Each MLB Team's Best Trade Chip for 2021

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 21, 2021

Each MLB Team's Best Trade Chip for 2021

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Just under two weeks remain until Opening Day, and most of the offseason activity is done.

    Blockbuster trades were a major storyline in these past few months. The San Diego Padres signaled their intent to contend for a World Series by acquiring Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. The New York Mets did the same by nabbing Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. Will there be any more in store during the season? 

    Let's take a closer look at each team's best trade chip for 2021. There has to be a semblance of realism, so you will not see Mike Trout as the Los Angeles Angels' selection, though he would likely net the largest return in baseball history.

    The selections for contending clubs are more likely to involve top prospects or young players whose paths to playing time might be blocked.

    Teams in rebuild mode or on the cusp of transition are not likely to deal young talent but might ship off veterans or stars in the final year of their contracts.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Eduardo Escobar

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Arizona Diamondbacks have multiple intriguing trade candidates and are in no man's land in the National League West.

    Both Kole Calhoun and David Peralta could garner interest as left-handed corner outfielders with pop. They also have at least a year of club control. Right-handed relievers Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard could well be on the move by the deadline.

    Still, Eduardo Escobar might have the most value. He hit just .212 with a .605 OPS in 2020. But he ranked 11th among third basemen in FanGraphs WAR (fWAR) from 2018 to 2019, slugging .501 in that time and clubbing 35 homers in 2019. He can also play multiple infield spots.

    The 32-year-old is on an expiring contract. He will have the chance to boost his value at the start of the year and might still prove less expensive than a potential third base trade target such as Kris Bryant.

Atlanta Braves: Drew Waters

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    Atlanta Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos doesn't often dip into the farm. But Drew Waters could be an interesting trade centerpiece, for a couple of reasons.

    First, he's one of the better young outfield prospects in the game. The 22-year-old is ranked No. 35 on MLB.com's Top 100 list and is a switch-hitter who can drive the ball to all fields while also offering elite defense.

    There's also the emergence of Michael Harris this spring. Harris has essentially been the talk of Braves camp, with manager Brian Snitker among those lauding his talent.

    Atlanta has two long-term outfielders seemingly set in stone in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Cristian Pache. Marcell Ozuna is around for at least the next four seasons. Harris might be on a fast track, depending on how he fares this season.

    Teams can always use young outfield talent. Waters might be the chip who helps Atlanta land a star or top asset.

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Orioles reportedly shopped Anthony Santander this offseason, per Roch Kubatko of MASN. He remains a strong asset.

    Santander hit 20 homers and 20 doubles in 93 games in 2019 before clubbing 11 homers and posting an .890 OPS in 2020. He also has 13 defensive runs saved (DRS) in right field over the last two seasons, though outs above average (OAA) does not look as kindly on his defense.

    The 26-year-old looks ready to break out and has three years of arbitration remaining. He has ample value given the club control and the fact that he is a switch-hitter who can hit for power from both sides of the dish.

Boston Red Sox: Christian Vazquez

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Christian Vazquez might be the most underrated catcher in baseball.

    The Boston Red Sox backstop ranks third in fWAR among catchers since 2019. He hit .276 with 23 homers and a .798 OPS in 2019, and then put up a career-high 114 OPS+ in 2020. 

    Vazquez shines from behind the plate, though. He has thrown out 39 percent of would-be base stealers in his career and has ranked in the top five in pitch framing in each of the last two seasons, including third in 2020.

    Boston's direction is tough to pinpoint. The Red Sox could be a sleeper contender in 2020, depending on the contributions they get from the starting rotation. But Vazquez could be in high demand if they are struggling come July.

    Vazquez has a club option in 2022, which gives Boston flexibility. But it could also make him more desirable given there is a shortage of quality catchers. That makes him a top trade chip.

Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs have multiple players who could have been selected here.

    Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo are all set to hit the open market in the winter. Willson Contreras is a top catcher and has another year of club control in 2022. But Kyle Hendricks might be the guy to watch given the premium placed on starting pitching at the deadline.

    He is incredibly affordable. He will earn just $14 million in each of the next three seasons, with a $16 million vesting option in 2024. That is tremendous value for a 31-year-old with a career 3.12 ERA in over 1,000 innings.

