One potential trade candidate from each team

November 27th, 2023

The Hot Stove season has been slow-burning to this point when it comes to free agency, but as we approach next week’s Winter Meetings, some believe the trade market could begin heating up.

Some clubs might look to shed payroll, while others could view the trade market as a more sensible way to fill holes on their rosters. Whatever each team’s objective may be, there should be a number of deals shaping up in the coming weeks.

With that in mind, here’s a look at one trade candidate from every team.

American League East

Blue Jays: , INF
Regardless of whether the Blue Jays can retain Matt Chapman this winter, Espinal appears to be a man without a position. The 28-year-old can play second base, shortstop and third base -- but Bo Bichette has shortstop locked up, Davis Schneider could get a shot to win the second-base job and Toronto is not expected to turn to Espinal if Chapman leaves. Espinal is a useful bench player, but the Blue Jays have a number of young infield prospects on the way who could fill that role.

Orioles: , OF
Santander posted a solid season in 2023, hitting 28 home runs with a .797 OPS in 153 games, but the outfielder is slated to hit free agency at the end of the 2024 campaign and is set to see his salary jump to approximately $12 million in his final year of arbitration. With top prospects Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad knocking on the door, Baltimore could move Santander in order to strengthen another area of its roster.

Rays: , RHP
Glasnow is the ace of the Rays’ staff, but his $25 million salary is likely too rich for Tampa Bay, making him a likely trade candidate this winter. Glasnow returned from a left oblique injury suffered in Spring Training to go 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA in 21 starts last season, and given the cost of free-agent pitching this offseason, clubs seeking a top-of-the-rotation option would likely be willing to roll the dice on a one-year commitment to a starter with Glasnow’s upside.

Red Sox: , OF
Verdugo is in his final year prior to free agency, and given Boston’s outfield depth, he could be moved to address another area of need. Verdugo has elite control of the strike zone -- he ranked in the top 15 percent in chase rate, whiff percentage and strikeout percentage in 2023 -- and he features one of the best outfield arms in the Majors. The 27-year-old hit 13 home runs with 54 RBIs and a .745 OPS in 142 games and will likely get a big raise from his $6.3 million salary in his final year of arbitration.

Yankees: , INF
The Yankees don’t have an abundance of options when it comes to trading from their 26-man roster, but Torres -- whose salary will likely jump to about $14 million in his final year before free agency -- is New York’s most attractive trade chip after hitting 25 home runs with an .800 OPS in 2023. With Anthony Volpe locked in as the shortstop, the Yankees could give Oswald Peraza a shot to play second base, with DJ LeMahieu -- who is signed through 2026 -- serving as a fallback option.

American League Central

Guardians: , RHP
A right elbow injury sidelined Bieber for most of the second half, but he made two starts in September and looked healthy. Assuming the Guardians can get a decent return for the 2020 AL Cy Young winner, his eight-figure salary -- he earned $10.01 million in 2023 and will likely get a raise in his final year of arbitration -- could prompt Cleveland to deal Bieber. The Guardians could also wait until next summer to trade the right-hander, hoping he regains his form and raises his trade value.

Royals: , 1B/OF
Pratto displayed big power numbers in the Minors, belting 53 home runs with an OPS around .900 in 207 games at Double-A and Triple-A in 2021-22, but the 25-year-old hasn’t found a place in Kansas City, where first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino is due back from injury next season. Factor in Salvador Perez’s potential move to first base/designated hitter and there doesn’t seem to be a fit for Pratto unless the Royals view him as a legitimate corner-outfield option.

Tigers: , OF
The Tigers tendered a contract to Baddoo, but the recent acquisition of Mark Canha could make the 25-year-old expendable. In addition to pitching, Detroit needs infield help, so dealing from its outfield depth could be the answer for president of baseball operations Scott Harris.

Twins: , INF
Now that Edouard Julien has reached the Majors and prospects Brooks Lee and Austin Martin are getting close, the Twins have infield depth from which to deal. Polanco is due to earn $10.5 million in 2024 and has a $12 million club option for 2025, giving Minnesota a trade chip as it looks to address its need for pitching.

White Sox: , RHP
Cease was a popular name on the trade market last summer, and while the right-hander had a down season by his standards, he has two years of club control remaining and will undoubtedly draw significant interest if the White Sox decide to shop him. It will be interesting to see how new GM Chris Getz approaches the offseason with a team that looks like it could use a reboot.

