Potential Trade Deadline Packages for MLB's Top 20 Targets
With Major League Baseball's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline inching closer every day, it's not too early to start anticipating deals.
Or imagining what they might look like.
We'll be assessing the value of the summer's top 20 trade candidates and proposing packages for them. These ideas are based on any relevant precedents and available rumors.
Many of these 20 trade candidates are obvious trade chips on more-than-likely sellers. Others belong to fringe contenders whose histories suggest they're more likely to respond to long odds by selling than buying. In so many words: It's easier to imagine the Tampa Bay Rays selling their wares than it is the Toronto Blue Jays trading Josh Donaldson.
At any rate, let's get to it.
Bartolo Colon, Texas Rangers
Contrary to how things appeared in 2017, Bartolo Colon isn't done yet. The soon-to-be 45-year-old has put up a 3.51 ERA over 56.1 innings for the Texas Rangers.
Nobody needs a workhorse of this magnitude more than the New York Mets. Their starting pitchers have pitched only 221.2 innings, the fewest in the National League. They're not going to return to the postseason unless they fix that.
Between Colon's age, extensive track record and (presumably) looming retirement, he's in a similar situation to the one Greg Maddux was in when the San Diego Padres dealt him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. The price was two players to be named later.
Maddux really wasn't anything more than an innings-eater at the time, however. Colon is surpassing that label thus far in 2018, and he's also making just $1.8 million. He should be worth one prospect rather than two throw-ins.
Chris Flexen would work. The righty is an MLB-ready pitcher the Rangers could plug in right away, and he has the goodsto become a back-end starter or shutdown reliever.
The Trade: Mets get RHP Bartolo Colon; Rangers get RHP Chris Flexen
Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres
Elsewhere in the realm of veteran starters who aren't done yet is Tyson Ross.
Ross made a single start for the Padres in 2016 and then struggled with the Rangers in 2017 following surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Now he's back with the Padres and resembling his old All-Star self with a 3.35 ERA and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Also like Colon, Ross is under contract for just $1.8 million. That plus his rejuvenation equals a rental who should command at least as good a package as Colon and potentially better if there's a team out there that comes to see him as a much-needed upside play.
The Toronto Blue Jays, for example, could view a trade for Ross as a fix for a rotation that has a 5.44 ERA. And they have prospects to deal even beyond their collection of sons of famous fathers.
For example, there's Kevin "Not Silent Bob" Smith. The 21-year-old infielder is making a name for himself via a scorching bat at Single-A Lansing, but he's expendable as long as he's stuck behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Logan Warmoth and Richard Urena.
The Trade: Blue Jays get RHP Tyson Ross; Padres get INF Kevin Smith
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Regarding that, Zach Britton is progressing well in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon. He could begin a minor league rehab assignment before the end of May, which would put him in line to return in June.
The left-hander's trade value could increase dramatically if he resembles the unhittable relief ace who put up a 1.38 ERA in 204 appearances from 2014 to 2016. But even then, his value will be restricted by his upcoming free agency. It's also probably safer to assume he'll need time to find his footing and will appeal to suitors strictly as an upside play.
As a fringe contender with needs in their bullpen, the Minnesota Twins could be the team to roll the dice on Britton. They might also have just the prospect to entice the Baltimore Orioles in the person of Tyler Jay.
Jay was an elite closer at Illinois when the Twins drafted him No. 6 overall in 2015. They tried to develop him as a starter, but injuries and other deficiencies forced him back into a relief role. He's no longer a top prospect because of that, yet his role allows for optimistic projections.
The Trade: Twins get LHP Zach Britton; Orioles get LHP Tyler Jay
Darren O'Day, Baltimore Orioles
Britton won't be the only Orioles reliever on the market this summer. Or even the best.
A hyperextended right elbow has limited Darren O'Day to just 13 appearances this season, and he's put up a not-so-impressive 3.77 ERA. But he's tracking toward a fourth straight season with a strikeout rate north of 11 per nine innings, and he's walked only two batters in 14.1 innings.
O'Day would also be no mere rental. He's under contract for 2019, too, and for the same $9 million salary he's making this year.
The Orioles probably can't get an Andrew Miller- or Aroldis Chapman-like package for O'Day, but he should have the kind of outsize value that's typical of relievers on the summer trade market. Given their situation, the Orioles are likely to try to leverage that into much-needed young pitching.
