Early MLB trade deadline questions for 15 teams: Will Blue Jays sell? Where could Pete Alonso land?

In part one of this week’s subscriber mailbag, we focused on what the top contenders could do at the trade deadline. Part two is more of a mixed (mail)bag, as I answered 22 questions on a wide range of teams, from obvious buyers to clear sellers and everything in between, starting with the underperforming Blue Jays and Reds.

Questions have been edited for clarity and length. 

1. Toronto Blue Jays’ fire sale? Or do they buy some offense and another bullpen arm? — David A. … If the Blue Jays are sellers, who do you think will go — Yusei Kikuchi, Justin Turner and other expiring contracts? Or will they go for a full reset and consider trading Vladimir Guerrero Jr., etc.? — Timothy S.

I don’t think the Blue Jays are not good enough to catch the Yankees or Orioles in the AL East and although they could stay in the race for the American League’s final wild-card spot, I think it would be a smarter play to try to reboot this team for 2025 and beyond. The first thing they need to do is extend the contracts of Bo Bichette and Vlad Jr. And if they can’t do that by the All-Star break, they should shop them for the best possible trade packages. If they end up having to trade one or both stars, then they might as well go all-in on a rebuild and move Kikuchi, Turner, Chris Bassitt and George Springer as well. (Kikuchi and Turner are impending free agents; Bassitt is signed through 2025; Springer is signed through 2026.) They should make moves to get younger, cheaper and better — not just to dump contracts. The Blue Jays have a lot of work to do to get back to being legitimate contenders and they might as well start now.

2. Who would the Blue Jays have to give up to get Brent Rooker from Oakland? Would prospects Orelvis Martinez, Alan Roden and Chad Dallas get it done? — Christopher R.

If the Blue Jays are going to try to make the playoffs instead of improving the team for the long term, then a trade for Rooker makes sense. However, I would not include Martinez, a 22-year-old infielder who is their best position player prospect, in a Rooker deal — not even in a straight-up trade. If I’m the Blue Jays in this scenario, I would propose a deal of right-handed pitcher Juaron Watts-Brown and outfielder Alan Roden for Rooker, and see if they could land him with those two prospects.



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Pete Alonso has 11 homers this year. He’s hit 40 or more in each of the past two seasons. (Ken Blaze / USA Today)

3. What teams are true Pete Alonso suitors? The Twins come to mind as a destination, if they’d be willing to offer a top-five prospect in return. — Andrew J.

Any team interested in trading for Alonso will understand he’s just a “rental” for the rest of the season and probably will re-sign with the Mets in the offseason. Teams where Alonso could fit include the Astros, Mariners, Guardians, Twins and even the cross-town Yankees.



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4. The Reds are woefully underperforming what was expected preseason. Do you see them pivoting to sell mode?  — Stephen S.

The Reds certainly didn’t expect to lose their best all-around player from last year, Matt McLain, to shoulder surgery or their expected starting third baseman, Noelvi Marte, to an 80-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, or their leadoff hitter, TJ Friedl, to multiple fractures and two stints on the injured list. They also didn’t expect Will Benson to hit under .190, Jeimer Candelario to hit .224 and Christian Encarnacion-Strand to hit .190 before also landing on the IL.

This team is much better than it has shown offensively but because of injuries and underperformance to start the year, the Reds have been the most disappointing team in baseball to me, and that’s with their young starting pitching core of Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott and Nick Lodolo (IL) all having strong years. The Reds should be buyers at the deadline, trying to improve their offense for the short and long term as they wait for their injured and suspended players to return. Even though they’ve played .400 ball, they’re only 5 1/2 games back in the standings for the National League’s final wild-card spot.

5. If the Mets decide to buy, what does a trade for Luis Robert Jr. start as? I’m thinking Jett Williams, Ryan Clifford and two starting pitching prospects from their top 30? Is that too light of a package? — Greg D.

Robert is by far the White Sox’s best trade asset and the only position player they don’t want to trade because they’d rather build around him. At 26, he’s in his prime years and is under team control through the 2027 season at club-friendly salaries, including $12.5 million this year and $15 million next year with club options for $20 million per year in 2026 and 2027. Therefore, if I’m the White Sox, I’m asking the Mets for right-hander Christian Scott, first baseman Ryan Clifford, catcher Kevin Parada and one of their top middle-infield prospects — either Jett Williams or Luisangel Acuña — to headline the deal. But if I’m the Mets, I have no interest in that type of deal and instead would counter with an offer of outfielder Drew Gilbert, shortstop Ronny Mauricio and righty Calvin Ziegler, and then if I’m the White Sox, I’m hanging up and ending our trade talks.