    "The Professor" finished ninth in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2020. He ranks 12th in fWAR among starting pitchers in the past five years.

    Hendricks is not flashy. But he excels at getting soft contact and boasts brilliant command. He consistently generates results and would likely have a sizable market if the Cubs made him available.

Chicago White Sox: Jared Kelley

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    Stephen Green/MLB Photos

    The Chicago White Sox dug into the pipeline to acquire Lance Lynn. They'll likely have to do the same to make a midseason splash.

    Chicago probably won't sell Nick Madrigal, who is primed to be the team's full-time second baseman. Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech have both looked strong in their brief spring training showings, and—along with Lucas Giolito—are the foundation for the future rotation.

    The White Sox still have top arm talent, and Jared Kelley is especially notable. He was the team's second-round pick in 2020 and has a 60-plus grade both for the fastball and changeup. That is advanced stuff for a guy who has yet to turn 20 years old.

    Kelley and fellow prospect Jonathan Stiever are two names to watch if the White Sox are hoping to make noise around the deadline.

Cincinnati Reds: Luis Castillo

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Cincinnati Reds starter Sonny Gray was a serious candidate for this list given his recent production and contract. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez will likely appeal to teams with his power stroke and team-friendly deal.

    That said, Luis Castillo is Cincy's top trade asset.

    The 28-year-old was outstanding in 2020, posting a 3.21 ERA and career-best 2.65 FIP.

    Castillo generates soft contact and plenty of whiffs thanks to good velocity and effectiveness with a running fastball, plus one of the best changeups in baseball. Those two pitches set up Castillo's wipeout slider, which he can break out at any time.

    It feels like he has yet to reach his ceiling. He is continuing to ascend as an ace and will make just $4.2 million in his first year of arbitration.

    Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Reds gauged Castillo's market this offseason. He could be more readily available should Cincy commit to selling later this year.

Cleveland: Tyler Freeman

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Cleveland is not trading Jose Ramirez. In fact, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported the team has already expressed interest in extending the star third baseman's pact.

    It also seems unlikely Cleveland will deal one of its controllable arms after moving both Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco in a span of just over five months. Top prospect Nolan Jones could be a candidate to move to the outfield, so he is probably out.

    Shortstop Tyler Freeman might be the team's most valuable realistic trade asset, especially after the Carrasco-Lindor trade netted Cleveland young infielder Andres Gimenez, who could block the prospect. Freeman hit .319 and stole eight bases in 62 games at High-A ball in 2019. He has slugging upside to go with his strong defensive tools.

    Cleveland has a pair of other talented shortstops in the pipeline in Gabriel Arias and Brayan Rocchio. That gives president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti options to work with should he look to make a big move.

Colorado Rockies: German Marquez

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Nope, it's not Trevor Story.

    Listen, will the Colorado Rockies trade Story this season? Probably. Is he one of the best shortstops in baseball? Yes. 

    But Story is on an expiring contract, making it less likely the Rockies will obtain the kind of package they otherwise could by trading right-hander German Marquez.

    The 26-year-old would rank just outside the top 15 in ERA+ among active pitchers were he to qualify. Marquez is coming off a season in which he led the NL with 81.2 innings, posting a 3.75 ERA and career-best 3.28 FIP. He has good velocity and a curveball that ranked ninth in run value in 2020.

    Most notably, Marquez is under contract through 2023. He will earn $34.4 million in the next three seasons and has a $16 million club option in 2024.

    Teams might be willing to pay the large price for a young, controllable starter with terrific stuff. Marquez also has great road splits (3.51 ERA and .688 OPS against) and could be a front-line guy away from Coors Field.

Detroit Tigers: Spencer Turnbull

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Detroit Tigers have an ideal trade chip in Spencer Turnbull.

    The right-hander had a 3.97 ERA in 11 starts in 2020. He has a career 3.78 FIP and will enter his first year of arbitration in 2022.

    Turnbull has shown he is a capable arm. The club control will resonate with rival teams hoping to improve the rotation. Plus, at 28 years old, Turnbull is not likely to be part of the next winner in Detroit.

    The Tigers could capitalize on his progression and club control in a market that might be saturated with starting pitching needs come July.

