Angels reportedly take Shohei Ohtani off the board

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and the rumor mill is off and running. It can be one of the most exciting and heart-breaking periods of the MLB calendar, as players can go anywhere unexpectedly, teams grow stronger and more formidable (or tear down entirely), and fans of selling teams must say goodbye to their stars and begin to accept their fate of a playoff-free October.

This year promises to be no different. The underperforming New York Yankees and Houston Astros should be on the hunt for difference-making players. The Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds continue to surprise everyone and could be looking for some big acquisitions. No one knows what’s next for the New York Mets or San Diego Padres. Meanwhile, teams such as the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals will throw open their metaphorical doors to welcome eager buyers.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 23 players potentially available at the ’23 deadline.

The MLB trade deadline is 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, Aug. 1

Until then, you can find details on and reaction to all the deals here.

Angels reportedly aren’t dealing Shohei Ohtani

The biggest domino of the entire trade deadline reportedly won’t be falling.

The Los Angeles Angels have decided to take Shohei Ohtani off the market after days of internal discussions and fielding offers, according to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci. Instead, the Angels have reportedly decided to be buyers at the deadline.

The Angels entered Wednesday four games back from the final American League wild-card spot, with former MVP Mike Trout and other key players still working back from injuries. The team hasn’t reached the postseason in eight years, tied for the longest drought in MLB, and still has plenty of ground to make up.

Adding a starting pitcher and reliever will be the Angels’ deadline priority, but they will be competing with half of MLB on that front, and with one of the worst farm systems in MLB as their acquisition war chest.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is seen on the bench during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Teams will have to look elsewhere to make a trade deadline splash after the Angels reportedly decided to not trade Shohei Ohtani. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Ohtani is a free agent after this season and widely expected to land the richest contract in MLB history. Keeping him for the rest of the season can’t hurt the Angels’ odds of re-signing the new face of baseball, but the team will be under even more pressure to show it can win, something Ohtani has spoken about as a priority for his long-term future.

Dodgers add Amed Rosario to their pile of shortstops, deal Noah Syndergaard

The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t come close this year to matching the production they usually got from Trea Turner and Corey Seager. To fix that, they seem to be going with a quantity-over-quality approach.

The Dodgers have agreed to a trade with the Cleveland Guardians for shortstop Amed Rosario, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, adding another name to an already crowded depth chart. In exchange, the Dodgers reportedly dealt away struggling starter Noah Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched since June 7.

The initial plan this season to replace Turner, who departed for the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency, was for former top prospect Gavin Lux to move from second base to shortstop with trade acquisition Amed Rosario backing him up. That plan fell apart in spring training when Lux tore his ACL, leaving Rojas as the starter. So far, Rojas has hit an uninspiring .225/.283/.273 with zero home runs in 254 plate appearances, making shortstop a clear area of improvement.

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 25: Cleveland Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario (1) is congratulated in the dugout after scoring a run during the sixth inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Guardians on July 25, 2023, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH.  (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Amed Rosario gives the Dodgers another option at shortstop. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chris Taylor and, in a pinch, Mookie Betts provided the rest of the depth behind Rojas until earlier this week, when the Dodgers acquired Kiké Hernández (see below). Hernández can play shortstop, but is most valuable as a utility man, so it seems conceivable Rosario and Rojas split most of the playing time at short.

Rosario isn’t exactly hitting the cover off the ball either, with a .265/.306/.369 slash line plus three homers and nine steals, but his .303/.345/.477 line against lefties should at least give the Dodgers a much-needed platoon bat on that side of the plate. His track record, with a .282/.315/.412 line the four previous seasons, also offers hope as a bounce-back candidate.

All it cost the Dodgers was Syndergaard, who was one of the worst pitchers in the majors this season with a 7.16 ERA until the Dodgers sidelined him with a blister last month. Maybe the Guardians, who needed pitching, think they can fix him, but the Dodgers were probably happy to turn him into an actual shortstop, though it’s also conceivable the Dodgers are covering the remainder of his $13 million salary.

Both Rosario and Syndergaard are free agents after 2023.

Marlins and Twins swap struggling relievers

Sometimes, a trade isn’t about filling a while so much as finding a fresh start.

The Minnesota Twins acquired reliever Dylan Floro from the Miami Marlins in exchange for their own reliever Jorge López, the team announced Wednesday.

Floro and López are both not having what you would call career years; López, an All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles last season, currently holds a 5.09 ERA, while Floro has a 4.54 mark, the worst of his career in a season with at least 10 innings. There’s reason for hope with each between López’s previous stardom and Floro’s 2.78 FIP, but this is basically each team re-rolling the dice on a part of its bullpen.

Mariners add Trent Thornton from Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays traded relief pitcher Trent Thornton to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday in exchange for minor-league infielder Mason McCoy. McCoy will be assigned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

Read more about the deal here.

Dodgers acquire Kiké Hernández from the Red Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Boston Red Sox utility player Kiké Hernández on July 25, The Athletic reported. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Red Sox will receive right-handed relief pitcher Nick Robertson and Triple-A relief pitcher Justin Hagenman in return.

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 06:  Enrique Hernández #5 of the Boston Red Sox bats during the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday, April 6, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Carl Jones/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández is once again a Dodger. (Photo by Carl Jones/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Hernández, 31, previously played six seasons with the Dodgers from 2015 to 2020. He was a member of the 2020 World Series championship team. In 86 games this season, Hernández is slashing .222/.279/.320 with six home runs, 31 RBI and three stolen bases.

Braves trade for Pierce Johnson from the Rockies

The Braves acquired relief pitcher Pierce Johnson from Denver in exchange for minor-league RHPs Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon.

Atlanta also added LHP Taylor Hearn from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.

Read more about the deals here.

Blue Jays acquire Génesis Cabrera from the Cardinals

Toronto traded 19-year-old catching prospect Sammy Hernandez to St. Louis in exchange for Cabrera, who was designated for assignment by the Cardinals on July 17.

Read more about the deal here.

Orioles trade for improving A’s reliever Shintaro Fujinami

Trading for a reliever with an 8.45 ERA from the worst team in baseball typically isn’t the best way to make a splash at the deadline, but you should at least hear out why the Baltimore Orioles did exactly that with Shintaro Fujinami and the Oakland Athletics.

The deal was confirmed Wednesday.

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Shintaro Fujinami walks to the dugout after striking out Cleveland Guardians' David Fry during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Shintaro Fujinami is on the rise after a nightmare start to the season. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Yes, Fujinami has struggled in his first MLB season after signing a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the A’s. He began the season as a starter and racked up a 14.40 ERA and four losses in four starts before moving to the bullpen. He remains the worst player in MLB by bWAR this season at -2.0 due to his ghastly first two months.

Fujinami has turned a corner since then, though, holding a 3.26 ERA since June 1 with improved velocity and a revamped pitch mix. Reliever performance in MLB can change on a dime, and while it often feels like they’re always changing for the worse, Fujinami has looked like a reliever worthy of a contender for weeks now.

The Orioles sent back left-handed pitching prospect Easton Lucas on their end of the deal. Lucas is not in the Orioles’ top 30 prospects on MLB Pipeline but is currently playing at Triple-A and could provide a quick bullpen reinforcement for Oakland.

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