Each MLB Team's Player Most Likely to Be Dealt This Offseason
With the primary focus of the baseball universe affixed on the free-agent market once the offseason begins, it's easy to forget that the trade market is also open for business.
Offseason trades come in all shapes and sizes and for a wide variety of reasons. Some teams aren't thrilled with the selection on the free-agent market and turn to trades to fill holes on their rosters, while others are merely looking to move established veterans to clear space for an upstart youngster.
While we are talking about each team's most likely trade candidate this winter, don't take that to mean that any or all of these players will, in fact, be traded.
Instead, view the following with this in mind: If you were a general manager and called one of your counterparts this winter to see if he was looking to make any moves, this is the player that he'd most likely try and sell you on before anyone else.
That said, let's take a look at 30 players who could be wearing a different uniform in 2015.
Arizona Diamondbacks: SS Didi Gregorius
No matter what Didi Gregorius does between now and the end of the regular season, he's not going to be a starter for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. Stuck behind the currently injured Chris Owings at shortstop and veteran Aaron Hill at second base, the 24-year-old Gregorius will still be a man without a place to play.
Toward the end of spring training, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reported that the D-Backs were shopping Gregorius in the hopes of landing "an MLB-ready starting pitcher in return" in an attempt to fill the void left by Patrick Corbin's season-ending Tommy John surgery. Chances are that asking price hasn't changed.
Are there still questions about whether he'll ever hit major league pitching consistently? Absolutely, and he's done little to answer those questions by hitting .220 with a .668 OPS since replacing Owings in late June.
But his defensive chops, age (24) and team-friendly deal (not arbitration eligible until 2016, under team control through 2018) make him an attractive target for teams looking for an upgrade at the position—perhaps even more so than the veteran free agents that will be available this winter.
Atlanta Braves: OF B.J. Upton
Crazy but true: The Atlanta Braves had a deal in place to trade B.J. Upton at the July 31 deadline but walked away because the team felt it wasn't getting enough in return.
That's the story from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal (audio link), who notes that the deal would have sent Upton and a starting pitcher to a mystery team in exchange for another player whose contract wasn't quite as burdensome as Upton's. David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported the news.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale recently reported that the Braves were talking about an Upton-for-Edwin Jackson deal with the Chicago Cubs, though that would have been a straight swap. It's unclear whether that was the deal Rosenthal and O'Brien were talking about.
What is clear, however, is that the Braves want to move Upton—and that there's at least one team willing to take a chance on the talented but perennially underachieving outfielder. Heading into 2015, Upton will still have three years and just over $46 million left on his deal.
Baltimore Orioles: RHP Tommy Hunter
With Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and the recently acquired Andrew Miller all in need of new contracts after the season—not to mention raises for no fewer than eight arbitration-eligible players, including hefty ones for Zach Britton and Chris Tillman—the Baltimore Orioles will be looking to save some cash where they can this winter.
Heading into his final year of arbitration, Tommy Hunter is going to get a raise from his $3.3 million salary this season. While he's been solid in relief for the Orioles, Baltimore is going to have too many arms and not enough spots to plug them into, especially if top prospect Dylan Bundy makes the team out of camp.
Only 28 years old and with experience as a starter, a middle reliever and a closer, Hunter could be one of Baltmiore's more valuable trade chips. Teams looking for rotation depth could view him as a low-cost, high-upside addition, while those in search of bullpen help would see him as a fairly priced reliever.
One team that could have interest is Detroit. The Tigers are sure to continue their seemingly never-ending search for bullpen help this winter, and according to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, they tried to acquire Hunter from Texas back in 2011 before Baltimore ultimately did.
Boston Red Sox: OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
In the span of a year, Jackie Bradley Jr. has gone from being Jacoby Ellsbury's successor to the odd-man out in a crowded Boston Red Sox outfield.