The Cleveland Indians could be amenable to such a deal. They badly need another shutdown reliever to help Miller and Cody Allen, and among their stock of young arms are two MLB-ready control artists (Shane Bieber and Ryan Merritt) who could be put right to work in Baltimore.
The Trade: Indians get RHP Darren O'Day; Orioles get RHP Shane Bieber and LHP Ryan Merritt
Starlin Castro, Miami Marlins
Starlin Castro landed in Miami by way of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, and the initial word was he didn't want to stick around.
It shouldn't be long before his wish is granted, as the rebuilding Marlins don't have much use for a veteran second baseman with All-Star credentials.
Castro's $60 million contract controls him through at least 2019, so his profile has some similarity to that of Eduardo Nunez in 2016. In return for a year-and-a-half of his services, the Twins got a solid MLB-ready pitcher (Adalberto Mejia) in a trade with the San Francisco Giants.
Of course, Castro is more expensive than Nunez was. So in his case, a solid MLB-ready pitcher is probably a best-case return that the Marlins will get only if they find a desperate team to barter with.
The Arizona Diamondbacks could be that team. They need as much offense as they can get for their quest to win the National League West, and second base would be a good place to put it. They could deem Castro as being worth a sacrifice of Taylor Clarke, a 25-year-old righty whose development has stalled at Triple-A Reno.
The Trade: Diamondbacks get 2B Starlin Castro; Marlins get RHP Taylor Clarke
Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have been playing so well lately that it's no longer a given they'll be open for business this summer.
If that does become their destiny, however, Wilson Ramos will be in demand.
Following a rough 2017, Ramos finally looks like he's fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered late in 2016. The 30-year-old catcher has a .776 OPS and six home runs through 36 games.
Plenty of teams would love to have offense like that at catcher, but none more so than the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. Because the former probably isn't interested in dealing with an American League East rival, the latter is the better bet to go hard after Ramos.
Ramos' $10.5 million salary does eat into some of his trade value. But as a good-hitting catcher, he's a rare enough creature to warrant a top-100 prospect. Peter Lambert (No. 99 on MLB.com) is one the Rockies may be willing to surrender, and his excellent changeup would fit well in the Rays organization.
The Trade: Rockies get C Wilson Ramos; Rays get RHP Peter Lambert
Dan Straily, Miami Marlins
Dan Straily is one of the more underrated trade chips in baseball.
He put up a solid 4.01 ERA with an 8.0 K/9 over 373 innings from 2016 to 2017. He was injured out of the gate this season, but he's returned and pitched like his usual self, to the tune of a 3.60 ERA in four starts. To boot, he's under club control through 2020.
But as highlighed by his 1.5 home runs-per-nine innings rate since the start of 2016, the catch with Straily is he has a serious problem. That could force the Marlins into negotiating with a small group of teams that have big enough home parks for Straily to thrive in.
The San Francisco Giants are one such team, and it so happens they need starting pitching help.
The Giants don't have a ton of prospects to deal, but Chris Shaw stands out as an obvious trade candidate because of his intriguing power and his iffy fit in the Giants' future. He would be a good centerpiece, and former top-100 righty Tyler Beede would be a good change-of-scenery candidate to complete the deal.
The Trade: Giants get RHP Dan Straily; Marlins get OF/1B Chris Shaw and RHP Tyler Beede
Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Despite their position in the American League playoff race, it's not a given the Orioles will make Adam Jones part of a summer sell-off.
They may be inclined to hold on to him simply as a peace offering to disappointed fans. Besides which, his value isn't especially high. He has just a .741 OPS and, as of Monday, his WAR was under water at minus-0.4.
Nonetheless, Jones at least has good power to offer. He'll also be a free agent at the end of the year, so the Orioles wouldn't hold on to him past the trade deadline for anything more than a symbolic gesture.
No contender needs an outfielder more than the Los Angeles Angels. They've given Kole Calhoun a lot of slack to pull out of his slump, yet he's on track for the worst offensive season in over a century. Jones would be a massive offensive upgrade, and a move to right field presumably wouldn't be too much for him to handle.
Back in 2012, the Philadelphia Phillies swapped a diminished Shane Victorino for a pitching prospect and an MLB reliever and a player to be named later. If the Angels were to partake in a similar deal, it could involve Double-A control specialist Jesus Castillo and Triple-A fireballer Jake Jewell.
The Trade: Angels get OF Adam Jones; Orioles get RHPs Jesus Castillo and Jake Jewell
Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
The Rangers are going nowhere fast, so it would be nice of them to trade Adrian Beltre to a team that can give him a shot at his first World Series ring.
