MLB Trade Deadline 2022: Predicting the Big Names Who'll Be Up for GrabsMay 12, 2022
MLB Trade Deadline 2022: Predicting the Big Names Who'll Be Up for Grabs
It may seem like the MLB season just started, but that Aug. 2 trade deadline can sneak up on you.
We're here to help you avoid that. While we enjoy this early part of the season, it's not too early to take a bird's eye view at the league and predict the big names who will be up for grabs at the deadline.
Some of these players are on expiring contracts, and their availability could depend on how competitive their respective teams are in late July.
All of them have been linked to trade discussions, some even prior to the lockout.
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
Kevin Kiermaier was aware of his involvement in trade talks even before the lockout, when Tampa Bay Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander called to inform him of it, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
This is the final year before a club option in Kiermaier's contract for 2023.
He'll be the Rays' everyday center fielder for as long as he's in Tampa, but it makes sense to move him to save the $13 million salary next year and still get a decent return for someone who has contributed so much to the team since 2014.
Kiermaier will never be known for his offense, but he's still an above-average outfielder worth exploring.
MLB Network's Joel Sherman reported before the lockout that the New York Yankees were interested. ESPN's Buster Olney later reported the Rays and Philadelphia Phillies were engaged in trade talks.
Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds
Heads up, the Cincinnati Reds are showing a bit of life. After starting the season 3-22, they won three of their next four games.
They by far still have the worst run differential in baseball. It seemed likely before the season that the Reds would not be competitive, especially after they traded Jesse Winker and Sonny Gray and watched Nick Castellanos leave for the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency.
The Reds are worse than anticipated, and holding on to Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle makes less sense.
Earlier this week, Peter Gammons reported the Reds are willing to listen to offers for both pitchers.
Castillo made his 2022 debut Monday after beginning the season on the injured list. The 29-year-old went 4.2 innings, gave up three earned runs and struck out five. Depending on the health of his shoulder, a suitor is looking at a potential top-of-the-rotation starter who won't be a free agent until 2024.
Mahle, 27, has struggled in his seven starts, posting a 6.46. ERA and 1.57 WHIP. He was close to a quality start in his most recent outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up two earned runs in five innings. His 4.32 SIERA also shows an acquiring club can expect at least a serviceable arm who's under team control through 2023.
Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals
There have not been reports of contract-extension talks between Andrew Benintendi and the Kansas City Royals, even though the impending free agent has quietly been productive in his time there.
Through 98 at-bats this season, the 27-year-old is slashing .327/.370/.398 with a 128 OPS+. His batting average is top-15 in baseball.
Last year, Benintendi hit .276/.324/.442 for a 105 OPS+ with 27 doubles, 17 home runs and 73 RBI while also winning a Gold Glove in left field.
He remains an above-average outfielder who makes sense for any contender.
B/R writer Joel Reuter predicted Atlanta as a landing spot for Benintendi last month, especially given Eddie Rosario's struggles.
David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers
This is still a big name, right?
David Price is collecting a $32 million salary to pitch an inning of relief every other day or so. That's rich even for Los Angeles Dodgers standards.
It was considered a necessary evil to acquire him as a package deal in the Mookie Betts trade two years ago, and the Dodgers have a World Series to show for it. Still, Price opted out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic, and the impending free agent provided limited to no value for the Dodgers since the trade.
Gammons reported the Dodgers will move Price to give him a chance to start.
Price has made five appearances this season as a reliever, posting a 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with five strikeouts. The 36-year-old went 5-2 and posted a 4.03 ERA last season as a starter.
Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
Free agency is waiting for Trey Mancini right around the corner unless he and the Baltimore Orioles exercise the $10 million mutual option for next season.
That's still a possibility, as is a long-term deal. But dealing the 30-year-old Mancini is the more sensible play for a Baltimore squad sitting near the bottom of the AL East.
He is three years removed from posting a 134 OPS+ and 35 home runs. Since then, he's returned from colon cancer and earned Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2021.
Through his first 104 at-bats this season, Mancini hit .279/.325/.346 with a 101 OPS+ and 99 wRC+.
B/R's Zachary Rymer counts Mancini as one of the 10 best trade chips in baseball, given his overall value as a player and that Baltimore's other standouts, Cedric Mullins and John Means, are under club control for at least the next few years.
Frankie Montas, Oakland Athletics
Frankie Montas' days in Oakland have been numbered since the offseason, when the Athletics started offloading their best players.
A deal to send the 29-year-old to the Chicago White Sox broke down in April, but the intention appears to be the same.
Montas will be a free agent after 2023. The longer the A's hold on to him, the riskier the plan, if poor performance or injury were to diminish his trade value.
He was not great in Tuesday's loss to the Detroit Tigers, giving up four earned runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings. But in his six previous starts, his WHIP was 0.93 with a 3.44 ERA. At his best, Montas can be a top-end arm for a contender.
He's wasting time in Oakland, where the club figures to compete with the Texas Rangers for the AL West's worst record.
Nelson Cruz, Washington Nationals
Nelson Cruz is on a one-year deal with a team headed nowhere.
The expectations for the Washington Nationals this year were never that high, but as the deadline nears and reality sets in, Cruz should be available to a contender.
Numbers for the 41-year-old are not appealing. He's slashing .170/.258/.255 with a 55 OPS+ through 106 at-bats. A team isn't giving up much for a half-year rental of an aging power hitter.
But the power is still there. His hard-hit and barrel percentages are still above-average.
Cruz wasn't great for the Rays in the ALDS last year, but the motivation in trading for him then would be similar now: an extra bat at a low cost.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have the worst record in the AL East—even worse than that of the Orioles, the expected bottom-feeders.
Meanwhile, Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story are "making the best of an awkward situation," per ESPN's Joon Lee.
Bogaerts, who plans to opt out of his contract after this season, is Boston's World Series-winning shortstop. Story, who signed a six-year, $140 million contract with the Red Sox last offseason, is his natural replacement.
What's Bogaerts' use on a non-competitive Boston team that's already prepared to move on? The 29-year-old's OPS is .880, and he's slashing .354/.402/.478 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI through 122 at-bats.
Contenders looking to get in early on the Bogaerts' free-agent sweepstakes should already be texting Scott Boras.
Stats via Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.