The week of the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline is upon us! We’ve seen a handful of deals thus far — Nelson Cruz to the Rays, Rich Hill to the Mets, Adam Frazier to the Padres, Joc Pederson to the Braves — but most of the market’s top names are still waiting to learn their fate. The stage is set for a chaotic few days of deal-making.
As always, this list is loosely ordered in terms of both likelihood of being traded and value to an acquiring club in a trade. Rental players are inherently going to carry less long-term value but are generally likelier to be moved by virtue of their impending free agency. Those who aren’t qualifying offer candidates are particularly likely to be flipped elsewhere. Some of those names will outrank more impactful players with a lower likelihood of being dealt.
It’s all subjective and debatable, and that’s part of the fun of the whole exercise. No one’s here for preamble, so let’s dive right into the list!
1. Max Scherzer, RHP: The Nationals are 1-5 since GM Mike Rizzo said his team’s upcoming play would determine his deadline approach, including a sweep at the hands of the Orioles and a crushing walk-off loss to one of the teams they’re directly chasing in the NL East: the Phillies. The Nats are 8.5 back in the division and 11.5 back in the Wild Card hunt. Now, the Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty reports that Scherzer is open to trades and would waive his 10-and-5 no-trade rights. Scherzer’s enormous contract and deferred money still make a trade complicated to sort out, and he’s dealing with what seems to be a minor triceps issue. He’s slated to start Thursday, the day before the deadline. It seems quite possible that’ll be his Nats farewell.
2. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF/1B, Cubs: At the time of our last Top Trade Candidate list, the Cubs looked like they’d have no choice but to hold onto Bryant. However, their stay atop the NL Central is a distant memory following a catastrophic losing streak and president Jed Hoyer’s acknowledgment that his team will operate as a seller. This was probably the direction the front office envisioned all along after trading Yu Darvish this winter, and Bryant’s resurgent season has likely bolstered his value considerably. He can help clubs with outfield or corner infield needs, and his .269/.356/.500 slash would be a boost to the heart of any order. With a $19.5MM salary in 2021, however, Bryant could be a tough financial pill for some teams to swallow.
3. Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Cubs: The first year-plus of Kimbrel’s time in Chicago made the team’s three-year investment in the All-Star closer look regrettable, to say the least. But the now-33-year-old Kimbrel has engineered a rebound so impressive that next year’s $16MM club option now looks like a potential bargain. Kimbrel has been better than ever in 2021, pitching to a 0.49 ERA with a superlative 46.7 percent strikeout rate and a 9.5 percent walk rate in 36 2/3 innings. The salary might limit his market, but deep pocketed clubs should all have interest in Kimbrel, who very suddenly has a good bit of trade value.
4. Starling Marte, OF, Marlins: If the Marlins truly only offered a player of Marte’s caliber three years and under $40MM on an extension, it’s hard to believe they were ever serious about extending him. Regardless, with those efforts now in the rear-view mirror, Marte is one of the best and likeliest players to be traded. He’s enjoying one of his best seasons ever at the plate — arguably his best — playing good defense and running more than he has since 2018 (21-for-24 in stolen bases). He’s a rental, and not an especially cheap one with a $12.5MM salary ($4.37MM owed post-deadline), but few players represent a larger potential upgrade.
5. Jon Gray, RHP, Rockies: Playing on a one-year, $6MM contract, Gray is one of the best and likeliest rental starters to change hands. The Rockies won’t issue him a qualifying offer, but he’s a solid enough rotation piece that the bulk of contenders in the game would consider him a decisive upgrade. Not every team would view him as a surefire postseason starter, but he’s an upgrade over nearly any club’s fourth/fifth starters.
6. Michael Pineda, RHP, Twins: Every contender could use an arm like Pineda to help deepen the rotation, and if he’s healthy, he could even be a playoff rotation option for some clubs. He’s missed a bit of time with elbow inflammation this year but returned from the IL to toss five innings of one-run ball against the White Sox. He’ll be owed $3.5MM post-deadline and has an overall 3.86 ERA, 21.5 percent strikeout rate and 5.4 percent walk rate. This is what solid deadline rentals look like.
