We waited to update MLBTR’s top trade candidate series for a bit, in recognition of the All-Star break lull. But things are starting to pick up quite a bit, and there’s plenty of change afoot as the list doubles in size from the most recent iteration. Drew Pomeranz, who sat in 13th position in our last list, was shipped in the biggest mid-season deal thus far. There are several other notable factors influencing the ranking you’ll see below; in particular, we’re now considering teams like the Yankees, White Sox, Royals, and Mariners as plausible sellers with the deadline nearing. None are fully committed in either direction as of yet, but there’s less time now for a dramatic change of fortune before August 1st.
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.
On to the ranking:
1. Aroldis Chapman, RP, Yankees — Though the Yanks are still in reasonable range for contention, word is that they’re readying to deal Chapman. The Cuban Missile promises to be a powerful weapon for whoever acquires him, with many of the best teams in baseball lining up for that chance — reportedly including the Indians, Cubs, Nationals, Dodgers, and Giants.
2. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers — The Indians are said to have opened talks on Lucroy after losing Yan Gomes and receiving bad news on Michael Brantley’s health, and the Rangers are also seemingly kicking around the idea of a move. Though it’s not certain he’ll be dealt, Lucroy still has the best blend of trade likelihood and value — he’s a top player at a premium defensive position who is playing on a super-cheap deal with control remaining.
3. Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics — Extension talks seem to be going nowhere, so it’s probably time for the veteran to be shipped out of Oakland. Having resumed his solid form at the plate since returning from the DL, he’s the best all-around rental outfielder available. The Cubs are among the teams said to be looking at Reddick.
4. Jay Bruce, OF, Reds — Bruce’s previous placement at the top of this list was driven largely by the fact that he was so obviously available. With the picture now more clear in other areas, and Bruce cooling off of late, he’s sliding a bit.
5. Andrew Cashner, SP, Padres — It seems all but certain that Cashner will be traded; indeed, there was buzz that he’d be gone before his last start. After turning in two quality outings, rivals organizations might be more willing to take a chance on the up-and-down righty.
6. Rich Hill, SP, Athletics — It’s hard to place Hill, who has been unbelievable all year but has dealt with two seemingly minor but nagging injuries. The most recent one is a blister that hasn’t healed enough to allow him to get back in the rotation. Hill can still be traded even if he isn’t able to make it back before the deadline, but that possibility only makes his already hard-to-gauge value all the more uncertain.
7. Carlos Beltran, OF, Yankees — Beltran is another Yankee who’s tough to place, albeit for slightly different reasons. We haven’t heard a ton of chatter on the veteran, who is hitting at near-peak rates at 39 years of age. He’s a pure rental who is eligible for free agency this winter.
8. Steve Pearce, IF/OF, Rays — Pearce is matching his 2014 breakout with a .322/.393/.552 slash. He has also been hurt, which has been an issue in the past, but with a meager $4.75MM salary for the season he’d be quite an affordable addition. He isn’t a great defender, but Pearce has proven capable of playing first, second, and the corner outfield, so he could provide plenty of plate appearances to the right organization.
9. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Rays — Odorizzi has been far from dominant — he owns a 4.39 ERA in 110 2/3 innings — but he’s steady, young, cheap, and controlled for three more seasons. He still seems the most likely Rays pitcher to change hands.
10. Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Phillies — It has been a very strong campaign for the 29-year-old, who carries a 3.84 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 over 119 2/3 frames. It’s exactly what the Phils were hoping for when they added him over the winter, as he has been a nice stabilizing force and now looks like a solid trade piece in a market that doesn’t feature many useful rental starters.
11. Ervin Santana, SP, Twins — Teams prioritizing steadiness and durability will likely zero in on Santana, who’s a good bet to provide some reliable innings down the stretch and over the rest of his contract.
12. Matt Moore, SP, Rays — If, instead, you’d rather roll the dice on upside, then perhaps Moore is your guy. His contract is no longer quite as enticing as it once was, particularly since he can’t seem to turn the corner on the hill, but if he can find his form he’d once again be a premium asset.
