Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow is among this offseason’s top trade candidates. He’s set to make $25MM in his final season before free agency. That’d be the largest single-year salary in franchise history. The Rays committed to that number not long ago, signing the 6’8″ hurler to an extension in August 2022. Even with various subsequent injuries to their rotation, Tampa Bay could move Glasnow to bring in cheaper talent.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted this evening that a pair of rival executives believe the Rays will pull the trigger on a Glasnow deal this offseason. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal offered a similar sentiment in an appearance on Foul Territory (X link). Rosenthal suggested Glasnow could be the likeliest of the group of top starters who are frequently mentioned as trade candidates — also including Corbin Burnes, Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber — to move.
If the Rays did pull the trigger on a deal this winter, it’d have to be to a club with legitimate playoff aspirations in 2024. There’s little reason for teams like the Nationals or Rockies to acquire a star pitcher with one year left on his deal. An acquiring team would need to be willing to accommodate a $25MM salary. It’s hard to envision Tampa Bay making a trade of this magnitude within division.
That narrows things down somewhat but still leaves various potential suitors. Let’s identify some fits (listed alphabetically). All salary projections are courtesy of Roster Resource.
- Angels: The Angels arguably stretch the definition of “legitimate playoff aspirations,” especially if Shohei Ohtani signs elsewhere. They have made clear they’re not going to rebuild in any case. Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers and Griffin Canning are solid rotation pieces. They’re not true #1 arms, though, something Glasnow would provide.
- Astros: Houston will be without Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. into the middle of the season. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier make for a strong top three. Hunter Brown and J.P. France tailed off a bit as their rookie seasons wound down. Glasnow fits on paper, although it’s unclear whether the Astros would take on his salary. GM Dana Brown has downplayed the financial flexibility at their disposal.
- Braves: Atlanta made a run at Aaron Nola before his seven-year contract to return to Philadelphia. The Braves subsequently added Reynaldo López on a three-year pact and indicated he could return to the rotation. That doesn’t preclude them from exploring clearer upgrades to join Max Fried, Spencer Strider and Charlie Morton in the middle to upper part of the staff. The farm system has thinned but president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos hasn’t shied away from aggressive strikes on the trade market to support an elite core.
- Cardinals: St. Louis has sought three starting pitchers this offseason. They’ve added two veteran innings eaters on one-year deals, bringing in Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson on consecutive days. That raises the floor but still leaves them in clear need of a top-of-the-rotation arm. St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak acknowledged the team has yet to dig deeply into trade possibilities (link via Katie Woo of the Athletic). That’ll change now that they’ve added some stability without a ton of upside on the open market.
- Cubs: Marcus Stroman declined his player option for 2024. That leaves the Cubs with a front three of Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks and Jameson Taillon. There’s clearly room for another high-end starter. Chicago isn’t far off this past season’s Opening Day payroll but projects around $25MM below their franchise high mark. They’re about $50MM south of the lowest luxury tax threshold.
- Diamondbacks: Taking on a $25MM player isn’t typical operating procedure for the Diamondbacks. Yet it’s something they could consider this winter on the heels of a World Series run. Arizona’s $103MM projected payroll is around $13MM south of this past season’s mark. It’s nearly $30MM below their franchise high. Adding another starter to join Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt is a clear priority.
- Dodgers: The Dodgers are going to add a couple starting pitchers. Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías hit free agency. Kershaw’s return timeline is uncertain after shoulder surgery. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May will miss part or all of next season. Walker Buehler is back but coming off a second Tommy John surgery. Behind him are a few second-year hurlers (Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Emmet Sheehan) and swingman Ryan Yarbrough. Any of the top free agent or trade candidates on the rotation front make sense.
- Giants: San Francisco’s projected payroll sits at $148MM, about $40MM shy of this year’s mark. Logan Webb is an ace. The rest of the rotation is in question. Alex Cobb is coming off hip surgery. Anthony DeSclafani and Ross Stripling had injuries and/or underperformance in 2023. Top prospect Kyle Harrison is still unproven. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been reluctant to make free agent splashes for starting pitching. A Glasnow trade would add an impact arm without the kind of long-term rotation commitment to which this front office has been averse.
- Mets: The Mets are likely to bring in multiple starters. Kodai Senga and José Quintana are the only locks for the Opening Day rotation. It’s debatable whether they’re positioned to part with noteworthy young talent to add a rental with the team coming off a 75-87 season. New York has made clear they’re not punting the 2024 season entirely, though. Adding a high-end starter is one step of many required to put themselves back in the conversation with the Braves and Phillies in the NL East.
- Padres: San Diego is down to Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish after seeing each of Blake Snell, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha and Nick Martinez hit free agency. The Padres are reportedly trimming payroll, which could rule them out on a $25MM arm, but president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has never been afraid to move things around to accommodate impact talent. The Snell trade with Tampa Bay has been one of the best moves of his tenure.
- Rangers: The defending champions could lose Jordan Montgomery to free agency. Jacob deGrom won’t be ready until the season’s second half. Max Scherzer, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning and Andrew Heaney is still a good starting five. They could nevertheless take a swing for Glasnow, building a potential playoff rotation consisting of Glasnow, deGrom, Scherzer and Eovaldi as they try to repeat.
- Reds: Cincinnati’s situation is similar to Arizona’s. The Reds aren’t big spenders but could be in position for a lofty one-year salary for a #1 starter. They’re projected at $52MM for next season, $30MM below this year’s Opening Day mark. The young position player group put the Reds on the fringe of postseason contention. Adding a starter to lead a staff that also includes Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft and Andrew Abbott is the next step.