One Player Every Team Should Sell High on in Trades
Summer technically isn't here yet. But with the July 31 trade deadline fast approaching, the summer trading season in Major League Baseball might as well be.
Rather than who will be traded, we're here to discuss players teams should trade.
If the idea is to sell high—and it is—then teams must choose their trade chips wisely. For non-contenders, this is a straightforward matter of shopping players whose value is at its peak. For contenders, it's a matter of which fast-rising prospects are expendable.
We'll go in alphabetical order by city.
Note: For consistent reference, we've used MLB.com's prospect rankings.
Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Jackson Goddard
Because Zack Greinke's $34.5 million salary accounts for 27.6 percent of the Arizona Diamondbacks' payroll, it's hard not to entertain the idea of the D-backs unloading him while his 2.78 ERA is inflating his value.
But since it would be tough for the Diamondbacks to justify trading their ace while they're in the thick of the National League wild-card race, they ought to consider buying instead.
Of course, the D-backs aren't so good that they can risk dealing any of their top prospects. Their lesser talents, however, should be fair game.
Jackson Goddard (Arizona's No. 28 prospect) fits the bill of a sell-high candidate. The 22-year-old right-hander has three solid pitches and a 2.53 ERA for Single-A Kane County, yet his peripherals still point to a modest future as a back-end starter or a reliever.
Atlanta Braves: LHP Kyle Muller
The Atlanta Braves started slow, but they're now 18-12 since April 28 and pushing the Philadelphia Phillies for control of the NL East.
Hypothetically, a team like this should be prepared to trade any of its best prospects. But particularly where their pitching staff is concerned, the Braves aren't so well off that they can be reckless. The very best of their prospects should remain closely guarded.
Kyle Muller, on the other hand, can go.
Despite his nasty fastball-curveball combo, the 21-year-old left-hander is only the No. 12 prospect in a system that's loaded with talented pitchers, and he probably won't be ready until 2020 anyway. And while he has a 1.89 ERA at Double-A Mississippi, it's slightly undercut by a rate of 5.5 walks per nine innings.
Baltimore Orioles: OF/1B Trey Mancini
As the Baltimore Orioles speed toward another season of 110-plus losses, the trade deadline is really all they have to look forward to.
Ordinarily, discussions of their trade chips have centered on utility man Jonathan Villar and right-handers Andrew Cashner, Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens. However, none is an especially shiny trade chip right now.
All the more reason for the O's to see what they might get for Trey Mancini. The 27-year-old has cooled off in May, but he still boasts an .874 OPS and 10 home runs overall, and 58 total homers since 2017. To boot, he's under club control through 2022.
The Orioles may not be ready to contend by then, so they might as well cash Mancini in now while the getting's good.
Boston Red Sox: 1B/3B Triston Casas
The Boston Red Sox got off to such a slow start that even ace lefty David Price couldn't help but wonder if a summer fire sale was in the offing.
But since April 19, the Red Sox have looked a lot more like defending World Series champions in going 23-14. They still need to catch up to the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, however, so virtually none of their prospects should be untouchable.
That includes Triston Casas. He was the Red Sox's No. 26 pick in the 2018 draft—he can be traded so long as the Red Sox wait until after the one-year anniversary of his signing—and he's currently their No. 2 prospect. More recently, he's been raking with a 1.049 OPS in May at Single-A Greenville.
Since Casas is only 19 years old, he's years away from actually helping the Red Sox. And by the time he's ready, he could be blocked by Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec.
Chicago Cubs: SS Nico Hoerner
The Chicago Cubs won 22 out of 28 games between April 11 and May 14, but on either side of that stretch is some unspectacular baseball.
As a result, the Cubs' standing atop the NL Central is far from secure. They ought to be willing to do anything to hold on, much less prepare themselves for a possible return to the World Series.
Even Nico Hoerner, Chicago's No. 1 prospect, should be available. Since the Cubs drafted him with the No. 24 pick in the 2018 draft, the sweet-swinging 22-year-old has already established his value with strong showings in the Arizona Fall League, spring training and the minors, where has has a .312 average in 32 games.
There are only two caveats. First, Hoerner must first recover from a bruised hand. Second, any trade involving him should bring back more than a mere rental.
