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Do You Know These Military-Themed Books That Became Movies?

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Do You Know These Military-Themed Books That Became Movies?

Welcome to Great Adaptations, the Book Review’s monthly quiz about books that have been made into television shows, movies, theatrical productions and more. In honor of Veterans Day later this week, this month’s challenge is about military-themed books — fiction and nonfiction — that were transformed into films. Tap or click your answers to the five questions below.

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From Rory's hometown, the angst of McIlroy

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From Rory's hometown, the angst of McIlroy

Follow live coverage of day one at The Open 2024 from Royal Troon today

HOLYWOOD, Northern Ireland — About 3,000 miles from here, Rory McIlroy walked along Manhattan’s West Side five weeks ago; shoulders pushed up, head slung down, earbuds in. He strolled the High Line, a repurposed freight rail running from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street. The 1.5-mile footpath towers 30 feet over 11th Avenue, above the fray, but through the noise of America’s busiest city.

That’s where McIlroy went to get away from it all.

He needed to process the latest close call in a career coming to be defined by them. This one? Especially cruel. Pinehurst. Three bogeys in the final four holes. Those missed putts. Two feet and 11 inches on the 16th. Three feet and nine inches on the 18th. A solo runner-up finish at the U.S. Open. Again.

McIlroy wanted the blur of a big city, where everything is fast, faceless. It’s what he prefers nowadays. He walked alone, hidden under the brim of a baseball cap, then dipped into Milos, a world-class Mediterranean restaurant in Hudson Yards. He elbowed up at a bar seat, checked his phone and opened a text message from a close friend.

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That message? It asked if he’d just been walking the High Line. Apparently, McIlroy had been spotted. Word got around.

“It’s hard to get any sort of privacy these days,” he says. “But it’s nice to try to blend in as much as possible.”

Ages ago, McIlroy found solace along the narrow streets of Holywood, this small town where the butcher knows the baker, and the bartender knows the banker, and the bookmakers know the bookkeepers. They all live here, tucked between Belfast and Bangor, along the shoreline of Belfast Lough, the inlet connecting this section of Northern Ireland to the Irish Sea. A little more than 10,000 people. Solidly middle-class. Wealth around the edges. A mix of Protestant and Catholic. They’re abundantly proud to have raised generations of kids well isolated from the religious tensions that long defined the region.

As one local puts it: “A lovely little town. Everybody has grown up with everybody.”

Holywood was the early proxy used to explain Rory to the world upon his arrival in 2008 as a potential superstar. Sportswriters and broadcasters traveled here like pilgrims. More and more from his breakout U.S. Open win in 2011 to his thunderclap in 2014 — winning his third and fourth majors in succession at age 25.

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The visitors drove rental cars down High Street. They squeezed into parking spaces and popped into one business after another. Holywood’s main strip is dotted by coffee shops, cafes and retail shops. You can’t read a story from back then without a mention of Skinners Bakery, where owner Valerie Baker designed biscuits and buns with Young Rory’s face. In 2014, after McIlroy’s win at the PGA Championship, she told the Belfast Telegraph: “It’s become something of a tradition now. This is the fourth time we’ve baked our special Rory biscuits. They always sell out.”

Next door to Skinners is Orrs Butchers. That’s where writers found Stephen Moore. He’d say how much the town was buzzing. How Rory put little Holywood on the map. How he was going to win the next major, and then the next one after that.

Inevitably, the visitors would head up the hill, deeper into town, to Holywood Golf Club. Where Rory learned the game. Where local liquor laws were winked at as family and friends watched final rounds of major tournaments long after last call. Where television cameras broadcast them cheering their boy, Rory. He would win, return to town with a trophy, and everyone would be together again.

Today, things are different, but Holywood remains.


It’s a Friday afternoon and Paul the barman is looking for the key again.

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Two Americans are coming off the 18th hole and want their turn. Rory’s Corner, a mini custom-built McIlroy museum in the middle of Holywood GC’s clubhouse, is open to the public. The walls are covered. Pictures of a 15-year-old with big freckles and bigger hair. Framed newspapers of long ago wins. Plaques. Memorabilia.

So for the umpteenth time today, the trophy case is opened, and replicas of the Claret Jug and Wanamaker Trophy are handed over. Big smiles. Pictures snapped.

Later, two Aussies will come in to do the same. Paul will fetch the keys, take them to the trophy case, pop it open again.

Shortly after that, near sunset, a sightseeing bus from a docked cruise ship will climb the hills of Holywood, turn down Demesne Road, and pull onto Nun’s Walk, the tiny road leading up to the clubhouse. The Home of Rory McIlroy is a stop on the tour.

“All day, every day, seven days a week,” says Stephen Tullin, president of Holywood Golf Club.

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You can make a reasonable case no club is so associated with a player it produced as Holywood is with Rory. Arnold Palmer and Latrobe Country Club? Jack Nicklaus and Scioto? It’s a short list.

“I don’t know what course Tiger Woods was involved with as a lad,” says Tony Denvir, a Holywood GC member. “But everyone knows Rory McIlroy was, and is, a member of Holywood Golf Club.”

The reason, it seems, is the fairy tale, one told so many times. Born in 1989 to Gerry and Rosie McIlroy, Rory McIlroy was immediately a prodigy. His parents worked multiple jobs, trading night and day shifts, assuring the boy every opportunity. Gerry, a fine player in Belfast’s amateur golf leagues, taught his son the game and let him loose at Holywood. He was so good, so soon, the club made him a member at age 7. Rory left high school at 16 to focus on a game that grew larger than life. The result was a young lad coming from a working man’s club to conquer the world.

“Nobody was ready for what happened,” says Barry Dobbin.

Now 78, Dobbin still seems to be wrapping his head around it all. A lifetime ago, he owned a timber-frame housing kit company and employed Gerry as an insulation installer. He, Gerry, and Gerry’s father, Jimmy (Rory’s grandfather), played golf together. Dobbin drove Gerry and Rosie to their 1988 wedding, then to the reception at Pips International, the best-known nightclub in Belfast.

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He remembers Rory as a baby.

And he remembers that baby suddenly becoming the biggest story in the golfing world.

