Projecting the 10 MLB Stars Playing Their Final Season with Current Team
Some of the star players we have grown used to seeing in their current uniform are playing their final seasons on those teams.
Whether it be free agency, a trade or injuries, circumstances are dictating certain players go elsewhere after the 2022 season.
A couple of weeks past the trade deadline, it's still odd seeing Juan Soto in a San Diego Padres uniform or Andrew Benintendi in pinstripes.
But more change is coming.
Here, we look at 10 MLB stars playing their final season with the current team, given either their pending free agency, trade market, or retirement possibility.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
It is somewhat surprising that Bogaerts remains on the Red Sox after the trade deadline, given his intention to opt out of the remaining three years and $60 million on his contract at the end of this season.
Boston is also the last-place team in a crowded and competitive AL East. Bogaerts, a four-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, should be highly coveted in the free agent market.
And per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, "several executives are predicting" Bogaerts signing with the Chicago Cubs, where former Red Sox front office executive Jed Hoyer is currently the president of baseball operations.
José Abreu, Chicago White Sox
As excellent as Abreu has been under his current three-year, $50 million contract, it's time for the White Sox to move on and finally address their roster needs.
One of the reasons Chicago has one of the worst defensive outfields is because of their logjam at first base and designated hitter, which is directly connected to Abreu's presence on the team.
With the 2020 AL MVP primarily manning first base, it usually forces Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets in the corner outfield spots despite both being natural first basemen.
It will be tough to watch him go, as Abreu's been an All-Star caliber player since 2014. But his departure will allow Vaughn, Chicago's third overall pick in 2019, to play at first.
Then the White Sox could use the money on another corner outfielder, which they have desperately needed the past two seasons.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
All signs point to deGrom opting out of the remainder of his contract after this season. So far, deGrom looks like his dominant self and should command a hefty contract in free agency.
He's pitched phenomenally in his three starts since returning from injury this month. Over his last two starts, deGrom has struck out 22 and given up just two runs on three hits and a walk in 11.2 innings. He gave up one run on three hits in his first start of the season on Aug. 2.
ESPN's Buster Olney reported in July that there is a perception in the industry that Atlanta will be the favorite to sign deGrom.
It makes this run for the Mets all the more crucial. They are likely to win the NL East over Atlanta and currently hold the NL's second-best record.
Maximizing the first season of Max Scherzer's three-year, $130 million contract is important because it looks like the only year New York will have him and deGrom as a tandem.
Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates
Reynolds is under team control through the 2025 season, but the Pirates' center fielder generated interest from multiple teams ahead of the deadline.
The New York Yankees and Miami Marlins called about Reynolds, according to The Athletic's Jim Bowden. While there is no immediate rush to trade Reynolds, it's reasonable to think a more intriguing package would make this worthwhile for Pittsburgh.
At age 27, Reynolds is young enough to be part of the Pirates' future, but contending teams will continue to eye the All-Star center fielder.
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
If left up to Martinez, this would not be his last season in Boston. Martinez has spent the past five seasons with the Red Sox and has expressed a desire to return.
Yet he is a free agent after this season and turns 35 later this month. And like Bogaerts, the Red Sox did not deal Martinez at the deadline despite the likelihood of losing him in free agency.
With the universal designated hitter in play, it should increase the market for Martinez, who is still highly productive at the plate. He's a top-10 DH in wRC+ and slashing .278/.343/.438.
There will be suitors for Martinez, and Boston appears ready to let him test the market.
Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Even if Votto decides to keep playing after this year, it would be solid of the Reds to trade the future Hall of Fame first baseman to a competitive team for his final act.
Votto, who turns 39 in September, has one more season left on his deal before a $20 million club option in 2024. The Reds do not project to be competitive within that time span.
If Votto is still on the team by Opening Day, he'll be a trade candidate all the way up until next year's deadline.
Cincinnati traded Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez last offseason, then Luis Castillo before this year's deadline, all to the Seattle Mariners. The club also sent Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins, Brandon Drury to the San Diego Padres and Tommy Pham to the Boston Red Sox before the deadline.
Don't be surprised to see Votto get moved this offseason as the Reds continue their fire sale.
Michael Brantley, Houston Astros
Brantley has been on the injured list since June and had season-ending shoulder surgery last week. He's in the final year of his contract with Houston, where the five-time All-Star has spent the past four seasons.
To brace for possibly losing Brantley for the season, and considering Yuli Gurriel's struggles this year, the Astros traded for first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini from the Baltimore Orioles.
Mancini is the most logical replacement for Brantley in left field, as he could rotate with Yordan Alvarez as designated hitter.
The Astros could also have Chas McCormick fill the role if they elect not to re-sign Gurriel. Then, they could exercise Mancini's mutual option for next year and put him at first base.
Either way, Brantley's time playing for the Astros appears to be over. He almost joined former teammate George Springer with the Toronto Blue Jays when he was a free agent ahead of the 2021 season, but a last-minute effort by the Astros kept him in Houston.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is pitching on a one-year deal and will be 35 next season. Right now, he's on the injured list dealing with back pain, a common occurrence throughout his career.
The legendary lefty has not hinted at retirement, but you have to wonder how much longer he intends to pitch, especially dealing with so many back injuries.
A flexor injury cost him much of the second half of last season and the playoffs. A hip injury sidelined Kershaw earlier this year. He's also missed significant time over the past decade with back inflammation, a herniated disc and inflammation in his left elbow and shoulder.
Already a World Series champion in 2020, this could be Kershaw's final year on a Dodgers team with baseball's top record and given the best chance to win the World Series.
Winning championships in two of the final three years would be the perfect way for an all-time great to go out.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
How awkward is it watching Judge chase Roger Maris' record for most home runs in a season by a Yankee, knowing they are probably going to let him walk in free agency?
Judge will command more than $300 million, and the Yankees are usually toward the front of the line for a deal like that.
But it seems like he's going to get that deal somewhere else. He's the likely AL MVP after turning down $230 million this past offseason.
Teams with money like the Cubs, San Francisco Giants and both Los Angeles clubs have to be contenders to sign him.
It seems like it would be a mistake for the team not to make Judge a Yankee for life. So don't rule out the possibility of them getting something done after the season, but this historic run he's on looks like his last in pinstripes.
Judge's interview with ESPN's Marly Rivera before the All-Star Game wasn't exactly encouraging for Yankees fans.
Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Turner headlines another incredible class of free-agent shortstops. Along with Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson and potentially Carlos Correa again, Turner is due for a huge payday after this season.
He's third among shortstops in WAR, after Francisco Lindor and Swanson, just ahead of Bogaerts and Corey Seager, the latter of whom he replaced in L.A. after half a year at second base.
Reports indicate Turner prefers a return to the East Coast. His former Washington Nationals teammate Bryce Harper is already recruiting him to the Philadelphia Phillies, who showed their willingness to surround the two-time NL MVP with talent by spending heavily on Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos last offseason.
The Dodgers' top performers this year are players they either signed or traded for in the past three years: Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Turner are the top three in WAR on the team.
It's not out of the question for the Dodgers to pay Turner, but it will be competitive for the market's top shortstop.