Five MLB stars who could be traded this season

By Matt Johnson
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLB offseason delivered plenty of trades for baseball fans to enjoy. While the trade chatter will quiet down for a few weeks, there could be even more movement with MLB stars getting dealt this season.

After months of rumors floating about a blockbuster trade in the winter, the Boston Red Sox finally made things happen by dealing Mookie Betts. Now that one superstar is in a new home for the 2020 MLB season, the focus now shifts to other stars that might be moved.

We could potentially see more movement than in previous seasons. The growing trend of teams looking to trade stars rather than pay them with long-term extensions has opened the door to a potential wave of blockbuster trades.

Here are five MLB stars who could find themselves on the move before the MLB trade deadline this season.

Francisco Lindor, shortstop, Cleveland Indians

Cleveland will keep Lindor heading into the season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if things will change by July. The 26-year-old is under contract for two more seasons before becoming a free agent, a position the Red Sox were in with Betts. The Red Sox, a team with far more payroll flexibility, waited a year to move their star and it cost them. The sooner Cleveland moves Lindor, the better return it will receive.

The New York Mets made an offer for Lindor and it stands to reason that the San Diego Padres would get involved if Lindor became available. These are just two of numerous teams that would come calling with an open farm system and a willingness to make a blockbuster deal happen. If ownership isn’t willing to pay Lindor, which they’ve publicly stated, then trading him becomes inevitable.

Matthew Boyd, starting pitcher, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are on their way to a successful rebuild with lots of young talent closing in on their MLB debuts. Since Detroit boasts a wealth of top pitching prospects, it only makes sense for the front office to deal Boyd. A 29-year-old southpaw, Boyd drew trade interest before the 2019 trade deadline and Detroit made him available once more this offseason, but nothing came to fruition.

Boyd would certainly do the organization a favor if he pitched to his form from the first half. He recorded a 3.87 ERA before the All-Star Break, then struggled upon his return with a 5.51 ERA. The good news, he’s under contract on a team-friendly deal for the next three seasons and struck out a career-best 30.2% of batters faced in 2019. He will be shopped once more during the season and could be an excellent mid-rotation starter for a team competing for a playoff spot.

Kris Bryant, third baseman, Chicago Cubs

Bryant’s name was talked about heavily as a trade candidate during the winner, but he remains in Chicago. Even as the team prepared for spring training, general manager Jed Hoyer continued discussing trade possibilities with rival clubs. Given the ominous words coming from the front office regarding keeping Chicago’s top stars, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Bryant is moved this season.

If the Cubs decide to move Bryant, contenders like the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves immediately jump out as landing spots. Both organizations also have the MLB-ready talent that Chicago would be looking for to make a deal happen. The 2018 NL MVP winner is under contract for two more seasons, so moving him this year would net the Cubs a stronger return than if they wait until next offseason.

Josh Hader, relief pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers

While fans might not like reading it, the Brewers took calls on Hader this winter. This is an organization that believes in keeping its budget fairly tight and Hader is moving closer to earning a big contract. The 25-year-old is one of the most electrifying pitchers in the game and he’s even more valuable as a southpaw, but there’s a willingness to move him in Milwaukee.

If the Brewers are struggling to stay in the playoff picture by late July, general manager David Stearns should take calls on Hader. High-end closers always attract major interest on the trade market and can land major hauls in July. Since Hader is one of MLB’s best southpaws and he is under contract through the next four seasons, the Brewers could land a historic haul for their top relief pitcher. If he becomes avaialable, we’d keep an eye on the New York Yankees.

Nolan Arenado, third baseman, Colorado Rockies

It’s rare to see a team shop its star player less than a year after signing him to a record extension, but the Rockies aren’t your typical organization. Colorado’s general manager Jeff Bridich played a significant role in the deterioration of this relationship, with Arenado now blasting him publicly. While a trade is not expected within the next few weeks, it might be the only solution for this team’s long-term plans.

The Rockies and Cubs discussed a swap of their star third baseman, but talks never gained traction. If Arenado is put back on the trade block, the Gold Glove Award winner and perennial All-Star slugger will attract a lot of attention. While he might cost more financially than Bryant, since he is owed $70 million over the next two years, the Rockies won’t struggle to find trade suitors this season.