Each MLB Team's Player Most Likely to Be Traded This Offseason

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2016

Each MLB Team's Player Most Likely to Be Traded This Offseason

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    Normally, the free-agent market commands the baseball universe's attention for most of the offseason. That's about to change.

    With one of the weakest free-agent classes in recent history set to hit the open market, teams are going to turn their attention to the trade market in an attempt to plug the holes on their respective rosters, while others will be looking to move veterans to clear space for an upstart youngster.

    We are only focused on major league players—you won't find a prospect listed on the pages that follow. Additionally, keep this in mind: Just because a player is listed here doesn't mean that he actually will be traded. This is simply a rundown of the player each general manager will be working the phones trying to find a new home for.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig is an obvious selection, which is why the outfielder gets the marquee photo above. Which players could join him on the trade circuit this coming offseason? Let's take a look.

Arizona Diamondbacks: SP Patrick Corbin

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    Back in 2013, Patrick Corbin was a 23-year-old All-Star, a pitcher who looked like he'd be a long-term fixture in Arizona's rotation. In 2014, he underwent Tommy John surgeryNone of that kept multiple teams from asking about the 27-year-old as the non-waiver trade deadline neared, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post

    Last week, Corbin lost his rotation spot, per MLB.com's Steve Gilbert, after posting a 5.58 ERA over 24 starts.

    Per Brooks Baseball, Corbin's velocity remains relatively unchanged from his pre-surgery days, suggesting his issues are mechanical, not physical. With Archie Bradley, Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray and Braden Shipley taking up four rotation spots, Corbin would find himself battling the likes of Rubby De La Rosa, Zack Godley and Shelby Miller for one spot next spring. He's expendable. 

    Given his earlier career success, age and two remaining years of arbitration, Corbin still has value as a trade chip, especially with such a weak free-agent class of starters set to hit the market.

Atlanta Braves: OF Nick Markakis

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    Ultimately, Matt Kemp's arrival in Atlanta has all but assured Nick Markakis' eventual departure.

    Atlanta's Opening Day outfield in 2017 figures to feature Kemp and Ender Inciarte in the corners, with the currently injured Mallex Smith patrolling center field. That leaves little room for Markakis, who remains a productive player, albeit not as productive as he was during his heyday in Baltimore.

    Due $11 million in both 2017 and 2018, he'd be an expensive luxury for a rebuilding Braves team to carry as a fourth outfielder. Atlanta might have to eat some of that salary to facilitate a deal, but Markakis could still help a contender in need of a short-term fix in a corner-outfield spot.

Baltimore Orioles: SP Ubaldo Jimenez

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    You laugh at the idea, but if Baltimore were to eat enough of Ubaldo Jimenez's $13.5 million salary in 2017, the Orioles could finally rid themselves of the 32-year-old disappointment.

    As has been the case with Jimenez throughout his career, he can be a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter when he keeps his walks under control. We need only think back to last season, when he pitched to a 4.11 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, for evidence of that.

    It's when his stuff gets away from him that he produces results like the 6.94 ERA he boasts this season.

    He's not going to bring the Orioles back anything of value in a trade, but given the lack of starting pitching on the free-agent market, this offseason represents Baltimore's best chance to get something in return for Jimenez before he leaves as a free agent after the 2017 season.

Boston Red Sox: SP Clay Buchholz

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    For Boston to be able to trade Clay Buchholz in the offseason, it'd first have to pick up the $13.5 million team option on his contract.

    "As out-of-whack as $13.5 million sounds for a pitcher who's been so bad to date," wrote the Boston Herald's Evan Drellich earlier this month, "it's really not that much money for a serviceable starter. If Buchholz leaves an impression he can, in fact, be that as this season winds down."

    Since returning to the rotation, Buchholz has had mixed results. His first start back against Arizona saw him allow three earned runs and issue three walks over just 4.1 innings. His second was markedly better—six innings of one-run ball against the Detroit Tigers with no walks and a trio of Ks.

    If he can build upon his last outing, Boston could find itself in a position to flip Buchholz for an intriguing prospect over the winter.

Chicago Cubs: OF Jorge Soler

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    With Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber in the outfield corners and either Dexter Fowler or Albert Almora Jr. in center field, Chicago's starting outfield configuration in 2017 once again has nowhere for Jorge Soler to pick up regular playing time.

