Potential 2019 Trade Deadline Packages for MLB's Top 20 Targets
As the 2019 Major League Baseball season's July 31 trade deadline inches closer, a clear picture of which players will be available is beginning to form.
Let's find homes for them and imagine what they might bring back for their current clubs.
This list of 20 top trade candidates isn't exactly definitive—bigger names might become more available over time—but it's comprised of players who are likely to be involved in trade talks over the next two months.
Otherwise, this was about identifying a possible suitor for each player, and then using relevant precedents to narrow down what they might fetch in a trade. In most cases, we focused on prospects who might headline a larger trade package.
The players have been ranked according to their general desirability based on their track records, current talent level, age and contract status.
Note: For consistent reference, we've used MLB.com's prospect rankings.
20. Andrew Cashner, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Andrew Cashner's first year with the Baltimore Orioles in 2018 ended with a 5.29 ERA. So far, he's improved to a 4.14 ERA in his second.
The 32-year-old's overall line is skewed by a stinkbomb against the New York Yankees on Opening Day. He's put up a 3.40 ERA over 50.1 innings since then. He's reintroduced his four-seam fastball, and his velocity has ticked up significantly.
Between his performance and his not-unreasonable $9.5 million salary, the Orioles have a solid trade chip in Cashner. They might duplicate the 2018 trade of Gio Gonzalez, which netted the Washington Nationals one of the Milwaukee Brewers' top 30 prospects, plus a throw-in.
The Los Angeles Angels, whose rotation has an ugly 5.86 ERA, could be game for such a deal. The O's might gladly accept a two-player package headlined by righty Jake Jewell. He's the Angels' No. 25 prospect, but he's already 26 and is seemingly in need of a change of scenery.
The Deal: Angels get RHP Andrew Cashner, Orioles get RHP Jake Jewell and a throw-in
19. Mychal Givens, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Righty reliever Mychal Givens is also in the Orioles' bag of trade chips, but his trade value is complicated.
On one hand, he's following a 3.99 ERA in 2018 with a 4.91 ERA in 2019. On another, he was dominating before he ran afoul of the Yankees (Cashner can relate) this week. On still another hand, he's making only $2.2 million and won't become a free agent until 2022.
There's a similarity between where Givens, 29, is now and where Keone Kela was last summer. The Orioles hope so, anyway, as the Texas Rangers cashed in two-and-a-half seasons of Kela for a two-player package headlined by left-hander Taylor Hearn, who was then the Pittsburgh Pirates' No. 7 prospect.
Rather than sacrifice a big chunk of their prospect depth for a more established ace reliever, the Atlanta Braves might prefer an opportunistic play for Givens. They could afford to part with 21-year-old lefty Kyle Muller, their No. 12 prospect, who is inconsequential relative to their other young arms.
Like in the Kela trade, a player to be named later could complete the trade.
The Deal: Braves get RHP Mychal Givens, Orioles get LHP Kyle Muller and a PTBNL
18. Hunter Pence, DH/OF, Texas Rangers
Injuries and diminishing returns in 2017 and 2018 seemed to be pushing Hunter Pence toward retirement. But the Texas Rangers picked him up anyway, and he's come alive with a 1.015 OPS and 10 home runs.
The trouble for the Rangers is that the Houston Astros are running away with the American League West lead. And if the Rangers' prolific offense begins to slump, they won't last long in the AL wild-card race.
In that scenario, the 36-year-old Pence should find himself on the market. His age, recent track record and status as a primary designated hitter will turn some teams away, but a few might be drawn to his resurgent numbers and $2 million salary.
The Tampa Bay Rays, for example. Their financial plight is well known, yet they must do something about a DH slot that's produced only a .708 OPS.
The Rangers could probably get more for Pence than the Toronto Blue Jays got for Curtis Granderson last season. Tobias Myers, a 20-year-old righty with a decent floor who ranks as Tampa Bay's No. 26 prospect, might suffice.
