One Player Every MLB Team Should Sell High on in Trades
The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is slightly more than two months away, but it's not too early to think about summer swaps.
The calculus will change before July 31. We're deep enough into the 2018 season, however, to highlight the player each team should sell high on.
Let's do exactly that, keeping in mind every squad's presumed buyer or seller status. For buyers, we'll identify a potentially expendable, high-performing prospect. For sellers, we'll spotlight an enticing big league chip who could net a worthy return.
American League West
Houston Astros: RHP Jorge Alcala
The defending champion Houston Astros are in unambiguous win-now mode. One of their few weaknesses is left-handed bullpen help. There are potential options on the market, including the San Diego Padres' Brad Hand.
Houston should be loathe to surrender top position-player prospect and outfielder Kyle Tucker. The 'Stros boast some intriguing arms, however, including righty Jorge Alcala.
In 38.2 innings at High-A, the 22-year-old boasts a 3.03 ERA with 45 strikeouts and has held opposing hitters to a .182 average. He could highlight a package that would net Houston that needed southpaw relief.
Los Angeles Angels: OF Jo Adell
The Los Angeles Angels have one directive: Get Mike Trout back to the postseason.
So far, they're floating above .500 at 30-25. If they go shopping for reinforcements at the trade deadline or before, they could deal outfielder Jo Adell, who hit .326 in 25 games at Single-A before a promotion to High-A and has hit eight home runs in 32 games overall.
The 19-year-old might be a part of the Halos' future. But they need to focus on the present while Trout is in his prime.
Oakland Athletics: 2B Jed Lowrie
Steamer projected Oakland Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie would hit nine home runs in 2018. He reached that tally May 11.
Overall, the 34-year-old is hitting .303 with an .874 OPS. The small-market A's are technically in contention at 28-27 but are also perennially retooling.
Lowrie will be a free agent this offseason and could net a decent prospect or two come late July.
Seattle Mariners: OF Kyle Lewis
Kyle Lewis has had a series of injuries since the Seattle Mariners picked him 11th overall in the 2016 draft.
In 13 games at High-A this season, however, Lewis is hitting .302 with five doubles and a pair of home runs.
Seattle, meanwhile, is trying to bust a 16-year postseason drought. If Lewis keeps hitting and the Mariners maintain contact with the division leaders, they shouldn't be shy about trading him for help in the rotation or in a lineup that's without the services of suspended second baseman Robinson Cano.
Texas Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels had arguably his worst season in 2017, as he posted a 4.20 ERA for the Texas Rangers.
This year, the 34-year-old southpaw has rebounded, striking out 66 in 65 innings and showing flashes of the guy who's enjoyed four top-10 Cy Young Award finishes.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe name-dropped the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves as potential landing spots. Whether it's with one of those clubs or another suitor, the last-place Rangers could leverage Hamels for an MiLB haul.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: 1B Jose Abreu
The Chicago White Sox are in last place at 16-36. They've got young talent scattered around the big league roster and more marinating in the minors, but contention is on the horizon.
With that in mind, the ChiSox should consider dealing first baseman Jose Abreu. The 31-year-old Cuban slugger is hitting .308 with nine home runs in 50 games and is under club control through the 2019 campaign.
Chicago doesn't have to deal him, but his value may never be higher.
Cleveland Indians: RHP Shane Bieber
Cleveland Indians right-hander Shane Bieber opened the season at Double-A. Per MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, he's slated to make his big league debut Thursday.
In 65.1 MiLB frames this year, Bieber posted a 1.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts. The Tribe could use him as a mid-rotation arm in the near future.
Alternately, Cleveland could flip him as the top of a deadline package and boost its odds of breaking a 70 years-and-counting title drought.
Detroit Tigers: INF Jose Iglesias
After a slow start, Jose Iglesias is hitting .282 with a .351 on-base percentage, six doubles and two homers in May for the Detroit Tigers.
The 28-year-old is also an impending free agent and thus expendable for the rebuilding Tigers.
He won't fetch the moon and/or stars at the deadline, but he could be a fine consolation prize for shoppers who lose out on Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado.
Kansas City Royals: 3B Mike Moustakas
The Kansas City Royals couldn't make up their minds about a rebuild this winter and brought back third baseman Mike Moustakas on a one-year, $6.5 million deal with a mutual $15 million for 2019 and a $1 million buyout.
K.C. is sinking out of the picture at 19-36, but Moustakas has 11 homers and 12 doubles in 53 games.
He's not the only sellable chip on the roster, but his power and club-friendly contract make the 29-year-old an intriguing piece.
Minnesota Twins: RHP Stephen Gonsalves
After snagging the American League's second wild-card slot in 2017, the Minnesota Twins are trying to get back to the postseason.
So, they may be buyers at the deadline despite their 22-28 record.
