Ranking the 10 MLB Stars Most Likely to Be Traded in 2019-20 Offseason

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2019

Ranking the 10 MLB Stars Most Likely to Be Traded in 2019-20 Offseason

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    The MLB trade deadline is in the rearview mirror. With the elimination of August waiver trades, we'll have to wait until the offseason before we see another blockbuster deal.

    To that point, it's worth talking about what impact players might be available on the winter trade market.

    Several players rumored to be available at this year's trade deadline could again be dangled once the season wraps up, so there will be a lot of familiar faces on the following list.

    Team outlook and remaining club control were the biggest factors in identifying someone as a potential trade candidate.

10. SP Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

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    The Detroit Tigers did not find anyone to pay a steep asking price for breakout starter Matthew Boyd at the trade deadline, but expect them to keep listening.

    The 28-year-old has a 3.94 ERA in 22 starts, and his 178 strikeouts rank fifth in the American League. His 120 ERA+ and 3.46 FIP paint him as one of the better young lefties in the game.

    According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, the Tigers wanted a return similar to what the Chicago White Sox netted when they sent Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a four-prospect package headlined by Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease.

    Outside of Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner, the upcoming free-agent market is thin on impact starting pitching, which could make the trade market the preferred route for teams looking to bolster their starting staffs.

    That will be a theme in the slides to come.

9. SP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

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    Would the Washington Nationals really consider trading Max Scherzer?

    Depending on how serious they are about re-signing third baseman Anthony Rendon, it could become a necessity for a club that has spent aggressively in recent years.

    The Nats already have $132.8 million on the books for next season, and that's without factoring in a hefty arbitration raise for shortstop Trea Turner and any money spent on pre-arbitration players.

    They also still have a glaring need for late-inning relief help, evidenced by the fact that they have seemingly been scrambling for bullpen arms each of the past three summers.

    Trading Scherzer in a salary-dump move doesn't make sense for a team that is looking to contend. However, if the Nationals can find a trade that makes sense from a roster standpoint and saves some money, it will be worth considering.

8. RF Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels

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    Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun was a speculative trade chip leading up to the deadline, and the team faces an interesting decision this offseason.

    The 31-year-old has a 111 OPS+ with 21 doubles and 24 home runs. Coupled with his strong defense in the outfield, he has been worth 2.1 WAR.

    That level of production makes it seem likely the Angels will exercise his $14 million club option, but there are other factors to consider.

    With Justin Upton and Mike Trout signed long-term, cutting ties with Calhoun is the most obvious way to clear a path for top prospect Jo Adell. The Angels recently promoted Adell to Triple-A, and he seems poised to debut early in 2020.

    With just one year of team control remaining, the return on Calhoun would likely be minimal, but he should have some value.

    Expect the Angels to exercise his option and then shop him.

7. SP Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners

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    Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto loves a good offseason trade. Left-hander Marco Gonzales looks like the team's most valuable trade chip as it continues to retool the roster and build up the farm system.

    The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, pitching a career-high 166.2 innings while posting a 4.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in a 2.5-WAR season.

    He's been similarly solid this year with a 4.21 ERA and 3.95 FIP in 134.2 innings. While he doesn't profile as an ace, there's plenty of value in a controllable innings-eater who produces at a roughly league-average rate.

    With his salary locked in at $1 million next year and team control through the 2023 season, the Mariners don't need to move him. They will certainly listen, though, and plenty of contenders would benefit from the stability he can bring to a staff.

6. RF Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers

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    With three straight 20-homer seasons entering his age-24 campaign, Nomar Mazara began the season looking like a building block for the Texas Rangers.

    While he's been productive, he has yet to show significant improvement:

    • 2016: 93 OPS+, 20 HR, 6.9 BB%, 19.7 K%
    • 2017: 90 OPS+, 20 HR, 8.9 BB%, 20.6 K%
    • 2018: 97 OPS+, 20 HR, 7.5 BB%, 21.6 K%
    • 2019: 94 OPS+, 15 HR, 6.0 BB%, 22.6 K% .

    For a player viewed as a future star while he was climbing the minor league ranks, his middling production and lack of adjustment in approach have been disappointing.

