It’s been a relatively quiet trade market so far, with only a few notable deals having transpired since the completion of the postseason. But as teams continue to assess their roster ahead of 2020 and weigh which free agents might fit their budget, it shouldn’t be long until things pick up.
Several blockbuster trades had already occurred by this time last year, three involving the Mariners. Within roughly a one-month span, Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto traded veterans James Paxton (to the Yankees), Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz (Mets) and Jean Segura (Phillies) in deals which netted the Mariners a pair of Top 100 prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn (from Mets), as well as a pair of former Top 100 players in Justus Sheffield (Yankees) and J.P. Crawford (Phillies).
A few days after the Mariners had completed the last of their trio of deals, it was the D-backs who made headlines when they traded All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals in exchange for Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver, prospect Andy Young and a 2019 Draft pick.
And while we’ve yet to see a Top 100 Prospect be included in a trade this offseason -- Luis Urías, a former Top 100 Prospect who graduated to the big leagues in 2019, was shipped from the Padres to the Brewers last week in a four-player trade -- there soon could be a flurry of trade activity with all 30 teams set to convene in San Diego for the Winter Meetings Sunday through Thursday.
Which contenders could make moves? Here are 10 clubs with a realistic chance to win in 2020 and farm systems with enticing trade fodder (listed in order of number of Top 100 prospects):
Top 100 Prospects: 6
Top-rated prospect: MacKenzie Gore, LHP (No. 4)
The Padres’ window opened in earnest last year starting with their offseason acquisition of Manny Machado, while the Opening Day promotions of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack reflected the organization’s belief that they could be a competitive team in 2019. That largely proved true, save for some second-half struggles, and general manager A.J. Preller has already been proactive this offseason in improving the Padres' big league roster via trades, dealing former prospects Luis Urias and Eric Lauer to the Brewers (for Trent Grisham and Zach Davies) and then sending catcher Austin Allen to Oakland for Jurickson Profar. More important, San Diego still has arguably the best farm system in baseball, with young, high-ceiling prospects -- 17 players on the Padres Top 30 list haven’t yet reached Double-A -- and upper-level players comprising an extraordinarily deep talent pool that could help the Padres secure a game-changing return in an offseason trade. Padres Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 6
Top-rated prospect: Wander Franco, SS (No. 1)
While it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Tampa Bay parts with either Franco or left-hander Brendan McKay, the Rays, much like the Padres, have the type of top-prospect talent and overall depth needed to execute just about any trade. Middle infielder Vidal Brujan (No. 39 overall), with his plus hitting ability and blazing speed, is a widely coveted prospect whom other teams would surely target in a deal. The Rays’ contingent of former first-round picks (Matthew Liberatore, Greg Jones, Shane McClanahan, Josh Lowe) are all potentially valuable trade chips, too, and they could also choose to sell high on rising hurlers such as Shane Baz (No. 94) and Joe Ryan. Rays Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 5
Top-rated prospect: Cristian Pache, OF (No. 11 on Top 100)
The Braves house two of the best outfield prospects in baseball in Pache and switch-hitter Drew Waters (No. 23 on Top 100), both of whom have Triple-A experience and immense upside, as well as numerous pitchers (Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson) who could serve as valuable trade chips given their proximity to the Major Leagues and remaining years of team control. In general, the Braves have the type of players who are likely to be coveted by other teams in trade talks, and after securing their second straight National League East title in 2019, they should be willing to listen. Braves Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 5
Top-rated prospect: Gavin Lux, SS/2B (No. 2)
While the Dodgers have one of the better hitter-pitcher prospect pairings in Lux and right-hander Dustin May (No. 32 overall), it’s a safe bet that neither player will be made available in offseason trade talks. The rise of rookie catcher Will Smith has opened the door for the Dodgers to trade Keibert Ruiz (No. 33) -- another prospect the club opted not to deal ahead of the 2019 Trade Deadline -- and there should be plenty of interest in the young switch-hitter, just as there was during the regular season. The two prospects (Jeter Downs, Josiah Gray) that L.A. acquired from the Reds in last offseason’s Yasiel Puig-led trade emerged as Top 100 prospects in 2019 and could once again be dangled as bait in the right deal, while players such as DJ Peters and Omar Estevez, upper-level hitters who lack a clear path to playing time in the Majors, could be packaged into a larger deal. Dodgers Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 5