“It all happened so quickly,” Dobbin says. “And suddenly we were this magic place.”

The waves of tourists that come through today want exactly that. A piece of magic. Americans, Canadians, Swiss, French, Japanese. They fork over greens fees to play what amounts to a simple, short, 120-year-old parkland course. They ask to hear all the stories. They take pictures of the sign in front of Rory’s reserved parking spot.

On this day, a nondescript sedan is parked there.

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“Oh, that’s Paul’s,” Denvir says.


The sound on the 18th green at Pinehurst last month was guttural. A gasping, shrieking, sighing, moaning anguish. The thousands of fans surrounding the final hole of the 2024 U.S. Open couldn’t believe McIlroy missed that putt. At the same time, they absolutely could believe it. They’ve seen it before. That’s how a major tournament winless streak goes from 36 to 37.

In Holywood? All was quiet that night.

“Back in the day, Rory in contention at a U.S. Open, this place would’ve been jam-packed for that,” Denvir says. “Bar would’ve been full. Overflow seating in the other room. Would’ve been fantastic craic.”

That was back when the bar stayed open late and the cameras came out. BBC, Sky Sports. Maybe ESPN. Photographers snapping away.

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“That’s died off a wee bit,” Denvir says.

Instead, everyone watched the misadventures of Pinehurst from home.

Blank faces in front of the flickering screens.

“Pinehurst was … ” Denvir says, lifting his hands and dropping them. “You really could tell that the wee lad just wanted to stand there and cry. He was obviously heartbroken. It was so hard to watch.”

Sitting on a deck perched over Holywood’s 18th green, Denvir looks over at Tullin, who has known McIlroy’s family for 50-some-odd years. Tullin remembers watching Rory play junior competitions when the bag was taller than the boy, when he’d step to the tee and the whispers would begin. “Who’s this now? Oh, that’s Rory McIlroy.”

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“We were heartbroken as well, yeah?” Tullin says, looking back at Denvir.

“Absolutely. Just stunned,” Denvir says, pausing, thinking, “Ten years now, since he’s won a major? Ten. Just incredible.”

“It is incredible.”

“2014, yeah? That’s just…“

“Crazy, isn’t it?”

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These are the conversations that have replaced the parties at Holywood Golf Club. The lover’s lament, so to speak. It’s impossible to change the topic when there’s only one topic. So pints are poured and Rory is discussed. The keening of near-misses or summoning of old times. Eventually, inevitably, his face pops up on the TV screen and everyone stops.

The whole town is subscribed.


“Hi, I’m wondering if Stephen Moore is here?”

“Ah, s—,” the old man says, eyes pressed closed, hands atop the cold metal of a butcher’s display, “what’ve I done now?”

Meet the most popular man in Holywood. Moore was born here in 1965, took a job at Orrs at age 15, bought the shop years later, continued working, sold it a few years ago, and now shows up each Saturday, pulling on an apron, mainly so he can still see everyone, and so they can see him. Moore can not go more than two minutes without being interru…

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“Hi, Tommy!” he hollers.
“Stephen!”
“You good?”
“I’m fine.”
“Good man.”

Moore was interviewed by the likes of ESPN and the Washington Post back in 2011, when Rory was on the rocket and the Open Championship was on its way to Royal Portrush, only 60 miles from Holywood.

“It was a phenomenon,” he remembers.

Moore went to school with Brian McIlroy, the youngest of Rory’s uncles, and worked at Orrs alongside Eva McIlroy, Rory’s grandmother. She drove a Volkswagen Beetle, but couldn’t park it. So she’d arrive at work, leave the VW in the middle of the street, and tell Young Stephen to go park it. Later, Moore’s sister married Colm McIlroy, another of Rory’s uncles.

Today, all the McIlroys still live in Holywood. Colm runs a pressure-washing business and plays golf out of HGC. Gerry and Rosie split time between Northern Ireland and the United States. When they’re in town, Gerry can be found each morning on the 4-mile stretch of beach from Seahill to Holywood. He likes to walk alone, Moore says.

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“Down to earth, solid people,” he adds, waving to a passerby.

“Heyyy, Sam.”
“Hello, Stephen!”
“You get that thing sorted?”
“I did, I did.”
“Good, good. Cheers.”

Moore remembers both childhood Rory bouncing down High Street as a kid and, only a few years later, a freshly famous Rory drawing crowds and newspaper photographers when stopping for coffee. He couldn’t imagine such attention.

“Hi, Stephen!” a passing woman says.
“Hi, Annie! Go sit in your garden and enjoy this weather, would ya!”

Moore watched the U.S. Open at his house. A few mates. A few beers. They thought it was over as Rory teed off on 15. The boys damn near began celebrating.

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“Two silly putts,” he says. “Everyone was heartbroken.”

It’s odd, like storms in one sea changing the currents upon another shore. Even though he’s not there — and hasn’t been here in at least a year or two — as Rory goes, so goes the Holywood. There’s the buildup to each major, that this will be the one. Then the letdown. McIlroy has 11 top-five finishes in the 37 majors since his last win, including three second-place finishes in the last three years. It didn’t seem like anything could be more wrenching than the near-miss at St. Andrews in 2022, but Pinehurst was somehow worse.

So here sits Holywood, waiting for time to change.

“I think it’d just be a relief, to tell you the truth — to just see ‘em get it off his back,” Moore says. “I think he’s just trying too hard sometimes. Who can blame ’em? He’s won loads of championships, but this major thing is just following him around.”


At The Maypole, a pub in Holywood’s town center, you’ll find things can begin to feel odd after 10 or 15 minutes. Then it hits you — the bar is full, but also quiet. Everyone is talking, but not shouting. No music is playing. No TV is on. A sign by the door reads: “In the interest of good conversation and serious drinking, please refrain from using mobile phones.”

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This place is a free competition of ideas, and when it comes to Rory, everyone has an opinion.

One local philosopher, eyebrows raised toward the ceiling, slows his brogue to say McIlroy needs to stop speaking to the media and only worry about playing golf.

Others have their own varying thoughts, namely, the man is worth multiple hundreds of millions, so, yeah, it’s tough to feel too bad. “Poor Rory?” one said. “I don’t think so.”

