Ranking MLB's 10 Most Tradable Players

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterFebruary 16, 2018

Ranking MLB's 10 Most Tradable Players

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Just because spring training has arrived doesn't mean Major League Baseball's trade market has closed up shop. It's always open and stocked with goodies.

    The aim here is to narrow the list to 10.

    The first, most important string attached is this quest will consider only players who are realistically available. Don't expect to see Mike Trout, Kris Bryant or Clayton Kershaw here. Or even players who should be available but whose teams seem loathe to part with, such as Danny Duffy and Jose Abreu.

    As for the 10 players who did make the cut, their rankings are based not on their likelihood of being dealt but on their desirability in light of their talent, controllability, affordability.

    Let's take it away.

10. Dan Straily, SP, Miami Marlins

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    With Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn still adrift on free-agent waters, teams in need of a reliable innings-eater don't have to turn to the trade market.

    All the same, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Miami Marlins right-hander Dan Straily stick out as feasible options. And between the two, Straily is a tad more desirable.

    Although Straily, 29, is 16 months older and doesn't have Odorizzi's track record, he offers extra controllability (three years to two years) and fewer red flags looming over his immediate future.

    Straily hasn't been terrific over the last two years, as he's put up a modest 4.01 ERA and allowed 62 home runs. But he's one of only 17 starters to pitch at least 180 innings in each of the last two seasons. Despite his less than electric arsenal, he also offers decent bat-missing skills.

    Odorizzi logged only 143.1 innings in 2017. And while Straily's home run rate is hanging steady, Odorizzi's is trending in the moon's direction.

    After all the Marlins have already sold off, there's not much doubt Straily is available at an affordable price. Anyone who wants him just needs to go get him.

9. Alex Colome, RP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    In theory, Raisel Iglesias is the best relief pitcher on the trade market.

    But according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, teams gave up trying to pry him loose back in December. It seems the Cincinnati Reds aren't keen on parting with an electric relief ace they control through 2021.

    How about Alex Colome as plan B?

    He's set to make $5.3 million in 2018, with more coming in arbitration in 2019 and 2020. In light of a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that the Rays are "working hard" to cut payroll, those earnings make Colome ripe for the trading block.

    Although he accrued an MLB-high 47 saves, Colome took a step back in 2017 from a 2016 effort in which he dominated with a 1.91 ERA and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings. But since he still threw mid-90s heat and a cutter that could be downright filthy, he was hardly broken beyond repair.

    The recent Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman deals are good reminders that top relievers don't come cheap in trades. But even knowing that, dishing out prospects for a 29-year-old Colome arguably beats dishing out many millions of dollars to a 32-year-old Greg Holland on the free-agent market.

8. Adam Duvall, LF, Cincinnati Reds

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    A team in need of a powerful corner outfielder can sign J.D. Martinez as a free agent.

    Alternatively, that same team could eye a more reasonably priced trade option: Adam Duvall.

    Duvall isn't Martinez's equal as a hitter—few are. But he's proved he can handle power. Since 2016, he's launched 64 homers and tallied 141 extra-base hits. The latter is more than all but 10 other players.

    He does strike out a ton and doesn't walk much, yet that shouldn't fool anyone into thinking power is all he has. He's an excellent left fielder and has amassed more defensive runs saved since 2016 (24) than everyone at the position except Starling Marte and Brett Gardner.

    Since the Reds control Duvall through 2021, there is the question of whether they'd be better off grandfathering him in with the future contender they're building. But at 29 years old, he likely doesn't have enough prime years left to justify that strategy.

    Duvall should be more available than, say, the White Sox's Avisail Garcia or Oakland's Khris Davis. And between his power, defense and controllability, he has more selling points than Tampa's Corey Dickerson or Detroit's Nicholas Castellanos.

7. Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Elsewhere on the market for powerful corner outfielders, there's Domingo Santana.

    All it took to turn him from a cornerstone to an expendable asset was the Milwaukee Brewers' back-to-back January additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. With the two of them and Ryan Braun set for the bulk of the outfield action, Santana is an odd man out.

    After flashing potential in 2015 and 2016, the 25-year-old authored a proper breakout with an .875 OPS, 30 homers and 15 stolen bases in 2017. He rates as a poor defender, yet that's no excuse to place him below Duvall in terms of desirability.

    Because he's willing to take walks, Santana is the more well-rounded hitter of the two. He's also controlled through 2021, and his youth should guarantee these as prime years.

    A potential hiccup is the Brewers are a win-now team that won't be interested in taking back prospects for Santana. Specifically, they could use an established or MLB-ready starting pitcher.

    Still, it's easy to pinpoint prospective suitors. The Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks line up well. So might the Rays if they're willing to take back Santana for a player who'll appear later in this list.

6. Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians

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    Starting pitchers have gone from a sparkling 3.82 ERA in 2014 to a less-sparkling 4.49 ERA in 2017. In times like these, most contenders don't have starters to spare.

    The Indians are an exception, and they have a darn good one to spare in Danny Salazar.

    The 28-year-old owns a 3.82 ERA and a 10.5 K/9 across five seasons. He's fresh off a year in which he boosted his K/9 to a staggering 12.7 through the use of a 95.1 mph fastball and a devastating split-change.

