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MLB trade rumors: Top 25 offseason trade candidates

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These 25 players look like candidates to be moved this offseason.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

While baseball’s biggest offseason moves usually come via free agency, the trade market also tends to be very active during the winter months. Quite a few big-name players, including Logan Forsythe, Wade Davis, Adam Eaton, Chris Sale, Travis Shaw, and Brian McCann, were dealt last winter, and with Giancarlo Stanton likely to be moved this offseason, it’s possible that trades could rock the baseball world in an even bigger way over the next few months.

Here are 25 players who could potentially be on the move this winter:

Jose Abreu, White Sox Abreu is unquestionably the White Sox’s best player right now and is arguably one of the top five first basemen in the majors. The White Sox could return to relevance sooner than later considering the current state of the AL Central, but with Abreu set to become a free agent following the 2019 season, it’s still very possible that he may be gone by the time the White Sox have a chance at winning the division again. GM Rick Hahn will have to make a judgment about the club’s timeline for success and make a decision on whether to get maximum value for the 30-year-old slugger.

Matt Adams, Braves Adams had a career-best season after getting traded to Atlanta in late May, posting a .274/.319/.522 slash line with 20 homers. But with Freddie Freeman seemingly locked in at first base going forward after a brief move to third last season, there’s not going to be many at-bats available for Adams unless he switches positions. It’s possible that Atlanta could deal Matt Kemp and create playing time for Adams in left field, but he’d likely be displaced there as soon as top prospect Ronald Acuna reaches the majors. The first base market is oversaturated and Adams’ trade value probably isn’t that great—he’s just months removed from getting dealt for a relatively anonymous A-ball prospect—but his value will likely never be higher than it is right now, so it might make sense for the Braves to deal him if he’s not going to be a major part of their plans in 2018.

Chris Archer, Rays There’s no obvious reason for the Rays to trade Archer — he’s firmly in the prime of his career at 29 years old, and he’s extremely affordable for the next two years (and two more after that if the Rays pick up club options in 2020 and 2021). But Tampa has developed a reputation for trading controllable young starters, as they’ve dealt David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Nate Karns, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, and Erasmo Ramirez since July of 2014. It’s hard to envision the Rays improving by dealing Archer, who’s been the anchor of their rotation since Price was traded three years ago, but they’d surely get an impressive prospect haul in return. If the Rays feel like they have any chance of competing in 2018, they should probably hang onto Archer, but if they decide that they’re heading into yet another mini-rebuild, then clubs like the Cubs, Braves, and Cardinals will surely be jumping at the chance to acquire him.

Brandon Belt, Giants Belt is often undervalued, but he’s very statistically comparable to more highly-regarded second-tier first basemen like Eric Hosmer, Matt Carpenter, and Carlos Santana. Due to injury concerns and the fact that he apparently doesn’t jibe with what they’re trying to do offensively, however, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins suggested in September that the Giants have soured on Belt, writing that he has “exhausted the team’s patience” and that Bruce Bochy “would welcome a new look” at first base. With prospect Chris Shaw on the cusp of reaching the majors, the Giants might jump at the chance to dump the $64 million remaining on Belt’s contract—even if they don’t get much value back in return—purely to give themselves more offseason spending flexibility.

Brad Brach, Orioles The Orioles’ motives aren’t exceptionally clear this offseason; logic would dictate that they’d go all-out and try to win in the final year before Manny Machado and Zach Britton hit free agency, but they’ve got a lot of work to do in order to catch up to the Red Sox and Yankees, so perhaps they’ll begin the retooling process this winter. If they’re willing to move some veteran players in order to add some younger depth, Brach could be one of their most valuable trade chips. He’s been one of the most consistent relievers in the majors over the past four seasons, and he could be an affordable option as a closer for one of the many clubs in need of bullpen depth this winter.

Zach Britton, Orioles — Britton was nearly dealt at the deadline in 2017, so there’s little reason to think that the Orioles won’t at least listen to offers for him this offseason. Though he struggled with arm injuries and posted a disappointing 1.53 WHIP in 2017, he’s still considered one of the game’s great closers. Seeing as he’s a free agent next winter, he’d be a relatively low-risk, high-reward acquisition for a contender, much like Wade Davis was with the Cubs last season. Baltimore could very well hang on to him and try to make a playoff push in 2018, but if they’re not too confident in their ability to bounce back and want to get some value back for him, there will certainly be plenty of interest.

