One player all 30 MLB teams should trade for — or away — before the deadline

  • Covers MLB for ESPN.com
  • Former deputy editor of Page 2
  • Been with ESPN.com since 1995

With the trade deadline just over a month away and some separation starting to occur in the standings, let’s speculate on a key player each team should consider trading for or trading away.

A key dynamic to this year’s deadline will be the competitive-balance-tax threshold of $210 million. Several teams are bumping right up to the limit — and might not be willing to go over — which obviously puts constraints on their deal-making flexibility, or might require some creative accounting. Consider these estimated CB tax payrolls from Cot’s Contracts:

Yankees: $207.6 million
Astros: $207.0 million
Padres: $205.6 million
Red Sox: $205.5 million
Phillies: $202.5 million

The Dodgers, after going under the tax threshold in 2020, are way past it at $262 million. The Angels ($198.1) and Mets ($196.6) have some wriggle room. The big-market team with the most room to play with is the Cubs, sitting at $173 million, so it will be fascinating to see how aggressively they tackle the deadline in a transition season. The Braves are at $157.8 million, but operate under a tight budget from Liberty Media. The Cardinals’ payroll is $20 million below what it was in 2019.

And here is the player we’ve identified who each team should look at add — or deal away — before the July 30 MLB deadline arrives.

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