In latest days, MLBTR has taken a have a look at some gamers who may discover themselves on the transfer between the conclusion of the lockout and the beginning of the season. First, Tim Dierkes seemed on the league’s 14 likeliest trade candidates. Steve Adams then ran by means of some impact players who, to various levels, may discover themselves in commerce rumors each time transactions resume.
As we speak we’ll have a look at different regulars who we may envision altering uniforms within the comparatively close to future. Buying any of the gamers on as we speak’s checklist wouldn’t be fairly as splashy as touchdown the celebs we coated final week, nevertheless it’s straightforward to check any one in all them assuming an necessary, common position on a brand new crew.
Earlier than we get into the checklist, a fast be aware on methodology. In defining “believable” commerce candidates, we checked out gamers we felt had someplace between a 20% and 50% likelihood of being dealt earlier than the beginning of the season. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive checklist of commerce potentialities — nearly any participant across the league may theoretically transfer if one other crew made the proper supply — nevertheless it’s meant to seize a tier of regulars we wouldn’t be shocked to see change arms. In an train of this nature, there must be a considerably arbitrary line that delineates the final of the gamers who, in our view, are “believable” commerce candidates. Gamers like Gary Sánchez and Jesús Aguilar had been mentioned internally however fell simply on the opposite aspect of that line.
Now, on to the checklist. The gamers are ordered by what we really feel to be their chance of getting traded (all arbitration projections through MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz):
John Means, Orioles SP
Buster Olney of ESPN reported in November that the Orioles had been “dangling” Means in commerce talks. Baltimore’s rebuilding and seemingly amenable to gives on anybody on the roster, nevertheless it stays to be seen how actively they’ll push to make their prime beginning pitcher accessible. With Means controllable by means of 2024 and projected for a modest $3.1M wage, the O’s needn’t pressure a deal this offseason.
The 28-year-old presents a tough analysis for groups. He received off to a superb begin to the season, posting a 2.28 ERA (albeit with a 4.20 FIP) by means of his first 71 innings. Means then landed on the injured checklist with a shoulder pressure. After returning in July, he posted a 4.88 ERA down the stretch, watching his strikeout price tumble nearly six share factors within the course of. The medical analysis might be essential, however groups which can be comfy with the state of Means’ shoulder transferring ahead would possibly count on him to regain the sturdy mid-rotation kind he confirmed early within the yr.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers SS/3B
Kiner-Falefa has been a stable common for the Rangers for the previous couple seasons. He spent 2020 at third base, then was tasked with transferring up the defensive spectrum to shortstop final yr. Defensive Runs Saved beloved his glovework at quick; Statcast’s Outs Above Common didn’t. Kiner-Falefa completed third within the 2021 Fielding Bible shortstop award voting. There’s not a lot query he’s an excellent defender on the scorching nook, and most groups would most likely a minimum of really feel comfy with him moonlighting at shortstop if want be.
Texas remade their center infield in free company, signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Kiner-Falefa may relax to 3rd base, however the Rangers have prime prospect Josh Jung nearing large league readiness on the place. Controllable for 2 extra seasons and projected for a $4.9M wage, he may stick round as a utility man. But when one other crew buys him as a plus defender at shortstop, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Texas ship him someplace he can proceed taking part in on a regular basis. Kiner-Falefa’s .271/.312/.357 line suits higher on the backside of a lineup, however he brings good contact expertise and a stable infield glove to the desk. MLBTR’s Steve Adams explored the possibility of a Kiner-Falefa commerce at higher size this afternoon.
Raimel Tapia, Rockies LF
Experiences out of Denver have urged the Rockies could look to maneuver Tapia, projected for a $3.9M wage in his second-to-last arbitration-eligible season. The Rox must bolster an offense that was among the many league’s worst final yr, they usually’re seemingly planning to make a splash within the nook outfield. That’d most likely push Tapia — who’s spent nearly his total MLB profession in left area — out of the on a regular basis lineup.
Tapia has by no means hit on the degree one would hope from an on a regular basis left fielder. One may argue he’s higher suited to a fourth outfield position regardless. He’s a plus runner with good bat-to-ball expertise, although, and he ranked amongst Baseball America’s prime 50 total prospects again in 2017. It’s actually not out of the query one other crew takes a flier on him, notably if the Rockies are keen to take a minimal return after buying his substitute.