7. Trevor Story, SS, Rockies: Story is only listed below Gray because the Rockies know they can at least get a compensatory draft pick if they make him a qualifying offer, which creates the slight chance they’ll simply hold him. That still seems unlikely, however, as Story won’t be re-signing in Colorado and is one of the best bats available on a thin trade market for infield upgrades. He isn’t having a great season, but Story’s track record alone will create interest.
8. Tyler Anderson, LHP, Pirates: The Bucs signed Anderson to soak up some starts in the first half and, ideally, move him for a modest deadline return. With 103 1/3 innings of 4.35 ERA ball spread across 18 starts, Anderson has done just that. If you throw out a nine-run meltdown in Atlanta, the ERA plummets to 3.93 in his 17 other starts. Anderson doesn’t miss tons of bats, but he’s shown excellent control while generally limiting hard contact. He won’t be a headline-grabbing addition, but for a team looking to affordably stabilize a back-of-the-rotation carousel, Anderson and his $2.5MM base salary ought to be appealing.
9. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Rangers: The latest “surprise” three-year rotation signing by the Rangers to have turned into a bargain, Gibson is durable, effective and affordable. Among pitchers controlled beyond the 2021 season, Gibson is the likeliest to be traded. It should be noted that he’s had a trio of poorly timed rough outings, but no team was going to believe he’d sustain the sub-2.00 ERA he carried into July anyhow. He’s earning $8MM next year, and most contending clubs would be pleased to plug him into the middle of the rotation.
10. Richard Rodriguez, RHP, Pirates: He’s not overpowering from a velocity standpoint, but Rodriguez has outstanding command and the ability to miss bats in bunches when he’s throwing his breaking ball at higher levels than he has in 2021. Rodriguez has a 2.98 ERA, 27.2 percent strikeout rate and 6.5 percent walk rate dating back to 2018. He’s earning just $1.7MM in 2021 and controlled two more years via arbitration. Any club looking for bullpen help should have some level of interest.
11. Joey Gallo, OF, Rangers: Gallo’s name has been on the trade market on and off for a few years now, but with free agency squarely in sight after the 2022 season and the Rangers rebuilding, this is his value’s apex. Gallo is a premium corner outfield defender with a ridiculous 19.3 percent walk rate and 24 home runs. Gallo went on a tear beginning in early June, though his bat has cooled in his past few games.
12. Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins: Berrios is one of the best arms on this summer’s market, but the asking price is accordingly exorbitant. The Twins are reported to be seeking a pre-arb Major League player and multiple top 100 prospects to part with their top starter. That’ll be a tough price to pay for any rival team, but you can hardly blame Minnesota for asking, given the dearth of available starters and the Twins’ aspirations to be competitive again as soon as 2022.
13. Merrill Kelly, RHP, D-backs: Kelly isn’t a lock to be traded, given an extremely affordable $5.25MM club option for 2022. However, with so many teams looking for rotation help and simultaneously trying to duck the luxury tax, his affordable contract and steady production make him plenty appealing. Kelly had a dismal first month of 2021 as he returned from thoracic outlet surgery, but he’s quickly begun to look like one of the better success stories from that operation in recent memory. In his past 18 starts, Kelly owns a 3.79 ERA (3.59 FIP) with a 21.7 percent strikeout rate and 5.5 percent walk rate.
14. Eduardo Escobar, 3B/2B, D-backs: Reports of an on early, on-the-verge-of-completion deal to the White Sox proved to be overstated, as other clubs jumped into the fray and slowed the pace of negotiations. But an Escobar trade is more a matter of “when” and “where” than “if.” A free-agent-to-be on baseball’s worst team, the switch-hitting Escobar will take his 22 homers and multi-positional ability to a new team before month’s end.
15. Jonathan Schoop, 1B/2B, Tigers: One of baseball’s hottest hitters since Memorial Day, Schoop is playing on a one-year, $4.5MM contract and is on pace for his best power output since his 32-homer 2017 campaign. Since June 1, Schoop has ripped a dozen homers while hitting .335 and slugging just shy of .600. There’s some sentiment out there that a meager return in a trade might not be enough for the Tigers to part with Schoop as A.J. Hinch looks to help shift to a winning culture in the clubhouse. Still, he’d make sense for clubs who covet a right-handed-hitting infielder.
