The Daily Sweat: All eyes on D.C. as Jacob deGrom makes 2022 debut on MLB trade deadline day

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There are two significant, concurrent MLB storylines at play on Tuesday in Washington D.C.

For one, the trade deadline is fast approaching at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Washington Nationals star Juan Soto is the biggest piece available on the trade block. The 23-year-old slugger declined a long-term extension from the team earlier this season and is now expected to be moved before the deadline.

The Nationals have the worst record in baseball and are hoping to yield a large crop of prospects in exchange for Soto in order to jump-start a rebuild. Soto, a two-time All-Star who is already five years into his MLB career, is widely-viewed as one of baseball’s top talents. The Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals are among the teams reportedly in hot pursuit of Soto.

It’d be a surprise if Soto wasn’t traded. But if the Nats can’t find a deal they like, Soto could be in the lineup as Jacob deGrom makes his long-awaited return to the New York Mets’ rotation on Tuesday.

The Nationals host the Mets at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, an hour after the deadline. And for deGrom, it marks his 2022 debut. The star right-hander won the Cy Young in 2018 and 2019 but has not pitched since July 7, 2021 due to arm issues. In 2021, it was forearm tightness and an elbow strain. This year, it’s been an issue with his scapula.

FILE - New York Mets' Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch during the first inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in New York. New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is finally ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment. Sidelined by injuries since last July, the two-time Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to start Sunday night, July 3, 2022 for Class A St. Lucie against the Jupiter Hammerheads.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Sidelined by injuries since last July, two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is set to make his 2022 debut on Tuesday vs. the Washington Nationals. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Following four rehab starts in the minor leagues, deGrom is ready to make his return to the majors. The Mets are significant favorites Tuesday in Washington, listed at -300 at BetMGM.

The presence of deGrom should be a major boost for the Mets, who have had a fantastic season but are trying to hold off the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Mets are 65-37 overall and hold a 3.5-game edge over the Braves in the division standings.

The Mets are currently +650 to win the World Series, +275 to win the NL pennant and -300 to win the NL East at BetMGM.

Those World Series odds are the fourth-best odds in baseball behind the New York Yankees (+325), Los Angeles Dodgers (+350) and Houston Astros (+450).

Astros, Braves back in action after deadline deals

While the biggest blockbusters of the deadline may still be yet to come, there were plenty of significant moves made on Monday. Two World Series contenders — the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros — were particularly busy as they look to make deep runs into the postseason.

The Braves added outfielder Robbie Grossman from the Detroit Tigers and veteran starter Jake Odorizzi in a deal with the Astros.

The Braves hope Grossman, who hit 23 homers in 2021 but has struggled this season, will help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Adam Duvall. Odorizzi, meanwhile, has a 3.75 ERA in 12 starts and will provide a quality depth option for Atlanta’s rotation as they try to gain ground on the Mets.

The Braves, the reigning World Series champion, have +900 odds to repeat at BetMGM. Additionally, the Braves are +450 to win the NL pennant and +240 to overtake the Mets and win the division.

For Tuesday night’s matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Braves are -250 favorites at BetMGM as Philadelphia goes with a bullpen game following expected starter Kyle Gibson’s placement on the bereavement list. The Phillies, who have won five straight, are +190 underdogs.

In the Odorizzi trade, the Astros received left-handed reliever Will Smith. Smith was the closer for the Braves in 2021 but has had a diminished role in 2022. He was one of three significant additions for the Astros on Monday.

The club also acquired Trey Mancini from the Baltimore Orioles and catcher Christian Vasquez from the Boston Red Sox. Vasquez is a significant upgrade offensively at catcher while Mancini provides a right-handed power bat with the ability to play first base and the corner outfield spots.

At 67-37 overall, the Astros have a 12-game lead in the AL West standings and have the third-best World Series odds at BetMGM. The Astros dropped Game 1 of their three-game series with the Red Sox on Monday night. On Tuesday night, the Astros are -190 favorites at BetMGM as Vasquez potentially makes his Astros debut against his former teammates.

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 8:  Christian Vasquez #7 of the Boston Red Sox bats during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 8, 2022 in Anaheim, California.  The Red Sox defeated the Angels 1-0.  (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Christian Vasquez was traded to the Houston Astros on Monday. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

What else is going on in MLB?

There are 16 games in all on Tuesday with the sometimes uncomfortable drama of the trade deadline looming in the background.

The Dodgers, rumored to be one of the teams in hot pursuit of Soto, are -135 road favorites over the San Francisco Giants. The San Diego Padres, who are also after Soto, host the Colorado Rockies in the day’s only afternoon game and are -250 favorites.

Elsewhere, the Yankees have also been busy in the trade market, adding outfielder Andrew Benintendi and pitchers Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino and Scott Effross as they bolster an already-loaded roster.

While Benintendi has already seen action in pinstripes, those bullpen acquisitions could make their debuts as the Yankees host the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. The Yankees are -165 favorites at BetMGM.

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