The MLB All-Stars Most Likely to Be Traded by the 2020 Deadline
It's unclear how active the Aug. 31 MLB trade deadline will be. Concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic could make clubs hesitant to shake up their rosters, and the expanded 16-team playoff format means most teams are in contention.
Still, at least a few impact players will likely swap uniforms between now and the end of the month.
Let's examine nine All-Stars who play for squads that should be in sell mode and whose skills and track records make them enticing assets.
1B Josh Bell
The Pittsburgh Pirates are mired in last place in the National League Central and should unload any players who could bring back prospects and help them build for the future.
That includes first baseman Josh Bell, who was an All-Star in 2019 when he swatted 37 home runs with 116 RBI and a .936 OPS.
Bell has struggled this year with a .205/.250/.295 slash line. But the 28-year-old switch hitter should be on the radar of teams seeking a difference-making bat either at first base or designated hitter.
Promisingly, his 44.6 percent hard-hit rate, compared to a career average of 39.7 percent, suggests he's still squaring the ball up with regularity.
Adding to his value, Bell is under club control through 2022, meaning he'd be more than a rental.
RHP Johnny Cueto
Johnny Cueto allowed two earned runs in 5.2 innings in his most recent start Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels, fanning eight and showcasing the strong stuff and beguiling delivery that made him an All-Star in 2014 and 2016.
Cueto is owed $21 million in 2021 with a $5 million buyout for 2022. He's 34 years old and threw just 16 innings last season while returning from Tommy John surgery. But he's showing enticing flashes of his old self.
The rebuilding San Francisco Giants might have to absorb some salary, but if they're willing, they could net a decent prospect haul from a pitching-hungry contender.
"There's going to be a lot of conversations between now and [Aug. 31], but I think there's no need to set an irreversible course of we're going to try and accomplish these five or six things," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area (h/t Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). "We're trying to evaluate our team, and there are maybe areas where as an organization we have some surpluses, where we have some needs."
DH/RF J.D. Martinez
The Boston Red Sox sit in last place in the American League East and should initiate a full-on retool, if not an outright rebuild.
They dealt right fielder Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February and traded right-handed relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.
Next up should be designated hitter-right fielder J.D. Martinez.
An All-Star in 2015, 2018 and 2019, Martinez hit 36 home runs with 105 RBI and a .939 OPS last season. He's hitting just .235 this year, but he's tallied three homers and nine doubles among his 23 hits and remains a dangerous slugger.
With the advent of the universal DH—which could become a permanent fixture—the list of suitors for Martinez has expanded to include National League clubs.
The 33-year-old is owed $19.4 million in each of the next two seasons, though he can opt out after this season or after 2021.
2B/OF Whit Merrifield
Whit Merrifield was an All-Star in 2019 with the Kansas City Royals when he led baseball in hits (206) for the second straight year. So far in 2020, he's hitting .317 with an .893 OPS.
Merrifield is signed to an affordable deal that will pay him $6.8 million in 2021 and $2.8 million in 2022 with a $6.5 million club option and $750,000 buyout for 2023.
He's also 31 years old—and playing for a Royals team that probably won't contend for at least a couple of years.
K.C. doesn't have to trade him now. He's a fan and front-office favorite. But this feels like a sell-high moment for a versatile player who can capably man multiple infield (he also plays first base) and outfield positions and whose services would be more useful on a win-now team.
In exchange, Kansas City could net a nice cache of prospects to accelerate its rebuild.
LHP Mike Minor
Mike Minor set career highs in innings (208.1) and strikeouts (200) and made his first All-Star team in 2019.
The 32-year-old left-hander has wobbled this season with a 6.94 ERA through five starts, but he has fanned 25 in 23.1 frames.
Minor will be a free agent after the season, but as a rental, he would provide rotation depth for any number of contenders.
At 10-15 entering play Saturday, the Texas Rangers are fringe playoff hopefuls at best and should look to boost a so-so farm system we ranked No. 21 after the 2020 draft.
Minor wouldn't net a king's ransom, but he'd surely bring back something of value.
LHP Robbie Ray
Robbie Ray was an All-Star in 2017 with the Arizona Diamondbacks when he posted a 2.89 ERA and paced the NL with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
The 28-year-old lefty has struggled this season, posting an 8.33 ERA in six starts while allowing an MLB-high nine home runs and walking 25, which is also most in the majors.
He can still miss bats, however, as his 35 strikeouts in 27 innings show.
Ray is an impending free agent, and like Minor, he could boost a contender's rotation while possibly benefiting from a change of scenery.
The D-backs are hanging around the playoff race after adding to their roster during the offseason. But if Ray could add pieces to a farm system Arizona has worked to build up to No. 8, the club should pounce at the chance to rent him.
RHP Trevor Rosenthal
Relief pitchers are always in high demand at the trade deadline, and the Royals have a good one in right-hander Trevor Rosenthal.
An All-Star in 2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Rosenthal owns a sterling 0.87 ERA with six saves and 14 strikeouts in 10.1 innings and is enjoying easily his best campaign since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017.
Rosenthal's average fastball velocity also sits at a robust 98.1 mph, which is just a tick off his career average of 98.2 mph.
The 30-year-old will be a free agent after the season, but he fits the bill as a back-of-the-bullpen reliever rental, especially given the 0.69 ERA and 42 strikeouts he's posted in 26 career playoff innings.
For the Royals, trading him now for optimum value simply makes sense.
2B Jonathan Schoop
An All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles in 2017, Jonathan Schoop is hitting .278 with six home runs in 25 games with the Detroit Tigers.
The 28-year-old second baseman is an impending free agent and a tailor-made sell-now player for the rebuilding Tigers, who got off to a decent start but have yet to reach their window of contention.
Schoop likely wouldn't net any top prospects, but he could add depth to Detroit's No. 6-ranked farm while providing an experienced rental bat for a contender looking to acquire pop in the middle infield or at DH.
He's also appeared in the postseason in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019 with the Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins. And while he's amassed a scant .114 average in those 14 games, the fact that he's been on the October stage multiple times should matter to prospective buyers.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand name-dropped the Dodgers, Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox as logical landing spots, and any of the above have the MiLB chips to offer a win-win package to Detroit.
3B Kyle Seager
An All-Star in 2014, third baseman Kyle Seager is enjoying a fine season with the Seattle Mariners. Through 28 games, the veteran is hitting .300 with a .917 OPS, eight doubles and five home runs.
He's also playing for a team that sits in last place in the American League West and is looking to the future.
Seager is owed $18.5 million in 2021 with a $15 million club option for 2022 that becomes a player option if he's traded.
That's not an untenable sum for a player with his credentials, and the M's could probably get a bigger prospect return if they were willing to swallow some cash.
"I would say the core guys we have committed to or have stabilized as major league players, guys like Kyle Seager, [right-hander] Marco Gonzales, they're part of what we are doing, and we'd have to be really pushed to feel like moving them was a good idea for us," Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto said on Danny and Gallant (h/t Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle).
There's more than enough wiggle room in that statement to think Seager could be moved for the right return. And Trader Jerry has a rich history of swinging swaps.