Ranking the Pre-Deadline Trade Chances of 6 MLB Offensive Stars Linked to Rumors
Major League Baseball's trade market seems especially crowded with talented pitchers ahead of Friday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, but let's forget about the Max Scherzers and Craig Kimbrels of the world for a moment.
Because as Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted on Wednesday, there are also plenty of offensive standouts for the taking right now.
Granted, there are now three fewer after Wednesday, in which the Oakland Athletics acquired center fielder Starling Marte, the Milwaukee Brewers landed infielder Eduardo Escobar and, most notable of all, the New York Yankees are finalizing a deal for slugging right fielder Joey Gallo.
All the same, we've assessed the trade likelihood for six other star hitters who've been frequently mentioned in rumors in recent weeks. This involved weighing their value, how many potential buyers they have and any relevant rumors circulating around the proverbial campfire.
Let's count 'em down.
6. CF Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
With Nelson Cruz already gone via the trade market, might this mean Buxton is next?
It's not a question as to whether other teams would like to have the 27-year-old center fielder. Buxton has had plenty of ups and downs since he entered the league in 2015, but power-speed combinations like his are rare and the .369/.409/.767 line next to his name right now is a good look.
Of course, Buxton has accumulated that slash line over just 27 games because of a hip strain and a broken hand. He's still working his way back from the latter, and the whole ordeal he's endured this season is unfortunately a variation on a theme.
Though Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that "plenty of teams" have called the Twins about Buxton, he also wrote that the Twins have no plans to deal him for "50 cents on the dollar." Especially knowing that they still control him through 2022, they can wait until at least the winter to seriously field offers for him.
Trade Likelihood: Low
5. 1B Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Up until recently, it seemed as if the Chicago Cubs' preferred road forward with Anthony Rizzo involved extending him.
Though he reportedly rejected a $70 million offer in March, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said then that he was "very confident" that the two sides would eventually come to terms. Even as recently as July 16, Heyman tweeted that there were "signs" that the Cubs were still intent on extending the veteran first baseman.
More recently, though, ESPN's Jeff Passan wrote Tuesday that the Cubs have had "preliminary conversations" about Rizzo with the Boston Red Sox. Rizzo was originally a Red Sox draftee, and Boston's production at first base is the worst in baseball.
Otherwise, Rizzo's corner of the rumor mill has been quiet. That could come down to how A) not many contenders besides Boston need a first baseman and B) Rizzo's modest .238/.344/.433 line since 2020 indicates that he's in the post-prime phase of his career.
Rather than force something, the Cubs might hold on to the 31-year-old and hope to rekindle extension talks before he files for free agency at season's end. If not, they could recoup a draft pick for him by way of the qualifying offer.
Trade Likelihood: Low
4. SS Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Nowadays, Baez is already looking beyond the North Side. He spoke on Wednesday about wanting to team up with fellow star shortstop Francisco Lindor on the New York Mets in free agency this winter.
There's been some speculation that Baez might not have to wait until the winter, as there's nothing stopping the Mets from pursuing a trade for him now. In terms of hard rumors, though, there isn't much there.
As far as which teams absolutely need him at shortstop, the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics are in the pits for production from that position. Yet the former almost certainly won't be putting him in the same clubhouse as arch-nemesis Amir Garrett, while the latter may well stop at one position player splash.
There's also the reality that Baez is not the same guy who played like an MVP in 2018 and an All-Star in 2019. He's hit just .228/.269/.434 over the last two seasons with 205 strikeouts and only 22 walks.
Trade Likelihood: Low
3. SS Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
At least through the first half of the season, the notion that the Washington Nationals would put Trea Turner on the trade market seemed far-fetched.
But on July 20, general manager Mike Rizzo made his first hint that he might sell if the club's season continued to go awry. After that came a five-game losing streak and a report from Heyman that every National not named Juan Soto was available.
Accordingly, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported that Washington was getting "a lot" of interest in Turner. Rightfully so. He's been one of baseball's top shortstops since the start of last season, compiling a .327/.379/.546 line with 30 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 155 games.
Yet even then, it was easy to be skeptical. Though Turner, 28, had immense value by way of both his performance and his club control through next season, the latter was also an excuse for the Nationals to hold on to him in hopes of a quick turnaround in 2022.
Then on Tuesday, Turner tested positive for COVID-19. He's part of a larger outbreak in that regard, so the Nationals may well be spooked by the optics of dealing him even if they're liking the offers they're getting.
Trade Likelihood: Low
2. SS Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
After the Colorado Rockies traded Nolan Arenado in February, it seemed like just a matter of time before Trevor Story also made his way out of Denver.
But especially in conjunction with his $18.5 million salary, Story hasn't boosted his trade value by hitting just .240/.313/.429 in 88 games. He's also been cold of late, going just 8-for-48 in his last 12 games.
Story's market has nonetheless been heating up, with Morosi reporting that the Yankees and San Francisco Giants are among the teams that have checked in on him. The Chicago White Sox are also inquiring, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
These teams are surely looking to buy low on a player who was arguably baseball's best shortstop between 2018 and 2020, but the Rockies don't necessarily have to go along with it. They might reason that their best move is to let him go to free agency and then play the qualifying offer card.
Per Passan, "there's a sense" that Story will stay put in Denver. Yet after the Marlins rented out Marte for Luzardo, it's certainly possible that somebody changes the Rockies' minds with an above-market offer.
Trade Likelihood: Medium
1. 3B/OF Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
With Rizzo and Baez, the Cubs have two trades chips whose value and markets are uncertain. Kris Bryant, though, is a different story.
After a career-worst season in 2020, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP is back to raking with a .267/.358/.503 line and 18 home runs. And this is even in spite of a rotten June in which he had a .445 OPS, which should give an idea how hot he's been otherwise.
No less important is Bryant's defensive versatility. He's always moved around the field for the Cubs, but never more so than this year as he's logged 29 games at third base and left field, 28 in right field, plus 14 in center field and 12 at first base.
Between his bat and his glove, the 29-year-old is a fit for pretty much everyone. The Giants like him, according to Morosi. So do the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Passan. At other times, he's also been linked to the Mets (here) and seemingly the Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies (here).
Though the Cubs could go the qualifying offer route with Bryant when he reaches free agency this winter, all signs say they can do better by trading him now.
Trade Likelihood: High
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and up to date heading into Wednesday's games.