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Projecting the Next Major Trade Candidates

The 2022-23 offseason was a relatively quiet one on the trade front. The biggest names to change teams were Sean Murphy, Daulton Varsho, Gabriel Moreno, Pablo Lopez and Luis Arraez - all excellent (and valuable) players, but sharing only a single All-Star Game appearance between them (Arraez, in 2022). And after those five, who appeared in three total trades, it was a large drop-off to the next biggest deal. Cole Irvin? Gregory Soto? Miguel Rojas?

That’s due in no small part to an active 2022 trade deadline which saw superstar Juan Soto switch teams earlier than most expected, in addition to trades of stars Luis Castillo and Josh Hader. The offseason prior, the Oakland A’s executed the bulk of their fire sale, offloading Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea.

Most of these blockbuster moves were somewhat predictable - at least, in the few months leading up to the deals. But as players report to Spring Training and optimism reigns supreme, the next big trade candidates aren’t quite as clear. Here’s an early breakdown of the stars who could be on the move at the 2023 deadline or during the 2023-24 offseason, and what they might cost in trade.

For this article, I made some adjustments on our back-end spreadsheets to estimate each player’s future trade value at two points in time, the upcoming deadline and next offseason. But stay tuned - this will soon become a premium feature of the site, allowing subscribers to see projected deadline values at a glance.

Shohei Ohtani - SP/DH, LAA

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 29 0.3 57.1 10.0 47.1

Ohtani is The Big One. When a playoff contender adds a frontline starting pitcher or a 140 wRC+ hitter at the deadline, their fans are thrilled. Ohtani is both in one. The Angels have shored up their roster in the hopes of building a contender around Mike Trout and Ohtani in the latter’s final year of team control, and they’ve claimed to intend to sign Ohtani long-term. But barring a deep playoff run, it’s hard to imagine Ohtani forgoing the open market - and a possible $500M+ deal - to stay in town.

Every contender will have a spot for Ohtani, and the bidding could get crazy. His projected $47.1M value at the deadline is an insanely high price for a rental, and it’s even possible that we’re low here. All it takes is a single A.J. Preller to push in all his chips and blow everyone out of the water. But for now, given his lofty $30 million salary for 2023 (of which he would still be owed roughly $10 million if traded at the deadline), we’re confident in this estimate.

Bryan Reynolds - OF, PIT

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 28 2.3 81.3 29.3 52.0
2023-24 Offseason 29 2.0 62.7 27.1 35.6

It’s still possible Reynolds is moved in the weeks between now and Opening Day - the Los Angeles Dodgers, for instance, could use another impact bat after losing Trea Turner and Gavin Lux to free agency and injury respectively. But the Pirates held onto the outfielder through a tumultuous offseason that included a large gap in extension talks and a blatant trade request from Reynolds himself. It seems the team and the player are on good enough terms to at least open the season together. But barring a drastic change of events, Reynolds will likely be suiting up for another club sooner rather than later.

Teams like the Miami Marlins have been interested for well over a year at this point and have been unable to agree with Pittsburgh on a deal. It’s likely the Pirates are pointing to Reynolds’ breakout 2021 season when he was worth 6.1 fWAR and his center field defense ranked in the 98th percentile according to Statcast Outs Above Average. Interested teams, on the other hand, may be hesitant due to his lackluster 2022, in which he produced just 2.9 fWAR and his defense tanked to the 6th percentile.

Regardless, Reynolds offers above average production at a premium production with few viable alternatives available on the market. Between this and his three affordable years of control remaining, our model expects him to command a nice return for Pittsburgh.

Corbin Burnes - SP, MIL

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 28 1.3 79.1 18.3 60.8
2023-24 Offseason 29 1.0 52.9 15.0 37.9

Brandon Woodruff - SP, MIL

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 30 1.3 58.3 19.8 38.5
2023-24 Offseason 31 1.0 38.5 16.2 22.3

Freddy Peralta - SP, MIL

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 27 3.3 87.3 22.7 64.6
2023-24 Offseason 27 3.0 74.9 21.5 53.4

The Milwaukee Brewers are something of a perpetual bubble team: always good enough to contend in a weak NL Central division, but never quite complete enough to make a serious run into October. Their 2023 roster is no different, boasting their usual mix of exciting frontline starting pitching alongside a truly lackluster lineup.

