2019 MLB Trade Deadline Big Board: Ranking the Top 25 Remaining Players
Welcome to the final week before Major League Baseball's trade deadline. Get ready for players to fly off the shelves before 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.
If you want a list of names to keep an eye on, you've come to the right place.
We've ranked the top 25 players on the 2019 trade market. This could have been as simple as ranking them by their talent, but we also considered age and contract status in determining their general desirability. A further disclaimer is that some players are more available than others.
Let's take it away.
25. Tanner Roark, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds almost certainly won't respond to their disappointing season by going into rebuilding mode. However, they should get what they can for impending free agents such as Tanner Roark.
The 32-year-old right-hander hasn't been the same since peaking with sub-3.00 ERAs for the Washington Nationals in 2014 and 2016. His last three seasons are marked by a 4.38 ERA and unspectacular peripherals.
Yet Roark has turned something of a corner in posting a 3.95 ERA over 107 innings this year. He's even managed to duck the modern home run epidemic despite having to pitch at Great American Ball Park.
Ultimately, Roark is a good fit for a team that needs an innings-eater. Said team will just need to have space for what's left of his $10 million salary.
24. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
Zack Wheeler's trade-candidate status should be as simple as his being an impending free agent on a lousy New York Mets team.
Yet things got complicated when the 29-year-old went on the injured list with a shoulder impingement July 12. He's due to return Friday, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, but that may give him time for just one start before the deadline.
Even before all this, Wheeler had regressed from a strong 2018 (3.31 ERA over 182.1 innings) to post a 4.69 ERA through his first 119 frames this season. Any team that deals for him will therefore be rolling the dice on both his health and his effectiveness.
On the bright side, Wheeler is making only $6 million and there's all sorts of potential packed into his live-wire right arm. He's a classic high-risk, high-reward trade candidate.
23. Hunter Pence, DH, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers were chugging along as a surprise contender for a while, but a 1-9 record over their last 10 games has pushed them into seller territory ahead of the deadline.
Among their wares is one of the more intriguing hitters on the market: Hunter Pence.
The 36-year-old seemed finished as a productive major leaguer as he struggled through injuries and poor numbers with the San Francisco Giants from 2015 to 2018. Apparently not. He's found new life (and his fourth All-Star nod) with a .920 OPS and 15 home runs through 63 games this season.
Pence just did a stint on the IL with a groin strain, and he's strictly a designated hitter. But while these things limit his trade value, it's some consolation that he's a mere rental who's making only $2 million.
22. Todd Frazier, 3B, New York Mets
If the Mets can't find a taker for Wheeler, they might at least move their other high-profile rental: Todd Frazier.
Frazier peaked when he put up an .801 OPS with 64 home runs and 33 stolen bases for the Reds across 2014 and 2015. Now he's a 33-year-old whose valued is marred by diminished durability—he began this season on the IL with an oblique strain—and productivity.
At the least, Frazier is a potential weapon in a platoon role against left-handed pitching. Even that would be enough to justify taking on the remainder of his $9 million salary.
21. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Will the Chicago White Sox actually trade Jose Abreu? It seems doubtful.
"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," general manager Rick Hahn said on MLB Network in May.
Still, Abreu is a 32-year-old who's due for free agency, and there are a "few teams" monitoring his availability, according to Phil Rogers of Forbes. A market like that might just produce an offer that the White Sox can't refuse.
If it does, a team will only get a post-prime version of Abreu that's pulling in $16 million this season. However, even this version of Abreu can still hit. His .797 OPS and 22 homers prove as much.
20. Justin Smoak, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
In lieu of Abreu, teams in need of a reliable middle-of-the-order slugger for the stretch run should consider Justin Smoak.
The 32-year-old achieved a long-awaited breakout by smashing 38 homers with an .883 OPS for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. He's seemingly gone nowhere but backward since then and is sitting with a .776 OPS and 17 homers through 82 games this season.
Those numbers are still solid, however, and it's possible that they undersell how good Smoak has actually been. Statcast's xwOBA metric—based on strikeouts, walks and contact quality—rates him as the 19th-best hitter in MLB. In a related story, he's making hard contact at a career-best rate.
Throw in how Smoak is making a modest $8 million as an impending free agent, and he represents a chance for a steal.
19. Corey Dickerson, LF, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the same boat as the Cincinnati Reds. They aren't likely to ride their sub-.500 record into a rebuild, but they're bound to at least move some rentals.
