As evidenced by the light return the Tigers received from the Diamondbacks this week for J.D. Martinez, one of the majors’ premier hitters, this is not an ideal time to sell outfielders. It might not be the best time to buy, either, with Andrew McCutchen having played so well that he’s no longer available and Marlins president Michael Hill announcing Sunday (via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald) that he won’t give up Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna or Giancarlo Stanton this season. Also, the Orioles’ disinclination toward trading veterans could remove Seth Smith and Hyun Soo Kim from consideration (though neither would make for a particularly appealing trade chip anyway). Nevertheless, with the July 31 trade deadline looming, some outfielders will certainly switch uniforms in the coming days. Candidates include…
Jay Bruce, Mets | Salary: $13MM
Bruce is having a nice year offensively (.263/.327/.528, 25 home runs in 391 plate appearances) and leaving his past woes in the field behind (four defensive runs saved, 1.0 Ultimate Zone Rating). However, despite his quality all-around production, the Martinez trade indicates the Mets won’t get a lot back for Bruce if they do sell him.
Curtis Granderson, Mets | Salary: $15MM
Most of the Bruce assessment applies to Granderson, who’s even less valuable because he’s more expensive, six years older (36 to 30) and not making the same type of impact this season. Granderson’s certainly not useless, though, as he’s in the midst of an OK year at the plate (.223/.323/.453 with 13 HRs in 319 PAs) and in the grass (minus-one DRS, 0.4 UZR). He’s also a highly regarded clubhouse presence, if that matters.
Howie Kendrick, Phillies | Salary: $10MM
Barring a third trip to the disabled list before the deadline, the versatile Kendrick looks like a lock to join a new team by month’s end, whether it’s to play the outfield, second base or third base. The 34-year-old’s unsustainable .431 batting average on balls in play suggests he won’t continue his torrid pace past the deadline (.346/.397/.466 in 146 PAs), but Kendrick has a history of providing respectable offense and figures to help some contender over the season’s final couple months.
Melky Cabrera, White Sox | Salary: $15MM
Cabrera, 31, doesn’t want to leave the White Sox (per Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune), but they’re not shy about trading veterans these days. The question is: Will anyone want Cabrera? He’s not valuable as either a defender or baserunner, nor has he set the world on fire offensively this year with his .296/.340/.446 line in 400 PAs. All that considered, Chicago would have to eat most or all of Cabrera’s salary to get anything of worth back in a deal.
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays | Salary: $18.5MM
The 36-year-old Bautista offers a similar game to the one Cabrera brings at this stage, but the former is even pricier. That doesn’t bode well for the Blue Jays’ chances of moving the franchise icon. Once among the majors’ foremost players, Bautista’s descent began in earnest last season, and his decline has been even sharper this year. With his once-pristine strikeout and walk numbers trending in the wrong direction, not to mention notable steps backward in the power department, Bautista has logged a meager .224/.335/.398 line in 424 PAs.
Carlos Gomez, Rangers | Salary: $11.5MM
The Rangers aren’t sure whether they’ll sell, and Gomez’s name hasn’t even come up in trade rumors this summer. Including Gomez here is merely speculative in nature, then, though parting with the 31-year-old might make sense if the Rangers don’t expect to re-sign him. Gomez has seemingly found a home with the Rangers, however, after a brutal stretch with the state rival Astros from late 2015 until last August. The former star hasn’t been as good as he was down the stretch with the Rangers in 2016, but he has turned in quality offensive production (.248/.330/.459 with 12 homers in 281 trips to the plate) and done decent work in center field (two DRS, neutral UZR).
Cameron Maybin, Angels | Salary: $9MM
As someone who’s capable of lining up at all three outfield spots and pitching in offensively (.238/.342/.368 with 25 stolen bases in 322 PAs), Maybin carries some appeal. However, it’s up in the air whether the Angels plan to sell – they’re three games below .500, but they stayed afloat during a lengthy Mike Trout absence and are a manageable 3.5 games out of a wild-card spot. Even if the Halos were to wave the white flag on this season in the next eight days, Maybin’s probably not going to be healthy enough to end up on the move, having suffered an MCL sprain this week that should keep him out until August. If Maybin returns sometime next month, perhaps the Angels will attempt to deal the 30-year-old after they send him through trade waivers.