    He could platoon with Schwarber in left field, of course, or serve as the team's primary fourth outfielder. But the Cubs have other internal options to fill those roles, making Soler a valuable trade chip to play in a weak free-agent class of corner outfielders.

    Other teams in need of a corner outfielder would love to get their hands on the 24-year-old, who is due only $17.5 million through 2020. While he hasn't put up eye-popping numbers in limited playing time, Soler has flashed enough upside for the Cubs to be able to recoup some of the prospect talent it traded away in deals for Aroldis Chapman and Mike Montgomery.

Chicago White Sox: SP Chris Sale

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    Here's a question for all the Chicago White Sox fans currently yelling and throwing things at the screen: What have the White Sox won with Chris Sale atop their rotation, exactly?

    In the prime of his career and on a team-friendly deal that pays him only $38 million through 2018, Sale would instantly become the offseason's most sought-after player, with contenders and non-contenders in the mix for his services.

    The package of talent he'd fetch the White Sox would be astonishing.

Cincinnati Reds: SS Zack Cozart

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    With Kansas City likely to exercise its $6.5 million team option on Alcides Escobar, the free-agent shortstop market consists of Erick Aybar, Alexei Ramirez and Ruben Tejada.

    That lack of quality options makes Zack Cozart all the more valuable a trade chip for Cincinnati to play. Heading into his final year of arbitration as a solid all-around shortstop who's smooth in the field and has surprising power at the plate, he'd be a short-term upgrade at the position for a number of teams.

    The 31-year-old was nearly traded to the Seattle Mariners in a two-for-two swap earlier this month that would have landed the Reds 20-year-old lefty Luiz Gohara, the Mariners' fifth-best prospect (per MLB.com), according to a report from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.

    Considering the free-agent options available to teams looking for a boost, the Reds might be able to land an even better package in return this winter.

Cleveland Indians: RP Bryan Shaw

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    With sizable raises due to Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar in their first years of arbitration and sizable bumps in pay due Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis—not to mention their own free agents to re-sign—the Cleveland Indians figure to be looking to free up some payroll space during the offseason.

    Dealing Bryan Shaw, who figures to land a salary around $4 million in his final year of arbitration, would be a good place to start.

    The 28-year-old isn't an exceptionally valuable trade chip, but he does have a track record of success and might be a less expensive option for teams in need of bullpen help then the best free-agent relievers available.

    With Cody Allen, Andrew Miller handling the eighth and ninth innings, the Indians have cheaper in-house options (Shawn Armstrong and Dan Otero) to take care of things in the seventh.

Colorado Rockies: OF Carlos Gonzalez

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    Trading Carlos Gonzalez, the face of the franchise ever since Troy Tulowitzki was shipped out of town, is something the Colorado Rockies have hesitated to do in the past. With the team looking like it might contend in late July, there was little chance of Gonzalez being dealt in 2016.

    But with Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra capable of holding things down in the outfield and 22-year-old prospect Raimel Tapia potentially ready to compete for a roster spot in spring training, the time has come for the Rockies to deal CarGo before he can depart as a free agent after next season.

Detroit Tigers: SP Mike Pelfrey

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    At his best, Mike Pelfrey is a serviceable back-of-the-rotation arm. At his worst, he's a borderline big league pitcher. With a dearth of quality starters available, this coming offseason represents Detroit's best chance to unload the 32-year-old.

    But if there was ever an offseason where the Tigers might have a shot to unload Pelfrey (or Anibal Sanchez, if you were so inclined to argue), its this upcoming one, where quality pitchers are few and far between. 

    Due only $8 million in the final year of his contract, teams might be more willing to take a chance on Pelfrey than taking a chance on more expensive, past-their-prime, back-of-the-rotation arms such as Jorge De La Rosa, Colby Lewis and Jered Weaver.

Houston Astros: C/DH Evan Gattis

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    If Houston decides to let Jason Castro walk as a free agent and doesn't look to bring in another veteran backstop to help Max Stassi behind the plate, then trading Evan Gattis makes no sense for the Astros.

    He's been tremendous when it comes to controlling the opposition's running game and, per StatCorner, has done a solid job framing pitches. At the same time, those are reasons for the Astros to look to move Gattis now, while his defensive value makes up for some of his offensive shortcomings.

    The 30-year-old offers plenty of power from the right side of the plate but little else, as he rarely draws a walk and has a ton of swing-and-miss in his game. Still, power is always in demand, and that alone makes it at least worthwhile for Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow to see what he could get in return for him.

