18 non-rental trade chips worthy of big haul

July 15th, 2018

The rental market in this period leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 begins with the bang that is Manny Machado and then gets very iffy very quickly.
Oh, sure, there are noteworthy names such as Mike Moustakas, , Josh Donaldson, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, etc. But it's a crop whose instant impact is in question, and several executives surveyed are expecting a scenario in which a cluster of comparable options could lead to some straight salary dumps when the Deadline draws near.
So if you're looking for non-Machados worthy of hefty prospect hauls, you've really got to look beyond the rental market and into the available options under contractual control beyond 2018. For many contending clubs, that's the preferable path, anyway, because this allows them to not only fill a present hole but to get a jump-start on offseason roster construction.
Here, in no particular order, is a look at 18 potentially available guys who are controllable beyond '18.
1-4. , , and Zack Wheeler, starters, Mets
Control beyond 2018: Three arbitration years for Syndergaard and Matz, two for deGrom, one for Wheeler
We'll group the Mets' young starters together with the obvious caveat that the price tag on deGrom and Syndergaard -- and probably Matz -- is extraordinary. That said, this market is really light on bankable rotation options, and so it's not totally out of the realm of possibility that somebody will step up and blow the Mets away with an enticing offer of Major League-ready prospects (the Brewers, Dodgers, Braves, Phillies and Yankees would all be particularly well-positioned to make an aggressive offer). Syndergaard, who returned from a finger ligament strain Friday, has to prove he's healthy and capable of dominating every fifth day. Wheeler is the most movable piece here, but he's also the least proven, with a career ERA+ eight percentage points lower than MLB average in 83 starts.

5. , closer, Marlins
Control beyond 2018: Three arbitration years
Your typical "good closer on a bad team" is drawing plenty of interest. The three years of control are particularly appealing, because we've seen the rising price tag for relief help in free agency. Barraclough has mixed up his pitch patterns this season, making more effective use of a filthy changeup. The result is a career-best 1.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP for the Fish. The Indians, Braves, Phillies and Astros make a lot of sense for Barraclough's services.

6. , closer, A's
Control beyond 2018: Two arbitration years
Because it's Oakland, we have to include this breakout closer in the conversation. But the A's ought to be buying, not selling, in this trade market with the way they've played lately.
7. J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins
Control beyond 2018: Two arbitration years
The Marlins traded their entire outfield last winter but held onto this guy. That's looking wise, because his trade value has likely only increased in an All-Star season in which he's slashed .310/.365/.539. The Marlins place a premium on Realmuto's leadership qualities, so they could seek to build around him. But his arbitration years might not align with their realistic rebuild timetable, and teams like the Nationals and Red Sox could make a strong pursuit.

8-9. Brad Hand, closer, and , reliever, Padres
Control beyond 2018: Two years, $14.7M, plus $10M team option for 2021 for Hand; one year, $2.25M for Stammen
Last summer, contenders balked at the idea of surrendering a major package (i.e., a deal centered around at least two Top 100-prospect types) for Hand, who had been a waiver claim as recently as the start of 2016. Hand has since maintained his elite presence and signed an extension, so the price is enormous again and the outcome is likely to be the same. Stammen, though, could move, particularly if the Padres package him with another reliever like to get a better haul. Trouble is, Stammen has labored much of the past month (5.79 ERA in last 14 innings).

10. , closer, Reds
Control beyond 2018: Two years, $11.4M
Iglesias' first name is pronounced "rye-SELL," but that doesn't mean the Reds will actively shop him. They've done great work to repair their reputation after a 3-18 start, and they expect to increase their payroll and try to make a more earnest contention effort next year. So a cost-controlled closer has value to them, too, and he's priced accordingly in this market.
11. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds
Control beyond 2018: One arbitration year
Gennett might be a different story for Cincinnati. The former waiver claim has remade himself into an All-Star with a .308/.355/.526 slash dating back to the start of '17. Because the Reds' top prospect, Nick Senzel, was playing primarily at second base for Triple-A Louisville before season-ending finger surgery, it might make sense to take advantage of what might be peak trade value for Gennett. A team like the Dodgers would be the perfect trading partner here, but the Reds would run the risk of upsetting a fan base that has understandably grown to love Gennett.

12. Whit Merrifield, UT, Royals
Control beyond 2018: Four years, including three arbitration years
The budget cost control is attractive. The .307/.377/.432 slash is attractive. And the versatility to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield might be the most attractive quality of all, as teams like the Brewers and Red Sox try to round out their rosters.
13. , starter, Tigers
Control beyond 2018: Four arbitration years (likely a Super Two this offseason)
There's interest because of the weak starting-pitching market, but the Tigers would potentially be selling at a low point. Fulmer's ERA is at 4.50, his walks are up and his opponents' hard-contact rate has risen. Every outing at this point is an open audition for contending clubs. The Dodgers were reported to have shown interest at one time, and the Yankees need help and have prospect depth.
14. , OF, Tigers
Control beyond 2018: One arbitration year
It feels as though he's been around forever, but Castellanos is just 26 years old and in his statistical prime. He's already reached a career-high 2.1 Wins Above Replacement this season. Castellanos is not a defensive asset in the outfield, but there aren't many outfield assets in this market, period. Maybe teams that could use help at either the outfield (Indians and Phillies) or even first base (Rockies) would pounce.

15. , OF/DH, Rangers
Control beyond 2018: Two years, $42 million
A first-time All-Star, Choo's having an awesome resurgence in his age-35 year, so we'll list him here. But knowing what we know about ageism in the market, particularly as it pertains to predominantly bat-only players, it's hard to imagine anybody taking on that contract, unless the Rangers eat the bulk of it to get prospect help.
16-17. , 1B, and , OF, White Sox
Control beyond 2018: One arbitration year for each
Chicago's competitive timetable likely doesn't align with these contractual situations, but this might not be an ideal time to trade either guy. Abreu is an All-Star but has slumped this month. Garcia is currently on the DL with a hamstring issue that has hampered him much of the year. The Sox place enough sentimental value on Abreu for his leadership role with the younger Latinos on their roster that he's difficult to deal, but the Astros are (weirdly) among the clubs rumored to have checked in.

18. Chris Archer, starter, Rays
Control beyond 2018: One year, $7.7 million, plus team options for 2020 ($9M) and '21 ($11M)
It's our obligation to include Archer in these discussions because he's perpetually in the rumor mill. But he's having a down year, showed rust in his return from an abdominal injury last week and is considered valuable enough to the Rays that it will be difficult for a team to pony up the right price under the circumstances.