Houston Astros: Jeremy Pena

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Carlos Correa could be the Houston Astros' top trade asset if the sides do not reach an extension. 

    However, they probably would not have been essentially absent from George Springer's market if there were no plans to sign Correa to an extension.

    Zack Greinke is a name to watch if Houston struggles early, given he is in the final year of his contract. But the Astros are trying to reclaim the American League West.

    Jeremy Pena could become more expendable if Correa is extended. The infield prospect hit .317 with an .845 OPS in 43 games at High-A in 2019. He also has a plus glove, earning a 60 fielding grade.

    Houston's farm is thin, but the Astros might not have a choice but to keep plucking from their pipeline if they hope to make an impact move.

Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Royals are like the Reds and Diamondbacks in that they are trying to be competitive in 2021 but simultaneously have a ton of guys who could play elsewhere this summer. 

    Jorge Soler should intrigue teams looking for a power-hitting corner outfielder or designated hitter. Danny Duffy is a veteran flex arm who can start or come out of the bullpen. Greg Holland is likely to be a desirable reliever. Catcher Salvador Perez is on an expiring deal and plays a premium position. But Whit Merrifield might fetch the best return.

    The two-time MLB hit leader has a .295 career batting average with a 110 OPS+. Merrifield can hit for some power, play multiple positions and absolutely fly. He has ranked in the 86th percentile or higher in sprint speed in each of the last five seasons and led the majors with 45 stolen bases in 2018.

    Merrifield will make just $9.5 million combined in the next two seasons and has a $6.5 million club option in 2023. His affordability, tools and ability to play center or second base make him quite valuable.

Los Angeles Angels: Brandon Marsh

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    It is a rarity for any team to give up its No. 1 prospect these days, let alone a fringe contender like the Los Angeles Angels. However, the Halos seem desperate to contend. Brandon Marsh could be the piece included in a deal to land a bigger fish. 

    Plus, the Angels would at least be dealing from a position of strength…sort of.

    Mike Trout is locked in as the Angels' center fielder for all eternity (they hope). Los Angeles is likely to give Jo Adell another spin after a disappointing debut and ideally envision him as the everyday right fielder soon. That leaves one spot in the Halos outfield.

    Marsh might be the third guy. Or maybe it's Jordyn Adams, who is incredibly toolsy and had an 11.6 percent walk rate in his first full season in pro ball. That's impressive given Adams' speed and upside at the dish. 

    Any number of teams would probably be enamored with having a guy like Marsh. He does everything well. Marsh hit .300 with an .811 OPS and 18 steals in 96 games at Double-A in 2019. The 23-year-old has plenty of value as a left-handed bat with strong defensive tools.

    If the Halos are confident in the likes of Adell and Adams, Marsh could be used as part of a package for a front-line starter.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Keibert Ruiz

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Another No. 1 prospect! Like their crosstown rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers would also be dealing from a position of strength were they to trade Keibert Ruiz.

    Will Smith has wasted little time in staking his claim as the franchise catcher. The Dodgers also signed Austin Barnes to a two-year deal in February, avoiding arbitration. Where does that leave Ruiz?

    The 22-year-old has shown glimpses of hitting for power. Plenty of teams could be looking for a backstop with strong hitting tools and decent defensive acumen.

    Los Angeles does not appear to have much of a pathway for Ruiz, however, making him a trade piece to watch.

Miami Marlins: Starling Marte

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Starling Marte could be on the move once again this season.

    The Miami Marlins might have made the playoffs in 2020, but their 26-34 Pythagorean win-loss record suggested they were closer to a 70-win team when stretched over a full season.

    Miami is likely to be a seller this summer. Marte's tools and background should make him valuable regardless of his performance, but the 32-year-old can bolster his market with a strong start.

    The veteran outfielder—who last August was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Marlins—can hit for average, and he hit 20 or more homers in consecutive seasons before 2020. He is a former Gold Glover with elite speed, and he'll be a free agent at the end of the season.

    Marte is the perfect deadline piece in terms of his affordability ($12.5 million salary in 2021) and pedigree as a guy who makes a lot of contact with gap-to-gap power. Teams can plug him in at multiple outfield spots and count on him to set the tone at the top of the lineup with his aggressive approach at the plate and on the bases.

Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The Milwaukee Brewers once again teased teams by offering up two-time NL Reliever of the Year Josh Hader during the offseason, only to set the bar at an unreachable height in terms of cost.

    However, the Brewers could still trade him.

    The left-hander was Super Two eligible last season and will make $6.7 million in his first season of arbitration eligibility. That cost will only go up, and teams will be less inclined to pay a massive prospect price over time with Hader eventually hitting free agency in 2024.

    Additionally, Milwaukee's other arms are quite interesting. Devin Williams is primed to follow up on his exceptional rookie season, and Drew Rasmussen is making waves in camp. Even if the Brewers are winning games in 2021, they could still reposition by dealing Hader and adding to a shallow farm.

    Despite his "down" year in 2020, Hader still ranked in the 92nd percentile or higher in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate as well as the 96th percentile in whiff rate. He remains one of the most dominant bullpen weapons in the game and a coveted left-handed option who can throw multiple innings in high leverage.

Minnesota Twins: Jordan Balazovic

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins

    The Minnesota Twins might still flirt with the idea of trading Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez. But I wonder if they'll dip into the farm with the Chicago White Sox charging hard in the American League Central.

    Royce Lewis is likely still the shortstop of the future despite his ACL injury. Alex Kirilloff should have the chance to establish himself as a full-time player and the Twins might still be keen on retaining Trevor Larnach as an outfield option.

    Right-handed hurler Jordan Balazovic might have the most appeal anyway. He had a 2.84 ERA and struck out 96 in 73.0 innings at High-A in 2019. He has a terrific fastball and a slider with big upside, plus he made some improvements with the changeup.

    Minnesota could view Balazovic as a future rotation anchor, but the club might also consider including him in a package for a controllable starter like Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray.

New York Yankees: Miguel Andujar

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The New York Yankees seem committed to Gary Sanchez and are unlikely to deal the young arms at the top of their system. But Miguel Andujar has nowhere to play.

    Gio Urshela is holding down third base. The Yankees will start Clint Frazier in left field and re-signed Brett Gardner for outfield depth. Andujar might have been an option at first base, but Luke Voit's raw power and production make that a nonstarter.

    So the Yankees could move the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up.

    Andujar only just turned 26. He won't enter arbitration until next season. He might simply need a change of scenery, and there is slugging potential.

    Voit could be one to watch with DJ LeMahieu a candidate to eventually move to first base. However, the Yankees are unlikely to be in a hurry to move a major run-producer under club control through 2024.

    The Bronx Bombers might still be able to get a respectable package for Andujar given the several remaining seasons of control.

New York Mets: J.D. Davis

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Unlike Andujar, J.D. Davis likely has a place on the Opening Day lineup card. But the New York Mets do not appear comfortable with Davis at the hot corner.

    Anthony DiComo of MLB.com noted New York was mentioned in Bryant and Nolan Arenado trade talks. The Mets also added Jonathan Villar for infield depth and versatility.

    The question marks stem from Davis' defense. He has posted minus-19 DRS at third base in the past three seasons. What is not in question is his bat.

    Davis hit .307 with 22 homers and an .895 OPS in 2019. His average and slugging both fell in 2020, but he still posted a 112 OPS+. He has great pop and improved his walk rate substantially this past season. Still, the defensive shortcomings could make the 27-year-old a trade chip.

    Mets manager Luis Rojas has been adamant about defense being a big key in 2021. Maybe New York rolls with Villar at third if Davis struggles to field the position. The Mets can then try to include Davis—who will be a free agent in 2025—in trade packages to lessen prospect demands.

Oakland Athletics: Nick Allen

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Oakland Athletics managed quite well this offseason despite losing a number of key players to free agency.

    Elvis Andrus plugs the shortstop hole and Trevor Rosenthal takes over the closer role from Liam Hendriks. The A's also added a left-handed power bat in Mitch Moreland, who should be a big improvement over Khris Davis at DH.

    Oakland is probably still the favorite to win the American League West, so we should consider the club a buyer. Infielder Nick Allen is its best asset in that scenario. 

    The 5'8" Allen lacks size, but he still hit .292 with a .797 OPS at High-A ball in 2019. He also stole 13 bases and has terrific defensive ability.