One thing the Brewers do have, however, is an exciting wave of young offensive talent starting to make its way to Milwaukee. Infielder Brice Turang is likely to take over for recently traded Kolten Wong at second base, and a trio of promising young outfield prospects in Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer and Sal Frelick are ready for a shot at the starting lineup - with young phenom Jackson Chourio only a year or two behind.

With that in mind, it is very easy to envision the Brewers taking a page out of the Cleveland Guardians’ playbook and flipping one of their talented starting pitchers to bolster their up-and-coming offensive core. Burnes in particular would command a haul, and the 2021 Cy Young Award winner has already publicly voiced his displeasure with Milwaukee leadership after losing his arbitration case against the team this winter. On the other hand, Peralta has been very effective and is locked up on an incredibly affordable contract, but has struggled to stay on the field. As something of a happy medium between the two, Woodruff might be a player the Brewers would prefer to extend, but his consistency and durability will be very attractive to teams in need of starting pitching.

There has been a little buzz in recent years about the Brewers potentially moving a starter, similar to the noise every offseason and trade deadline regarding closer Josh Hader. Last deadline, with Hader starting to get too expensive to keep, the Brewers made their move. And looking forward, with this trio of starters inching closer and closer to free agency, their time in Milwaukee may soon be up as well.

Shane Bieber - SP, CLE

Point in Time






2023 Deadline

28 1.3 65.1 18.3 46.8

2023-24 Offseason

28 1.0 43.8 15.0 28.8

Speaking of the Guardians, it’s somewhat surprising Bieber has even stayed in Cleveland this long. He’s been with the team long enough to watch a half dozen other quality arms get traded away, only for no-name prospects to step in and fill those spots in the rotation with ease. Is Bieber the exception, the rare player the Guardians choose to keep in town long-term? Or should he start packing his bags?

The right-hander has weathered an alarming velocity drop (losing nearly 3mph on his fastball since his 2020 Cy Young season) but has remained nearly as effective. The Guardians have established a clear pattern of opting to trade their star players too early rather than too late, and could make a similar move with Bieber as early as this season.

If the Guardians choose to do so, they’ll receive valuable pieces to add to their already strong young core. Other teams may have concerns about Bieber’s velo dip, but last year the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins gave up significant prospect packages to acquire Frankie Montas and Tyler Mahle respectively, despite each righty having recently spent time on the injured list with a shoulder injury. At the deadline especially, the need for starting pitching trumps all.

Bieber will likely be about as valuable at the 2023 deadline as Luis Castillo was at the 2022 deadline ($41.2M). However, don’t hold your breath for a similar overpay like the return Cincinnati received ($63.1M in total value).

David Bednar - RHRP, PIT

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 28 3.3 35.4 13.2 22.2
2023-24 Offseason 29 3.0 30.4 13.0 17.4

Alexis Diaz - RHRP, CIN

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 26 4.3 37.1 16.0 21.1
2023-24 Offseason 27 4.0 33.9 15.8 18.1

Relievers are extremely volatile, but as of now, these two appear to be the cream of the crop when it comes to controllable late-inning arms. It would behoove the Reds and Pirates, each multiple years away from contending, to move these two while their value is high and the market is hot.

The clock is especially ticking with Bednar, who will be arbitration eligible following the 2023 season and is coming off back-to-back excellent seasons. Diaz is younger and isn’t as proven, so the Reds may prefer to keep him until the 2023-24 offseason, the 2024 deadline or perhaps even longer, allowing him to fully establish himself as a dominant high-leverage talent. The risk, of course, is that he flames out or becomes injured in that span, and his trade value is significantly diminished or lost entirely.

Brandon Lowe - 2B, TB

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 29 3.3 58.6 32.5 26.1
2023-24 Offseason 29 3.0 49.4 30.8 18.6

Andrés Giménez - 2B, CLE

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 24 3.3 79.0 41.3 37.7
2023-24 Offseason 25 3.0 67.9 41.1 26.8

Willy Adames - SS, MIL

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 27 1.3 46.4 16.0 30.4
2023-24 Offseason 28 1.0 30.5 13.1 17.4

Tim Anderson - SS, CWS

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 30 1.3 52.3 18.2 34.1
2023-24 Offseason 30 1.0 34.2 14.0 20.2

These four can be grouped together as All-Star caliber middle infielders whose teams are, to varying degrees, on the bubble of playoff contention and tend to be more budget-conscious than other teams.

