The Biggest MLB Trade Chips Available from Sellers Ahead of 2020 Deadline

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterAugust 22, 2020

The Biggest MLB Trade Chips Available from Sellers Ahead of 2020 Deadline

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    Could the Boston Red Sox trade J.D. Martinez?
    Could the Boston Red Sox trade J.D. Martinez?Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    As the 2020 Major League Baseball season careens toward the Aug. 31 trade deadline, the market is beginning to take shape.

    What buyers need is one thing. What really matters, though, is which teams are selling and what they can offer.

    We pinpointed 10 teams that might look to sell ahead of the deadline and laid their best potential trade chips out on the table. The more they have, the more they stand to gain from buyers. For the sake of spicing things up, we also made one bold prediction for each team.

    Now then, let's take it away.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Alex Cobb
    Alex CobbNick Wass/Associated Press

    Record: 12-14

    Because of their surprisingly dangerous offensive attack and the general wide-openness of the American League playoff field, the Baltimore Orioles aren't toast just yet.

    However, they haven't helped themselves with a six-game losing streak. There's also little question that they're still rebuilding, so selling may be in their future even if they stay closely tethered to the .500 mark.

    If his quad strain heals in time, shortstop Jose Iglesias figures to generate some offers. The slick-fielding (and this year, sweet-swinging) shortstop has an option for 2021. There should also be plenty of interest in Mychal Givens, who has a 0.00 ERA through nine appearances. He's under club control through next year.

    Lastly, don't underrate veteran right-hander Alex Cobb as a desirable trade chip. He's generally had it rough in Baltimore, but he's now working on a 3.76 ERA in the second-to-last year of a $57 million deal.

    Bold Prediction: Cobb goes to the Chicago White Sox

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Josh Bell
    Josh BellAssociated Press

    Record: 5-17

    The Pittsburgh Pirates came into 2020 hoping to pull a 180-degree turnaround from last year's 93-loss dud. Instead, it looks like a full-on rebuild is very much necessary.

    In theory, that should have teams interested in slugging first baseman Josh Bell. He enjoyed an All-Star breakout with 37 home runs in 2019, and he's under club control through 2022.

    Trouble is, Bell has crushed his trade value by sinking to a .577 OPS in 2020. Meanwhile, other controllable trade chips like right-handers Joe Musgrove and Kyle Crick are on the shelf with injuries.

    Still, the Pirates at least figure to rent out talented closer Keone Kela before he reaches free agency. Pittsburgh could also look to cash in third baseman Colin Moran, starter Trevor Williams and relievers Chris Stratton and Richard Rodriguez, each of whom is having a solid season and is controlled beyond 2020.

    Bold Prediction: Kela goes to the Philadelphia Phillies

Seattle Mariners

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    Kyle Seager
    Kyle SeagerAssociated Press

    Record: 9-19

    The Seattle Mariners are at a point in their rebuild where they don't have any shiny trade chips left to cash in. Unless, of course, you count Kyle Seager.

    So far in 2020, the veteran third baseman has turned in a vintage performance with a .917 OPS and five home runs. While Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto insists the team is going to "hold on to him," he may flinch if he gets a chance to unload Seager's $18.5 million salary for 2021.

    The Mariners could also shop right-handed starter Taijuan Walker, who's on a cheap one-year deal. After barely pitching because of injuries in 2018 and 2019, he's gotten by with a 4.00 ERA in five starts this year.

    Seattle might otherwise look to exploit what's sure to be a pitching-hungry market by dangling closer Taylor Williams. Though the right-hander is controlled through 2024, his 3.27 ERA and 16 strikeouts through 11 innings may have pushed his value to its peak.

    Bold Prediction: Seager goes to the Milwaukee Brewers

San Francisco Giants

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    Johnny Cueto
    Johnny CuetoAssociated Press

    Record: 12-16

    Similar to the Mariners, the San Francisco Giants are yet another rebuilder that lacks the assets to make out like bandits in a fire sale.

    Yet the Giants do have some rentals that could interest teams. Righty starter Kevin Gausman, for example, has reclaimed some lost value with 42 strikeouts in 31 innings. There's also veteran southpaw Tony Watson, who boasts a 1.04 ERA through 10 appearances.

    The Giants could also unload some well-paid veterans who are controlled past 2020. That includes veteran righty Johnny Cueto, who's pitched better than his 4.35 ERA would indicate. He's owed $21.8 million in 2021, yet the Giants would surely eat a big chunk of that in a trade.

    If the Giants want to capitalize on some sky-high value, they could also shop infielder Donovan Solano (controlled through 2021) or even outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (through 2025).

    Bold Prediction: Cueto goes to the Oakland Athletics

Detroit Tigers

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    Jonathan Schoop
    Jonathan SchoopAssociated Press

    Record: 10-14

    There's also a rebuild ongoing in Detroit, where the Tigers came into 2020 with a conspicuous collection of players on expiring contracts.

    But then came the injury bug. Slugging first baseman C.J. Cron is out for the year with a knee injury. Veteran starters Ivan Nova and Jordan Zimmermann are also out of action.

    The Tigers' list of rentals has thus been reduced to second baseman Jonathan Schoop, catcher Austin Romine and outfielder Cameron Maybin. Luckily for Detroit, only Maybin has crushed his value with his play. Romine has a surprising .782 OPS, while Schoop has smacked six home runs.

    Concerning controllable players, starters Matthew Boyd and Michael Fulmer probably won't go anywhere while their value is down. Yet keep an eye on swingman Daniel Norris and relievers Joe Jimenez and Gregory Soto, each of whom could potentially draw a crowd as contenders scramble to shore up their pitching depth.

