Most Likely to be Traded: Position Players

Trades

Players

With the Aug. 31 trade deadline approaching, we’re taking a look at which MLB-level players might be shopped on the market. In part one of this three-part series (the next two will focus on starting pitchers and relievers), we focus on the position player group. Here’s our list:

High Probability: Rentals on teams likely to be sellers:

*Assuming cash or a positive-value player is included to offset contract

Medium probability: Contributors with 1+ years left of control, on teams likely to be sellers:

*Assuming cash or a positive-value player is included to offset contract

Low probability: Rentals on likely contending teams who could be moved in the right deals:

Low probability: Stars mostly on contending teams, but whose clocks are ticking:

A few explanations about this list:

Given the shortness of the season, and the fact that there will be only one month of games before the deadline, there is a lot of uncertainty. Aside from the obvious rebuilding teams, such as the Orioles, Tigers, and Marlins, we’re not going to know which teams will be in “sell” mode. 

There are a whole bunch of teams in the middle, including previous sellers like the Reds, White Sox, and Padres, who seem likely to prioritize contending this year. And although we’ve included players here from teams on the bubble, such as the Angels, Blue Jays, and Rangers, it’s quite possible they hold their cards, even with rentals — because in a short season, just about anything can happen.

That said, many buyers are well-known (Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, et al), and given the need for bench depth this season due to the coronavirus, we may see a higher level of interest in:

—Late-inning outfield defenders (Jackie Bradley, Jr., Kevin Pillar)

—Platoon pinch-hitters (Matt Joyce, C.J. Cron)

—Middle-infield role players (Jonathan Villar, Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Schoop)

—Extra catchers (Jason Castro, Austin Romine)

–Speedy pinch runners who, thanks to the new rule of putting a runner on 2B in an extra-inning game, may have a touch more value (Dee Gordon)

—DH types for NL teams (Shin Soo-Choo, Cron)

  • It’s possible we could see trades for non-rental, higher-impact players who are on rebuilding teams, but don’t fit their future window. Jorge Soler tops this list, and if the Rockies decide to rebuild, it would include Trevor Story and possibly Nolan Arenado (given that he has an opt-out after 2021). If the Red Sox are not contenders, J.D. Martinez could be shopped as well, given the opt-outs in his contract. 

There are also several Pirates players who have more control — Ben Cherington could be fielding calls on Josh Bell, Adam Frazier, or Gregory Polanco. 

The Marlins signed SS Miguel Rojas to a short extension this past offseason, but he doesn’t fit them longer-term, and could bring back a minor prospect if they decide to move him, as could Corey Dickerson or Matt Joyce.

It seems unlikely that contending teams would sell on their rentals at this point, especially since they’ll need all the depth they can. We’d be surprised to see guys like J.T. Realmuto, Marcus Semien, Joc Pederson, or Josh Reddick moved — their teams will need them. But if, say, the Mets get off to a  poor start, they’d likely listen on Yoenis Cespedes (who has looked good in summer camp, surprisingly) and Wilson Ramos; ditto for Cleveland on Cesar Hernandez.

And it seems even less likely that we’ll see the big names moved, for similar reasons. Unless they’re bowled over, the Cubs are likely to give it one more run with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, and Javier Baez; ditto for the Indians with Francisco Lindor.

All that said, never say never.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for parts two and three in our series, which focus on starting pitchers and relievers.

About the Author

John Bitzer

John Bitzer

Founder and editor of baseballtradevalues.com