Trade market: 6 third basemen who could move

July 4th, 2018

Hot corner, hot trade market.
For teams seeking to upgrade or fill a hole at third base, there's no shortage of options at the position -- and even a few very big names.
There's likely to be at least one or two blockbuster-caliber trades at this spot ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, so let's run through the top names and latest buzz.
Manny Machado, Orioles
Let's get this out of the way: Machado has been playing shortstop for the O's this season and reiterated Wednesday to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philly he plans to stay at that position going forward.

Machado is included here because he could be a better fit for certain contenders at third instead, especially considering he was arguably the sport's best defensive hot cornerman before shifting to short. Machado's defensive resume adds even more intrigue to his circumstances.
Speaking of those, Machado -- who turns 26 on Friday -- is making $16 million this year and becomes a free agent at season's end. Combine that with his overwhelming offensive production so far (.308/.377/.560, 21 HRs, 59 RBIs), and the Orioles have a massive, must-be-moved asset.
Among the many teams potentially in play for arguably the biggest name on the trade market: the Phillies, Dodgers, Indians and Cubs. The D-backs also have had "consistent" conversations with the O's and the Braves are monitoring Machado, too, according to's Jon Paul Morosi.
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
Entering his final year of club control, Donaldson looked like he would be one of the biggest trade assets on the board if the Blue Jays fell out of contention. Unfortunately for the franchise, Toronto's season hasn't gone according to plan -- and neither has Donaldson's.

The 2015 American League MVP Award winner has battled various injuries since the start of 2017. While Donaldson was able to bounce back last year, his 2018 season has been limited to just 36 games -- and a .234/.333/.423 line -- due to right shoulder and left calf ailments. Donaldson has been on the disabled list since May 29 with the latter injury, and he's expected to be re-evaluated in mid-July after suffering a setback in late June.
To put it bluntly, Donaldson is running out of time to return to the field and turn himself back into an in-demand trade target. Potential suitors like the Cardinals, Phillies and Braves will want to see something out of him before giving up anything of significant value for a 32-year-old with injury issues who's due the rest of his $23 million 2018 salary.
, Rangers
Yet another huge name, Beltre is a complicated case when it comes to trade talk. On one hand, he's a currently healthy and still-productive 39-year-old in the final year of his contract (2018 salary: $18 million), so it makes sense that the AL West cellar-dwelling Rangers could look to take advantage of his value while they can.

On the other hand, Beltre has the ability to veto any trade as a 10-and-5 player (with 10 years of MLB service time, five straight with the same club), as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal points out in The Athletic (subscription required).
Furthermore, Beltre -- the active career hits leader and a veteran of 21 seasons but still chasing his first chance at a ring -- has made it known, via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, that if he decides to play in 2019, he would want it to be with Texas. All of which might make it tricky for the Rangers to move someone they consider a legacy player, unless they get his blessing.
Mike Moustakas, Royals
After a failed foray into free agency, Moustakas has had something of a roller-coaster campaign. He started strong, slashing .280/.331/.518 with 12 homers in 55 games through May but has since managed a .210/.273/.370 line with four home runs.

As much as the 29-year-old means to the Royals for helping turn the franchise around and win it all in 2015, Kansas City has begun the process of rebuilding in full and traded closer to Washington in late June.
Moustakas could be next, considering he's a capable all-around player due just the remainder of his bargain $5.5 million salary for 2018. His 2019 contract hinges on a $15 million mutual option, meaning either he could opt to become a free agent or the club could decline and pay a $1 million buyout. (Having been extended -- and declined -- the qualifying offer last year, Moustakas cannot go through that process again.)
The Cardinals, Braves and Phillies have needs at third base, and all have been linked to Moustakas so far. Given his team-friendly contract, he also could fit for the Indians or Brewers, although both clubs would need to move their incumbent third basemen (, ) to another position.
, Twins
Escobar broke out for a surprising career-high 21 homers in 2017, and he's been even better in the first half this season. The 29-year-old is slashing .277/.335/.531 with 13 big flies, and he's already totaled an MLB-leading 34 doubles entering Wednesday. Alas, the struggling Twins appear ready to become a seller, as's Jon Paul Morosi reports.

In the wake of 's struggles, the switch-hitting Escobar has become Minnesota's primary third baseman and also has experience at shortstop and second base, making him a very versatile target for teams in search of help across the diamond.
A free agent at season's end, Escobar has a very reasonable 2018 salary ($4.85 million) that also makes him appealing, possibly as a rental for cost-conscious clubs like the Indians and Brewers or even the Giants, who are up against the competitive balance tax threshold and awaiting 's return.
, Mets
On the topic of versatile veteran infielders in the middle of strong offensive seasons for struggling teams, Cabrera is a natural trade candidate.

The 32-year-old has played exclusively second base for the Mets this year, but he saw 44 games at the hot corner for them in 2017 and also can handle shortstop -- his initial big league position -- in a pinch.
A switch-hitter in the final year of his contract, Cabrera already has popped 15 homers to surpass his 2017 total while hitting .284/.332/.489. His bat, ability to play multiple spots and $8.25 million salary would fit with any number of contenders, and the Mets are moving closer to sell mode,'s Anthony DiComo writes.