    The A's might hope Allen eventually takes over at second base or even shortstop when Andrus' contract runs out after 2022. But Oakland also has a couple of other talented shortstop prospects in Logan Davidson and Robert Puason.

    Maybe Allen can be a key piece in acquiring a top starting pitcher later this summer.

Philadelphia Phillies: Rafael Marchan

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Phillies would probably like to part ways with Scott Kingery, who is having a woeful spring after a poor 2020 and is under contract through at least 2023.

    However, Kingery's recent struggles at the plate paired with his increasing salary make it unlikely Philly can get much for him. Mickey Moniak would prompt inquiries, but he might just win the starting center fielder job after a red-hot spring.

    What about Rafael Marchan? The 22-year-old catcher is a switch-hitter with excellent defensive tools, including a grade of 60 for his arm and fielding. He had a brief showing in the majors in 2020, with four hits, three RBI and a homer in nine plate appearances.

    Of course, Marchan is blocked by J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies also have Andrew Knapp available behind the dish.

    Again, catcher is a premium position, making young backstops all the more valuable. Marchan could be a prospect to watch in a Dave Dombrowski blockbuster.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Steven Brault

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Pirates traded a pair of controllable arms over the winter in Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon. Left-hander Steven Brault could be next. 

    Brault is coming off a 2020 in which he had a 3.38 ERA in 42.2 innings. He does not generate a ton of whiffs but ranked in the 89th percentile in average exit velocity and 76th percentile in hard-hit rate.

    The 28-year-old is under club control through 2023. He garnered trade interest this offseason, per MLB Network's Jon Morosi, and should continue to be an asset for a Pirates team still in the early stages of what could be a long, arduous rebuild.

San Diego Padres: CJ Abrams

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Is it likely San Diego Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller parts with top position-player prospect CJ Abrams? No. But it is a possibility.

    The Friars have the left side of the infield set in stone with Fernando Tatis Jr. at short and Manny Machado at third. There is depth at second as well, with each of Jake Cronenworth, Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim having the ability to play up the middle.

    Abrams is a wonderful talent. He is one of the fastest youngsters in the game, has a strong hit tool and shows terrific glove work. Those tools made him the No. 8 prospect in MLB.com's Top 100.

    Maybe Abrams could be converted to the outfield. Or he might yet be the team's second baseman of the future if Kim's success in Korea does not translate to the majors.

    Still, San Diego's infield depth makes Abrams an interesting trade chip and one who could lessen the prospect burden should Preller feel the need to swing another big deal.

San Francisco Giants: Kevin Gausman

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Brandon Belt will likely be a trade piece, given that he is coming off a career year and will be a free agent in 2022. But starting pitching wins out here, and the San Francisco Giants could have a good one in Kevin Gausman.

    The 30-year-old displayed good stuff in 2020, posting a 3.62 ERA and 3.09 FIP in 59.2 innings. Gausman struck out 11.9 per nine innings and ranked in the 85th percentile in whiff rate. His fastball gets good run, and the splitter ranked 20th in run value in 2020.

    Gausman bet on himself by accepting the qualifying offer from the Giants. San Francisco will likely hope it has a competitive roster, but Gausman could be sold to the highest bidder with a good showing in the first few months.

Seattle Mariners: James Paxton

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Seattle Mariners brought James Paxton back on a one-year, $8.5 million deal this offseason. But he might not be back in Seattle for long.

    Paxton made just five starts in 2020 as a result of a flexor strain in his left arm. But The Big Maple has the strikeout stuff that can make him a guy contenders might fancy in July. 

    Paxton has struck out at least 11.1 opponents per nine innings in each of the past three seasons. Seattle president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said his fastball was topping out at 95 mph earlier this spring, which is a good sign as he builds back from his injury-riddled 2020.

    There are no guarantees Paxton will be fully healthy in the early going. But he will have the chance to prove he can be a top arm in Seattle's rotation and make himself into a trade chip.

St. Louis Cardinals: Matthew Liberatore

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Cardinals made themselves the likely favorites in the National League Central by trading for Nolan Arenado. The Redbirds could call on the arm talent in their system should they buy this summer. 

    St. Louis acquired Matthew Liberatore in the trade that sent Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to the Tampa Bay Rays in January 2020. He might be used as a piece if the Cardinals try to make a big move.

