Every week, we ask all of our baseball writers — both the local scribes and the national team, more than 30 writers in all — to rank the teams from first to worst. Here are the collective results, the TA30.
When you really look at it, the trade deadline is such a bizarre thing — which is saying something when we’re talking about a sport that is mostly constructed of bizarre things. Players who have spent the last months or years in a room building a bond with their teammates are told that they can’t go in that room anymore and have to go pack their belongings and go to a different room with different people. Their families, likewise, have to go introduce themselves to a new group of families. Players who spend their entire lives working out, training, practicing, studying, preparing for games, and playing those games always talk about “just wanting to help the team win.”
Thanks, now go help a different team win.
“Do I get to pick the team?”
No, no, you’re thinking of free agency. And once you’re a free agent, you can put a no-trade clause in your contract, but it will mean that you get less money.
And then, after the clock strikes 6 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday, no more trades! Even if both teams and all the players agree that it’s a good idea!
Anyway, it’s a fun little thing that happens in sports that we usually only see through the lens of wondering what fun new big-league player or prospects will be coming to the team we follow. But like a lot of things in life, it’s pretty weird when you start to look too closely.
Levi Weaver will update you on the American League teams and Grant Brisbee will cover the National League side. Here we go.
Last Power Ranking: 2
There are three stages of writing about the 2022 Yankees in these here power rankings.
Stage 1 is where you lavish praise on the team for being one of the all-time greats.
Stage 2 is where it gets difficult, because you run out of ways to say how great they’ve been.
We are now at stage 3:
LET’S JUST WATCH AARON JUDGE SOCK SOME DINGERS!
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 31, 2022
OK, fine, because it’s the trade deadline edition, we should note that they also went and made an upgrade in the outfield, trading for Andrew Benintendi, whose weird team-shift experience happened after flying to New York as a member of the Royals, checking into the team hotel as a member of the Royals, and answering the door to an 11 p.m. knock from the manager telling him that he was now a member of the Yankees.
Last Power Ranking: 1
The Dodgers already traded for Chris Martin, and they probably cold-played the discussions in order to give up a paltrow return. They can keep going, though. Most of the Juan Soto chatter revolves around the Cardinals and Padres but it’s hard to see how the Dodgers aren’t a huge part of the picture. No team can match their ability to combine prospects with 26-man-roster talent, and no team has the ability to hand out half-billion-dollar contracts quite like the Dodgers.
Until that happens, assume that anybody on the trade market can be sucked into the open maw of the Dodgers. They can use a hitter to replace the production they aren’t getting from Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger. They can use another starting pitcher, even if they already have several. If they have an identifiable weakness, it’s their bullpen.
Or they could acquire a couple of Chris Martin-type of players and upgrade modestly, correctly assuming that they’re already far ahead of every other NL team.
They’re still the favorites for Soto, though. It’s been too long since they’ve acquired a future Hall of Famer, after all.
Last Power Ranking: 3
Yet again, the Astros are gearing up for a deep postseason run by … maybe trading away a member of their starting rotation? Well yeah, maybe. It would be a deeply weird thing to do, but if the circumstances call for it — and Ken Rosenthal makes a compelling argument that they might — it might be the Astros’ next move.
Last Power Ranking: 4
Jacob deGrom back? Jacob deGrom back! We’re out here talking about deadline additions for obvious reasons, but the Mets just made the biggest acquisition in baseball. It’s spooky to think of how far they’ve gotten without him.
They can use more, of course. They’ve already picked up another outfielder and reliever, and they can use at least one more dinger-masher to pair with Pete Alonso in the middle of the order. The Braves have been winning more games than the Mets for the last couple months, and they don’t seem like they’re slowing down. The difference between winning the NL East and the top wild-card slot would be a first-round bye versus an extra postseason series, which seems like a bad time.