The Deal: Rays get DH/OF Hunter Pence, Rangers get RHP Tobias Myers
17. Tanner Roark, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds' push to contend in 2019 isn't working out, so the clock is ticking for them to get hot before they must start marketing their many pending free agents.
If said hot streak never materializes, Tanner Roark figures to draw plenty of interest. The righty has been a generally reliable and occasionally brilliant innings-eater since 2014. So it goes in 2019, as he has a 3.51 ERA over 51.1 innings.
Since he's also 32 and is pulling in a $10 million salary, Roark has an overall profile similar to Cashner. His comparatively strong track record should boost his value, and the stronger underlying performance also belongs to Roark.
If the Oakland Athletics continue their recent hot streak, they might be interested in pairing Roark's pitch-to-contact skills with their outstanding defense. A possible compromise between them and the Reds might involve 25-year-old outfielder Skye Bolt.
He's Oakland's No. 19 prospect, yet he's in need of a chance to show what he can do in the majors. The Reds could offer him that.
The Deal: A's get RHP Tanner Roark, Reds get OF Skye Bolt
16. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
Here's where a huge caveat is necessary: Scooter Gennett has to get healthy first.
The 29-year-old second baseman has been out since spring training with a severe right groin strain. According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds still don't have a timetable for his return.
It's possible, however, that Gennett will return soon enough to provide a suitable audition for potential trade suitors. Ideally, he would return to the form that helped him to post an .859 OPS and 50 homers across 2017 and 2018.
To rent out Gennett and the remainder of his $9.8 million salary, the Reds might look to copy the 2015 trade of Ben Zobrist. It's an older trade by now, but it involved a rental second baseman bringing two young players—including Kansas City's No. 4 prospect, Sean Manaea—back to Oakland.
If they lose patience with Jason Kipnis, the cross-state Cleveland Indians could see Gennett as a fix for their offensive black hole at second base. In exchange, they could offer fast-rising infielder Tyler Freeman. The 20-year-old is their No. 3 prospect, and he's No. 96 in MLB overall.
The Deal: Indians get 2B Scooter Gennett, Reds get INF Tyler Freeman and a throw-in
15. Justin Smoak, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
According to MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal (via Mike Johnston of Sportsnet.ca), the Toronto Blue Jays would like to move Justin Smoak and other veteran stars before July 31.
The 32-year-old broke out in 2017, smashing 38 homers with an .883 OPS. He kept it up reasonably well in 2018 with an .808 OPS and 25 homers. But he's down to a .789 OPS and eight homers so far this season, which isn't great for his trade value.
Still, Smoak does offer the potential of game-changing power at the cold corner, and he's making only $8 million. The Blue Jays might at least copy the Oakland Athletics' trade of Yonder Alonso in 2017. That landed them Boog Powell, who was red-hot at Triple-A at the time.
Since Daniel Murphy has been of no help this season, the Colorado Rockies might go for Smoak as a low-risk fix for their first base problem. Brian Mundell, a 25-year-old first baseman, might work as a bargaining chip. He's only Colorado's No. 29 prospect, but his .369 average at Triple-A is hard to ignore.
The Deal: Rockies get 1B Justin Smoak, Blue Jays get 1B Brian Mundell
14. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
In lieu of Smoak, teams in need of a slugging first baseman might consider Jose Abreu. Emphasis on "might."
Though the 32-year-old is due for free agency at season's end, the Chicago White Sox still don't sound any more willing to shop him than they have been in prior seasons.
"He's been here throughout the early stages of this rebuild, and it's certainly very likely that he'll be here for the more enjoyable stages that lie ahead of us," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on MLB Network.
Abreu has been hot lately, however, which has brought his overall numbers up to an .833 OPS and 12 homers. At this rate, interest in him on the trade market may be too great for Chicago to ignore.
