Each MLB Team's Player Most Likely to Be Traded in 2019-20 Offseason
The Major League Baseball offseason will be here before anyone knows it. And because this winter's crop of free agents looks relatively weak, trades could be all the rage.
We've speculated on the most likely player on each team to be traded during the 2019-2020 offseason. We certainly stretched the limits of the term "likely" to accommodate some guys, yet we didn't choose our targets randomly.
We were looking for established players with movable contracts or expendable talent, as well as prospects and fringe major leaguers who might have more value to their clubs as trade chips than as building blocks. Rumors about which players have been or might be available were helpful in some cases.
We'll go division-by-division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: INF Jonathan Villar
The Baltimore Orioles have plenty of players they could trade for the sake of advancing their rebuild, but they'll need to consider which players are the right mix of valuable and expendable.
More so than John Means, Trey Mancini, Hanser Alberto, Renato Nunez and Anthony Santander—who are under Baltimore's control for the long haul—Jonathan Villar fits the bill.
Villar enjoyed a brief rebirth when the O's acquired him from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, and it's continued into 2019 to the tune of an .808 OPS and 20 home runs. Between that, his versatile defense and his looming free agency after 2020, he could draw a crowd on the trade market.
Boston Red Sox: RF Mookie Betts
Would the Boston Red Sox really trade Mookie Betts just a year after he captured the AL MVP and helped lead the team to a World Series championship?
They just might. According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, there's speculation around MLB that the Red Sox will at least listen to offers for Betts this winter. He is a free agent after 2020, after all, and he's thus far stonewalled Boston's efforts to extend him.
Besides, the Red Sox will need a huge talent influx if they lose J.D. Martinez and Rick Porcello to free agency and if Chris Sale ultimately needs Tommy John surgery. Even despite his limited team control, a trade of Betts could make such an influx happen.
New York Yankees: OF Clint Frazier
In the wake of Gio Urshela's rise at third base, the New York Yankees could field interest in Miguel Andujar this winter. They might also try to get out from under Giancarlo Stanton's remaining contract.
However, the Yankees would be selling low in both cases. Andujar is coming off shoulder surgery. Because of his own injury issues, Stanton has played in only nine games and hit one homer all year.
In lieu of them, keep an eye on Clint Frazier. His own value is compromised by his inconsistent offense and shoddy defense. The former top prospect nonetheless offers plenty of upside and club control through 2023, so the Yankees might sell another team on him as a worthwhile upside play.
Tampa Bay Rays: OF Tommy Pham
In light of his frequent injuries and diminishing offensive returns, the Tampa Bay Rays might try to move Kevin Kiermaier before his $53.5 million extension gets into the big money.
Yet it might be easier for the Rays to find a taker for Tommy Pham, even though his .890 OPS in 158 games as a Ray highlights him as a guy who should be kept under any circumstance.
With his age-32 season coming up in 2020, the Rays might endeavor to get something for Pham before he ages out of his prime. They'd also be saving themselves some money, as Pham is making $4.1 million with two more trips through arbitration still to go.
Toronto Blue Jays: RHP Ken Giles
With Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Kevin Pillar already traded and Justin Smoak nearing free agency, Ken Giles will soon be the last of the Toronto Blue Jays' once-mighty collection of trade chips.
All the same, not many closers have as much sheer electricity as Giles has in his right arm. And since they'd be risking further elbow trouble by keeping him, the Blue Jays might be willing to market him as an affordable one-year rental for 2020.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: RHP Alex Colome
The Chicago White Sox might have it in mind to contend next season, but actually doing so isn't such a sure thing that they can neglect good opportunities to trade from their major league roster.
Alex Colome will present such an opportunity this winter. The veteran closer rebuilt some lost value with a strong finish to 2018 with the Seattle Mariners, and he's kept building with a 2.34 ERA through his 50 appearances with the White Sox.
Because the White Sox control Colome through 2020, they might not feel compelled to move him. But if a team with a more immediate need for a closer makes a good offer, they'd be wise to take it.
Cleveland Indians: SS Francisco Lindor
In the same boat as Betts this winter will be Francisco Lindor.
Because Lindor is an MVP-caliber superstar whose club control runs through 2021, the Cleveland Indians should have no business trading him. Nevertheless, ESPN's Buster Olney (via Aaron Goldhammer of ESPN Cleveland) expects the Indians will indeed be willing to talk about him.