Corey Dickerson is easily the best they have.
Dickerson, 30, missed much of the season's first two months because of a shoulder strain. He's since returned to hit .330 with a .907 OPS over his last 36 games. Altogether, he's a .302 hitter with an .821 OPS in two seasons as a Pirate.
Lest anyone forget, Dickerson also won a Gold Glove for his work in left field last season. Between all this and his reasonable $8.5 million salary, he's one of the market's overlooked gems.
18. Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers
Nicholas Castellanos is the least impressive of the Detroit Tigers' three big trade chips, but at least his season is getting better as it goes along.
Castellanos, 27, came into 2019 off a high of an .831 OPS and 193 extra-base hits over his three previous seasons. After failing to live up to that track record initially, he's been making up for lost hits with a .333/.395/.564 batting line since June 18. Overall, he still has a knack for hard contact.
One catch is that Castellanos is still a below-average right fielder. Still another is that he's on the books for $10 million in his final season under club control.
All the same, he represents a chance to add a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat for the stretch run. If an American League team has an opening for him at designated hitter, even better.
17. Yasiel Puig, RF, Cincinnati Reds
Yasiel Puig is the other big-name rental right fielder on the trade market, and his season has gone similarly to that of Castellanos.
Puig arrived in Cincinnati amid a good deal of hype after posting an .827 OPS and slamming 51 homers for the Los Angeles Dodgers across 2017 and 2018. However, the 28-year-old struggled out of the gate.
Not anymore. Puig boasts a .968 OPS and 15 homers dating back to May 24. This stretch has been fueled by decreased strikeouts and increased hard contact. Meanwhile, he's still playing a good right field.
Some teams may be scared off by Puig's $9.7 million salary and/or his history as a loose cannon. However, all it takes is one that's willing to emphasize his superstar-level talent and his extensive postseason track record.
16. David Peralta, LF, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks don't have to move David Peralta, who's under their control through 2020. He's also fresh off a stint on the IL with shoulder inflammation.
Yet there's reportedly a strong market for Peralta. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Chicago Cubs are just one of several teams with interest in the 31-year-old outfielder.
Peralta has been a quality hitter throughout much of his six-year career. This is especially true of his last two seasons, in which he's specialized in hard contact while racking up a .291/.351/.502 batting line and 39 homers. He's also played good defense in both left field and right field.
Moreover, Peralta is reasonably affordable. He's making $7 million this year, with another trip through arbitration due up in 2020.
15. Will Smith, LHP, San Francisco Giants
Relief pitchers are never in higher demand than at the trade deadline, and Will Smith is but one of many attractive targets on this year's market.
The 30-year-old left-hander first got comfortable as a reliever in 2014 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Tommy John surgery sidetracked his career in 2017, but he's since returned and kept rolling with a 2.50 ERA and 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings over the last two seasons.
Unlike most lefty relievers, Smith doesn't come with a platoon split. This season, for instance, righty batters have only a 38-point OPS advantage over lefty batters against him.
The San Francisco Giants might not be inclined to rent out Smith and the remainder of his $4.2 million salary while they're in wild-card contention. However, one look at their playoff odds might change their minds on the impending free agent.
14. Shane Greene, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Because they control Shane Greene through 2020, the Tigers might hold on to him if they don't get an agreeable offer.
Now is certainly the time for them to sell high, however. After struggling with a 5.12 ERA in 2018, Greene has lowered his ERA all the way down to 1.22 through his first 37 appearances of 2019.
Greene has allowed five home runs, yet he's also whiffed 41 batters and generally done a good job of avoiding the fat part of the bat. To wit, his hard-contact rate is below average and his ground-ball rate is well above average.
Lastly, Greene is only making $4 million. Assuming he keeps dominating the late innings, even a raise via arbitration in 2020 should still result in a reasonable rate.
13. Ken Giles, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
This time last year, Ken Giles was a toxic asset who was traded by the Houston Astros as the deadline neared. Now he's arguably the best relief pitcher on the 2019 market.
Giles, 28, has posted a 1.59 ERA through 34 appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays. He's also struck out 58 batters in 34 frames for a rate of 15.4 per nine innings.
The Blue Jays could keep Giles through 2020 if they wanted to. They still have more rebuilding to do, however, so it's all but a given that he and the rest of his $6.3 million salary (plus next year's arbitration price) will soon be out the door.
