The 2020 Trade Deadline is officially in the rearview mirror, but as every baseball fan knows, trade talk is a year-round affair.
The shortened season means that the hot stove will be simmering before we know it. Only two months from now, teams will be preparing their offseason plans, many of which will include a significant trade or two.
Here are 15 offseason trade candidates whose names figure to be tossed around in talks during the coming months:
Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE (free agent after 2021)
Who else could be the first name on this list? Lindor’s future in Cleveland has been a hot topic of conversation for more than a year; this winter will be no different. In all likelihood, Lindor -- who should receive a raise from his $17.5 million salary in his final year of arbitration -- will be the primary story of the offseason, as the Indians could look to move their franchise player one year before he hits free agency.
Some have wondered whether the financial situation facing many teams will impact Lindor’s eventual free-agent contract, but Mookie Betts’ megadeal with the Dodgers all but erased those questions. The Indians should be able to land a monster package for one of the best players in baseball, and while it’s possible they wait until the summer of 2021 to move him, an offseason deal seems far more likely.
Trevor Story, SS, COL (free agent after 2021)
Like Lindor, Story is headed for free agency at the end of next season, presenting a quandary for the Rockies. Colorado’s front office signed Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon to long-term deals (and handed Story a two-year deal, buying out his final arbitration years) with an eye on contending, so a late-season run and good showing in October could prompt the Rockies to keep the band together.
However … Colorado’s farm system checked in at No. 28 in MLB Pipeline’s latest rankings, with 2020 first-rounder Zac Veen representing the club’s lone presence in the Top 100. Arenado’s name will also be mentioned throughout the winter, but the clause in his deal that allows him to opt out at the end of 2021 makes it unlikely he will be traded. Dealing Story in his walk year would give the Rockies a chance to bring back a nice package of prospects, injecting much-needed talent into the system.
Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC (free agent after 2021)
No list of trade candidates would be complete without Bryant, who has seemingly been the speculative subject of trade talk for years. Bryant is entering his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility, having settled with the Cubs for $18.6 million in 2020. With no extension talks in the works, the Cubs could look to move Bryant to help bring back prospects that could supplement the team’s core.
Bryant won’t be the only Cubs player mentioned on the trade circuit this winter. Anthony Rizzo ($14.5 million club option in 2021) or Kyle Schwarber (third-year arbitration-eligible, free agent after 2021) could be dangled out there if Chicago opts to hang on to Bryant.
Eduardo Escobar, INF, ARI (free agent after 2021)
The D-backs traded Starling Marte and Archie Bradley -- who each had another year of club control -- earlier this week, along with impending free agents Robbie Ray and Andrew Chafin. The total savings for 2020 was more than $3 million, though many expect Arizona to shed more payroll during the offseason.
Madison Bumgarner has a limited no-trade clause, but he’ll be tough to move given his subpar performance this season and sizable contract. Escobar hasn’t had a stellar season himself, but with one year left at $7.5 million, the versatile infielder should be an attractive option for several teams. The D-backs could also try to deal Kole Calhoun, who is slated to earn $8 million next season with a $9 million club option ($2 million buyout) for 2022.
Lance Lynn, RHP, TEX (free agent after 2021)
Lynn was a prime trade candidate before the Trade Deadline, though the Rangers never got an offer they found worthwhile. Lynn has excelled during his one-plus years in Texas, and with an affordable $8 million salary in 2021, the right-hander should be a popular target for a number of clubs given the dearth of frontline starting pitching on the free-agent market this offseason.
If the Rangers look to shed more salary, Joey Gallo -- whose name was also mentioned in the days leading up to the Deadline -- could be shopped around. Gallo landed a $4.4 million salary in his first year of arbitration and is under control for two more years.
Miguel Andújar, 3B/OF, NYY (under control through 2023)
Andújar broke into the Majors with a bang in 2018, finishing as the runner-up to Shohei Ohtani in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He missed most of 2019 with a shoulder injury, and although he’s been healthy this season, the Yankees simply don’t have a spot for him to play now that Gio Urshela has staked his claim on third base.
The 25-year-old Andújar has proven he can hit in the Majors, and while his defense at third base was shaky in his rookie year, he’s added some versatility by learning left field. The Yankees will be on their eternal search for controllable starters again this offseason, and Andújar could be the key to landing one.
Clint Frazier, OF, NYY (under control through 2024)
Andújar isn’t the only Yankees youngster who could be on the move this winter. Frazier was traded from the Indians to the Yankees in the July 2016 Andrew Miller deal -- and he’s been a subject of trade rumors on a regular basis ever since. The soon-to-be 26-year-old (his birthday is Sunday) has overcome attitude concerns, and his ability to hit in the Majors is not in question.
What is in question, however, is how the Yankees see him fitting into their future plans. Aaron Judge is under control for two more years, while Aaron Hicks is under contract through 2026. Will Brett Gardner be back for another year? If not, is Mike Tauchman or Frazier penciled in as his replacement? If the Yankees get the right offer for Frazier (see the “eternal search for controllable starters” referenced above), GM Brian Cashman wouldn’t be afraid to make a deal.
