Plenty of major league hitters are trade candidates leading up to the July 31 deadline, but which ones truly stand out as players who could help a team’s offense down the stretch? Let’s take a look at the cream of the crop (minimum 100 plate appearances), with help from the enormous trade candidates list MLBTR’s Jeff Todd and Steve Adams put together last week and Statcast’s expected weighted-on base average metric…
Justin Smoak, 1B, Blue Jays: expected weighted-on base average: .387; real wOBA: .332
- Smoak’s .211/.350/.406 line (106 wRC+) isn’t pretty, nor does the impending free-agent first baseman play a premium position. However, judging by the 55-point gap between his xwOBA and wOBA, the switch-hitting Smoak has been one of the unluckiest batters in baseball this year and someone whose presence could be a late-season boon for a playoff-level team. He’s also sporting an unfortunate .219 batting average on balls in play, down from a lifetime .267, and has amassed almost as many unintentional walks (49) as strikeouts (60).
Franmil Reyes, OF, Padres: xwOBA: .379; real wOBA: .350
- Unlike Smoak, Reyes comes with several seasons of control. The 24-year-old won’t be eligible for arbitration until after 2021 or free agency until the conclusion of 2024, so prying Freyes from the up-and-coming Padres wouldn’t be an easy task. While Reyes’ work in right field hasn’t been great this year (minus-6 Defensive Runs Saved, neutral Ultimate Zone Rating), he has established himself as an above-average offensive player dating back to his 2018 debut. This season, the right-handed slugger’s slashing .253/.307/.540 (115 wRC+) with the majors’ seventh-most home runs (25). Reyes is also a Statcast favorite, not just because of his impressive xwOBA. He ranks in the 76th percentile or better in expected batting average, hard-hit percentage, expected slugging percentage and exit velocity.
Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants: xwOBA: .370; real wOBA: .343
- The numbers aren’t quite up to date for Belt, who collected a pair of hits during the Giants’ destruction of the Rockies on Monday afternoon. They don’t alter the picture much, though – with or without them, the 31-year-old Belt has long been a quality major league hitter. Belt has dealt with his fair share of injuries, however, and isn’t locked up to an appealing contract, which are factors that hamper his trade value. He’s on a $16MM salary this year and will earn the same total in each of the next two seasons. Belt also has the right to block a trade to 10 teams.
Trey Mancini, OF/1B, Orioles: xwOBA: .354; real wOBA: .353
- There are large xwOBA/wOBA gaps for Smoak, Reyes and Belt, but Mancini’s production is apparently just about where it should be. The 27-year-old has batted a strong .281/.340/.500 (119 wRC+) with 17 homers in 373 PA, and as someone who’s on a minimum salary in 2019 and has three seasons of arbitration control left, he could interest teams as a long-term offensive building block. That said, Mancini brings little to the table on the defensive side, and Orioles general manager Mike Elias doesn’t seem inclined to trade him unless a highly beneficial offer comes along.
Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels: xwOBA: .351; real wOBA: .337
- Whether the Angels are poised to sell this month is up for debate. After all, they’re a decent 48-46 and five games back of a wild-card spot. If they do deal veterans, though, the 31-year-old Calhoun may hold appeal to other teams. Calhoun has bounced back from a miserable 2018 at the plate to hit .238/.323/.485 (112 wRC+) with 21 homers and a career-high .247 ISO in 373 PA this season, helping put him on track for his fifth campaign of at least 2.0 fWAR. He’s also an adept defender who has posted 2 DRS and a 1.6 UZR in the outfield (mostly right) this year. Because of his solid production this season, Calhoun might not be a pure rental. He’s making $10.5MM now and is controllable through 2020 on a $14MM club option (with a $1MM buyout).