Ben Revere, Angels | Salary: $4MM
The once-solid Revere is amid a disastrous two-year stretch in which he has hit .223/.259/.302 in 562 PAs and, per FanGraphs, been the majors’ least valuable outfielder (minus-2.2 fWAR). Revere’s performance indicates he’s more of a release candidate than a trade possibility.
Rajai Davis, Athletics | Salary: $6MM
Davis is an incredible baserunner who’s only a year removed from a fine season in Cleveland, where he hit this playoff home run, but an offensive decline has torpedoed his age-36 campaign. Through 265 trips to the plate, Davis has slashed a meager .231/.292/.339. He hasn’t been particularly valuable in the field, either, having drawn a neutral DRS mark and posted a minus-4.1 UZR in 548 innings. Maybe a contender would want Davis for his brilliance on the base paths, but the A’s would surely have to eat a large portion of his remaining money.
John Jaso, Pirates | Salary: $4MM
Despite their recent charge up the standings, the Pirates plan to listen to potential offers for Jaso. Unfortunately for the Bucs, though, Jaso has seen his numbers (and likely his trade value) dip thanks to a dreadful July in which he has hit .086/.214/.171 in 42 tries. Overall, Jaso’s at .222/.309/.407 in 220 PAs, making him a pretty unappealing offensive option at his normal positions – the corner outfield and first base.
Daniel Nava, Phillies | Salary: $1.35MM
The 34-year-old Nava has bounced back from a rough couple seasons and returned to the useful form he showed in Boston from 2011-14. Between the switch-hitter’s .303/.400/.408 line in 180 PAs and his minuscule salary, the Phillies should be able to send him elsewhere.
Controlled Through 2018
Hunter Pence, Giants | Salary: $18.5MM this year and next
In the aggregate, Pence has been a terrific Giant since he joined them in 2012, the first of two World Series-winning seasons with him on the roster. He and the Giants are floundering now, though, so the club would surely jump at the chance to get Pence’s money off the books. That’s not going to happen, however, with the 34-year-old having hit a career-worst .251/.298/.351 in 315 PAs this season.
Denard Span, Giants | Salary: $9MM this year and next ($4MM buyout for 2019)
Span is another Giant whose best days are a distant memory, but unlike Pence, he hasn’t been terrible this year. After taking a step backward offensively in 2016, the normally solid hitter has come back to life this season with a .285/.332/.451 line through 316 trips to the plate. The plus defense Span displayed earlier in his career is a thing of the past, though, and he’s no longer much of a threat on the bases. Those factors, not to mention his age (33) and fairly expensive price tag, don’t do his trade value any favors.
Steve Pearce, Blue Jays | Salary: $6.25MM this year and next
Pearce has done nothing but hit since his unexpected breakout in 2013, having posted a line that’s 26 percent better than league average over the past four-plus seasons, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric. While his .276/.332/.453 line in 187 PAs this year is an unspectacular 8 percent above the league mean, an awful season-opening month is to blame for that. Since then, Pearce has held his own at the plate. It has been a different story in left field, where Pearce has logged woeful numbers (minus-four DRS, minus-25.8 UZR/150). The infield-capable Pearce is likely better suited at first base, then. Regardless, the 34-year-old provides enough offensive punch that he looks like a plausible trade candidate. Pearce’s salary isn’t peanuts, but it shouldn’t necessarily be prohibitive.
Matt Joyce, Athletics | Salary: $5MM in 2017; $6MM in 2018
The A’s are embarking on a full rebuild, so it stands to reason they’d move Joyce if they were to receive a satisfactory offer. It would’ve been easier to net one when Joyce was with the Piartes a year ago, when he racked up nearly as many unintentional walks (59) as strikeouts (67) en route to a .403 on-base percentage. The 2017 version of Joyce is merely a passable offensive player (.225/.328/.418 in 335 PAs), which isn’t the greatest complement to his underwhelming defensive game. Still, Joyce is affordable enough through next year that he doesn’t have to do much more than he has this season to live up to his contract, so maybe a team in need of an established, inexpensive bat will have interest.
