We’ve reached January, and the free agent market is still lagging in a big way. The top free agents available seemingly haven’t showed a willingness to lower their asking prices, and with spring training less than two months out, teams may feel a need to complete their offseason shopping lists sooner than later. In some cases, this may cause teams to make stronger pushes for some candidates on the trade market.
There have certainly been some large scale trades so far this offseason. High-end players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Evan Longoria, Ian Kinsler and Stephen Piscotty have changed hands already, and there are still plenty of practical matches left between MLB teams. We’ve detailed many of these in the 2017-2018 installment of our “Looking For A Match” series; the players featured in those articles are listed below, with our noted potential fits listed in parentheses.
- Billy Hamilton, Reds CF (Giants, Dodgers, Royals): Hamilton’s talents as a burner on the basepaths and an elite defender in center field are well-known throughout MLB circles, but in truth, that’s about where his usefulness ends. His .299 OBP was the 11th-lowest among qualified hitters in 2017; that number is about consistent with his career mark. The Giants seem to have shown a strong interest in Hamilton, but Reds owner Bob Castellini’s recently-reported hesitancy to part with the speedster could gum up trade negotiations. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Billy Hamilton Trade]
- Brad Hand, Padres LHRP (Astros, Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins, Braves): Though our evaluation of Hand’s trade market also included the Rays and Rockies, those teams seem like less likely suitors at this point in the offseason; the former decreased their likelihood of contention by shipping Longoria to San Francisco, while the latter has signed three expensive relief pitchers to pad their bullpen. Hand is one of the elite relief pitchers in all of baseball, and he’s certainly one of the best (if not the undisputed best) bullpen options on the trade market. Of course, the caveat is that it would also require a significant prospect haul to convince San Diego to move him. The lefty has two years of team control remaining, and MLBTR projects him to cost just $3.8MM in 2018. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Brad Hand Trade]
- Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B (Astros, Indians, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies): Though the Cuba native has been a mainstay in the White Sox’ lineup since his MLB debut in 2014, his club is unlikely to contend for a pennant before he reaches free agency after the 2019 season. MLBTR’s arbitration projections have him pegged for a $17.9MM salary in 2018, but his expected offensive output makes him well worth that price tag. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Jose Abreu Trade]
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox OF (Blue Jays, Indians, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rangers): Like Abreu, Garcia is a South Sider with two years of team control remaining. However, he comes with a lot more risk; Garcia had played below replacement level over the course of his career prior to a breakout this past season. Still, there are many teams who would benefit from adding a lefty-masher to their outfield corps, and his projected 2018 salary is a reasonable $6.7MM. [LINK: Looking For A Match In An Avisail Garcia Trade]
- Raisel Iglesias, Reds RHRP (Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers, Twins, Astros): With three full seasons of team control remaining, Iglesias could prove a valuable long-term asset to either a rebuilding club or a current contender. He’s managed to strike out 10.43 batters per nine innings over the course of his career as a reliever while posting a sterling 2.29 ERA. The Twins have reportedly shown interest in Iglesias this winter, though that was nearly two months ago; there haven’t been any new developments in that story since then. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Raisel Iglesias Trade]
- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins C (Nationals, Rockies, Diamondbacks): Unlike the other players on this list, Realmuto has gone so far as to request a trade from his current team. While that alone certainly isn’t enough to facilitate a trade, some have taken the stance that Miami ought to trade their catcher (along with fellow Marlin Christian Yelich) at his peak value. Realmuto has accrued more than 7 WAR over the past two seasons alone, but the Marlins don’t feel compelled to trade him unless they’re overwhelmed by an offer. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A J.T. Realmuto Trade]
- Manny Machado, Orioles 3B (Cardinals, Yankees, Angels, Rockies, Nationals): Rumors surrounding Baltimore’s prized infielder have cooled off a bit recently, but the Orioles could still be prompted to move him for the right offer. They’re reportedly seeking two talented starting pitchers who are controllable for the long term, however, which seems like a sky-high asking price for a player with just one year of team control remaining. Of course, the O’s probably wouldn’t restrict a return to just rotation options. Machado is projected to earn a $17.3MM salary in his final season before hitting the free agent market. [LINK: Trading Manny Machado]
We’ll open this subject up to reader opinions at this point. Which of the trade candidates we’ve profiled do you think is most likely to be traded before the 2018 season begins? (Link for app users)