Chris Paddack, Padres SP
The pre-lockout settlement with Nick Martínez bumped a bunch of the Friars’ youthful arms down a peg on the rotation depth chart. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored, that would pave the best way for them to maneuver one in all their controllable starters. In the event that they do, Paddack seems to be the likeliest of the bunch. He’s arbitration-eligible and projected for a $2.1M wage. That’s actually reasonably priced, however the Padres could possibly be trying to open some payroll area after exceeding the posh tax threshold final yr.
Paddack has had back-to-back down seasons after a promising rookie marketing campaign. However he’s nonetheless solely 26 years outdated, boasts pristine management, and groups can dream on him recapturing his 2019 kind. That he’s controllable for 3 seasons could possibly be of specific attraction to groups just like the Rangers and Nationals (who expressed interest eventually summer season’s deadline) who is perhaps eyeing 2023 as a extra believable rivalry yr.
Ryan Yarbrough, Rays SP
Yarbrough has been a versatile member of the Rays pitching employees for the previous few years. He’s labored variably as a standard lengthy reliever, a bulk man behind an opener and as a real beginning pitcher. Yarbrough posted an ERA of 4.13 or decrease in every of his first three seasons, however he scuffled to a 5.11 mark in 2021. That got here with out significant adjustments to his strikeout and stroll numbers, although, and Yarbrough remained glorious at avoiding arduous contact.
The Rays possible anticipate the southpaw will return to kind, however his value is escalating. Tampa Bay is already projected for a franchise-record payroll, so it wouldn’t be stunning in the event that they transfer a few of their arbitration-eligible gamers for pre-arb or minor league expertise. Yarbrough is projected for a $4.4MM wage and stays beneath crew management by means of 2024.
Austin Meadows, Rays LF/DH
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Occasions wrote over the weekend that the Rays could be open to transferring Meadows, who’s projected for a $4.3M wage. Controllable by means of 2024, Meadows could be a long-term possibility for Tampa Bay or any potential buying crew, however the Rays have confirmed keen to area gives on nearly anybody on the roster. And with the aforementioned payroll outlook for the sometimes low-spending membership, the entrance workplace figures to be amenable to methods to pare again prices.
Meadows is coming off a good season, wherein he hit .234/.315/.458 with 27 homers over 591 plate appearances. That marked a bounceback from a below-average offensive displaying through the shortened 2020 schedule, nevertheless it’s a good bit shy of his career-best .291/.364/.558 line the season earlier than that. Meadows isn’t an incredible defender, so he must mash to be a star. He did that in 2019, however he’s in any other case been a good-not-great hitter. That’s nonetheless a priceless participant to have available, however until the Rays anticipate him replicating his peak season this yr, it’d be smart to take heed to gives.
Tony Kemp, Athletics 2B/LF
Kemp has bounced across the league a bit in latest seasons. He performs second base and left area, however superior metrics have pegged him as a fringy defender on the keystone. Kemp doesn’t deliver a ton of energy to the desk, and he’s already 30 years outdated. It’s not the best profile to make work, explaining why he has but to discover a long-term dwelling.
There’s no questioning Kemp’s 2021 outcomes, although. Over 397 plate appearances, he hit .279/.382/.418. Each FanGraphs and Baseball Reference pegged him as price round three wins above substitute. Kemp has glorious plate self-discipline and bat-to-ball expertise, and he could possibly be trending in direction of a late-career emergence within the mildew of former A’s second baseman Tommy La Stella. The marketplace for groups on the hunt for second base assistance is fairly skinny. Kemp, who prevented arbitration on a $2.25M wage and is controllable by means of 2023, could be an reasonably priced pickup if the A’s transfer him as a part of their anticipated post-lockout efforts to trim payroll and reboot the roster.
Manuel Margot, Rays OF
MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently looked at the potential of the Rays making Margot accessible. He’s projected for a $5M arbitration wage as he enters his ultimate yr of membership management. That’s an inexpensive wage for a participant of Margot’s caliber, however Tampa Bay has loads of cheaper, controllable outfielders available, and prime prospect Josh Lowe seems to be able to step into an on a regular basis position someplace within the grass after a monster season in Triple-A.
