The MLB Player from Every Team Most Likely to Be Traded in 2021-22 OffseasonAugust 10, 2021
The MLB Player from Every Team Most Likely to Be Traded in 2021-22 Offseason
It hasn't even been two weeks since Major League Baseball had one of its all-time wildest trade deadlines, so perhaps it's too early to look ahead to the league's next major trading season.
Then again, perhaps not.
We've made our picks for which player from each of MLB's 30 teams is most likely to end up on the trading block during the 2021-22 offseason. This exercise was strictly speculative, though we did our best to make educated guesses by considering these questions:
- Which players will have value on the winter market?
- Which players will be expendable?
- Which players are getting too expensive?
- Which players simply need a change of scenery?
To make things even more interesting, we limited our focus to actual major leaguers. Which is to say that you shouldn't expect to read about any prospects here. That's a topic for another day.
We'll go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: LHP Tanner Scott
The Orioles' rebuild has progressed to where their farm system is one of the 10 best in baseball and, save for the immovable Chris Davis, they're basically out of prohibitive contracts to shed. A team in that position doesn't necessarily have to put its wares up for sale on the winter trade market.
The O's could nonetheless field offers for slugger Trey Mancini ahead of his final year of club control in 2022, but it's more likely that they'll listen on two left-handed relievers who were on the block last month: Paul Fry and Tanner Scott. Though both are controlled through 2024, the 27-year-old Scott is younger and thus potentially the more valuable one of the two.
Boston Red Sox: 1B Bobby Dalbec
Though chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has mostly played things cool since taking control of the Red Sox's front office ahead of the 2020 season, this winter could see him become more aggressive in seeking upgrades. If so, some of the club's younger, more controllable talents could be available in trades.
Even if he's not quite as desirable as current top prospects like first baseman Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec could interest certain sellers on account of his humongous raw power, major league experience and control through 2026. And with Casas knocking on the door, Dalbec will be expendable soon if he isn't already.
New York Yankees: SS Gleyber Torres
This winter will almost certainly bring more trade speculation about left fielder Clint Frazier and third baseman Miguel Andujar. But since the value of both players has cratered as they've played below replacement level throughout 2021, the Yankees might be just as likely to move Gleyber Torres.
He was a rising superstar in 2018 and 2019, but not so much in the last two seasons as he's hit just .251/.336/.356 while playing inconsistent defense at shortstop. So even though he's only 24 and controlled through 2024, he suddenly looks more like a change-of-scenery candidate than a long-term building block. Hence why this isn't the first time he's been speculated on as a possible trade chip.
Tampa Bay Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier
With the Rays, it's always relevant to ask which of their players is getting too expensive. That question has resulted in more than a few stars getting moved over the years, including David Price in 2014, Evan Longoria in 2017 and Blake Snell last winter. Now, it's a fair bet that Kevin Kiermaier will be next.
The Rays were rumored to be shopping the three-time Gold Glover last winter, at which time he had two years and $26.4 million remaining on his contract. Though he'll only have one year and $12.2 million left on his deal this winter—as well as a $2.5 million buyout for a 2023 club option—that surely won't stop the Rays from seeking a taker for that money.
Toronto Blue Jays: OF Randal Grichuk
In the wake of their pre-deadline trades for Jose Berrios, Brad Hand and Joakim Soria, it's clear that the Blue Jays are all-in on winning now. This will still be the case during the winter, in which case they might be open to dealing top prospects like right-hander Nate Pearson and shortstop Jordan Groshans.
Alternatively, the Jays could clear some payroll for the sake of loading up in free agency. That's where they have an all-too-obvious trade chip in the person of Randal Grichuk, whose $10.3 million salaries for 2022 and 2023 are a bit much for a guy who's more or less locked into a role as a fourth outfielder.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: C/DH Yermin Mercedes
The White Sox aren't especially deep despite being one of the best teams in the league, and their farm system was depleted even before the trade deadline. Because of these things, they're not going to have much to spare on the winter trade market.
They do, however, have a change-of-scenery candidate in Yermin Mercedes. He was a sensation early in 2021, but he eventually slumped his way to a demotion that seemed to have him contemplating retirement at one point in July. If they're not going to carry the 28-year-old as an everyday player, the best thing the White Sox can do for him is trade him to a team that actually has at-bats for him.