    The Rangers made him available at the deadline, and the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres were among the teams with reported interest, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

    Given his age and upside, he's an extremely attractive buy-low target, and he comes with team control through 2021.

5. SP/RP Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

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    The St. Louis Cardinals signed Carlos Martinez to a five-year, $51 million extension prior to the 2017 season, and it looked like he would serve as the ace of the staff for years to come.

    After he earned a spot on the NL All-Star team in 2017, injuries limited him to 18 starts last season, and he spent much of the second half pitching out of the bullpen.

    The 27-year-old has worked exclusively in relief this year, tallying 11 saves in 13 chances while posting a 3.45 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 26 appearances.

    He's owed $23.4 million over the next two years, and he has a $17 million option for 2022 and an $18 million option for 2023 that both carry $500,000 buyouts.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cardinals were willing to listen to offers for Martinez ahead of the trade deadline. He could be an attractive outside-the-box target for teams that want to add an ace-caliber arm but miss out on Cole.

4. LF David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    It's easy to forget David Peralta is just a year removed from hitting 30 home runs and winning a Silver Slugger award.

    He's missed some time this year, including a trip to the injured list with AC joint inflammation in his right shoulder, and his production has dipped.

    The 31-year-old still has a 110 OPS+ with 36 extra-base hits in 348 plate appearances, though his .234 average and .628 OPS against left-handed pitching give him a platoon profile.

    He's earning a modest $7 million this season and has one year of arbitration remaining. The Diamondbacks will likely push to move him during the offseason as they continue to rework the roster with controllable young assets.

    For a team in need of help against right-handed pitching, he'll be a good target who should come at a relatively cheap price.

3. SP Caleb Smith, Miami Marlins

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    The Miami Marlins traded Trevor Richards and Zac Gallen from their stable of controllable starters at the deadline. They will no doubt continue to be a popular target as contenders look to make long-term additions to their starting staffs.

    Left-hander Caleb Smith now looks like Miami's most valuable young starter thanks to a breakout 2019 season.

    The 28-year-old has a 3.43 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 119 strikeouts in 97 innings, good for 11.0 K/9. Team control through the 2023 season further bolsters his value.

    From the Marlins' standpoint, it makes sense to sell high given his age and profile as a late bloomer. There's a good chance he won't be part of the next contending Marlins team, so dealing him for younger assets might be the way to go.

    He won't come cheap, and the Marlins have all the leverage given his extended club control, but his name should continue to populate the rumor mill for the foreseeable future.

2. RP Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The asking price for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez proved to be a non-starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    According to Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates wanted either slugging middle infielder Gavin Lux or electric right-hander Dustin May, alongside catcher Keibert Ruiz.

    That's two consensus top-100 prospects who push closer to the top 50 on most lists. It's a ton for any team to part with, even one with a deep farm system and the freedom to spend big.

    On the other hand, Vazquez is really, really good.

    Since the start of 2017, the flame-throwing lefty has a 2.10 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 11.7 K/9 in 183 appearances, converting 79 of 87 save chances. His lethal fastball-slider-changeup repertoire is virtually unhittable when he's at his best.

    The Pirates signed him to a four-year, $22 million extension prior to last season that includes a pair of $10 million club options for 2022 and 2023. That team-friendly cost certainty only increases his value, which is why Pittsburgh set the asking price so high.

    He's readily available if anyone is willing to pony up.

1. RP Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres

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    The San Diego Padres were adamant about keeping All-Star closer Brad Hand right up until they traded him to the Cleveland Indians in a deal that brought them top prospect Francisco Mejia.

    Their unwillingness to part with Kirby Yates this summer should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Yates, 32, has been a breakout star in his first full season in the closer's role, nailing down 31 of 33 save chances with a pristine 1.02 ERA and a staggering 14.7 K/9 against just 1.8 BB/9 in 42 appearances.

    He'll be a free agent after the 2020 season, and the Padres might not be ready to legitimately contend for a playoff spot next year. Selling high on Yates this winter might be the most prudent move.

    For teams not willing to pay the steep price for Vazquez, Yates could represent an equally effective alternative that will come at a fraction of the price, albeit still not cheap.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.


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