But even those cynics want to see McIlroy win again, if only for a change of conversation.

Plenty in town are suspicious of an out-of-towner. Antennae are up, assuming questions about golf will lead to questions about Rory’s personal life, one month after he withdrew his petition to divorce wife Erica Stoll after a seven-year marriage. Seeing a notebook, plenty in Holywood kindly scooted away.

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The instinct, of course, is to protect.

He is theirs, not ours.


Rory McIlroy’s major tournament winless streak extended to 37 at the 2024 U.S. Open.  (Luke Walker / Getty Images)

Walking off the 18th green at Royal Troon on Monday, 21-year-old Tom McKibbin folded his arms, thinking about home. He grew up in Newtownabbey, across the Belfast Lough, about 12 miles from Holywood. Growing up, he spent his days playing on Rory’s old course, training in facilities installed by Rory and, after developing into an elite talent, answering constant questions about being The Next Rory.

McKibbin turned professional in April 2021 at age 18, just as Rory did. This year, he won the European Open in Germany — his first tournament championship on the DP World Tour. Cameras returned to Holywood to capture members’ reactions.

This week, McKibbin is appearing in his first Open Championship. He says he feels comfortable. A top-40 finish in last month’s U.S. Open — his first career major — was reassuring. Plus, he’s getting older and is out on his own more. While McKibbin lives at home with his parents in the summer, he now spends part of the calendar in Dubai and is eying an eventual move to the States — “hopefully someday soon.”

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On a recent return trip home, he got a glimpse of how such success changes things.

“Suddenly a lot more people know you at home,” McKibbin says. “I guess that’s sort of what you sign up for.”

McKibbin is a product of what McIlroy means to Holywood. There’s been charitable work — both seen and unseen. There’s been loads of money made off his draw to the town. According to those at the club, he helped keep the place afloat during COVID-19 and single-handedly put €800,000 into clubhouse renovations. He pumped financing into an expanded junior program, thinking that, if every kid in the area wants to be Rory McIlroy, they should be able to practice where he played.

Part of the clubhouse renovations Rory paid for included the installation of a modern gym, one for him to use when in town, whenever he visits the massive property he owns. Though it’s been awhile, he’s been known to show up at the club in shorts and T-shirt, wearing earbuds, to get in a workout. “He’s totally normal when he’s here,” Tullin says. “Like he just wants to be normal.”

But that’s the hard part. The longer he’s gone, the harder it is to be normal.

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“When you go home seldomly, it’s almost like you’re more of a novelty,” McIlroy said last week. “It’s sort of counterintuitive.”

Perhaps there needs to be a reason for a proper reunion.

And perhaps this could be it.

Stephen Moore says he played a round at Holywood with Colm McIlroy the day after the U.S. Open. The two smacked shots and recounted that impossible ending at Pinehurst. According to Stephen, Colm decided to fire off a text message to Rory. Something like, “Well, nephew, get ‘em the next time.”

The phone dinged back. Rory replied that the loss only made him more determined to win at Troon.

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Wouldn’t that be something? After all this time? As of now, the plan is for the bar at Holywood Golf Club to stay open on Sunday. Maybe this is the one.

(Illustration: Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic; photos: Brian Lawless /PA Images, Luke Walker, Saype / Belfast Photo Festival)

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How Angel City became 'the most valuable women’s sports team in the world'

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How Angel City became 'the most valuable women’s sports team in the world'

On Wednesday, Angel City FC became “the most valuable women’s sports team in the world” after the club entered into a definitive agreement for Willow Bay and Bob Iger to become the new controlling owners.

The team’s board of directors unanimously approved the sale via a vote, but it still must be approved by the NWSL, the sport’s top women’s league in the United States. The sale is expected to close in the next 30 to 60 days.

Bay, dean of the Los Angeles-based USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, have acquired the controlling stake of the club at a total valuation of $250million (£192m), and have committed to an additional $50m in investment. Bay will serve as the club’s primary representative on the NWSL board of governors and also serve on and control Angel City’s board.

“We are so excited to be here,” Bay told The Athletic before the announcement. “I keep thinking how historic this moment is — historic in sports and in women’s sports. What we’re seeing now is breathtaking, and it’s only the beginning of the ascent, and that’s for women’s sports but particularly for this team.”

The dollar figures attached to the sale will make history.

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According to Angel City’s official press release, the $250million enterprise valuation makes it “the most valuable women’s sports team in the world”. While there’s no official list, a $250m valuation outstrips the most valuable team in women’s basketball’s WNBA (the Las Vegas Aces at $140m, per Sportico, earlier this year) and the Women’s Super League in England (Chelsea has explored the sale of a minority stake in its women’s team with a total valuation around $200m).

Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman of the United States, recently visited Angel City’s practice facility to highlight the efforts of Kamala Harris, the U.S. vice president, to promote gender equality. He called the sale a “great statement” for the league.

“The fact that people like Bob Iger and Willow Bay are potentially investing in that team is a great statement about the health of the league and the prospects going forward, especially with the media,” Emhoff told The Athletic on Tuesday during the Olympics send-off game for the U.S. women’s national team.

Originally founded by actor Natalie Portman and entrepreneurs Kara Nortman and Julie Uhrman, the expansion team was the unexpected result of connections between Portman, Nortman and the USWNT players’ association via Time’s Up. The three brought on businessman Alexis Ohanian as the club’s largest shareholder and controlling owner before the team’s launch in 2020. Despite that title, Ohanian did not actually control the Angel City board, writing on social media that it was “one of many hard lessons (he) learned as a first-time sports team owner”.

The club also added dozens of smaller investors, among them former USWNT players, including Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Lauren Holiday, as well as celebrities and other famous athletes, such as Billie Jean King, Jennifer Garner and Uzo Aduba.

Angel City has largely struggled on the field since starting play in 2022 — though they did make the 2023 NWSL playoffs before being knocked out in the first round — but the team has been a runaway success from a business perspective.

Wednesday’s $250million valuation is a massive step up from last year’s Sportico figures, which Angel City led at $180m, and the Los Angeles club laps the rest of the NWSL in revenue. It makes more than $30m a year, about double that of the next highest, fellow Californians San Diego Wave.

