Each MLB Team's Player Most Likely to Be Traded This Offseason
The vaunted 2018-19 free-agent class has been hanging over the MLB landscape for the past several seasons, but the 2017-18 class is considerably thinner.
Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn headline the starting pitching market, and Masahiro Tanaka and Johnny Cueto could join them if they decide to exercise opt-outs in their contracts. Beyond those five arms, the drop-off is significant.
Things are even thinner on the position-player side, where J.D. Martinez and a host of Kansas City Royals players that includes Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain represent the best of the bunch. Justin Upton could join that group with an opt-out of his own.
With a less-than-spectacular free-agent crop, the trade market this offseason figures to be busy once again, and we've set out to identify the one player most likely to be traded from each MLB team.
The selections were made based on a combination of rumors, team needs, projected arbitration figures and team outlook for the 2018 season and beyond.
For all the hottest trade rumors from now through the wild offseason, follow the MLB rumors stream on the free B/R app.
Baltimore Orioles: RP Zach Britton
A forearm strain kept Zach Britton sidelined for roughly two months, and he's pitched to a 4.42 ERA and 1.64 WHIP since returning to action in early July.
He's still blown just one save on the year while racking up an impressive 70.9 percent ground-ball rate. He was a popular name in the days leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, and it wouldn't be surprising to see his name on the block again this offseason.
The 29-year-old has one year of arbitration remaining, and he's already making a hefty $11.4 million this season. The Orioles traded Jim Johnson at a similar point a few years ago and with both Brad Brach and Mychal Givens capable of taking over ninth-inning duties, moving Britton makes sense.
Boston Red Sox: 1B Josh Ockimey
If the Red Sox still view Sam Travis as the long-term answer at first base, slugger Josh Ockimey could be considered an expendable prospect piece on the offseason trade market.
The 21-year-old has posted a terrific .273/.384/.433 line with 27 doubles, 13 home runs and 72 RBI while splitting the season between High-A and Double-A. He slugged 18 home runs in his full-season debut a year ago.
His value will come from his offense. As MLB.com wrote, "Ockimey's bat speed, strength and loft in his left-handed swing give him the ability to drive the ball out of the park to all fields."
New York Yankees: OF Estevan Florial
Estevan Florial might be the biggest breakout prospect of the 2017 season.
The Haiti native had played just seven games above rookie ball heading into the season, and Baseball America ranked him as the No. 14 prospect in a stacked Yankees system.
However, with a .297/.372/.477 line that includes 41 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases as a 19-year-old in A-ball, he's now a consensus top-100 prospect.
Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier are penciled into two long-term spots in the big league outfield, and Billy McKinney has rebuilt his prospect stock considerably this season. Even after trading away Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo, the Yankees could feel confident enough in their outfield situation to flip Florial for controllable pitching help.
Tampa Bay Rays: SP Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi was an attractive name on the trade market last offseason after he went 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while throwing a career-high 187.2 innings.
The numbers aren't quite as pretty this season, as he's posted a 4.85 ERA and 1.36 WHIP and seen his walk (2.6 to 4.0 BB/9) and strikeout (8.0 to 7.5 K/9) rates both move in the wrong direction.
The 27-year-old still has two years of team control remaining, and he'll be a fairly cost-effective option once again in 2018 even as his salary climbs from the $4.1 million he's earning this year.
Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon are waiting in the wings, while Chris Archer, Blake Snell and Jacob Faria look like safe bets to fill three spots in the rotation, so the Rays have the depth to consider flipping Odorizzi.
Toronto Blue Jays: 3B Josh Donaldson
The Blue Jays didn't sell as aggressively at the trade deadline as some expected given their standing in the AL East. The big question of whether Josh Donaldson has a long-term place on the club remains.
The 2015 AL MVP has picked up his play of late after being slowed by injuries in the first half. He's tied for the AL lead with 12 home runs in August and boasts a stellar .284/.405/.705 batting line.
He's making $17 million this season in the second year of a contract that bought out a pair of his arbitration seasons. That leaves him open to the arbitration process one last time this offseason before he hits free agency the following winter.
