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15 MLB stars who could be traded this offseason

Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason we could see plenty of big names being traded.

Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 MLB offseason figures to be action packed. In addition to a strong free agent class, we could see plenty of big names being traded.

We find it unlikely that the New York Mets will trade Jacob deGrom. They steadfastly hung on to him at the 2018 trade deadline, and that was before they hired his agent as GM. But we could very well see two of New York’s other starting pitchers on the move.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had a disappointing finish to 2018. Two of their biggest stars loom as possible trade chips. And while starting pitching seemed to become somewhat passé in the playoffs, a starter with one of the greatest postseason resumes in history could be on the block.

These 15 stars all could find themselves on the move before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

 

J.T. Realmuto, catcher, Miami Marlins

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Realmuto is not going to sign an extension with the Marlins. His agent said as much, in no uncertain terms. So Derek Jeter and the rest of Miami’s front office really need to ask this question. Will this team be ready to contend before Realmuto becomes a free agent following the 2020 season? It’s awfully hard to see that happening.

Realmuto would attract an absolute haul on the trade market. He’s one of the game’s best catchers. But the longer Miami waits to trade him, the more likely it becomes that teams will see him as more of a rental, thereby diminishing the return. Trading Realmuto this offseason just makes sense.

 

Zack Greinke, starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Greinke is 35. As such, any team acquiring him would have to really see itself as a World Series contender. But what a get he’d be for a contender in need of front-line starting pitching. Greinke posted a 3.21 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 2018. Both totals are better than career marks (3.39 ERA, 1.17 WHIP). There have been rumblings that Arizona would like to move Greinke. If the Oakland Athletics are really serious about adding payroll, they should give the D-Backs a call. If not, the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, and New York Yankees represent just a few true contenders that would do well to add Greinke in 2019.

 

Jose Abreu, first baseman, Chicago White Sox

Jose Abreu continues to do his thing for the White Sox.

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The White Sox are in a weird spot. They haven’t been good in a while. But they also have some immense young talent on the roster and more to come in the near future. Abreu is in the final year of his contract. So, barring an extension, hanging on to him would only really make sense if Chicago feels ready to contend in 2019. That’s possible, but feels like a bit of a long shot, especially with Michael Kopech’s injury. Additionally, the White Sox could deal Abreu and still make 2019’s team better. It would make sense for Chicago to at least strongly explore going down that road.

 

Blake Treinen, closer, Oakland Athletics

Athletics, A's

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Treinen had one of the best seasons a closer has ever had in 2018. He was the anchor of the bullpen. So, why should the A’s even entertain trading him? Well, Oakland has a good group of relievers — even without Treinen. What the A’s really need is a starting pitching upgrade. That would make a team like the Atlanta Braves an ideal fit. The Braves have a wealth of young, talented, controllable pitchers, but also have issues at the back end of the bullpen. Atlanta isn’t the only potential fit for a Treinen trade, but it’s an obvious one. The A’s certainly don’t need to trade Treinen. But we could see it happening.

 

Nick Castellanos, right fielder, Detroit Tigers

Comerica Park

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Castellanos hit .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs and 89 RBI in 2018. One would be hard pressed to find a team that couldn’t use Castellanos’ bat. The Tigers could wait to see if they contend. If not, then a deadline deal would make sense. But the chances of Detroit contending are very small. This team has gone 64-98 in consecutive seasons and is really just starting a rebuild. Castellanos is also set to become a free agent following the 2019 season. Trading him earlier would bring a much better return. It just doesn’t make much sense for him to remain in Detroit any longer.

 

Collin McHugh, relief pitcher, Houston Astros

Sep 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Collin McHugh (31) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

From 2014-2017, McHugh was a starter for the Astros. In that time, he posted a 3.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and an 8.4 K/9 rate. If he played for any team but the Astros in 2018, McHugh would have easily been a starter and more often than not, a top-three starter. With Houston, he went to the bullpen in 2018. As a reliever, he posted a 1.99 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and struck out 11.7 hitters per nine innings. McHugh can literally occupy any role in the pitching staff of most contenders. On that note, any team with realistic interests on contending in 2019 should be checking in on McHugh throughout the offseason.

 

Justin Smoak, first baseman, Toronto Blue Jays

Justin Smoak

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Smoak may not seem like the biggest name on the market. But what we’ve seen in recent years is that to contend, your team must have power. Over the last two years, Smoak has hit 63 total home runs and slugged .495. He certainly has adequate pop. The Blue Jays did pick up Smoak’s 2019 option. But quite frankly, Toronto isn’t close to contending, especially in a division with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. As such, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Smoak on the move before the 2019 season begins. Picking up the option bought the Jays a year to get something back for Smoak. The sooner the better.

