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Inside Baseball | Top 40 MLB trade candidates

Jon Heyman




One advantage to having so many terrible (or at least obviously non-contending) teams is that the potential for an exciting trade deadline and more good available players increases. For that reason, this July’s trading season could be a doozy.

With 10 teams on pace to lose 100 games (or come close), there could be a ton of players on the market. Here is a top-40 of potentially available players, with comments on the likelihood for a trade and possible landing spots.

1. Manny Machado, Orioles SS

With no chance to sign him long-term (they tried a few years back, allegedly coming within $10 million or so of getting a deal done for something south of $100 million), it’s hard to see why they’d keep him past the deadline. Sure, they can wait a few more weeks to confirm that they aren’t going anywhere – it sure looks that way early – but eventually, he’s very likely to go.

Nine teams made some sort of effort to land him this winter/spring (Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Indians, Cardinals, Phillies). Obviously the Dodgers have an immediate need – two actually (more on that) – and the timing could be one of many hurdles. Though they are the most obvious fit at present.

2. J.T. Realmuto, Marlins C

He’s back, and he’s producing. He’s also one of the best all-around catchers in the game. The Marlins acted quickly and decisively to trade four stars already, but with the last established name player remaining, the belief now is that they will want a “king’s ransom” for the multi-talented backstop.

The division rival Mets are the team with the most obvious need, but the Nats and Astros (depending on how Brian McCann holds up) could also make sense among contenders.      

3. Chris Archer, Rays SP

Executives are suggesting his value is down, though these are rival execs, some of whom may want to land him. Archer hasn’t lived up to the hype at times during his career. But he looked good in his most recent start and he certainly has pitched beyond his contract, which still looks very team friendly, even with him toting a 6.61 ERA. The Brewers have been of speculated, and they certainly have the need as well as the prospects to get the job done.

4. Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B

He’s a terrific player, and what’s more he’s a terrific leader. However, it isn’t easy to place for a first baseman, as many a first basemen has found out the hard way the past couple of winters. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility, and barring an injury, the guess here is that the ChiSox will continue to believe he’s worth more to them than he is in trade.

Beyond the power, he sets a nice example for their many talented prospects. The Red Sox were a team of interest this winter, but right now they don’t look like they could use much (and 1B Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland are both performing well).

5. Kelvin Herrera, Royals RP

The Royals have had three great closers in recent years, and he is the last of the trio – though based on how he’s performing this year, not necessarily the least. He’s no longer the hardest thrower in the game as he was for a bit, but he’s more effective than ever. He should bring quite a bit back. Perhaps Houston will be in the market for a closer.

6. Michael Fulmer, Tigers SP

He is proving he’s healthy after arm questions scuttled the trade talk this winter, which should make him quite enticing as a trade chip indeed. The pitcher who came in the big deal for Yoenis Cespedes has been what the Tigers hoped for, but with the team in rebuild, they could bring back multiple prospects for him if they dealt him now while the value is high.

7. Cole Hamels, Rangers SP

He isn’t having his usual year, but there’s reason to believe he has plenty left. The Rangers appear to be in too deep in the tough AL West this year, and a trade would be logical. The Phillies could use a lefty, and he seems to like it there, though that’s not been heard as a potential match from anyone credible.

8. Zach Britton, Orioles RP

He’ll be back in a month, just in time for the Orioles to start a possible sale (more on that in Inside Baseball notes), and if he looks like any semblance of his 2016 season, he’d draw a crowd. The Orioles came close to trading him to Houston last summer before either 1) not liking what they saw on the medicals on the two players coming back, or 2) getting cold feet. At his best, there is no one better. Like with Herrera, perhaps Houston makes sense.

9. Raisel Iglesias, Reds RP

The Reds have sent out mixed message over the years about whether they’d even entertain the idea of trading Iglesias. But let’s face it; since they aren’t a contender, he’d be more valuable elsewhere. Under-rated star.

10. Brad Hand, Padres RP

There was discussion of a trade for him last July, but instead they signed him up to an extension. It wouldn’t seem like the extra years would be discouraging anyone from being interested, not the way he’s pitching.

11. Adam Jones, Orioles OF

He’s a great talent with the penchant for the big play at the right time, like that over-the-wall catch he made to save Team USA in the WBC last year. He’s yet another of the Orioles’ free agents to be, so if they can find the right team – and the right deal – he could go.

12. Danny Duffy, Royals SP

The Royals’ ace is struggling this year, so suddenly his long deal doesn’t look like such a bargain. He was talked about in trade during the winter, when the Royals were figuring out how they could line up the dollars to pay franchise player Eric Hosmer, who ultimately opted to go to San Diego for more dollars. Duffy is very talented, but the start clearly is not helping his value.

13. Brad Brach, Orioles RP

Yet another of the Orioles free agents, he can close or set up. He’s exactly the type of middle reliever who was beloved on the free agent market this winter. And he wouldn’t cost as much in prospects as, say, Britton.

14. Mike Moustakas, Royals 3B

He didn’t sulk when his free agency didn’t go as hoped. Instead, he took it to heart – losing a little weight, regaining a little lateral movement and adjusting his attitude. And the result is that he’s practically the only one of the late signers who’s thriving. The trick once again is finding the team that needs a third baseman (though word is he can play first base as well). The price certainly is right.