Beltre's durability is past its expiration date, and he's pulling in a pricey $18 million salary. But he's still a quality two-way third baseman when he's healthy. To wit, he has a .797 OPS and two defensive runs saved in 29 games this season.
The 39-year-old is basically a better version of what Carlos Beltran was on the 2016 trade market. As such, the Rangers should be able to do better than three marginal prospects if they trade him.
One team that could be willing to meet their demands is the Atlanta Braves. Unless they plan on trusting the position to top prospect Austin Riley—which is possible—an upgrade at third base would elevate their surprising World Series bid.
The Braves have pitching prospects who would fit well in a Texas system that could use some. Max Fried is a top-100 guy (No. 80 on MLB.com) who could plug right into the rotation. A good secondary piece would be Freddy Tarnok, a 19-year-old righty with a live arm and a projectable frame.
The Trade: Braves get 3B Adrian Beltre; Rangers get LHP Max Fried and RHP Freddy Tarnok
Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds
Over the last two seasons, Scooter Gennett has been one of the biggest bright spots on a team that's been pitifully short on bright spots.
Alas, he's only under the Cincinnati Reds' control through 2019, and he plays a position that would be a good place to put top prospect Nick Senzel. The Reds should trade Gennett while the trading's good.
The best fit might be the Milwaukee Brewers. They have prospects to deal, and they could really use his .858 OPS at second base. But since the Brewers aren't likely to deal prospects to a National League Central rival, the best suitor for Gennett might be to the northeast in Cleveland.
The Indians need offense in large part because Jason Kipnis has been unable to carry his red-hot spring training performance into the regular season. A trade for Gennett would at once upgrade second base and bump Kipnis into a utility role in which he could be useful.
Assuming Cleveland doesn't send him to Baltimore instead, Bieber again stands out as a reasonable centerpiece. The Indians could also throw in fellow righty Aaron Civale, who's a control specialist as well, and Brady Aiken, who's the definition of a reclamation project.
The Trade: Indians get 2B Scooter Gennett; Reds get RHPs Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale and LHP Brady Aiken
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Things were dicey for a while, but Alex Colome is re-establishing himself as one of MLB's top closers.
The 2016 All-Star struggled mightily with a 9.00 ERA through his first eight appearances of 2018. He's allowed just two earned runs in 13 appearances since then, with 16 strikeouts and one walk in 13.2 innings. Throw in how he's under club control through 2020, and his trade value is looking good.
Assuming they decide to sell, the Rays will probably try to get a Miller-like haul (i.e., a four-player package headlined by two top-100 prospects) for Colome. And they may come fairly close if they find the right buyer.
The Angels could be that buyer. They need a stable presence in the ninth inning, and it makes more sense for them to target a controllable arm like Colome than to go all-in on a rental.
The Angels could base a trade around top-100 (No. 87 on MLB.com) second baseman Jahmai Jones, who could be a future double play partner for Willy Adames in Tampa. They could round out the deal with a pair of changeup specialists: right-hander Griffin Canning and left-hander Jose Suarez.
The Trade: Angels get RHP Alex Colome; Rays get 2B Jahmai Jones, RHP Griffin Canning and LHP Jose Suarez
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Speaking of relievers who are re-establishing their value, Kelvin Herrera is doing so at the perfect time for the Kansas City Royals.
He's owns a 1.08 ERA through 18 appearances in his final season before free agency. This is a license for the Royals to pursue a multiplayer package like the one the New York Yankees got for Chapman in 2016.
Though there's going to be a wide range of suitors for Herrera, his status as a rental with a huge acquisition cost may limit the number of aggressive suitors. He really only makes sense for teams that are one reliever away from realizing their World Series aspirations.
With no guarantee that Carson Smith will pitch again this season, the Red Sox are an ideal fit. And while their farm system is short on tradable prospects following Michael Chavis' suspension and Jay Groome's Tommy John surgery, it's not entirely empty.
The centerpiece could be left-hander Jalen Beeks, who's rising fast with a 2.28 ERA for Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox could add first baseman Sam Travis and slugging third baseman Bobby Dalbec, both of whom are expendable. They could also throw in former top prospect Blake Swihart, whose agent (rightfully) demanded a trade.
The Trade: Red Sox get RHP Kelvin Herrera; Royals get LHP Jalen Beeks, 1B Sam Travis, 3B Bobby Dalbec and C/UTIL Blake Swihart
Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
Mike Moustakas is another guy who's becoming a big trade chip the Royals can cash in.