Luckily, the Mets still have a multi-billionaire owner who is still in that Mark Cuban-like honeymoon phase of caring about the team as if it’s the only thing that matters. Which, to be fair, is what every multi-billionaire owner should do. At some point, your atoms will be redistributed throughout the universe, which will eventually collapse upon itself. Might as well spend some money and trade for Juan Soto.
Last Power Ranking: 5
Since the Braves’ 14-game winning streak ended, they’ve gone 24-14, which is a 102-win pace. Austin Riley is inspiring articles that include Chipper Jones and Hank Aaron in the headline, which is probably a positive sign. They are Empirically Good.
As for what they need at the deadline, that’s a bit trickier. An outfielder is probably a priority, with Adam Duvall down for the year, but they could also reinforce the rotation, bullpen or both. But they have a lot of won’t-trades on their list of young players, which could complicate their ability to do a variety of deals.
And if they can’t swing more than one deal? It helps to be Empirically Good. This isn’t a team that needs a ton of help.
Last Power Ranking: 7
When the Blue Jays are going good, they’re really going good, and right now, they are on a heater. (Call it the Buck Boost?) Are there questions? Sure! They piled on about a third of their season’s positive run differential in one ridiculous outburst, but are we going to knock a team for scoring 28 runs in a game? We are not. They still need starting pitching depth — a problem that very nearly got worse this week — but Yusei Kikuchi has shown signs of improvement. Additions are almost certainly coming (if they haven’t already between the time this was written and the time you’re reading it), but their brilliant play of late has been a catalyst that should convince the front office to push some chips in and give them a fighting chance in the playoffs.
Oh, and it looks like they’ll be playing in a much-improved stadium before long, a nice little karma reward for spending the better part of a couple of years playing in minor-league parks during the pandemic.
Last Power Ranking: 6
Surprisingly messy. They still have plenty that’s going right, from a relatively comfortable postseason position, an ace that they’ve locked up with a long-term deal and Fernando Tatís Jr. due back soon. But they also have an injured MacKenzie Gore and a mercurial Sean Manaea. The lineup features far more single-digit home run totals and sub-.340 OBPs than you might expect from a second-place team that’s 10 games or so over .500. Taylor Rogers has joined Tyler Rogers and Trevor Rogers on the list of struggling T. Rogerses.
A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the type of fella to hug prospects and fail to see the urgency, though, which is why the Padres are mentioned as co-favorites in the Soto sweepstakes, and it’s why they should be as involved at the deadline as any other team in baseball. Some teams like the Yankees and Mets have very identifiable needs at the deadline (starting pitching and power, respectively), but the Padres can use … all of it. One of each, please, they say as they roll the cart through the aisles.
That’s how it goes for a team that’s both comfortably over .500 and surprisingly messy. They’ve had a sense of urgency for a few years now, and it’s not going to stop this month.
Last Power Ranking: 9
If you’re the type of fan who only pays attention to teams in October, the 2022 Brewers might surprise you. They can hit more than you might remember, with 10 qualified batters between a 97 and 120 OPS+, even if none of them are setting the world on fire. But they probably aren’t pitching as well as you remember, trending toward “solid” and away from “dominant” (aside from Corbin Burnes and Devin Williams, of course).
But they’re getting Freddy Peralta back, which is a pretty big deal. So it’s not as if they need rotation help. The easiest way to explain their deadline strategy is with two different sentences. First, from Jim Bowden.
The Brewers’ biggest need is an impact middle-of-the-order bat.
Makes sense. Will Sammon has thoughts:
Someone like Josh Bell may be out of their preferred range, even though they have the prospect capital to pull it off.
That kind of sums it up. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die, and every team wants an impact middle-of-the-order bat without giving up prospects. The Brewers in recent years have been more reticent than other teams to make a big splash, and it’s hard to see them changing now.
Last Power Ranking: 11
As I was putting out feelers for my day job covering the Rangers, someone with the team half-joked, “I don’t think they’ll get him, but you never rule out Dipoto.”