This year, Angel City’s four primary owners voted to hire New York investment bank Moelis & Company to find a new controlling owner, with that decision becoming public in March after reports of squabbling among the board. Four months later, the board collectively announced the club’s sale to Bay and Iger, but individual founding owners were not made available to the media.

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“Willow and Bob bring unparalleled operational experience, expertise and passion to Angel City and the NWSL,” the club statement begins.

“They are the right partners to lead us into this new era — they are committed to strengthening Angel City’s position as a preeminent organization and brand in women’s sports and to championing the team’s broader mission, including the advancement of equity for athletes and women-founded businesses.

“With their leadership, we will continue to harness the industry’s momentum and build on Angel City’s strong foundation of fan and community support.”

Portman, Uhrman, Ohanian and another early investor and board member, Gillian Berry, will continue their roles on the board once the sale is completed. But Bay will soon be at the head of the table, along with Iger, hoping to advance the existing Angel City mission. Bay believes that the work ahead must be done as part of a local community, even as Angel City’s reach extends globally.

“We’re committed to doing whatever it requires — leveraging expertise, capital and our networks to continue building and elevating this franchise on and off the pitch,” Bay said on Tuesday

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Natalie Portman, Julie Uhrman and Kara Nortman in 2023 (Allison Zaucha/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

When Angel City unveiled itself as a new NWSL expansion team four years ago, no one could have predicted that it would be up for a $250million sale, even with all the excitement of Hollywood connections, USWNT star power, and the anticipation for the return of women’s professional soccer to Los Angeles for the first time since 2010.

The team brought in forward Christen Press as their first signing, then pulled out all the stops for their home opener in May 2022, with a sold-out crowd of 22,000 watching them eke out a win over North Carolina Courage.

“What you see here (with Angel City) is a combination of so many people getting together and going, ‘No. It can be different. It can be this, don’t do that’. We can make this whatever we want,” Wambach said before that 2-1 victory.

That’s largely been the story of Angel City’s approach: leverage the knowledge and experiences of Wambach, Hamm and the rest across various former leagues — WUSA, WPS, even the early days of the NWSL — then combine it with the ambition of new investors who are bound by the historical fear of a league folding too soon. For the most part, it has worked — though not perfectly.

Chief among the criticisms of Angel City has been that the club has been more interested in building a brand than an actual soccer team. While most of the team’s early language has been scrubbed from its website, the business-centric theme is still present in the page description for its online store: “Angel City is not just another football club. We’re a brand on a mission to make a difference in this world. We’re born of the streets of Los Angeles and stand side-by-side with our community.”

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Angel City FC

Angel City’s Claire Emslie, left, celebrates her goal against NJ/NY Gotham in 2022 (Ira L Black – Corbis/Getty Images)

Since March, however, the team has been followed by reports of infighting on its board as it decided to find a new controlling owner.

The Los Angeles Times reported Ohanian was unhappy over the team’s spending. This week, The Wall Street Journal went in-depth on power struggles within Angel City’s leadership, primarily between Ohanian and Uhrman. According to that report, internal documents show team officials complained about Uhrman’s “financial and personnel management”, with Ohanian cited as having concerns over her spending, the hiring of her sister as a team executive, and her temperament.

The Wall Street Journal also reported there is disagreement over Uhrman continuing as the team’s president. That decision would fall to Bay as the new controlling owner, with Uhrman herself mentioning that in the Journal’s story. However, Wednesday’s confirmation that Uhrman (and Ohanian) will remain on the board following the sale’s closure shows she will still have some role with the team moving forward.

Still, there was always going to be incredible interest in the club’s controlling stake thanks to the growth of Angel City, the NWSL and women’s sports as a whole.

Angel City had the NWSL’s highest attendance in 2022, was barely off San Diego Wave’s pace the following year, and leads the league again in 2024. According to the club, they also top the league in season ticket membership and sponsorship revenue.

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“We’re going to be the first women’s team to have a billion-dollar valuation in five years,” Uhrman told The Athletic last year. “There’s no better investment today than women’s sports.”

On the league front, when Angel City was still building its ownership group in 2019, team valuations had not yet exploded. In December of that year, OL Groupe bought out Seattle Reign for just $3.5million. Last month, when a group led by Seattle Sounders of MLS and investment firm Carlyle finalized its purchase of the Reign from OL Groupe, it was for $58m. Just before the Angel City news broke in March about the search for a new controlling owner, San Diego Wave sold for $120m.

Valuations can’t be viewed in a vacuum, however, with media rights, facilities, attendance and other metrics weighing in. The NWSL has enjoyed good news on those fronts, too, whether it’s the purpose-built stadium in Kansas City, last year’s media-rights deals, or increases in attendance and engagement figures in 2024.

Women’s sports, in general, are having an extended moment.

Global financial company Deloitte had to revise its initial predictions on women’s sports revenue, predicting that 2024 would be the year that it would surpass $1 billion. North America is expected to account for 52 percent of that revenue, with soccer’s revenue forecast figure ($555m) the highest among all sports.

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It is not surprising that there were interested bidders, though a representative of Bay’s declined to comment on other bids or the bidding process itself. Marc Lasry, former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and CEO of Avenue Capital Group, as well as Avram Glazer, part owner of the Premier League’s Manchester United and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were linked as potential bidders, with sources confirming to The Athletic this month that Glazer had pursued Angel City’s controlling interest.

The Bay-Iger bid emerged as the favorite this month, with the deal already close to completion.

It is easy to assume that Angel City — a product of the connections formed between women — would want a woman as its controlling owner, they could do one step better: someone who had been a fan since day one.


“The team has been on our radar since its inception,” Bay said, calling herself and Iger, her husband, members of the Angel City community — but she also knew two of the founding investors, Uhrman and Nortman, so she took particular interest in their new project. Bay and Iger have attended games, but Bay has gone further and included Angel City in her role as a professor at the University of Southern California.

“I bring students as part of my sports class to visit Angel City, to learn about the trajectory of the team and its development,” she said, adding she has also hosted the team’s co-founders on campus. “It’s important to offer a platform to this team, part of this community, and these women who have helped create it.”