After signing Rusney Castillo to a record seven-year, $72.5 million deal, there's no question as to who the Red Sox view as the future in center field—and it's not Bradley.
With Yoenis Cespedes entrenched in left field and a healthy Shane Victorino in right field, Daniel Nava likely back as a reserve and youngsters like Bryce Brentz, Derrik Gibson and Alex Hassan knocking on the door, there's really nowhere for Bradley to play in Boston.
While his bat has yet to live up to the most modest of expectations, he's already established himself as an above-average defender at a premium position. Only 24 years old, he's still got plenty of upside and will be sure to have plenty of teams trying to pry him loose from the Red Sox this winter.
Chicago Cubs: SS Starlin Castro
Even if the Chicago Cubs sign one of the Big Three free-agent starters available via free agency this winter—Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields—there's still going to be a glaring need for another big-time arm in Chicago's rotation.
The easiest way for the club to acquire that arm? To move some of the depth the team has in the middle of the infield. While other clubs are sure to ask for Javier Baez or Addison Russell, the player that general manager Jed Hoyer should be looking to move is Starlin Castro.
While Hoyer has continually said he doesn't feel a need to move any of those players, reaffirming that stance only last week in comments to the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer, he can't deny that the Cubs desperately need pitching. Lots of it.
Castro, who celebrates his 25th birthday roughly a week before Opening Day 2015, has re-established himself as one of the bright young talents in the game after a miserable 2013 campaign. With five years and $43 million left on his deal (not including a $16 million team option for 2020), there isn't a team in baseball that couldn't fit Castro's contract into its budget.
Between his age, his success at the major league level and a team-friendly contract, Castro would bring the Cubs back a package of young pitching that could form the bulk of the team's current—and future—rotation.
Chicago White Sox: SS Alexei Ramirez
That Alexei Ramirez is still a member of the Chicago White Sox has less to do with his level of play and more to do with a lack of contenders searching for an upgrade at shortstop at the non-waiver trade deadline.
But with Tim Anderson working his way through the team's minor league system and both Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien getting some experience at the big league level this season, the veteran's days with the White Sox are numbered.
Due $10 million in 2015 and with a $10 million team option for 2016, Ramirez is a perfect fit for a team looking to bridge the gap between its 2014 shortstop and a prospect that is still a year or two away from making an impact.
Cincinnati Reds: RHP Mat Latos
With four-fifths of its starting rotation—Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon—all set to hit free agency after the 2015 season, the Cincinnati Reds are faced with some tough decisions.
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal (video link), both Cueto and Latos are going to command more than Homer Bailey's six-year, $105 million extension. Cincinnati can afford to keep one of them, but not both, especially if the club plans on keeping both Leake and Simon around.
Latos is Rosenthal's choice as the most likely of that group to be traded this winter, and I have to agree with him. Not only because the Reds aren't going to pick him over Cueto, but because he'd command a substantial package of talent in return.
Still young (he celebrates his 27th birthday in December) and with a track record of success (3.24 ERA, 1.15 WHIP over his last 140 starts), there won't be any shortage of teams trying to get their hands on him—especially those that fall flat in free agency.
Cleveland Indians: OF Tyler Naquin
The Cleveland Indians have an abundance of talent up the middle in their system, both in the infield and outfield, talent that could be used to bolster a starting rotation that needs reinforcements.
With Cleveland adding James Ramsey from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Justin Masterson trade, Tyler Naquin, the 15th overall selection in the 2012 draft, has become somewhat expendable.
B/R's Jason Catania named Naquin the Tribe's best prospect trade chip leading up to the deadline.
The 23-year-old is in his second year at Double-A, knows how to put bat on ball, has enough speed and can handle center field. But despite being the 15th overall selection in 2012, Naquin may be more of a backup/fill-in than a starter at the big league level because he lacks pop.