He was talking about Juan Soto, but the sentiment was valid: the Mariners got the top starting pitcher on the market when they traded for Luis Castillo in an attempt to snap their 20-year playoff drought. Did the loss of prospects hurt? Totally. And there might be more coming (“…never rule out Dipoto”). But it has been 20 years. And there’s momentum, even if Julio Rodríguez and Dylan Moore did just hit the IL (Ty France is ailing, too). When you have even a modicum of hope that you might be able to snap a streak like that, you do it.
And I think it’s going to work. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a writer pull one of these stunts, so here we go: if the Mariners don’t make the postseason this year, I will (takes a deep, steadying breath) visit Seattle as frequently as possible over the next few years, walking through that lovely city and taking in the lush green views, or allowing my melancholy to percolate in its gloomy gray winter. I will do that, and I will shake my head at the city and ask, “Why have you made me do this? Why did I ever agree to such punishment?”
So there you have it, Mariners. Please don’t throw me in that briar patch.
Last Power Ranking: 10
The Cardinals are one of the most obvious fits for Juan Soto, which seems strange. When have they acquired another franchise’s cornerstone player and had it work out? Except for that one time. And that other time. And those several times before that.
OK, apparently they do this all the time, and it always works.
But the Cardinals’ rotation is the more urgent priority, and it highlights the kind of tricky predicament they’re in. They’ve had a variety of starters on the IL all season, and the rotation is being carried by a 40-year-old pitcher. Their offense is being carried by two over-30 hitters. This is both a win-now team and a team that needs to think long-term. Soto helps both, but how much can he help in the short term if Dakota Hudson is taking his circa-1938 K/BB ratio to the mound every fifth day?
The Cardinals have the most obvious deadline fit of any contending team. They need the complication of a generational superstar becoming available like they need a hole in the roster.
Last Power Ranking: 13
It would appear as if the Phillies are hugging their prospects closely.
But I’ve also heard from multiple teams that the #Phillies haven’t just said no on their 2 top-100 pitching prospects, Painter & Abel, but also on Griff McGarry, Ben Brown & Logan O’Hoppe
Hard to see how they can trade for a Game 3/4 type starter without including one of those 3
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 31, 2022
Which isn’t the weirdest idea. Their future payroll commitments are substantial, and a few underpaid youngsters becoming rotation stalwarts would be a good way to keep chugging along.
On the other hand, what’s the point of spending that much if not to capture lightning in a bottle with the players they’re paying, like Zack Wheeler, Kyle Schwarber and, let’s see here, everyone else? They have a center fielder with a .280 OBP and a predilection for weird routes. They have a bullpen that’s weird again for the 37th or 38th consecutive season. They can definitely use another starting pitcher.
My guess is that they’ll do something bold, even if it makes Dave Dombrowski pull some hair out of his spectacularly, miraculously coiffed head.
Heck, I’d trade an eighth-inning reliever just to have that hair for a week.
If anyone has an eighth-inning reliever they can lend me, let me know. I’m good for it.
12. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Power Ranking: 8
It’s not like Mike Zunino or Kevin Kiermaier had been in the lineup recently — Zunino had been out since June 6 and Kiermaier July 9 — but it’s still tough to hear both season-ending surgeries announced on the same day, especially with Kiermaier’s impending free agency. They’ve addressed the outfield hole already, acquiring another fan favorite: Arizona’s David Peralta. Will they do anything else to try to stave off the likes of the Guardians and Orioles for their wild-card position?
LOVE this trade for the Rays. Who’d they give up? And who’d they get?
— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBB) January 22, 2014
13. Minnesota Twins
Last Power Ranking: 12
You wanna hear something weird? In 2020, the Twins won the division with the second-oldest lineup in the AL. This year, they have the second-youngest lineup and are leading the division again. It hasn’t been without its painful moments, but they’re pulling it off — and in a relatively small market, leaving us all to wonder if maybe all those teams that required a five-year vacation in Hell to rebuild might have been doing it wrong.
