Some big names could be traded this season

April 3rd, 2022

We’re just days away from the start of the 2022 season, a time when teams around the league are optimistic that the next six months will lead to a trip to the postseason.

That’s the way it should be in early April, but the reality is that a handful of clubs will find themselves looking up in the standings as the calendar moves into June and July, setting up another action-packed Trade Deadline.

Among the players moved prior to last summer’s deadline were Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, José Berríos, Craig Kimbrel, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, Starling Marte, Nelson Cruz, Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, many of whom made their presence felt during the stretch run.

Which players will have a similar impact on this season's pennant races? Here’s a look at some likely candidates, some interesting possibilities and some dark-horse names that could be swirling around the rumor mill come July.

Most likely

Josh Bell, 1B; Nelson Cruz, DH (Nationals)

Both under club control through 2022 (Cruz has a mutual option for 2023)

Cruz signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the Nationals (which includes a $3 million buyout of his 2023 mutual option), while Bell and the Nationals settled on a $10 million salary for 2022, the first baseman’s final year prior to free agency. Bell rebounded nicely last season, hitting 27 home runs with an .823 OPS in 144 games for Washington, and while the Nats have made some nice moves to bolster the offense, the NL East figures to be one of the most competitive divisions in the game. If Washington finds itself falling out of the race by July, Bell and Cruz would become prime trade candidates for teams looking to add some pop to their lineups.

Jesús Aguilar, 1B (Marlins)

Under club control through 2022

The Marlins bulked up the middle of their lineup with the addition of Avisail García and Jorge Soler, but as we mentioned above, the NL East is going to be challenging with the Braves, Mets and Phillies all making big moves this winter. Aguilar has been productive in his two years with Miami, but with a salary of at least $7 million (he and the Marlins exchanged arbitration numbers last week), he could find himself on the move if Miami becomes a summer seller.

Trey Mancini, 1B (Orioles)

Under club control through 2022

After sitting out the 2020 season while battling cancer, Mancini was one of the league’s best stories in 2021, producing solid numbers for a woeful Baltimore lineup. The Orioles are still in rebuilding mode, and given the fierce state of the AL East, Baltimore figures to be an seller come July. Mancini -- who will earn $7.5 million this season after avoiding arbitration with the Orioles -- is one of the few members of the team making real money, making him an obvious trade chip this summer.

Andrew Benintendi, LF; Carlos Santana, 1B/DH (Royals)

Under club control through 2022

The Royals made some sly moves this winter in an effort to contend in the AL Central, but Kansas City still appears to be behind the White Sox, Twins and even the Tigers in the division. Benintendi won a Gold Glove last season and is in his final year before free agency, while Santana -- who had a disappointing 2021 campaign -- could be a solid veteran pickup if he’s able to bounce back this year.


Mitch Haniger, RF (Mariners)

Under club control through 2022

The Mariners are looking to build on their 90-win season, and with the Astros potentially taking a step back following the loss of Carlos Correa, Seattle has its sights set on its first trip to the postseason since 2001. That said, the Mariners’ strength is in the outfield, having added Jesse Winker to a group that includes Haniger, Jarred Kelenic and top prospect Julio Rodríguez. If Rodríguez gets to the Majors and shows he can handle an everyday workload, GM Jerry Dipoto could look to move Haniger -- who will be a free agent after the season -- in an effort to fill another hole on the roster.

Noah Syndergaard, RHP (Angels)

Under club control through 2022

The Angels made a concerted effort to bulk up their pitching staff this winter, addressing an area that has been a weakness for several years. Syndergaard -- who signed a one-year, $21 million deal -- has thrown just two innings over the past two seasons, but if the right-hander can regain the form that made him one of the most fearsome starters in the league, he could be one of the biggest trade chips this summer if the Angels find themselves out of contention.

Corey Knebel, RHP (Phillies)

Under club control through 2022

The Phillies were very active this offseason, bringing in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos to supplement the lineup, while bolstering the bullpen with Knebel, Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia on a series of one-year deals. On paper, this team should contend in a loaded NL East, but as is often the case, relievers will be in demand in July. Depending on the Phillies’ record, they could land a solid return for Knebel, a late-inning arm with postseason experience.

Long shots

Carlos Correa, SS (Twins)

Under control through 2024 (Correa has opt outs after 2022 and 2023)

The Twins underwent a makeover this offseason, adding Correa, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Sonny Gray and Chris Archer while losing Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons, Alex Colomé, Michael Pineda and Mitch Garver. Minnesota sees an opportunity to catch the White Sox in the AL Central, and while Correa figures to be a centerpiece of the club, it’s possible that he will opt out at the end of the season, giving the Twins a huge trade piece if the postseason appears to be out of reach.

Carlos Rodón, LHP (Giants)

Under club control through 2023 (Rodón can opt out after 2022 with 110+ IP)

San Francisco was the surprise team of 2021, leading the Majors with 107 wins. Buster Posey’s retirement and the loss of Kevin Gausman as a free agent left a pair of huge voids on the roster, but the Giants signed Rodón to a two-year, $44 million deal to help replace Gausman. If Rodón throws at least 110 innings, he’ll be able to opt out, so a healthy first half will give the Giants something to think about if they aren’t able to replicate the success they had last season.

Xander Bogaerts, SS; J.D. Martinez, OF/DH; Nathan Eovaldi, RHP; Enrique Hernández, INF/OF (Red Sox)

(Martinez, Eovaldi and Hernández under club control through 2022; Bogaerts signed through 2025, but can opt out after 2022)

The Red Sox are expecting to be in the mix atop the AL East, but with a number of impending free agents -- not to mention the prospect of Bogaerts opting out of his contract at the end of the year -- a poor start could spark conversations of a potential fire sale. Trevor Story is already signed to a long-term deal, giving them an immediate replacement for Bogaerts, while the other three players listed would be sought after by contenders if the Red Sox become sellers.