Top 10 Starting Pitchers Who Could Be Dealt at the Deadline

Just Baseball presents an updated look at the 10 best starting pitchers who could move before the July 30 trade deadline.

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: Chris Bassitt #40, Jose Berrios #17, Kevin Gausman #34 and Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays walk to the dugout prior to a game at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Jesús Luzardo‘s name was bandied about as a trade candidate last offseason after he posted a 3.48 ERA across 50 starts between the 2022 and 2023 seasons for the Miami Marlins. Ultimately, the Fish elected to hold onto him to open the 2024 campaign.

Given that president of baseball operations Peter Bendix appears to be open for business on just about anyone as he remakes Miami’s roster — heck, he traded two-time batting champion Luis Arraez back in May — Luzardo probably should have been one of the top available arms this summer.

Unfortunately, Luzardo was on the 15-day injured list in April with left elbow tightness and is now on the 60-day IL with a lumbar stress reaction. He has a 5.00 ERA across the 12 starts he has made this season.

Since Luzardo is only 26 years old and can’t become a free agent until after the 2026 season, the Marlins’ best bet is to hold onto him beyond the trade deadline this year, even if they would have liked to deal him.

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Despite Luzardo’s disappointing year, there are still plenty of impact arms who could be traded over the next few weeks. Here’s the latest look at the 10 best starting pitchers who could move before the July 30 trade deadline.

10. Erick Fedde, Chicago White Sox

After winning the KBO MVP a year ago, Fedde returned stateside on a two-year, $15 million deal that looks like a bargain for the White Sox. Across 18 starts this season, Fedde is 6-3 with a 3.13 ERA and 3.59 FIP.

First-year general manager Chris Getz isn’t going to get an earth-shattering return for Fedde, but there should be plenty of contending teams interested in bolstering the back end of their starting rotations that are willing to trade an enticing lottery ticket in the low levels of the minors for his services.

To claim the final spot, Fedde edged out a trio of Texas Rangers in Michael Lorenzen, Andrew Heaney and Jon Gray. His extra year of control was the tie-breaker over those three.

Meanwhile, Frankie Montas, Cal Quantrill and Paul Blackburn were other arms who narrowly missed out on this list.

9. Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays

Across 18 starts this season in Toronto, Kikuchi has a 4.12 ERA. That alone is serviceable for teams looking to improve their rotation depth. Then add in the fact that Kikuchi’s 3.61 FIP suggests he’s been a bit unlucky, and you start to realize that the former All-Star could be a pretty appealing trade candidate.

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Kikuchi isn’t a frontline starter, but there would be worse candidates to start the fourth game of a seven-game postseason series. Kikuchi could be particularly attractive to NL teams given that some of the top hitters in the senior circuit — Shohei Ohtani, Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Kyle Schwarber and Matt Olson are lefties.

There are two other Blue Jays on this list, but Kikuchi is by far the most likely to be traded because he’s going to be a free agent after the season.

8. Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Angels

Anderson only being at No. 8 might surprise some people, because the lefty has a 2.81 ERA and is headed to the All-Star Game for the second time in three years.

The counter to that is he has a 4.46 expected ERA and 4.52 FIP, meaning some level of regression is almost certainly coming. He also was a disaster in the first year of a three-year, $39 million pact with the Halos, pitching to a 5.43 ERA across 141 innings in 2023.

So, while his having another year of control could be seen as a positive for some teams, it’s not hard to see a scenario where he disappoints in the second half and an acquiring team is on the hook for $13 million next year.

7. Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays

Twice this season, lower back issues have landed Eflin on the injured list. Going back to the parts of seven seasons he spent with the Philadelphia Phillies, injuries — particularly to his knees — have been prevalent in the righty’s career.

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With that said, when Eflin is healthy, he’s had some really productive stretches. A year ago, he finished sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting after going 16-8 with a 3.50 ERA over a career-high 177 2/3 innings pitched for the Rays.

Eflin is due $18 million in 2025, which would be a relative bargain if he’s healthy. But suitors will have to weigh his injury history, particularly because the Rays will want more than a warm body in exchange if they’re going to trade the 30-year-old.

Back in May, USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported that the Atlanta Braves were “keeping a close eye on” Eflin.

6. Max Scherzer, Texas Rangers

Scherzer is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of this generation’s greatest pitchers. He’s also been something of a mercenary, willing to pitch for whatever team gives him the right combination of money and a chance to chase a championship.

How much Scherzer is willing to move is likely to be tested in the coming weeks, unless the Rangers get back in the postseason race.

Since the start of the 2021 season, Scherzer has pitched for four teams — the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets and the Rangers. He earned his second career World Series ring after being dealt to the Rangers last summer. The question is, how badly does Scherzer covet a third title?

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The guess based on watching his unmatched intensity over the last 17 years is Scherzer is as hungry for the third title as he was for the first. Does that mean he would waive his no-trade clause to go to another contender, knowing he would only be guaranteed a few months in that city?

It’s an interesting discussion, because there will be interest in Scherzer, who has a 2.70 ERA over his first three starts of the year. Set to turn 40 later this month, Scherzer is only going to get so many more bites at the apple.