If the Blue Jays don't feel a long-term extension is a realistic possibility, they could look to land a bigger return by moving him this offseason as opposed to waiting until the deadline or going the qualifying offer route.
Chicago White Sox: SP James Shields
The White Sox don't have much left in the way of movable veteran pieces after a busy year dating back to their winter meetings dealings.
They're also nowhere near ready to consider moving prospect talent for established veterans.
Assuming Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and cost-effective reliever Nate Jones stay put, that leaves James Shields as the most likely trade candidate.
The 35-year-old is owed $21 million next season, but $11 million of that is being paid by the San Diego Padres. If the White Sox chipped in a bit more money, they might find a taker in a weak starting pitching market.
While his 5.72 ERA in 16 starts this season is rough, he did post a respectable 4.76 ERA with a .236 opponents' batting average in five August starts.
Cleveland Indians: SS Yu-Cheng Chang
It's unlikely the Indians would consider trading Francisco Mejia or Triston McKenzie—two prospects on the rise who have emerged as legitimate top-25 talents in league-wide rankings.
However, shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang could work as the centerpiece of any major offseason trade they might pursue.
The 22-year-old has shown intriguing power in the minors and sports a .764 OPS with 22 doubles and 23 home runs in Double-A this season.
Whether he sticks at shortstop long-term or winds up shifting over to third base, he's firmly blocked in the majors by Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.
Middle infield talent is always in demand, and his offensive profile could make him a sought-after prospect chip.
Detroit Tigers: 2B Ian Kinsler
With the recent trades of Justin Wilson, Justin Upton and Justin Verlander the Tigers have either become strongly anti-Justin or they're finally ready for a full-blown rebuild.
So who's next out the door?
Money will be a deterrent in trying to move Miguel Cabrera and Jordan Zimmermann, but with just a $10 million option for next season before he reaches free agency they should have no problem finding a taker for Ian Kinsler.
While the 35-year-old is having a down season with a .718 OPS and 14 home runs, he's still been a 2.2 WAR player. He's also just a year removed from posting an .831 OPS with 28 home runs and a 6.1 WAR while also taking home his first Gold Glove.
He now looks like as safe a bet as anyone on this list to be playing elsewhere in 2018.
Kansas City Royals: RP Kelvin Herrera
The Royals traded Wade Davis this past offseason with one year of team control remaining.
Will they do the same with Kelvin Herrera?
A two-time All-Star as a setup man, he's moved into the closer's role this season and converted 26 of 29 save chances with a 3.81 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 9.1 K/9.
He's making $5.325 million this season, and that could increase considerably given the weight placed on save totals in the arbitration process.
Regardless, more than a few teams would love to add the hard-throwing Herrera to their relief corps.
Minnesota Twins: 2B Brian Dozier
The Twins didn't find a return to their liking when they shopped Brian Dozier this past offseason.
Now the slugging second baseman has one year and $9 million remaining on his contract, and the Twins should be willing to entertain offers for him once again this winter.
While it doesn't look like he'll duplicate last year's 42-homer total, he remains one of the league's best offensive second basemen with an .825 OPS that includes 24 doubles, 26 home runs and 14 stolen bases.
An extension in Minnesota is not out of the question, even as top prospect Nick Gordon gets closer to making the middle infield situation a bit more crowded.
In that case, veteran starter Ervin Santana is the pick here.
Houston Astros: 1B A.J. Reed
The Astros balked at the idea of giving up top prospects Kyle Tucker and Francis Martes more than once in their pursuit of starting pitching help.
Let's assume those two are still off-limits and that fast-rising right-hander Forrest Whitley have joined them thanks to a stellar 2017 season.
Outfielder Derek Fisher would no doubt be of interest to rival clubs, and the team has a number of position-player prospects knocking on the door. The person we'll focus on is something of a forgotten man—first baseman A.J. Reed.
After failing to seize the starting first base job in 2016, he's not been talked about much, but he's having a terrific season in Triple-A with an .886 OPS and 33 home runs.
Yuli Gurriel's emergence could make Reed expendable.
Los Angeles Angels: RP Blake Parker
Blake Parker is a prime example of why playing the waiver wire is a worthwhile pursuit.