    Liberatore has 60-grade stuff in his fastball and curveball, and his changeup also projects well. He has terrific upside as a left-hander with multiple strikeout pitches.

    Dylan Carlson will likely get one of the starting spots in the outfield, and Nolan Gorman has been putting in work at second base. Liberatore could be a bit more gettable considering the Cardinals have arms like Daniel Ponce de Leon and Johan Oviedo possibly ready to make a bigger impact soon.

Tampa Bay Rays: Willy Adames

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Top prospect Wander Franco will not be the Tampa Bay Rays' starting shortstop on Opening Day. But he is coming in a hurry and could unseat Willy Adames soon.

    It stands to reason, then, that Franco's eventual rise makes Adames a trade piece.

    The 25-year-old hit 20 homers in 2019 and posted a 124 OPS+ in 2020. Adames had a brutal postseason and needs work defensively but has still displayed clear slugging upside and ranked in the 83rd percentile in sprint speed.

    Per The Athletic's C. Trent Rosecrans, the Cincinnati Reds were reportedly among the teams interested in trading for Adames, who has yet to enter the arbitration process.

    Tampa Bay could exploit its shortstop depth and the market's needs by making Adames more readily available should Franco excel in the minors at the start of the season.

Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Is there a more polarizing player in baseball than Joey Gallo, strictly from a talent perspective?

    The Texas Rangers outfielder has multiple 40-homer seasons. He was an All-Star in 2019 and won a Gold Glove in 2020. The 6'5", 250-pound Gallo has terrific athletic ability for someone his size and can play multiple outfield spots. He is a Statcast darling given his exit velocities.

    But Gallo's .208 career batting average and swing-and-miss tendencies make him a less certain commodity. That does not mean he does not have trade value.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported scouts are enamored with Gallo's "athleticism and tools." Gallo also has an additional season of control in 2022. Not to mention, he is raking this spring.

    The Bishop Gorman product already had five homers, 11 RBI and a 1.613 OPS as of Thursday. Granted, it's just spring ball. But those are encouraging numbers all the same.

    Should Gallo resemble his 2019 self at the dish, he is sure to attract a ton of interest. The Rangers will have to decide whether to keep him through the summer and extend him in the winter or maximize his trade value.

Toronto Blue Jays: Jordan Groshans

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    The Toronto Blue Jays made headlines by inking George Springer, Marcus Semien and Kirby Yates in free agency. But they did not spend a whole lot on quality starting pitching.

    The latter point probably rules out guys like left-hander Alek Manoah and Simeon Woods Richardson as trade chips, both of whom could be critical to the future of the rotation.

    Toronto might exploit its depth at catcher. But the best chip could be Jordan Groshans. The 21-year-old's path to the majors could be blocked given the depth and versatility on Toronto's roster. For example, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could eventually move back to third base, with Rowdy Tellez playing first and Cavan Biggio shifting to second.

    In any event, Groshans has plenty of upside. He hit .337 with a .909 OPS in 23 games as a 19-year-old at Class-A ball in 2019. The 2018 first-rounder has good size (6'3", 205 lbs) and slugging upside, and his versatility as a guy who can play short or third makes him tremendously valuable.

Washington Nationals: Carter Kieboom

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Carter Kieboom is likely to get another opportunity as the Washington Nationals' third baseman. But it might be time for a change of scenery. 

    Kieboom is hitting .181 with a .541 OPS in 165 plate appearances in the majors. He has had a rough spring as well, which is not the most encouraging sign for a Nats team hoping he can develop in a hurry.

    The 23-year-old was terrific in 109 games at Triple-A in 2019, slashing .303/.409/.493 with 16 homers. But the success in the minors has yet to translate.

    Obviously, Kieboom is still young. But Washington can move Starlin Castro to third and slot Luis Garcia back at second base, if it so chooses. Josh Harrison is also a veteran option.

    The Nats' window is a big unknown with Max Scherzer heading to free agency in 2022. General manager Mike Rizzo could be motivated to make a big push, which could mean flipping Kieboom for an impact player this season.

                     

    All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, FanGraphs or Baseball Savant unless otherwise noted. Contract info via FanGraphs. Prospect grades via MLB.com

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