If they go shopping, the Twinkies could dangle left-handed pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves, who boasts a 2.12 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 46.2 innings across Double-A and Triple-A.
Minnesota could instead promote the 23-year-old to see what he can do at the big league level, but if it's in win-now mode come July, he'd be a fine chunk of trade bait.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: SS Manny Machado
Stop us if you've heard this one: The Orioles should sell at the deadline, and Machado is their biggest piece.
The 17-38 O's are mired in last place. Machado is hitting .322 with a .994 OPS in a contract year.
Yeah, he'd be a super-expensive rental. He could also be the missing championship piece for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs or any number of other title contenders. And he'd net a blue-chip haul for a club that should see the rebuild writing on the wall.
Boston Red Sox: 1B Josh Ockimey
The Boston Red Sox are locked in a divisional dogfight with the archrival Yankees. They'll almost assuredly need the cavalry at or before the deadline.
That'll mean parting with some MiLB pieces. Top prospect and third baseman Michael Chavis is serving an 80-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension. No. 2 prospect and lefty Jay Groome is out after Tommy John surgery.
One name to watch? Josh Ockimey, who has eight doubles and five home runs in 37 games at Double-A Portland and could either be the Sox's first baseman of the future or the top name in a late-July trade package.
New York Yankees: OF Clint Frazier
After suffering concussion-related issues early in the season, Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier hit .326 with five home runs in 24 MiLB games before returning to the Bronx on May 15.
The 23-year-old could be squeezed out in a crowded outfield depth chart, or the Yanks may keep him around in case of injury and tap him for a full-time gig in 2019.
Or they could dangle him at the deadline to acquire a frontline starting pitcher and make a run at their 28th Commissioner's Trophy.
Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Chris Archer
Chris Archer's name has churned through the rumor mill before. The 29-year-old two-time All-Star is signed to an affordable deal that runs through 2021 with a pair of club options.
The Tampa Bay Rays don't have to trade him. His 4.29 ERA doesn't leap off the page. He's pitched trough the sixth inning in his last six starts, however, and posted a 2.33 ERA.
At 27-26, the Rays are a fringe wild-card team at best. This feels like the moment to turn Archer into a pile of prospects.
Toronto Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ
It's too late for the Toronto Blue Jays to sell high on franchise third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is hitting .234 in the midst of an injury-marred season and will be a free agent this offseason.
Toronto is buried under .500 and unlikely to be a factor in the competitive American League East, however, which means selling is a distinct possibility.
If it comes to that, the Jays should shop left-hander J.A. Happ, who has racked up 79 strikeouts in 65.2 innings to pair with a 7-3 record and 3.84 ERA.
The 35-year-old is in a contract year but could interest a number of contenders in search of an established mid-rotation arm.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Jon Duplantier
After winning the National League's top wild-card position in 2017, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a shot at division supremacy in 2018. That could mean dealing right-hander Jon Duplantier from the top of a so-so minor league deck.
In seven starts at Double-A, the 23-year-old owns a 2.52 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .221 average.
He could be in Arizona by September, or he could front a package that would bring the D-backs another top starter, bullpen weapon or hitter to cement their postseason position.
Colorado Rockies: INF Garrett Hampson
The Colorado Rockies are set up the middle with shortstop Trevor Story and second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Top prospect Brendan Rodgers has 10 homers at Double-A and could soon complicate the picture.
That makes 23-year-old middle infielder Garrett Hampson, who hit .304 in 38 games at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A, expendable.
The Rocks could deal from a position of strength to fortify their rotation or relief corps or add a lineup-bolstering bat.
Los Angeles Dodgers: OF Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig has posted a 1.016 OPS and hit five home runs in 17 games since coming off the disabled list.
So the Dodgers should...trade him? Yeah.
Puig has been an enigma throughout his career. Every time he seems to get it going, he falls apart. Plus, L.A. has a crowded outfield mix, with top prospect Alex Verdugo knocking on the door.
Deal Puig now while he's hitting and his stock is high or regret it later when he's back to his boom-and-bust ways.
San Diego Padres: LHP Brad Hand
The list of clubs that could use a left-handed closer with a 2.00 ERA and 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings is long.
The Padres should take advantage and turn the 28-year-old Brad Hand into a farm-seeding deadline package.
The fact that they signed Hand this winter to an affordable deal through 2021 only increased his value and the MiLB pieces the rebuilding Friars would net.
San Francisco Giants: OF Austin Slater
Yeah, the San Francisco Giants could trade recovering ace Madison Bumgarner or catcher Buster Posey and commit to a rebuild. That ain't happening.
Instead, they will probably seek pitching help at the deadline, especially if Johnny Cueto doesn't return from his right elbow injury.
