Predicting 1 Trade For Every MLB Team During the 2022-23 Offseason
For 26 of the league's 30 teams, the 2022 MLB season is over, so it's never too early to start looking ahead to the upcoming offseason.
This year's free-agent class is headlined by Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Justin Verlander, Willson Contreras, Edwin Díaz, Dansby Swanson, Brandon Nimmo and opt-out candidates Jacob deGrom, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Rodón.
For teams that miss out on those top-tier players, the trade market could be the preferred alternative, and Shohei Ohtani, Rafael Devers and Corbin Burnes are among the top names that could hit the trade block.
Ahead, we've come up with one trade prediction for each MLB team as a preview of sorts for the offseason. Buyers were paired with sellers, so we're breaking down 15 trades, with each team involved in one deal.
Tejay Antone Traded from CIN to ARI
To ARI: RHP Tejay Antone
To CIN: RHP Slade Cecconi
The Reds have spent the past two years dismantling their roster and stockpiling young talent as they gear up for future contention.
That leaves them with very little in the way of logical trade chips, but there would be more than a few teams willing to roll the dice on a healthy season from Tejay Antone if he were made available.
The 28-year-old spent the entire 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he was lights-out in 2021 before he was injured, posting a 2.14 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 with 2.0 WAR in 23 appearances.
Armed with an electric curveball-slider-sinker arsenal, he has the stuff to close games, and the Arizona Diamondbacks would benefit from adding some help to a bullpen that finished 25th in the majors with a 4.58 ERA and converted just 33 of 60 save opportunities.
Going the other way is right-hander Slade Cecconi, who has a 60-grade fastball and 60-grade slider, giving him an extremely high ceiling as a late-inning reliever, though there is also starter upside in his 6'4", 219-pound frame.
Scott Barlow Traded from KC to PHI
To PHI: RHP Scott Barlow
To KC: 2B Hao Yu Lee, RHP Francisco Morales
The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen has been an adventure once again this season, finishing 23rd in the majors with a 4.27 ERA while swinging a deal to acquire free-agent-to-be David Robertson at the trade deadline.
Corey Knebel and Brad Hand are also free agents, leaving Seranthony Domínguez, José Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti and Connor Brogdon as the only clear pieces to build the 2023 bullpen around.
At least one proven late-inning addition seems like a must, and trading for Scott Barlow would give the Phillies one of baseball's best relievers over the past couple of seasons. The 29-year-old has piled up 5.7 WAR over the last two years, posting a 2.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 with 40 saves and 20 holds in 140 games.
In exchange for a high-end reliever with two remaining years of control, the Royals bring back a high-ceiling infielder in Hao Yu Lee and a power arm in Francisco Morales.
Lee, 19, reached High-A this year and hit .284/.386/.438 with 26 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 79 games over three levels. Morales, 22, racked up 70 strikeouts in 51 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in his first full season as a reliever, and while his command remains a work in progress, he has closer stuff if everything clicks.
David Bednar Traded from PIT to ATL
To ATL: RHP David Bednar
To PIT: OF Jesse Franklin V, RHP Royber Salinas
With Kenley Jansen headed for free agency after saving an NL-high 41 games playing on a one-year, $16 million deal, the Braves will be in the market for some late-inning relief help this offseason.
They could pursue a reunion with Jansen, but the 35-year-old also blew seven saves, so they may prefer a new face in the ninth-inning role.
Right-hander David Bednar nailed down 19 of 23 saves with a 2.61 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 in 45 appearances in his first full season as Pittsburgh's closer, earning an All-Star selection in the process. He is controllable through the 2026 season, and he won't be arbitration-eligible for the first time until next offseason.
A frontline closer is a luxury for a non-contending Pirates team, and flipping him now might be the best way to maximize his value.
Outfielder Jesse Franklin V has some of the best raw power in the Atlanta system, though he played in just 15 games this year before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had an .842 OPS with 24 home runs at High-A in 2021.