Kansas City Royals: SP Ian Kennedy

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    Were it not for Wade Davis' flexor strain, Ian Kennedy might have already been traded. As Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported in late July, Kansas City was trying to package Kennedy and Davis together as the non-waiver trade deadline neared. Davis' injury ended any chance of that happening.

    Kennedy remains prone to the long ball and, due more than $60 million through 2020, is a significant addition to a team's payroll. The Royals would probably need to eat some of that contract or package Kennedy with another player (Davis seems unlikely) to facilitate a deal.

    With most of the team's core—Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas—all set to hit the open market following the 2017 season, Kansas City needs as much future financial flexibility as it can get.

Los Angeles Angels: OF Kole Calhoun

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    With Cam Bedrosian's development, the pick here would have been closer Huston Street, but a potential season-ending knee injury makes it impossible to go with him. And while trading Mike Trout would be the easiest way for the team to rebuild on the fly, he's not going anywhere.

    That leaves only one trade chip for the Angels to play this winter: right fielder Kole Calhoun.

    A solid all-around player with three years of team control remaining, Calhoun would fetch the Angels a substantial package of talent, as he'll be far less expensive—and far more likely to maintain his current level of play over the course of his deal—than any of the free-agent outfielders set to hit the open market.

Los Angeles Dodgers: OF Yasiel Puig

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    Yasiel Puig might as well be pointing at his value as a trade chip in this picture, because it can't possibly get any lower. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Dodgers have been "trying to give Puig away," adding that they've had no luck because the 25-year-old "is considered toxic at the moment."

    Injuries, ineffectiveness and immaturity have conspired together to find Puig at this point in his career, three years after he took the baseball world by storm as an uber-talented 22-year-old who looked to be a long-term fixture at Dodger Stadium.

    While some teams won't even consider a deal for Puig this winter, others will consider the $17.5 million he's due through 2018 to be far too much to pay a player with so many concerns.

    But there's a general manager and/or owner somewhere who will be convinced his team can fix what's wrong with him, who will think about what kind of player a motivated, locked-in Puig can be and work out a deal with the Dodgers.

Miami Marlins: IF/OF Derek Dietrich

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    Last month, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote that he fully expects Miami to try to re-sign third baseman Martin Prado, adding that if the Marlins are successful, either Derek Dietrich or Dee Gordon could then be moved for pitching.

    Moving Dietrich would be a far easier task for the Marlins to accomplish, as the 27-year-old is the kind of versatile, hard-nosed scrapper any team would love to have on its roster.

    Entering his first year of arbitration, his salary isn't going to be bust any budgets, and he's shown enough over parts of four years in the big leagues to envision him as an average (or better) run producer with regular playing time.

    Trading Dietrich isn't going to bring the Marlins an ace, but a team in need of infield help (or a super utility player) could easily offer Miami an intriguing young arm in exchange.

Milwaukee Brewers: SP Wily Peralta

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    A Baseball America Top 100 prospect, Wily Peralta has struggled to replicate the success he had in 2014, when he went 17-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 32 starts for Milwaukee. In 36 big league starts since last season, he's gone 10-19 with a 5.28 ERA.

    Assuming the Brewers won't simply non-tender him after the season, the 27-year old, who has two years of arbitration remaining, has value as a trade chip.

    He's not going to bring back anything substantial to help Milwaukee's rebuilding process, but with such a weak free-agent class, Brewers GM David Stearns should be able to find another team that's willing to take a flier on a high-upside project.

Minnesota Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe

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    Speculation about Trevor Plouffe's future in Minnesota started back in June, courtesy of the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, more than a month before the non-waiver trade deadline arrived.

    Injuries have limited the 30-year-old to only 69 games in 2016, and it shows in his numbers, with Plouffe on pace to set a new career low in OPS (.685) and FanGraphs' advanced metrics showing a decline in his defense at the hot corner.

    But we've seen what Plouffe is capable of when healthy, providing a solid glove and productive bat from 2012-15, a four-year span that saw him average 18 home runs, 68 RBI and a .738 OPS per season. That kind of production could help another team.

    Entering his final year of arbitration and with Miguel Sano being the team's third baseman of the future, moving Plouffe this winter makes a ton of sense for the Twins. He'll be less expensive, and come with far less risk, than free agents such as Martin Prado and Justin Turner, both of whom will be seeking multiyear deals.

