Big-Name MLB Players on the Trade Block in the 2022-23 Offseason

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesFeatured Columnist IVNovember 9, 2022

Big-Name MLB Players on the Trade Block in the 2022-23 Offseason

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    Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani
    AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

    All eyes are on the loaded crop of free agents this Major League Baseball offseason, but those aren't the only players available. Trades are also very much on the table, and we could see some big names switching jerseys before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a few short months.

    The Los Angeles Angels (Shohei Ohtani) and Boston Red Sox (Rafael Devers) have already said they won't be trading their star player with just one year remaining until he hits free agency, but should we believe them?

    Will the Pittsburgh Pirates part with yet another young star long before he hits free agency?

    Would the Milwaukee Brewers deal either of their aces? Or both of them?

    And is anyone willing to trade for the 2019 NL MVP?

    All players on this list have been named an All-Star at least once in their respective careers, most of them multiple times. But because of some combination of player cost/years remaining before free agency, player production, team outlook and other options on the roster and in the farm system at the player's position, it might make sense to put them on the proverbial trade block.

    Potential trade targets are listed in alphabetical order.

Javier Báez, SS/2B, Detroit Tigers

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    Detroit Tigers' Javier Baez runs out a fly ball against the Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    AP Photo/Paul Sancya

    2022 Stats: .238/.278/.393, 17 HR, 64 R, 67 RBI, 9 SB, 2.5 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Javier Báez basically signed a more expensive version of the extension that Xander Bogaerts signed with Boston in 2019, except instead of a six-year, $120 million deal with a player option after the third year, it was a six-year, $140 million deal with a player option after the second year.

    If the Detroit Tigers legitimately think they can contend for the postseason in 2023, then go ahead and hang on to him and worry about the option situation next offseason (or at the trade deadline).

    But we're talking about a team that lost 96 games this season. One that still has to pay Miguel Cabrera another $32 million in 2023. One whose breakout star pitcher, Tarik Skubal, underwent flexor tendon surgery and figures to miss a significant chunk of next season. And one whose early World Series odds (+7000) are tied with the Miami Marlins for ninth-worst in the majors, per DraftKings.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    First of all, it would need to be one of the 19 teams that isn't in his 10-team no-trade clause. (We don't know who those teams are.)

    But it probably wouldn't need to be a blockbuster deal, given the possibility/likelihood that Detroit stands to just straight-up lose him for nothing in 12 months. A moderately promising pitching prospect and any young hitter with even a modicum of slugging prowess could do the trick.

    And even though Báez struggled in 2022, there will absolutely be teams interested. However, the identity of those teams will hinge on what happens in free agency with Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson and Bogaerts, for whom the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees and Red Sox all figure to be serious suitors.

    For those teams, trading for Báez is probably Plan E, but only four of those seven will be able to sign the aforementioned free agents, which would leave three bidding for Báez.

    The Phillies would be a great fit. They need a middle infielder, and they already have a bunch of big-money, long-term contracts on the books, which means it wouldn't be the end of the world for them if he walks after next season.

Cody Bellinger, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger bats during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the San Diego Padres Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

    2022 Stats: .210/.265/.389, 19 HR, 70 R, 68 RBI, 14 SB, 1.2 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Cody Bellinger has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, but he simply has not been the same player over the past three seasons (1.2 total WAR) that he was from 2017 to 2019 (16.7 total WAR).

    Because he won that 2019 NL MVP, the Dodgers have been forced to keep paying him like an All-Star. He had a $17 million salary in 2021, and he figures to cost a similar amount in 2023. And that's a lot of money for a guy whom they had buried in the bottom third of the order pretty much all season.

    Moreover, the Dodgers have three top-75 overall prospects in the pipeline who can play outfield (Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch and Andy Pages), not to mention they're surely going to try to sign Aaron Judge. So if someone else wants to pay Bellinger that salary next season, Los Angeles would probably be OK with that.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    As poorly as he has hit the past few years, Bellinger would still be a red-hot commodity if made available, if only because of the dire lack of center fielders in this year's free-agency cycle.

    But because he only has one year left before hitting free agency, it's hard to imagine anyone would give up an arm and a leg to get him.

    Assuming they get one of the big shortstops in free agency, the Dodgers don't have any glaring needs. Maybe another outfield prospect if they aren't sold on the ones they've already got. Primarily, this would be a salary-relief move for the Dodgers, as many have already speculated they might just non-tender Bellinger.

Corbin Burnes and/or Brandon Woodruff, RHPs, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Corbin Burnes
    AP Photo/Jeff Dean

    Corbin Burnes 2022 Stats: 12-8, 2.94 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 4.0 WAR
    Brandon Woodruff 2022 Stats: 13-4, 3.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 2.7 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Both Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, and the Brewers might not have the funds to re-sign either of them once they hit free agency.