Cleveland: SS Andres Gimenez
If you didn't get your fill of Jose Ramirez trade rumors ahead of the deadline, don't worry. There will surely be more this winter, and there's a non-zero chance of Cleveland cashing in the three-time All-Star third baseman in lieu of actually paying him his $26 million worth of options for 2022 and 2023.
But if it's a question of which player in Cleveland's inventory is more likely to move this winter, keep an eye on Andres Gimenez. Though the 22-year-old defensive wiz had first dibs at replacing Francisco Lindor at shortstop, he's had an uncertain place in Cleveland's long-term plans ever since his demotion in May.
Detroit Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer
The Tigers were widely expected to be a seller ahead of the July 30 trade deadline, but general manager Al Avila effectively took up a position on the opposite side of the fence by declaring the team's rebuilding phase to be over. If he holds to that this winter, the Tigers might hold all their chips.
But since both will be heading into their final season under club control in 2022, left-hander Matthew Boyd and right-hander Michael Fulmer could be more available than other Tigers players. The latter, in particular, should appeal to buyers after a season in which he's proved to be a difference-maker in relief via a 3.09 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 32 innings.
Kansas City Royals: INF/OF Whit Merrifield
The Royals finally budged on a franchise favorite in July when they sent left-hander Danny Duffy to the Los Angeles Dodgers. And while they didn't end up moving him, they were also rumored to be "more open" to moving All-Star utility man Whit Merrifield than they had been in the past.
Might that willingness still be there this winter? The answer may initially be no, but Royals GM Dayton Moore might be swayed if the interest is strong enough. Considering that Merrifield is a capable hitter and versatile defender who's due to make only about $3 million next season, that might well be the case.
Minnesota Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson
Because their effort to sign him to an extension was ultimately unsuccessful, you can count on Byron Buxton being the subject of trade rumors this winter. But after what's been yet another injury-marred season for the dynamic center fielder, the Twins could ultimately hesitate to sell low on him.
If so, they may instead focus their efforts on getting out from under the two years and $50 million remaining on Josh Donaldson's contract. This could, after all, be their last best chance to do so. Though the 2015 AL MVP is good when healthy, his health is indeed fleeting and he's due to turn 36 in December.
American League West
Houston Astros: RHP Jake Odorizzi
With Carlos Correa ticketed for free agency, the Astros are going to have a major hole to fill at shortstop this winter. But even if they'll technically have two more holes in their rotation once aces Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander reach free agency, they'll actually have the depth to fill those from within.
So much so, in fact, that they could look to save some money by offloading the $11.3 million that Jake Odorizzi is owed after 2021. He was something of an emergency signing by the Astros in the first place, and he hasn't done much to endear himself to the team as he's put up a 4.95 ERA over 63.2 innings this season.
Los Angeles Angels: LF Justin Upton
How might the Angels keep Mike Trout, who's been out of action since May 17 with a strained calf, on the field going forward? Well, one idea the club has kicked around is the possibility of moving the three-time AL MVP off center field so he doesn't have to do as much running.
If the Angels commit to that this winter, it'll be just another reason to try to jettison Justin Upton. To be sure, it's hard to imagine them moving both the 33-year-old left fielder and his entire $28 million salary for 2022. But if they agree to eat some money and he's willing to waive his no-trade clause, he could nonetheless end up on another team as a veteran upside play.
Oakland Athletics: 1B Matt Olson
Out of all the players on the A's roster right now, only shortstop Elvis Andrus and right fielder Stephen Piscotty are under contract for 2022. Since neither has much in the way of trade value and the club's farm system is similarly barren, it's very possible that the A's will simply sit out the trade market this winter.
Or, they might finally field offers for star infielders Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, both of whom have been pegged as future sacrifices of the team's budgetary restrictions. Both are controlled through 2023, yet Olson will certainly have more value this winter after what's shaping up to be the best season of his career.
Seattle Mariners: RF Mitch Haniger
Among the key reasons the Mariners have risen as a surprise contender in 2021 is the return to form of Mitch Haniger. A handful of injuries and surgeries kept him out of action for most of 2019 and all of 2020, yet he's looked like his former All-Star self in putting up a 124 OPS+ and 25 homers this year.
But with Haniger's free agency looming after 2022, the 30-year-old isn't long for Seattle unless the Mariners extend him. There's certainly a chance of that happening, but the Mariners could look to trade him this winter if it turns out that they and Haniger's camp are far apart on his long-term value.