15. Jed Lowrie, A’s INF

The A’s are playing well enough to try to stay in it. But if they fall back in the difficult AL West, Lowrie should have strong value. He brings the versatility teams look for now, and there’s no question he’s hot (he leads the AL with 27 RBI). When healthy, the fellow can hit (hard to believe, he’s batted third more often than any other spot in the order).

16. Dan Straily, Marlins SP

After he opined that maybe they were better off without the players who didn’t want to be with the Marlins anymore (i.e. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich), Stanton’s agent Joel Wolfe joked that the Marlins were now “Dan Straily’s team.” But perhaps not for long. He just returned, and if he shows anything close to last year’s nice performance, there’s no reason to think he, too, couldn’t hit the trade block.

17. Adam Duvall, Reds OF

The two-time All-Star’s name came up in trade talks with the Giants this winter. He’s a good defender with power, so folks should like him. The only reason he’s this low is his slow start.

18. Francisco Liriano, Tigers SP

He was recently overpaid, but he looks like a bargain the way he’s pitching so far this year, bringing some trade value. He’s been very good in the rotation, but he can relieve, too, if needed.

19. Ryan Buchter, A’s RP

Other teams remarked how much they liked Buchter when the A’s got him, thanks to their willingness to take the contract of the since-released Brandon Moss. Lefties are always in demand, especially when there may be few other good ones out there. (There’s no guarantee the Padres trade Hand.)

20. Scooter Gennett, Reds INF

He had a huge year for his hometown team after their nice trade last year to get him from the division-rival Brewers. But with top prospect Nick Senzel on the horizon, he could be expendable.

21. Alex Colome, Rays RP

He’s had a disastrous start, surely reducing his trade value significantly. But if he reverts to his career norm, there would be serious interest. For now, it’d have to be wait and see. But he could easily move way back up this list.

22. Jonathan Lucroy, A’s C

The two-way catcher had that rough half-year in Texas, and it seemed to cost him this winter. And while he’s gotten off to a so-so start, he’d help a few contenders, including the Astros and, most obviously, the Mets.

23. Darren O’Day, Orioles RP

He’s a year away from free agency. But with a big salary, it isn’t hard to see the Orioles dangling him, as well.

24. Wilson Ramos, Rays C

That knee injury cost him a chance at a monster deal. But he still got a nice enough deal that the cost-conscious Rays surely would like to be out from under it. The Mets make sense.

25. Whit Merrifield, Royals 2B

I’m not quite sure why he’s on the list. But it’s well known his name was out there this winter. So perhaps the Royals would consider moving him.

26. Avisail Garcia, White Sox OF

He’s been mentioned before in trade, and with so many top outfield prospects on the horizon, it makes sense. The thing is that he didn’t seem to draw a ton of interest before, and his rough start this year won’t help in that regard.

27. Freddy Galvis, Padres SS

He’s really a brilliant defender, so if a contender has a need for a shortstop, it may make sense. His availability may depend on the timetable of one of baseball’s best prospects, Fernando Tatis Jr. The rival Dodgers would be looking for a bigger offensive threat, so they probably aren’t a fit.

28. Nate Jones, White Sox RP

He’s quietly putting together a nice start in the ChiSox bullpen, enhancing his value.

29. Trevor Cahill, A’s SP

He’s had quite an interesting career, bouncing between the rotation and the pen, and the ranks of the wanted and unwanted. The guess here is, he may be wanted again.

30. Ian Kennedy, Royals SP

He didn’t give his opt-out a second’s worth of thought, as he admitted, so it’s fair to say he’s worth quite a bit less than his contract. Still, he could make a viable starter for some contender – depending on how much the Royals are willing to offset his contract.

31. Andrew Cashner, Orioles SP

The Orioles may be a busy trader this winter. His nice year for the Rangers last year could mean someone would take a chance.

32. Denard Span, Rays OF

He only came home to the Rays as a salary offset. But he’s out-performed expectations, piling up the RBI and looking like a new man in Tampa Bay.

33. Starlin Castro, Marlins 2B

He’s one of the few big moneymakers left in Miami, and word has been that he’d welcome a trade.

34. Billy Hamilton, Reds OF

The man can play center. But another offensive disappointment could inhibit his market.

35. Brad Ziegler, Marlins RP

The man is still tricking ‘em, and he still can close.

36. Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays SS

One of the best shortstops going, but they’d have to find the right team.

37. Lucas Duda, Royals 1B

He’s up to .213 and remains a power threat. Limited market.

38. Jon Jay, Royals OF

Yet another of the late-signing Royals seems to be well priced to move.

39. Jose Iglesias, Tigers SS

Very much like Hechavarria. Great D, limited O.

40. Wei-Yin Chen, Marlins SP

He looks like he could be back on track. But speaking of contract offsets, this one would be an all-timer. The Marlins would presumably have to pay more than 80 percent of what he has left –and that assumes he puts together some good starts.

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

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  1. Eliyahu Goldstein

    May 3, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Why is Archer higher than Fulmer? Fulmer has better numbers and better team control.

  2. Mark Copeland

    May 6, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Is Salvy not a candidate to get traded? We love him here in KC; but, how much longer can he catch? By the time Royals get done rebuilding, his catching days will be numbered.

  3. Grey hound

    May 6, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    I have to think that Josh Donaldson should be on this list. It’s time for a new era in Toronto. Guerrero bichette abd Biggio leading the charge.

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