Flame-thrower Royber Salinas could be the true prize of this trade. Armed with a fastball that touches 98 mph and a wipeout slider, he ranked fourth in the minors this year with 175 strikeouts in 109 innings. He is being developed as a starter for now, but his future is likely at the back of an MLB bullpen, and his arrival aligns better with Pittsburgh's window of contention.
Corbin Burnes Traded from MIL to NYY
To NYY: RHP Corbin Burnes
To MIL: RHP Domingo Germán, SS Oswald Peraza, SS Trey Sweeney, RHP Will Warren
Ever-present financial limitations for the Milwaukee Brewers could mean that either Corbin Burnes ($11.4M arbitration projection) or Brandon Woodruff ($11M arbitration projection) is traded this offseason, as both players have two years of club control remaining.
It's going to take a massive haul of talent to pry either of them loose, but the Yankees have the pieces to do it and a void to fill with Jameson Taillon headed for free agency. Given the money they will have to shell out to keep Aaron Judge, that $11.4 million figure on Burnes could be an appealing alternative to overpaying for an arm in free agency.
This proposed trade package gives the Brewers a rotation replacement in Domingo Germán who is controllable through the 2024 season, an elite-level prospect in Oswald Peraza and a pair of quality secondary prospects in Trey Sweeney and Will Warren.
Sweeney was the No. 20 overall pick in the 2021 draft, and he posted a .762 OPS with 16 home runs and 31 steals in 111 games while reaching Double-A in his first full professional season. He has a 55-hit, 50-power offensive repertoire, and he could profile well at third base long-term.
Warren, 23, had a 3.91 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 125 strikeouts in 129 innings between High-A and Double-A. He has four quality pitches, good command and a 6'2" frame that still has room for further physical projection.
Ji-Man Choi Traded from TB to CHC
To CHC: 1B Ji-Man Choi
To TB: RHP Ryan Jensen
The Chicago Cubs have money to spend and some intriguing young pieces to build around, giving them the potential to be one of the more active teams at this year's trade deadline.
With solid pop and elite on-base skills, Ji-Man Choi has been a quietly productive player for the Tampa Bay Rays the past several seasons. He had a 114 OPS+ with 22 doubles, 11 home runs and a .341 on-base percentage this season, but he's likely on his way out of Tampa Bay.
The 31-year-old is projected for a $4.5 million salary in his final year of arbitration, and while that may not be a prohibitive figure for most teams, it's enough for him to be a trade or non-tender candidate in Tampa Bay.
The Cubs have a hole to fill at first base, and while they could give prospect Matt Mervis a shot at winning the job next spring, Choi could be a nice addition to the lineup to help bridge the gap.
Hard-throwing Ryan Jensen had a 4.25 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 59.1 innings in 2022, and while the 24-year-old remains an unfinished product, the Rays are as well-equipped as any organization to get the most out of his live arm.
C.J. Cron Traded from COL to HOU
To HOU: 1B C.J. Cron
To COL: RHP Misael Tamarez, IF Will Wagner
With Yuli Gurriel and Trey Mancini both headed for free agency this offseason, the Houston Astros could be in the market for an outside addition at first base.
José Abreu and Josh Bell could be targets in free agency, but they could also make a run at 2022 All-Star C.J. Cron on the trade market if the perpetually directionless Colorado Rockies decide to make him available.
The 32-year-old posted a 107 OPS+ with 28 doubles, 29 home runs and 102 RBI this season, and he has tallied 5.5 WAR over the past two seasons in Colorado. He inked a two-year, $14.5 million extension down the stretch in 2021, and he'll be owed $7.25 million in 2023.
Right-hander Misael Tamarez features a heavy, upper-90s fastball and a hard slider, giving him late-inning potential if he can't stick as a starter. The 22-year-old had a 4.30 ERA with 70 walks and 142 strikeouts in 121.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022.
Meanwhile, infielder Will Wagner was a breakout prospect of sorts, hitting .261/.374/.394 with 19 doubles, 10 home runs and 53 RBI in 117 games between High-A and Double-A. The 24-year-old has been an early standout in the Arizona Fall League, going 11-for-31 with eight RBI in his first nine games.