Since last August, Parker went from the Mariners to the Yankees to the Angels to the Brewers and finally back to the Angels, where he's been one of the more pleasant surprises of 2017.
The 32-year-old has pitched to a 2.14 ERA and 0.85 WHIP with 11.4 K/9 in 63 appearances. He's also tallied 14 holds and four saves—including the team's last three save chances—as it appears he'll serve as the Angels' closer the rest of the way.
Despite his age, Parker is under team control through the 2020 season, and he'll be first-time arbitration-eligible this offseason. Cheap late-inning arms are always in demand, and the prospect-hungry Angels might look to sell high.
Oakland Athletics: IF Jed Lowrie
Truth be told, it's a bit shocking Jed Lowrie hasn't already been traded.
The 33-year-old has put together a strong season with a .784 OPS, 40 doubles and 12 home runs—that and his defensive versatility make him an attractive late-season addition to any contender.
He also has a reasonable $6 million team option for next season, so he's potentially more than a rental.
With Franklin Barreto looking more and more ready to take over the starting second base job and Marcus Semien entrenched at shortstop, Lowrie is an expendable piece in an Oakland organization where flipping veterans has become second nature.
Seattle Mariners: OF Braden Bishop
The Mariners are loaded with young outfield talent as rookies Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia make up the team's starting outfield and top prospect Kyle Lewis could be on the fast track to the majors.
With that in mind, Braden Bishop might be the most likely top prospect to be dealt this offseason.
The 24-year-old has posted a solid .306/.393/.413 line with 41 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A, so it's reasonable to think he could be in the big leagues in short order.
He has the glove to stick in center field, and the combination of his hit tool and plus speed makes him a candidate to be a top-of-the-order catalyst.
Texas Rangers: IF/OF Jurickson Profar
If ever there was a player who needed a change of scenery, it's Jurickson Profar.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News agrees, writing: "The time will come this winter for the Rangers to either commit to him or trade him, even if the return is less than they would have ever dreamed."
It's not all that long ago—the 2013 season to be exact—that Profar was considered the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America and various other publications.
However, injuries derailed his development, and now that he's healthy he's had a tough time playing his way into a big league role.
He's a career .229/.309/.329 hitter in 718 plate appearances at the MLB level, but he's also still only 24 years old, and those tools that made him such a highly regarded prospect are still there.
Atlanta Braves: OFs Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp
How ready do the Braves think uberprospect Ronald Acuna is to step into a starting role in 2018?
The answer to that question will determine whether veterans Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp see their names pop up on the trade block this offseason.
The 19-year-old Acuna began the season at High-A, but he's climbed all the way to Triple-A and looked right at home hitting .338/.387/.545 with 23 extra-base hits in 48 games.
Ender Inciarte is entrenched as the starting center fielder, so moving either Markakis or Kemp will be a necessity to clear a path for Acuna.
Markakis is owed $11 million next season in the final year of his contract, while Kemp is still on the books for two years and $43 million—$12 million of which will be paid by the Padres and Dodgers.
Miami Marlins: 3B Martin Prado
No, I don't think Giancarlo Stanton is going anywhere. The Marlins will entertain offers but won't pull the trigger.
The same goes for core pieces such as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. They'll be shopped, but no one will be willing to meet extremely high asking prices.
However, veteran infielder Martin Prado could be on the move, despite signing a three-year, $40 million extension last October.
The 33-year-old has played just 37 games this season and is recovering from knee surgery, but his track record and versatility could still make him an attractive trade target.
Third base prospect Brian Anderson has an .860 OPS with 21 doubles, 22 home runs and 80 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A this season, and moving Prado would clear the way for him to take over at the hot corner.
Otherwise, finding a taker for Dee Gordon and shifting Prado to second base could be a solution.
New York Mets: IF Asdrubal Cabrera
The Mets have an $8.5 million option on Asdrubal Cabrera for next season that carries a relatively high $2 million buyout, so there's a good chance he'll see that exercised.
That's still no guarantee he'll play for the Mets in 2018, though.