Chicago White Sox: 1B Jose Abreu
The Chicago White Sox shouldn't need to be convinced to make Jose Abreu available, but general manager Rick Hahn is seemingly insisting on it.
"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," Hahn recently said on MLB Network.
Abreu has indeed been a constant through several years of upheaval. And by all accounts, the 32-year-old is an outstanding clubhouse leader.
Yet he's also a pending free agent, and an experienced slugger with an .8120 OPS and 14 home runs this year. Trading him is better for Chicago's future than keeping him is for its present.
Cincinnati Reds: INF/OF Derek Dietrich
The Cincinnati Reds might end up buying at the trade deadline, but only if the bad luck they've experienced turns into good luck in a hurry.
If not, the Reds' trade chips will include rentals such as outfielder Yasiel Puig, right-hander Tanner Roark and, if healthy, second baseman Scooter Gennett. But even though he's not a rental, the Reds shouldn't exclude Derek Dietrich from their wares.
The Reds bought low on Dietrich after he was designated for assignment by the Miami Marlins, and he's thus far rewarded them with a 1.081 OPS and 17 homers.
Yet Dietrich is already 29 and only under club control through 2020, so it's not as if the Reds have discovered a long-term building block. They're better off capitalizing on his value while it's at an almost certainly unsustainable peak.
Cleveland Indians: OF Will Benson
Since May 5, the Cleveland Indians have gone 10-14 and watched their deficit to the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central balloon to 9.5 games.
This should arguably be a prelude to a summer fire sale, but that would involve the Indians forsaking an AL wild-card race that hasn't yet left them in the dust. So for now, let's assume they'll be in buy mode at the deadline.
Of course, even if they are, they'll be in no position to sacrifice any of their top prospects. They'll more so be in a position to trade a guy like Will Benson.
In three years, Benson has gone from being the Indians' No. 14 pick to being only their No. 25 prospect, largely because a strikeout problem has undercut his tools. If they time it right, they might be able to deal him before his .935 OPS at Single-A Lake County is undone by his 32.3 strikeout percentage.
Colorado Rockies: 1B Brian Mundell
Following a rough start, the Colorado Rockies have steadily crept into the NL wild-card race with a 24-15 run since April 14.
Even still, they're in a position not that dissimilar from the one the Diamondbacks are in. The Rockies should indeed be looking to buy, but only in deals that require them to give up lesser prospects.
Meanwhile at Triple-A, 25-year-old Brian Mundell is raking with a .369 average and a .996 OPS. In light of how little the Rockies have gotten out of first base, perhaps the question to ask is why they haven't yet called up their No. 29 prospect.
It might be because Mundell has little power and so little athleticism that he probably belongs in the American League. If they look hard enough, the Rockies might be able to find such a home for him in a trade.
Detroit Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd
The closer July 31 creeps, the more likely the Detroit Tigers are to cash in right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, right-hander Shane Greene and utility man Josh Harrison.
Their nuclear option, meanwhile, is a trade of Matthew Boyd.
The 28-year-old lefty wasn't on many radars coming into the year, but now he looks like an All-Star on account of his 2.85 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. Throw in his club control through 2022, and he's a hugely valuable trade chip.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Tigers will only deal Boyd for a "premium young hitter." Since their rebuild indeed needs one of those, they shouldn't hesitate if a team offers one.
Houston Astros: OF/1B Seth Beer
The Houston Astros are after their third straight 100-win season and their second World Series title in three years. Hypothetically, there's no deal they shouldn't be willing to make at the deadline.
But the Astros are weird.
On the one hand, they have a deep farm system to pull trade chips from. On the other, their needs are so relatively minor that they don't have to put top prospects like right-hander Forrest Whitley and outfielders Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez on the block.
Instead, Seth Beer will do. He's only Houston's No. 9 prospect, and he probably won't be ready until 2020 anyway. So, the Astros might as well see if anyone's willing to pay a premium for the 1.014 OPS the 22-year-old has in the minors this season.
Kansas City Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy
There's not a whole lot that the Kansas City Royals have to offer, but there is one reasonably shiny trade chip they should cash in as soon as possible.
That's Ian Kennedy.
At the start of the year, the 34-year-old looked like a sunk cost after putting up a 5.06 ERA as a starter in 2017 and 2018. But now that he has 26 strikeouts and only four walks in 22.2 innings as a late-inning reliever, suddenly the $33 million remaining on his deal doesn't seem so outrageous.
