As the calendar approaches Memorial Day, the trade season is drawing near. We're into the second quarter of the season, and although the bulk of the summer deals won't take place for two more months, there's always the possibility of a contender jumping the market in an attempt to separate
As the calendar approaches Memorial Day, the trade season is drawing near. We're into the second quarter of the season, and although the bulk of the summer deals won't take place for two more months, there's always the possibility of a contender jumping the market in an attempt to separate itself from the pack.
So which players should we expect to see in new uniforms between now and July 31? Here's an early look at some names to watch:
Manny Machado, SS, Orioles
The Orioles' superstar was the subject of myriad trade rumors this offseason, and given Baltimore's deep hole in the American League East, Machado's name has already been the most popular on the rumor mill this season. A three-time All-Star who won't turn 26 until July, Machado will be one of the top free agents available next offseason. The O's are a long shot to retain him beyond 2018, so rather than settling for Draft-pick compensation, Baltimore will likely shop him to the highest bidder for the stretch run with the hope of landing two or three blue-chip prospects in return.
Potential fits: Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, D-backs
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
The Blue Jays' path to October won't be easy, especially after their recent 1-7 slide. The Yankees and Red Sox are pulling away in the division, meaning Toronto's best-case scenario would be to join a crowd of a half-dozen teams vying for the second AL Wild Card spot. If the season takes a turn for the worse, the Blue Jays could move Donaldson -- a pending free agent unlikely to sign back with Toronto -- to a contender and promote top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is knocking at the door to take over at third base. Left-hander J.A. Happ could also be on the block if the Jays become a seller.
Potential fits: Braves, Cardinals, Indians
James Dozier, 2B, Twins
Dozier looked to be on the trade block before the 2017 season, but the Twins held on to the former All-Star as they made a surprising run to an AL Wild Card berth last year. Minnesota is hoping for a return trip to October, but given the team's subpar start, the progress being made by Nick Gordon (No. 4 on the team's Top 30 prospect list according to MLB Pipeline) in the Minors and Dozier's expiring contract, the Twins could move the soon-to-be 31-year-old by midsummer if October appears to be a long shot.
Potential fits: Brewers, Indians, Rockies
Kelvin Herrera, RHP, Royals
The Royals watched Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain leave town this offseason, and while they have a number of players on one-year deals, Herrera will be headed to free agency for the first time after the season. We know how valuable relievers tend to be as the Trade Deadline approaches, so Herrera -- a two-time All-Star off to a fantastic start in 2018 -- could be one of the bigger bullpen arms available. Given Kansas City's last-place standing in the AL Central, the club figures to be one of the first teams to start selling.
Potential fits: Astros, Angels, Nationals
Zach Britton, LHP, Orioles
Speaking of relievers, Britton has the potential to be one of the more interesting players to watch as July 31 approaches. The Dodgers and Astros flirted with the Orioles last summer but ultimately passed on Britton, who hasn't pitched in a game this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon. The two-time All-Star is due back in early June, making him a prime trade candidate if the free-agent-to-be shows he can return to his previous form. Fellow Baltimore bullpenner Brad Brach -- another player with an expiring contract -- could also be on the move.
Potential fits: Astros, Dodgers, Angels
Alex Colome, RHP, Rays
We finish our reliever run with Colome, the Rays' closer, who was the subject of myriad rumors during the offseason. The right-hander got off to a miserable start to 2018, but he's bounced back over the past month, converting all six of his save opportunities while posting 1.32 ERA and a 16-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 appearances. Tampa Bay is hanging in the AL Wild Card race, but if that changes, Colome could become the latest player shipped out by the Rays.
Potential fits: Angels, Dodgers, Nationals
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
If the Royals become early sellers as suggested above, Moustakas could find himself playing for a contender down the stretch. The third baseman struggled to find a job this offseason before settling on a one-year, $5.5 million pact with Kansas City, and although there's a $15 million mutual option, it comes with an affordable $1 million buyout. Moustakas -- who already has 10 home runs and a solid .861 OPS -- might welcome a trade, giving him a chance to put his talent on display for a new team in what would be meaningful games. Either way, he won't be eligible to get a qualifying offer after the season, making it easier for him to sign next offseason.
Potential fits: Braves, Cardinals, Mets
Cole Hamels, LHP, Rangers
Last summer, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were all moved to contenders, helping the Astros, Dodgers and Yankees go deep into the postseason. This year's crop of available starters doesn't figure to include any big-name front-line starters, leaving the 34-year-old Hamels as potentially the top arm on the market. Hamels might not be the same pitcher he was a couple years ago, but the Texas southpaw would still serve as a quality No. 2 or 3 starter for most contenders and has the postseason experience -- including National League Championship Series and World Series MVP Awards -- that teams covet every October.
Potential fits: Yankees, Angels, Brewers
Khris Davis, LF, A's
The Athletics are in the mix in the loaded AL West, but they face an uphill battle when it comes to a postseason berth. We've seen the club deal big-name players for packages of prospects as they approach the final years before free agency, and given that Davis has only one more arbitration-eligible season before becoming a free agent at the end of 2019, Oakland could turn his powerful bat into a haul of young players.
Potential fits: Nationals, Mariners, D-backs
Chris Archer, RHP, Rays and Michael Fulmer, RHP, Tigers
We'll group these two together as they are similar in a lot of ways, as young right-handers who are both under team control for a few years. The thin starting-pitching market makes both look attractive despite their respective performances declining the past three seasons. Archer has a 5.01 ERA in 10 starts, which would be a career high, while Fulmer's 4.35 ERA would also be the worst of his three big league seasons. On a positive note, Archer is under control through 2021 and owed just $27.5 million from 2019-21. Fulmer also comes with multiple years of control; '19 will be the first of his four arbitration-eligible seasons. It will likely take a sizeable package to pry either of these controllable arms away from their teams, so unless Archer and/or Fulmer begin pitching to their capabilities, it's tough to see any team paying that freight.
Potential fits: Brewers, Yankees, Angels, D-backs, Mariners
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.