5 MLB Players in Desperate Need of a New Team in 2022
We're getting into the thick of MLB playoff races.
This is one of the most exciting times in baseball, but for some players, it's not quite as fun as it is for the fans. Sometimes, a change of scenery can bolster performance and provide opportunities for increased playing time or development.
We might be well past the trade deadline, but it's safe to start looking ahead to next season for a few select teams and players. These five guys fit into these categories:
• A talented player struggling this season who could benefit from being in a new organization.
• An emerging player stuck behind veterans at his position.
• A player on a rebuilding team or a club that likely won't be contending next season, or even in 2023.
Los Angeles Dodgers 2B Gavin Lux
As one of the top prospects in baseball as recently as two years ago, Gavin Lux appeared to have an opening at second base this season, but he wasn't able to crack the lineup consistently.
He was injured, he wasn't effective, shortstop Corey Seager returned to the lineup and moved Lux over to second base, and super-utility man Chris Taylor saw time at second with the Dodgers needing his All-Star bat in the lineup.
Then Los Angeles acquired Trea Turner in a blockbuster trade with the Washington Nationals, and the club moved him from shortstop to second base. He has another year of team control left as well, so he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Lux was recently demoted to Triple-A after hitting just .221 with a .643 OPS. He'll be back when the Triple-A season ends, but if he really is a major league-caliber infielder who just needs consistent playing time to show it, then he might be better off away from Los Angeles.
Colorado Rockies RHP German Marquez
German Marquez has two years and a club option left on his contract. The 26-year-old has proved to be more than capable of pitching in difficult conditions with a career 4.64 ERA at the extremely hitter-friendly Coors Field and an 8-2 record with a 3.13 ERA at home this season.
The Rockies haven't had a true ace like this in years, with the team unable to attract top pitchers because of the harsh pitching conditions. The club developed this one all on its own. But this team is also going nowhere fast, and Colorado's front office has made little effort to make the team better over the last two years.
Third baseman Nolan Arenado is gone, having been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason. Shortstop Trevor Story is still in the Mile High City, but he's expressed plenty of displeasure about it. He'll likely leave as a free agent this winter. Marquez's name was mentioned around the trade deadline, but ultimately he remained in Colorado and the team didn't receive much prospect capital with its refusal to trade any of the big names.
Marquez could be a boon to the rotation of a contender. He's durable, eats up innings and pitches his team to wins. It's a waste of talent to have him in Colorado right now when winning does not appear to be the priority.
Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer
Michael Fulmer won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 and was an All-Star in 2017, but it's been a tumultuous tenure ever since. He wasn't himself in 2018, and he missed the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His 2020 season had some wondering if he was still capable of pitching at a high level (0-2, 8.78 ERA in 10 starts).
But Fulmer bounced back this season, reinventing himself in a relief role. Per FanGraphs, his velocity returned, and he started using his slider more than any other pitch.
The rebuilding Tigers have a good stable of young talent, but their prospects haven't quite developed at a solid pace just yet. Fulmer could have netted a few more at the trade deadline last month, but he was injured again. The 28-year-old is still under team control through next season, so he would have value on the winter trade market.
Fulmer falls into a few categories. A move to a more competitive team might help further reinvigorate the big righty, and while the Tigers should see some payoff from their rebuild next season, they likely still won't be a playoff team.
Fulmer came to Detroit when the team was still competitive, but the rebuild started soon after. The timing was never right, but he could get it right on another team in 2022.
New York Mets 1B/OF Dominic Smith
Dominic Smith, a first-round pick by the Mets in 2013, is a natural first baseman who started seeing time in the outfield when Pete Alonso had his NL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019. He was one of the Mets' best bats last season, hitting .316 with a .993 OPS and earning MVP votes. But he's struggled this year, right alongside the rest of the Mets, and a shakeup to the core could be coming.
A move out of New York could allow Smith to go back to playing his natural first base position. Another team might have a more consistent home for his left-handed power bat and be able to better harness his power.
Smith has shown his versatility and has been great at playing the different roles the Mets have needed, but another team might want to elevate him to something beyond a role player. The 26-year-old has worked hard to become a key piece of the lineup, but where exactly he fits has not always been clear.
File this one under a player who could benefit from a change of scenery. Smith is a great player stuck in a situation that might not be the best for him at the moment.
New York Yankees 2B/SS Gleyber Torres
Much like Dominic Smith, Gleyber Torres was billed as a star in New York. He did find stardom with the Yankees during his first two seasons, being named an All-Star twice and narrowly missing out on winning the AL Rookie of the Year award (he came in third) in 2018.
Torres provided the Yankees with big hits for two years before the struggles started last year. They've continued this year, as he's hitting .253 and is currently out with a thumb injury.
A can't-miss shortstop prospect no more, Torres has cost the Yankees 22 runs at the position over four seasons of play, including eight this year. His future might not be at shortstop, but a move to the outfield is complicated by the fact that the Yankees have a crowded group.
It's never easy for teams to give up on prospects, especially when they were once so heralded. Seeing a player blossom with another organization stings. What does it say about the club's development when it can't develop its own stars?
But the Yankees have a well-respected player development staff. They don't have to worry about any sort of negative optics given their track record of developing talent. Playing in New York is hard enough, but when players are expected to become stars before they even reach the big leagues, it's a different sort of pressure. Torres might fare better in another organization with a clean slate.