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Bay, who has a lengthy media and journalism resume that spans Huffington Post, Good Morning America, Moneyline, the Today Show and NBA Inside Stuff, loves a narrative.

“This is a great business story, a great sports story, a great community story, and certainly a great story about driving equity with a purpose-driven brand,” she said. “So for all those reasons, I’ve followed this team since the beginning.”

Asked about changing her mindset from fan to owner, Bay didn’t want to get into too many specifics about the club’s new day-to-day. To her, there is time ahead to dig into priorities, strategic planning and the decisions that have to be made. The sale is a month or two from being finalized, and she’s still embracing the moment to celebrate. Bay is in big-picture mode, not the nitty-gritty logistics.

Bob Iger and Willow Bay

Bob Iger and Willow Bay at the Academy Awards in March (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

That said, the purchase of Angel City has repercussions beyond just the club. Bay will be one of 15 (eventually 16, once the next expansion team is chosen) governors who can help shape the league’s future.

“There have never been limits for this team,” Bay said. “That also applies to the NWSL, with this new infusion of energy, capital resources, and incredible people joining this ownership group. There are certainly no limits to what we can expect from these athletes.”

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One of those athletes, Press, addressed the player side of the sale, acknowledging that the team does have “a lot of things that they need to get right”. The deal — plus that extra $50million of investment — means a lot of money is about to flow in.

“It allows the club to continue to professionalize. Angel City recognizes that they have a lot of room to grow on that end,” Press told The Athletic this month.

Angel City's Christen Press

Angel City’s Christen Press in 2022 (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

While Bay promised the specifics of priorities would come later, she did say that facilities are absolutely on the list, “particularly with player development and player support”.

That’s not new information. The Bay-Iger group’s pitch deck, acquired by news website Semafor, shows that the group wants to “improve team performance, player support and retention”, which does include a training facility — but Bay and Iger also offer their expertise on media, content creation, and managing brands.

A pitch deck is one thing, reality can be another. Bay, unsurprisingly, said the first couple of months once the sale closes will be filled with a lot of listening.

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“It’s premature to even speculate about where we land first and what we do first, but we’re committed to listening, understanding where the opportunities are, then making decisions about how to prioritize resources,” she said. Player support and development across the board, including players, technical staff and front office staff, are areas they have already circled.

As of Wednesday, they’re one step closer to the real work ahead.

(Top photo: Angel City in recent action against visitors San Diego Wave; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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MLB Trade Deadline Tiers: Which teams could be — and should be — aggressive buyers and sellers

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MLB Trade Deadline Tiers: Which teams could be — and should be — aggressive buyers and sellers

This week serves as a sort of pause for the sport of baseball. The amateur draft, followed by the All-Star Game, followed by the Hall of Fame induction ceremony feels a bit like a mid-season side quest, a break from the regular so that players and fans alike can celebrate the game’s very best at various levels.

Then, it’s full throttle toward the trade deadline.

In preparation, we’re sorting teams into preemptive trade tiers. Who’s best positioned to buy or to sell? And who is still deciding on a direction? In last year’s edition, we created a “Tailors” tier for those clubs looking to thread the needle between buying and selling.

This year, given the wide-open middle ground of the National League, we could probably lump a third of all teams into a Tailors category. Rather than do that, we’ll break down the would-be Tailors by those that seem to be trending to the buy-side and those closer to selling. They might still thread the needle, but these next two weeks could push them to pick a lane.

For now, here’s where things stand with all 30 teams as we gear up for the second half.

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Tier 1: Could be (should be?) aggressive buyers

New York Yankees

Record: 58-40

To borrow a line from The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner: The New York Yankees need help. Except for the days when Ben Rice hits three homers, the Yankees’ lineup has too often been a two-man show. Aaron Judge and Juan Soto are top-of-the-charts All-Stars, but no other healthy Yankees hitter has at least 100 plate appearances with an above-average OPS+ this season.

Every infield position except shortstop presents an obvious upgrade opportunity. (Though, is there an available second baseman who’s sure to have a better second half than underperforming Gleyber Torres?) Even at first base, a right-handed complement to Rice and/or Anthony Rizzo would make sense, and they might now need an extra catcher. Like every contender, the Yankees could use another reliever, but it’s the lineup that’s most problematic — and after missing the playoffs last season, the front office is surely motivated to make some noise.

Seattle Mariners

Record: 52-46

Three things we know for certain about the Mariners: They have a ton of starting pitching, they could use some offense, and their president of baseball operations, Jerry Dipoto, is not one to sit on his hands.

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A Mariners team in first place is not likely to be cautious at the deadline, and their abundance of front-line pitching could make them an interesting trade partner for another team willing to think outside the box. “I think if the Mariners could find a match for (starter) Emerson Hancock, they would trade him for an everyday bat,” Jim Bowden wrote last week. Hancock is a former sixth-overall draft pick who’s performed at the big-league level but is currently blocked by the Mariners’ deep rotation. Seattle is in the bottom third of baseball in runs per game. They need an offensive boost, and Hancock is a fascinating trade chip if Dipoto’s willing to use it.

San Diego Padres

Record: 50-49

Like the Mariners, the Padres have a tendency not to stand still. They broke open the trading season with their early-May deal for All-Star second baseman Luis Arraez, and now that they’re firmly in the wild-card hunt, there’s little reason to expect that president of baseball operations A.J. Preller will stop shopping. His team needs arms almost desperately. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove are out of the rotation mix and a starting pitcher is a clear need, but the Padres “may not be able to afford to wait much longer to trade for a reliever or two,” according to our Padres writer Dennis Lin. Of course, Lin also notes that “limited prospect capital and a high-demand, low-supply market for effective relievers” could be a problem for the pitch-needy Padres.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 56-41

It’s not going as scripted in Hollywood. Among the 15 players on the Dodgers IL are Mookie Betts, Max Muncy and Jason Heyward (one-third of their Opening Day lineup); Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow and Walker Buehler (the would-be top of their rotation) and Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier (three guys meant to be pitching important innings out of the bullpen). That’s on top of some of the guys the Dodgers knew were hurt going into spring training (Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May, who’s now out for the year). Some of these players are expected back soon after the All-Star break (Heyward, Glasnow, possibly Kershaw) but that still leaves a lot of uncertainty for a team that’s no doubt playing for a title.