That Lowe hasn’t already been traded may speak more to the lack of development among Tampa Bay’s middle infield prospects than it does to any affinity the team might have for Lowe himself. The Rays likely hoped one of Vidal Brujan, Xavier Edwards, Taylor Walls, Greg Jones or Jonathan Aranda would have seized the second base job by now, but all have struggled to varying degrees (and Edwards was traded to Miiami). Lowe also had a rough 2022, but he has four more years of relatively affordable team control, and if he bounces back and the team can find cheaper production elsewhere on the roster, he could very well be moved. One caveat: the Rays’ lineup is very right-handed heavy, making Lowe an important lefty power bat to balance things out.

Giménez broke out in a big way in 2022, his first season as the Guardians’ full-time second baseman. His high trade value despite our model’s aggressive second base positional adjustment is a testament to his talent. Cleveland has a glut of middle infield prospects waiting for MLB playing time, though one would imagine Amed Rosario would be on his way out of town long before the team seriously considered a Giménez deal.

The Brewers could move one of their top arms and still have a strong rotation, but Adames is a tougher sell. Milwaukee doesn’t have much in terms of shortstop depth, and Adames is a solid player on both sides of the ball. Still, perhaps the team would consider moving him if it received a talented shortstop prospect as part of the package, or perhaps headlining the return for a separate deal for one of its starting pitchers.

Anderson is arguably the face of the White Sox, but as Chicago’s competitive window appears to be drawing to a close, so might his time with the team. He missed about half of the 2022 season due to injury and saw his power dip, but he remains a solid contact hitter with clear BABIP abilities. Anderson might not be able to stick at shortstop deep into his 30s, but he should be at least passable at the position throughout the remaining two years of his contract. If the White Sox are out of contention at the deadline, Anderson is certainly an easier player to move than Yoan Moncada or Luis Robert.

Randy Arozarena - OF, TB

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 28 3.3 84.6 32.9 51.7
2023-24 Offseason 29 3.0 72.2 31.6 40.6

Tyler Stephenson - C/1B, CIN

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 26 3.3 52.9 19.5 33.4
2023-24 Offseason 27 3.0 45.0 19.3 25.7

Tarik Skubal - SP, DET

Point in Time Age Years AFV Salary Surplus
2023 Deadline 26 3.3 62.1 24.5 37.6
2023-24 Offseason 27 3.0 54.1 24.3 29.8

These three are wild cards, each interesting players in their own rights playing for teams who aren’t afraid to make a deal, but each with a trait - either good or bad - that could make a trade unlikely.

Arozarena is in a very similar spot to Lowe: a solid player entering his more expensive years of control for a Rays team that isn’t afraid to move pieces around. Arozarena, however, is a right-handed hitter, perhaps making him an easier player for Tampa Bay to part with. But the team’s outfield depth is all but nonexistent, barring a Josh Lowe breakout. Also, the new pickoff rules and larger bases could make Arozarena’s aggressive baserunning even more valuable to a savvy team like Tampa Bay.

The Reds will be limiting Stephenson’s time behind the plate in 2023 in an attempt to keep him healthy. That might not be the worst thing in the world, as Stephenson’s framing graded well below average in 2022 according to Statcast, but his above average bat doesn’t play up quite as well at first base. If this is a temporary change to ease the young slugger back into a more regular catching role for the 2024 season and beyond, then he’ll have plenty of suitors. But if this is the start of a more permanent move into a first base/designated hitter role, his value - and market - may be more limited.

The Tigers were absolutely snakebitten in 2022. Skubal was arguably the highlight of an absolutely dreadful season in Detroit, and even his year was marred by a season-ending elbow surgery. In a perfect world, he’s healthy and pitching like his 2022 self for the Tigers by the All-Star break, and will then be a highly sought-after arm in the 2023-24 offseason or at the 2024 deadline. But given their recent luck, Tigers fans likely aren’t holding their breath.

About the Author

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Ms. Dajuba

I’ve often wondered what values look like like in the future. Not far out down the road like a year or so but more like when it’s the middle of November vs the middle of March or the July deadline vs November. This new feature could be interesting and fun to look at.