Their farm system is middling, but outfielder Austin Slater—who's hitting .362 with a 1.053 OPS at Triple-A—could be enough to acquire a needle-moving arm.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: RHP Thomas Hatch
As they angle for a second title in three seasons, the Cubs may need help in the rotation to account for the underperformance of free-agent acquisition Yu Darvish, who sports a 4.95 ERA and is on the disabled list with right triceps tendonitis.
If the Cubbies opt to swing a deal, they could put forth right-hander Thomas Hatch. The 23-year-old has a 3.07 ERA in 55.2 innings at Double-A and has been a bright spot in an admittedly thin system.
Fellow righties Adbert Alzolay (4.76 ERA at Triple-A) and Oscar De La Cruz (4.99 ERA at Double-A) have higher pedigrees, but Hatch has been the most consistent MiLB arm for Chicago.
Cincinnati Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett
In 53 games with the Cincinnati Reds, Scooter Gennett is hitting .347 with a .941 OPS and 10 home runs. The 28-year-old is also set to hit free agency after 2019 and could be blocking top prospect Nick Senzel.
The Reds are one of baseball's few unambiguous sellers. And they have a middle infielder playing at the top of his game with a blue chip coming from behind.
Trading Gennett isn't a foregone conclusion, but it's pretty darn close.
Milwaukee Brewers: 2B Keston Hiura
After vaulting above .500 in 2017 and aggressively adding MLB pieces in the offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers have their eyes trained on a 2018 postseason run.
They should therefore be buyers at the deadline and be prepared to shop pieces such as top prospect Keston Hiura.
The 21-year-old owns a .301 average in 47 games at High-A after suffering a couple of injuries and could net the Brew Crew reinforcements in the rotation or bullpen.
Pittsburgh Pirates: INF Josh Harrison
Josh Harrison publicly requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates in February after the team appeared to go into sell mode.
That talk died down when the Bucs got off to a hot start and Harrison landed on the disabled list with a broken left hand.
Harrison has since returned and is hitting .281 in 21 games overall. The Pirates have lost eight of their last 10 and are fading from contention.
If that trend continues, expect the versatile Harrison to be shopped this summer with only two club option years remaining on his contract.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson
Buried amid a trove of young pitching talent on the St. Louis Cardinals roster and in their MiLB ranks, Dakota Hudson could be a future piece of the rotation or a juicy bit of July trade bait.
The 23-year-old owns a 2.30 ERA at Triple-A Memphis—an especially impressive stat in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League.
He could also be expendable for a team that has Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty et al.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: OF Nick Markakis
The Braves hold a slim lead in the National League East at 32-22. It'd be ridiculous to sell veteran outfielder Nick Markakis, who's hitting .341 and paces the Senior Circuit with 72 knocks—right?
Maybe. Then again, Atlanta is in the midst of a rebuild and loaded with young talent. The 34-year-old Markakis is playing above his pay grade.
Good as he's been, he isn't part of the long-term picture and could bring back even more young, cost-controlled talent to the burgeoning Braves.
Miami Marlins: C J.T. Realmuto
The Miami Marlins traded away their entire 2017 starting outfield and speedy second baseman Dee Gordon in the offseason.
Next on the trading block: Catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is hitting .323 with a .926 OPS and is under club control through 2020.
The Marlins don't need to move him, but a 27-year-old backstop with those numbers would net a massive haul for a club flying an "Everything Must Go" banner in the South Beach breeze.
New York Mets: SS Andres Gimenez
As the New York Mets seek to establish themselves in the playoff picture and Amed Rosario seeks to establish himself as their everyday shortstop, Andres Gimenez could land on the trading block.
New York's top prospect, Gimenez is hitting .293 with an .801 OPS at High-A. He won't turn 20 until September.
He could star in Queens down the road, or he could reel in deadline help and get the Mets back to the postseason after a disappointing, injury-marred 2017.
Philadelphia Phillies: INF Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez is under club control through 2020. He's hitting .262 with seven home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils also have an infield crunch with Scott Kingery and Maikel Franco jostling for playing time and J.P. Crawford set to come off the disabled list.
At some point, Philadelphia will need to clear space, and Hernandez could draw interest from a number of suitors interested in his contact skills, speed and versatility.
Washington Nationals: OF Juan Soto
The Washington Nationals might say goodbye to franchise player and outfielder Bryce Harper after this season. They've never advanced past the division series since moving from Montreal after the 2004 season. Translation: It's win-now time in the nation's capital.
The Nats should hang on to top prospect and possible Harper heir apparent Victor Robles but could shop outfielder Juan Soto, who hit .362 in Single-A, High-A and Double-A and has hit .393 in a nine-game MLB audition.
Maybe Soto is the key to the Nationals' Harper-less future. If he can land them an ace bullpen arm or another piece that would spark a title run in Harper's swan song, however, they should pounce.