16. Trea Turner, SS, Nationals: GM Mike Rizzo has gone on record saying that if the team goes into sell mode, that “anything is on the table, I would think.” Trading Turner would be immensely difficult for the Nats, both due to his general excellence and the team’s perennial win-now mindset. But MLB Network’s Peter Gammons reported this week that ownership doesn’t seem incline to extend Turner, and the 2021 season has largely slipped away from the Nationals. This would take an enormous return, but what might’ve seemed like fantasy a week ago is now relatively plausible. The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reported last night that interest in Turner is quite strong.
17. Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Royals: A perennial entrant in the July rumor extravaganza, Merrifield is reported to be “more” available than he was in years past. Of course, he was completely off limits in 2018 and almost entirely off limits in 2019, so that’s not a high bar to clear. Merrifield’s bat is coming around after a slow month of May, and he’s leading the league in steals. His contract is eminently affordable and keeps him under club control through 2023. The Royals are trying to win now, so they’ll want MLB-ready pieces in return. A trade still seems like a long shot.
18. Zach Davies, RHP, Cubs: Davies owns a respectable 4.30 ERA through 21 starts for the Cubs in 2021. That’s where most of the good news ends, however, as Davies is sporting a 15.5 percent strikeout rate against a career-worst 11.9 percent walk rate and is averaging fewer than five innings per start. The 3.5 percent differential between his strikeout rate and walk rate ranks dead last among qualified starters (by a wide margin). Davis is durable and was much better than this in 2019-20, but his lackluster results and $8.625MM salary will prevent the Cubs from getting too much in return.
19. C.J. Cron, 1B, Rockies: Cron signed a minor league deal that carried just a $1MM base salary, and he’s provided a nice return on that modest investment by the Rox. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end. There are plenty of clubs that could use a cheap rental either at first base/designated hitter or just as a right-handed bat off the bench. Cron, as usual, has held his own against righties and decimated left-handed pitching.
20. Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Indians: Cleveland is nine games back in the division and five back from a Wild Card spot. They’re certainly not out of postseason contention, but with Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale sidelined, they’re sending out Zach Plesac and a collection of rookies in the rotation. Their odds don’t look great at the moment. Hernandez is on an affordable $5MM salary with a $6MM option for 2022. That option could mean he simply stays put, but Hernandez could appeal to clubs looking for affordable infield help.
21. Daniel Bard, RHP, Rockies: Bard has thrown 65 2/3 innings since making his remarkable return to the Majors last season and has posted a 3.86 ERA with a 27.2 percent strikeout rate and 10.2 percent walk rate in that time. He’s been the Rockies’ go-to option in the ninth inning for much of that time. The 36-year-old is actually controlled into 2022 via arbitration, so he could hold more appeal than many of the run of rental relievers to follow immediately.
22. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Rangers: Kennedy is the quintessential veteran relief rental. He’s having a resurgent season for a last-place Rangers club that inked him to a no-risk minor league deal over the winter. This type of scenario is why rebuilding teams sign players like Kennedy. His days in Texas are numbered. (Well, unless the Astros acquire him.)
23. Ryan Tepera, RHP, Cubs: Make all the “MVP” jokes you like after last year’s tenth-place vote — Tepera is pitching the best ball of his career in 2021. The 33-year-old’s strikeout rate is down a bit from 2020 (34.8 percent to 30.3 percent), but his walk rate has improved by six percent as well. Tepera has one of the best ground-ball rates of his career, one of his best homer-to-flyball rates and is sporting a 2.91 ERA. He’s also earning just $800K. You want an affordable rental reliever? Here’s your guy.
24. Daniel Hudson, RHP, Nationals: This is arguably the best Hudson we’ve ever seen. He’s striking out a career-high 38.5 percent of opponents against a career-best 5.7 percent walk rate. The 34-year-old’s 2.27 ERA is one of the best marks on this list, and he’s currently pitching high-leverage innings for a Nationals club that is eight games back in the NL East and 11 back in the Wild Card hunt. It’s looking likelier and likelier that Washington bites the bullet and moves some veteran players.
25. Mychal Givens, RHP, Rockies: An impending free-agent reliever with a solid track record in the midst of another quality season, Givens is an obvious trade candidate for the Rockies as they look to sell veteran pieces. He’s earning $4.05MM in 2021, and while his strikeout rate isn’t where it was at its peak, it’s not too far off. Givens has a sub-3.00 ERA while pitching his home games at Coors Field and will be owed $1.42MM post-deadline.
