Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein recently caused a stir in the media by saying no player was untouchable. When certain dots were connected, he seemed to be announcing he would consider trading third baseman Kristopher Bryant.
The Yankees? Braves? Phillies? The possibilities seemed endless. Epstein walked back the remarks, sort of, a couple of days later, saying he was articulating an organizational philosophy and not referencing any specific player.
Forgive us for getting carried away. It's that time of the year -- not just for reporters, but for all 30 front offices attempting to reshape rosters and manage payrolls.
In doing this, every possibility can and should be on the table. But the doesn't mean everything is really on the table. With these next two columns, we'll attempt to separate the stars that ought to be untouchable and those that shouldn't be.
Here are seven I would not trade:
1. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
Sure, the Giants ought to be gauging interest in their ace. This works just fine as a philosophy, since Bumgarner's a year from free agency.
Don't do it. He means too much to the franchise. If he's going to be dealt, then Buster Posey should be as well, which would lead the Giants into the great unknown of starting over. Instead, how about adding to a solid core of players and trying for another run at winning the National League West?
2. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets
In what universe would trading a 26-year-old starter with thoroughly dominant stuff when healthy and three years of team control make sense? None, unless the Mets are embarking on a complete teardown.
They aren't. So keep Thor and build around him. Yes, he would bring interesting prospects. But he's also part of a rotation that could get the Mets back into contention, and quickly.
3. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Reds
Suarez joined Joey Votto and Tucker Barnhart as franchise cornerstones last spring with the signing of a seven-year, $66 million contract. Nothing has changed. He should not be traded. The Reds are willing to trade for pitching this offseason, and while no one is untouchable, Suarez should be close.
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
Arenado is as identifiable with the Rockies as almost any player they've ever had, and doesn't that count for something? Unless he's committed to testing the free-agent market after next season, there's no reason Arenado shouldn't be with the Rockies for the foreseeable future.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-backs
Among the difficult decisions the D-backs face is what to do with the face of their franchise a year from free agency. Here's guessing Goldschmidt would be very open to an extension, in part because he has deep roots in the Phoenix community. He's that rare player who should finish his career where he started.
6. Edwin Diaz, RHP, Mariners
Despite trading James Paxton and Mike Zunino and expressing a willingness to listen on others, Diaz is where the Mariners should draw the line. Baseball's best closer is 24 years old and under team control for four more years. He could be the face of the franchise for years to come. Progressive front offices recognize that relievers are volatile stocks, so the return might not be as overwhelming as some would think.
7. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians
Bauer is on the very short list of best pitchers in the game and under team control for two more seasons. If Cleveland is going to reboot the roster, he'd be one of the first out the door. Because they're not, Bauer becomes a big reason they'll be favored to win a fourth straight division title.