As is the case with just about every other contender, the Twins are in need of pitching help. Complicating matters, they’ve had some outfielders banged up and could use some help there as well. You would think they’ve at least checked in with the A’s to see if they could do some one-stop shopping for Ramón Laureano and Frankie Montas, wouldn’t you?
After all, the A’s seem to be in Year One of yet another vacation in Hell.
Last Power Ranking: 15
Reading Zack Meisel’s article on the Guardians’ three options for Ahmed Rosario at the deadline, I was reminded of a joke from one of my favorite stand-up comics of all time:
I played in a death metal band. People either loved us or they hated us… or they thought we were OK.
— Mitch Hedberg (@M_Hedberg) July 30, 2014
It’s also kind of a microcosm of the team as a whole: the Guardians could be good enough to make a playoff series or two very interesting, or they might not even crack the wild card … or they might be a one-and-done in the playoffs. Picking up a catcher with some offensive firepower would certainly help push it one way, just as trading, say, Zach Plesac or Shane Bieber would certainly give it a shove in the other direction.
As Meisel puts it here: “But the Guardians are both pursuing the AL Central title and adhering to their long-term blueprint. Those objectives don’t always align, and the result is some difficult conversations.”
What a world we live in when there can be an objective that doesn’t align with winning the division.
Last Power Ranking: 18
Everyone assumed the Orioles would be sellers at the deadline this year, probably for the same reason we assume that the new Weezer album is going to be disappointing: until they prove us wrong, there’s no point in wasting any of our brain’s operating space to answer a question that isn’t really a question. But would you look at that … the O’s have not only ditched the tag of perennial punching bag to climb out of the AL East cellar just before the deadline but — bolstered by a dominant bullpen — they’re actually within striking distance of that coveted third wild-card position.
So … is there a chance they don’t trade Trey Mancini and others and instead try to bolster the roster for a wild-card chase? Who knows. Making well-informed trades is hard enough when your team is doing the thing you expected them to do. It might be a little trickier when you’re changing course. At any rate, the future is bright, even if it doesn’t end up happening in 2022.
Last Power Ranking: 17
The White Sox aren’t out of it. Yes, they could use a left-handed reliever. Yes, Liam Hendriks is trying to make some adjustments at a very important time in the year. And yes, Tim Anderson got a three-game time-out for making contact with an umpire. But they’re not out of it, and with José Abreu heading toward free agency, it’s probably worth digging in their heels and trying to get a spot at the table of chaos in the postseason and see what happens.
The question is just how much of their future they’re willing to mortgage to buy spare parts for a boat that keeps springing leaks.
Last Power Ranking: 14
No, things aren’t going particularly well in Giants land.
It’s even worse than that, though, when you consider just how hosed they might be for next season. Being just a few games out of postseason position might be as good as it gets for a while, and there’s a fatalistic argument for being an all-in, win-now team.
There’s also the minor matter of them playing spectacularly awful baseball. Just putrid. Leads aren’t being held and baseballs aren’t being caught.
They have Carlos Rodón, who just might be the belle of the deadline ball, and they’ll almost certainly get a top-50 prospect, if not top-25, if they decide to deal him. Which, to be very clear, they should.
But it’s a long, hard fall for a team that was expecting so much more. It’s hard to see how they could add or subtract in a way that makes anyone feel better about this season or next. That seems like a problem.
18. Boston Red Sox
Last Power Ranking: 16
As I watched the Orioles climb out of the AL East dungeon and overtake the Red Sox, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the upside-down from “Stranger Things”. The Orioles were expected to be cellar-sellers, unloading any veterans of value. Now? Maybe not. Meanwhile, the Red Sox faithful expected a contender who might be re-loading this week in their hunt for the postseason. A brutal July has just about eliminated that hope, though president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom swears they’re not giving up on this season just yet.
