Predicting the 10 Biggest MLB Stars Who Will Be on 2015 MLB Trade Block
With the MLB draft now behind us, the summer trade season is just around the corner, and the rumor mill should start heating up in the days and weeks to come.
Last year's trade deadline set the bar high, as it was one of the busiest in recent memory.
David Price, Jon Lester, Yoenis Cespedes, Austin Jackson, John Lackey and many others were on the move in the days leading up to the July 31 deadline, following the blockbuster deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland earlier in the month.
It will be tough to top last season, but this year's crop of potential trade chips is impressive in its own right, with plenty more impact players potentially on the move this summer.
So with that in mind, what follows is a look at the 10 biggest MLB stars who will be on the trade block this summer.
The focus was on players likely to in fact be traded, as opposed to just shopped for the sake of gauging their value. Those top 10 players were then ranked on their overall value as a trade target for a contending team.
Others of Note
Others Who Could Be on the Move
These players did not quite crack the top 10, but they could also be on the move and in a position to make an impact for a contender down the stretch:
- RP Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies
- SP Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics
- RP Jason Grilli, Atlanta Braves
- SP Aaron Harang, Philadelphia Phillies
- SP Kyle Kendrick, Colorado Rockies
- SP Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds
- SP Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers
- 1B Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies
- OF Gerardo Parra, Milwaukee Brewers
- RP Manny Parra, Cincinnati Reds
- SS Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
- OF Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies
- RP Will Smith, Milwaukee Brewers
- OF Drew Stubbs, Colorado Rockies
- 3B Juan Uribe, Atlanta Braves
Players Staying Put Due to Their Contracts/Asking Price
These players may wind up on the trade block, but due to their remaining contracts or their current team's expected asking price, don't expect them to be on the move this season:
- RF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
- RP Jonathan Broxton, Milwaukee Brewers
- SP John Danks, Chicago White Sox
- SP Matt Garza, Milwaukee Brewers
- RF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
- IF Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
- 1B Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
- 3B Chris Johnson, Atlanta Braves
- RP Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
- C Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
- SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
10. RP Tyler Clippard, Oakland Athletics
Tyler Clippard first established himself as a standout bullpen arm with the Washington Nationals in 2009, and since then he has been one of the most consistent and reliable relievers in the game.
Since the start of 2009, he's posted a 2.66 ERA, 1.044 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 over 438 appearances, and his 10.6 WAR during that span is good for seventh among all relievers.
The 30-year-old has spent the bulk of this season in the closer's role for the Oakland Athletics with Sean Doolittle battling arm problems, but he's been at his best pitching in the eighth inning.
An All-Star in 2011 and 2014, Clippard has an $8.3 million salary this season before hitting free agency for the first time this coming winter.
9. 1B Adam Lind, Milwaukee Brewers
The trade market figures to be relatively thin on impact bats once again, but Adam Lind is capable of providing a run-producing presence at a low cost.
That is provided he is limited to only facing right-handed pitching, as the 31-year-old is a career .212/.258/.330 hitter against southpaws, compared to a .293/.351/.511 line against right-handers.
His $7.5 million salary for this season is very reasonable considering his production, and he comes with the added value of being more than just a rental player with an $8 million option for next season as well.
It didn't cost the Milwaukee Brewers much to acquire Lind this offseason, as Marco Estrada was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays in the trade, and they may be able to flip him come July for a decent return.
8. SP Jeff Samardzija, Chicago White Sox
The Oakland Athletics paid a steep price to land Jeff Samardzija last July, shipping top prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney to the Chicago Cubs in a deal that also sent Jason Hammel to Oakland.
While the Athletics struggled through a late-season collapse, eventually sneaking into the playoffs with a wild-card spot, Samardzija did his part with a 3.14 ERA in his 16 starts with the team.
Entering a contract year, Samardzija was on the move again this winter, as the A's sent him to the Chicago White Sox for a package of four players headlined by shortstop Marcus Semien.
Suffice to say things have not gone according to plan for the White Sox so far this season, as they sit seven games back in an AL Central division loaded with potential contenders, and that could leave them as sellers come July.
The 30-year-old Samardzija has been inconsistent at best so far this season, recording just seven quality starts in 13 games, but when he's on, the front-line stuff is still there.
A 3.83 FIP may be more telling than his 4.84 ERA, and while he won't land a Russell-type prospect this time around, moving him could still go a long way in helping the White Sox replace the young talent they gave up to acquire him in the first place.
7. UT Ben Zobrist, Oakland Athletics
Defensive versatility is an incredibly valuable commodity on a 25-man MLB roster, and Ben Zobrist has been the perfect example of just how much a versatile player can mean to a team over the course of his 10-year career.
Since first establishing himself as an everyday player in 2009, Zobrist has posted a 36.5 WAR, which ties him with Evan Longoria for fourth among all position players during that span.
The 34-year-old is in the final season of his current contract, and he's not having a good season at the plate by any means, but that won't stop teams from lining up for a chance to acquire him once the Oakland Athletics officially start shopping him.
Zobrist was sidelined for 29 games earlier this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he's hit just .203/.282/.328 in 18 games since returning.
From an offensive standpoint, Zobrist is most valuable at second base, but he's also capable of playing shortstop, third base and both corner outfield spots.
If he can prove healthy and pick things up a bit at the plate, the Athletics may yet be able to net a big return for Zobrist before the deadline.
6. SP Mat Latos, Miami Marlins
Expecting to contend for a playoff spot and in need of another arm to fill out their rotation, the Miami Marlins pulled the trigger on trading for Mat Latos during the winter meetings.