13. Yunel Escobar, INF, Angels — It’s hard to discount the run he’s been on the last two years too much, but clubs will surely be wary of the fact that he’s doing it with a .350-ish BABIP. Without much pop in the bat, and a middling glove, there are limits to his value.
14. Danny Valencia, INF, Athletics — Valencia has fallen back at the plate and recently was moved off his regular third base gig. That seems to suggest that he’s not a major part of Oakland’s plans for 2017, but it also doesn’t necessarily do much for his trade value.
15. Melvin Upton Jr., OF, Padres — Trade chatter is picking up quite a bit on the resurgent Padres outfielder. His big contract will factor heavily in the market, as the Ubaldo Jimenez rumors would suggest, but he looks to be quite a useful addition for a contender in need of a fill-in starter or oft-used fourth outfielder.
16. Peter Bourjos, OF, Phillies — This feels a bit high for a player who is hitting quite well now, but hasn’t ever been a consistently useful offensive player. But that’s not the real reason for it. Instead, with Bourjos showing some life at the plate, he looks like an obvious player to change hands. His speed and defense make him a nice bench piece down the stretch, and with free agency coming, the Phils don’t have much reason not to cash him in.
17-19. Outfielders Ryan Braun (Brewers), Carlos Gonzalez & Charlie Blackmon (Rockies) — This trio is tough to gauge. You could argue that the Brewers ought to sell Braun now, but is the market really willing? And is Rockies owner Dick Monfort ready to pack in not only on 2016, but also ding the team’s near-future outlook by dealing away a high-quality outfielder?
20-21. Shortstops Eduardo Nunez (Twins) & Zack Cozart (Reds) — These are the two best middle infielders on the market — Cozart is an outstanding true shortstop, while Nunez has experience all over — but we’re still not seeing clear demand crystallize.
22-23. Relievers Jeremy Jeffress & Will Smith, Brewers — Milwaukee’s quality and controllable relievers could be traded or not, but odds are at least one will change hands as teams that miss out on bigger targets go looking for a backup plan.
24-26. Starters Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies), Ivan Nova (Yankees) & Jon Niese (Pirates) — There’s always demand for innings on the trade market, and these three starters bring that along with at least some hope for more.
Keep reading for the rest of the list and other names that were considered …
27-28. Catchers Derek Norris (Padres) & Stephen Vogt (Athletics) — Norris has long been considered a trade candidate with Austin Hedges in need of a big league opportunity. We haven’t heard the same regarding Vogt, but everything is on the table right now for Oakland.
29-32. Lefty relievers Boone Logan & Jake McGee (Rockies), Fernando Abad (Twins), Zach Duke (White Sox) — Teams looking for an extra lefty down the stretch and into the post-season will have some interesting options to choose from, with the pure rental Logan perhaps representing the easiest trade asset. Abad, too, ought to be available, though Minnesota may hold onto him with a cheap year of arb control available.
33-37. Righty relievers Joe Smith & Huston Street (Angels), Jeanmar Gomez (Phillies), Daniel Hudson & Tyler Clippard (Diamondbacks) — As with the southpaws, each of these names has a little different blend of recent vs. broader track record and a slightly varied contract situation. But all are controlled for one more year or less, and all are eminently available for teams looking to bolster their bullpen depth.
38. Matt Kemp, OF, Padres — Yes, the contract is enormous and the OBP and glovework are terrifying. But Kemp has been much better over the last several months, and now has swatted six home runs in his last six games.
39-42. Starters Chris Archer (Rays), Julio Teheran (Braves), Anthony DeSclafani (Reds) & Matt Shoemaker (Angels) — There’s really been nothing to suggest that any of these pitchers are available, but we’ve also seen new possibilities arise as the market reacts to an imbalance between supply and demand in starting pitching. If the right offer materialized, it’s theoretically possible that any of these four hurlers could be dealt, though the odds still seem low.