6. The Royals need an outfielder who can hit. Please help! Thanks. — Justin C.

The Royals need to call the Orioles and ask which of Baltimore’s many outfielders they can get in a trade for any of their major-league relievers. Then they should call the Nationals and ask what they would need to trade Lane Thomas, once he is healthy. Then they should call the Cardinals and ask what it would take to get Jordan Walker. Then they should call the Marlins and see what it would take to land Bryan De La Cruz, and so on and so on.

7. Is there a middle-of-the-order bat the Giants could pursue so Lamonte Wade Jr. can hit leadoff in place of Jung Hoo Lee for the rest of this year?

There are not a lot of impact middle-of-the-order bats currently available. If the Mets fall out of the race, Alonso could become available. And if the Giants aren’t afraid to trade closer Camilo Doval, perhaps the Orioles would offer you one of their big, young bats in return. Other options could include Alonso’s teammate J.D. Martinez if the Giants are OK with Jorge Soler playing a corner outfield spot, or Eloy Jiménez of the White Sox or Justin Turner of the Blue Jays; all of them will be free agents after this season and all are DHs or primarily are DHs (a spot currently occupied by Soler).

8. I loved the team effort by the Padres in their recent series with Atlanta but feel they need to add a little more. What do you think it would take to pry Brent Rooker and JP Sears from the A’s? Both would be great fits (who could be acquired) without blasting a hole at the top of the Padres farm system. — Adam R.

I think if the Padres dangled right-handed pitching prospect Adam Mazur and outfield prospect Homer Bush Jr., a deal could get done pretty quickly.

9. I think the Padres need a back-end starter. Who do you think they should target? — Lucas L.

Here are some back-end starting pitchers the Padres could target from non-contending teams: Erick Fedde of the White Sox, Lance Lynn or Kyle Gibson of the Cardinals (if St. Louis is willing to pay down their contracts), Patrick Sandoval of the Angels, Yusei Kikuchi or Chris Bassitt of the Blue Jays, and Jack Flaherty of the Tigers.

10. What can the Red Sox expect to receive if they trade Kenley Jansen? They don’t win enough games to keep a $16 million reliever. — No name given

Boston could receive a mid-level prospect along with a fringe prospect in return, as long as Jansen pitches well between now and the trade deadline.

11. If the Red Sox are sellers, could Masataka Yoshida be a trade candidate? He seems to have become redundant in a team comprised mostly of left-handed hitters and too many outfielders. — Christian L.

The Red Sox have committed $90 million dollars to Yoshida through 2027 and with that contract he’s not tradable, even if they pay a significant amount of the remaining balance. He’s a below-average defender with not much power or speed. His best qualities are that he makes contact, gets on base and rarely strikes out. But he does very little offensive damage, certainly not enough for teams to want him as their full-time designated hitter. In short, I don’t see him going anywhere.

12. Are the Twins going to buyers or sellers at the deadline? It feels like the team could buy some right-handed outfield help and potentially another starter, but also could sell excess bats (Max Kepler, Kyle Farmer, etc..). — Edward B.

The Twins are going to be buyers at the deadline and not sellers. They need to get Royce Lewis back from the IL, have Byron Buxton stay healthy and keep Carlos Correa healthy as well. Then they need more consistency from their younger hitters such as Alex Kirilloff and Edouard Julien. They could use another hitter and more starting pitching depth for the rest of the way. I still view them as a legitimate contender in the AL Central.

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Jack Flaherty will be a free agent after this season. (David Reginek / USA Today)

13. If Detroit falls out of contention, do you see another team offering more than the value of a comp pick for Jack Flaherty in a trade? — Matt D.

It all depends on how well he pitches between now and the deadline. However, with few quality starters on the trade market, I think the Tigers could do better than a comp pick for Flaherty. Through 10 starts, he has 81 strikeouts in 61 innings to go with a 3.84 ERA and 1.082 WHIP.

14. After a lackluster offseason in which they failed to address their offensive issues, the Mariners have to be feeling the heat to make some big moves this trade season to take advantage of this amazing young pitching staff while it’s intact. Who do you see as realistic targets they should be pursuing? — Mike M.

The Mariners should be willing to trade either Emerson Hancock or Bryan Woo along with a few of their top prospects if that’s what it takes to significantly improve this offense with a trade for an impact bat like Pete Alonso or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. However, if they can’t get that type of bat, they should try to trade for lesser players such as Paul Goldschmidt, Brent Rooker, Lane Thomas or Taylor Ward.