While he lacks pop, Naquin has put up solid numbers at Double-A, hitting .313 with 19 extra-base hits, 14 stolen bases and a .795 OPS in 76 games. By himself, Naquin isn't going to be enough to bring back the impact starter that the Indians need, but as part of a package, he could get the job done.
Colorado Rockies: 1B Justin Morneau
Justin Morneau's career has been revitalized in Colorado, with the 2006 American League MVP hitting for average and power while playing above-average defense at first base. Don't think for a second that his numbers are artificially inflated by Coors Field—his away splits are actually better than his home numbers.
But the Rockies need to clear the position for catcher Willn Rosario, who can't stay behind the plate for another season, though they can't move Rosario until they find a new everyday catcher.
Whether the Rockies could land their catcher of the future (and present) in a deal involving Morneau really doesn't matter. Opening up the position for Rosario, who would need to take consistent reps during the spring to get himself acclimated, should be a priority for the club.
Detroit Tigers: 2B Devon Travis
With All-Star Ian Kinsler due $41 million through the 2017 season ($51 million if the Tigers picked up a $10 million team option for 2018), second base in Detroit is locked up for the foreseeable future.
That makes Devon Travis, named the team's second-best prospect heading into the season by Baseball America, a valuable trade chip for general manager Dave Dombrowski to play this winter.
The 23-year-old has put up solid numbers in his first full season at Double-A, hitting for average and power while flashing speed on the basepaths and a solid glove. Unlike some of the other middle-infield prospects in baseball, Travis is a second baseman only, lacking the range needed to play shortstop.
Still, a second baseman who can hit for average and power from the right side of the plate is a valuable commodity, perhaps valuable enough to land the Tigers a permanent solution at shortstop or another starter to replace Max Scherzer, who is expected to leave via free agency, in the rotation.
Houston Astros: 1B/DH Chris Carter
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported as the deadline neared that the Houston Astros were looking to move Chris Carter. While the Astros were unable to find a taker, it's something that they'll certainly revisit over the winter.
Third in the American League with 30 home runs and eighth in slugging percentage (.504), Carter, who turns 28 in December, is your prototypical all-or-nothing player: Either he hits a home run or he strikes out.
He's a defensive liability, best suited to serve as a team's full-time designated hitter, but a player in the prime of his career who has big-time power from the right side of the plate is something that is always in demand.
That he's under team control through the 2018 season and arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter only increases his value.
Kansas City Royals: OF Jarrod Dyson
If I had any confidence that the Kansas City Royals were going to pick up the $12.5 million team option they hold on Billy Butler for 2015, he'd be the pick here. But I don't, so he's not.
Instead, we turn our attention to a fourth outfielder, Jarrod Dyson.
He is what he is: a plus defender in center field who can hit for average and cause problems with his speed when he gets on base. Nothing more, nothing less.
Heading into his first year of arbitration-eligibility, Dyson is going to get a hefty raise from his 2014 salary of $530,000. Paying a reserve outfielder more than $1 million may simply be too rich for Kansas City's liking, no matter how valuable that fourth outfielder has proved to be over the course of his career.
Throw in that Dyson celebrated his 30th birthday recently—we know that players who rely on their speed don't tend to age well—and moving Dyson begins to make even more sense for the Royals.
Los Angeles Angels: 2B Howie Kendrick
Heading into the final year of his deal, 30-year-old Howie Kendrick continues to put up solid numbers at a premium position for the Los Angeles Angels.
But his defense has taken a step back, with advanced metrics grading him as an average defender, and the Angels have a hotshot youngster working his way through the upper levels of the farm system in Alex Yarbrough.
While trading Kendrick doesn't make a ton of sense, if a team is willing to give up young pitching in exchange for his services, the Angels would at least have to seriously consider making such a move.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3B Juan Uribe
If you're one of the few people who doesn't believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to re-sign Hanley Ramirez this winter—to be the team's starting third baseman, not shortstop—then by all means, plug Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp in here.