Thing is, there are just too many players on the roster who will be free agents this offseason. Xander Bogaerts has been told he’s safe, but what about J.D. Martinez? Nathan Eovaldi? Enrique Hernández? Chris Sale? OK, Sale is probably not tradeable right now, but it would be a surprise if Boston didn’t deal at least one of the others soon.
But — as with the Orioles — reversing course this close to the deadline isn’t an easy task.
19. Texas Rangers
Last Power Ranking: 19
See if you can find the Rangers on this fancy little screen-cap in the second tweet.
This is what “cluster suck” looks like… check out the run differential columns and find the outlier: pic.twitter.com/uGmXgCFrDD
— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) August 1, 2022
So yeah, it’s been a frustrating year, watching all those one-run losses. More frustrating: Kole Calhoun, Brett Martin and Dennis Santana seem to be caught in some terrible consequence of paying back karma with interest for their scorching June performances. The entire bullpen has been a little tricky this month actually, but there have been overall signs of improvement this season that indicate the team is on the right trajectory to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
I mean, not this year, but in a not-too-distant future.
As far as the deadline goes, I get the sense that Martín Pérez will get his wish and stay in Texas, while Matt Moore would appear to fit the platonic ideal of Guy Who Usually Gets Traded At This Point In The Season.
And then yeah, if there’s a way to get Juan Soto in here, I imagine they’d love to make that happen, too.
20. Miami Marlins
Last Power Ranking: 20
It’s trade deadline time, which means I’m thinking of this “Family Guy” scene more and more.
While it doesn’t make things easier for the Marlins’ rebuilding/reloading plans that Trevor Rogers seems impossibly broken at the moment and that the bulk of their inspired offseason acquisitions have been major flops, I would simply keep one of the two rotation-topping starters doing rotation-topping things and figure the rest of the roster out.
It’s hard to argue that everything is working out as is, though, so maybe I’ll just shut up. Feels like the Marlins have the hard part done, though, and trading López seems like a great way to have to do the hard part again.
Last Power Ranking: 22
A profoundly boring deadline team, considering. David Peralta has already been traded. Madison Bumgarner is pitching well enough, but he’s owed $37 million. Christian Walker is the type of slugger who fits any bench, but he’s around the Mendoza Line and might not bring a huge return. Ketel Marte should be a huge deadline draw, but he signed a long-term extension. Mark Melancon is pitching his worst baseball in years, which is going to limit the interest. Zac Gallen would be a spicy meatball of a deal, but the Diamondbacks are close enough to a solid roster that they’re going to want to keep him around.
Ian Kennedy will likely be traded, but other than that? This probably isn’t the deadline that fans are going to look back at in 10 years and fondly remember how the next dynasty started.
Which is fine. It’s a sign of how far they’ve come from their 100-loss nadir. That doesn’t mean it won’t be boring, though.
22. Colorado Rockies
Last Power Ranking: 21
At the start of the weekend, the Rockies were miles away from postseason position, but they had a 37-year-old closer with a 1.86 ERA and an expiring contract. According to Chapter 4 of the book, “How Normal Baseball Teams Should Act,” this is a combination that would lead to the closer getting traded to a contending team, with a strong prospect package coming back in exchange.
On Saturday night, Bard shut down a tense ninth inning against the Dodgers for his 22nd save. The Rockies won 5-3. They improved to 46-56.
They’re 46-57 now.
The Rockies have baseball’s toughest assignment, having to figure out the game of baseball while also being the only team with the added difficulty of figuring out the game of baseball a mile above sea level. Even if they were a normal franchise, that would be daunting.
They are most certainly not that kind of franchise, though.
23. Chicago Cubs
Last Power Ranking: 24
Some teams are stumbling around, unsure whether they should sell or buy. The Cubs are not one of those teams. They’ve already traded Chris Martin and his freaky-low walk rate to the Dodgers, and they’re almost certainly not going to stop there. They’re one of the few stores with a flashing neon sign above the front door. No Reasonable Offers Refused.