 

Noah Syndergaard, starting pitcher, New York Mets

Noah Syndergaard

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At 26, Syndergaard can be an integral part of New York’s future. But trading him could also help the Mets bring in several pieces to improve the overall roster. Syndergaard posted a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and struck out more than a hitter an inning in 2018. In his career, he has a 2.93 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9 rate. He is, at worst a fantastic No. 2 starter. And while we could certainly see the Mets choosing to make Syndergaard a building block, we have to look at the facts. This team is coming off of consecutive losing seasons and has one of baseball’s worst farm systems. Parting ways with Thor would be the right move.

 

Whit Merrifield, second baseman, Kansas City Royals

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While Merrifield has a year of team control and three arbitration years before becoming a free agent, he’ll be 30 on Opening Day. Even if the rebuild goes relatively quick, we don’t know how good Merrifield will be by the time the Royals are ready to contend. That makes him a trade chip. The postseason showed us that while power is important, championship teams must be able to score without the longball. Merrifield hit .304/.367/.438 and stole 45 bases in 2018. That’s a dimension that contenders should covet. There was interest in Merrifield at the deadline. We could see that interest turning into an offseason trade.

 

Dellin Betances, relief pitcher, New York Yankees 

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Betances posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 2018 while striking out 15.5 hitters per nine innings. But while he’s a dominant reliever, he’s one of many in New York’s bullpen. So, while he’s not the closer this is similar to Oakland’s situation with Treinen. The difference is that unlike Treinen, Betances is a free agent at season’s end. That makes a trade even more in play. The Yankees can certainly use some starting pitching help or even a little more depth in the lineup. If Betances can plug those holes, New York must seriously consider moving him.

 

Adam Eaton, center fielder, Washington Nationals

pr 28, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Adam Eaton (2) is looked at by a trainer after suffering an apparent leg injury during the ninth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of how the offseason plays out, we won’t be completely surprised to see Eaton in another uniform next year. But if Harper comes back, it seems like a virtual certainty. We fully expect that Victor Robles will be with the Nationals all year. Juan Soto certainly isn’t going anywhere. Harper, Robles, and Soto would make Eaton the odd man out. While not a power hitter, Eaton has a career .287/.363/.415 line. Injuries certainly haven’t been kind to Eaton. That said, he hit .301/.394/.411 in 2018. With numbers like that, Eaton can absolutely be a valuable contributor on a good team.

 

Madison Bumgarner, starting pitcher, San Francisco Giants

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The Giants have been hesitant to trade players who have done far less for the franchise than Bumgarner. But we’re also talking about an old team who has gone 137-187 over the last two years and also has a poorly regarded farm system. So a break from the norm may not be all bad. Bumgarner is a free agent after the year. So, if he’s going to bring a big return on the trade market, the team he goes to would likely have to see him as the missing link to a championship. But teams like the Yankees and Brewers can make that case. Both also have the young talent/farm system to get San Francisco a good return.

 

Scooter Gennett, second baseman, Cincinnati Reds

MLB star Scooter Gennett

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Based on what we saw in 2018 (particularly the later parts), Cincinnati definitely has the offense to contend. Gennett is a big part of that. The problem is that the pitching staff needs a sizable rebuild. Trading Gennett could go a long way towards making that happen. He is a free agent after the year. But over the last two years, Gennett has slashed at .303/.351/.508, hit 50 home runs, and driven in 189. We’d be hard pressed to find a team who wouldn’t love that kind of production from the keystone.

 

Zack Wheeler, starting pitcher, New York Mets

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The case for trading Wheeler is similar to the one for trading Syndergaard. Whether the Mets want to compete in 2019 or go into more of a true rebuild, they need to be active in the offseason. The starting pitching is where they can get the most return. Wheeler is also entering the final year of his contract. That makes a trade even more likely. But as is the case with any pending free agent, the potential return will get smaller the longer New York waits. Wheeler posted a 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and struck out nearly a hitter an inning. There’s no better time for the Mets to trade him than when his stock is high.

 

Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Goldschmidt is the hitter’s version of Bumgarner. He’s a free agent after the 2019 season. But there’s almost no doubt that he’d be a game-changer over that one year. Goldschmidt is one of baseball’s best hitters. He’s coming off of a year in which he hit .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs. And that was with a brutally slow start. Goldschmidt also plays Gold Glove caliber defense and runs the bases well. He’s a star. If the D-Backs can’t extend him, they need to think long and hard about trading him or risk getting nothing more than a compensation pick back. If he hits the trade block, Goldschmidt will draw plenty of suitors.