Pros and cons of six main candidates for change

tick tock Time is passing and the trade deadline is approaching, scheduled for Tuesday at 6 pm ET. The time has come to make decisions.

Teams can spend weeks analyzing a potential change target, but the decision whether or not to act comes down to two main factors.

Josh Bell, 1B, Nationals
Contract: Will be a free agent after 2022

Pros: The switch-hitter has 85 home runs and a 132 OPS+ over his past four seasons, including a career-high 153 OPS+ in 2022. Bell is hitting .291 or better against all three pitching classifications (fastballs, breakups, changeups) this year. He’s an unusual slugger, not hitting that many swings, striking out just 13.5% of the time.

Against: Bell appears to have traded power for more contact this year — though his strikeout rate fell 4.3 percentage points, his power-hitting average fell more than 10 points to 41.4%. He has a projection of just 20 home runs. So if your team needs power, Bell is not the best option.

Wilson Contreras, C, Cubs
Contract: Will be a free agent after 2022

Pros: The Venezuelan has long been one of the best offensive catchers in the game, but this year he has raised his game to another level, hitting 14 home runs and posting a career-high 134 OPS+ in 83 games with Chicago. When you factor in the difference between Contreras and the rest of the receivers who are on most teams in contention, the 30-year-old mask might represent the best offensive reinforcement for a club at the 2022 trade deadline.

Cons: From a defensive standpoint, integrating a new catcher midway through the season is difficult for everyone because of the necessary adjustment with the pitching staff. A team could choose to use the Venezuelan as a designated hitter, but they would still be paying the price of acquiring an all-star mask.

Ian Happ, OF, Cubs
Contract: Under contractual control until 2023

Pros: The Cubs moved Happ around the diamond in his first five seasons, but he appears to have found a home in left field this year and is coming off his first All-Star call. The switch hitter has a 128 OPS+ in 2022, rebounding from the 102 OPS+ he dropped last year.

Cons: Happ has the lowest strikeout rate of his career this year (21.5%), but that has cost him a decline in the quality of his contact. The 27-year-old’s barrel rate (7.25%), his hard-contact average (39.9%) and sweet-spot hits (31.6%) all rank mediocre.

Tyler Mahle, RHP, Reds
Contract: Under contractual control until 2023

Pros: Mahle doesn’t turn on the speed radar, but his four-seam fastball is incredibly effective, generating an elite number of 29.2% swings on hit, resulting in 207 strikeouts of his 317 total between 2021 and 2022. The 27-year-old pitcher has with expected numbers – .205 xBA and 3.30 xERA – that are much better than his actual stats (.232 ERA against and 4.48 ERA).

Cons: None of his secondary pitches, including his splitter, slider and cutter, are up to par with his four-seam fastball, and he doesn’t produce hit-and-run swings consistently, which has led him to walk 3.6 per nine innings.

Frankie Montas, RHP, Athletics
Contract: Under contractual control until 2023

Pros: Montas has been one of the best starters in baseball since last summer, posting a 2.69 ERA with 224 strikeouts in 204 innings over 35 starts. The 29-year-old Dominican is under contractual control until 2023, so the team that acquires him will have him in this postseason and the next.

Cons: Montas surpassed his previous career high by almost 100 innings last year and was dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder in early July. He is now back, but the injury is still a point of interest.

Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Angels
Contract: Will be a free agent after 2022

Pros: After missing all of 2020 and much of 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Thor has successfully returned this year with the Angels. Aside from a rough May (5.40 ERA), the right-hander has been a consistent starter for the Angels, pitching at least five innings and allowing no more than three earned runs in 10 of his 15 starts.

Cons: Syndergaard used to hit 98 mph consistently, and now he’s averaging 94 mph with his fastball. He has had trouble producing off swings. His 22.9% hitting swings is in the 31st percentile and he has struck out a career low of 18.9%.

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Pros and cons of six main candidates for change