For a team this good — and this touted — the Dodgers sure don’t have much of an outfield. In addition to that, at least one infield spot has been a problem all year, and their pitching is a bit of a mess. White Sox starter Garrett Crochet could be an interesting fit.

Tier 2: Typical buyers

Atlanta Braves

Record: 53-42

An outfield addition (and maybe more than one) seems inevitable for Atlanta, but it is unclear if that would mean an understated, practical trade (like the moves that worked so well in 2021) or a bigger splash for unmistakable impact. The recent addition of Eddie Rosario is a lower-key move. Bowden suggests four bigger names could be among the Braves targets going forward: Randy Arozarena, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Taylor Ward and Tommy Pham. The division is probably now out of reach, but the Braves seem confident they’ll be in position to make a run in October.

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Baltimore Orioles

Record: 58-38

Given their abundance of young talent, the Orioles are clearly playing a long game. But their offseason trade for Corbin Burnes showed they’re also ready and willing to make shorter-term investments. Their trade deadline, then, could be interesting as they may focus more on weighing the pros and cons of short- and long-term acquisitions.

Ken Rosenthal wondered last week if they could use some of their position player redundancy to trade for long-term pitching, as they’re surprisingly low on controllable starters. Surely, the Orioles didn’t trade for one season of Burnes just to cross their fingers down the stretch. Baltimore is positioned to buy, but they’re also positioned to buy pieces that can help them beyond this season. Their deep farm system could let them make a splash without losing their very best prospects.

Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 62-34

They don’t call him “Dealer Dave” for nothing, but Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski does not deal exclusively in splashes and blockbusters. When he won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, a key deadline acquisition was platoon slugger Steve Pearce, and with the then-Florida Marlins in 1997, he generated significant impact trading for utility man Craig Counsell. It could be similar this year.

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The Phillies are perhaps the best team in baseball, but their star-laden roster might need little more than a bench bat (or two) and a reliever (or two). Releasing Whit Merrifield right before the break further opened that door, especially for a new right-handed hitter. Bowden expects them to keep going and land a center fielder.

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Cleveland Guardians

Record: 58-37

Entering the season with roughly 1-in-3 odds of making the playoffs — similar to the Marlins, if you can believe it — the Guardians now have the fifth-best playoff odds in the majors. So, yeah, they’re on the buy side, and according to Zack Meisel, their priorities are clear: “Help in the rotation, more help in the rotation, even more help in the rotation and then more help in the rotation.” (Though if a right-handed bat were to fall in their lap, they probably wouldn’t say no.) The fact the Guardians had three of the first 48 picks in this year’s draft — including No. 1 overall — could give them some license to be especially aggressive in buying into this team that’s spent three months proving it’s a legitimate contender.

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The Astros currently have an offensive hole at first base. Could they make a move for someone like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the deadline?  (Dan Hamilton / USA Today)

Houston Astros

Record: 50-46

Two months ago, the Astros were out of it. Now, they’re unmistakably back in with a couple of glaring needs. First and foremost is starting pitching. Lance McCullers Jr.’s rehab from elbow surgery has hit a snag, Luis Garcia is currently on a rehab assignment, Justin Verlander just started throwing lightly off a mound, and two current Astros starters — Ronel Blanco and Spencer Arrighetti — have never thrown more than 125 innings in a professional season. There’s also the offensive hole at first base (which could be filled by someone like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. should he become available). “As long as Dana Brown is GM of the Astros, starting pitching and pitching in general will be the top priority,” Jim Bowden wrote, “But would they have interest in adding Guerrero to their lineup, especially knowing that Alex Bregman will likely leave in free agency this offseason? You better believe it.”

Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 55-42

Their best pitcher was traded to Baltimore, and their revered manager bolted for Chicago, but the Brewers are still atop the NL Central with a good, young roster that doesn’t have a ton of holes. The Brewers’ rotation, though, is thin. They’ve already traded for Rays starter Aaron Civale, and could probably use another arm. But the Brewers are nothing if not practical, and The Athletic reported that they “don’t seem inclined to fix that (pitching) hole through big spending or by trading top prospects at the deadline.” Their outfield depth, though, could be an interesting avenue through which to deal, if they want to go that route.

Minnesota Twins

Record: 54-42

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As part of a mailbag last week, Twins writer Aaron Gleeman answered a question about the team’s potential pursuit of a front-line starting pitcher, noting that such an arm has been — and continues to be — the team’s most glaring need. “But the ‘front-line’ part of front-line starter is key,” Gleeman wrote, “because they’re not lacking in decent options.” The Twins have indeed been steady and stable, even as young third baseman Royce Lewis has fluctuated between being awesome and being hurt. The Twins’ need for a big bat might depend on health and the ongoing emergence of rookie Brooks Lee, but they could probably fit one at either first base, left field or DH. Payroll concerns, though, might limit their appetite for significant additions.

Tier 3: Trending to the buy side

 St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 50-46

The Cardinals rarely sell. In fact, they’ve really only done it once in 17 years under president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, and that was last season when they traded a bunch of soon-to-be free agents. This year, the Cardinals have surged back into contention after a brutal start. Catcher Willson Contreras returned from the IL in late June, outfielder Lars Nootbar returned this week, and play-anywhere Tommy Edman could make his season debut soon after the break. That should help solve some of the Cardinals’ offensive woes (though it would sure be nice to get Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado going).

What the Cardinals really need to address from the outside seems to be pitching, and if they’re healthy, they could use some of their positional redundancy to do so. Bowden says “It’s only a matter of time” before they strike a deal for a veteran starter.

Boston Red Sox

Record: 53-42

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A month ago, the Red Sox were a perpetually .500 team that couldn’t get over the hump. But that was before they won four straight series against the Phillies, Yankees, Blue Jays and Reds. Today, the team is very clearly in the wild-card hunt — even if the AL East remains a long shot — and manager Alex Cora has said their window of opportunity is looking more like a wide-open door. They need a starting pitcher, a middle infielder, and some help against left-handed pitching.

