Keynan Middleton

Best relief pitchers available ahead of the 2023 MLB trade deadline

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There is an array of relief pitchers available for trade in 2023. As the 2023 trade deadline approaches, at least half the league will be looking for any upgrades they can make to their roster.

Of course, not everyone can pursue the best players available at the deadline, and sometimes the most impactful trades do not hit the headlines at first. Marginal improvements can make all the difference when one or two games can decide if a team make or miss the postseason. The same can be said for the high stakes of Playoff series.

Relief pitchers available for trade in 2023

Relievers trade rumors have already resulted in one high-profile deal with the Texas Rangers acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Kansas City Royals.

If relief pitchers are among your team’s biggest trade deadline needs, you will want to know about the best pitchers available. We have identified the leading relievers set to be on the market…

Keynan Middleton

A free agent at year’s end, Keynan Middleton is enjoying the best season of his career after a couple of rough campaigns. The White Sox should be sellers at the deadline, and numerous teams will consider Middleton among the leading relief pitcher trade candidates.


He’s in the 90th percentile in strikeout rate, and sits in the 96th percentile when it comes to whiff rate and chase rate.

The former Angel has had reverse splits throughout his career, which have been exaggerated further in 2023 with considerable increase in his changeup usage. Lefties have just a .516 OPS against the right-hander this season.

Carl Edwards Jr.

Out since mid-June with a shoulder issue, Carl Edwards Jr.reportedly began throwing again at the end of the month. He looks like he will be healthy in good time before the deadline.

Edwards’ career-low strikeouts per nine and 3.88 FIP aren’t much to get excited about, but it would be interesting to see what another team would do with him given his strong underlying metrics on his off-speed stuff.

A free agent at the end of the year, Edwards is a good depth option for contenders. He’s made 295 career appearances, and pitched 11 postseason frames for the Cubs across 2016 and 2017.


Some might contact the Nats about Hunter Harvey, but Washington should look to hold onto the former top prospect, given that he’s under team control through 2025.

Chris Stratton

Chris Stratton might not be the first name to come to mind when thinking of relief pitcher trade candidates. The former Giant, though, should be attracting interest from any front office interested in relief pitchers available for trade in 2023.

Famed for his elite spin rates in the early stages of his career as a starter, Stratton has grown into a solid to good reliever with the Pirates and Cardinals, posting an xERA under 3.90 in three of four seasons.

With the Cardinals facing some seismic decisions, Stratton is not going to be headlining their trade news, but he could be a very interesting pickup. Watch out for a new team switching his pick mix to cut down on the slider, increase the curveball and perhaps try a few more changeups.

Joe Kelly

With a $9.5 million team option for 2023, Joe Kelly grants flexibility to potential suitors if the Chicago White Sox accept their fate for this season.

Ignore Kelly’s 4.82 ERA. His 3.21 FIP, 2.99 xERA and 30.8% strikeout rate are what we really care about here. Kelly’s results might suggest he has dropped off, but his underlying metrics remain near-elite.

A two-time World Series winner with over 58 Playoff innings to his name, Kelly should be a man in demand on the relief pitcher trade market.

Brad Hand

A three-time All-Star with 131 career saves, Brad Hand might seem like one of the best players on the relief pitcher trade market. The southpaw has an ERA starting with a five, however, and his overall numbers are pretty ordinary.

Hand is a long way from the guy who got traded with Adam Cimber for then-top prospect Francisco Mejia. The veteran is no longer a lockdown eighth or ninth-inning guy. Instead, he should be used as a lefty specialist. Yes, this role has waned with the three-batter minimum, but there are still opportunities to work out the right matchups.

Hand’s slider has a .113 xwOBA against left-handed hitters. He’s allowed just a .495 OPS in such matchups, compared with a 1.097 against righties. Get him to the right team, with the right manager, and Hand could be one of the bargains of the trade deadline.

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