It's definitely one of the more common questions we get. We're looking forward to deploying the new feature (and the new site) soon!

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Joshua, this was an excellent article. Thank you.


Thank you for reading, and for the kind words!


Excellent article Josh! I enjoyed it very much. This deadline will be very interesting. Those teams that have denied to trade some of these candidates, I believe will have 2nd thought coming the trade deadline especially if the deal is there.


Thank you! I think Ohtani could hold up the deadline a bit (as he is likely to hold up this offseason in free agency), but I think it's clear there's a big opportunity for teams like the White Sox or Brewers to capitalize on a weaker market and get really strong returns for their stars.

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Andres Gimenez does not belong on this list in general and specifically with where the Guardians are as a franchise in contention. As far as Bieber, Cleveland has to decide which is more important to them as a contending franchise. Do they take a step back and trade him, or do they contend in and enjoy his stats in 2023 then consider a trade. I am for keeping him in 2023. This will give their pitching prospects one more year to develop.

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Cleveland extends Andres Gimenez. I mentioned that he did not belong on the list and the signing proves it. For the Guardians, you have to see where the franchise is at and Mr. Iversen ignored that.

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Sigh…. Rays are only on the bubble of playoff contention. B.Lowe is just another left handed bat, nothing too special and likely to be traded at the first opportunity. Whatever… When healthy, B.Lowe is a top 15-20 bat in all of baseball and he makes less than $10MM and is under control for several more years. Unless his back issue from last year keeps him from returning to full health, I can’t see the Rays trading him. The Rays can’t afford a player like him on the open market and they don’t need any more 2 fWAR players (what you probably think he would return). I would be shocked if the Rays traded a healthy Lowe and I can’t fathom the return the Rays would require for him. It certainly exceeds the $30MM value BTV gives him. As for the Rays’ bubble status, boy are you in for a surprise this year. Rays pitching is easily top 5 in baseball and their bats are better than most realize. It was only 2 years ago that the Rays had the 2nd best run scoring offense in baseball. If the Rays stay healthy, their offense is going to be a lot better than last year’s. Pair that offense with the Rays pitching and you can kiss that bubble talk goodbye. Rays are headed for a very good year in 2023.


John and I have discussed the Rays on our last few podcast episodes, and we're sure to give them all the credit they've earned over the last decade - they clearly know how to create and deploy a roster that is greater than the sum of its parts. But their roster and depth look noticeably weaker entering this season than they have in recent years. They don't have the same caliber of MLB-ready prospect depth that they usually do, particularly in the rotation. Glasnow is out to start the year and Eflin has a shaky injury history, plus Springs' inning totals are heading into uncharted territory. It's an area of concern. FanGraphs Depth Charts projects Rays hitters to be 10th in fWAR (behind the Blue Jays and Yankees, and just a few spots ahead of the Orioles and Red Sox) and their pitchers to be 7th (behind the Yankees, just ahead of the Red Sox and Blue Jays. They're a good team but the division remains tough, it's going to be an uphill battle. As for Lowe specifically, you're correct that he was a top 20ish hitter in 2020-21, but you can't just assume health and entirely write off his 2022. He's a primary second baseman, which we've noticed is one of the least valulable positions in baseball from a trade standpoint. And you're correct that his remaining years of control are relatively affordable, but the Rays payroll is heading into uncharted territory. Their 2024 guarantees for Glasnow, Eflin, Margot and Diaz alone totals $54 million, and in 2025 Glasnow and Margot potentially drop off but Eflin, Diaz, Springs, Lowe and Franco get more expensive, and Rasumussen, Arozarena and McClanahan get deeper into their arbitration years. Unless the Rays are permanently increasing their payrolls - which, I'll believe that when I see it - it looks like they'll have to shuffle their more expensive pieces (as they always do) to make things fit.