If the Rockies target Abreu over Smoak, they'll have to hand over a better prospect. In light of the trouble they're having with their pitching staff, the White Sox might prefer an MLB-ready arm such as righties Peter Lambert (Colorado's No. 4 prospect) or Ryan Castellani (No. 11).
The former would be a long shot. The latter, less so.
The Deal: Rockies get 1B Jose Abreu, White Sox get RHP Ryan Castellani
13. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Seattle Mariners
Rounding out the market's share of cold-corner sluggers is Edwin Encarnacion, who's back to doing Edwin Encarnacion things.
Following two relatively disappointing seasons for the Cleveland Indians, the 36-year-old is up to an .883 OPS and 13 homers for the Seattle Mariners. He's easily outproducing Abreu and Smoak. To boot, neither has a history of slugging quite as extensive as Encarnacion's.
Encarnacion's $21.7 million salary is a hurdle in the way of a deal, but the trade that sent him to Seattle included $5 million in cash from the Rays. That plus a few of the Mariners' own dollars could lower his next team's obligation significantly, which would help the Mariners land a better prospect for him.
There might not be a better fit for Encarnacion than the Astros, whose otherwise amazing offense is weak at first base and DH. They also have the motive and more than enough prospect capital to rent Encarnacion for the remainder of the year.
If Abreu can fetch a mid-level prospect, Encarnacion also might under the right circumstances. The Mariners could gravitate toward 24-year-old outfielder Myles Straw. The speedster is the Astros' No. 14 prospect, but their crowded outfield behooves them to consider him a trade chip.
The Deal: Astros get 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, Mariners get OF Myles Straw
12. Nicholas Castellanos, RF, Detroit Tigers
Nicholas Castellanos has been at the center of trade rumors for several years now. As he told Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, that's an "uneasy" thing to go through.
That would explain the 27-year-old's down season. After averaging an .831 OPS and slamming 193 extra-base hits between 2016 and 2018, he boasts only a .754 OPS and 21 extra-base hits so far in 2019.
Still, at least Castellanos' defense in right field hasn't been as disastrous as it was in 2018. And with his free agency looming, the Detroit Tigers have little choice but to unload him and his $10 million salary anyway.
Provided he gets hot enough between now and July 31, Castellanos might fetch a similar, yet downgraded version of the package the Tigers got for J.D. Martinez in 2017. That three-player haul was headlined by the Arizona Diamondbacks' No. 4 (Dawel Lugo) and No. 15 (Sergio Alcantara) prospects.
The Indians, who recently parted ways with Carlos Gonzalez, are a natural fit for Castellanos. They might offer 23-year-old infielder Yu Chang (their No. 11 prospect) and 23-year-old outfielder Daniel Johnson (No. 22).
The Deal: Indians get RF Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers get INF Yu Chang, OF Daniel Johnson and a throw-in
11. Shane Greene, RHP, Detroit Tigers
More so than Castellanos, Shane Greene figures to be Detroit's most sought-after trade chip this summer.
Following a rough 2018, the 30-year-old righty is back in business with a 1.29 ERA and a 24-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 21 appearances. He's also earning only $4 million in his penultimate season before free agency.
For a year-and-a-half of Greene, the Tigers might aim to get what the Minnesota Twins got for a year-and-a-half of Ryan Pressly last July. That trade brought the Astros' No. 10 (Jorge Alcala) and No. 15 (Gilberto Celestino) prospects back to the Twin Cities.
There's a home for Greene in a Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen that hasn't had a fully functioning version of Kenley Jansen. Plus, the Dodgers have more than enough prospect depth to pay the price for Greene.
Since the Tigers need young hitters, they might take superfluous pieces such as outfielder DJ Peters (Los Angeles' No. 10 prospect) and catcher Connor Wong (No. 13) off the Dodgers' hands.
The Deal: Dodgers get RHP Shane Greene, Tigers get OF DJ Peters and C Connor Wong
10. Ken Giles, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Elsewhere in the realm of year-and-a-half relief targets is Ken Giles, who's also putting a difficult 2018 behind him.