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Justin Upton, Tigers | Salary: $22.125MM through 2021 (can opt out after this season)
Both the exorbitant amount of money remaining on Upton’s deal and his opt-out clause could scuttle the possibility of a trade, yet the 29-year-old has boosted his stock on the field by putting an unremarkable 2016 in the rearview. In fact, if Upton doesn’t fade down the stretch, this will rank as one of the best seasons of his career. He’s up to .278/.367/.508 in 373 PAs, which goes nicely with his 11 DRS and 6.3 UZR. Upton’s presence would benefit a contender, clearly, but the contract really complicates matters.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees | Salary: $21.2MM through 2020 ($5MM buyout for 2021)
Ellsbury is no longer needed in New York’s outfield, where the team has superstar Aaron Judge, 2017 breakout player Aaron Hicks, steady veteran Brett Gardner and big-time prospect Clint Frazier on hand. Unfortunately for the Yankees, though, Ellsbury’s contract is prohibitive for a player who’s certainly not going to revisit the MVP-contending days he enjoyed in Boston. The 33-year-old Ellsbury is still capable of contributing, but if it’s going to happen in another uniform, the Yankees would have to either have to swallow a huge amount of his contract in a salary dump or trade him for another team’s onerous deal.
Khris Davis, Athletics | Salary: $5MM in 2017; arbitration eligible through 2019
The A’s approached Davis about an extension over the winter, but they now seem ready to tear things down. While the change in mindset certainly doesn’t mean Davis will move this season, it could be something to watch out for over the winter. The powerful 30-year-old’s age doesn’t seem to mesh with Oakland’s timeline, and his salary will continue to increase in arbitration – perhaps adding incentive for the low-payroll club to deal him in the near future. The arbitration process is kind to hitters who rack up home runs, RBI and PAs, which Davis has done in his nearly two-year tenure with the A’s. He’s at .244/.333/.526 with 28 homers and 68 RBI through 405 PAs this season.
Avisail Garcia, White Sox | Salary: $3MM in 2017; arbitration eligible through 2019
Once a hyped prospect, Garcia didn’t do much at the big league level with either the Tigers or White Sox from 2012-16. But that hasn’t been the case this year, as Garcia has registered a .311/.356/.498 line across 350 PAs. It’s smoke and mirrors to some extent – the 26-year-old’s 4.5 percent walk rate is unpalatable, especially considering it goes with a 21.5 percent strikeout mark, and his .374 BABIP won’t sustain itself. Nevertheless, Garcia’s .353 xwOBA (down from a .372 wOBA, per Baseball Savant) suggests the 2017 version has been a legitimate offensive contributor despite the luck. His somewhat believable breakout at the plate, surprisingly solid defensive numbers since last season (four DRS, 7.7 UZR) and affordable control should appeal to some clubs, though it’s unclear if the 26-year-old is someone GM Rick Hahn would trade at this juncture.
Jurickson Profar, Rangers | Salary: $1MM in 2017; arbitration eligible through 2019
Profar was a star prospect a few years back, but he has done little to match the hype in the majors. On the plus side, the current minor leaguer’s young enough (24) and cheap enough for some team to dream on him. Indeed, the versatile Profar has piqued at least one club’s interest.
Keon Broxton, Brewers | Salary: $541K in 2017; not eligible for arbitration until after the 2019 season
Having recently demoted Broxton to Triple-A, the Brewers would perhaps be selling low on the 27-year-old if they were to part with him. At the same time, it’s not hard to imagine the cheap and controllable Broxton serving as a key piece of a package that brings the Brewers a much-needed rotation upgrade. The strikeout-prone Broxton is only a year removed from a very good half-season debut with the Brewers, and he did exhibit power and speed before his demotion this year (14 homers, .212 ISO, 17 steals in 326 PAs). That came with a subpar .218/.294/.430 line, granted, but there’s clearly promise here.
Randal Grichuk, Cardinals | Salary: $557K in 2017; arbitration eligible through 2020
As is the case with Broxton, strikeouts have been a problem for Grichuk, who has also spent time in the minors this season. Grichuk’s overall offensive production this year hasn’t been up to snuff (.222/.277/.435 in 249 PAs), but he was a better-than-average hitter in each of the three prior seasons. He’s also fairly powerful, having tallied 55 homers and recorded a .235 ISO in 1,193 career attempts. Power is Grichuk’s best offensive trait, as he hasn’t hit for average (.247) or gotten on base much in the majors (.297 OBP), but he’s probably young enough (25) and affordable enough to serve as a notable part of a trade. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggested Sunday that the Redbirds could entertain offers for Grichuk.