Rafael Devers Traded from BOS to SF
To SF: 3B Rafael Devers
To BOS: OF Grant McCray, SS Aeverson Arteaga, RHP Mason Black, LHP Nick Zwack
How much is one year of Rafael Devers worth if the Boston Red Sox decide to fully embrace a rebuild and deal one of their best players ahead of his final season of arbitration?
The above proposal hinges greatly on how highly the Red Sox value Grant McCray, one of the biggest breakout prospects of the 2022 season and a player who will likely be all over leaguewide top-100 lists going into next year.
The 21-year-old has legitimate five-tool potential, and he hit .289/.383/.514 with 23 doubles, 23 home runs, 79 RBI, 104 runs scored and 43 steals. He also struck out 170 times in 120 games, but that's not uncommon for a player his age in his first full season above rookie ball.
Shortstop Aeverson Arteaga also raised his profile considerably by hitting .270/.345/.431 with 51 extra-base hits in 565 plate appearances at Single-A San Jose. Those two high-end position-player prospects and a pair of quality arms in Mason Black (3.21 ERA, 136 K, 112 IP at A/A+) and Nick Zwack (2.81 ERA, 132 K, 105.2 IP at A/A+) would be a talent boon for the Boston farm system.
On the other side, the Giants would land a desperately needed middle-of-the-order bat to anchor their offense, and they could immediately start extension talks with Devers as a central part of their future.
Kyle Finnegan Traded from WAS to SEA
To SEA: RHP Kyle Finnegan
To WAS: OF Cade Marlowe
The Seattle Mariners front office has done an excellent job piecing together a lights-out bullpen with homegrown talent, under-the-radar trade pickups and scrapheap additions, but there is no proven left-hander in the projected 2023 relief corps.
Kyle Finnegan is not a lefty, but he can function as one thanks to his reverse splits in 2022:
- vs. RHH: 151 PA, .264 BAA, .768 OPS, 25.8 K%
- vs. LHH: 117 PA, .164 BAA, .527 OPS, 26.5 K%
One of the few viable trade chips left on a Nationals roster that has been stripped to the studs, he posted a 3.51 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 with 11 saves and 14 holds in 66 appearances. The 31-year-old is controllable through the 2025 season.
In exchange, the Nationals get an intriguing bat in Cade Marlowe. The 25-year-old hit .287/.377/.487 with 21 doubles, 23 home runs, 102 RBI and 42 steals in 133 games in the upper levels of the minors.
Lucas Giolito Traded from CWS to TEX
To TEX: RHP Lucas Giolito
To CWS: IF Ezequiel Durán, LHP Mitch Bratt, SS Gleider Figuereo
After a disappointing 81-81 finish, the Chicago White Sox are expected to be open for business on the trade market this offseason.
"Simply, they need to shake up their team, and are making virtually everyone but Dylan Cease and Andrew Vaughn available in trades," wrote Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito will be entering his final year of arbitration control in 2023, so he might be the most obvious trade candidate on the roster if the front office decides a shake-up is necessary.
Just two years ago, it was the White Sox acquiring a proven starter from the Texas Rangers when they swung a deal for Lance Lynn, but the tables are turned here with Giolito joining a Rangers squad on the rise.
A frontline performer in 2019, 2020 and 2021, Giolito regressed to a 4.90 ERA in 30 starts this year, but his 4.06 FIP and 9.9 K/9 were still promising. He has one year of club control remaining before reaching free agency.
In return, the White Sox bring back a potential second baseman of the present and future in 23-year-old Ezequiel Durán. He was the No. 3 prospect in the Texas system entering the 2022 season, and despite a middling debut, he still has significant upside.
The also add left-hander Mitch Bratt (2.45 ERA, 99 K, 80.2 IP at A) and infielder Gleider Figuereo (.899 OPS, 19 XBH at Rk/A) to the farm system, and both players have shown impact upside in the early stages of their pro career.