The career-high 38 homers he hit in 2017 didn't lead to a big free-agent contract, so go figure he's taking his game to another level in preparation for another trip to the open market. He's working on a career-best .861 OPS with 10 homers.
It seems unlikely Moustakas will want in on his $15 million mutual option for 2019, so the Royals will be shopping only his $5.5 million salary and $1 million buyout. Even then, however, they're going to find that needs at third base are few and far between. They may have to settle for a lesser package from a team that merely wants a third baseman.
Like, for example, the Yankees. He would make an already lethal offense even better, and he could bring some kinda-sorta needed stability to third base and/or first base.
The Yankees only had to cough up Yangervis Solarte and a low-level pitching prospect when they rented Chase Headley from the Padres in 2014. A similar deal for Moustakas would be an excuse to offload Brandon Drury, who doesn't have a clear window for playing time in New York. Dillon Tate, a 2015 first-rounder who's rebuilding his value with Double-A Trenton, could complete the deal.
The Trade: Yankees get 3B Mike Moustakas; Royals get INF Brandon Drury and RHP Dillon Tate
Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics
The disclaimer here is that it's hardly a given the Oakland A's will sell this summer. A four-game winning streak has put them safely above .500 and in the thick of the AL wild-card race.
If regression does find the A's, however, Jed Lowrie is as good as gone.
He's being paid just $6 million in a walk year that's turning out to be the best of his career. He's compiled a .936 OPS and put himself on track to shatter his high of 16 homers with nine long balls through 46 games.
The A's had a similar player on their hands in the person of Ben Zobrist in 2015. They dealt him to the Royals for two prospects, one of whom was Sean Manaea.
In light of their solid farm system and how badly they need second base help at the major league level, the Brewers are the team that could be most willing to do a similar trade.
Milwaukee could base a swap around top-100 righty Corbin Burnes (No. 63 on MLB.com). They could also interest the A's in fellow righty Marcos Diplan, who boasts both a plus fastball and a plus slider.
The Trade: Brewers get 2B Jed Lowrie; A's get RHPs Corbin Burnes and Marcos Diplan
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Trading Gennett would be one way for the Reds to spur their rebuild. But if they really want to give it a push, they should trade Raisel Iglesias.
The righty isn't a household name, but he could quickly become one in the right situation. His stuff is electric, and he's put it to good use in posting an 11.0 K/9 and a 2.40 ERA in 83 appearances since 2017.
Iglesias' seven-year, $27 million contract runs through 2020, so he's also both controllable and cheap. As such, the Reds have a shot at replicating the trade that sent Miller from New York to Cleveland in 2016.
There aren't many teams that can or would do a deal like that. But if there's an exception to the rule, it's the Houston Astros. They'll have more than enough to pursue a second straight World Series title if they upgrade over Ken Giles at closer.
The Reds would almost certainly demand outfielder Kyle Tucker, but the Astros might be able to avoid dealing him if they base the deal around two of their other top-100 prospects: righty J.B. Bukauskas (No. 72 on MLB.com) and slugger Yordan Alvarez (No. 79). Rogelio Armenteros, an MLB-ready righty, and Jandel Gustave, a flamethrower who's recovering from Tommy John surgery, would be good cappers.
The Trade: Astros get RHP Raisel Iglesias; Reds get OF/1B Yordan Alvarez and RHPs J.B. Bukauskas, Rogelio Armenteros and Jandel Gustave
Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers
There are two reasons why there's no time like the present for the Rangers to deal Cole Hamels.
One is that following a 2016 season in which he struggled with injuries and managed just a 4.20 ERA, he's rebuilding his value with a 3.48 ERA through nine starts. The other is that he's earning $22.5 million, to be followed by a $6 million buyout or $20 million club option for 2019.
A team with money to spend and a need for a good lefty in its rotation happens to be one Hamels knows well: the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies have returned to contention despite entering 2018 with just a $95.3 million payroll. That's well below what they're capable of spending, so it makes sense for them to pursue trades that will hit their payroll harder than their farm system.
It's not difficult to imagine them having to throw in just an expendable MLB-ready prospect if they were to agree to take on all of Hamels' remaining money. Since his wounded finger won't slow dampen his speed at all, Triple-A outfielder Roman Quinn could be just the ticket.
The Trade: Phillies get LHP Cole Hamels; Rangers get OF Roman Quinn
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals
If Danny Duffy were pitching like his usual self, the Royals might be looking forward to trading him for a haul similar to the one the Chicago White Sox got for Jose Quintana last year.