But if you're like me and believe the above scenario with Han-Ram is going to play out, then Juan Uribe can start preparing himself to be elsewhere before spring training begins.
While he's been a streaky offensive player throughout his career, Uribe has been fairly consistent for the Dodgers over the past two years, hitting a combined .285 with a .752 OPS while playing phenomenal defense at the hot corner.
His defense alone makes his $6.5 million salary in 2015, the final year of his contract, a bargain. For a team looking for a short-term fix at third base, Uribe is arguably the best option that it will find available, whether it be via trade or free agency.
Miami Marlins: LHP Justin Nicolino
If the Miami Marlins have an organizational strength, it would be the team's collection of high-upside, controllable young pitching. From the major league roster to the lowest levels of the minor leagues, the Marlins are flush with intriguing talent on the mound.
One of those arms, 22-year-old southpaw Justin Nicolino, could be used to obtain the full-time second baseman that the club sorely needs.
While he's more of a finesse guy than a power pitcher, Nicolino has been wildly effective at every level of the minor leagues at which he's played. In his first full season at Double-A, he's pitched to a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 26 starts with a 1.2 BB/9 and 4.1 K/9.
Milwaukee Brewers: Of Victor Roache
With the team seemingly destined for the playoffs, don't expect the Milwaukee Brewers to make any wholesale changes to the major league roster over the winter, regardless of how deep into October they play.
If anything, the team could look to plug holes (first base) by dealing what little talent it has down on the farm. One intriguing name to watch is Victor Roache, the 28th overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Roache has the kind of raw power that isn’t easy to find. He can send pitches to far-off places, using his strength, bat speed and timing. The righty hitter struggles with breaking balls at times but crushes mistakes. He has to become more selective as a hitter to maximize his offensive potential. Roache does not project to be a high-average hitter but could hit 30 homers if he puts enough balls in play. He has fringy speed and only adequate arm strength and profiles strictly as a left fielder.
Power is always a valued commodity, and Roache, who has hit 16 home runs in a non-homer-friendly environment with High-A Brevard County in the Florida State League this season, has plenty of it.
With Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis entrenched in the outfield at Miller Park for the foreseeable future, Roache is expendable.
Minnesota Twins: OF Aaron Hicks
It wasn't that long ago that it looked like Aaron Hicks could be the Minnesota Twins' next great center fielder.
But the 24-year-old has struggled to hit major league pitching, posting a .194/.285/.314 slash line over parts of two seasons and been passed on the organizational depth chart by the likes of Byron Buxton, Danny Santana and perhaps even Eddie Rosario.
He's become an afterthought as the Twins begin to piece together their outfield of the future.
While it's unlikely that the Twins could get much in return for him, a change of scenery might be exactly what Hicks needs to get his once-promising career back on track.
New York Mets: RHP Bartolo Colon
While the New York Mets have placed Bartolo Colon on revocable waivers, as first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin says that New York isn't just going to dump the veteran's $11 million salary on a team that puts in a claim.
Translation: The Mets aren't going to give Colon away, and he could finish the season in New York.
Colon, who celebrates his 42nd birthday in May, has defied the odds (and Father Time) once again, putting together a solid season despite his age and girth. Over 24 starts, he's pitched to a 3.85 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a 1.2 BB/9 and 7.0 K/9.
Trade winds have swirled around him for more than a month, and the intensity is sure to pick up once the offseason begins. His $11 million salary for 2015 isn't unreasonable considering his level of production, and he could be an attractive option for teams looking to add a reliable veteran arm on a short-term deal.
New York Yankees: C J.R. Murphy
One of the few teams in baseball with enviable depth behind the plate, the New York Yankees effectively blocked all of their young talent at the position when they signed Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal last winter.
One of those young catchers, 23-year-old J.R. Murphy, figures to be a hot name on the rumor mill as the offseason gets underway. With only one starting-caliber catcher—former Yankee Russell Martin, now with Pittsburgh—set to hit the open market, teams in need of an upgrade behind the plate are going to have to trade for one.