Ryan Braun, Brewers Braun has long been a subject of trade rumors, with his massive contract and the bad press surrounding his PED scandals being the primary obstacles getting in the way of Milwaukee moving him. With the Brewers becoming competitive again in 2017, they no longer have as much incentive to trade him. With that said, trades involving highly-paid franchise players like Braun often happen after fans have let their guards down, and Milwaukee has more than enough young outfielders (Brett Phillips, Lewis Brinson, Keon Broxton, and Domingo Santana) to fill Braun’s spot in the lineup if necessary. Braun’s value has undoubtedly dropped after he dealt with injuries and posted a career-worst 111 OPS+ in 2017, but he’s still an impactful enough hitter that he could likely bring back a solid return and free up some cash for the Brewers to upgrade their pitching staff this offseason.

Maikel Franco, Phillies The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote back in June that the Phillies had grown impatient with and made him “more than available” in trade talks, and while they weren’t able to move him before the deadline, they’ll likely take a stab at trading the 25-year-old third baseman this offseason. While he’s remained a productive power hitter, Franco has consistently regressed in each of his three slash line categories over his three full big-league seasons, finishing with a career-worst .230/.281/.409 line in 2017. His value obviously isn’t as high as it was in 2015, when he posted an .840 OPS as a rookie, but as a relatively young third baseman with major power potential, he should bring back at least a decent return.

Avisail Garcia, White Sox — After largely being a disappointment over his first four full major-league seasons, Garcia broke out in a major way in 2017, hitting .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers. While the White Sox are in the middle of a rebuild, he’s young enough to be a building block as they move forward. With that said, he’ll be a free agent after 2019, so by the time they’re good again, he may be in a position to command more money than they can reasonably justify paying him. While there might be some skepticism about him being a one-year wonder, his value should be rather high after his outstanding season in 2017, and even with the impressive supply of outfielders around the big leagues, Garcia would be an upgrade in the middle of the lineup for more than a few teams around the majors. Trading him would deprive the White Sox of a young, inexpensive asset, but it’d allow them to continue their quest to stockpile as many intriguing prospects as possible.

Dee Gordon, Marlins With the way the game has changed over the past few years, it’s hard to see many clubs having interest in Gordon. He hits for average but rarely walks, he’s hit just 11 homers over seven major-league seasons, and though he plays good defense and steals bases at a prolific rate—he’s led the majors in steals for three of the past four years—those skills could begin to diminish as he turns 30 next season (and that’s not to mention that most analytically-inclined front offices would prefer to avoid risking outs on the basepaths, anyway). With that said, the Marlins will try hard to move him—more specifically, the $38.9 million of guaranteed money remaining on his contract—this offseason, and with clubs like the Angels, Blue Jays, and Mets possibly seeking upgrades at second, perhaps they’ll be able to find a fit.

Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers Though they were initially willing to keep Gonzalez in the lineup by playing Cody Bellinger—who’s often lauded as a future Gold Glove first baseman—in the outfield, the Dodgers have obviously decided that Bellinger is their best option at first moving forward and would probably prefer to avoid the drama of having Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover, on their bench in 2018. The Los Angeles Times’ Andy McCullough reported last week that the Dodgers are “likely to part ways” with Gonzalez this offseason. The Los Angeles front office has proven time and time again that it’s willing to cut underperforming veterans and eat their salaries, and they very well may do that with Gonzalez. And while Gonzalez’s 10-and-5 no-trade rights may create an obstacle to getting a deal done, it’s possible that a club like the Mariners or Angels could have interest in him as a part-time player if the Dodgers are willing to take on most of his $22.4 million salary for 2018.

Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers — There’s more clubs that need to upgrade or bolster their depth at the catcher position this offseason than there’s been over the past couple years—the Orioles, Tigers, A’s, Cubs, Pirates, and Diamondbacks quickly come to mind—and Grandal is expendable after the Dodgers benched him in order to start Austin Barnes down the stretch this year. McCullough reported last week that the Dodgers “may field offers” for him this offseason. As he heads into his final year of arbitration, Grandal will be eminently affordable—even as a backup—for most clubs. Though his offensive production dropped off a bit in 2017, he still posted a .767 OPS and hit 22 home runs in 482 plate appearances, and he’s considered a strong defender and pitch framer. The Dodgers don’t need to trade him, as he’d be a very good backup to Barnes next season, but if they want to bolster their farm system and tighten payroll up a bit, they could plug Kyle Farmer into the backup role and deal Grandal to a team that would use him more frequently.