26. Joakim Soria, RHP, D-backs: With a 2.70 ERA and a 16-to-3 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 frames over the last month, Soria has begun to right the ship at the best possible time for the Snakes. He’s a proven veteran reliever playing on a one-year $3.5MM deal for MLB’s worst team. It’d be a shock if he still pitched for the D-backs come July 31.
27. Yimi Garcia, RHP, Marlins: Garcia, 31 next month, has had a generally solid season but has seen a pair of recent hiccups boost his ERA by nearly a whole run. He’s still sitting in the mid-3.00s with a slightly below-average strikeout rate and above-average control. He has a 3.17 ERA in 113 2/3 innings dating back to 2019 and is pitching on a $1.9MM salary.
28. Hansel Robles, RHP, Twins: Robles might’ve looked a bit more appealing before a recent stretch that’s seen him surrender 10 earned runs in 9 2/3 frames, but as a hard-throwing reliever with late-inning experience, he’s still a candidate to change hands. Robles walks too many and has recently given up a few untimely long balls, but his overall body of work this season has been serviceable — particularly considering his $2MM salary.
29. Brad Hand, LHP, Nationals: Hand is a big name whose performance probably doesn’t quite align with his reputation among fans. It’s worth remembering that he went unclaimed on waivers at the end of the 2020 season when any team could’ve had him for $10MM. He eventually topped that by a measure of $500K in free agency, but most clubs seemingly weren’t keen on paying him at this rate less than a year ago. Now, he’s sitting on his worst strikeout rate since moving to the bullpen (23 percent) and his highest walk rate (9.8 percent). His fastball has bounced back from a 2020 dip, but Hand isn’t quite the trade chip for a reeling Nats team that some would expect based on his name value. Last night’s blown save in a pivotal game for the Nats couldn’t have helped his stock.
30. Bryan Shaw, RHP, Indians: It’s been a nice rebound year for Shaw in many ways. He’s sporting a sub-3.00 ERA with a career-high 27.6 percent strikeout rate. He’s also walking more hitters than ever before, however, and his 48.6 percent grounder rate is down about six percent from his peak. Walking 15 percent of your opponents is going to give some teams pause, but Shaw is playing on a $1MM salary, so those with luxury concerns might overlook the spotty control and focus on the salary. Again, the Indians could just hold onto all their potential trade pieces, but they’re a long shot for the playoffs and Shaw will generate interest.
31. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs: Yet another Cubs rental, Baez is one of the game’s flashiest defenders and has long been a fan favorite in Chicago. His free-swinging ways have worsened in 2021, though, as he’s punching out in nearly 37 percent of his plate appearances and sitting on a lowly .287 OBP. Baez’s power offsets that to an extent (22 home runs, .239 ISO, 105 wRC+), but he’s chasing more than ever and making contact at his worst rate since his rookie season. While some hitters have improved since the league came down on pitcher substance usage, Baez’s numbers have gotten worse. He also suffered an apparent foot/leg injury Sunday, though he sure didn’t look to hobbled when ripping last night’s walk-off hit.
32. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs: Rizzo is hitting better than he did in 2020, but he’s still a good way from his peak form. A .248/.346/.441 batting line is comfortably above league average (114 wRC+), but it’s a far-cry from the borderline-MVP level of offense Rizzo has produced in the past. He’s making $16.5MM in 2021, so while he’s a big name with a big track record, he might not carry the trade value some would expect.
33. Caleb Smith, LHP, D-backs: Smith was pitching quite well for Arizona, but his numbers ballooned after the Dodgers ambushed him for nine runs in his final start of the first half. He’s still carrying a 4.61 ERA with an above-average strikeout rate, but that ERA was at 3.45 prior to his Dodgers encounter. Smith will soon turn 30, and while he doesn’t have great command, he misses plenty of bats and has two years of control remaining beyond the current campaign. He’s also earning just $1.465MM in 2021, so he’s a possible target for teams with luxury concerns.