Lindor is already making $10.9 million, so the Indians will have a financial incentive to move him. Beyond that, there's the reality that players with more trade value than Lindor are few and far between.
Detroit Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd
The Detroit Tigers' farm system is getting there, but it still needs to get a lot better before the club can start looking forward to the end of its rebuild.
Hence why Matthew Boyd is likely to be back on the block this winter. The Tigers need as many prospects as they can get. Cashing in on his breakout as a top strikeout artist as well as his club control through 2022 would be the best way for them to go about getting some.
Of course, the Tigers must first hope that Boyd recovers from the tailspin that's led to a 5.84 ERA since June 2.
Kansas City Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy
Speaking of rebuilding AL Central clubs that need prospects, the Kansas City Royals are right there with the Tigers and (to a lesser extent) the White Sox.
To this end, the Royals should give serious thought to selling high on guys like Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier. But since each is controlled through at least 2021, the Royals may opt for moving shorter-term assets.
For instance, Ian Kennedy. He was a sunk cost as a starter just last year. But after finding his stride as a reliever with a 3.68 ERA and 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, his $16.5 million salary for 2020 isn't altogether immovable anymore.
Minnesota Twins: SS Royce Lewis
The Indians' cost-cutting maneuvers during 2018-2019 presented an opening for the Minnesota Twins. They took it and have run with it this year, so 2020 may be their chance to double-down on their AL Central superiority.
This could be as simple as spending big bucks in free agency, but the Twins might have an easier time enticing trade sellers with their prospect depth. Specifically, in wunderkind shortstop Royce Lewis.
The 20-year-old is MLB.com's No. 7 prospect by way of his exceptional upside. But since he's had a rough season and is blocked by Jorge Polanco at the major league level, the Twins may be better off sacrificing Lewis in a blockbuster trade.
American League West
Houston Astros: 3B Abraham Toro
If they fail to re-sign ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, the Houston Astros will have a No. 1-type starter at the top of their offseason shopping list.
Unfortunately for them, pickings will be slim on the free-agent market after Cole. The Astros also cleaned out their farm system in a flurry of deals at the trade deadline. They still have uber-outfielder Kyle Tucker, but they didn't even want to deal him for Noah Syndergaard, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Instead, perhaps they'll try to interest sellers in young third baseman Abraham Toro, who's teased star potential with a .938 OPS and 17 homers in the minors this season. If he stays with Houston, he'll stay blocked by Alex Bregman.
Los Angeles Angels: INF/OF Taylor Ward
The Los Angeles Angels are more likely to be active on the free-agent market than on the trade market this winter.
While they should have plenty of money to spend, their farm system is short on shiny trade chips outside of toolsy outfielder Jo Adell. And since he's just about ready to line up alongside Mike Trout, the odds of him actually being traded are basically nil.
The Angels are more likely to trade depth pieces that they don't actually need, such as Taylor Ward. He's become a man without a true position since the Angels drafted him as a catcher in 2015, but they might drum up interest in his impressive .322/.433/.565 career slash line at Triple-A.
Oakland Athletics: RHP Blake Treinen
There's always a question of which salaries the Oakland Athletics might try to get out of paying. To this end, they could be more than willing to field offers for Blake Treinen this winter.
Following a dominant 2018 season that was marked by a 0.78 ERA and 38 saves, Treinen got a raise from $2.2 million to $6.4 million via arbitration. Despite a significant regression to a 4.53 ERA this season, he should get another raise in his final time through arbitration next year.
Rather than go to the extreme of non-tendering Treinen, the A's might put him out there and see if anyone is willing to pay a premium for his upside.
Seattle Mariners: OF Mitch Haniger
If anyone can be counted on to do some trading this offseason, it's Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. The guy loves his trades.
In response to what will presumably be a last-place finish, Dipoto is more likely to be in a selling mood than a buying mood this winter. Interested parties could find him willing to deal notables such as Domingo Santana, Daniel Vogelbach, Omar Narvaez and even Mitch Haniger.
Haniger, who was an All-Star in 2018, has been difficult to pry loose in the past, but Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that "folks expect" him to be on the block this offseason. A related story may be that he's due for his first of three trips through arbitration.
Texas Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara
Even if they don't finish this season above the .500 mark, the Texas Rangers have already succeeded in proving that their 95-loss 2018 season didn't doom them to a prolonged rebuild.
Still, the Rangers can't trade from what isn't even that good of a farm system. They may just as soon swap out extraneous pieces of their major league roster.
