The 12 players most likely to be traded

July 30th, 2022

Andrew Benintendi was the first major domino to fall in this year’s trade market, dealt by the Royals to the Yankees late Wednesday night.

The Trade Deadline is roughly 100 hours away, which means four days of non-stop rumblings, rumors and -- hopefully -- deals.

Here’s a look at 12 players with a solid chance of being traded by Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET, starting with the most likely candidates.

1) Willson Contreras, Cubs C
Introducing a new catcher can be tricky for a contender, as it can take a while to learn a new pitching staff. But Contreras is arguably the best bat available on the market, so teams might look to acquire him as a designated hitter and part-time backstop. Either way, the impending free agent seems like a lock to be moved.

Potential landing spots: Astros, Mets, Rays

2) Luis Castillo, Reds RHP (starter)
Cincinnati has danced the Castillo trade dance for the past year or two, but most believe the Reds will finally move their ace prior to this Trade Deadline. Castillo is having an All-Star season, is under club control through 2023 and can impact two pennant races and postseasons. He’s the best starter available and should bring back a nice haul for the Reds.

Update: Traded to Mariners (July 29)

3) David Robertson, Cubs RHP (reliever)
High-leverage relievers are always popular trade targets this time of year, but when they’re on relatively affordable deals, they become even more desirable. Robertson is owed a little more than $1.15 million this season (plus a $100,000 assignment bonus and another $525,000 in potential performance bonuses, of which the acquiring club would be on the hook for a portion), but given his renaissance this season -- he owns a 1.83 ERA in 35 appearances -- and his vast postseason experience, the 37-year-old will be a big addition for a contender’s bullpen.

Potential landing spots: Mets, Rays, Yankees

4) Josh Bell, Nationals 1B
Juan Soto isn’t the only Nationals player getting attention on the trade market this summer. Available power bats are relatively scarce this month, but Bell -- an impending free agent who has 13 homers and an .877 OPS – should help add some pop to a contender at first base or DH. He’s owed roughly $3.3 million through the end of the season.

Potential landing spots: Astros, Brewers, Mets

5) Frankie Montas, Athletics RHP (starter)
Montas’ shoulder issue earlier this month caused him to miss a pair of starts, but he returned after the All-Star break and has pitched twice, allowing three runs over eight innings. Montas sat in the 95-96 mph range in the early innings of his most recent start, and while his velocity dipped in the fourth and fifth, he looked like himself throughout the outing. Any concern over his arm could bring the level of return down, but with another year of club control, Oakland would likely wait to move him in the offseason if the offers are lighter than expected. In this thin pitching market, however, Montas is a near lock to be traded.

Potential landing spots: Cardinals, White Sox, Yankees

6) Brandon Drury, Reds INF
The 29-year-old impending free agent is having a career year, already setting a personal best with 19 home runs. Drury’s ability to play multiple positions makes him an attractive addition for contenders, as does his bargain-basement price tag (he’s owed roughly $300,000 for the remainder of the season).

Potential landing spots: Braves, Dodgers, White Sox

7) Noah Syndergaard, Angels RHP (starter)
Syndergaard’s velocity drop this season -- his fastball is averaging 94 mph, a stark difference from his 98 mph heater prior to Tommy John surgery -- has caused concern from other clubs, but the 29-year-old has pitched to a 3.83 ERA in 80 innings in 2022. It’s unlikely that Syndergaard would be acquired as a top-of-the-rotation arm, but teams looking for rotation depth might be willing to take a chance on the righty, who will be a free agent this winter. The Angels could likely get a better prospect if they are willing to pay down the $7 million he’s owed for the rest of the season.

Potential landing spots: Blue Jays, Phillies, Twins

8) José Quintana, Pirates LHP (starter)
Five years ago, Quintana was one of the most notable names on the trade market, ultimately moved from the White Sox to the Cubs in a deal that landed Dylan Cease and Eloy Jiménez on the South Side. It’s been a tough run for Quintana since then, but the lefty is enjoying a bounce-back season with the Pirates, giving Pittsburgh a solid trade chip heading into the Deadline. With only about $650,000 left on his contract, Quintana will be a highly sought-after rental arm.

Potential landing spots: Brewers, Guardians, Mariners

9) David Peralta, D-backs LF
Peralta’s value is simple: he hits right-handed pitching extremely well. His .830 OPS against righties this season makes him a legitimate left field/DH platoon candidate, and some of the league’s contenders have struggled against right-handers this season. The 34-year-old is in the final year of his three-year, $22 million extension, so he’s owed less than $3 million for the remainder of the season.

Update: Traded to Rays (July 30)

10) Daniel Bard, Rockies RHP (reliever)
Like Robertson, Bard is a 37-year-old closer enjoying a big year on a losing team at a relatively affordable salary ($4.4 million). Unlike Robertson, who is in his first year with the Cubs, Bard has been with the Rockies since he returned to the Majors in 2020, so it’s possible the two try to continue their relationship with a new extension. If no deal is reached, Bard figures to be a popular trade target, as multiple teams have already expressed interest in the right-hander.

11) Ian Happ, Cubs LF
Unlike Contreras and Robertson, Happ is the one Cubs trade candidate who is signed beyond 2022, so Chicago could wait to shop him again in the offseason. But Happ -- who has played all three outfield spots during his career and can also play three infield positions in a pinch -- is coming off of his first All-Star appearance, so the Cubs could try to capitalize on his solid season and move the switch-hitter by Tuesday.

Potential landing spots: Dodgers, Padres, Phillies

12) Juan Soto, Nationals RF
You didn’t think we would have this list and not include Soto, did you? The feeling around the industry is that the closer it gets to the Deadline, the less likely it becomes that Soto is moved by Tuesday. The Nationals are rightfully asking for perhaps the biggest package of young talent the game has ever seen, and while waiting until the offseason would put a slight dent in Soto’s value -- he could impact three pennant races and postseasons if he’s dealt this week, but only two if he’s moved this winter -- the return for Soto in the offseason would still be astronomical.

Potential landing spots: Cardinals, Dodgers, Padres