Alas, Duffy has just a 6.88 ERA through 10 starts. And he's already given up one more home run (14) through 51 innings than he did through 146.1 last season (13).
Still, the lefty's stuff is more or less unchanged. And while his contract no longer looks like a steal, it doesn't look unreasonable either. He's earning $14 million this year with another $46 million due his way from 2019 to 2021.
Duffy is sure to draw interest from National League clubs who think a move to the Senior Circuit could help cure his gopheritis. The Braves, Brewers and Giants are possible fits. But assuming they don't trade for Hamels instead, it's the Phillies who might be the most practical option.
The Phillies inquired about Duffy in the offseason, and now they're the Royals' best hope of unloading his remaining contract. To complete the deal, Philadelphia could convince Kansas City to make an upside play of its own by accepting 2015 and 2016 first-rounders Cornelius Randolph and Mickey Moniak.
The Trade: Phillies get LHP Danny Duffy; Royals get OFs Mickey Moniak and Cornelius Randolph
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
Chris Archer would also be a candidate for a Quintana-esque trade if he were pitching up to his usual standards, but it's been a struggle for him, too.
Archer has taken the mound 10 times for the Rays and produced just a 5.01 ERA. Coming on the heels of disappointing seasons in 2016 and 2017, it's fair to wonder if he can still be counted as a No. 1.
Nonetheless, his contract looks even better than Duffy's. He's pulling in just $6.3 million this year. Counting his 2020 and 2021 options, he's due to pull in just $27.5 million over the next three seasons.
Archer's stuff is also in good shape, and he's working on a solid 3.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. No team may be more likely to home in on these positives than the Brewers, who could use some K/BB goodness in their rotation.
There's no way the Brewers could get Archer without surrendering second baseman Keston Hiura, who ranks as MLB.com's No. 52 prospect. The Rays might also like Brett Phillips, a change-of-scenery candidate who would play well alongside Kevin Kiermaier in their outfield. Lastly, they could be intrigued by left-hander Kodi Medeiros, a 2014 first-rounder who's split time between starting and relieving since 2017.
The Trade: Brewers get RHP Chris Archer; Rays get 2B Keston Hiura, OF Brett Phillips and LHP Kodi Medeiros
J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Before this season, J.T. Realmuto's potential tended to be more interesting than his actual output.
Not anymore. Realmuto is breaking out with a .940 OPS and six home runs in 27 games since coming off the disabled list. Factor in how he's under club control through 2020, and he represents a golden chance for the Marlins to seek a treasure chest of prospects on the trade market.
The Mets have been linked to Realmuto. If their trade for Devin Mesoraco didn't altogether nix their interest in the 27-year-old, they might just have enough in their farm system for a deal.
The centerpiece would have to be first baseman Peter Alonso. He hasn't yet forced his way onto top-100 lists, but he's well on his way with a sparkling .345/.475/.634 slash line and 11 homers for Double-A Binghamton.
If the Mets were also to throw in lefty control specialist David Peterson and righty Justin Dunn, the club's No. 19 pick in 2016, they could have a package worthy of one of baseball's best catchers.
The Trade: Mets get C J.T. Realmuto; Marlins get 1B Peter Alonso, LHP David Peterson and RHP Justin Dunn
Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Manny Machado picked a heck of a time to have the best season of his career.
The 25-year-old has a 1.083 OPS and 15 homers through 47 games. And while his shortstop defense clearly isn't as good as his third base defense, there's room for argument that it's good enough. Put it together, and you have a guy who's ticketed for a record contract on the open market.
Of course, that also constitutes a chance for the Orioles to score one of the biggest trade hauls ever on a rental. All they need is the right suitor.
That's where things get tricky. The list of teams that need and can afford Machado is relatively short. And even among those, he only makes sense for clubs with realistic World Series chances.
The Cubs have often been mentioned as the best landing spot for Machado, with Jon Heyman of FRS Sports Network even reporting he'll be their "main target" this summer.
Heyman's also not alone in speculating the Cubs would have to surrender Addison Russell, but even three-and-a-half years of him may not be worth half a season of Machado. The Orioles would almost certainly leverage the Cubs into sweetening the deal with young arms. Oscar De La Cruz, a hard-throwing starter, and Dillon Maples, a hard-throwing reliever, may be just good enough.
The Trade: Cubs get SS Manny Machado; Orioles get SS Addison Russell and RHPs Oscar De La Cruz and Dillon Maples