New York Mets: OF Curtis Granderson

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    Assuming Yoenis Cespedes opts out of his contract and New York picks up the $13.5 million team option it holds on Jay Bruce, the Mets will head into the offseason with a 2017 outfield configuration of Bruce in right field, Juan Lagares in center and Curtis Granderson in left.

    That leaves no room for Michael Conforto, who has already proven he can be an impact player in the majors, or Brandon Nimmo, who has little left to prove down on the farm. Of the team's three incumbent veterans, Granderson is the most likely trade candidate.

    Entering the final year of his contract, the 35-year-old still has plenty of power in his left-handed bat but is probably best utilized in a part-time outfield role. A move back to the American League, where he could split time between a corner outfield spot and designated hitter, would be ideal.

    For teams looking for a short-term fix, trading for Granderson is a far more attractive option than signing a free agent such as Jose Bautista, who, while a superior player, will require a substantial multiyear deal to lock up.

New York Yankees: OF Brett Gardner

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    There's no shortage of potential trade chips for the New York Yankees to play this winter, but Brett Gardner stands out as one of the most marketable trade chips the team has to play.

    Due $23 million through 2018 and with a $12.5 million team option for 2019, the 32-year-old provides quality defense in left field and has enough speed and power to make him a threat to cause problems any time he steps to the plate.

    It's all speculation on my part, but both the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants seem like potential suitors for his services during the offseason. And the Yankees have plenty of options with which to replace him in left field, including fourth outfielder Aaron Hicks and prospect Clint Frazier.

Oakland Athletics: 3B Danny Valencia

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    Danny Valencia's inclusion here has nothing to do with his fight with Billy Butler and everything to do with Oakland having less expensive options with far more upside at third base in 2017 than Valencia, who is in line for a sizable raise through arbitration from his $3.15 million salary this season.

    Either Matt Chapman or Renato Nunez represents the future at the hot corner for the A's, not Valencia, whose ability to play multiple positions (both the infield and outfield corners) makes him more valuable a trade asset than your typical corner outfielder.

Philadelphia Phillies: OF Odubel Herrera

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    We first looked at the possibility of Philadelphia trading Odubel Herrera after the season two weeks ago, and nothing the 24-year-old center fielder has done since then has made the idea seem like a bad one.

    Herrera hasn't been able to find his All-Star swing from the season's first half, hitting just .252 with a .707 OPS since making his first appearance in the Midsummer Classic. While he looks the part of a capable defensive outfielder, FanGraphs' advanced metrics say he's a shell of the defender he was last year.

    For teams that miss out on Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler in free agency, trading for Herrera is a far more appealing option than signing the likes of Carlos Gomez or Austin Jackson, past-their-prime veterans on the downside of their careers.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 1B John Jaso

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    Due only $4 million in 2017, the idea of Pittsburgh keeping John Jaso around to back up prospect Josh Bell at first base isn't a far-fetched one. But with Francisco Cervelli's salary about to jump from $3.5 million to $9 million, and Gerrit Cole entering his first year of arbitration, the Pirates need as much payroll flexibility as they can get.

    Suddenly, Jaso's $4 million salary seems like a luxury the Pirates can afford to part with.

    The 32-year-old doesn't offer much in the way of power, but he remains a productive hitter, especially against right-handed pitching. Teams looking for a left-handed part of a platoon at first base will certainly be checking in with Pirates GM Neal Huntington about Jaso's availability.

San Diego Padres: C Derek Norris

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    With Christian Bethancourt and Austin Hedges ready to take over behind the plate, it was no surprise to see the San Diego Union-Tribune's Dennis Lin tweet that the Padres were "pushing" to move Derek Norris before the non-waiver trade deadline.

    Expect the Padres to revisit those efforts once the offseason begins.

    Norris has been a disaster offensively this season, struggling to keep his OPS above .600, but with two years of arbitration remaining, the 27-year-old would be a far less expensive addition for a team in need of a catcher than Wilson Ramos or Matt Wieters, the top backstops available on the free-agent market.

San Francisco Giants: IF Eduardo Nunez

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    San Francisco doesn't have much in the way of expendable assets, having dipped into its farm system to acquire Matt Moore, Eduardo Nunez and Will Smith before this year's non-waiver trade deadline arrived.