The facade is fading, though, as Kennedy has allowed nine runs in nine innings in May. If the Royals don't sell high on him soon, it may not be long before the chance to sell him at all has passed.
Los Angeles Angels: INF Tommy La Stella
The Los Angeles Angels came into 2019 with good intentions, but it's shaping up to be another year as an also-ran.
Since the Angels aren't about to rebuild while they have Mike Trout in his prime, they might hesitate to shop more than just their pending free agents. If nobody else, they might get something for veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
The Angels are almost certainly going to get calls about Tommy La Stella, however, and they'd be fools not to listen. After languishing for years as a platoon player, he's taken advantage of everyday playing time in Anaheim by putting up a .914 OPS and 12 homers.
Yet La Stella is 30 years old and only under club control through 2020. If the Angels wait to move him, they may watch his prime leave as suddenly as it arrived.
Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Edwin Uceta
Like the Astros, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a championship-hungry team with a deep farm system to pull from in trades.
Also like the Astros, however, the Dodgers don't have many truly glaring holes in their major league roster. To wit, there's no need for them to find another big-name replacement for Corey Seager.
To this end, they can skip right past their best prospects and see what they can get for their No. 20 prospect, Edwin Uceta.
The Dodgers signed the 21-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, and now he's showing star potential with a 1.99 ERA and 4.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. But since he won't be ready for a couple more years, the Dodgers can let another team be patient with his development.
Miami Marlins: LHP Caleb Smith
Out of the Miami Marlins' modest collection of veteran rentals, Neil Walker is the only one with any kind of value. And his value is of the good-not-great variety.
So, let's have a serious talk about the Marlins trading Caleb Smith.
For now, the lefty is the easy choice to represent the Marlins at the All-Star Game. He has a 3.05 ERA through 10 starts, not to mention 72 strikeouts in only 56 innings.
But while Smith is also under club control through 2023, he'll turn 28 on July 28. That puts him dangerously close to 30, which raises a real possibility that his prime will end sooner than the Marlins' slow-moving rebuild will.
Rather than tempt fate, there's logic in them shopping Smith for a much-needed haul of young talent.
Milwaukee Brewers: INF Brice Turang
The Milwaukee Brewers have a good chance at a second straight NL Central title as is, but they may be a significant improvement or two away from a real shot at the World Series.
For a team like this, there's little point in hoarding prospects. The Brewers have few good ones remaining anyway, so they might as well make Brice Turang available.
Although Turang is Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect officially, he's probably overtaken 24-year-old outfielder Corey Ray at this point. While Ray has struggled at Triple-A, Turang has hit .315 with an .834 OPS at Single-A Wisconsin.
In addition to being a solid hitter, Turang also projects as a good baserunner and defender. But since he's only 19, he's still years away from realizing his potential in the majors.
Minnesota Twins: INF Nick Gordon
In light of the huge gap between them and the Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins really don't need to do anything to hold on to the AL Central lead.
If they want to make it to the World Series, however, it wouldn't hurt to load up. To this end, their many injuries (the latest of which is right-hander Brusdar Graterol's shoulder impingement) down on the farm are less than ideal.
Yet the Twins may have a sneaky-good trade chip in Nick Gordon. The 23-year-old infielder was once a No. 5 pick, and a top-100 talent as recently as 2018. He started this year as merely Minnesota's No. 10 prospect, but he's since rebuilt value with a .317 average and .856 OPS at Triple-A Rochester.
Whereas there's no place for him on the Twins, another team might like to have Gordon as an immediate infield plug-in.
New York Mets: 1B Dominic Smith
The New York Mets were trending toward selling at the trade deadline for a while, but a recent course correction has them back in the NL wild-card race.
One might argue that the Mets should sell anyway, but they frankly don't have many veterans to sell high on. Most notably, flame-throwing ace Noah Syndergaard is having a rough season.
But then there's Dominic Smith. The 23-year-old has nothing left to prove in the minors, and he's put up a 1.024 OPS in limited action in the majors this season. Yet his action may be doomed to remain limited as long as he stays with the Mets, as Pete Alonso isn't about to loosen his grip on first base.