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First things first, I love the premise of this article, so don't let my Rays defense keep you from posting similar articles in the future. It was a great article overall. I appreciate your thoughtful response to my post, and I get where you are coming from. However, as a Rays' fan, I see things differently for a couple reasons. On the issue of depth, I could not disagree more with your take. The Rays enter 2023 with a 5 man rotation of pitchers who have all had success at the ML level. In years past, the Rays trotted out rotations with 1st and 2nd year players trying to find themselves, guys like Yarbrough in the 4th and 5th spots, or needing bullpen days early in the season because 1 starter went down. That won't be the case this year. Yeah, losing Glasnow for the first 1-3 weeks of the year sucks, but the Rays are starting with 5 strong pitchers and have capable replacements this year (and Glas' injury is not arm related). Glas should be fine and back on the mound before the end of April based on every report I've read. Patino's velocity has returned (from several injuries last year) and there is a good chance his career gets back on track this year. He's had a good Spring. Bradley is a top 20 overall prospect and he's ready for spot start duties now. By June, the only thing keeping him down will be the guys at the ML level. Monty could start the season in AAA and be ready, if needed, at some point in the 2nd half. Then there are serviceable arms in Chirinos and Fleming and, if absolutely necessary, a bullpen day or two. The Rays will have to lose 2-3 pitchers for a lengthy period of time before I worry all that much about the rotation. Top to bottom, every Rays starter is capable of producing a 3 fWAR season, and several are capable of pitching much better than that. On the injury front, the Rays clearly do not think their pitchers are all that risky from an injury perspective. They extended Springs and Glasnow and signed Eflin to their largest free agent deal ever. Rays don't spend money on bad risk/reward bets, so you can bet they feel strongly their pitchers are capable of pitching without injury. Heck, the Rays are looking to pitch these guys deeper into games and give the Pen more rest than they've had in years. From a WAR perspective, the Rays starting 5 could all be 3 fWAR or better pitchers this year. McClanny, Ras and Springs were basically that last year, and that's with Springs starting in the Pen and Ras pitching with innings limits at the start of the year. Also, it should be noted that fWAR has a glaring flaw in its calculation, as it overly penalizes pitchers for HRs (e.g., McClanny trailed Gausman by 1-2 fWAR most of the first half last season, despite having better numbers across the board, with one exception - the HR/9 (all of McClanny's runs came via HR). It's also kind of funny to think the Rays pitchers' health is more worrisome than the Yankees and Red Sox, but I digress... On the position player side, the Rays will have Mead, Aranda, Manzardo and I guess Brujan waiting in AAA should injuries arise. Three of those guys have legitimate bats. The Farm will be a strength this year for the Rays. On Lowe, I'm not assuming anything regarding his health. However, I am saying that he is too good for the Rays to trade if there is any chance he can be healthy and play injury free. He was a 4.9 fWAR player in 2021 and that was with the shift. According to Rays' announcers this Spring, Lowe was shifted about 85% of the time and his batting average was 100 points lower with the shift than without (.310 to .205 (or something like that)). Lowe could have a monster year in 2023 if he stays healthy. He is irreplaceable to the Rays. Trade value aside, a healthy Lowe could be a 6-7 fWAR player, and any replacement the Rays have for him will top out around 2.5 fWAR (best case). The Rays have assembled their best team overall in recent history and expect to be in the WS hunt til the very end. Maybe they can win without Lowe, but it'll be a lot easier to win with Lowe in the lineup. If his back flares up and he misses time, well that sucks and life goes on. What would suck more though is being overly risk averse and trading Lowe to score a couple more Paredes type players and miss out on a ring as a result. Just like the Yankees had to pay a ton of money to the oft-injured Judge because their offense doesn't work without him, the Rays have to take the risk that Lowe stays healthy because 2022 showed what their offense looks like without him. Last but not least is payroll and future trades, and I agree that the Rays are going to move some guys because that's what they do. My expectation is that the Rays are (or will be by year end) listening to offers for (1) Aroz, because the Rays' local mouthpiece (Marc Topkin of the Times) said they were at the start of the offseason and because Aroz got into a parking lot fight with Yandy Diaz last year (and Diaz was given an extension this year); (2) 1-2 starting pitchers, with Ras the most likely candidate to be traded. The Rays simply have too much starting pitching next year, with McClanny, Glasnow, Springs, Rasmussen, Eflin, Baz, Bradley and Monty all being starters; and (3) Margot, because he makes too much to be a 4th outfielder, which he'll be if/when J.Lowe takes over RF. That said, the Rays don't typically sign guys and then trade them early in their deals. So based on their activity this year, I think you have to assume the Rays' payroll will be higher than we have grown accustomed in recent years. I expect Rays' payroll to come in around $90-100MM in future years, which is still a pittance compared to other teams.


99 wins lmao