34. Adam Duvall, OF, Marlins: Duvall, 33 in September, is playing his usual game — big power, dismal OBP, good corner-outfield defense. An OBP in the .280 range isn’t going to appeal to modern front offices (hence his offseason non-tender and subsequent one-year deal), and his uncharacteristic struggles against lefties in 2021 don’t help his value. Still, a club looking for some right-handed pop and a nice glove in the corners could have interest. Duvall has a mutual option that’s unlikely to be exercised by both parties — all mutual options are — but he’s also controllable another year via arbitration.
35. Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Marlins: Aguilar has been rock-solid since joining the Marlins in the 2019-20 offseason, clubbing 25 homers with a 117 wRC+ in 148 games. He’ll be due one more raise on this year’s $4.35MM salary before reaching free agency post-2022, and the Marlins might look to cash in on his success right now. They could pursue a more affordable replacement this winter or turn to one of multiple in-house alternatives.
36. Michael A. Taylor, OF, Royals: Taylor isn’t a star, but there aren’t many center fielders available this summer. A .244/.302/.357 batting line isn’t much to look at, but MAT is a lights-out defender in center with a little pop and some speed. He’s also on a $1.75MM deal, making him a nice fourth-outfield target for a team looking to upgrade its bench.
37. Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/LF, Nationals: Harrison hasn’t stopped hitting since the Nats signed him back in 2020. He’s appeared in 120 games and tallied 438 plate appearances while batting .282/.357/.408 with eight homers, 21 doubles and six steals. He’s playing on a $1MM base salary and can handle multiple infield positions as well as the outfield corners. If the Nats sell, Harrison is a pending free agent who several clubs would be happy to add to their bench mix.
38. Asdrubal Cabrera, INF, D-backs: A reasonably productive 35-year-old veteran on a one-year, $1.75MM deal with MLB’s worst club? That’s pretty much the definition of a trade candidate. Cabrera isn’t a shortstop anymore, but he can play the other three infield slots. He’s a switch-hitter with a roughly average offensive line in 2021. He might not be an impact addition to starting lineup, but Cabrera is a solid bench pickup for a contender.
39. David Peralta, OF, D-backs: This hasn’t been Peralta’s best year, but he was an above-average bat each season from 2017-20 — including a 30-homer, career year in 2018. Peralta is hitting the ball on the ground and popping up a bit more often now, which hasn’t helped his output, but he’s a generally solid corner-outfield bat on a reasonable contract. He’s earning $8MM this year and $7.5MM in 2022 (that number will increase to $8MM with 150 days on an active roster in ’21). Peralta hit .290/.348/.471 in more than 1800 PAs from 2017-20.
40. Robbie Grossman, OF, Tigers: Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal this past winter, Grossman has given the Tigers some power, speed and a strong walk rate. His BABIP is down this season, but that’s largely because he’s hitting fly-balls at a career-high rate. This version of Grossman is a low-average, high-OBP switch-hitter with some value on the bases (12 steals) and average corner outfield defense. The return in a trade probably wouldn’t be huge, so the Tigers could easily hold onto him.
41. Taylor Rogers, LHP, Twins: Rogers recently had a four-run meltdown that pushed his ERA back into the mid-3.00s, but he’s sitting on a career-best 35.5 percent strikeout rate against a tiny 4.8 percent walk rate. His 50 percent ground-ball rate is well above the league average, he has closing experience, and he’s effective against both lefties and righties alike. He’s also controlled into 2022. There aren’t many more desirable relievers out there this summer. Rogers was set to appear higher on this list, but last night’s apparent finger/hand injury makes a trade less likely.
42. Dylan Floro, RHP, Marlins: Another Marlins reliever, Floro is a weak-contact specialist with strong ground-ball numbers and a passable but below-average strikeout rate. He’s walking an abnormal number of hitters in 2021 but is generally solid in that regard. He’s controlled two more seasons, but that didn’t stop Miami from trading Adam Cimber to the Jays earlier this summer.
43. Paul Fry, LHP, Orioles: Fry has quietly stepped up as a solid lefty in the Baltimore ’pen. He isn’t a well-known name, which happens when you’re throwing late innings on a last-place club, but Fry carries a 3.24 ERA dating back to last year. His 31.4 percent strikeout rate is a career-high. Fry won’t be arb-eligible until this winter and is controllable through 2024.
