6 clubs with prospects to trade at Winter Meetings

November 29th, 2023

The Winter Meetings begin Sunday in Nashville, and like so many of us these days, many teams will arrive with holiday shopping on their minds. Then they will go out and buy or sell, making trades with an eye toward 2024 and laying the groundwork for more deals to happen later this winter.

Inevitably, an enormous proportion of these deals end up involving young talent. While teams value the talent and cost control of prospects, they often can't resist parting with them to acquire veterans who could impact their big league club tomorrow. The cost can be high. In the past decade, highly rated phenoms such as Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Yoán Moncada and Dansby Swanson have all changed addresses at the Winter Meetings, while guys like Josiah Gray, Wil Myers, Luis Patiño and Trea Turner found themselves involved in late December deals.

Which teams have the prospect currency to make those kinds of moves this time around?

While previewing the upcoming meetings on this week's Pipeline Podcast, MLB Pipeline insiders Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo identified six teams with the prospect capital to swing a big deal in Nashville. Callis and Mayo then assigned each club a "Tradeability Grade" in an entertaining new wrinkle meant to mimic the 20-80 grading system used by scouts to evaluate the tools of baseball"s best prospects.

"Tradeability" Grade: 65 (Mayo)
With the long-reigning top system in the game, the Orioles have, unsurprisingly, one of the deepest talent pools to trade from. That system is stocked better with bats than with pitching, and with the Orioles coming off their first playoff appearance in years, they are one of the many teams in the market for arms this winter. It isn't difficult to imagine them dipping into their considerable position player prospect depth to acquire it. That could mean an outfielder close to the Majors like Colton Cowser (BAL No. 2) or Heston Kjerstad (BAL No. 3), or one of their many upper-level infielders -- Connor Norby (BAL No. 7), , Joey Ortiz (BAL No. 6) -- all of whom have at least some positional flexibility.

Top overall prospect Jackson Holliday isn't getting traded. But is Coby Mayo (BAL No. 4) untouchable? If he is, maybe an established corner bat like Ryan Mountcastle becomes available? The scenarios are seemingly endless with an organization as deep as Baltimore's.

"Tradeability" Grade: 65 (Callis)
The Dodgers continue to have loads of regular season success but only one recent World Series to show for it, so not only are they very motivated, they are seen as obvious frontrunners to trade for a top starter this winter and they have the prospect capital to do it. Two of their best prospects are catchers -- Dalton Rushing (LAD No. 1) and Diego Cartaya (LAD No. 3) -- blocked by Will Smith on the big league roster. They have a very interesting bat in Michael Busch (LAD No. 2) without an obvious place in their already deep lineup. They have all kinds of pitching, from Nick Frasso (LAD No. 4) and Gavin Stone (LAD No. 5) to the recently graduated and and beyond, to make seemingly any kind of deal happen.

"Tradeability" Grade: 60 (Mayo)
We've grown accustomed to seeing the Reds dealing for prospect talent, and after taking a big step forward in '23, they now seem poised to dip into their still-good farm system to supplement their young and improving big league roster. Potential trade partners know Cincinnati's system is still rich in up-the-middle position players; eight of Cincinnati's top 11 prospects are hitters, and seven of them are infielders.

Even after graduating Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain in the same summer, talented shortstops like Noelvi Marte (CIN No. 1), Edwin Arroyo (CIN No. 3) and Ricardo Cabrera (CIN No. 8) remain. There are also younger and more corner-type players like Cam Collier (CIN No. 5) and Sal Stewart (CIN No. 7), and nearly big league-ready outfielder Rece Hinds (CIN No. 10). The National League Central is wide open, and for the Reds, the future is now. They have the pieces to make serious moves this winter.

"Tradeability" Grade: 55 (Callis)
Another team with an intriguing combination of motivation and prospect depth. The bats are the draw here, with talented infielders like Matt Shaw (CHC No. 6) and James Triantos (CHC No. 9), outfielders like Pete Crow-Armstrong (CHC No. 1), Owen Caissie (CHC No. 3) and Kevin Alcántara (CHC No. 4) and bat-first catcher Moises Ballesteros (CHC No. 7). The Cubs are a veteran team with long-term commitments all over the diamond (Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki), and are hungry to improve after narrowly missing the playoffs in '23. Their position player prospect depth should be an asset this winter.

"Tradeability" Grade: 50 (Mayo)
The always-competitive Rays are no strangers to wheeling and dealing, and their system is again in a healthy enough place to make that possible this winter. Two of their top three prospects already have Major League experience and four of their top seven are at the upper levels. So while Junior Caminero (TB No. 1) probably isn't going anywhere, guys like Carson Williams (TB No. 2), Curtis Mead (TB No. 3) and Mason Montgomery (TB No. 7) could certainly entice clubs looking for talent that's almost ready for The Show. And with Tampa Bay potentially shopping Tyler Glasnow, the Rays theoretically could be in a position to backfill any highly rated talent they might send elsewhere in other deals.

"Tradeability" Grade: 40 (Callis)
Milwaukee might be entering a retooling period, so the Brewers might not be as likely to use prospects to swing a big trade as some of the other mentioned clubs. But if they wanted to, they certainly have the prospect capital. Jackson Chourio (MIL No. 1) isn't going anywhere. But Jeferson Quero (MIL No. 2), Jacob Misiorowski (MIL No. 3) and Tyler Black (MIL No. 4) all raised their stock this year and are now Top 100 prospects. Robert Gasser (MIL No. 5) and Carlos F. Rodriguez (MIL No. 6) also got better this year, and Eric Brown Jr. (MIL No. 10) looked great in the Arizona Fall League. Simply put, Milwaukee has a ton of talent. The question is how willing it is to deal from that pool at this moment in time.