With Thanksgiving just a few days away, that means that the MLB Winter Meetings are also right around the corner. With the Winter Meetings come rumors and trades. There are some big-name players that could be moved in deals this winter, including a former MVP, a recent Rookie of the Year, and Cy Young contenders. The rumors are just getting started.
Today, let’s take a look at five MLB trade targets that have been mentioned as at least potentially available this winter and see if we can find out the best landing spot for them.
Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays’ ace Tyler Glasnow is set to make $25 million in 2024, which is about one-fifth of their entire payroll. Given the team’s ability to just develop pitchers at will, moving Glasnow and either saving that money or spreading it around on other free agents seems like a likely route for the club.
That said, a deal may not be around the corner as the team is reportedly set to wait while the other big-name pitchers on the free agent market start signing, then look to move Glasnow to one of the teams that missed out.
With this being the case, that could eliminate a couple of teams from contention like the Cardinals, who figure to be in on the top of the free agent market for starting pitching and would be interested in more long-term solutions, and potentially the Giants, who could use another arm as well.
So, that means to find a landing spot, we’re looking for a team that doesn’t figure to hand out a big, lucrative contract, needs a boost for 2024, and has the prospects to make this deal happen. The team that checks all of those boxes would be the Baltimore Orioles. Their payroll is estimated at $73 million for next season with so many young players that haven’t reached arbitration yet on the roster. Even though Glasnow is set to make $25 million, they could afford it for 2024.
This move would also give the O’s the ace that they lacked when they entered postseason play in October. The tricky part of this scenario is that the Rays, who are chasing Baltimore in the AL East, would be actively aiding the Orioles by trading them Glasnow. If that ends up being a dealbreaker for Tampa Bay, then they’ll have other options to choose from which will include all of the teams that missed out on signing a big-name free agent pitcher.
Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox
Cease finished second in the AL Cy Young voting in 2022 and held a 2.20 ERA that season. This past season that ERA ballooned to 4.58 with a tough month of August really inflating that final total. That said, he has made at least 32 starts in each of the last three seasons, is projected to make $8.8 million in his second year of arbitration, and won’t be a free agent until after the 2025 season. Throw out his 2023 numbers because he was playing on a bad team with a not so great clubhouse atmosphere.
With the White Sox willing to trade anyone on their roster, it would stand to reason that Cease will be one of the most sought after players on their roster this winter. Given that he’s set to make just $8.8 million in 2024, he could land just about anywhere. Heck, if the A’s were trying to win, even John Fisher wouldn’t mind adding that much salary. That’s how affordable Cease’s contract is.
That also means that the return will involve some decent prospect capital.
The team that makes the most sense as a fit for Cease is the St. Louis Cardinals. Even if they end up signing one of the big free agent pitcher like Blake Snell, they need more than just one pitcher to turn their pitching staff around. Cease would be a great fit for them, and St. Louis has the prospects to get a package done.
Eloy Jiménez, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox could go full-on fire sale this off-season, and if they do, Jiménez is another one of the targets that will be sought after. He could also be the one big piece that Chicago would be most willing to move given his injury history and the money he is owed. Eloy is set to make $13.83 million in 2024 and has club option for ’25-’26 at $16.5 million and $18.5 million, respectively.
The big right-hander played in 120 games in 2023, the second-most of his five-year career (122 in 2019), putting up a 105 wRC+ (100 is league average) and swatting 18 homers. He also hit .272 with a .317 OBP and struck out just 19% of the time. He’s a good bat to add to basically any lineup that needs a DH.
One such team that could use another bat and was on the cusp of the postseason in 2023 is the Seattle Mariners. Seattle ranked 23rd in wRC+ at DH last season with a 93. 31-year-old Mike Ford had a career year for them last season and got 60 starts as the team’s DH. It would be tough to count on Ford repeating those numbers. With the Mariners reportedly already out of the Shohei Ohtani chase, they may as well take a big swing on someone else.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
It’s still unclear just how available the three-time AL MVP will be this winter, but there are already reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers are interested in pursuing Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. How many generational talents does one team need?
Staying on the field has been the hardest thing for Trout the past few seasons, playing in just 82 games in 2023, 119 in 2022, and 36 in 2021. When he’s on the field, he’s been the same MVP-level talent that the baseball world has come to love.
Finding a landing spot for Trout is tricky, because he has a no-trade clause. With the Dodgers interested in his services, could they get him to waive that no-trade if they end up signing Ohtani to reunite the duo a little further north? Would that also be the only scenario he would consider leaving the Angels for?
These are all unknowns. What is known, however, is that the San Francisco Giants need a face of their franchise and that Farhan Zaidi needs to start making things happen to improve the watchability of his team. If Trout is available, the Giants may be the team willing to put up the best trade package. No prospect would be off-limits, even with seven years at $37.116 million per season left on his deal.
The Giants are in a position to make some noise this off-season, and after years of striking out in free agency, they may be more willing to make a big trade.
Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds
Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall told reporters recently, “I wouldn’t say we are motivated. If a deal comes around, we have to be open to anything.” That sounds like India is certainly on the trade block, but the team is not trying to sound too eager to make a move. When other teams know that you have to make a deal, the return goes down. Just look at the A’s trade returns from their latest fire sale. Only one player is still in the organization from the Matt Chapman trade just two years later, and it’s because everyone knew that the front office needed to trim salary.
India won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2021, and while he hasn’t quite been at that same level in the two seasons since, he has still been a good player. He may not be a player that will put a team over the top, but he could be a solid piece for a team on the rise to give them at the very least a league average bat. The one downside with India is that his glove has been well below league average each season he’s been in the bigs.
All of those factors considered, the Detroit Tigers seem like an interesting fit. They’re a team on the rise, and while Javier Báez has been inconsistent at the dish, he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, while India would take over second base.
The big questions to consider here would be how comfortable are the Tigers with incumbent Andy Ibañez at second, and what caliber of pitcher would the Reds be looking for in return? If they come asking for Tarik Skubal, then it’s hard to see a deal happening. This isn’t a deal that would have to happen, but the two teams could come together and work out a win-win package.