First-year chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has downplayed the possibility of trying to buy and sell at the same time, even though some redundancy in the outfield and bullpen suggests it might be possible if the Sox choose to go that route. The front office didn’t invest a ton into this team in the offseason, but an improved farm system could let them make a more meaningful investment at the deadline.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 48-48

Their record suggests they will be sellers, but their starting rotation and a handful of good, young position players suggest they could maybe thread the needle or even add players who can help them continue to get better in the near future. Case in point: Just last week, the Pirates were reported to be in talks with the Angels about a trade for left fielder Taylor Ward, who has two more years of team control and might be exactly the kind of player who keeps the Pirates competitive this year and potentially helps them remain in contention beyond that.

It might make sense for the Pirates to do a little buying and selling, but their needle is moving closer to the buy side than it has been in a few years. According to Bowden, general manager Ben Cherington has been in contact with opposing GMs and is on the hunt for options to improve his team’s offense.

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New York Mets

Record: 49-46

After winning just nine games in May, the Mets turned around and won 16 in June. They’re now playing at a roughly even run differential which, in the murky middle of the National League, might be enough for a playoff spot. And if there was any doubt about which way the Mets were leaning, last week’s trade for Rays reliever Phil Maton certainly showed that the Mets are on the buying side. Maton wasn’t exactly an all-in acquisition — the team could trade him again in two weeks for all we know — but the move does help give the team a chance to keep winning, and perhaps convince president of baseball operations David Steans to do more. “We’re going to continue to see what is out there and what makes sense for us,” Stearns said, “while also continuing to learn about our team in the next few weeks.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s not putting Pete Alonso on the sale rack, either. The Mets could still go either way.

Kansas City Royals

Record: 52-45

Truth be told, it seemed the Royals might be trending slightly toward selling before this weekend’s trade for Washington Nationals setup man Hunter Harvey. So, apparently, they’re not going to sell, but Bowden has noted that they “look more like a third-place team” and “don’t have a great farm system,” neither of which screams “buy!” That said, Bowden also noted that the Royals’ front office has been trying to improve its bullpen and outfield, but that limited farm system could be an issue. They could have gone even bigger in their deal with the Nats — outfielder Lane Thomas and closer Kyle Finnegan would have fit — but Bowden wrote of such a deal that “it’s hard to find a fair trade with KC from the Nationals’ perspective.” Perhaps smaller deals, then, like the Harvey trade, will have some lingering impact beyond this season.

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San Francisco Giants

Record: 47-50

Now that they’ve figured out their shortstop situation and LaMonte Wade is healthy again, the Giants’ lineup doesn’t look all that bad. They also just got Blake Snell, Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada back from the IL, and both Robbie Ray and Alex Cobb are currently on rehab assignments. Better health might be the Giants’ most important second-half addition, but “I don’t think there’s any doubt they’re going to be buyers at the deadline,” Jim Bowden wrote, “with no consideration of selling.” The front office has floated the possibility of selling, but even if they go that route, their roster isn’t exactly set up for a robust teardown.

Tier 4: Trending to the sell side

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 49-48

After an unexpected run to the World Series last season, the Diamondbacks tried to reload for a repeat, but their rotation has been devastated by injuries and the puzzle pieces just haven’t come together as planned. “GM Mike Hazen always looks to add depth to the rotation and bullpen,” Bowden wrote late last week, “but is also prepared to sell if things go south after the All-Star break.” Potentially tilting the Diamondbacks to the sell side is the fact first baseman Christian Walker is heading to free agency and would be one of the best bats available in a market that has plenty of teams looking for offense.


Jonathan India could be a valuable trade chip for Cincinnati at the deadline. But would the team be willing to move him? (Jason Mowry / Getty Images)

Cincinnati Reds

Record: 47-50

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Yes, the Reds just traded for veteran outfielder Austin Slater, but acquiring a .200 hitter at the expense of a 30-year-old reliever doesn’t make a team a “buyer.” Instead, the Reds are in that murky middle of the National League, and while they’re not exactly out of the race, they’re a lot closer to last place in their division. They could trade some veteran relievers without necessarily sinking the ship, and starter Frankie Montas could be a worthwhile trade chip before he becomes a free agent. Whether to trade bat-first second baseman Jonathan India, given the team’s young depth in the infield, remains an interesting question. Bowden says it’s a no for him and has heard it’s still 50-50 whether the Reds buy or sell.

Chicago Cubs

Record: 47-51

After some “will they, won’t they” questions last season, the Cubs got hot in late July and ultimately bought a little at the 2023 deadline but still missed the playoffs. Maybe they have another after-the-break hot streak in them this year, but so far they’re trending in the wrong direction. That isn’t going to be helped by Cody Bellinger’s broken finger, which might also rob the Cubs of one of their best trade chips. Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki and Jameson Taillon are each signed through 2026 (and Happ has no-trade protection). The Cubs could sell high on reliever Tyson Miller, who’s been good since coming over in a minor trade earlier this season.

Texas Rangers

Record: 46-50

Feel free to blame the injuries (Josh Jung, Evan Carter, Max Scherzer) or some individual down years (José Leclerc early, Adolis García the past few months) but the Rangers just aren’t putting up much of a title defense, and the cavalry has been slow to set things right. MLB Trade Rumors already noted that being over the luxury tax threshold could further nudge the Rangers toward the sell side, and they have enough pending free agent pitchers — Scherzer, Michael Lorenzen and Andrew Heaney in the rotation; Leclerc, Kirby Yates and David Robertson in the bullpen — that the Rangers could get a significant return without sacrificing players who are part of their long-term vision. Ken Rosenthal reports, however, that the team could at least consider a more aggressive deadline in hopes of restocking for a resurgent 2025.

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Getting some pitchers healthy might give the Rangers a chance to improve without making a deal. “That doesn’t mean they won’t add a reliever or bench player in a deal,” Jim Bowden wrote, “but don’t expect them to make significant trades as buyers.”

Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 48-48

Six days after trading starter Aaron Civale to the Brewers, the Rays traded reliever Phil Maton to the New York Mets. Does that mean they’re selling, or did they simply sell a couple of underperforming pitchers with the expectation that they can fill the void (and maybe even improve) from within? “The next two to three weeks are their playoffs,” The Athletic’s trade insiders wrote last week, “or at least, a critical period in determining whether they will continue pushing for the actual postseason, or continue trading off parts.” If they sell, the Rays have starter Zach Eflin, closer Pete Fairbanks, and left fielder Randy Arozarena among their more interesting chips.

Tier 5: Typical sellers

Washington Nationals

Record: 44-53

The Athletic reported last week that the Nationals were preparing to sell, having determined that their stronger-than-many-expected season indicated that they’re on the right track but not yet where they need to be. Sure enough, they traded their setup man Hunter Harvey to the Royals over the weekend. Pending free agents Jesse Winker and Dylan Floro are obvious trade chips, but the Nationals are reportedly also open to offers for outfielder Lane Thomas and closer Kyle Finnegan, each of whom — like Harvey — has one more year of team control. The Nats are perhaps making progress toward contention, but they’re not there yet.

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Detroit Tigers

Record: 47-50

Like the Nationals, the Tigers overperformed expectations early in the season, but they too have fallen firmly into the sell category. Their best trade chip — assuming they hang onto Tarik Skubal — might be 28-year-old starter Jack Flaherty, who’s having a career renaissance on a one-year deal. If the Tigers don’t trade him (and he stays healthy), Flaherty would be an easy qualifying offer candidate, but The Athletic reported last week that “a trade is the more likely course.” Catcher Carson Kelly and relievers Andrew Chafin and Shelby Miller are also free agents at the end of this season. So is outfielder Mark Canha, though his offensive numbers have sagged considerably since a strong April. And, hey, if anyone wants to pay Javier Báez $73 million over the next three seasons, it wouldn’t take much more than a phone call.

Tier 6: Could be (should be?) heavy sellers

Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 44-52

At this point, any Blue Jays road trip could be viewed through the lens of a potential trade partner. The Jays are supposed to be contenders but clearly are not. At this point, it seems not a question of whether they sell, but to what extent they will sell. They’ve already DFA’d center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. (He went unclaimed.) Now, do they chip away by trading some other pending free agents like catcher Danny Jansen, DH Justin Turner, and pitchers Yimi Garcia and Yusei Kikuchi or do they tear this roster down to its studs by dealing some of its controllable studs? (If they end up willing to trade Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, why would they hold tight to anyone else?)

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Colorado Rockies

Record: 34-63

Since 2011, the Rockies have won 90 games once, been to the playoffs twice, and finished in fourth or fifth place 10 times. They’ve never in franchise history won their division. Faced with another losing season, the Rockies would seem well-positioned to sell heavily at the deadline, but they’ve rarely done so. (Outside of Troy Tulowitzki, the biggest deals in franchise history have been in the offseason.) If the otherwise wide-open National League keeps the market light on sellers, perhaps the Rockies could be persuaded to do something drastic. They have some pitching to dangle (Austin Gomber, Cal Quantrill, Jalen Beeks), as well as a productive catcher on the verge of free agency (Elias Díaz), and an All-Star third baseman (Ryan McMahon).

Oakland Athletics

Record: 37-61

The A’s are in a weird spot. They’re clearly sellers, but most of their players are either arbitration-eligible or have yet to get there. Center fielder JJ Bleday and starter JP Sears will have trade value, but do the A’s want to trade them or build around them? According to Bowden, the team stopped taking calls on All-Star rookie Mason Miller “unless someone makes them a ridiculous offer.” Veteran relievers T.J. McFarland and Scott Alexander might bring modest returns, but the team’s other pending free agents (Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Trevor Gott) are currently on the IL. All-Star snub Brent Rooker has three more years of team control, and at 29, could become their best trade chip. Left fielder Miguel Andujar, and maybe starter Paul Blackburn if he gets off the IL in time to reestablish value, could also bring back something useful. The A’s direction is obvious, but how to go about it isn’t as clear.

Los Angeles Angels

Record: 41-55

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A year ago, the Angels committed to an ill-fated attempt at contention. They added at the deadline (most notably Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López) and put those guys and others on waivers a month later to cut their losses as the playoffs slipped out of reach. This season, there will be no delusions of grandeur. The Angels are out of the race and they know it. The only question is what exactly they do about it (which depends largely on owner Arte Moreno). Veteran starter Tyler Anderson (who will make $13 million next season) is an obvious trade chip, as is closer Carlos Estévez, and relievers Matt Moore and Luis Garcia (all pending free agents). Left fielder Taylor Ward, second baseman Luis Rengifo and starter Griffin Canning are arbitration-eligible trade chips, assuming the Angels are willing to concede they might not be contenders next season either.

Miami Marlins

Record: 33-63

A Marlins’ fire sale seems obvious at this point, but that’s only because we’ve all forgotten that they made the playoffs last year and opened this season with roughly 1-in-3 odds of making the playoffs. Now, they’re approaching the break having already traded away Luis Arraez and released Tim Anderson, and the Miami Herald has reported that there’s growing expectation that they will trade Jazz Chisholm Jr. Frankly, if Chisholm is on the block with two years of remaining control, why would almost anyone else be untouchable? All-Star closer Tanner Scott and first baseman Josh Bell are pending free agents, so they’re the most obvious trade chips. In fact, a Scott trade seems inevitable.

Chicago White Sox

Record: 27-71

The worst team in baseball might also have the game’s most intriguing trade chip. Garrett Crochet is an All-Star and a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate. He also has two more years of team control and has more than doubled his previous career total for major-league innings. The upside is huge. The risk, too, is notable. But the White Sox also have little reason to keep him — or anyone else, really.

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In a market light on middle infielders, Paul DeJong has some value. Luis Robert is still just 26 and signed to a reasonably team-friendly deal. Erick Fedde has been terrific in his first year back from playing in the KBO. Tommy Pham gets traded at basically every trade deadline. Just make an offer, and the White Sox will throw in Andrew Benintendi for free! “One thing is for sure,” Bowden recently wrote. “GM Chris Getz is ready to wheel and deal.”

(Top illustration: Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic; Photo of Dave Dombrowski: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images; Jazz Chisholm Jr: Megan Briggs; Randy Arozarena: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins)

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