched like a man possessed over his last two starts, hurling 13 1/3 scoreless frames during that span.
18. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 16
The last time Andrelton Simmons finished a season hitting over .300 was … well, never. But he’s making a push for it, batting .424 over his last nine games while lifting his average from .278 to .291. The Parker Bridwell reclamation project has been a smashing success. The ex-Oriole racked up a career-high eight strikeouts in another sharp outing Sunday against the Rays, bringing his season ERA down to 3.18. Can Mike Trout rally to win his second straight MVP award? We’re about to find out.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 19
It’s not like the old days (as in two years ago) when the Pirates were a perennial 90-win team, but the surging Bucs are quietly pulling their way back to .500. The Pirates have been winning in style too. Josh Bell played the hero in Friday night’s walk-off win while Adam Frazier delivered his own theatrics in Sunday’s series finale. You know the scene from the Humble video when Kendrick Lamar’s head is on fire? That’s about how hot Gregory Polanco has been over the past couple weeks. He’s hit an impossible .500 over his last eight games while boosting his season average from .246 to .272.
20. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 20
After going the whole first half without a victory, Aaron Sanchez finally nabbed his first W Friday night, allowing one unearned run over six dominant frames against Detroit. Marco Estrada extended his winless streak to eight with another clunker on Sunday (3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB). The right-hander has only made it past the fifth inning twice during that span. Being six games under .500 is less than ideal, but the Jays have dug themselves out of bigger holes than this.
21. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 21
The Orioles didn’t show much fight against the Cubs last weekend, losing three straight by a combined score of 27-11. Welington Castillo got off to a hot start this year but has fallen apart over the last two months, batting .190 with 28 strikeouts since June 1 (84 at-bats). Kevin Gausman sports a league-worst 6.39 ERA and could be headed back to Triple-A if he doesn’t have a quick turnaround. The Orioles haven’t finished with a losing record since 2011 but they’re going to need a big second half to keep that streak intact.
22. New York Mets
Last Week: 23
A slumping Yoenis Cespedes made the reckless choice to abandon Circle of Life as his walkup music on Saturday. The baseball gods responded by inflicting him with another in a seemingly endless string of injuries. While glass-made Cespedes continues to disappoint, Jose Reyes has been living large for the Mets. The veteran shortstop has hit an absurd .417 with four doubles and three homers over his last nine games while raising his average from .204 to .230. Noah Syndergaard is throwing again, so at least the Mets have that to look forward to.
23. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 24
J.D. Martinez went ballistic against the Blue Jays last weekend, collecting two homers and seven RBI en route to earning AL Player of the Week honors. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer also showed Toronto a thing or two, holding the Jays to two hits and one run over eight stellar frames Saturday night. With the Tigers on the verge of a complete rebuild, Martinez and Fulmer could both be on different teams by July 31.
24. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 28
Despite winning seven of their last 10 games, the perennially underfinanced A’s are determined to blow it up at the trade deadline. They’ve already sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson packing and it looks like Sonny Gray will be the next trade domino to fall. Jed Lowrie and impending free agent Yonder Alonso also appear to be on their way out. Alonso, Oakland’s lone All-Star representative this year, would make plenty of sense for the Yankees, who haven’t had much luck finding a successor to Mark Teixeira at first base.
25. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 22
While it doesn’t look like the Marlins are going to go all-out like they usually do at the trade deadline, the Fish are said to be shopping reliever David Phelps and A.J. Ramos. Phelps leads the team with 18 holds while Ramos has converted 17-of-19 saves this year with an impressive 11.46 K/9. J.T. Realmuto waved goodbye to his nine-game hitting streak on Monday but is still batting .375 over 48 July at-bats. Among catchers, only San Francisco’s Buster Posey has hit for a higher average this year.
26. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 27
What’s the opposite of a breakout year? Because that’s what Wil Myers is having. He’s been dreadful this month, batting .190 with 21 strikeouts in 42 July at-bats. Monday’s game against the Rockies marked his third Golden Sombrero of the season. A strained neck landed Hunter Renfroe on the disabled list. The 25-year-old is tied for the team lead with 16 homers, though he’s done it while hitting just .231 with 95 strikeouts in 316 at-bats. You get the feeling this isn’t the Padres’ year.
27. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 25
Dropping four straight to open the second half probably wasn’t what the Reds had in mind. The struggle is real for Zack Cozart. The first-time All-Star and proud donkey owner has scuffled to an ugly .207 average over his last 10 outings and hasn’t homered deep since June 4. Meanwhile Scooter Gennett has spread the wealth by swatting four round-trippers over his last nine games, bringing his season total to 16. One would assume that’s the most of any Scooter in MLB history.
28. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 26
The White Sox are obviously going to be sellers at the deadline—they already moved their biggest trade chip in Jose Quintana—and it looks like Todd Frazier may want to start packing his bags. He’d only be a rental but Frazier would make plenty of sense for the Red Sox, who need someone to keep the seat warm at third base while top prospect Rafael Devers continues his development in Triple-A. Perhaps he’d come in a package deal with David Robertson as the Red Sox are also looking for a bullpen arm to fill in for injured setup man Joe Kelly.
29. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 29
Dirt-bike enthusiast Madison Bumgarner looked sharp in his return from the DL on Saturday (7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 5 Ks), but it wasn’t enough to beat San Diego. The left-hander hasn’t won a regular season game since September 30. Rumors have been swirling about Johnny Cueto but it might be hard to trade him while his hand is covered in blisters. Would a reunion with Pablo Sandoval give the Giants a spark? Since the Red Sox will still be paying the bulk of his salary, it could be worth a try.
30. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 30
Jeremy Hellickson snapped his nine-start winless streak with a win over the Brewers on Sunday but because it’s the Phillies and bad things always happen to them, he left the game with calf tightness. Aaron Altherr was heating up (seven for his last 12) before suffering a strained hamstring on Friday night. Cesar Hernandez returned following a month-long absence on Monday. He got off to a booming start this year (.323 in April) but has hit just .248 since May 1.
Biggest Jump: Athletics4
Biggest Drop: Marlins3