Key names standing out as potential trade targets
As baseball fans buzz over some of the game’s top free agent sluggers and pitchers available this offseason, MLB teams are also hard at work exploring the trade market for the next big trade.
We’ve already seen a flurry of headliner trades this offseason. Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Yasiel Puig were traded to the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Yankees traded for James Paxton, and the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Jean Segura.
Plenty of All-Star talent has already been traded and teams aren’t done yet. In a sport that craves more starting pitching and big bats, several key names stand out as potential trade targets.
Here are 10 MLB players that could still be traded this winter.
J.T. Realmuto, catcher, Miami Marlins
Realmuto has been the hottest trade candidate this offseason and for good reason. At a time when the play of catchers is down across the sport, Realmuto posted a .825 OPS with 21 home runs and draws strong marks for his work behind the plate.
It’s no wonder the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros are among multiple teams interested in the All-Star catcher. It all comes down to the Marlins and whether or not they step back from their current asking price of a Cody Bellinger or Ozzie Albies-caliber MLB piece.
Sonny Gray, starting pitcher, New York Yankees
Trading for Gray simply hasn’t worked out for the Yankees, now they are prepared to move on from him for the right price.
Gray is an extremely compelling buy-low candidate for teams in need of a mid-rotation starter. While the 29-year-old recorded a 4.90 ERA in 2018, Gray’s 4.17 fielding independent pitching and .326 batting average on balls in play are indicators that he is due for positive regression.
In a different ballpark, such as Petco Park or Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, Gray could thrive with a new pitching coach and a little less pressure. Ultimately, Gray might be one of the most undervalued pitchers available this entire offseason.
Edwin Encarnacion, designated hitter, Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are in the midst of a rebuild, and after acquiring Encarnacion, it will only be a matter of time before he is flipped to a contender for prospects.
Encarnacion’s days as a first baseman are likely over, which limits his market of suitors to American League teams. That still shouldn’t be a problem as the Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays could all use a thumper in their lineup.
The 35-year-old is owed at least $25 million on the remainder of his contract with $20 million owed this season and a $5M buyout on his $25M salary in 2020. Whichever team that lands this 30-homer slugger will ask Seattle to eat some of the salary. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Mariners.
Robbie Ray, starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Zack Greinke’s name was often floated early in the offseason, bu a shift is pointing towards a different move. Now it appears Greinke will stay into the season and that Ray is the pitcher teams covet.
The 27-year-old southpaw posted a 3.93 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 2018. Teams with confidence in their coaches will target Ray with the idea they can get him closer to his 2017 form when he struck out 218 batters with a 2.89 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 162 innings.
Under team control via arbitration the next two seasons, teams like the Padres, Phillies and Astros should be heavily interested in acquiring him. It will cost a hefty amount from a strong system, but Ray’s immense talent and team-friendly contract would make it worth it.
Rick Porcello, starting pitcher, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are searching for ways to offload salary, and given some of their rotational depth, Porcello becomes more expendable if the right offer comes along.
The 30-year-old posted a 4.65 ERA in 2017 then showed some improvement this past season with a 4.28 ERA and a significantly improved WHIP. While he isn’t the front-line starter that fans saw in 2016, Porcello remains a quality No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a playoff rotation.
Boston would love to get out of the remaining $21.124 million owed to Porcello for the 2019 season. Eating some of the money and trading Porcello for a little relief help could allow the Red Sox to work out a contract with star closer Craig Kimbrel.
Nick Castellanos, outfielder, Detroit Tigers
Detroit remains in a rebuild and Castellanos just doesn’t fit into the club’s long-term plans, but he will be enticing for plenty of potential contenders.
While the 26-year-old will be a liability for teams defensively in the outfield, his .854 OPS and 154 runs produced in 2018 would fit perfectly in the middle of a lineup. A move likely isn’t made until Bryce Harper signs. Teams that missed out can then focus their attention on Castellanos as a consolation.
Marcus Stroman, starting pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays
Stroman remains one of the most interesting names to watch during the remainder of the offseason. The Blue Jays don’t want to sell low on the talented righty, but they also are not looking to contend in 2019.
The 27-year-old battled multiple injuries last season and posted a career-worst 5.54 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. Before 2018, Stroman came off a breakout 2017 season with a 3.09 ERA in 201 innings.
Stroman flashes plenty of potential and is under contract control for the next two seasons. Plenty of teams will be interested in him. It just comes down to convincing Toronto that it is getting enough of a return and not selling a potential asset for pennies on the dollar.
Jose Martinez, first baseman, St. Louis Cardinals
Martinez essentially became expendable the moment St. Louis acquired Paul Goldschmidt. The 30-year-old carries a great middle-of-the-order bat, but he’s just a massive liability defensively at first base or in the outfield.
St. Louis could opt to still keep him as a power bat off the bench and a potential option in right field. The best move might be to trade him, find an A.L. team like the White Sox or Astros and use the depth to strengthen the farm system.
Given Martinez has posted a .820-plus over the last three seasons in St. Louis and isn’t even eligible for arbitration yet, he is the kind of cheap power bat that A.L. contenders will come begging for as the season nears.
Alex Cobb, starting pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore struck late during the 2018 offseason to sign Cobb. Now less than a year later he could very likely be in a different uniform.
Cobb’s first season in Baltimore didn’t exactly go well. A late signing caused him to miss the start of the season and his 6.41 ERA in the first half made things even worse. Then he turned things around after the All-Star Break and posted a phenomenal 2.56 ERA over his next 11 starts.
He’ll carry an adjusted salary of $9.5 million over each of the next two seasons with a $10.25 million payout in 2021, making him a very affordable mid-rotation starter. He’d gladly waive his 10-team no-trade clause to get out of Baltimore and the Orioles would be happy to strengthen their farm system by trading him.
Miguel Andujar, third baseman, New York Yankees
While Andujar was meant to be the long-term answer at third base in New York, that could all change if Machado joins the pinstripes.
Andujar would be coveted by nearly every team in baseball. The 23-year-old dominated at the plate in his rookie season with a .297/.328/.527 slash line and 27 home runs in 149 games. Pair his bat with five years of cheap contract control and it makes him the perfect trade chip to land a young ace.
Whether it’s Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner or Trevor Bauer, New York would have plenty of options. If they signed Machado, the Yankees could also move Andujar to first base and create a loaded infield with elite, young talent. Andujar is the least likely of the players on this list to move, but no one should be shocked if he did get moved in a blockbuster deal.