Murphy has shown the ability to both handle a major league pitching staff and hit major league pitching in limited time with the Yankees, hitting .286 with a .673 OPS over 24 games earlier this season.
Both the Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies come to mind as potential landing spots for the talented backstop.
Oakland Athletics: CF Coco Crisp
For five years, Coco Crisp has been a fixture atop the Oakland A's lineup and one of the great bargains in baseball.
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Essentially, Crisp has been paid about half of what he should have been making. But the bargain may be coming to an end. Crisp is due $11 million in 2015 and 2016, his age-35 and age-36 seasons, with a $13 million vesting option for 2017, when he'll be 37.
Oakland has a number of players that need to be re-signed this winter and beyond, and paying a speedy outfielder in his mid- to late 30s that kind of money simply isn't the team's style.
Philadelphia Phillies: LHP Antonio Bastardo
One of the few players on the Philadelphia Phillies roster who isn't overpaid, sitting with a no-trade clause or completely over-the-hill, Antonio Bastardo figures to draw significant interest this winter as he enters his final arbitration year.
The 28-year-old doesn't have great numbers on the season (4.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 5.0 BB/9), but he's averaging more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings of work and is tough against batters from both sides of the plate, holding the opposition to a .202/.309/.348 slash line.
As Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes, the Phillies are unlikely to carry a middle reliever who is making between $3 million and $4 million next season (Gelb's guesstimate as to where Bastardo's salary will wind up in arbitration). Multiple teams were interested in Bastardo leading up to this year's deadline, and it stands to reason that Philadelphia will re-engage some of those clubs in talks over the winter.
Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Josh Bell
Pittsburgh isn't typically a team that trades away young talent for established veterans, but in the case of 22-year-old Josh Bell, that's exactly what could happen this winter.
Blocked at the major league level by Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco, Bell, named the team's seventh-best prospect by Baseball America before the season began, has nowhere to play once he arrives on the scene.
He's hit well across two levels of the minor leagues this season (High-A and Double-A), putting up a combined .325/.375/.459 slash line with nine home runs and 60 RBI.
Whether he's used as part of a package to bring in additional reinforcements for the rotation or to land a full-time answer at first base, Bell's future lies somewhere other than Pittsburgh.
San Diego Padres: RHP Ian Kennedy
Few pitchers garnered as much interest around baseball leading up the trade deadline as San Diego's Ian Kennedy did.
Yet the Padres, who were operating without a full-time general manager at the time, were leery of dealing the 29-year-old. ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that the Padres were asking for a major league-ready starter and a high-level prospect in exchange for him, an asking price that no team was willing to meet.
New GM A.J. Preller has confidence that the Padres can return to contention in 2015 thanks to their pitching, team president Mike Dee recently told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, noting that it would take "tremendous value" for the team to move Kennedy or reliever Joaquin Benoit.
But Kennedy is due a substantial raise from his $6.1 million salary in 2014 as he enters his last year of arbitration, and if talks on a long-term extension fall flat this winter, it stands to reason that the Padres will be looking to capitalize on Kennedy's value while it's still high.
San Francisco Giants: RHP Kyle Crick
Does it make sense for the San Francisco Giants to trade their best young commodity? Absolutely not.
But on a team that has multiple holes that need to be filled (second base, first base if Brandon Belt's concussion symptoms continue to linger, back of the rotation) and key free agents who aren't going to be cheap to re-sign (Michael Morse, Pablo Sandoval), dealing Kyle Crick may become a necessity.
Crick, 21, hasn't been lights-out in his first full season at Double-A, pitching to a 3.83 ERA and 1.55 WHIP with a 6.0 BB/9 and 11.0 K/9.
But his ability to miss bats consistently and his projection as a front-of-the-rotation arm (perhaps not an ace, but a solid No. 2 starter) makes him a valuable trade chip for GM Brian Sabean to dangle this winter as he tries to shore up the roster.
