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Stars on the verge of being traded, ranked

@RichardJustice
January 24, 2020

Just to show you that big names do sometimes get traded, Corey Kluber will be putting on a Texas Rangers uniform for the first time in a couple of weeks. In an offseason marked in part by a long list of prominent players rumored to be on the trade block,

Just to show you that big names do sometimes get traded, Corey Kluber will be putting on a Texas Rangers uniform for the first time in a couple of weeks. In an offseason marked in part by a long list of prominent players rumored to be on the trade block, Kluber was the one whose name was called when he was dealt from the Indians to the Rangers.

Who’s next? Or to put it another way, who is the most likely "big name" player to be dealt next?

How about we rank nine players from most likely to be traded before the Trade Deadline, to least.

1) Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

This is starting to seem like a matter of when and not if. He has a team-friendly $12.5 million option for 2021, and at 31, he is coming off his best season: .845 OPS, 60 extra-base hits, 25 stolen bases. He’ll bring new Bucs general manager Ben Cherington multiple prospects.

Potential landing spots: Mets, Padres, Cardinals, Rays, Rangers

2) Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Giants

He has made 32-plus starts six of the last seven seasons and rebounded from an injury-shortened 2018 season nicely in '19 with 181 1/3 innings and a 1.11 WHIP. At age 35, he’ll be watched closely for regression, but Samardzija seems likely to be an important Trade Deadline pickup. He’s in the final season of a five-year deal that will pay him $19.8 million this year.

Potential landing spots: Angels, Phillies, Astros, White Sox

3) Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs

Once Bryant’s service time dispute is settled, it seems quite possible the Cubs will trade him as they seek payroll flexibility and prospects. Right now, he’s scheduled to be a free agent after the 2021 season, but if he wins his grievance, he could be a free agent next offseason. While they’ve gauged the value of other players, the Cubs know that Bryant will command the most value, though that value will depend quite a lot on when he is a free agent.

Potential landing spots: Dodgers, Braves, Phillies

4) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Well, this got awkward in a hurry. Arenado spent the offseason hearing about the Rockies listening to offers for him. Rule of thumb for general managers: If you’re going to trade a franchise player a year after signing him to a long-term contract, do it quickly and quietly. When Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich publicly ended trade discussions this week, Arenado said he wasn’t thrilled with the way things had been handled, but then he back-tracked a little on Wednesday. Now what? We’ll see, but a trade certainly can’t be ruled out. The main reason he ranks behind Bryant here is that he has a full no-trade clause and can dictate his destination to a certain degree.

Potential landing spots: Cardinals, Braves, Phillies

5) Robbie Ray, LHP, D-backs

Do the D-backs have enough pitching to contend for a playoff spot and trade Ray? That’s the question general manager Mike Hazen will be wrestling with over the next few months. His big-picture plan seems to be to trade Ray for prospects, but if the lefty is the difference between making and missing the postseason, he won’t be traded.

Potential landing spots: Astros, Dodgers, A’s, Reds

6) Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians

What seems obvious is not. Yes, Lindor is two seasons from free agency, and it would make sense for the Indians to deal him at some point. However, this team probably is going to be really good again, and there’s no way Lindor gets traded in the middle of a postseason race. If they're out of the race, he’ll bring a bundle of prospects. At this point, he’ll still be in Cleveland on Opening Day. As for Aug. 1, that’s a different story.

Potential landing spots: Dodgers, Giants, Reds, Phillies, Rays

7) Marcus Semien, SS, A’s

Semien improved every part of his game the last two seasons and was a legitimate American League MVP candidate in 2019. He's likely to command big dollars in free agency next winter. In previous seasons, such a scenario would mean Semien was certain to be traded. But the A’s may be good enough to win a World Series, and president of baseball operations Billy Beane will not do anything that interferes with that.

Potential landing spots: Nationals, Reds, Brewers

8) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Reds

The Reds do not even want to consider this one. Here’s hoping they do not have to. But if they’re buried in the National League Central standings at midseason, the market for the 29-year-old right-hander as he heads into free agency will be strong.

Potential landing spots: Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, Phillies

9) Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox

Color us skeptical. Yes, the Red Sox would like to cut payroll. But this club is good enough to win a World Series. So Betts gets traded only if the Red Sox are a distant third in the AL East in July. At that point, new Red Sox baseball boss Chaim Bloom would deal Betts for payroll flexibility and prospects, which he would probably like to do anyway. Otherwise, they’ll stay the course even with Betts a free agent after the season.

Potential landing spots: Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, Padres

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.