For example, Nomar Mazara. He was an elite prospect when the Rangers called him up in 2016, but he's never quite found his footing as a star. The Rangers might seek to market him as a change-of-scenery candidate with two more years of club control left.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: RHP Touki Toussaint
Whether it was last winter or this summer, the Atlanta Braves have shown a reluctance to trade from their considerable prospect depth.
That isn't likely to change this offseason. The Braves are going to have many free agents to replace, after all, so they'll probably focus on filling some holes with signings and others with in-house promotions.
Yet the Braves might be willing to deal young players who've already had their shots at earning and keeping major league jobs. Touki Toussaint comes to mind. Following a breakout 2018, the righty now looks like a change-of-scenery candidate after flopping as a reliever in the majors and as a starter in the minors.
Miami Marlins: RHP Jose Urena
Because their rebuild still has a ways to go, the Miami Marlins are bound to spend the winter looking to either shed payroll or accumulate prospects.
There aren't many trades they can make that would satisfy both desires, but sending Jose Urena elsewhere might do the trick. The Marlins could potentially market him as an electric starter with a mid-90s fastball and only two more trips through arbitration to build on his current $3.2 million salary.
There could be another layer of intrigue to Urena's trade value if the Marlins indeed use him as their closer upon his return from a back injury. In either case, they have little to lose by making him available.
New York Mets: 1B/LF Dominic Smith
Following their hot second half and their surprise blockbuster for Marcus Stroman, the New York Mets are all but assured to be buyers this offseason.
They'll likely be on the lookout for a starter to fill Zack Wheeler's shoes if he leaves as a free agent. They may also target impact relievers for a bullpen that's been let down by Edwin Diaz this season.
Either need could be filled via a trade of Dominic Smith. He's put himself on the map with an .858 OPS and 10 homers in 88 games with the Mets. But since he's blocked by Pete Alonso at first base and by a handful of players in the outfield, the Mets might as well see what they can get for him.
Philadelphia Phillies: 2B Cesar Hernandez
The Philadelphia Phillies went all-out for Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura last winter, but it hasn't resulted in as big of a step forward as they were hoping for.
They're likely to be big players on the hot stove market again this winter, but probably more so in free agency than in trades. Their farm system isn't overflowing with expendable top-tier talent.
The Phillies might instead seek to clear salary for an inevitable splurge in free agency. This is how Cesar Hernandez could end up on the block. Rather than pay him an inevitable raise from his current $7.8 million salary, the Phillies might see what the veteran's on-base talent is worth on the trade market.
Washington Nationals: OF Michael A. Taylor
There might be some additional speculation about the Washington Nationals trading Max Scherzer, but it's doubtful they'll be more willing to move him this winter than they were this summer.
The Nats will be busier with an infield that could lose Anthony Rendon, Brian Dozier, Ryan Zimmerman and Yan Gomes to free agency. One of those spots is bound to be filled by top prospect Carter Kieboom, but the Nats might need to clear some payroll before they can fill the other spots.
A trade of Michael A. Taylor wouldn't go too far in this regard, but it would save the Nats from paying a raise on his $3.3 million salary. He might interest rebuilders on the lookout for low-risk, high-reward targets to turn into trade chips.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: LF Kyle Schwarber
If the Chicago Cubs can't salvage their disappointing regular season with a deep postseason run, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein might follow up on his threat to make big changes.
Nobody on the Cubs roster might be especially safe this winter, but no player may be on thinner ice than Kyle Schwarber. He's simply never developed into the game-changing hitter he was supposed to be, and his left field defense might not be as outstanding as it seemed in 2018.
A trade of Schwarber would save the Cubs from having to pay him two more raises on his $3.4 million salary. Ideally, they'd also get back usable pieces from a club that still believes in his upside.
Cincinnati Reds: 3B Jonathan India
Although their efforts to contend in 2019 didn't pan out, the Cincinnati Reds signaled with their trade for Trevor Bauer that they mean to try again in 2020.
Between their sacrifice of Taylor Trammell in that deal and Jeter Downs in the trade that netted them Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood last winter, the Reds clearly aren't averse to trading from their prospect depth despite their also-ran status. That makes one wonder who might be next.
Jonathan India, who's MLB.com's No. 92 prospect, could be a prime candidate. The Reds dabbled in shopping him last winter, according to Rosenthal. Given that he's still blocked by Eugenio Suarez at the hot corner, it's not out of the question that they'll do so again this winter.