Seattle Mariners: 1B Justin Smoak
The Seattle Mariners still haven't found their first baseman of the present (or future), and while Justin Smoak has spent most of the season at Triple-A Tacoma after losing his grip on a starting job, the team figures to pick up the relatively inexpensive $3.65 million team option that it holds on him for 2015.
After all, switch-hitting first basemen with power are valuable, even those who falter at the major league level.
Smoak seems to have found his mojo in the minors, hitting .309 with six home runs, 32 RBI and a .879 OPS in 48 games. While he doesn't have tremendous value as a trade chip, teams looking for an upgrade at first base could view him as a low-risk, high-reward acquisition.
St. Louis Cardinals: OF Randal Grichuk
Even after trading Allen Craig and James Ramsey, the St. Louis Cardinals sit with an abundance of outfield talent that is either in the big leagues or close to making an impact. With Matt Holliday and Oscar Taveras entrenched in the corners and Jon Jay holding down center field, there's nowhere for that young talent to play.
One of the players who is stuck in no man's land is Randal Grichuk.
Acquired from Los Angeles before the season as part of the trade that sent David Freese to the Angels, the 23-year-old was rather unimpressive during a short stay in the majors earlier this year, hitting .136 with a .464 OPS over 19 games.
But he's been swinging a hot bat at Triple-A, hitting .265 with 25 home runs, 71 RBI and a .821 OPS in 106 games. While the Cardinals don't have to trade him, it certainly couldn't hurt to put his name out there and see what kind of offers come in.
Tampa Bay Rays: 2B/OF Ben Zobrist
The Tampa Bay Rays aren't facing a significant increase in salary for Ben Zobrist over the winter, with the team holding a very reasonable $7.5 million team option on versatile 33-year-old in 2015.
But he'll be entering his age-35 season in 2016 and could look to cash in elsewhere as a free agent. Tampa Bay can't afford to get into a bidding war for his services, so it might behoove the club to try and move him this winter while his salary is still team-friendly and his value is still relatively high.
A full season of Zobrist is going to bring back more of a return for the Rays than dealing him at the trade deadline would.
Texas Rangers: IF Luis Sardinas
He offers little in the way of power and may ultimately be nothing more than a super-utility player, but Luis Sardinas is a man without a full-time position in Texas.
He's blocked at second base by Jurickson Profar, who has missed the entire season with a shoulder injury but is expected back in 2015, and Rougned Odor, who has filled in admirably. Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are entrenched on the left side of the infield, leaving Sardinas with nowhere to play.
A smooth fielder with enough speed to cause issues once he gets on base and the ability to hit for average (he hit .288 in 26 games for the Rangers this season), Sardinas could entice teams as a future starter up the middle or as a glorified utility player who bounces around the diamond with relative ease.
Toronto Blue Jays: 1B/3B Juan Francisco
He's a mediocre fielder at best and doesn't hit for average, but Juan Francisco has power in his bat, and that's something that teams are always looking to add.
Under team control through 2017, the 27-year-old could be replaced in Toronto by Brett Wallace, who seems to have rediscovered some of the magic that once made him a top prospect and is a superior defensive player when compared to Francisco (albeit still a mediocre one).
Washington Nationals: IF Danny Espinosa
Danny Espinosa hasn't rediscovered the swing that saw him finish sixth in the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year voting, but he has rebounded from a dismal 2013 to perhaps re-establish some of his value on the trade market.
While the 27-year-old's .213 batting average and .622 OPS leave much to be desired, so did his .158 batting average and .465 OPS in 2013—and yet no fewer than a dozen teams expressed interest in swinging a trade for him last winter, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
With Espinosa showing signs of life and Cutter Dykstra potentially waiting in the wings to take over as the team's utility infielder, it wouldn't be surprising if the Washington Nationals finally parted ways with him this winter.
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