44. Jose Cisnero, RHP, Tigers: Cisnero went nearly five years between MLB appearances, pitching in Mexico and in the Dominican Winter League before the Tigers pulled him back into affiliated ball. It’s been an underrated move that has paid considerable dividends, as Cisnero has given them 107 1/3 innings of 3.44 ERA ball with a 26.9 percent strikeout rate against a 10.1 percent walk rate. The 32-year-old is playing on a $970K salary, is controlled two more years beyond 2021, and is averaging 97.1 mph on his heater this year.
45. Tyler Duffey, RHP, Twins: Duffey hasn’t looked like the dominant reliever he was in 2019-20, as his K-BB numbers have gone in the wrong direction. That said, he’s earning just $2.2MM in 2021 and, after giving up three runs in an inning of work back on May 20, has given up a combined three earned runs in his last 22 innings. The K-BB downturn won’t sit well with some clubs, but Duffey is a solid reliever who another team might dream on a bit when looking at his brilliant 2019-20 output.
46. Caleb Thielbar, LHP, Twins: While he’s controlled through 2024, Thielbar is also a 34-year-old whom the Twins plucked out of indie ball after a five-year absence from MLB prior to the 2020 season. He’s returned to the bigs with 57 1/3 innings of 3.45 ERA ball and a 29.7 percent strikeout rate. As a hometown guy who went through an odyssey to get back to the Majors, Thielbar is a feel-good story in Minnesota, but he’s also a cheap, controllable lefty in his mid-30s. The Twins would surely consider cashing in if someone made a decent offer.
47. Raisel Iglesias, RHP, Angels: Iglesias is fourth among qualified relievers with a 1.92 SIERA and fifth with a 34.8 K-BB%. He’s punching out more hitters than ever before while showing some of the best command of his career. If the Angels fall further back than their current five-game deficit in the Wild Card standings between now and Friday’s deadline, Iglesias would shoot up this list in a hurry. Every contending club would want him.
48. Alex Cobb, RHP, Angels: A lot of the Angels’ pitching acquisitions in recent years haven’t panned out, but Cobb has worked out brilliantly. The move puzzled many onlookers at the time, myself included, but Cobb has rebounded with 77 2/3 innings of 3.82 ERA ball, a career-best 25.7 percent strikeout rate, an 8.0 percent walk rate and a big 53.8 percent grounder rate. The O’s are paying most of his salary, so he’s only owed about $1.75MM post-deadline.
49. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Angels: A 5.32 ERA isn’t going to drum up much interest among fans, but teams are going to look at Heaney’s 20.5 K-BB% and several other secondary markers when evaluating him. Heaney misses bats in droves and will only be owed about $2.38MM post-deadline. He’s a free agent at season’s end. It’s easy to see someone rolling the dice on the strikeout and walk tendencies….that is, if the Angels sell.
50. Charlie Morton, RHP, Braves: Speaking of “…if they sell” teams and their starting pitchers, Morton is the most appealing rental arm on a Braves club that is five back in the division and eight back in the Wild Card. Atlanta’s next five games are against the division-leading Mets. A big showing will likely embolden the Braves to make some more additions, but if the Mets take the majority of these games or even sweep them, Morton and other Braves could find themselves on the block. Morton, who’s being paid $15MM in 2021, has a 3.65 ERA overall and a 2.40 mark since mid-June.
51. Drew Smyly, LHP, Braves: It’s a similar story with Smyly, Atlanta’s other one-year rotation pickup for the 2021 season. He got out to a rocky start but has a strong 2.76 ERA since late May. He’s only averaging five innings per start and is on an $11MM contract, but Smyly would be a logical target for contending clubs if the Braves fall to the Mets in decisive fashion this week.
52. Willson Contreras, C, Cubs: Contreras isn’t an impending free agent like most other Cubs on this list and can be controlled into ’22 more affordably than Kimbrel, so there’s less of a “need” for Chicago to deal him. He’s in the midst of a fine season, however, and there aren’t many starting-caliber catchers who could change hands this summer. He’ll draw interest, both as an immediate upgrade and as a potential gamechanger for a team in 2022.
53. Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs: Signed through 2023 with a club option for the 2024 season, Hendricks would be one of the best arms on the market if the Cubs seriously entertain moving him. There’s no urgency for them to do that, however, and trading Hendricks would send a much different message than dealing impending free agents like Bryant, Baez, Rizzo and the already-traded Joc Pederson. Hendricks is owed $14MM in each of the next two seasons and can be kept for a third season on a $16MM option ($1.5MM buyout). The Cubs aren’t actively shopping him, it seems, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be had in the right deal.
54. Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, Orioles: He hasn’t produced at quite the same level as in 2019, but Mancini looks every bit the part of a middle-of-the-order threat in his return from last year’s cancer diagnosis. Trading him wouldn’t sit well with fans and might not go over well in the clubhouse. Mancini is the heart of the team, and his return from stage three colon cancer has been a bright light in an otherwise ugly Orioles season. Teams will be calling on Mancini, who’ll be one of the better bats available, but as several former GMs explained in talking with The Athletic’s Dan Connolly last month, it’s a difficult spot for Mike Elias and his staff in Baltimore.
55. John Means, LHP, Orioles: Speaking of tough Orioles decisions, earlier this year it looked like Means would draw as much interest as any starter in the game. Means missed six weeks with a shoulder strain, however, and hasn’t been sharp since his return (nine runs in 11 2/3 innings). There’s no way the O’s would trade three and a half years of Means for anything less than a haul, but his recent injury and a pair of wobbly starts in his return might make that hard to come by. It’d be a surprise if teams didn’t at least try over the next few days, but Means felt like a long shot in the first place because of that remaining club control, and now the odds feel even slimmer.
56. Max Kepler, OF, Twins: Kepler’s name has popped up in connection with the Yankees recently, and other clubs would surely have interest because of the affordable five-year, $35MM contract extension he signed a few years back. Kepler had a poor start to the season, but he’s hitting .263/.325/.579 with seven homers in July, boosting his season line to .219/.305/.458. He’s an impact defender in right field who can also handle center. Outfield is a position of depth/strength for the Twins, so perhaps they’d move him if they could get controllable pitching back — but the price would likely be high.
57. Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates: It’d take something overwhelming for the Bucs to move four-plus years of Reynolds when he’s already set a new career-best in home runs and is sitting just shy of .400 in the OBP column. Reynolds has the look of a foundational piece, and at the very least, the Pirates know that his value would be just as great this offseason or next summer. There are so many contenders looking for outfield help — center, in particular — that GM Ben Cherington will allow himself the opportunity to be overwhelmed. However, it seems likelier that Reynolds will stay put.
58. Cedric Mullins, OF, Orioles: Mullins isn’t likely to be moved, but he’s on the list because of A) the impact he’d bring to a new club, B) the demand for center fielders and C) the lack of quality options out there. Baltimore GM Mike Elias won’t be inclined to move Mullins, but a team could certainly try to overwhelm him. Elias’ former team, the Astros, is looking for a center fielder. The Phillies, Mets, Giants and Yankees have all been connected to center field help. Other teams with corner needs figure to have keen interest here, too. Mullins has played like a legitimate superstar and has four years of control after 2021, though, so the asking price would be almost comical.
59. German Marquez, RHP, Rockies: Marquez and the aforementioned Berrios will draw the most interest among controllable arms, but manager Bud Black said earlier this summer that the Rox have already told Marquez he won’t be traded. A Godfather offer could always change that thinking, but if the organization promises a player he’s staying put and he’s ultimately moved anyway, that’s not going to sit well with current players or during future free agent/extension negotiations. Black isn’t the GM, but that was as strong an on-record statement as you’ll see from someone of his status.
60: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Padres: The Padres are reportedly discussing creative scenarios to get the remainder of Hosmer’s eight-year, $144MM contract off the books. It was a head-scratching contract at the time, and Hosmer has gone on to provide league-average offense in his three-plus years in San Diego. This won’t be an easy one to move, but it’s hard to blame them for looking into the possibility. (Ditto Wil Myers, if they go that route.)
Notable Names to Watch on the Injured List
Ketel Marte, OF/2B, D-backs
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
Matthew Boyd, LHP, Tigers
Michael Fulmer, RHP, Tigers
Garrett Cooper, 1B/OF, Marlins:
Danny Duffy, LHP, Royals
Kyle Schwarber, OF, Nationals
Nick Castellanos, OF, Reds
Colin Moran, 1B, Pirates
Others to Watch