Brandon Belt, 1B, SF (free agent after 2021)
Now that top prospect Joey Bart has graduated to the Majors, the Giants will have to find a way to find playing time for both him and Buster Posey, who is expected to return in 2021 after electing not to play this season. Assuming that the universal designated hitter doesn’t return to the NL next year, first base seems like the obvious spot.
Belt will earn $16 million in 2021, the final season in his five-year, $72.8 million contract. He possesses a limited no-trade clause, which allows him to block deals to 10 teams, but even though the Giants are shedding more than $35 million in payroll with expiring contracts, the club could be motivated to move Belt to trim some more salary and thin down a crowded infield. Donovan Solano, a third-year arbitration-eligible infielder who will be entering his age-33 season, could also be a trade chip for the Giants in the offseason.
J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, BOS (free agent after 2022)
This entry is contingent upon Martinez opting in for the final two years and $38.75 million of his deal with the Red Sox, a decision which will be made shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. Industry insiders don’t expect Martinez to opt out of his deal in this financial climate, though he would still have the opportunity to opt out at the end of the 2021 season with one year left on his contract.
Unless the universal DH remains intact in 2021, Martinez’s trade value would likely be relegated to American League teams only, but several AL clubs would be happy to add his power bat to their lineup. The Red Sox won’t necessarily look to shed payroll this winter, having already reset the luxury tax, but Boston -- ranked as the game’s No. 25 farm system by MLB Pipeline -- could move Martinez in order to fill other needs on the roster or within the system.
Starling Marte, OF, MIA (free agent after 2021)
The D-backs had no interest in exercising Marte’s $12.5 million option for 2021, but the Marlins appear likely to do so. The question is, will Miami keep Marte for his final year before free agency, or send him elsewhere in what would be his third trade since January?
Assuming the option is picked up, Marte would be one of only two players on the Marlins currently slated to earn more than $5 million (Corey Dickerson will earn $9.5 million in 2021). A strong finish by Marte could enhance his place in the Marlins' clubhouse -- or enhance his offseason trade value.
Raisel Iglesias, RHP, CIN (free agent after 2021)
With their acquisition of Archie Bradley at the Trade Deadline, the Reds have a pair of closers under control through 2021. Cincinnati resisted the urge to trade Iglesias and his reasonable contract (three years, $24.125 million) last offseason, but Bradley’s arrival gives the Reds a legitimate option to take over closing duties if they deal Iglesias.
Cincinnati spent big last winter on Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos, though it remains to be seen whether the club will be able to retain Trevor Bauer once he hits free agency. Shedding Iglesias’ $9.125 million next season could help the Reds' cause while bringing back prospects to help reload a farm system ranked 22nd by MLB Pipeline.
Josh Hader, LHP, MIL (under control through 2023)
Since the start of 2018, Hader has made a pair of All-Star teams, won back-to-back Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Awards (and he’s on his way to a third straight in 2020) and established himself as one of the most dominant late-inning arms in the game.
Yet Hader’s name continues to pop up in trade talks, in part due to the Brewers’ payroll situation. Hader lost his arbitration hearing last winter, earning $4.1 million rather than the $6.4 million he filed for. Could the two sides be headed for another arbitration showdown? Or might the Brewers gauge what type of package they could land for the lefty, who is under control for three more years?
Hunter Renfroe, OF, TB (under control through 2023)
The Rays were open to moving some of their mid-range players before the Trade Deadline, according to sources, which was part of the impetus for the trade of José Martínez to the Cubs. Renfroe has not produced as expected in his first season with the Rays, but after hitting 85 home runs from 2017-19, potential bidders will forgive a hiccup in this peculiar season.
Renfroe landed a $3.3 million salary in his first year of arbitration, and as a Super Two, the 28-year-old is under club control for three more years. Tampa Bay has a deep, versatile roster that could easily fill the gaps if Renfroe is moved. Ji-Man Choi, who is entering his first year of arbitration, could also be a Tampa Bay trade candidate.
Danny Duffy, LHP, KC (free agent after 2021)
Duffy has been a trade candidate of sorts for a year or two given his hefty salary and the Royals’ small-market payroll, but with one year and $15.5 million left on his five-year, $65 million deal, it might finally happen. GM Dayton Moore has resisted temptations to move Duffy to this point, but the Royals have multiple pitching prospects bursting through the system and the organization sees Duffy as a potential transition piece to the bullpen. There are plenty of reasons to deal him.
That’s not to say Duffy wants to be traded, even if it means a better chance for him to win. In December 2017, Duffy famously tweeted, “Bury me a Royal” in response to trade rumors, making his preference to remain in Kansas City clear. But the free-agent starting pitching market falls off relatively quickly after Trevor Bauer, making a veteran arm such as Duffy quite marketable on a one-year commitment.
Wil Myers, OF/1B, SD (under control through 2023)
Myers has been the subject of trade speculation for a couple years, but his sizable contract has been an impediment to most talks, including those between the Padres and Red Sox concerning Mookie Betts last winter. Myers has two years and $40 million left on his deal (plus a $20 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout), which is more manageable than the deal has looked in recent years.
Given how productive Myers has been this season, GM A.J. Preller could look to move him this offseason in an effort to shed some payroll and fill a more pressing need on the roster. After what we saw Preller do at the Trade Deadline, it’s hard to bet against him getting something done if he sets his mind to it.