Milwaukee Brewers: SS Brice Turang
The Milwaukee Brewers haven't been able to conjure the same magic that led them to 96 wins and the National League Championship Series in 2018.
That largely comes down to their battered, bruised and largely ineffective pitching staff. Fixing that will be a top priority this winter. And because their contention window is wide-open, the Brewers might not have limits with regard to trading from their limited prospect depth.
In other words, Brice Turang might not want to get too comfortable. He is MLB.com's No. 78 prospect, but he's also a 19-year-old who the Brewers might be better off trading than waiting on.
Pittsburgh Pirates: LHP Felipe Vazquez
The Pittsburgh Pirates could have made a killing by trading Felipe Vazquez ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, but GM Neal Huntington wanted nothing to do with it.
His faith in the Pirates' immediate future hasn't been rewarded. The Pirates were already slumping going into the deadline, and now they're 19 games under .500 dating back to July 12. This has the club on a trajectory for a house-cleaning, which could affect both the team's leadership and roster.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez
After months of lying in the weeds, the St. Louis Cardinals have made their move to the top of the NL Central. But regardless of how that pans out, they're going to face some tough choices this winter.
They'll need to figure out an outfield that will likely be more of a mystery once Marcell Ozuna hits free agency. Their pitching staff also stands to lose Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha.
The Cardinals might angle for a trade that would free up money and bring MLB-ready talent back to St. Louis. To this end, they could save about $24 million by moving two-time All-Star Carlos Martinez, whose recent lack of durability has been an issue with the team anyway.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Mike Leake
The Arizona Diamondbacks will be an interesting team to watch this winter, as they're neither good enough to deal prospects nor bad enough to break up a roster that has few players controlled beyond 2020.
If they make any trades at all, they may be geared toward clearing payroll and maybe adding some depth. Which is where a Mike Leake trade might come into play.
Leake has flopped with a 6.59 ERA since the D-backs nabbed him from the Mariners on deadline day. The bright side is that Arizona is only on the hook to pay or pass on $3 million out of his $15 million salary for 2020. A team in need of a low-risk innings-eater might gladly take that on.
Colorado Rockies: OF Charlie Blackmon
The Rockies are yet another NL West team that will exist in a sort of in-between state this winter. But in light of how far they've fallen since June 30, they may be more amendable to drastic action.
Such as trading Charlie Blackmon. The Rockies were at least willing to listen to offers for him in July, according to Morosi, and it would be wise for them to take the same position this winter.
Blackmon is a four-time All-Star, but he's also 33 and owed $43 million over the next two seasons. Any trade that resulted in that much money saved and talent gained would make it that much easier for the Rockies to patch their many holes.
Los Angeles Dodgers: SS Jeter Downs
With Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Russell Martin and David Freese due to come off their books, the Los Angeles Dodgers will have the needs and the resources to focus on free agency this winter.
And yet it wouldn't necessarily be unlike them to make noise on the trade market anyway. They probably have more prospects than they need, after all, and quite a few would seem to be expendable.
Perhaps none more so than Downs. He's broken out with an .877 OPS and 21 homers in the minors this year, but he's still looking up at Corey Seager and Gavin Lux. It's not hard to see him moving in a deal for a pitcher.
San Diego Padres: INF Xavier Edwards
After spending big on Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer and making homegrown stars out of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Hunter Renfroe, all the San Diego Padres need now is more pitching.
If their involvement with Corey Kluber (here) and Syndergaard (here) is any indication, they're willing to subtract from their ample prospect depth for an ace. Perhaps they'll actually do so this winter.
Even still, they might prefer to bypass the cream of their prospect crop and settle on a guy like Xavier Edwards as a centerpiece. He may be blocked by Machado, Tatis and Luis Urias in San Diego, but he's nonetheless a .326 hitter in the minors who ranks as MLB.com's No. 75 prospect.
San Francisco Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija
The San Francisco Giants had their chance to cash in Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, but it passed them by and won't be coming around again. Both left-handers are free agents this winter.
The Giants might finally take a hint that they need to start a full-on rebuild, of which the first step would be freeing their payroll from some of its many exorbitant salaries.
A trade of Jeff Samardzija might be San Francisco's most practical maneuver. He was an albatross as recently as last year, but he's since recovered with a 3.38 ERA this season. That will make it easier for the Giants to shed his $19.8 million salary for 2020.