5. Nathan Eovaldi, Texas Rangers

Eovaldi has had a fair amount of injuries over his 13-year career, but he’s also a two-time All-Star that has a top-five finish in AL Cy Young Award voting on his resume in the not-so-distant past (2021).

On top of that, Eovaldi has had success as both a starter and a reliever in October, with a 3.05 postseason ERA across 79 2/3 career postseason innings. Just a year ago, Eovaldi helped the Rangers to win their first World Series title. It was his second, having also won with the Boston Red Sox in 2018.

Eovaldi will gain the ability to opt into a $20 million salary for 2025 if he reaches 300 innings pitched between 2023 and 2024. If he declines that option, he would be owed a $2 million buyout. He’s currently at 231 innings between both years, meaning 300 is still in play (although perhaps not likely) if he remains healthy for the rest of the season.

The possibility of Eovaldi being more than a rental is going to play a major role in his trade candidacy. You wonder if any acquiring team would want to amend the deal so he’s guaranteed $20 million next season, and not just a rental.

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4. Chris Bassitt, Toronto Blue Jays

It may surprise some to see Bassitt ahead of Scherzer, his former Mets teammate. But since the start of the 2019 season, Bassitt has been one of the most steady pitchers in the sport, going 65-35 with a 3.39 ERA across nearly 850 innings pitched.

Mind you, Bassitt has also done this pitching in three completely different situations between Oakland, New York and Toronto.

What’s more, Bassitt wouldn’t be a rental, as he’s due to make $22 million in 2025, which feels like fair market value for the former All-Star.

Bassitt has an eight-team no-trade clause, and the Blue Jays may want to hold onto him if they expect to be contenders in 2025. But Bassitt sure would look great as the third arm in a World Series rotation.

3. Jack Flaherty, Detroit Tigers

Boy, how a year can change things. Last season, the Baltimore Orioles took a flier on Flaherty, acquiring him in a trade deadline deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. His results were poor with the O’s, as he posted a 6.75 ERA over just 34 2/3 innings.

Still, Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris took a risk in signing Flaherty to a one-year, $14 million deal and has been rewarded with the righty’s best performance since he placed fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting back in 2019.

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Across 15 starts this season, Flaherty has a 3.24 ERA and 115 strikeouts, sixth-most among all pitchers in the AL.

There’s a case to be made that the Tigers should hold onto Flaherty and try to sign the 28-year-old beyond this season, keeping him paired with Tarik Skubal in the rotation. If an extension isn’t reached, Detroit could extend a qualifying offer to Flaherty in the offseason, which he may very well accept.

However, unless Detroit is going to move Skubal — which they almost certainly aren’t — Flaherty offers the best path to getting some solid additions to the farm system this summer. And given his injury history, the Tigers might be best served trading him now while he’s pitching this well.

2. Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays

The aforementioned Bassitt has been a better pitcher for the Blue Jays than Gausman has in 2024 and is certainly a safer investment. But you could make the case that Gausman has the highest potential for elite return of any name on this list.

From 2021 to 2023, the only pitcher who posted a higher fWAR than Gausman’s 15.8 was Zack Wheeler.

After his third-place finish in AL Cy Young Award voting in 2023, we made a case on Just Baseball that Gausman’s five-year, $110 million deal — which he’s now in the third season of — was one of the most team-friendly in the sport.

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Gausman has underwhelmed this year, with a 4.64 ERA to show for 18 starts. It’s particularly concerning that a pitcher who uses his fastball just over 50% of the time has a -4 run value on it in 2024, as opposed to +16 last year.

The right-hander hasn’t seen a drastic drop in velocity, but teams will need to decide whether the issues Gausman has had with his fastball this year can be corrected, or if it’s the start of a 33-year-old declining.

If there’s a team able to get him back on track, not only would they get someone capable of starting Game 1 or 2 in a postseason series, but an ace that’s under contract for two more years beyond this season.

1. Garrett Crochet, Chicago White Sox

Crochet is an All-Star for the first time, and deservedly so. The former first-round pick leads the AL in FIP (2.43), and baseball in strikeouts (146), K/9 (12.5) and fWAR (3.7). When you consider that Crochet has two remaining arbitration years before being eligible to be a free agent, he’s clearly the best long-term play on this list.

Whether he’ll have the most impact on his new team in 2024 is another discussion.

Crochet has already pitched a career-high 105 1/3 innings this season. That comes after he missed the entire 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and made just 13 relief appearances at the MLB level a year ago. Crochet isn’t going to pitch 200 innings this year. He may not pitch 170.

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Whoever acquires Crochet is likely looking at using him out of the bullpen for some or all of the remainder of the season. He’s been a weapon in that role previously and could absolutely take down high-leverage innings in the postseason this year, before returning to the rotation in 2025.

Another possibility is that Crochet ramps down in August after being acquired, pitching only a couple innings per outing, before slowly building back up to being able to pitch, say, five innings late in the regular season and into the postseason. That feels like it would lead to an injury, ineffectiveness or both, but who knows.

So, Crochet is the No. 1 name on this list, based upon both how he’s pitched so far this year and what he could do in 2025 and 2026. But if you’re a team hell-bent on winning the World Series in 2024, some of the other names might actually be better fits.