The hot corner is shaping up tot be an area of interest, with the Red Sox clearly in need of an upgrade and clubs like the Yankees and Cardinals perhaps weighing their options as well. As buyers scan the market for available players, here are some of the names they’ll likely consider:
Todd Frazier, White Sox | $12MM in 2017
Long the most obviously available hot corner rental, Frazier has turned it on at the plate over the past two months. He can still handle the position and has been a more balanced hitter (.335 OBP; .444 SLG; 16 home runs; 67:47 K/BB) after selling out for power over the prior two campaigns.
Eduardo Nunez, Giants | $4.2MM in 2017
The 30-year-old has continued to do the things that made him a rather appealing trade target last summer, with approximately average offensive work combined with solid glovework and excellent baserunning. Nunez is not a particularly overwhelming option as a regular at third, but would make for a nice platoon mate or a utility piece (he can also play short). He’ll be returning from a hamstring injury after the All-Star break, but has a few weeks to show he’s at full health.
Howie Kendrick, Phillies | $10MM in 2017
Soon to turn 34, Kendrick has hit as well as ever this year, though his .349/.403/.476 slash line has undoubtedly been driven by a .433 BABIP. Even when that falls to his lofty career levels, the veteran ought to represent a quality hitter who can play the outfield, second, or perhaps third. Of course, this particular post is dedicated to the hot corner, where Kendrick has spent must 132 major league innings. Though he could be added as a utility player, it’s not clear whether teams will see him as a semi-regular at third.
Yunel Escobar, Angels | $7MM in 2017
It seems unlikely that the Halos will end up selling, but Escobar would be among the team’s clearest trade candidates if they do. He’s continuing to post solidly above-average offensive numbers with a high-contact, high-average, low-power approach at the plate. But Escobar is a poor fielder and baserunner, so he’s more a plug-in option than a player who’d be targeted heavily even if he is shopped.
Controlled Through 2018
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays | $17MM in 2017; arb-eligible in 2018
Injuries and age limit the market for Donaldson somewhat, but that’s less of a concern given that his contract has just one year remaining. While he’s not quite playing at his usual superstar rate in 2017 — he’s hitting a merely excellent .261/.383/.484 and isn’t drawing stellar ratings with the glove — Donaldson would draw huge interest. But the Jays have shown little inclination even to consider parting with him, even with the club mired in the AL East basement.
Manny Machado, Orioles | $11.5MM in 2017; arb-eligible in 2018
Similarly, the 25-year-old Machado isn’t playing to his typical standards. In his case, though, there’s even less reason for concern. Machado still profiles as an all-world defender and has maintained his power and pate discipline. He’s making more contact than ever before, though he has traded in a few line drives for grounders. In all likelihood, the real culprit behind his .230/.296/.445 slash is likely a .239 BABIP that’ll surely head northward. Again, though, there’s no indication yet that the O’s will part with their best player.
Jed Lowrie, Athletics | $6.5MM in 2017; $6MM club option ($1MM buyout) in 2018
The 33-year-old switch-hitter is a prime deadline candidate who could step in at second or third — while perhaps still lining up at short in a pinch. Now healthy, Lowrie is also back on track at the plate (.279/.346/.458, 9 home runs). His injury profile isn’t the greatest, which perhaps reduces the value of the affordable option year, though that still looks to be an appealing element of his trade stock.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Mets | $8.25MM in 2017; $8.5MM club option ($2MM buyout) in 2018
Cabrera is in a generally similar situation to Lowrie, but he’s a bit more expensive and hasn’t hit quite as well this year. Plus, the Mets are likely still somewhat interested in picking up his option. Cabrera has spent plenty of time at short but probably ought to be shifted to second or third at this point. He’s also drawing some eye-opening baserunning ratings this year, and not in a good way.
Yangervis Solarte, Padres | $2.5MM in 2017; $4MM in 2018; 2019-20 club options
A solid hitter and versatile defender on an affordable deal, Solarte looks to be a useful trade chip. He’ll need to return from an oblique strain first, though. Ultimately, Solarte looks to represent a somewhat younger and less expensive version of some of the players listed above. Whether contenders will pay a premium for that kind of asset, though, remains unclear.
Martin Prado, Marlins | $11.5MM in 2017; $13.5MM in 2018; $15MM in 2019
Miami will surely need to hold onto some of the cash it still owes Prado, who has not been at peak form in his age-33 season. While there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll bounce back from an injury-filled first half, Prado profiles not as a star but as a slightly above-average hitter and defender. He is held in high regard around the game and has already drawn interest, but he doesn’t seem worth the significant contract premium he is owed over some of the other players covered in this post.
Josh Harrison, Pirates | $7.5MM in 2017; $10MM in 2018; 2019-20 club options
The Bucs reportedly dabbled in some talks involving Harrison over the winter, but ultimately held onto him. He has responded with a bounceback 2017 season that has his contract again looking appealing. Through 368 plate appearances, Harrison is slashing .280/.361/.436 with ten home runs and ten steals — along with typically strong marks for his work on the bases and in the field. A dynamic athlete, Harrison would be quite an interesting target, though it’s now less than clear that Pittsburgh has real interest in moving him.
Luis Valbuena, Angels | $6.5MM in 2017; $8MM in 2018; $8.5MM mutual option ($500K buyout) in 2019
Things haven’t gone as hoped for Valbuena since he signed on with the Halos. At the time of the deal, he seemed a nice buy-low piece who was available for less because he lost half of the prior campaign due to injury. But the health woes have continued and Valbuena has limped to a .185/.267/.318 batting line thus far. As noted above, the Angels don’t really profile as sellers. And Valbuena isn’t really doing much to suggest he’d be a target for most contenders. But it’s still possible to imagine a trade, particularly if the Angels saw an opportunity to add a similarly expensive pitcher.
Eugenio Suarez, Reds | First-time arb-eligible in 2018
Thus far in 2017, Suarez is showing a big jump in his walk rate (to 12.4%) and continuing to grow in the power department (.183 ISO; 12 home runs). He rates well at third and can also play up the middle in the infield. While the Reds will no doubt be willing to listen, perhaps there’s also not much urgency to finding a taker for Suarez, particularly with the team’s shortstop position likely to come open sooner than later.
Nick Castellanos, Tigers | $3MM in 2017; arb-eligible in 2018-19
It’s still hard to know just what to make of the former top prospect, who’s still just 25 and put up a strong 2016 season. He’s now back to hitting at about the league average, making his BABIP-fueled effort from a year ago seem like something of an outlier. The value is tied up in the bat, and it just hasn’t been that great. That’s not to say other organizations wouldn’t love to take a shot on his talent, but will they pay enough to make that worthwhile for Detroit?
Maikel Franco, Phillies | First-time arb-eligible (Super Two) in 2018
Generally viewed as a core piece for the Phils, Franco has increasingly been mentioned as a possible trade candidate. While he’s not going to be seen as an immediate option for contenders and may not be dealt at this low point of his value, it seems that Philadelphia is very much open to considering offers involving the highly talented youngster. Franco is off to a miserable start at the plate, though he has made strides in his plate discipline and carries a personal-best 13.5% strikeout rate. The power is lagging and Franco is struggling to square up baseballs, though surely his .215 BABIP also reflects some poor fortune. Somewhat like Castellanos, Franco could conceivably factor into some creative trade scenarios over the next few weeks.