With the calendar flipping to July, trade season has officially arrived. We’ve already seen a couple early deals. The Angels swung a pair of late-June moves for stopgap veteran help on the infield. The Rangers closed out that month with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, arguably the top rental reliever available and a player who was ranked fifth on an early draft of this list.

As we do every summer, MLBTR will look at the top deadline candidates. This is not a strict ranking of players’ trade value, nor is it solely about likelihood of being moved. We’re trying to balance both of those things, which inherently involves subjectivity. A player in the top ten might have significantly less appeal than someone at the bottom of the list, but if they’re far more likely to be dealt for a return of some note, they’ll be higher on this kind of ranking.

With that brief methodology aside, let’s get to the list:


1. Lucas Giolito, SP, White Sox

The #4 player on our recent Free Agent Power Rankings, Giolito is the only member of our top six free agents who has much of a chance to move at the deadline. That makes him a natural fit to top this list.

The White Sox got off to a slow start and have never pulled themselves out. They’re vaguely kept afloat by an AL Central in which no team has consistently been better than .500, but they’re 7 1/2 games back with a -59 run differential. It’s division or bust, and they’re only alive in the division because of the other clubs’ mediocrity.

Giolito isn’t quite an ace, but he has put last year’s struggles behind him and again looks like a #2 arm on a contender. He has been durable, pounds the strike zone, and misses bats at an above-average clip. Over 18 starts, the 6’6″ righty has a 3.50 ERA with a quality 25.6% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk percentage. He’s a clear playoff-caliber starter on a market that might not have many of those.

The White Sox could make him a qualifying offer if they hold onto him for the stretch run. That’s theoretically possible given the divisional context, but they’d get much more future value if they traded him this summer. Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote in May that the Sox were unlikely to try to retain Giolito past the 2023 campaign.


2. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Nationals

Candelario is a virtual lock to move within the next few weeks. Washington signed the third baseman to a $5MM deal after he was non-tendered by the Tigers. The move has worked out beautifully, as the switch-hitting infielder has posted a .261/.338/.477 line with strong defensive metrics.

Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic last week he was setting a high asking price on Candelario early in deadline season. That’s understandable with a month to go, but the club eventually figures to pull the trigger on the best offer available. Candelario would be a fringe qualifying offer candidate, so Washington’s best chance to recoup future value is by moving him this summer.