"Catastrophic" would be a better word to describe Giles' 2018 campaign. His time with the Astros included a 4.99 ERA, plus a demotion to the minors that he brought on himself with his behavior. He didn't get much better after the Astros shipped him to the Blue Jays in July.
The 28-year-old righty has always had electric stuff, however, and it's working again in 2019. He has a 1.31 ERA with a whopping 32 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. Factor in his reasonable $6.3 million salary and control through 2020, and he's yet another candidate for a Pressly-like package.
Somewhat appropriately, the best fit for Giles might be with the Twins, whose bullpen could use a righty who can keep up with unhittable lefty Taylor Rogers.
It would be a hoot if the Twins used Alcala and Celestino to pay for Giles. But for the sake of variety, we'll suggest a package of 20-year-old righty Blayne Enlow (Minnesota's No. 9 prospect) and 20-year-old outfielder Akil Baddoo (No. 12).
The Deal: Twins get RHP Ken Giles, Blue Jays get RHP Blayne Enlow and OF Akil Baddoo
9. Blake Treinen, RHP, Oakland Athletics
It's hardly a given that the A's will make Blake Treinen available.
They've steadily crept back into contention, after all, and they'll need Treinen to keep it up. He was an All-Star and Cy Young Award contender on the strength of his 0.78 ERA in 2018. Despite an issue with his elbow, he's had only one bad outing in 2019.
If the A's struggle to escape the bounds of .500, however, they may see if anyone blows them away with an offer for a year-and-a-half of Treinen's closing services. Certainly, such an offer would have to be better than what the Twins got for Pressly.
The Philadelphia Phillies might be game. Their mission to reclaim NL East supremacy is going well so far, but their bullpen would look better with a tried-and-true ace reliever.
Since the A's aren't in a position to rebuild, they would likely try to land some MLB-ready pieces for Treinen. The Phillies have a few standing by in 23-year-old righty Enyel De Los Santos (their No. 6 prospect) and 22-year-old lefty JoJo Romero (No. 7).
The Deal: Phillies get RHP Blake Treinen, A's get RHP Enyel De Los Santos and LHP JoJo Romero
8. Will Smith, LHP, San Francisco Giants
Will Smith is the best reliever who's certain to be on the market this summer.
After Tommy John surgery sidelined him for all of 2017, the 29-year-old bounced back in 2018 with a 2.55 ERA, 71 strikeouts with 15 walks in 53 innings. He's keeping it up in 2019 with a 2.75 ERA, 27 strikeouts and four walks in 19.2 innings.
Smith is making $4.2 million in his final season before free agency. For their part, the San Francisco Giants are a sinking ship with little incentive to hold on to him.
The Giants would probably love to get for Smith what the Yankees got (i.e., Gleyber Torres) for Aroldis Chapman in 2016. More likely, they'll have to settle for beating the packages that rentals of Jeurys Familia and Joakim Soria fetched last season. Let's say two top-30 prospects instead of just one.
Smith would fit in the Chicago Cubs bullpen, which needs more strikeouts and fewer walks. The Giants could set their sights on fast-rising lefty Brailyn Marquez (Chicago's No. 3 prospect) and a wild card. Righty Duane Underwood Jr. (No. 25) would fit the bill as a change-of-scenery candidate.
The Deal: Cubs get LHP Will Smith, Giants get LHP Brailyn Marquez and RHP Duane Underwood Jr.
7. Yasiel Puig, RF, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds might make a killing for Yasiel Puig at the trade deadline, but only if he finds a rhythm at the plate first.
When the 28-year-old right fielder arrived in Cincinnati over the winter, he was coming off posting an .827 OPS and hitting 51 homers for the Dodgers across 2017 and 2018. So far in 2019, he's mustered only a .610 OPS and seven homers.