It’s not out of the query Tampa trades away a number of outfielders, but when they transfer the costlier Kevin Kiermaier, Margot sticking round to deal with heart area is actually attainable. The latter might need broader attraction across the league, although. Not solely is he set to make round a 3rd of Kiermaier’s remaining ensures, Statcast credited Margot with a league-best +16 Outs Above Common within the outfield final yr. He’s by no means been greater than a mean hitter, however acceptable offense coupled with Gold Glove caliber protection is a really priceless participant. There’s additionally a dearth of heart fielders accessible in free company at this level.
Max Kepler, Twins OF
MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk lately broke down Kepler’s commerce candidacy at great length. Assured $16.25M by means of 2023 and controllable for 2024 through membership possibility, he’d be an reasonably priced goal for groups in search of outfield assist. But Kepler’s offensive manufacturing has ticked down in direction of league common following what appeared to be a breakout displaying in 2019. The Twins would possibly want to carry onto him in hopes he rediscovers that kind, however they only prolonged Byron Buxton and have former prime prospects Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach within the fold as nook outfield choices. A Kepler deal could possibly be a inventive technique to handle a few of the crew’s different points within the beginning rotation or at shortstop.
Danny Jansen/Alejandro Kirk, Blue Jays C
The Jays’ catching depth has been a subject of dialog all through the offseason. Would Toronto half with one in all their controllable backstops to land assist in the rotation or infield? The signing of Kevin Gausman most likely diminishes their must land an influence starter through commerce, though they’re more likely to a minimum of search for depth items.
Reese McGuire is a succesful backup catcher who’s out of minor league choices. High prospect Gabriel Moreno is quickly approaching and could possibly be within the majors by the tip of the season. Jansen gives a stable bend of energy and defensive acumen, whereas Kirk has otherworldly bat-to-ball expertise and an elite minor league observe file. Toronto doesn’t have to maneuver anybody from this group, nevertheless it could possibly be a chance to consolidate their catching depth for assist elsewhere on the roster.
Amed Rosario, Guardians SS/CF
Cleveland acquired Rosario from the Mets as a part of the Francisco Lindor commerce final offseason. His offensive numbers (.282/.321/.409) had been high quality, though neither Defensive Runs Saved nor Statcast was keen on his glovework at shortstop. Rosario’s aggressive strategy on the plate will most likely maintain him from rising because the star many envisioned he’d change into as a prospect, however he has alright profession hitting numbers, runs properly and could possibly be an possibility for groups at any of the up-the-middle positions on the diamond (other than catcher).
The Guardians have a whole lot of infield depth, with a number of gifted prospects within the excessive minors and already on the 40-man roster. With their seemingly annual want for outfield assist, a Rosario commerce may assist stability the roster. Cleveland may additionally simply give him extra run in heart or left area themselves, nevertheless it is perhaps extra simple to commerce him to an infield-needy crew with an outfield surplus. Rosario is projected for a $5M wage and controllable by means of 2023.
Josh Bell, Nationals 1B
I coated Bell’s commerce candidacy in greater length in late December. The Nationals are taking a step again in 2022, and he’s coming into his ultimate yr of membership management. A projected $10M wage would possibly scare away some suitors, however Bell could be a notable offensive improve for a lot of groups across the league. The switch-hitter posted a .261/.347/.476 season-long mark, and he had a superb 277/.381/.506 line with extra walks than strikeouts after the All-Star Break.
Garrett Cooper, Marlins 1B/COF
Cooper has seemed like a viable commerce candidate for a couple of seasons. He’s a part of a nook outfield/first base rotation in Miami that received a bit extra crowded when the Fish signed Avisaíl García. The Marlins have urged they might use García as their common heart fielder, however that’s lower than ideally suited. In the event that they land a middle fielder after the lockout and push García to a extra appropriate proper area position, Cooper would possibly discover himself squeezed for taking part in time.
A late bloomer, Cooper’s already 31 years outdated. He has quietly been a really productive hitter when wholesome, although, together with a superb .284/.371/.478 line (133 wRC+) in 383 plate appearances for the reason that begin of 2020. Well being is a giant caveat for Cooper, who has had stints on the injured checklist in all 5 of his MLB seasons and missed the second half of final yr with a left elbow damage. As MLBTR’s TC Zencka explored in December, he’d returned to taking batting apply and figures to be prepared for 2022. Projected for a modest $3M wage with a further season of management thereafter, he could possibly be an attention-grabbing flier, notably for NL groups wanting so as to add offense if/when the common designated hitter is finalized.