43-46. Relievers Andrew Miller (Yankees), David Robertson (White Sox), Wade Davis (Royals) & Steve Cishek (Mariners) — Likewise, it’s still far from clear that any of these four arms will be made available. All come with future control, and none of their respective teams seem fully committed to selling. Miller and Davis, in particular, would require massive returns, with Robertson not far behind. Cishek is not really a premium asset, but the M’s would likely need something intriguing to motivate them to deal. (For what it’s worth, I originally had Miller ranked much higher, but dropped him with the latest reports suggesting he’ll stay if Chapman is dealt.)
47-50. 1B Chris Carter (Brewers), OF Melky Cabrera (White Sox), DH Kendrys Morales (Royals), 1B Adam Lind (Mariners) — Teams in search of veteran bats with some pop will be looking at this class of defensively-limited players, though none is certain to be dealt. Carter and Cabrera are hitting well this year, but the Brewers could keep the former given his affordable arb control and the White Sox may not want to part with their added year of control over the latter (even at a $15MM price tag) unless they make other, more dramatic moves. Morales and Lind are pure rentals, with the former also coming with an unlikely-to-be-exercised mutual option, but neither is performing all that well.
Sonny Gray, Khris Davis, Coco Crisp, Ryan Madson, Marc Rzepczynski, Yonder Alonso & Billy Butler (Athletics) — Oakland could be the busiest team in baseball — at least since the Padres have already moved so many of their own pieces. The A’s are already calling up young players to the majors in possible preparation for a sell-off.
Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Gordon Beckham, A.J. Pierzynski & Jim Johnson (Braves) — With Teheran largely out of bounds and Vizcaino shelved, it’s likely that Atlanta will be focused on a few minor deals. Inciarte hasn’t hit a ton and we haven’t heard his name much, so odds are he stays.
Welington Castillo (Diamondbacks) — There’s no indication that Weli is available; it seems to be a bullpen-only sale at Chase Field.
Joaquin Benoit, Seth Smith, Adam Lind, Dae-ho Lee, Nori Aoki, Franklin Gutierrez & Wade Miley (Mariners) — A lot of these players could plug some gaps in other rosters. But it really isn’t clear how interested Seattle is in selling in the first year of a whole new front office and upper management group.
Yangervis Solarte, Brad Hand & Alexei Ramirez (Padres) — Solarte and Hand probably have more value to San Diego, given their cheap control, than they do as trade assets. Ramirez just isn’t hitting, but could still end up being a middle-infield fill-in at some point for a contender.
Logan Morrison, Erasmo Ramirez, Xavier Cedeno & Desmond Jennings (Rays) — The real key to the Rays’ summer is in controllable starting pitching, but a few other pieces could move as well — potentially as kick-ins in a bigger trade.
Mark Reynolds, Nick Hundley & Ryan Raburn (Rockies) — This veteran trio could be useful elsewhere. Hundley would make for a nice under-the-radar trade target, though I wonder whether the Rox will prefer to keep him around for their young pitchers — and possibly try to bring him back for 2017.
Lorenzo Cain, Edinson Volquez, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, Chien-Ming Wang & Dillon Gee (Royals) — Kansas City is reportedly considering some sales, but it’s hard to guess how far they’ll go. While a targeted move or two could make sense, beyond that it seems like an all-or-nothing decision given how many key assets are soon reaching free agency.
Robbie Grossman, Kurt Suzuki & Brandon Kintzler (Twins) — These two 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.
Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, James Shields, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana (White Sox) — If there’s one team that could take over the trade market, it may be the White Sox. They’ve got top-quality assets in every category. But count me among those who aren’t convinced that any truly major pieces will end up being shipped out — even if there’s more daylight than ever before on a sale of Sale after his recent dust-up with the organization.
Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) — It’s possible we’ll see a deal involving Eovaldi or Pineda, but the smart money remains on the Yanks retaining both in hopes that they’ll bounce back.