MLB Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Carlos Correa, Blake Snell and Sonny Gray
The 2020-21 MLB free-agent class features a handful of star-caliber players, but it's a relatively thin group and the gap between them and the rest of the available talent is a wide one.
That could mean a busier-than-usual winter on the trade market, especially as teams go bargain hunting in the wake of significant financial losses in 2020.
The 2020 winter meetings will run from Dec. 7-10, so we're still a few weeks away from the MLB offseason truly heating up, but already the rumor mill has churned out some interesting nuggets in recent days.
Ahead we've taken a closer look at three high-profile names that have surfaced as potential trade chips this offseason—Sonny Gray, Carlos Correa and Blake Snell.
Buckle up for a busy winter, baseball fans.
SP Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds
Even staring down the potential loss of NL Cy Young winner in free agency, the Cincinnati Reds are reportedly willing to listen to trade offers on one of their other top starters from a rotation that was among the best in baseball in 2020.
The Reds acquired Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees ahead of his final year of arbitration eligibility, then immediately tacked a three-year, $30.5 million extension that includes a 2023 club option onto the end of his 2019 salary.
After a bounce-back season in 2019, that now looks like one of the more team-friendly contracts in baseball, and that's exactly why he could be such an attractive trade target for contenders.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote: "Rival clubs report the Reds are open to moving Gray, whose recent performance and affordable contract make him more appealing than most of their players. As teams do with all trade possibilities, the Reds are gauging what they might get in return, and weighing how they might reallocate their savings."
The 31-year-old finished seventh in NL Cy Young voting in 2019, and he was 5-3 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 56 innings this past season, with a 3.05 FIP painting an even more promising picture of his work on the mound.
With two years and $20.3 million left on his contract, along with a $12 million option for 2023, teams will undoubtedly come calling in a thin free-agent market where there is a steep dropoff from Bauer to everyone else.
SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have some big decisions to make this offseason regarding free agents George Springer and Michael Brantley, but those are not the only core pieces that could potentially depart this winter.
Shortstop Carlos Correa is a year removed from free agency and projected to earn $8.8 million in arbitration, according to MLBTradeRumors.
That's not a prohibitive cost by any means, but the prospect of losing him for nothing next offseason has opened the door for a potential trade this offseason.
The Astros have reportedly checked in on free agent DJ LeMahieu, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Signing him to play third base would allow Alex Bregman to move back to his natural position of shortstop and pave the way for a trade of Correa.
Initial reports that the Astros were floating Correa in trade talks have since been rebuffed, but where there is smoke oftentimes there is fire, so it's a situation worth monitoring as the offseason progresses.
For what it's worth, Bregman played 495 innings at shortstop in 2019 and tallied four Defensive Runs Saved, so he's proven capable of handling the position despite spending the bulk of his MLB time at the hot corner.
An extension in Houston also remains a possibility, especially if Correa is motivated to avoid a free-agent market that could also include fellow shortstops Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Javier Baez.
SP Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
Blake Snell is set to earn $11.1 million in 2021.
For most teams, that would be a team-friendly salary for a top-of-the-rotation starter in the prime of his career. For the cost-conscious Tampa Bay Rays, it's enough to make him the second-highest paid player on the team behind Kevin Kiermaier ($11.7 million), according to Spotrac.
In the wake of significant financial losses during the pandemic, the Rays are reportedly "open to the idea" of trading Snell this offseason, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
The 27-year-old has three years and $39 million remaining on a five-year, $50 million extension he signed following his AL Cy Young win in 2018.
In 11 starts during the shortened 2020 season, he went 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 50 innings, and he has posted an impressive 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings over the past three seasons.
His remaining years and affordable salary widens the net of teams that could potentially be interested, with everyone from 2021 title contenders to rebuilding teams that think they might be a year removed from making some noise potentially in the mix.
So where could he land?
In another article published earlier today, I took a deep dive into a few potential landing spots and hypothetical return packages.
With Charlie Morton now a member of the Atlanta Braves, the Rays could face a busy offseason rebuilding their starting rotation if Snell is also moved.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.