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Potential trade fits for players on the rise

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Memorial Day has come and gone, and July 4 will be here before we know it. Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities — which include the MLB Draft — will take place the following week, after which trade season will take center stage leading up to the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

But as teams continue to figure out their place in the postseason picture — and perhaps, more importantly, whether front offices believe their teams are good enough to make a run should they reach October — scouts will continue to watch players around the league as they contemplate which players might help them accomplish their ultimate goals.

Here are 10 players (listed alphabetically) who have been putting on a show for those scouts, along with some contenders who might be potential fits:

The Royals don’t have a ton of everyday talent to move this summer, but Kansas City’s bullpen should offer some prime opportunities to sell. Chapman has had a solid rebound this season, including a recent stretch of 11 outings during which he’s posted a 1.69 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings.

Barlow’s season-long numbers aren’t as good as Chapman’s, but since a slow start that saw him post a 7.48 ERA in his first seven outings, Barlow has been excellent, pitching to a 2.37 ERA with an opponent OPS of .514 and 28 strikeouts over his past 18 outings (19 innings) since April 22.

Potential fits: Brewers, Dodgers, Rangers

Bieber’s inclusion on this list isn’t an indictment of Cleveland’s postseason chances. As of Monday, the Guardians sat just 2 1/2 games behind the Twins in the AL Central. But Cleveland entered the week 33-38, and considering Bieber will be in a position to earn a raise from his $10 million salary in his final year of arbitration next winter, there’s a chance the Guardians could move him if they don’t view themselves as true championship contenders. Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young winner, has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his 15 starts this season, throwing a league-high 95 innings.

Potential fits: Dodgers, Mets, Orioles

Candelario has rebounded nicely from his disappointing 2022 season, particularly in the past five weeks, as he’s posted a 1.008 OPS since May 15 to go along with his plus defense (his 7 outs above average rank in the 98th percentile at the hot corner). The 29-year-old is owed about $3 million for the remainder of the season and is slated to become a free agent this winter.

Potential fits: Mariners, Marlins, Phillies

After allowing 10 ER in just 2 1/3 innings against the Angels on May 4, Flaherty posted a 2.06 ERA over his next six starts, helping St. Louis to victories in five of those games. The right-hander — who is slated to become a free agent at the end of the season — was roughed up by the Giants (6 ER in 4 1/3 innings) on June 13 and by the Nationals (6 ER in 6 1/3 innings), but he would be a valuable piece for most contenders seeking a rotation upgrade.

Potential fits: Braves, Giants, Rays

Giolito has pitched to a 3.14 ERA in nine starts since the beginning of May, including a 1.50 ERA in his first three June outings, but the White Sox came into the week 11 games under .500. They will have some difficult decisions to make — for instance, do they trade controllable arms such as Dylan Cease and/or Michael Kopech? Giolito will be a free agent at the end of the season, making it a near certainty that he will be wearing a new uniform by August.

Potential fits: Astros, Dodgers, Phillies

Peterson isn’t the type of acquisition that will get a fan base jazzed up, but the 33-year-old should be able to help a contender with his positional flexibility. Peterson, who was part of postseason teams in Milwaukee in 2020 and ’21, has an .862 OPS since the beginning of June, posting a slash line of .306/.393/.469. He’s owed roughly $2.5 million this season and will earn $5 million in 2024, but given his ability to play second base, third base and the outfield (he’s actually played every position other than catcher at some point in his career), Peterson can be a valuable commodity in a bench role.

Potential fits: Astros, Marlins, Twins

Pham’s one-year, $6 million deal has proven to be a good value for the Mets, who have gotten solid production from the 35-year-old while several of their regulars have struggled at the plate. Since May 28, Pham has an eye-popping 1.141 OPS with a .352 average, four home runs and 18 RBIs in 16 games, but the Mets are going to have to rely on their stars if they hope to turn things around. If the season continues to get away from them, Pham is the ideal trade piece for a club that doesn’t seem ready to blow anything up.

Potential fits: Blue Jays, Guardians, Rangers

The 30-year-old southpaw is having the finest season of his career, posting a 1.40 ERA over his past nine starts to give him a season-long mark of 2.13. After allowing seven earned runs and three homers in his first 10 innings of 2023, Rodríguez has given up nine earned runs and three long balls over his past 57 2/3 innings, holding hitters to a .519 OPS. E-Rod can opt out of the final three years and $49 million of his contract at the end of the season, making him a likely candidate to be moved.

Potential fits: Angels, D-backs, Mets

Stroman is poised to become the jewel of trade season, as he entered the week tied for the NL wins lead (eight) while leading the league with a 2.45 ERA. In the six starts since his disastrous 2 2/3-inning, six-earned-run clunker against the Twins on May 14, Stroman is 6-0 with a 1.51 ERA. The 32-year-old can opt out of the final year and $21 million of his deal this offseason, so the Cubs might choose to move him rather than lose him for nothing, as he is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after the season.

Potential fits: Angels, Dodgers, Padres

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