Texas Rangers: SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa
After so many trades—up to and including ones that sent ace Lance Lynn and slugger Joey Gallo out of town—in recent months, the Rangers have stripped their roster of large salaries to unload and of short-term trade chips to cash in.
Save, maybe, for Gold Glove-winning shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. He's only 26 years old and it feels like he's only now establishing himself as an everyday player, yet he also has just two years of club control remaining after this season. If teams come calling, the Rangers could try to leverage a trade package that would push their rebuild further along.
National League East
Atlanta: LHP Will Smith
With first baseman Freddie Freeman and starters Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly among a slate of players ticketed for free agency this winter, Atlanta's offseason figures to be more so focused on signings rather than trades. And yet here's one for the ol' "Wild Ideas" folder: What if Atlanta shops Will Smith?
He's been more good than great since signing a three-year, $39 million contract ahead of the 2020 season, posting a 3.86 ERA over 65 appearances. He's also potentially expendable now that Richard Rodriguez is in town, so don't rule out Atlanta trying to get out from under Smith's $13 million salary for 2022.
Miami Marlins: 3B/RF Brian Anderson
Even though the Marlins made the playoffs in the end, the 2020 season never quite felt like proof that the club's rebuild was over. Now that they're in the basement of the NL East for the third time in four years, it's all too clear that there's more work to be done.
As for which players might be trade bait this winter, how about Brian Anderson? General manager Kim Ng wasn't in a hurry to extend him as of last winter. And while struggles with injuries and ineffectiveness have hurt his value in 2021, he's too good to be a non-tender candidate. So the Marlins might see what they can get for him and his two remaining years of club control.
New York Mets: 3B J.D. Davis
Like Atlanta, the Mets are going to have some major holes to fill once guys like Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto and the newly acquired Javier Baez reach free agency this winter. Unlike Atlanta, though, the Mets are owned by a guy who can and surely will spare no expense on the open market.
Especially if they re-sign Baez, though, the Mets might once again make J.D. Davis available. He's only played in 37 games this season because of a finger injury, and there are also questions about his defense. But as a .288/.373/.481 hitter since 2019 who's under club control through 2024, he could attract a crowd on the winter trade market.
Philadelphia Phillies: SS Didi Gregorius
The Phillies do have some money set to come off their books this winter, but frankly not much of it. That won't necessarily preclude them from loading up in free agency so they can further establish themselves as a power in the NL East, but they might need to cut some salary to truly take that effort to the max.
For instance, Didi Gregorius could be a candidate to have his salary dumped. The first season of his two-year, $28 million deal has been a disaster marked by a career-low minus-0.5 rWAR. If the Phillies can move him, it would be that much easier to subsequently upgrade by signing Correa, Baez, Corey Seager, Trevor Story or Brandon Crawford.
Washington Nationals: 1B Josh Bell
In the face of yet another losing season in the wake of their World Series championship in 2019, the Nationals didn't take any half-measures ahead of the deadline. Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, Jon Lester and Daniel Hudson are all gone now.
Given that, it's no small wonder that Josh Bell is still a National. Yet maybe not for much longer, as the Nationals have every incentive to try to move him ahead of his final season under club control in 2022. If they do, his appeal as a slugging switch-hitter is bound to get teams interested.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: C Willson Contreras
The resulting explosion wasn't quite as spectacular as the one in Washington, D.C., but the Cubs likewise blew it up when they traded Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Craig Kimbrel ahead of the deadline. From here, they figure to be rebuilding for a few years.
In which case, they basically have no reasons not to field offers for Willson Contreras this winter. There are quite a few teams that could use him as an offensive stalwart behind the dish, and next year is his last season under club control. So unless the Cubs are going to extend him, he's gotta go.
Cincinnati Reds: RHP Sonny Gray
Though they're still five games off the pace, the Reds have recently made a heck of a push for first place in the NL Central with 10 wins in their last 13 games. However, they might still be headed for an offseason in which they're just as willing to sell as to buy.
That was the case last winter, in which aces Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo were on the block at one point. The former may be especially likely to return to the block this winter, as trading him would be a chance for the Reds to get out of paying him more than $10 million in 2022 before his turn toward mediocrity really takes hold.