Top-rated prospect: Royce Lewis, SS (No. 9)
The Twins' resurgence was one of the best stories of the 2019 season, as the club secured its first American League Central title since 2010 with a 101-win campaign before falling to the Yankees in the ALDS. The organization also had a big year on the farm, as former first-rounders Lewis (2017) and Alex Kirilloff (2016) -- MLB Pipeline’s Nos. 9 and 15 overall prospects, respectively -- advanced to the Double-A level for the first time. Lewis and Kirilloff, as well as outfielders Trevor Larnach and Brent Rooker, are all candidates to contribute in the big leagues in 2020, though the Twins also could use them as trade chips to net a potentially franchise-changing return as they look to build upon the previous year’s success. Twins Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 4
Top-rated prospect: Alek Thomas, OF (No. 59)
Arizona’s system took flight in 2019 as the club aggressively stockpiled young, high-ceiling talent in the Draft -- where it made seven selections within the first 75 picks -- while also continuing to add high-probability big leaguers via trades. That accumulation of talent has provided the D-backs with the requisite pieces needed to make a blockbuster trade, and after a winning season (85-77) in the NL West, the organization seemingly has more incentive than ever to explore that route. If they do make an offseason trade, look for the D-backs to deal from their impressive collection of young arms. D-backs Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 3
Top-rated prospect: Ronny Mauricio, SS (No. 80)
Brodie Van Wagenen traded away a slew of highly touted prospects in his first season as Mets general manager, packaging former first-round picks Kelenic and Dunn to Seattle in the offseason Edwin Diaz-Robinson Cano deal, and then dealing the club’s two best pitching prospects (Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson) to the Blue Jays to land Marcus Stroman ahead of the Deadline. And after a strong finish that saw the club win 46 of its final 72 games, the Mets appear poised to make even more deals this offseason as they look to build upon their 2019 momentum. The organization’s best trade chips are its younger, lower-level prospects -- teenagers like Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos -- though they also have some nearly big league-ready players (Andres Gimenez, David Peterson) who conceivably could net the Mets a quality return. Mets Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 3
Top-rated prospect: Deivi Garcia, RHP (No. 62)
The Yankees don’t have as many Top 100 Prospects as they did a few years ago and are thin on upper-level hitters -- but boy, do they have some impressive arms. Garcia is said to be untouchable in trade talks, but hurlers like Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, Nick Nelson and Luis Medina are candidates to be dealt in an offseason trade, and there are countless rebuilding teams who would welcome the addition of any of the aforementioned hurlers. The same can be said for young hitters like 2018 first-rounder Anthony Seigler and international signees Everson Pereira and Antonio Cabello, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Yankees ultimately packaged a combination of pitchers and hitters in an offseason trade. Yankees Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 2
Top-rated prospect: Dylan Carlson, OF (No. 24)
The acquisitions of Marcell Ozuna and Goldschmidt in back-to-back offseasons paid dividends for the Cardinals in 2019 as they won their first NL Central title since 2015. But Ozuna is now a free agent, and the Cardinals will be forced to potentially figure out how to replace his potent bat in left field. Luckily, the club has a slew of young, MLB-ready outfielders (Tyler O’Neill, Randy Arozarena, Lane Thomas) ready to step in and contribute in Ozuna’s absence, until Carlson, a 21-year-old switch-hitter, is deemed ready for an everyday role. At the same time, the Cardinals’ outfield depth could also prompt the team to make a trade -- perhaps one in which it packages a pair of outfielders (and possibly more) to land an established bat. Cardinals Top 30 Prospects list »
Top 100 Prospects: 1
Top-rated prospect: Brice Turang, SS/2B (No. 98)
One of the more active traders in recent years, Milwaukee has already been busy this offseason, sending Trent Grisham and Zach Davies to San Diego for Urias and Eric Lauer. But after reaching the postseason for a second straight year, the club now finds itself in a position where it could improve its roster either by trading valuable Major League assets (i.e., Josh Hader) or prospects. The Brewers are noticeably thin on Top 100 prospects, but they do have an interesting crop of young hitters (Turang, Tristen Lutz, Mairo Feliciano) as well some upper-level prospects (Corey Ray, Zack Brown) who may benefit from a change of scenery. Brewers Top 30 Prospects list »
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.