    To be sure, they aren't in any rush to give either guy away. Burnes has an MLB-best-among-qualified-pitchers 2.62 ERA since the beginning of 2020, and Woodruff is sixth on that list at 2.84. They could just let it ride with both of those aces and be a legitimate World Series contender in each of the next two seasons.

    At the same time, they could trade one of them for even more than the Reds got for Luis Castillo this summer and still be the clear-cut second-best team in the NL Central—at least unless/until the Cubs start spending money and become a factor again.

    And given how lackluster their farm system is and the sheer volume of key Brewers hitting free agency in either 2023 (Kolten Wong, Hunter Renfroe and Brent Suter) or 2024 (Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez and Eric Lauer, in addition to Burnes and Woodruff), they need to start thinking about the future.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    A lot.

    An awful lot.

    Seattle gave up four legitimate prospects to get 1.3 seasons of Castillo, including the highly touted Noelvi Marte. And that was to a team going nowhere fast and happy to dive headlong into rebuilding mode.

    The price tag on Woodruff would be lower than Burnes, since the former is nearly two years older than the latter. But even for Woodruff, we're probably talking three top prospects.

    It would practically take a king's ransom to get Burnes.

    But maybe the New York Mets or Yankees would be willing to pay it in order to enter 2023 with the best starting rotation in baseball.

Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

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    Boston Red Sox's Rafael Devers runs on his double during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
    AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

    2022 Stats: .295/.358/.521, 27 HR, 84 R, 88 RBI, 4.4 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Boston absolutely does not want to trade Rafael Devers. The two-time All-Star is a career .283 hitter with an .854 OPS. He's never going to win a Gold Glove at the hot corner; however, with that bat, he is one of the best third basemen in the majors.

    And Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said in early October that trading Devers is "not on our radar."


    Devers is entering his final year before free agency, and if the Red Sox are unable to ink him to a substantial extension this offseason, they must at least consider the possibility that they might not be able to re-sign him after next season, either.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    To part with Devers, Boston would need a lot.

    Moreover, to get possibly just one year of Devers, it's unlikely that anyone would be willing to give up a ton to get him. So while he might be on the trade block, it would be a big surprise if he does get moved this offseason.

    One spot where it might make some sense, though, is the Chicago White Sox, who have 2023 World Series aspirations in spite of big question marks at both first base and second/third base. (Yoan Moncada can play one but not both.)

    Chicago would likely need to at least part with top prospects Colson Montgomery and Oscar Colas to make it happen, though, so don't bet on it.

Ian Happ, LF, Chicago Cubs

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    Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ watches his homer off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Justin Dunn during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
    AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

    2022 Stats: .271/.342/.440, 17 HR, 72 R, 72 RBI, 9 SB, 4.4 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Ian Happ just had, by no small margin, the best season of his career. He was named an All-Star for the first time and also won his first Gold Glove.

    But like Cody Bellinger and Rafael Devers, Happ is entering his final season before free agency. And unlike the Dodgers and Red Sox, there's not much hope for the Cubs to make the playoffs in 2023.

    Not yet, at least. Chicago could a big spender this offseason, in which case Happ wouldn't be going anywhere. But if they opt to wait until next year—when Jason Heyward's contract finally comes off the "balance sheet"—selling high on Happ would be in their best interest.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    If Happ is on the trade block, Chicago wants prospects, and preferably prospects who will be ready for Opening Day 2024.

    But it's probably not going to be top-tier prospects.

    While he's coming off a career year, Happ is a career .249 hitter and .460 slugger. His numbers over the past six seasons are almost identical to those of Jorge Soler. And for just one year of Soler, no one is going to sell the farm.

    But if someone is all-in on believing that Happ (who just turned 28 in August) is going to be even better in 2023, saddle up for an intriguing trade market.

Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

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    Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) walks in the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
    AP Photo/Ashley Landis

    2022 Stats: .273/.356/.519, 34 HR, 90 R, 95 RBI, 11 SB; 15-9, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, 9.6 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Angels GM Perry Minasian made news Monday by saying in no uncertain terms that they will not be trading Shohei Ohtani this offseason, per The Athletic's Sam Blum.

    But, come on, what do you expect him to say?

    'Yeah, we're happy to take any and all offers'?

    'Can't wait to part with this once-in-a-century talent'?

    Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was also adamant that they wouldn't be trading Juan Soto, up until The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal made it public knowledge that Soto turned down their 15-year contract offer. So, regardless of what Minasian says, until the Angels sign Ohtani to a long-term deal, we're left to assume that the unicorn who hits free agency next offseason is theoretically available.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    If two years of Corbin Burnes might take a king's ransom, one year of Ohtani's services will at least be on par with that.