With Amed Rosario at shortstop, Wilmer Flores' solid season at third base and prospect Gavin Cecchini's intriguing, low-cost upside at second base, moving Cabrera might make sense.
The 31-year-old slugged 30 doubles and 23 home runs last season, and he's been a steady contributor once again this year.
Of course, there's a chance the Mets take more drastic measures this winter after a disappointing season, which could mean shopping someone like Jacob deGrom. However, to this point, they've given no indication a dramatic shift like that is forthcoming.
Philadelphia Phillies: 2B Cesar Hernandez
If all goes according to plan, Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford will man the middle infield spots in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
And a strong second half from Crawford and a breakout season from Kingery in the upper minors could mean both players are ready to step into starting roles in 2018.
Standing in their way are incumbents Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis.
Hernandez has quietly posted a 5.7 WAR since the beginning of last season while hitting .290/.364/.407 and playing a solid second base.
The 27-year-old is under team control through the 2020 season and is earning just $2.55 million this year in his first year of arbitration. That combination of production and cost-effective control should drum up interest.
Washington Nationals: OF Daniel Johnson
Assuming the Nationals cling tightly to the prospect foursome of Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Erick Fedde and Carter Kieboom, it's unclear who the centerpiece of any significant offseason trade might be.
One potential candidate is outfielder Daniel Johnson.
MLB.com noted: "Though his tools are loud, Johnson will need time to refine his overall baseball skills on both sides of the ball. If it all comes together, he could develop into a dynamic outfielder capable of impacting games in several ways."
That's the kind of high-ceiling player rebuilding teams love to target, and with a .300/.361/.513 line that includes 27 doubles, 22 home runs and 21 stolen bases between Single-A and High-A, his on-field production only adds to his intrigue.
Chicago Cubs: OF Mark Zagunis
Despite trading Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Jeimer Candelario at the deadline, the Cubs still have plenty of intriguing prospect talent.
However, much of it is on the pitching side of things in the lower levels of the minors, and the front office might be reluctant to part with any of its top arms given the long-term need for pitching.
One attractive prospect who could be available is outfielder Mark Zagunis.
The 24-year-old has been an on-base machine in the minors with a .404 on-base percentage and 15.2 percent walk rate in parts of four seasons. He's also added some pop this season with 21 doubles and 13 home runs.
While a crowded outfield situation in Chicago firmly blocks him, he could make an immediate impact elsewhere.
Cincinnati Reds: RP Raisel Iglesias
Simply put: A non-contending team doesn't need an elite closer.
That's exactly what Raisel Iglesias has become for the Reds this season as he's nailed down 24 of 25 save chances with a 2.07 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 in 55 appearances.
Couple that production with a team-friendly contract—he's owed just $16.64 million over the next three years—and Cincinnati has an extremely valuable asset at its disposal.
An Andrew Miller-type return will likely be the asking price (J.P. Feyereisen, Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier and Ben Heller). Will anyone bite?
Milwaukee Brewers: OF Keon Broxton
It will become a numbers game with Keon Broxton.
Ryan Braun is signed for three more years and doesn't appear to be going anywhere, Domingo Santana has enjoyed a breakout season with an .848 OPS and 22 home runs and top prospect Lewis Brinson is a significant part of the team's long-term plans.
That leaves Broxton as the odd man out at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The 27-year-old has flashed an intriguing mix of power and speed since joining the Brewers, but he's also been inconsistent to the point of being demoted to the minors more than once.
Still, with team control through 2022 and a 20/20 season in the works, there are plenty of teams that would be interested if he were made available.
Pittsburgh Pirates: OF Andrew McCutchen
The Pirates couldn't find a suitable trade for Andrew McCutchen last offseason when they were attempting to sell low on the face of the franchise.
Now that he's bounced back to post an .850 OPS with 23 doubles, 23 home runs and 74 RBI, they might have better luck this winter.
His availability all depends on whether the Pirates think an extension is a realistic possibility.
McCutchen has a $14.75 million team option for 2018 before reaching free agency for the first time in his career, and the small-market Pirates may not be willing to shell out the money to keep him around.