Anthony Santander, Orioles RF/LF
Santander’s identify has been floated across the rumor mill in years previous. The Orioles are rebuilding, and he’s extra of a complimentary piece than a probable member of the long-term core. Santander is proscribed to the nook outfield and has a really aggressive strategy, although, making it essential he makes loads of contact and hits for energy. He did that within the shortened 2020 season en path to a .261/.315/.575 line, however he couldn’t observe up on that success.
Final season, Santander had a pair injured checklist stints and struggled to a .241/.286/.433 mark. He signed for $3.15M to keep away from arbitration in November and stays controllable by means of 2024. Given their aggressive window, the O’s will surely take heed to gives on Santander. But it surely stays to be seen whether or not there’ll be enough demand that Baltimore wouldn’t be higher off hanging onto him and hoping he approximates his 2020 efficiency over the primary few months of subsequent season. MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald recently explored Santander’s commerce candidacy in higher depth.
Zach Plesac, Guardians SP
Plesac isn’t but arbitration eligible and he’s controllable for an additional 4 seasons. The Guardians would possibly merely want to hold onto him, notably after their 2021 season was derailed by rotation accidents. But as talked about with reference to Rosario, Cleveland has vital issues within the outfield. They’ve dealt key beginning pitchers over the previous couple seasons, seemingly assured of their capacity to proceed to develop less-heralded prospects into succesful rotation cogs.
In the event that they had been to deal a starter, Plesac would appear the likeliest candidate. The Guardians aren’t about to rebuild, and transferring Shane Bieber or Aaron Civale is perhaps too vital a blow to their hopes of contending in 2022. Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill would possibly nonetheless have upside Cleveland’s hoping to unlock. Plesac’s small pattern excellence in 2020 was most likely inflated by a regional schedule in opposition to Central-division groups that, by and enormous, weren’t good offensively. That season apart, he hasn’t posted notably spectacular strikeout charges. However he’s received glorious management, will get a good variety of grounders, and ought to be a stable guess for league common rotation innings over the following few seasons.
Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks SP
The D-Backs had been the worst crew within the Nationwide League final season. They don’t appear to have the urge for food for a full rebuild, however Kelly’s coming into his ultimate yr of membership management. At age 33, he’s most likely not an extension candidate, so Arizona figures to be open to transferring him.
Kelly’s not an overwhelming arm. He posted a 4.44 ERA over 158 innings final season, placing out solely 19.5% of batters confronted. He throws loads of strikes, although, and he will get a good variety of grounders. Enjoying on a modest $5.25M wage, Kelly could be an eminently reasonably priced pickup for contenders trying to stabilize the again of the rotation.
Mitch Garver/Ryan Jeffers, Twins C
Garver missed an excellent chunk of final season after struggling a ugly damage. Throughout his 243 plate appearances, he mashed at a .256/.358/.517 clip with 13 dwelling runs (137 wRC+). That’s two of the previous three seasons with a few of the finest offensive output of any catcher in baseball. He’s controllable for 2 seasons and projected for a modest $3.1M wage. Jeffers hasn’t but hit arbitration-eligibility and nonetheless has minor league choices remaining. He struck out too usually as a rookie, however he hit for energy and is a well-regarded defender who entered the yr among the many sport’s prime catching prospects.
As with Kepler, a commerce of Garver or Jeffers would most likely be about dealing from an space of surplus to handle the rotation or shortstop. Each gamers may plausibly be common catchers subsequent season, they usually’d lose a few of their worth if penciled into the DH position recurrently. Given Garver’s damage troubles, Minnesota would possibly want to carry their depth behind the dish.
Elieser Hernández, Marlins SP
The Marlins have reportedly fielded gives on their arbitration-eligible beginning pitchers this winter, maybe looking for controllable outfield assist. Miami already thinned their rotation depth a bit by together with Zach Thompson within the Jacob Stallings deal, nevertheless it wouldn’t be a shock in the event that they make yet one more transfer in that vein.
Over the previous two years, Hernández owns a 3.84 ERA in 77 1/3 innings with very sturdy strikeout and stroll charges (26.3% and 5.7%, respectively). He’s an excessive fly-ball pitcher who’s more likely to all the time have some issue holding the ball within the yard. He missed most of 2021 recovering from a pair of long-term accidents (biceps irritation and a quad pressure). Due to these drawbacks, he gained’t be in as a lot demand as rotation mate Pablo López. One more crew might attempt to take a shot on Hernández’s promising strikeout/stroll profile, notably since he’s solely projected for a $1.4M wage and controllable by means of 2024.
