It’s time for this week’s iteration of MLBTR’s top trade candidate series. The rumor mill is churning, and teams are jockeying for position in the standings — both of which have a big impact on our new list. In particular, a seven-game winning streak changes the Pirates’ situation — though the club is nevertheless said to be marketing at least one hurler. And Aaron Hill became the latest player to move, going from the Brewers to the Red Sox.
For those who’ll inevitably ask: no, I’m still not ready to put the Yankees on the board. They’d unquestionably have some major trade assets — led by Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Carlos Beltran — but the mega-market organization is still too close to contention to make a sell-off appear likely.
Your weekly reminder: we’re not just ranking players by skill alone; we’re looking at overall asset value and trade likelihood. To assess trade value, we’re starting with overall on-field ability — with a premium on the capacity to make an impact in the current season — and then adjusting for contract and market factors. With contenders’ needs in relatively sharp focus, limitations such as future contract status, age, and niche role (platoon bats, relief-only pitchers) tend to have less of a drag on value — though obviously they still matter quite a bit. With regard to the likelihood of a swap, the focus is on potential selling teams’ motivation to deal, with contract status, near and long-term roster fit, and overall competitiveness all weighing heavily. Some teams simply aren’t in a position at present where it makes sense to include their top potential trade chips, but that will evolve over the coming weeks.
Here’s this week’s list:
1. Jay Bruce, OF, Reds — Bruce seems to be drawing fairly broad interest: even teams like the Dodgers and the Nationals — who probably have wants more than needs in the outfield — are said to be checking in.
2. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers — We’re still waiting to hear of serious interest in one of the game’s best catchers. There have been a few notable injuries to back-up catchers, which could open some daylight for demand. And it’s worth remembering that Lucroy brings enough with the bat that he could also see action at first or DH.
3. Rich Hill, SP, Athletics — Hill looked good in his return to the major league mound, and was even better yesterday. He looks to be the best pure rental arm available.
4. Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics — Reddick has thrown some 0-fers on the board since his return, with one big game propping up his numbers. That’s a miniscule sample, of course, but buying teams will be watching closely to see whether his thumb injury has any lingering effects.
5. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Rays — It’s tough to know how to order the controllable starters, but the Rays seem the likeliest team to move one and Odorizzi may offer the right blend of current performance, control length, and cost to facilitate a deal.
6. Danny Valencia, 3B, Athletics — Valencia keeps hitting and offers the most power of any potentially available infielders. With an added year of arb control available, he doesn’t need to be moved, but that also makes him a candidate to be picked up by an organization that wants to fill a 2017 need without going onto a tough market next winter.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies — We’ve heard that the Rockies will consider dealing their star outfielder, though he has denied reports that he is looking to be moved. The NL West appears to be out of reach, and the Wild Card is a tall task as well. If Colorado is really willing to part with Gonzalez, he’d be one of the top trade pieces available.
8. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers — With other corner outfield options emerging, the motivation for buyers to work out a complicated deal to land Braun may just not be there.
9. Ervin Santana, SP, Twins — Santana has been pitching quite well of late, and is said to be the likeliest member of the organization to change hands. Minnesota could certainly keep him, but there ought to be plenty of demand for a pitcher who looks like a good bet to contribute a lot of solid innings.
10. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds — Cozart is still the best pure shortstop who can be had, but it’s just not apparent whether any teams need a starter there — or whether any organization will give up enough to add him in a super-utility role.
11. Yunel Escobar, 3B, Angels — Escobar has been on fire at the plate since sitting out a few days, making for another interesting infield option. But Los Angeles isn’t interested in a rebuild, and he could be an important asset for the season to come.
12. Julio Teheran, SP, Braves — The signals from Braves country are that Teheran likely won’t be moved. With an understandably high asking price being placed on the young, controlled righty, and other options emerging, he may stick in Atlanta.
13. Drew Pomeranz, SP, Padres — Here’s another possible target for teams that don’t want to cough up prospects for a pitcher who’ll hit the open market in a few months’ time. San Diego is willing to deal, but probably won’t just take the highest offer for the emerging lefty. It’ll take a very interested buyer to pry loose Pomeranz.
14. Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Phillies — Each of Hellickson’s last three outings has ended with the same bottom-line result: one earned over six frames. He’s allowing less than four earned per nine now for the year after that stretch, and could help shore up a leaky staff. Back-of-the-rotation rentals are frequently swapped in July, and Hellickson looks like a likely candidate.
15. Arodys Vizcaino, RP, Braves — Vizcaino has been roughed up of late, allowing four earned on six hits and six walks while recording just two strikeouts over his last four appearances. If Teheran is pitching too well to be dealt, the opposite could be occurring here.
16. Eduardo Nunez, IF, Twins — Set for a surprise All-Star appearance, Nunez looks like a useful utility infielder now that he’s in the midst of his second-straight season of above-average offensive production. Minnesota doesn’t need to deal him, as he’s cheap and has another year of arbitration yet to come.