Milwaukee Brewers: LHP Josh Hader
The Brewers are in first place largely thanks to their excellent pitching staff, which includes perhaps the best reliever in the National League in the person of Josh Hader. But might the three-time All-Star end up on the trading block this winter?
He's certainly been of interest to relief-needy teams in the past, and he's now only adding to his appeal amid what's arguably the best season of his career in 2021. Since trading him would be a means for the Brewers to get a huge haul and dodge having to pay Hader escalating salaries via arbitration in 2022 and 2023, they might just give in to temptation.
Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl
By trading Starling Marte, Joe Musgrove and Adam Frazier since taking over in 2019, Pirates general manager Ben Cherington has pushed the team deeper and deeper into rebuilding territory. Following a season that's thus far seen Pittsburgh fall 30 games under .500, expect more of the same this winter.
Though the Pirates are bound to get calls about outfielder Bryan Reynolds, they're much more likely to deal guys who aren't All-Stars with four remaining years of club control. Chad Kuhl, for example, is only controlled for one more year and should have some appeal as a back-end starter on the trade market.
St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon
The Cardinals made arguably the biggest trade of the 2020-21 offseason when they landed Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies in February. The offseason to come, however, may be more focused on free agency as they seek to fill holes left by Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Andrew Miller and others.
If the Cards are going to trade anyone from their major league roster, Daniel Ponce de Leon could be the guy. Though he'll still be pre-arbitation-eligible in 2022, he might need a change of scenery after flopping to tune of a 5.84 ERA over the last two seasons. Besides which, he's out of minor league options.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: OF David Peralta
The Diamondbacks finished in last place in 2020 and are now on track for the fourth-worst record since MLB's wild-card era began in 1995. It's therefore not a question of if they'll be selling this winter, but of how much.
Rival teams are bound to be hot after Ketel Marte, who's hitting .348 and on a club friendly deal. Yet Arizona will likely feel more pressure to deal David Peralta. Even though he isn't the Gold Glover and Silver Slugger he once was, he's nonetheless a capable everyday outfielder who'll earn just $7.5 million in the final year of his contract in 2022.
Colorado Rockies: RHP Daniel Bard
Honestly, who knows what to expect of the Rockies anymore? It was all but assumed that Story and Jon Gray would follow Arenado out of town at some point in 2021, but both are still around even though Colorado's season went south long ago. It's almost as if the team is beset by bad ownership and a depleted front office.
It's thus with maybe one-percent confidence that we'll suggest maybe the Rockies will move Daniel Bard this winter. It would make sense in theory, as he's a capable reliever who's also 36 years old and only under team control through 2022. But if the Rockies don't move him...well, Rockies gonna Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 2B/SS Gavin Lux
With Corey Seager, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen all headed for free agency, the Dodgers are yet another contender that will have major needs to fill this winter. Yet they'll also still have a ton of depth, which could serve them well on the trade market if they go looking for fixes or upgrades.
Though he stands to gain more playing time if the Dodgers don't re-sign Seager, the Dodgers might even dangle Gavin Lux on this winter's market. It was only two years ago that he was the hottest prospect in baseball, but he's hit only .217/.296/.349 in 101 major league games since then. If he isn't already, the 23-year-old is thus on his way to being a change-of-scenery candidate.
San Diego Padres: 1B Eric Hosmer
Though they ultimately settled for Frazier and Jake Marisnick, the Padres were seemingly connected to anyone and everyone ahead of the trade deadline. They were also reportedly willing to get creative to make deals, up to and including possibly jettisoning Eric Hosmer for payroll purposes.
That possibility could be on the table again this winter. The 31-year-old first baseman is owed $60 million through 2025, which is a lot for a guy who's posted just 2.4 rWAR in four years as a Padre. If San Diego can't move him in a bad-contract swap, it could package him with prospects just to move him, period.
San Francisco Giants: INF/OF Mauricio Dubon
The Giants are a weird sort of contender. On the one hand, they're the best team in baseball and an obvious World Series contender. On the other, they're also building for a future that will get highly uncertain once Crawford, Brandon Belt, Kevin Gausman and others become free agents this winter.
In the event that the Giants punt on 2022, they might make Evan Longoria available with the idea to shed what's left of his contract. In the much more likely scenario that they decide to go for it in 2022 and beyond, they could part with an expendable player like Mauricio Dubon. The 27-year-old has hit .356 at Triple-A since his demotion in June, and he's still under team control through 2025.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.