Surprising MLB Names Who Could Be Available in 2017-18 Offseason Trade Frenzy
A potential Giancarlo Stanton trade has been the big story of the MLB offseason to this point and for good reason. It's not every day the reigning MVP finds himself on the trade block.
Who else might be on the move this offseason?
Starting pitchers Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole, Julio Teheran, Michael Fulmer and Jake Odorizzi are no strangers to trade rumors and the same goes for relievers Zach Britton, Alex Colome and Brad Hand.
On the position-player side of things, no one should be surprised when guys such as Josh Donaldson, Jose Abreu, Andrew McCutchen, Ian Kinsler, Billy Hamilton, Cesar Hernandez and Nick Markakis pop up in trade rumors.
We're going to dig a bit deeper, though.
Ahead is a look at seven less obvious names who could be available in this winter's inevitable trade frenzy.
RP Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
2017 Stats: 72 G, 16 SV, 10 HLD, 3.93 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.3 WAR
Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible through 2020
Salary: $2.3 million (projected)
They also added Blake Treinen, an established MLB reliever.
The 29-year-old posted a 2.28 ERA with 22 holds in 73 appearances during the 2016 season, and he broke camp with the closer's job this past spring. However, he quickly fell out of favor with a 5.73 ERA over 37 appearances.
A change of scenery jump-started his season, and he closed out the year with a 2.13 ERA and 9.9 K/9 while converting 13 of 16 save chances.
Treinen may be the leading candidate to close games for Oakland in 2018, but don't be surprised if he's pitching elsewhere when the season begins.
SS Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies
2017 Stats: 83 OPS+, 155 H, 47 XBH (12 HR), 61 RBI, 71 R, 1.3 WAR
Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible through 2018
Salary: $7.4 million (projected)
It would make sense for the Phillies to trade a middle infielder this offseason with prospects Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford both knocking on the door.
However, with team control through the 2020 season and after hitting .294/.372/.406 while posting a 6.4 WAR the past two seasons, he might now be viewed more as a long-term piece than a trade chip.
That could put shortstop Freddy Galvis on the block.
The 28-year-old has his shortcomings—most notably a career .287 on-base percentage—but he still has value as a slick-fielding middle infielder with 20-homer pop.
Galvis has been a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop each of the past two seasons, and FanGraphs places him behind only Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford and Francisco Lindor in terms of overall defensive value at the position during that span.
He has experience playing both middle infield spots, and while his $7.4 million projected salary isn't exactly a bargain, a contender could do a lot worse filling a super-utility role.
SP Jose Urena, Miami Marlins
2017 Stats: 28 GS, 14-7, 3.82 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 113 K, 169.2 IP, 2.1 WAR
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, team control through 2021
Salary: $545,000 (projected)
The Marlins desperately need to improve a rotation that ranked 26th in starters' ERA (5.12), and they'll look to do it with low-cost arms as they try to trim the payroll to $90 million.
So why in the world would they trade a pre-arbitration starter such as Jose Urena who is coming off a breakout season?
Simply put, there's not a bigger regression candidate for the 2018 season.
Out of options and on the roster bubble going into spring training, Urena quickly pitched his way into the rotation and wound up winning 14 games while posting a 3.82 ERA that ranked 13th in the NL.
However, his peripheral numbers paint a less rosy picture.
His FIP—a measure of the factors a pitcher controls and a good predictor of future ERA—was 5.20 and that ranked 56th among the 58 qualified starting pitchers.
At the same time, his .249 batting average on balls in play was the fifth lowest among that same group. The league average usually hovers around .300, so it's fair to say he was the beneficiary of some good luck.
In a thin market for starters, if another team is willing to pay for his breakout numbers, the Marlins would be foolish not to pull the trigger.
LF Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
2017 Stats: 130 OPS+, 140 H, 72 XBH (43 HR), 110 RBI, 91 R, 2.5 WAR
Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible through 2019
Salary: $11.1 million (projected)
Here's a list of all the players who have hit more home runs than the 85 launched by Khris Davis over the past two seasons:
- Giancarlo Stanton (86)
The 29-year-old has become one of the game's elite power threats since being traded from Milwaukee to Oakland, and he's done it without much in the way of lineup support.