Max Kepler Traded from MIN to BAL
To BAL: RF Max Kepler, $1 million
To MIN: LHP Drew Rom, SS Frederick Bencosme
With Byron Buxton locked in as the everyday center fielder and Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino all vying for playing time at the corner outfield spots, Max Kepler could be shopped this winter.
The 29-year-old is owed $8.5 million in the final guaranteed season of his contract in 2023, and he has a $10 million club option with a $1 million buyout for 2024, potentially making him more than just a one-year rental.
He is not far removed from a 36-homer, 4.0-WAR season in 2019, and he has logged back-to-back 2-WAR campaigns despite batting some injury issues.
He is not far removed from a 36-homer, 4.0-WAR season in 2019, and he has logged back-to-back 2-WAR campaigns despite batting some injury issues. It's his power upside that makes him an appealing trade target.
The Orioles figure to be in the market for upgrades this offseason as they look to build on their surprising 2022 success, and he could take over as the everyday right fielder, pushing Anthony Santander into the DH role.
Left-hander Drew Rom (4.43 ERA, 144 K, 120 IP at AA/AAA) is a quality arm capable of filling a spot at the back of the MLB rotation in short order, while Frederick Bencosme reached High-A in his age-19 season and has significant upside as a contact-oriented player who could stick up the middle.
Pablo López Traded from MIA to TOR
To TOR: RHP Pablo López, LHP Steven Okert
To MIA: C Danny Jansen, 1B/OF Spencer Horwitz, IF Addison Barger
The Toronto Blue Jays need to upgrade their pitching staff around a loaded offense, while the Miami Marlins have a wealth of controllable pitching talent that has been undermined by one of the worst offenses in baseball.
The two clubs feel like a natural match this offseason.
The Blue Jays could opt to capitalize on their depth at catcher that includes Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen and rising prospect Gabriel Moreno, with Jansen looking like the most obvious trade candidate of the three.
The Marlins won't move NL Cy Young front-runner Sandy Alcantara, but Pablo López, Jesús Luzardo, Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers could all be available for the right bat.
Both Jansen and López have two years of club control remaining, and while there's little question López is the more valuable piece, the gap might not be as wide as it seems after Jansen posted a 141 OPS+ with 15 home runs and 2.9 WAR in 72 games.
Rounding out the package with lefty reliever Steven Okert (60 G, 2.98 ERA, 11.0 K/9) going to the Blue Jays and minor league sluggers Spencer Horwitz (.843 OPS, 46 XBH at AA/AAA) and Addison Barger (.933 OPS, 61 XBH at A+/AA/AAA) heading to an offense-needy Miami organization could be enough to level the scales.
Sean Murphy Traded from OAK to STL
To STL: C Sean Murphy
To OAK: IF Nolan Gorman, LHP Zack Thompson, RHP Kodi Whitley
It's the end of an era for the St. Louis Cardinals with Yadier Molina riding off into retirement, and for the first time since 2004, there will be a different Opening Day starter behind the plate.
Andrew Knizner has not shown enough offensive ability to be considered more than a backup with a 65 OPS+ in 553 plate appearances in the majors, and 22-year-old Iván Herrera went 2-for-18 with eight strikeouts in his first taste of the big leagues, so expect an outside addition to be made.
Sean Murphy would be a long-term building block in most organizations, but with his first year of arbitration looming, he's a prime trade candidate for the penny-pinching Oakland Athletics. The 28-year-old is controllable through the 2025 season, and he posted a 120 OPS+ with 37 doubles, 18 home runs and 66 RBI while once again playing Gold Glove defense in a 3.5-WAR season.
With MLB-ready Shea Langeliers and top prospects Tyler Soderstrom and Daniel Susac providing enviable catching depth, the Athletics could flip Murphy to fill other needs. Nolan Gorman would provide a potential 30-homer slugger and a new everyday third baseman, while Zack Thompson and Kodi Whitley can both immediately plug into the MLB pitching staff.
It's a good haul of talent that can help the Athletics immediately, while the Cardinals potentially have the catcher position solved for years to come.