    The caveat is he made only 23 appearances last year and has often been hurt during his career. That complicates his trade value, as there's no guarantee he'll go unscathed through his final three seasons of club control.

    But with only $5 million due his way in 2018, he'll be cheap. Otherwise, his youth and upside make him worth the risk.

    Because Cleveland has a World Series in its sights, Salazar will only be moved for a player who can help the team right now. But for some clubs, that might be preferable to sacrificing a proverbial boatload of young talent for one of the other arms on the trade market.

5. Josh Harrison, INF/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Pirates have already traded Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco and Gerrit Cole to Houson. Assuming that's the white flag it appears to be, Josh Harrison wants to be next.

    "If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded," he said in a January statement to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. 

    Although the Pirates haven't yet obliged Harrison, it's not for lack of marketability. 

    He fits best at second base, where the free-agent market is thin. Unless a team prefers him at third base, where he's arguably preferable to free-agent Mike Moustakas. He can also be deployed as a utility infielder.

    Harrison, 30, wouldn't be a mere rental. He's signed to a contract that runs as far as 2020 and pays a sum of $32.25 million (with 2019 and 2020 club options).

    That's a modest amount for a two-time All-Star who can do a little bit of everything. Harrison is a .290 hitter since 2014 and has rounded out his value with some power (37 homers), some speed (59 steals) and his trademark defensive versatility in those four years.

4. Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Much time has passed since the Manny Machado trade circus reached a fever pitch this offseason, but the idea that the Baltimore Orioles would deal him isn't dead.

    According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette "hopes" Machado is on the club's Opening Day roster yet is still listening to offers. All it will take is the right one.

    The obvious complication for prospective suitors is that offering the moon for Machado would mean going all-in on a somewhat expensive rental. He's due to make $16 million in 2018 and will then become a free agent.

    But even in the context of a single year, Machado's prospective value is enormous.

    Although he had a down season at the plate in 2017, the 25-year-old still made it three straight years of 30-plus homers and might have deserved better production in general. Per Statcast's xwOBA metric—which calculates a player's expected production based on the quality of his contact—Machado's 2017 hitting was somewhere in between that of 2015 and 2016.

    He's also set to transition from third base to shortstop. If that goes well, his bat will have even more value at his new position than it did at his old one, which is considerably more stocked with sluggers.

3. J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami Marlins

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    Even before losing his arbitration case with the Marlins, J.T. Realmuto had made it clear he wanted out.

    "No matter how his arbitration hearing turned out, J.T.'s preference remains the same," Jeff Berry, his agent, told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "He would like to be traded to another organization before spring training so he has an opportunity to compete for a championship."

    With little catching help to be found on the free-agent market, it's no wonder championship hopefuls such as the Washington Nationals, per Craig Mish of SiriusXM, and Houston Astros, also per Mish, have been linked to the 26-year-old backstop.

    Over the past two years, Realmuto has emerged as one of baseball's best catchers. At work there is a solid .290/.337/.440 slash line that comes with emerging powerexcellent speed and improving defense.

    By losing his case, Realmuto will earn just $2.9 million in his first year of arbitration. He has two more to go before he reaches free agency after 2020.

    It all adds up to a pretty penny of a trade chip, yet one whose ability to boost a championship hopeful makes him worth it.

2. Michael Fulmer, SP, Detroit Tigers

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    Michael Fulmer is available. Whether he's attainable is the question.

    "There are a handful of teams out there that have the players to do [a deal for Fulmer], but we have not come close to those conversations," Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila said in December, per Jason Beck of MLB.com.

    Meanwhile, there's an elephant in the room: the right elbow surgery Fulmer underwent last September. How the Tigers value him and how suitors value him likely won't line up until he proves he's healthy.

    Even still, there's little question Fulmer is a valuable trade chip.

    The right-hander was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2016 and a 2017 All-Star. Together, the two seasons have produced a 3.45 ERA over 323.2 innings. Per his 73 OPS+ allowed, he's stifled offense about as well as former teammate Justin Verlander.

    And, oh yeah, he'll turn 25 in March. He's also under club control for five more years.

    He's worth far more than what the Pirates got for Cole, and more than even what the Chicago White Sox got for Jose Quintana last July. Only teams with elite farm systems can pull that off, yet there are a few (e.g. the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies) who have incentive to do so.

1. Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Chris Archer is an electric, durable starter in his prime who's signed through 2021 for just over $34 million.

    In most cases, such a player would be kept in a vault marked not for sale. But in this case, Archer is employed by a Rays team that's seeking to cut payroll as part of a pivot to a better future.

    Archer, 29, isn't devoid of warts. He's developed something of a home run problem over the last two years, which has helped push his ERA far north of where it was between 2013 and 2015.

    However, he isn't losing his ability to work wonders with a baseball.

    With the help of a mid-90s heater and hard slider, he's compiled a 10.8 K/9 since 2015 that places him among the upper crust of MLB strikeout artists. He's also topped 190 innings every year since 2014 and is one of only five pitchers to top 200 innings in each of the last three.

    Archer won't come cheap but should be less expensive than Fulmer. That makes him a perfect target for either the Brewers or Minnesota Twins, both of whom must patch shaky rotations if they want to have any shot at taking down powerhouse clubs within their respective divisions.