Between his current talent level and his club control through 2023, Smith might bring back more than just one important piece if the Mets make him available.
New York Yankees: RHP Deivi Garcia
The New York Yankees are already atop the AL East, and they only stand to get better as the many stars on their injured list return to good health.
If there's one guy the Yankees probably shouldn't count on, it's Luis Severino. The hard-throwing righty has had a devil of a time recovering from shoulder inflammation, so it's anyone's guess whether he'll be his vintage self at any point in 2019.
The Yankees might consider a deal for a controllable ace who could fill Severino's shoes this season, and then CC Sabathia's in 2020 and beyond after the veteran lefty retires.
Deivi Garcia could help fetch such an ace. The 20-year-old righty only ranks as New York's No. 4 prospect, but he's rising fast on the power of a 3.30 ERA and 75 strikeouts in only 43.2 innings in the minors.
Oakland Athletics: 3B Sheldon Neuse
The Oakland Athletics were lethargic out of the gate, but there's nothing like a 10-game win streak to get back into contention.
Yet the A's need to be careful about digging in their heels at the trade deadline. The Houston Astros are still well ahead of them in the AL West. And because of their infamous budget constraints, the A's need to be extremely cautious with trading young talent.
Still, they can risk putting Sheldon Neuse out there. The 24-year-old third baseman is Oakland's No. 9 prospect, and he's currently knocking on the door to the majors with an .818 OPS for Triple-A Las Vegas. He's also credited as a capable defender.
There's just one problem for Neuse: With Matt Chapman at the hot corner in Oakland, he has a much better chance of landing a major league third base gig with another team.
Philadelphia Phillies: 3B Alec Bohm
This past winter, the Philadelphia Phillies made an all-out effort to reestablish their NL East supremacy. It's working, but they need more if they want to outlast the Atlanta Braves and possibly get to the World Series.
Hence why even Alec Bohm should be on the table in trade talks.
The 22-year-old third baseman was the Phillies' No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft, and he began 2019 as the club's No. 1 prospect. He's now looking the part of a future franchise cornerstone with a .925 OPS in his first full season in the minors.
Trouble is, Bohm probably won't be ready to man the hot corner in Philadelphia until 2021. Rather than wait, the Phillies might swap him for a controllable star they need now.
Pittsburgh Pirates: LHP Felipe Vazquez
The Pittsburgh Pirates are technically in the NL wild-card race, but their minus-63 run differential portends doom in their immediate future.
Assuming they choose to sell, the Pirates should be able to generate interest in left-hander Francisco Liriano, right-hander Jordan Lyles and outfielder Melky Cabrera. But if they really want to shake things up, they'll put Felipe Vazquez on the table.
The fireballing lefty first emerged as an elite closer in 2017, and he's better than ever right now. He boasts a 1.57 ERA and an outstanding 7.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 21 appearances. Factor in a club-friendly contract that runs as far as 2023, and he has oodles of trade value.
Actually trading Vazquez, 27, would be a drastic move for the Pirates, but not so drastic that it would kick off a full-scale rebuild. They would only need to find a new closer.
San Diego Padres: LHP Ryan Weathers
The San Diego Padres have slightly overachieved to this point, but they're reportedly prepared to throw caution to the wind anyway.
According to Rosenthal, the Padres are in the market for a No. 1 starter this summer. They certainly have the prospect depth to pay the price for one, as they came into 2019 with MLB's top farm system.
Out of many possible trade headliners, Ryan Weathers would make the most sense for the Padres. The southpaw was their No. 7 pick in the 2018 draft, and he's currently their No. 8 prospect. Now he's dominating with a 1.78 ERA and 9.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio for Single-A Fort Wayne.
But since Weathers is only 19 and a couple years away from being ready for the majors, the Padres can afford to part with him.
San Francisco Giants: 1B Brandon Belt
As the San Francisco Giants' ship finally sinks, it's obvious that they'll soon be shopping lefties Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith and reborn utility man Pablo Sandoval.
The hard part will be unloading some of the bigger contracts on their books, which mostly belong to players who are past their primes. The only notable exception is Brandon Belt.
Although the 31-year-old has gotten plenty of flak throughout his career, he's been a consistently above-average hitter and a steady presence at first base. So it goes in 2019. Belt has an .800 OPS overall, and an .889 OPS away from Oracle Park.