Randal Grichuk, Cardinals — Cardinals fans (and judging by their actions, the front office and coaching staff) have grown impatient with Grichuk, as 2017 was the second straight season he needed a mid-season trip to the minors after being in the Opening Day lineup. Grichuk can safely be described as an “all-or-nothing” hitter and doesn’t have great contact or on-base skills, but his raw power is extremely valuable. He hit 22 home runs in 2017, and among the 104 hitters who went deep at least 22 times, he was one of just 12 who hit that many homers in 420 or fewer at-bats. Unfortunately for Grichuk, the Cardinals have a wealth of talented young outfielders, so he ended up parked on the bench of much of the season’s final six weeks. Considering the proliferation of starting-caliber outfielders around the majors, Grichuk probably won’t bring back a ton of value, but if they can free up a roster spot and upgrade their organizational pitching depth by dealing him, they should consider doing so.

Brad Hand, Padres While the Padres chose to hang onto Hand at this year’s deadline, it’s likely that he’ll be moved this offseason. The 27-year-old lefty reliever will be one of the most valuable assets on the trade market this winter, as he’s under club control through 2019 and is coming off an All-Star campaign during which he posted a 2.16 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 79.1 innings. In any other situation, he’d be a pitcher that San Diego would want to keep, but with the Padres in the midst of a long rebuild, he’s a guy that can really boost a winning team’s bullpen and should bring San Diego quite a bit of value in return.

Kelvin Herrera, Royals Herrera’s value isn’t great right now considering that he posted career-worst numbers in 2017 (4.25 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 59.1 innings) and dealt with a forearm injury late in the season. But he’s heading into his final year of arbitration, and the Royals might not have much use for him as they retool in 2018. A club that’s willing to bet that Herrera was simply miscast as a closer could end up with a fireballing middle reliever who had been extremely reliable prior to 2017, posting a 2.63 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over his first six major-league seasons.

Matt Kemp, Braves — Kemp, 33, is now on the downside of his career, as he’s a streaky hitter and a defensive liability who probably fits best as a DH at this stage. But when he’s in a rhythm, he’s still an extremely valuable hitter, as evidenced by the 35 homers he hit in 2016 and the .989 OPS he posted over the first two months of 2017. With as many as six AL teams potentially in need of a new DH this offseason, Kemp could have a decent number of suitors, particularly if Atlanta is willing to pay a portion of his remaining salary.

Ian Kinsler, Tigers — As is the case with a few other players on this list, there are a few factors severely limiting Kinsler’s trade value this offseason: He’ll be 36 years old next June, he’s coming off a season in which he posted a career-worst 90 OPS+, and he’s owed $11 million in 2018. On the other hand, he’s a possible future Hall of Famer who still plays exceptional defense and hits for more power (50 homers over the past two seasons) than most second basemen. There aren’t a ton of teams that need second basemen, and most clubs would probably prefer not to pay $11 million to a player like Kinsler who appears to be in his decline stage. But if a team like the Blue Jays, Mets or Brewers wants to create stability at second base without getting locked into a long-term deal, Kinsler could be an option.

Nick Markakis, Braves — Mark Bowman of MLB.com reported in September that the Braves are looking to move either Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis in order to make room for their top prospect, Ronald Acuna, in the lineup next season. Despite the fact that Kemp is owed more money, he appears to be a more attractive trade candidate than Markakis. But if a team is looking for an experienced fourth outfielder with the ability to take a walk and deliver with runners on base—he had a 10.1% walk rate and an .825 OPS with runners in scoring position in 2017—Markakis could be an interesting option. He’s set to earn $11 million in 2018, but Atlanta may be willing to take on some of that salary if a team has interest in trading for him.

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates — While he still wasn’t stellar defensively, McCutchen definitely took a step toward reestablishing his value in 2017. After a career-worst offensive season in 2016 (one that wouldn’t have been that bad by most players’ standards), he posted an .849 OPS while hitting 28 homers, and after a brief move to right field, he quickly moved back to center in the wake of Starling Marte’s suspension and saw his defensive metrics bounce back a bit. The Pirates picked up McCutchen’s $14.5 million option for next season, but since they appear destined for a mini-rebuild, now may be the time for them to move him while his value is high. It’s also easy to envision them re-signing McCutchen and allowing him to finish his career in Pittsburgh—which would be fine since he’s the most influential player the franchise has had in the past 25 years—but either way, they should make a decision before he hits free agency next winter.