If all goes well, a combination of warmer weather and Great American Ball Park's small dimensions might revitalize Puig's bat. In the meantime, his normally above-average defense is already up to par.
The Phillies are a sneaky fit for Puig. They can trust that Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen will come around, but Odubel Herrera's ongoing offensive struggles are a legitimate concern. They might go for Puig and hope their new-look outfield's offensive strength would outweigh its lack of a true center fielder.
In exchange, the Phillies might offer the Reds a package headlined by nearly MLB-ready outfielder Adam Haseley (their No. 3 prospect) and 23-year-old righty Mauricio Llovera (No. 15). Such a deal would be an approximate facsimile of the 2017 J.D. Martinez trade.
The Deal: Phillies get RF Yasiel Puig, Reds get OF Adam Haseley, RHP Mauricio Llovera and a throw-in
6. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
The New York Mets' season is going so poorly that it's hard not to wonder if they'll shop flamethrowing righty Noah Syndergaard. If not him, Zack Wheeler is certainly a candidate to hit the block.
The 28-year-old righty is due for free agency at the end of the year. He's also coming off a career-best season in 2018, and his 4.74 ERA this season obscures how he's mostly been terrific.
If Wheeler can get and stay hot, his trade value might approach that of Yu Darvish in 2017. The Rangers got three prospects from the Dodgers for him, including top-100 slugger Willie Calhoun.
Between his outstanding fastball velocity and average spin rate, Wheeler is the Astros' kind of pitcher. And they might be willing to rent him for the sake of adding a third ace behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
The Astros' best prospects would be off-limits, but 22-year-old righty J.B. Bukauskus would be a sensible centerpiece. He's the Astros' No. 5 prospect, and No. 85 in MLB overall. Rounding out the deal could be righties Dean Deetz (Houston's No. 18) and Rogelio Armenteros (No. 22), who are in limbo with Houston.
The Deal: Astros get RHP Zack Wheeler, Mets get RHPs J.B. Bukauskus, Dean Deetz and Rogelio Armenteros
5. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants
Smith should be worth a pretty penny on the trade market, but not as pretty as what Madison Bumgarner might be worth to the Giants.
The "might" is necessary because the 29-year-old lefty's track record as an All-Star and postseason hero is being undercut by a less-than-awesome present reality. He missed a good chunk of 2017 and 2018 with injuries, and he's yielded only a 4.10 ERA through 11 starts this year.
However, Bumgarner's improved fastball velocity and strikeout-to-walk ratio suggest better results are in his future. If they eventually come, he'll be yet another rental ace with Darvish-like trade value.
We recently discussed as much in more detail, and we also laid out some trade packages that might come together for Bumgarner. The best for the Giants would be one from the prospect-rich Braves. The most practical fits for him, though, are with the Brewers or St Louis Cardinals.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Brewers had interest in Bumgarner over the winter. He can still help their starting rotation, and 22-year-old righty Freddy Peralta still looks like a fair centerpiece. Sweet-swinging infielder Mauricio Dubon (Milwaukee's No. 5 prospect) and toolsy outfielder Je'Von Ward (No. 23) might be good enough to complete the deal.
The Deal: Brewers get LHP Madison Bumgarner, Giants get RHP Freddy Peralta, INF Mauricio Dubon and OF Je'Von Ward
4. Mike Minor, LHP, Texas Rangers
If they stick fairly close to .500, the Rangers may only go as far as putting Hunter Pence and other rentals on the trading block.
Yet there is a scenario in which they steadily drift further and further south of .500, at which point they'd have to consider more drastic measures. For instance, putting Mike Minor out there.
The 31-year-old lefty is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game today. He has a 2.64 ERA this season, and a 2.80 ERA in 20 starts dating back to last year's All-Star break. He's also making a modest $9.8 million this year and next.
Since the Rangers aren't interested in tanking, any trade involving Minor would have to bring back pieces that could plug in right away. To this end, it would make sense for them to pursue an upgraded version of last year's trade of J.A. Happ to New York, which netted Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney for the Blue Jays.
