Taylor Ward Rumors: 5 Best Trade Fits at the Deadline

If the Los Angeles Angels decide to put Taylor Ward on the trade block at the deadline, here are five teams who could land the outfielder.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 29: Taylor Ward #3 of the Los Angeles Angels runs to first base after hitting a two RBI double during the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 29, 2024 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

When the Los Angeles Angels selected Taylor Ward in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Fresno State, they perhaps expected a more immediate impact than what they got. But Ward was something of a late bloomer in his age-28 season, and has been a valuable contributor over the last three seasons.

Since the start of the 2022 season, Ward has a .788 OPS. Though he’s only had 64 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season, it’s particularly noteworthy that he has a 1.018 OPS in those at-bats. That will make him particularly appealing to contenders looking to break up left-handed heavy lineups.

What’s also of note when considering the 30-year-old left fielder as a trade candidate is that he’s got two remaining years of arbitration eligibility beyond this season. So any team that would acquire him not only would get him for the remainder of this campaign, but potentially two more. Or they could consider flipping him in the offseason.

In any event, there’s going to be quite a few teams in on Ward as the July 30 trade deadline approaches. Here are five suitors to watch.

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Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have a World Series-caliber pitching staff, but are 27th in runs scored this season. President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto needs to rebuild Seattle’s lineup on the fly, or he risks his team squandering their lead in the AL West.

Ward probably wouldn’t be enough as the top addition for the M’s, but if he was the second-or-third-biggest trade deadline acquisition, it would represent quite the improvement for Seattle. Ward would be a clear upgrade over Mitch Haniger in right field, or Mitch Garver at DH.

Also of note is that one of Dipoto’s final acts before resigning as Angels general manager in the summer of 2015 was to use a first-round pick on Ward. So it would hardly be a surprise if he’s still fond of Ward.

Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies fans may have their eyes set on a megadeal like acquiring Luis Robert Jr. from the Chicago White Sox. But whether it’s because Robert is dealt elsewhere, or the White Sox elect to hold onto him, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may end up having to consider other right-handed hitting additions to the outfield.

Ward would be an ideal platoon partner in left field with Brandon Marsh, whom he was previously a teammate with in Anaheim. Marsh mashes right-handed pitching, which he has an .875 OPS against this season. However, he’s struck out in 25 of 53 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this year, so at a minimum, the Phillies would probably like a better option to platoon with Marsh in left field than Cristian Pache.

What’s also a consideration here is there may be days against right-handed pitchers where the Phillies would want to have Ward in left field and Marsh in center field.

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Johan Rojas is a tremendous defender in center field, but has a .558 OPS this season. An outfield of Ward in left field, Marsh in center field and Nick Castellanos in right field would give the Phillies better offensive production than one with Marsh in left field and Rojas in center.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals have a great duo atop their starting rotation in Cole Ragans and Seth Lugo, which could make them dangerous in a short playoff series. First, though, they will have to get into the postseason, and while Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Pérez are having great seasons, there’s not enough depth in the lineup to be a playoff team.

In particular, the Royals need to upgrade their offensive production in the outfield, where none of their three primary starters — Hunter Renfroe in right field, Kyle Isbel in center field and MJ Melendez in left field — have an OPS over .675.

Acquiring Ward probably wouldn’t lead to a parade in Kansas City this year, but there’s something to be said for getting to the postseason for the first time since 2015. Landing Ward could help them to do that, and would also give them a starting corner outfielder for 2025.

Atlanta Braves

President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t need to replicate the 2021 trade deadline, when he acquired Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson and Eddie Rosario to remake the Braves outfield in the absence of Ronald Acuña Jr.

But the Braves have once again lost Acuña, the reigning NL MVP, for the season. And Anthopoulos probably needs to add a right-handed hitting outfielder before the July 30 trade deadline to bolster Atlanta’s chances of winning their second World Series title in four years.

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Ward would be an upgrade over any of Adam Duvall, Forrest Wall or Ramón Laureano in a corner outfield spot. Heck, if the Braves want to give Jarred Kelenic a day off against a left-handed pitcher, adding Ward would make that more of a possibility.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are currently in control of one of the three Wild Card spots in the AL, and aren’t entirely out of the race for the AL Central, despite how well the Cleveland Guardians have played this season. Minnesota, though, clearly needs to upgrade their offensive production in the outfield.

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey may be left to hope that Max Kepler gets going in right field. But Ward would be a clear improvement over Manuel Margot, who has a .658 OPS as the primary left fielder for the Twins.

What also has to be a consideration here is that history tells us that at some point, center fielder Byron Buxton is going to get hurt. Whenever that happens, Margot would likely shift to center field. So adding a left fielder like Ward makes sense from multiple perspectives.