It was a rough start to the season for the right-hander, as he went 1-4 with a 6.12 ERA and a 1.594 WHIP over his first nine starts.
That was followed by a 22-game stint on the disabled list with knee inflammation, but he looked like a different pitcher in his first start back on June 13.
The 27-year-old allowed four hits and one run while striking out 11 in seven innings of work, earning his second win of the season.
A dip in velocity was a concerning sign during his early struggles, but he touched 96 mph on Saturday, once again showing the stuff that made him a legitimate front-line arm during his time in Cincinnati.
"It was good to have two legs under me, that's for sure," Latos told Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel. "I could tell the ball was jumping out of my hand. I didn't think it was 96, but I'll take it."
If the Marlins continue to struggle (27-37, 7.0 GB), and Latos can string together a few more starts like his last one, his stock will soar heading into July.
5. RP Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
A losing team doesn't have much need for an elite closer, and that may very well mean flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds hits the trade block this summer.
Chapman is again putting up video game numbers in the strikeout column with 47 punchouts in 28.1 innings, but he's only seen 14 save chances on the season for a Reds team that sits six games under .500 and 13 games back in the NL Central standings.
While the 27-year-old won't reach free agency until after the 2016 season, his salary already stands at $8.05 million, and that number will only go up in his final year of arbitration.
According to a tweet from Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals have already had talks with the Reds about Chapman, though things have not progressed beyond just talking.
Expect the Reds' asking price to be incredibly high, as Chapman is an absolute beast, but he'll be the best relief arm on the market and my guess is someone is willing to pay the price.
Don't rule out the possibility of the team packaging him with Johnny Cueto in a huge deal, either, as that may be the best way to get the most out of both guys.
4. CF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
It took some time for Carlos Gomez to establish himself as an impact player at the big league level, but he's turned into a dynamic center fielder offensively and defensively for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Originally a top prospect in the New York Mets system, Gomez was traded to the Minnesota Twins as the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade, before joining the Brewers in exchange for shortstop J.J. Hardy prior to the 2010 season.
He took a big step forward in 2012 to earn a four-year, $28.3 million extension, then took his game to another level in 2013 as one of the best all-around players in the league.
The 29-year-old has hit .284/.347/.491 with a 13.3 WAR the past two seasons, averaging 30 doubles, 24 home runs, 73 RBI and 37 stolen bases in the process.
Gomez missed time early with a strained hamstring, and he's still trying to get things going at the plate, but he'd be the top bat on the market if the Brewers do in fact make him available.
The team does not necessarily need to trade him, as he's under contract for $9 million next season, but chances are he won't be re-signed long term, so moving him now could be the best way to maximize his value.
3. SP Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics
Scott Kazmir was the unlikeliest of comeback stories for the Cleveland Indians in 2013, going 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA over 29 starts after spending the previous season struggling in independent leagues.
It came as no surprise that the Indians decided to let someone else pay for his surprise production when he hit free agency that offseason, and the Oakland Athletics pounced with a two-year, $22 million deal.
Now 44 starts into that contract, it would be fair to say the A's have gotten a steal.
The left-hander went 15-9 with a 3.55 ERA, 1.161 WHIP and 164 strikeouts in 190.1 innings last season to earn a place on the All-Star team for the first time since 2008, and he's been even better this year.
Still just 31 years old, Kazmir is headed for a more substantial payday this coming offseason, and it won't be coming from the small-market Athletics.
That makes him as safe a bet as anyone to be on the move this summer.
In fact, he may be the single most sought-after player on the market due to his impressive performance this season and an asking price that figures to be a notch or two below that of Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels.
2. SP Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
In almost any other season, Johnny Cueto would have walked away with Cy Young honors for his performance last year.
Cueto went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA and 0.960 WHIP while leading the National League with 242 strikeouts and 243.2 innings, but, alas, Clayton Kershaw put together a season for the ages and walked away with both Cy Young and MVP honors.
Still, there is little question the 29-year-old is among the best pitchers in the game today, and he's the sort of arm that could push a team over the top during their stretch run.
The Reds' asking price will be steep, but with little to no chance of re-signing the upcoming free agent to a long-term deal, chances are Cueto will wind up going to the highest bidder before the July 31 deadline passes.
He's a better pitcher than Jeff Samardzija, but expecting to land a prospect like Addison Russell may be wishful thinking by the Reds, as that was a deal that looked like a bad decision at the time by Oakland and looks even worse now in hindsight.
1. SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
If we were simply ranking every starting pitcher in the league, Johnny Cueto might come in a few spots ahead of Cole Hamels, but as far as the argument over who the better trade target is, there's little question Hamels claims the top spot.
Cueto is a rental player set to hit free agency this coming winter, while Hamels is a long-term addition with three years and $70.5 million left on his contract after this season, followed by a $20 million option for 2019.
While the money left on the contract of guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Howard makes it tough for their respective teams to move them, Hamels is a relative bargain given the ever-climbing price of quality starting pitching.
The 31-year-old Hamels qualifies as a quality arm and then some, as he ranks seventh among active pitchers with a 43.2 WAR, while sitting at 113-88 with a 3.26 ERA and 1.140 WHIP over the course of his 10-year career.
Perhaps more importantly, he's gone 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 career postseason starts, winning NL Championship Series and World Series MVP honors back in 2008.
The Phillies won't be backing down from their lofty asking price, as they don't need to move Hamels the same way the Reds need to move Cueto, so it will be a matter of whether someone is willing to pay the price in prospect talent.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted, and current through June 15 games.