The Cardinals, whose rotation has a 4.72 ERA, could do such a deal. For their part, the Rangers might gladly accept slugging 23-year-old outfielder Tyler O'Neill and 27-year-old righty Daniel Ponce de Leon, the latter of whom is St. Louis' No. 15 prospect.
The Deal: Cardinals get LHP Mike Minor, Rangers get OF Tyler O'Neill and RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon
3. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
According to MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays are also hoping to move Aaron Sanchez ahead of July 31.
His club control will be up after 2020, and his trade value is only good as long as he's avoiding blisters, which have been an ongoing problem for him.
As of now, Sanchez is looking good with a 3.79 ERA through 11 starts. Yet his career peak—e.g., when he lead the AL with a 3.00 ERA in 2016—still seems to be firmly in his past. He might be to this summer's market what Sonny Gray was to the 2017 market, albeit with one less year of control.
The trade that sent Gray from Oakland to New York brought the Yankees' Nos. 4, 8 and 12 prospects back to the A's, but each came with red flags. More so than most prospect-based deals, it was an upside play for the A's.
In light of their need for a starter and the potential of pitching coach Wes Johnson's magic touch, the Twins might be amenable to a similar deal for Sanchez. They could offer infielder Nick Gordon (their No. 10 prospect) and left-hander Stephen Gonsalves (No. 11), both of whom aren't as hyped as they used to be.
The Deal: Twins get RHP Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays get INF Nick Gordon and LHP Stephen Gonsalves
2. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays should get nice packages for Justin Smoak, Ken Giles and Aaron Sanchez, but Marcus Stroman is easily the best they can offer on the summer trade market.
The 28-year-old righty is only two years removed from contending for the AL Cy Young Award, and he's back to looking like an ace this season. He has a 2.81 ERA through 11 starts, mainly through the use of the highest ground-ball rate of any AL starter.
Like Sanchez, Stroman is also controlled through 2020. But he's certainly worth more in a trade, perhaps to a point where a package for him would have to include not one, but two top-100 prospects.
The San Diego Padres have more top-100 guys than they need. And according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, they also happen to be in the market for a No. 1 starter.
The Padres probably won't be parting with left-hander MacKenzie Gore or infielder Luis Urias any time soon, but they might let the Blue Jays pick from their lesser prospects. Lefty Logan Allen and righty Michel Baez, who rank as MLB's No. 68 and No. 78 prospects, could work.
The Deal: Padres get RHP Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays get LHP Logan Allen and RHP Michael Baez
1. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals were supposed to be contenders this season. In actuality, they've played every bit as poorly as their 19-31 record would indicate.
The Nationals might not see this as an excuse to decimate their roster, but they'll at least have to cash in their rentals. That list is mostly unimpressive until you get to Anthony Rendon.
The 28-year-old third baseman has been playing at a star-caliber level for years, and he's currently reaching new heights with a 1.072 OPS and nine homers. Health permitting, he can be the Manny Machado of the 2019 trade deadline.
The trade that sent Machado to the Dodgers brought five prospects back to the Orioles, including a top-100 guy (Yusniel Diaz) and two of Los Angeles' top-30 talents (Dean Kramer and Rylan Bannon).
Just as the Dodgers needed Machado to fill Corey Seager's shoes, perhaps the Yankees will determine Rendon is the guy to fill Miguel Andujar's. Since the Nats would have to get back MLB-ready talent, a package headlined by righties Jonathan Loaisiga (the Yankees' No. 2 prospect, and No. 59 overall) and Albert Abreu (No. 3) and infielder Thairo Estrada (No. 19) might do the trick.
The Deal: Yankees get 3B Anthony Rendon, Nationals get RHPs Jonathan Loaisiga and Albert Abreu and INF Thairo Estrada plus two throw-ins