7 Notable MLB Players Who Could Be Traded in the Offseason
The 2021 MLB trade deadline came and went. Now our focus turns to the playoff races that will unfold over these next two months of regular-season baseball.
But some teams were unable to move certain players. Trevor Story is still a member of the Colorado Rockies, and he doesn't seem very happy about it. But he'll be able to leave at the end of the season and find a new team. Some players are stuck on rebuilding teams or clubs that don't want to spend money. Some prospects are stuck behind other established players, and some might do better with a change of scenery.
As the playoff races heat up and the playoffs are contested, some team needs will start to appear. Keep these players in mind throughout the postseason and into the winter as clubs look to upgrade their 2022 rosters.
Here is a look at seven potential trade candidates for the offseason.
Minnesota Twins 3B Josh Donaldson
A three-time All-Star and a vocal clubhouse leader, Josh Donaldson is expected to be a key figure this winter when MLB and the MLBPA enter labor negotiations. But Donaldson might also be in the news as a trade candidate.
The Twins are in the midst of a disappointing season, and though they've had some success in recent seasons, they haven't made it past the first round of the postseason since 2002. The club has to take stock of what it has and determine whether this was just a down year or whether some longer-term planning and building is necessary. If the Twins decide to go that second route, Donaldson could end up being a key piece to a contending team.
However, he's 35 years old and is owed $21 million in 2022 and 2023 (club option for $16 million with an $8 million buyout in 2024). But he's still a valuable player, and if the Twins are willing to retain salary, it would make the contract more palatable.
Donaldson could be a fit for a team like the New York Mets, who are trying to emulate what the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing out West. The Dodgers aren't afraid to take chances on veterans, though typically they're cost-conscious about doing so in order to be able to pay the stars they have in their prime.
Maybe the Twins are ready to load up and go for it after a bad season. Maybe the price tag will scare teams away. But if major stars keep switching teams like they did last week, then a former MVP like Donaldson might be one of the next to move.
Colorado Rockies SP German Marquez
The Colorado Rockies are not going to contend anytime soon. It's not entirely clear what they are trying to do, but Colorado isn't close to winning a World Series.
German Marquez is in the prime of his career at age 26, and his services might be of better use elsewhere while the Rockies try to stockpile prospects to build toward the future. He has two more years plus a club option in 2024.
A 2021 All-Star, Marquez is a durable starter who can be counted on to make 25-30 starts each season and pitch 160-plus innings. Cy Young consideration might even be in his future.
But no one knows what the Rockies are doing right now, and if management kept Trevor Story to trot out in front of the fans for a half-season, the club might want to keep its staff ace around for a few years.
However, if the Rockies do decide to actually rebuild and rebuild the right way, they could get a big prospect haul for a pitcher who has proved he can pitch in a hitter's park (25-17 with a 4.72 career ERA at Coors Field, 26-21, 3.55 ERA on the road).
Detroit Tigers SP Michael Fulmer
Michael Fulmer was once a key piece in the trade with the Mets that sent Yoenis Cespedes to New York ahead of their 2015 run to the World Series, and he showed why he was such a highly prized prospect when he won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 and was named an All-Star in 2017.
But Fulmer had a rough season in 2018 and sat out 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He wasn't the same pitcher in 2020, going winless in 10 starts with an 8.78 ERA.
The right-hander was having a resurgent season in 2021 before he went down with yet another injury (right cervical spine strain). However, Fulmer is ready for a return, and according to manager A.J. Hinch, he's looked like his old self in his rehab outings, maintaining his velocity and even hitting 98.
Fulmer brings versatility as a starter who can also throw out of the bullpen. If the Tigers want to take a big step in the rebuild, they should look for trade partners for Fulmer, who is under team control for one more season.
Los Angeles Dodgers SS Gavin Lux
One of the Dodgers' best prospects is still in Los Angeles following the trade deadline, but for how long? The club churns out high-level prospects like Gavin Lux, and it is one of the few teams that can afford to give them up for high-profile stars.
But now the Dodgers have Trea Turner at shortstop through next year. Super utility man Chris Taylor is an unrestricted free agent this winter, but he's been a valuable part of the team and someone the Dodgers will probably want to lock up. The first-time All-Star is a natural shortstop and recently played there while Corey Seager was on the injured list. Taylor's production (league-high 78 runs, 137 OPS+) has been enough to make up for Seager's absence.
Lux's development path hasn't exactly been a straight line. Last year, he was left off the roster for part of the postseason after hitting just .175 in 69 plate appearances. This year, he's struggled with injuries and is currently on the IL for the second time (hamstring).
However, this one seems unlikely because Seager is set to leave in free agency. Even if Turner returns, he'll likely remain in the utility role while Lux mans second base, which would allow the Dodgers to maximize Taylor's versatility. There is also the possibility that Taylor signs elsewhere.
But it's the Dodgers, so you never know.
New York Yankees 3B/OF Miguel Andujar
The New York Yankees desperately need starting pitching, and they're still going to need it next season, especially if Deivi Garcia continues to regress.
Miguel Andujar is a man without a position right now, and it's still an uphill climb next season. The 26-year-old has better numbers than last season, but not by much. His strikeout rate has also increased.
Some of this could be attributed to the wrist injuries and carpal tunnel he's battled this year, but Andujar still has yet to follow up on his 2018 campaign, which was so good he came in second place in AL Rookie of the Year voting. A chance of scenery might be beneficial.
Andujar is still under team control for three more seasons, so between his contract status and his age, he'll have value on the trade market. If the Yankees want pitching, they could package Andujar to bring in a reinforcement this winter.
Minnesota Twins CF Byron Buxton
Byron Buxton is one of the most dynamic players in baseball when healthy. The problem is that he can't seem to stay healthy.
He is currently on the IL with a fractured left hand, though this injury was sort of a freak one. His hand was hit by a pitch in late June, so it's not a soft tissue injury that should reoccur. But still, questions about his durability have persisted throughout his career.
This could be why the Minnesota Twins reportedly offered him just a seven-year, $80 million contract. He turned it down but made it clear that he would like to continue to discuss an extension further.
The potential is exciting. Buxton was slashing .369/.409/.767 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and five steals in 27 games before this most recent injury. So if the Twins fail to work out a long-term extension with him, they might be better off trading the 27-year-old center fielder, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
The direction of the Twins largely hinges on the direction of Buxton. If he stays, they'll likely build around him. If he goes, it might send Minnesota into full rebuilding mode.
Baltimore Orioles 1B/OF Trey Mancini
This would be an emotional trade. Trey Mancini sat out last season with stage 3 colon cancer but returned this season as if he had never missed a beat.
He finished in second place in the Home Run Derby, and he's currently slashing .259/.327/.469 with a .796 OPS. Mancini has been one of the league's best stories of the year and the best in Baltimore, where there aren't too many positives when it comes to baseball.
But Mancini has one more year of team control, and the Orioles will not be done rebuilding anytime soon. Mancini's bat is above average (career 119 OPS+), and he can play multiple positions. The Orioles didn't have any major pieces to deal at the trade deadline.
They could trade star pitcher John Means, but he has three arbitration years left, so it would seem more plausible to build around Means and top prospects Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez, who could make their debuts next season.
It wouldn't be a popular decision in Baltimore to trade Mancini, but it would help the Orioles gain some ground in their rebuilding efforts.