Belt is owed $17.2 million annually through 2021. For the moment, the Giants might be able to move him without having to eat too many of his remaining dollars.
Seattle Mariners: OF Mitch Haniger
The Seattle Mariners were once the hottest team in baseball, but that was a long time ago. Now they're 21 games under .500 dating back to April 12.
If this is the result of GM Jerry Dipoto's "reimagining" of his roster, then it ought to be back to the drawing board. Rather than try to retool on the fly, the Mariners need to consider more drastic measures.
Up to and including trading Mitch Haniger. On account of his good-not-great .807 OPS and 14 homers, his value isn't the highest it's ever been. But those are still good numbers, and it was just last year that Haniger was an All-Star and fringe MVP candidate.
Because he's under club control through 2022, the Mariners might prefer to see Haniger as a long-term building block. But since he's already 28, he doesn't quite fit the bill.
St. Louis Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill
The St. Louis Cardinals are in an awkward spot of not being very good and also having shockingly few sell-high trade chips.
Their best play is to remain patient and hope to claw their way back into the NL Central or NL wild-card races. To this end, it's of some comfort that they've slightly underachieved so far.
Assuming the Cardinals are ultimately in a position for a trade that might put them over the top, Tyler O'Neill should be first on their list of potential sacrifices. It's either that or let the 23-year-old former top prospect stay blocked behind Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez.
As per usual, O'Neill has neither a high average nor a high on-base percentage for Triple-A Memphis. He is, however, living up to his billing as a dangerous slugger with eight homers in only 22 games.
Tampa Bay Rays: INF Christian Arroyo
The Tampa Bay Rays have already cemented themselves as one of the best teams in MLB, but they're going to need all the help they can get to hold off the Boston Red Sox and hang with the New York Yankees.
Much like the A's, however, the Rays need to be exceedingly careful about dealing away their best prospects. They should only look to trade young players whom they know they don't need.
Christian Arroyo would seem to fit the bill. The 24-year-old has major league experience, but he's stuck in the minors because the Rays apparently have enough infield depth even with Yandy Diaz, Matt Duffy and Joey Wendle on the injured list.
Meanwhile, Arroyo is red-hot with a .314/.381/.603 for Triple-A Durham. A trade suitor might take those numbers in tandem with his MLB-readiness and history as a top prospect and get excited about him.
Texas Rangers: RHP Demarcus Evans
The Texas Rangers have played their way into the AL wild-card race, which features so little competition that they might as well get comfortable.
But with a 95-loss season fresh in their wake, this is no time for the Rangers to go all-in on contending. If they're going to buy, they must set their sights on opportunistic targets who could be bought with lesser prospects.
They can stand to part with their No. 24 prospect, Demarcus Evans. The 22-year-old righty has a big fastball and a nasty curveball, and he's put them to work racking up a 0.81 ERA and 40 strikeouts through 22.1 innings for High-A Down East.
This is all as a reliever, however, and Evans' massive 6'4", 270-pound frame is still a potential long-term concern.
Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Ken Giles
According to Rosenthal (via Mike Johnston of Sportsnet), the Toronto Blue Jays don't need to be told that they should shop first baseman Justin Smoak and right-handers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.
But since his name isn't mentioned in that report, perhaps they do need to be told that Ken Giles should also be made available.
The Blue Jays picked Giles up as a reclamation project in the deal that sent Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros last July. He has indeed been reclaimed, as he's dominated the late innings to the tune of a 1.25 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.
Further adding to the 28-year-old's trade value is club control through 2020. The Blue Jays would be neglecting a golden opportunity by not trading him.
Washington Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon
After entering the year as a contender for the NL East title, the Washington Nationals have swiftly sunk nearly to the bottom of the division.
Given that he's due for free agency, that the Nats should look to move Anthony Rendon would seem to be stating the obvious. Yet they were in a similar position with Bryce Harper last year, and he ended up sticking around for the rest of the season.
Like they did with Harper, the Nationals might have it in mind to try to extend Rendon before he reaches the open market. That didn't work with Harper, however, and Rendon's stellar track track record and 1.083 OPS this season give him two very good excuses to follow in his former teammate's footsteps.
Rather than risk losing Rendon for nothing, Washington darn well should make the 28-year-old available.