12. Kirby Yates, RHP, San Diego Padres
Like Giles, Kirby Yates is under club control through 2020. Unlike Giles, he's employed by a team that's all but finished rebuilding. The San Diego Padres might indeed make the leap to contention next season.
Still, it's in their interest to at least listen to offers for Yates.
The 32-year-old enjoyed a quiet breakout in 2018, and he's taken things even further in 2019. Through 43 innings, he boasts a 1.05 ERA, a 7.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and only one home run allowed. His fastball-splitter combination is indeed that nasty.
Per FanGraphs' wins above replacement, Yates is the best reliever in baseball this year. Perhaps that's a stretch, but his sheer ability, $3.1 million salary and remaining club control combine to give him oodles of trade value.
11. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants
There's some pressure on the Giants to move Madison Bumgarner and the remainder of his $12 million salary before free agency beckons him this winter. But right now, there might be more pressure to keep him.
"No way Giants can sell, they're on fire," one rival executive told Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Meanwhile, Bumgarner himself is on fire with a 2.00 ERA, 41 strikeouts and only six walks over his last six starts. That's better than the 4.28 ERA he had through his first 16 outings, so perhaps he's still the ace who earned four All-Star nods and three World Series rings from 2010 to 2016.
The Giants really can't lose with the 29-year-old lefty at this point. They can either keep him for a playoff push or rent him out for a huge haul of talent.
10. Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Robbie Ray doesn't have Bumgarner's track record. What he does have over his fellow NL West southpaw, however, is youth, an extra year of club control and massive upside.
The 27-year-old's results over the last four seasons have been inconsistent. He's put up a merely respectable 3.94 ERA and struggled with walks (4.2 per nine innings) and home runs (1.3 per nine innings).
But amid all this, Ray has also struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Only Chris Sale and Max Scherzer have done better in that department, and Ray has actually allowed a lower contact rate than the former.
At the least, a team that acquires Ray (and what's left of his $6.1 million 2019 salary) will get a frequently dominant No. 2 or No. 3 starter for the next year-and-a-half. At best, he might be transformed into a legit No. 1 with the right tweaks.
9. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays entered 2019 with two potentially huge trade chips in their starting rotation. One was Aaron Sanchez, who's gone bust. The other is Marcus Stroman, who hasn't.
Injuries and ineffectiveness have led Stroman on an up-and-down trajectory through his career, but he's pitched like an ace in two of the last three seasons. He finished 2017 with a 3.09 ERA over 201 innings. He's now back on that track in 2019 with a 2.96 ERA over 124.2 innings.
Stroman, 28, is a ground-ball merchant above all else. Knowing that, any team in the mix for him had better have an infield defense capable of keeping him happy.
Otherwise, Stroman's other merits include a modest $7.4 million salary and an additional year of club control in 2020. Provided he can keep pitching like an ace, he's a potential steal.
8. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Although the Cleveland Indians hold the AL's top wild-card spot, Rosenthal speculated they might be "aggressive listeners" on ace righty Trevor Bauer anyway.
If so, they would seem to be motivated primarily by money matters. Bauer is making $13 million this year and perhaps as much as $20 million via arbitration in 2020. This isn't music to the ears of a club that's recently been cutting costs.
Yet it's also possible that the Indians will get a haul of immediately usable talent for Bauer. The 28-year-old was a Cy Young Award contender in 2018 by way of a 2.21 ERA. He's regressed in 2019, but he's still managed a 3.49 ERA and 179 strikeouts over an MLB-high 152.1 innings.
Whether he's a true No. 1 or merely a glorified No. 2 starter, Bauer is worth pursuing.
7. Mike Minor, LHP, Texas Rangers
Pence is a nice piece, but elsewhere in the Rangers' collection of trade chips is perhaps the best pitcher in baseball.
That would be Mike Minor. He's put up a 3.00 ERA over 135 innings through his first 20 starts of the season. Through the magic of sabermetrics, all this translates into an MLB-high 6.1 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference.
Granted, Minor probably isn't actually the best pitcher around. Yet this isn't the 31-year-old's first rodeo as a top-of-the-rotation starter, and his outburst is being fueled by some of the most underrated stuff in the game.
Minor is making only $9.8 million both this year and in 2020. Albeit with a high acquisition cost, he represents a chance to land a moderately priced ace for the next year-and-a-half.
6. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies were hanging in there for much of the year, but a 3-14 skid since June 30 has all but taken them out of the NL playoff picture.
What's a tailspinning team to do? According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, Colorado will listen to offers for four-time All-Star Charlie Blackmon.
This is a complicated situation. For the Rockies, Blackmon is a core star who's averaged a .936 OPS and clubbed 116 home runs since 2016. Other teams, however, may only see a 33-year-old who owes his successful career to Coors Field. He's also due $21.5 million in both 2020 and 2021.
But if DJ LeMahieu can dominate after an exit from Colorado, perhaps Blackmon could too. Under that scenario, a blockbuster trade for him will have been worth the trouble.
5. Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles
Trey Mancini is one of few bright spots on the Baltimore Orioles, and he's under their control through 2022. Yet because he's already 27 and the Orioles are facing a long rebuild, he might not want to get too comfortable.
"[We're] not looking to part with Trey. That said, as I've said all along, we're open to anything," Orioles GM Mike Elias said in June, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports.
Mancini rates as a below-average defender at both first base and in the outfield, so he may only be a fit for American League clubs that can rotate him in and out of DH. He was also a subpar hitter just last season.
On either side of 2018, however, are an .826 OPS and 24 homers in 2017 and an .882 OPS and 22 homers this year. Factor in Mancini's remaining years of club control, and he's a potential impact bat for both the short and long term.
4. Whit Merrifield, INF/OF, Kansas City Royals
It won't be easy to nab Whit Merrifield from the Kansas City Royals.
They just signed him to a club-friendly four-year extension in January, and he's gone on to earn his first All-Star nod. According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the Royals won't even continue a trade discussion unless it starts with "three MLB-ready players."
Still, one enterprising club might determine that Merrifield, 30, is indeed worth such an asking price. He's seemingly done nothing except get better since he debuted in 2016. His latest act for 2019 has been establishing himself as a top-tier hitter courtesy of a .306/.357/.495 batting line.
Merrifield is also a versatile defender who can handle himself at second base and all three outfield spots. He can thus fill just about any role on just about any team.
3. Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Zack Greinke is 35 years old, yet he's still about as reliable as starting pitchers come.
His debut season with the Diamondbacks in 2016 was a rough one. But since then, he's posted ERAs of 3.20 in 2017, 3.21 in 2018 and 2.93 this season. He also boasts a 7.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which goes to show that you don't need elite fastball velocity if you master all other aspects of pitching.
The catch, of course, is that Greinke's $206.5 million pact calls for $35 million salaries in 2020 and 2021. It also includes a 15-team no-trade list that covers seemingly every contender that has a need for him.
This probably won't preclude a few enterprising clubs from at least asking about Greinke. But in all likelihood, the six-time All-Star and 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner is a trade chip in theory only.
2. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
The Mets haven't given any indications that they want to rebuild in response to their 46-54 record, so they'll presumably only trade Noah Syndergaard if somebody offers them a gargantuan haul of talent.
"According to teams in touch with the Mets, the asking price for a July trade for Syndergaard is multiple top prospects," according to Andy Martino of SNY.tv.
Is Thor worthy of such an asking price? In light of his extraordinary talent and club control through 2021, absolutely. In light of his 4.33 ERA and diminishing strikeout rate, less so. At this rate, he won't be worth the raises he's due on his $6 million salary.
Still, contenders can be forgiven if they prefer to focus on Syndergaard's control and talent. The latter notably authored a 2.93 ERA and 4.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio from 2015 to 2018. And per his MLB-high 97.7 mph fastball and 3.59 ERA since May 2, it may yet still be alive and mighty.
1. Matthew Boyd, LHP, Detroit Tigers
Matthew Boyd is the best trade chip the Tigers have, and they know it.
"Hear that for star lefty Matthew Boyd the Tigers at least in some cases are asking teams for an established young MLB star—not just prospects," tweeted Heyman on July 20.
This might seem like a bit much for a guy whose "breakout" season includes a mere 4.07 ERA. Further, Boyd has struggled with a 5.74 ERA and 15 homers allowed over his last nine starts.
Nonetheless, there's plenty to like about Boyd's 12.0 strikeouts (many of which have come on his exceptional slider) per nine innings and AL-best 6.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 28-year-old is also making just $2.6 million this year, and his club control runs all the way through 2022.
If Boyd isn't an ace already, he might be groomed as one on a new team.