    But with Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson on the roster and prospect Christian Arroyo getting closer to the big leagues, the Giants could perhaps look to flip Nunez this offseason. The 29-year-old has been a solid contributor at the plate for the Giants, but he offers a mediocre glove at the hot corner, where he's spent the bulk of his time since arriving in the Bay Area.

    It wouldn't be surprising to see the Giants trade Nunez to try and restock their farm system and sign a veteran such as David Freese, Martin Prado or Justin Turner to take over at third base.

Seattle Mariners: RP Steve Cishek

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    While the rival evaluators who told ESPN's Buster Olney that Seattle would like to make Steve Cishek (and others) available before the non-waiver trade deadline were wrong, you can expect to see the veteran reliever's name making the rounds once again after the season.

    Supplanted by Edwin Diaz as the team's closer, it stands to reason the Mariners aren't thrilled about the prospect of paying Cishek $6 million next season to serve as a setup man. It's not as if the team is without cheaper internal options, including the currently injured Ryan Cook, Evan Scribner and Tony Zych.

    Teams looking for a closer during the offseason might turn their attention to Cishek, who is entering the final year of his deal, rather than free-agent options such as Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon, all of whom are going to command significantly higher salaries and lengthy investments.

St. Louis Cardinals: SP Jaime Garcia

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    Picking up Jaime Garcia's $12 million team option seems like an easy decision for St. Louis to make after the season. Whether to keep him around for 2017, however, is far less of a sure thing.

    With Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Mike Leake and Carlos Martinez taking up four of the five available spots in the St. Louis rotation and the Cardinals having multiple options with which to round things out (Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver and the injured Lance Lynn among them), Garcia isn't a lock for the fifth spot.

    Were he to become a free agent this winter, he'd assuredly command more than a $12 million annual salary, making him something of a bargain. For teams in need of rotation help that don't want a long-term commitment on its books, Garcia is the kind of pitcher they're likely to target during the offseason.

Tampa Bay Rays: SP Chris Archer

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    Regardless of whether Chris Archer found his mojo down the stretch, the 27-year-old would have been a highly sought-after target during the offseason if Tampa Bay made him available in a trade.

    But Archer has found his mojo, pitching to a 3.06 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in seven starts, making his rough first half (4.66 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) look more like an aberration rather than a cause for concern.

    The Rays need an influx of new, controllable talent, and trading Archer, whose name made the rounds on the rumor mill leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, is the fastest way for them to get it.

    Considering how barren the pitching market is, GM Matt Silverman won't have a hard time finding a willing trade partner in the offseason.

Texas Rangers: RP Shawn Tolleson

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    Assuming his strained lower back isn't anything serious, Shawn Tolleson stands out as the most likely player for Texas to peddle on the trade market during the offseason.

    While its true the 28-year-old's stock is as low as it's ever been thanks to 2016 being the worst season of his five-year career, Tolleson was a major weapon out of the Rangers bullpen in 2014-15, pitching to a combined 2.88 ERA with 35 saves and 145 strikeouts over 144 innings of relief.

    The Rangers won't bring back a substantial haul for Tolleson, but with a slew of other bullpen options ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, dealing him while he still has two years of arbitration remaining makes sense, as he'd be more than a one-year rental for an acquiring club.

Toronto Blue Jays: 1B Justin Smoak

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    With Chris Colabello under team control, prospect Rowdy Tellez looking like a player who's going to make a push for a roster spot next spring and former prospect Jesus Montero putting up solid numbers at Triple-A Syracuse, Toronto has plenty of internal options at first base next season.

    Keeping Justin Smoak and his $4.125 million salary around isn't a necessity for the Blue Jays. The 29-year-old is what he is at this point in his career: the left-handed portion of a platoon. That's not something that carries a lot of value—and his .708 OPS on the season doesn't make him any more appealing.

    Still, for a team in need of a relatively inexpensive veteran first baseman, Smoak is a viable option.

Washington Nationals: SP Gio Gonzalez

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    Washington doesn't have an obvious trade candidate, so we'll stick to the premise that starting pitching will be in high demand and go with Gio Gonzalez, who will be entering the first of two $12 million option years at the back end of his contract.

    Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark are guaranteed three of the Nationals' five rotation spots, with Joe Ross, A.J. Cole, Lucas Giolito, Austin Voth and Reynaldo Lopez all in the mix to fill the final two openings.

    With quality starters a rarity in free agency, dealing Gonzalez could bring back a decent haul of young talent for the Nationals to restock their farm system with.

        

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs and are current through games of Aug. 22. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).

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