Chris Stratton, Pirates RP
I coated Stratton’s trade candidacy at higher size in December. He’s a 31-year-old reliever controllable for 2 seasons on a rebuilding crew. The Bucs aren’t going to view him as a core piece of the rebuild, and it stands to purpose they’d welcome the chance to select up an intriguing low-level prospect. Over the previous two seasons, Stratton has been the sort of succesful if unexciting center reduction piece contending groups want. He gained’t deliver again a franchise-changing return, however at a projected $2.2M wage, he ought to draw some curiosity.
Cole Sulser, Orioles RP
Sulser had a quietly sturdy second half with the Orioles, often factoring into their closing combine. A late bloomer, he’ll be 32 by Opening Day. So whereas they’re beneath no contractual strain to maneuver him, the rebuilding O’s will surely take heed to gives. After placing up a 2.70 ERA with a 28.4% strikeout price, he should be of interest to contenders. Sulser isn’t but arbitration eligible and will be managed by means of 2025.
Adrian Houser/Eric Lauer, Brewers SP
The Brewers actually aren’t obligated to commerce both of Houser or Lauer, each of whom are coming off sturdy seasons. Nonetheless, the Brew Crew have already got a vaunted prime three of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta and prospects Aaron Ashby and Ethan Small are at or nearing the large leagues. May Milwaukee plug one of many youthful arms into the rotation and flip a veteran back-end starter for offensive assist?
Adalberto Mondesi, Royals 3B/SS
Mondesi’s an enigmatic participant. He brings an enviable mixture of energy and pace and has sufficient athleticism to play a reliable or higher shortstop. He additionally has among the many worst strikeout and stroll numbers of any common place participant in MLB. Maybe most alarming, he’s handled sufficient damage points lately that Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore expressed some doubt about his capacity to play greater than 100 video games per season recurrently.
Nicky Lopez performed properly sufficient to supplant Mondesi at shortstop final yr. Bobby Witt Jr. will most likely take that place early in 2022, pushing Lopez some place else on the grime. Whit Merrifield remains to be round as a second base possibility. Kansas Metropolis might need sufficient infield depth to discover a Mondesi commerce, though it’d be a little bit of a sell-low on a participant with apparent bodily presents who’s controllable by means of 2023. He’s projected for a $3.2MM wage.
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs SP
Hendricks is assured $29.5M by means of the following two seasons, with a vesting possibility that would maintain him in Chicago by means of 2024. The Cubs have moved most of their core gamers courting again to final offseason, however Hendricks stays on the North Aspect. That is perhaps attributable to some uncharacteristic struggles, because the righty’s coming off a career-worst 4.77 ERA with unimpressive peripherals.
Hendricks has by no means struck batters out or fared exceptionally properly within the eyes of ERA estimators, although. Till final season, his precise run prevention handily outperformed metrics like FIP and SIERA as he thrived on distinctive command. He’ll most likely bounce again, even when he might by no means recapture his Cy Younger-caliber, 2.13 ERA kind from 2016. With the quantity of groups on the hunt for beginning pitching, there’d little question nonetheless be demand if the Cubs made Hendricks accessible. Will they? Maybe, since they’re not more likely to compete in 2022. But their early-offseason exercise — signing Yan Gomes and Marcus Stroman, claiming Wade Miley — has urged they is probably not eager to punt subsequent season fully.
Trey Mancini, Orioles 1B
The Orioles aren’t going to compete in 2022, and Mancini is ticketed totally free company on the finish of the yr. Most gamers in his state of affairs could be very simple commerce candidates, however the first baseman is a fan favourite and reported clubhouse chief who made an inspiring return to the diamond final yr after lacking the 2020 marketing campaign battling colon most cancers.
That Mancini returned to play in 147 video games after going through that sort of life impediment is a outstanding achievement. It’s simple, although, that his manufacturing slipped relative to his glorious 2019 marketing campaign. Mancini’s .255/.326/.432 line was solely marginally above common, and he performed solely first base and designated hitter. It actually wouldn’t be stunning to see him bounce again right into a middle-of-the-order presence as he will get additional away from beating most cancers, however demand for his companies is perhaps restricted till his manufacturing rebounds. If that’s the case, it’s most likely not price it for the O’s to commerce him away this offseason. He’s projected for a $7.9M wage, however Balitmore’s 2022 payroll ledger is broad open.