If he doesn't factor into the team's plans and someone is willing to offer a couple of top-tier prospects, the Pirates just might pull the trigger.
St. Louis Cardinals: OF Tommy Pham
Tommy Pham is one of the most obvious sell-high candidates in baseball.
After not making the 25-man roster out of camp, he's come out of nowhere to hit .307/.402/.517 with 19 home runs and 17 stolen bases on his way to a 4.6 WAR.
However, he's also already 29 years old, and the Cardinals are loaded with outfield options.
Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty are both signed long term, Randal Grichuk still has intriguing enough potential to warrant playing time, and prospects Magneuris Sierra and Harrison Bader have both seen time in the majors this year with Tyler O'Neill also knocking on the door.
Trading your most productive hitter might not sound like a good idea on the surface, but in this case, it's a borderline no-brainer if someone is willing to pay for his 2017 numbers.
Arizona Diamondbacks: SP Jon Duplantier
In the midst of a breakout season, Jon Duplantier was a popular name at the trade deadline, according to David Laurila of FanGraphs.
A third-round pick in 2016 with an injury history and the always shaky Rice University pedigree, Duplantier has exceeded expectations by going 12-3 with a 1.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 156 strikeouts in 131 innings between Single-A and High-A.
That's enough to make him arguably the No. 1 prospect in a thin Arizona system, so why would it consider dealing him?
The D-backs are built to win now with a ton of money invested in Zack Greinke and with superstar slugger Paul Goldschmidt headed for free agency after the 2019 season. They're also set on the pitching side of things with controllable arms Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley joining Greinke on the staff.
If the right blockbuster comes along, Duplantier could be the prospect headliner.
Colorado Rockies: IF Ryan McMahon
In theory, Ryan McMahon could take over as the everyday first baseman for the Rockies next season.
However, that creates a logjam in the outfield as Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, Ian Desmond, Raimel Tapia and David Dahl would all be vying for playing time.
With Brendan Rodgers looking like the second baseman of the not-too-distant future and Nolan Arenado firmly entrenched at third base, that leaves McMahon blocked at the MLB level.
The 22-year-old has reclaimed top-prospect status this season with a .355/.403/.583 line that includes 39 doubles and 20 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. Moving him could go a long way toward landing an experienced arm to front the rotation.
Los Angeles Dodgers: SP Mitchell White
Let's assume Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo and Yadier Alvarez are off-limits in trade talks.
That might make 22-year-old Mitchell White the most attractive trade chip in the Dodgers farm system.
A second-round pick in 2016, White has posted a 2.93 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 88 strikeouts in 73.2 innings and a .172 opponents' batting average while reaching Double-A.
MLB.com wrote: "With his athleticism, sound delivery and strong build, White has the necessary ingredients to remain a starting pitcher. He has no trouble throwing strikes but still is refining his command, which continues to improve as he gets more innings and puts his elbow reconstruction further behind him."
That arm surgery came after his senior year of high school, and he's shown no lingering effects in the years since, so his upside as a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter should make him an attractive target.
San Diego Padres: RP Brad Hand
Props to the Padres for not backing off their asking price on Brad Hand.
A failed starter with the Miami Marlins, Hand has thrived since making the full-time move to the bullpen in San Diego last season, posting a 2.57 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 11.5 K/9 in 143 appearances with the Padres.
Add in his team control through the 2019 season, and there's no reason not to ask for the moon.
However, trading him when he's more than just a rental remains the best way to maximize his value, so pulling the trigger at some point between this offseason and next year's trade deadline still seems like the smartest move.
San Francisco Giants: 1B Brandon Belt and 2B Joe Panik
If the Giants are going to swing any sort of significant trade this offseason for a power bat or a rotation arm, it's going to mean giving up MLB talent.
There's no way around that with a farm system that's lacking in elite prospects.
Christian Arroyo, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede are all decent prospects, but none of them qualify as top-tier trade chips capable of being the headliner in a blockbuster deal.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported back in June that the only players the Giants deemed untouchable in trade talks were Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford.
Notably absent from that list were Brandon Belt and Joe Panik, and a package built around one of those players could set the wheels in motion on a major trade.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Wednesday's games.