15. How can the Cubs upgrade at catcher? It’s the most difficult position to upgrade midseason but it’s been a weak spot defensively and offensively for a team that could become a playoff contender. — Brian R.

Elias Díaz of the Rockies is the trade target you’re describing, Brian. Díaz was the MVP of last year’s All-Star Game and finished the season with 25 doubles, 14 home runs and 72 RBIs for Colorado. This year, he’s carried a career-best slash line of .320/.358/.463 (125 OPS+). The 33-year-old will be a free agent after this season, which should make the trade cost for the Cubs (or any team) relatively affordable to add him to their catching room.

16. Do you think the Pirates should trade one of their young pitching prospects (not named Paul Skenes or Jared Jones) for a top hitting prospect or a major-league-ready player who can hit? — Bob M.

The Pirates should hold on to the starting pitcher trio of Skenes, Jones and Mitch Keller for years to come. But yes, they should use some of their farm system to improve the offense at first base and in the outfield. Even if that improvement is by inches or centimeters, not yards.

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Will the Cardinals, winners of five of their last six games, be buyers or sellers at the deadline? (Jeff Curry / USA Today)

17. How bad will the Cardinals have to get before they tear it all down at the deadline? — Robert T.

I think the Cardinals will be sellers at the trade deadline. I believe they’ll listen on most of their players outside of Sonny Gray, Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn. Don’t be surprised if Paul Goldschmidt, offseason signings Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, and the team’s elite closer, Ryan Helsley, are all dealt at the deadline in a dramatic restructuring of the roster for 2025 and beyond.

18. If the Cardinals trade Helsley, what’s the range of the expected return? — Paul S.

They’ll be able to get a young, everyday position player prospect or rookie major-league position player who could start now or a middle-of-the-rotation pitching prospect, along with two mid- or lower-level type prospects. Expect the Orioles, Yankees and Dodgers to all be in play here.



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19. What’s the realistic haul for the Nationals’ rentals? It seems like this club is one to two years from .500 ball and two to three from playoff hopes, so it should sell Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Lane Thomas, etc. — Jim H.

The first thing the Nationals should do is promote James Wood to the majors and not wait and hope they’ll get something back at the trade deadline for veteran bench players like Eddie Rosario, Joey Gallo, Winker or Senzel (Note: Rosario, Gallo and Winker are impending free agents; Senzel and Thomas have another year of team control.) The quicker their outfield can become Thomas, Jacob Young and Wood, the better. The Nationals should be able to get a solid return for Thomas once he’s healthy. The rest of the veterans you mentioned aren’t going to bring back much beyond lower-level fringe prospects and salary relief.

20. If the Nationals continue to lose, do you see them parting with relievers Hunter Harvey and/or Kyle Finnegan?  — John J.

Finnegan and Harvey are the Nationals’ best trade assets between now and the deadline. Finnegan has a 1.89 ERA and 13 saves and won’t be a free agent until after the 2025 season. Harvey has a 2.63 ERA in 22 appearances and, like Finnegan, also comes with an additional year of team control. With so many teams looking to improve their bullpen quality and depth, the Nationals should be able to land an intriguing return in deals for both right-handers if they continue to pitch at this level.

21. Where do the Marlins go from here? … The question shouldn’t be who gets traded from the team, but who doesn’t. Is anyone on the current roster in their future plans under president of baseball operations Peter Bendix? — Keven B.

The Marlins are open to trading everyone. Jesús Luzardo is their best trade asset, and he could end up being the best starting pitcher traded at the deadline. It will take a strong package of prospects to pry away the lefty, who has two more years of team control. I also expect the Marlins to trade closer Tanner Scott, first baseman/DH Josh Bell and others. This is a total rebuild once again in South Florida.

22. Which team that currently has a negative run differential will make the biggest addition at the trade deadline? — Dan B.

That’s an interesting question, Dan. Entering Tuesday, the best teams with negative run differentials were the Astros, Rays, Diamondbacks and Reds. (Editor’s note: Since then the Diamondbacks have jumped to plus-seven, and teams such as the Mariners, Rangers and Cubs have gone from positive to negative.) The Astros don’t have a lot of needs and I don’t see them making a big addition, rather smaller-type moves. The Rays could use a bat but rarely make huge splashes at the deadline. The Diamondbacks and Reds both need a power boost at the trade deadline as they rank 19th and 22nd, respectively, in home runs. The Reds have a bigger need and plenty to trade from their farm system, so I’ll go with Cincinnati over Arizona for this answer.



The life of an MLB GM at the trade deadline

(Top photo of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: Duane Burleson / Getty Images)

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