17. Melvin Upton, OF, Padres — Speaking of rehabilitated careers, Upton is putting up league-average offensive numbers with 19 steals and a still-useful glove. He’d be a useful fill-in starter for a team dealing with injuries or a nice fourth outfielder, and San Diego will surely like the idea of shedding some of his salary.
18. Matt Moore, SP, Rays — We’ve seen Moore’s name begin to come up in trade chatter despite his uneven performance. As Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs explains, though, Moore has shown signs that he could be harnessing his talent, making him an interesting upside play.
19. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies — Though he isn’t a premium defender, Blackmon is capable of playing center field and is putting up impressive offensive numbers. He isn’t running like he did last year, but remains a valuable contributor on the basepaths, too. The Rockies certainly don’t need to deal him, given the affordable salary and two remaining seasons of control, but may be willing to talk if a contender decides it needs a new option up the middle.
20. Jeremy Jeffress, RP, Brewers — There isn’t much to add beyond what we’ve covered on Jeffress before. Milwaukee probably won’t settle for a solid return for the quality reliever, though his rising arb costs may play a role in the decisionmaking.
21. Derek Norris, C, Padres — After a sluggish start, Norris has raked since the calendar flipped to June. The 27-year-old is earning just shy of $3MM and comes with two more years of control, so San Diego doesn’t need to move him. But with Christian Bethancourt showing promise and Austin Hedges clamoring for a promotion, a deal seems plausible.
22. Chris Carter, 1B, Brewers — Carter continues to show monster power with episodic stretches where he doesn’t get on base. There are limits to his value, but teams in need of a big bat won’t find many other 30-home-run bats on the market.
23. Jon Niese, SP, Pirates — Last week’s list included some notable Bucs’ players — Mark Melancon and David Freese — who no longer seem likely to be available. (We’re letting this list go where the trade and contention winds take it.) But Pittsburgh is said to be shopping Niese despite its jump back into the postseason picture. The southpaw hasn’t been good, but teams in need of innings could certainly do worse than betting on a turnaround.
24. Jed Lowrie, IF, Athletics — We’ve already seen Kelly Johnson and Aaron Hill move in trades, and the 32-year-old Lowrie could fit a similar profile. He is hitting only .283/.339/.350 on the year, though that’s dampened a bit by his home park, and isn’t particularly cheap ($7.5MM salary with $7.5MM more to go for 2017 and an option buyout). Nevertheless, as the Johnson and Hill trades show, Lowrie is the type of player that contending teams often add to plug a hole and add versatility.
25. Peter Bourjos, OF, Phillies — Bourjos is suddenly laying waste to big league pitching and is a pure rental. Nobody is going to value him at his ridiculous batting line over the last month or so, of course, but the hot streak makes him a plausible chip. Bourjos can play center and run like the wind, so he doesn’t even need to hit much to have use — all the more so as a late-season option after rosters expand.
Keep reading for more names that were considered …
Matt Shoemaker, Huston Street, Hector Santiago & Fernando Salas (Angels) — Shoemaker and, to a lesser extent, Santiago would draw interest, but it’s tough to see the Halos dealing away controllable pitching.
Sonny Gray, Khris Davis, Coco Crisp, Ryan Madson, Marc Rzepczynski & Billy Butler (Athletics) — There are a lot of names that could be in play for Oakland, though not many that the team needs to deal to recoup value. Crisp and Rzepczynski are both free agents after the year, though, so they seem pretty plausible (albeit questionably valuable) trade pieces.
Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Gordon Beckham & Jim Johnson (Braves) — Beckham is back from the DL and could draw interest if he can return to the nice pace at the plate he showed earlier. Johnson has upped his strikeout rate, though the results haven’t followed and he isn’t doing anything new in terms of swinging strikes.
Welington Castillo, Daniel Hudson, Brad Ziegler & Tyler Clippard (Diamondbacks) — Arizona continues to suggest that it’ll pursue extensions with Hudson and Ziegler while also exploring their trade value. It’s anyone’s guess how that’ll shake out.
Andrew Cashner, Matt Kemp, Yangervis Solarte & Brad Hand (Padres) — Cashner is back, and had a nice showing (one earned with six strikeouts in six frames) in his return. If he can build off of that, he could soon join the list. Solarte is deserving of inclusion for his on-field play, but has the kind of contract situation that makes him a questionable trade piece. San Diego might just decide it’s more beneficial to keep him around than to settle for a less-than-exciting return.
David Hernandez, Jeanmar Gomez & Andrew Bailey (Phillies) — Gomez has been the steadiest member of this trio, but Philly can afford to keep him to provide stability in 2017 even after baking in a big salary jump for his rising save tallies.
Mark Reynolds, Jake McGee, Nick Hundley, Jorge De La Rosa & Ryan Raburn (Rockies) — Having demoted De La Rosa to the bullpen earlier in the year, Colorado may finally be ready to move on from the built-for-Coors stalwart. His value isn’t exactly peaking, but he’s a rental piece and has pitched better of late.
Fernando Abad, Robbie Grossman & Brandon Kintzler (Twins) — These three have emerged as somewhat surprising trade possibilities for a Minnesota team that hasn’t had much to celebrate in 2016. But all have control remaining, so the Twins may prefer to keep them around to fill needs next year.