Executives around Major League Baseball expect "monster names to be in trade talks" this offseason, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Passan mentioned Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor as high-profile stars whose names could come up during the hot-stove season. Rival executives reportedly believe those clubs will be "willing to at very least listen" to inquiries about their respective stars.
Of note, Betts is only under contract for one more season, while both Bryant and Lindor have two years of club control remaining.
After winning his first American League MVP award last year, Betts has put together another solid performance. He is hitting .282/.386/.497 with 21 home runs, 38 doubles, five triples and 67 RBI. Those numbers helped earn him his fourth consecutive All-Star selection.
The Red Sox offered Betts a reported eight-year, $200 million extension last year, but that offer was rejected. The 26-year-old let it be known in March that he does not expect to sign a long-term deal until he reaches free agency following the 2020 season.
Bryant has bounced back nicely following an injury-plagued 2018 season. He is hitting .281/.379/.521 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI and a .900 OPS this season.
Like Betts, Bryant has been approached by the Cubs about an extension, but no agreement has ever been reached. David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 reported last October that the 27-year-old had turned down an offer "well north of $200 million." A source told later The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma that the report was "simply not true."
Both Betts and Bryant have an MVP award and a World Series title on their respective resumes. While Lindor does not have either, he has been in the conversation as one of baseball's best players nearly every season. The four-time All-Star is hitting .297/.351/.522 with 23 home runs and 57 RBI this season.
Lindor, who turns 26 in November, told Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com in February that he would consider signing a long-term deal with his current club "if the Indians come up with the right numbers." Unfortunately for Cleveland, that could be a bad sign.
The small-market Indians do not have pockets as deep as the Red Sox or the Cubs. The biggest contract that club has ever handed out was a three-year, $60 million deal to Edwin Encarnacion following the 2016 season.