So why isn't he a household name?
Well, he strikes out a ton (195 Ks), he's not much of an on-base threat (.336 OBP), and he's a borderline liability defensively (-13 DRS, -14.7 UZR/150), so that takes a bite out of his overall value.
Still, that power is for real and it's worth noting he did raise his walk rate from 6.9 to 11.2 percent last season, so he's still making adjustments.
With his salary projected to spike from $5 million to $11.1 million in his second year of arbitration, the thrifty A's could be looking to deal as they dive head first into a full rebuild.
He would be a nice consolation prize for anyone who misses out on trading for Stanton or signing J.D. Martinez.
RP Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates
2017 Stats: 73 G, 21 SV, 14 HLD, 1.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.6 WAR
Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible through 2021
Salary: $3.1 million (projected)
Any way you slice it, Felipe Rivero was one of the most dominant relievers in the game in 2017.
The 26-year-old began the season in a setup role where he racked up 14 holds, before moving to the closer's role in June where he converted 21 of 23 save chances.
Opposing hitters batted a feeble .171 against him on the year, and lefties were particularly helpless with just six singles and one double in 93 plate appearances.
The Pirates picked up Rivero in the trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals, essentially replacing a free-agent-to-be closer with an even more dominant late-inning arm who has team control through 2021.
If they don't think they can legitimately contend in 2018, selling high and flipping him again is something the front office has to consider.
It will take a sizeable prospect package to even get the Pirates to pick up the phone—think something along the lines of what the Red Sox gave up to acquire Craig Kimbrel—but he's worth it.
He might be the most dominant left-handed reliever this side of Andrew Miller.
SP J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays
2017 Stats: 25 GS, 10-11, 3.53 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 142 K, 145.1 IP, 3.6 WAR
Contract Status: Signed through 2018
Salary: $13 million
A deadline trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015 has proved to be a turning point in J.A. Happ's career.
Sporting a 4.64 ERA at the time of the deal, Happ went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts with the Pirates after pitching coach Ray Searage tweaked his delivery.
He was able to parlay that into a three-year, $36 million deal from the Toronto Blue Jays, and he's been worth every penny over the first two seasons.
The left-hander went 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA to finish sixth in Cy Young voting in 2015 and was rock solid once again this past season, despite missing a month with elbow inflammation.
The Blue Jays have not given any indication they plan to be sellers this offseason, otherwise third baseman Josh Donaldson would already be on the trade block as he gets set to enter his final year of team control.
However, they were willing to listen to offers for Happ this past summer, and they would be wise to keep an open mind again this offseason.
For teams looking to add a quality second-tier arm but not keen on offering up a five-year deal to Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, he could be the perfect trade target.
2B/OF Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
2017 Stats: 105 OPS+, 169 H, 57 XBH (19 HR), 78 RBI, 80 R, 34 SB, 3.9 WAR
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, team control through 2022
Salary: $545,000 (projected)
The road to MLB success was a long and winding one for Whit Merrifield. If you're not familiar with his story, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star did a feature on him at the end of the season that's worth a read.
Long story short, he finally got his chance as a 27-year-old rookie in 2016 and followed that up with a legitimate breakout performance.
Along with an AL-leading 34 stolen bases, he also showed previously unseen power with 19 home runs. Prior to that, he had never hit more than nine home runs in a season in the minors and had a grand total of 46 long balls in 3,125 plate appearances.
Aside from the offensive outburst, he also settled in nicely at second base (5 DRS) after filling more of a utility role as a rookie.
On the surface, a cost-controlled player fresh off a breakout season seems like exactly the type of player the Royals should be holding on to.
However, it's important to remember he turns 29 in January.
With one of the thinnest farm systems in baseball, it's not going to just be a quick retool for the Royals. It's going to be a full-scale rebuild that could take several seasons.
Is Merrifield going to be a part of the next contending Royals team?
If the answer is no, the front office has to consider selling high and moving him now to help maximize his value and restock the farm system.