    And even though it's $30 million for that one year, there will be plenty of interested parties.

    The problem is going to be convincing the Angels that one year of Ohtani isn't the same as more than two years of Soto. Because they are going to want at least four legitimate, multiple-time-All-Stars-if-they-stay-healthy-and-things-pan-out prospects in order to give him up.

    Because of the salary and that requirement of a platter of legitimate prospects, there are probably only four viable candidates: the Dodgers, the Yankees, the St. Louis Cardinals and, as a wild card, the Texas Rangers.

    Now we wait and see if any of those four clubs are willing to part with enough of their respective stockpiles of young talent.

Bryan Reynolds, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Pittsburgh Pirates' Bryan Reynolds disagrees with a called third strike during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
    AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

    2022 Stats: .262/.345/.461, 27 HR, 74 R, 62 RBI, 7 SB, 2.9 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Well, these are the Pittsburgh Pirates we're talking about. They traded Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon when both pitchers had two years of team control remaining.

    Trying to turn young talent into even younger (cheaper) talent is sort of their thing.

    And Bryan Reynolds is going to get mighty expensive in the near future.

    He's about to enter the second season of a two-year, $13.5 million deal, after which he will still be arbitration-eligible for another two years before hitting free agency. While Reynolds' exact salary in 2024 and 2025 is unknown, it will almost certainly be eight figures per year—probably in the $15 million range.

    For a deep-pocketed team in need of a center fielder—of which there are several—that's a bargain. $15 million on one player would be a massive commitment for the small-market Pirates, though, and the sooner they part with him, the more they could get for him.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    A major haul of prospects.

    Ahead of the trade deadline, John Perrotto of Pittsburgh Baseball Now put together possible trade packages for Reynolds based on the trade simulator at Baseball Trade Values. One of the packages was Reynolds to the Atlanta Braves for Spencer Strider, William Contreras, Vaughn Grissom, Kyle Muller and Tucker Davidson.

    Which is...well...outrageous. There's no chance Atlanta would have given up all of that, especially with Michael Harris II already thriving in center by that point. But it's definitely going to take a lot to get three years' worth of an All-Star-caliber outfielder with a team-friendly salary.

Blake Snell, LHP, San Diego Padres

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    San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers' Will Smith during the first inning in Game 3 of a baseball NL Division Series, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
    AP Photo/Ashley Landis

    2022 Stats: 8-10, 3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 2.0 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Quite simply, San Diego needs to shed some money in order to sign Juan Soto to a long-term deal.

    Blake Snell's $16.6 million salary in 2023 might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the $400-500 million that it's going to take to extend Soto, but every little bit helps, right?

    And while his pitching in the postseason left something to be desired, Snell was hot after the All-Star break, giving San Diego a 2.19 ERA in 14 starts. That might be enough for a sell-high opportunity before he hits the final, most expensive season of his five-year, $50 million contract.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    San Diego isn't going to just give Snell away, but the asking price would be a small fraction of what Milwaukee would demand for Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff.

    In addition to the salary relief, the Padres would love to start restocking the farm system they depleted in the Soto trade.

    A promising minor league corner infielder and one other prospect at any position might force their hand.

Trevor Story, 2B/SS, Boston Red Sox

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    Boston Red Sox's Trevor Story in action during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
    AP Photo/Nick Wass

    2022 Stats: .238/.303/.434, 16 HR, 53 R, 66 RBI, 13 SB, 2.5 WAR

    Why His Current Team Might Trade Him

    Boston signed Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million contract last offseason that includes a player option after 2025 and a $25 million club option for 2028.

    But pretty much everything is on the table for the Red Sox this offseason, and parting with Story would help in their quest to both re-sign Xander Bogaerts and lock up Rafael Devers beyond next season.

    And even though he didn't have a great/healthy first year in Boston, his contract would appeal to a lot of teams in an offseason when guys like Trea Turner and Carlos Correa are going to sign significantly larger deals.

    Also of note: Boston has arguably the best middle-infield prospect in all of baseball in shortstop Marcelo Mayer. The soon-to-be 20-year-old is probably still a year away from being a legitimate everyday option in the majors, but he's coming soon-ish.

    What It Would Take to Get Him

    First and foremost, the team trading for Story would need to take on his full contract. Boston isn't going to eat $51 million in the deal like Colorado did in that terrible Nolan Arenado trade a couple of years ago.

    As far as players/prospects whom Boston would need in return, pitching is a clear weakness, both of the starter and reliever variety.

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