    Bold Prediction: Schoop goes to the Colorado Rockies

Miami Marlins

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    Jonathan Villar
    Jonathan VillarAssociated Press

    Record: 10-9

    Yes, the Miami Marlins are technically in contention for one of the National League East's two playoff spots. But now that their hot start has given way to frequent losses, they must carry on rebuilding.

    The Marlins will at least dangle some rentals, including veteran utility man Jonathan Villar. He isn't off to a great start, but any player who has power, speed and a versatile glove will get looks from contenders.

    Catcher Francisco Cervelli, outfielder Matt Joyce and reliever Brad Boxberger are also having decent seasons, and should therefore get looks of their own. Contenders could also go after closer Brandon Kintzler, whose contract comes with a $4 million club option for 2021.

    The Marlins may be less willing to deal controllable players, particularly shortstop and club leader Miguel Rojas. However, they'll probably listen on slugging first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who's put up a solid .817 OPS and four home runs.

    Bold Prediction: Aguilar goes to the Washington Nationals

Texas Rangers

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    Mike Minor
    Mike MinorAssociated Press

    Record: 10-15

    The Texas Rangers were on a nice run for a minute, but then they ran into the buzz saw that is the San Diego Padres. Now it's time for them to consider selling.

    The bright side for the Rangers is that their rental options include veteran slugger Shin-Soo Choo and southpaw Mike Minor. With a brilliant 2019 season not that far in the rearview, the latter is especially likely to draw interest despite his 6.94 ERA in 2020.

    Versatile reliever Jesse Chavez could get looks as well in spite of his even uglier 8.71 ERA. Contenders could also take a liking to first baseman Todd Frazier and (health permitting) catcher Robinson Chirinos, given that they have options for 2021.

    Though ascendant ace Lance Lynn is signed through 2021, the Rangers might listen on him too. The nuclear option, meanwhile, is a trade of star slugger Joey Gallo, who's arbitration-eligible through 2022.

    Bold Prediction: Minor goes to Atlanta

Los Angeles Angels

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    Dylan Bundy
    Dylan BundyAssociated Press

    Record: 8-19

    The Los Angeles Angels obviously came into 2020 with a playoff spot in sight. But with each passing day, that destination is getting further out of reach.

    The Angels may have no choice but to cut their losses, at least by shopping players on expiring deals. Assuming his left ankle is healed, defensive-whiz shortstop Andrelton Simmons would be the big prize of the bunch.

    Otherwise, utility man Tommy La Stella, catcher Jason Castro and starter Julio Teheran aren't slouches. The first two are hitting well in 2020, while the latter at least offers the potential to eat innings in September.

    It's doubtful the Angels would consider dealing players under their control beyond 2020. But given how much Dylan Bundy has boosted his stock via a 2.48 ERA and 5.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio, they'll have to listen if teams come calling.

    Bold Prediction: Simmons goes to the New York Yankees


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    Mike Clevinger
    Mike ClevingerAssociated Press

    Record: 16-10

    Though Cleveland is pushing for first place in the American League Central, last year's trade of Trevor Bauer is an indicator that nothing should be ruled out regarding the club's deadline activity.

    Well, except maybe a trade of Francisco Lindor. Even if contenders come calling after him, it's beyond doubtful that Cleveland would trade its superstar shortstop in the middle of a pennant run.

    Rather, the real intrigue in Cleveland is with starters Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac. The two began the season as major parts of Terry Francona's starting rotation. But after the two of them broke quarantine protocols, they were rebuked by teammates and optioned by the front office.

    If those bridges can't be rebuilt, Clevinger and Plesac may be trade bait. Or so buyers can hope, anyway. Clevinger is an ace who's controlled through 2022, while Plesac is a budding ace who's controlled all the way through 2025.

    Bold Prediction: Clevinger goes to the San Diego Padres

Kansas City Royals

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    Whit Merrifield
    Whit MerrifieldAssociated Press

    Record: 11-15

    Need a reliever? Might want to hit up the Kansas City Royals.

    Despite his 6.55 ERA this year, Ian Kennedy is coming off a successful 2019 season and heading into the final month of his $70 million deal. Also on expiring deals are Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland, who have been reborn to the tune of an aggregate 2.38 ERA in 23 appearances.

    If the Royals really want to cash in, though, they'll look for takers for utility man Whit Merrifield and slugger Jorge Soler.

    Merrifield may be 31, but he's carrying on as a late-blooming star, and he's on a club-friendly deal that runs through 2022 with an option for 2023. Soler isn't quite on last year's 48-homer pace, yet he's nonetheless a dangerous slugger with control through 2021.

    Bold Prediction: Merrifield goes to the Cincinnati Reds

Boston Red Sox

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    Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez
    Xander Bogaerts and J.D. MartinezAssociated Press

    Record: 9-18

    Other teams can ask the Boston Red Sox about shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom singled them out as being "incredibly important" for the team's future.

    Otherwise, the Red Sox's nightmare season should have them ready to deal.

    Even after trading closer Brandon Workman to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Boston's rentals include outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar, first baseman Mitch Moreland and starter Martin Perez, and the latter two have options for 2021. All five of them can help contenders right now.

    In light of how much work seemingly needs to be done in Boston, the Red Sox will presumably also listen on star slugger J.D. Martinez and fireballing starter Nathan Eovaldi. Though Martinez can opt out at the end of this season, both he and Eovaldi are technically signed through 2022.

    Bold Prediction: Martinez goes to the Chicago Cubs


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference. Stats and records are current through play on Friday, Aug. 21.