The fans have already said goodbye to Willson Contreras. Mychal Givens, Ian Happ, Drew Smyly, Patrick Wisdom, Marcus Stroman, David Robertson and huge sections of the ivy-covered fence could be next, which should bring back a substantial return.
If the Cubs had spent a half-billion dollars to bring back Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo, they would still be in third place and out of postseason consideration, but they wouldn’t have nearly as much promise for the future. Remember that the next time you’re clamoring for a team to lock up their fan favorites. (Mostly talking to myself here.)
Last Power Ranking: 23
Nothing I ever write in this space will come close to the precision of the “Tungsten Arm O’Doyle” tweet. The Angels lost three of four over the weekend to the Rangers, are in a familiar place in the standings, and now there are questions about both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. The news on Trout is certainly scary. He’s dealing with costovertebral dysfunction — a condition he’ll likely have to manage for the rest of his career — but remains optimistic about a return soon.
When he gets back, will Ohtani still be an Angel? It wouldn’t be a popular move to trade the superstar, but it might be the prudent one. If they don’t trade him — and most experts think they won’t — they should at least try something else to win with the two mega-stars on their roster.
Last Power Ranking: 25
Phew, made it through another Pirates power rankings capsule. They’re getting harder and harder.
But that’s not fair to the long-suffering, intrepid Pirates fans who still make time to read things like this. So let me offer this: I was recently driving down Willie Stargell Boulevard and thinking about Willie Stargell. Then I came home and spent some time on his Baseball-Reference page before getting totally sucked into the rabbit hole and reading his entire SABR biography.
That’s my recommendation, then. Don’t read the words that idiots like me have to offer. Think about Willie Stargell some more. Go watch some highlights. Pops was awesome, and they can’t take that away from you.
26. Detroit Tigers
Last Power Ranking: 27
The Tigers are an interesting one, and I’m using “interesting” the same way that people use it when they’re eating food that they don’t like but are trying to be polite. Your kid made you a peanut butter-and-yogurt popsicle with extra sprinkles? Aw, wow, that’s so … interesting.
When the Tigers rolled into 2022 with A.J. Hinch at the helm, a newly signed Javy Báez in the fold, and a boatload of good pitchers, nobody thought they’d win the AL Central, but there was hope that it would be different than this, right? Maybe this would be a year to take a step forward, win a few games, and really go for it in 2023.
Instead, they appear willing to trade “just about anyone.” That’s not a good sign that they’re going to be contenders next year.
It will probably start primarily with the relievers. Everybody needs relievers, and the Tigers have a few good ones. Maybe the bigger moves wait for the offseason, but that they’re willing to make them at all feels like a real step backward for Detroit this year.
27. Cincinnati Reds
Last Power Ranking: 26
It’s on. Luis Castillo is gone, and several of the Mariners’ best prospects are in his place. Tyler Naquin is already gone, and all sorts of other players could follow. If the Diamondbacks should be one of the dullest under-.500 teams at the deadline, the Reds could be one of the most exciting. By trading Castillo, they already are.
Tyler Mahle to the Phillies?
Brandon Drury to the Braves?
Don’t rule anything out. Should be fun.
Last Power Ranking: 29
The A’s went on a neat little 8-3 run to make things fun in Oakland, but it had a lot of the vibes of the dead week at the end of Senior year — the parties were pretty epic, but all these people you grew up with are all about to be dispersed around the country soon.
At least it was good enough to leapfrog the Royals in this week’s power rankings?
Last Power Ranking: 28
The vacation in Hell stretches into what the Royals hope is the final year before they are permitted to trudge out of Valhalla and into a version of Missouri with a bit less misery. So long, Andrew Benintendi, as those who remain do their best to provide optimism for the future.
Last Power Ranking: 30
Should be a quiet deadline for the Nationals, who don’t have anyone drawing trade interest right now.
(Top photo of Trey Mancini: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images)
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