Marcell Ozuna, Marlins — In a sign of just how desperate the Marlins’ quest to cut payroll is, Ozuna is only the second-best outfielder that Miami is apparently considering trading this offseason. Despite that, he’d be the best outfielder on quite a few major-league clubs, and after posting an outstanding .312/.376/.548 slash line with 37 homers in 2017, Ozuna has proven that he’s an imposing middle-of-the-lineup threat. Since Ozuna is in his second arbitration year this offseason, he’d present a great value for many clubs, but with the Marlins looking to get their payroll down to somewhere around $55 million, he’ll be somewhat of a financial burden in Miami moving forward. There’s less urgency for the Marlins to trade Ozuna than there is to move Giancarlo Stanton, and if they’re able to move a few players with bad contracts, then maybe they’ll even be able to keep him. But if they ultimately decide to deal Ozuna, they’ll surely get plenty of interest and should be able to command an impressive package of prospects in return.

Joc Pederson, Dodgers — The Dodgers have shown over the past few years that they’re willing to carry plenty of starting-caliber outfielders on their 40-man roster, even if they can’t find consistent playing time for all of them. Pederson bought himself some goodwill with an outstanding showing in the World Series, but while the Dodgers presumably will let Chase Utley walk, creating some playing time at second base for Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez, Pederson will still have to contend with Taylor, Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo, and possibly Cody Bellinger for outfield reps next season. With his value high coming off a strong playoff performance, it might make sense for the Dodgers to move him this offseason.

Martin Prado, Marlins — It’s going to be hard for Miami to move the 34-year-old Prado, as he’s owed $28.5 million over the next two seasons and is coming off a season in which he posted a career-worst 70 OPS+ while going on the disabled list three times. They’ll try as hard as they can to deal him this offseason in order to cut payroll, though, and the fact that he’s historically been a very good contact hitter and a noted “glue guy” could help his cause. He does play a position where several teams (potentially the Yankees, Royals, Angels, Braves, Mets, and Giants) could be in need of stopgap solutions, so he may be a bit more marketable than the many aging, flawed first basemen and outfielders on this list. The Marlins will almost certainly have to eat some of the contract if they’re going to trade Prado, but that might be a price that they’re willing to pay simply in order to save a little bit of cash.

Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins — Stanton is obviously the most frequently-discussed name on this list, as it’s been widely reported that the Marlins plan to trade him following his career season in order to accommodate the financial constraints of the new ownership group. His full no-trade clause and his colossal contract significantly limit the number of potential trade partners, but sooner or later something has to get done, as he’ll bring tremendous power and excitement to whichever team ultimately acquires him. The Giants and Cardinals seem to be the most popular suitors for Stanton at the moment, with teams like the Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers, and Dodgers also getting mentioned. Of course, it’s a good bet that we’ll see the infamous “mystery team” pop up in the Stanton sweepstakes before it’s all said and done.

Michael A. Taylor, Nationals Normally, when a player has a breakout season as impressive as Michael A. Taylor had in 2017, he forces his way into his team’s long-term plans. But Taylor, who posted an .806 OPS with 19 homers during the regular season before posting a 1.178 OPS with two clutch homers in the NLDS this year, may have simply made himself a more attractive trade candidate this offseason. The Nationals parted with three of their best prospects in order to acquire Adam Eaton last offseason, and they’ve got another four center fielders aged 27 or younger (Brian Goodwin, Rafael Bautista, Andrew Stevenson, and Victor Robles) on their 40-man roster, so they can afford to move Taylor without major consequences. His value is sky-high right now after he put together a career-best offensive performance and ranked third among big-league center fielders in defensive runs saved in 2017. Seeing as it’ll be difficult for him to get everyday playing time going forward, it’d almost be foolish for the Nationals not to explore trading him this offseason.

Brad Ziegler, Marlins — Ziegler may only be the third-best reliever named Brad on the trade market this offseason (see Brach and Hand above), but he’d still be an intriguing bullpen addition for any club that is willing to pick up most or all of his $9 million salary for 2018. The 38-year-old submariner struggled for periods in 2017, but he was also absolutely dominant at certain points, posting a 0.71 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 12.2 innings in April, then going unscored upon with a 0.77 WHIP over 13 innings in August. Some more analytically-inclined front offices may be skeptical of Ziegler, as he’s up there in years, doesn’t throw hard, and has never had high strikeout totals. But he’s proven time after time that he can be effective—he has a 2.61 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 10 big-league seasons—and with the number of clubs that are looking to add proven bullpen depth this offseason, he should draw some interest as the Marlins look to slash payroll.