Shohei Ohtani Traded from LAA to LAD
To LAD: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani
To LAA: RHP Dustin May, C Diego Cartaya, 2B Michael Busch, RHP Gavin Stone, OF Andy Pages, OF James Outman
What type of package is it going to take to pry Shohei Ohtani away from the Los Angeles Angels this offseason?
The two-way superstar signed a one-year, $30 million deal earlier this month to lock in his final year of arbitration control, but with free agency on the horizon after the 2023 campaign, now is the time for the Angels to move him if they don't think a long-term extension is doable.
This package would be a franchise-altering deal for both sides, with the Angels getting six players with top-100 prospect value or thereabouts and the Dodgers plugging a hole in their rotation and further bolstering an already potent lineup.
Non-tendering Cody Bellinger and declining an option on Justin Turner would save $37 million relative to the 2022 payroll, so adding Ohtani to the books is not an issue if the Dodgers are interested. It's just a matter of whether they're willing to part with so much high-end talent.
Diego Cartaya (No. 14), Miguel Vargas (No. 34), Michael Busch (No. 55), Gavin Stone (No. 67) and Andy Pages (No. 77) all earned a spot on Bleacher Report's final top-100 prospect list of the year in September, while James Outman had a .978 OPS with 31 home runs in the upper levels of the minors.
This completely overhauls the Angels roster and sets them up for future success, while the Dodgers add another bona fide superstar and hang on to prized pitching prospect Bobby Miller.
Zach Plesac Traded from CLE to NYM
To NYM: RHP Zach Plesac
To CLE: 3B Mark Vientos, RHP Eric Orze
The New York Mets could have multiple holes to fill in their starting rotation this offseason with Jacob deGrom (opt-out), Chris Bassitt (mutual option), Carlos Carrasco (player option) and Taijuan Walker (player option) all potentially hitting the open market.
Right-hander Zach Plesac is a potential trade candidate for the Cleveland Guardians, as he is due a raise to a projected $2.9 million in arbitration, and he could slot nicely at the back of the Mets rotation with three years of club control remaining.
The 27-year-old has a 4.04 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 445.1 career innings and would represent a low-cost option for a Mets team poised to spend big once again in free agency.
In return, the Guardians get a controllable power bat in Mark Vientos who posted an .877 OPS with 24 home runs and 72 RBI in 101 games at Triple-A this year. He could slot in at first base or designated hitter, depending on where the team prefers to use Josh Naylor.
Reliever Eric Orze has a mid-90s fastball and a terrific splitter that has led to a 33.2 percent strikeout rate in the minors, and he would give Cleveland another dynamic arm in the bullpen.
Tarik Skubal Traded from DET to SD
To SD: LHP Tarik Skubal
To DET: IF Eguy Rosario, LHP Adrián Morejón, RHP Jairo Iriarte, RHP Moises Lugo
With Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea both headed for free agency, and Yu Darvish and Blake Snell following suit after the 2023 season, the San Diego Padres need to find a way to shore up the starting rotation long-term around Joe Musgrove.
Trading for a controllable starter this offseason would be a step toward accomplishing that, and they still have the prospect piece to swing a significant trade even after the Juan Soto blockbuster.
The Detroit Tigers were willing to listen on Tarik Skubal at the trade deadline, and while he wound up staying put, those trade talks could be revisited this winter. The young left-hander underwent flexor tendon surgery in August, but he had a 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 117 strikeouts in 117.2 innings over 21 starts prior to the injury.
The 25-year-old is expected to begin a throwing program in January, so while he may not be ready for Opening Day next year, a 2023 return is likely. More importantly, he's controllable via arbitration through the 2026 season.
In return, the Tigers get an MLB-ready piece in Eguy Rosario who had an .876 OPS with 34 doubles, 22 home runs, 81 RBI and 21 steals at Triple-A in 2022. He is joined by left-hander Adrián Morejón, who could fill Skubal's spot in the rotation, and two high-ceiling, lower-level pitchers with starter upside in Jairo Iriarte and Moises Lugo.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.