American League West

Angels: , C
Logan O’Hoppe is the Angels’ catcher of the future, while Max Stassi is signed for $7 million in 2024 with a $7.5 million club option ($500,000 buyout) for 2025. Thaiss is out of options and could be dealt to a team looking for backup catching help.

Astros: , OF
Meyers has shown his ability to make an impact defensively in center field, but Chas McCormick has emerged as Houston’s starter at the position, making Meyers expendable. Although his offense leaves something to be desired, Meyers could help any club looking for a defensive boost up the middle.

Athletics: , RHP
Oakland’s rebuild will continue this offseason, and Blackburn -- who posted a respectable 4.43 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) in 2023 -- should draw interest entering his age-30 season. The right-hander is arbitration-eligible for two more years, and nothing gets other clubs interested more than controllable starting pitching.

Mariners: , 1B
France made his first All-Star team in 2022, but his 2023 numbers didn’t replicate that breakout season. Seattle was open to trading the first baseman prior to the Trade Deadline, and with two more years of club control, France could be an interesting chip for the Mariners if they’re looking to fill other holes on the roster.

Rangers: , INF
Foscue had a solid season in Triple-A, slashing .266/.394/.468 with 18 home runs, 84 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 122 games, but the infielder has no path whatsoever to the Majors with Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Josh Jung locked into their respective positons. The 24-year-old, who ranks as the Rangers’ No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, could be used in a deal to bolster another area of need on Texas’ roster.

National League East

Braves: , INF
Despite a solid showing with the Braves in 2022, Grissom saw limited action in 2023, getting just 80 plate appearances. He continued to rake at Triple-A, hitting .330 with a .921 OPS, but Atlanta doesn’t appear to have plans for him in the Majors. Grissom could be valued by other clubs seeking infield help, making him an obvious trade candidate.

Marlins: , RHP
Even with Sandy Alcantara set to miss 2024 following elbow surgery, if there’s one area of depth the Marlins can afford to deal from, it’s the rotation. Cabrera has had command issues, which led the Marlins to send him to the Minors in August to work out the kinks, but when he’s right, he still has frontline stuff. If Miami looks to add a bat and can’t find one in free agency, Cabrera -- who turns 26 in April -- could be the trade chip used to bolster the lineup.

Mets: , 1B
Alonso’s status will be a big story throughout the offseason as the Mets decide whether to move the slugger as he approaches his final year before free agency. Alonso and the Mets will likely discuss a potential extension, but if the two sides are far apart in those conversations, New York could look to deal Alonso rather than risk losing him for nothing more than a Draft pick next winter.

Nationals: , OF
With Dylan Crews and James Wood -- Washington’s top two prospects -- ready to make their mark in the Majors, Thomas could be an appealing trade chip this winter. The 28-year-old had a breakout season in 2023 with 28 home runs and a .783 OPS, and with two years of arbitration remaining before he becomes a free agent, the Nationals could bring back a nice return for Thomas.

Phillies: , OF
Johan Rojas and Cristian Pache are more likely trade candidates, and given how good Rojas looked during limited playing time, he could be used to bolster another area of the roster. But what if the Phillies decided to trade Castellanos, who has three years and $60 million remaining on his contract? That would open up right field for Bryce Harper, allowing the Phillies to bring Rhys Hoskins back on a new deal. The market for impact bats is weak this offseason, so Castellanos would likely draw significant interest if the Phillies made him available.

National League Central

Brewers: , RHP
Brandon Woodruff’s shoulder surgery might have changed the Brewers’ direction for 2024, especially with Burnes and Willy Adames heading for free agency after the upcoming season. Burnes’ numbers took a slight dip in 2023, but the former NL Cy Young winner still posted a 3.4 fWAR and remains one of the better starters in the game. He should draw significant interest if he’s made available.

Cardinals: , OF
Just two years ago, O’Neill appeared to be on the verge of stardom, having won a pair of Gold Gloves in 2020-21 while belting 34 home runs in 2021. But the past two seasons have been tumultuous for the 28-year-old, who has missed time due to injury and had inconsistent performance when he’s been on the field. The Cardinals have plenty of outfield depth, so moving O’Neill in a deal for pitching could be in play.

Cubs: , INF/OF
Morel’s Statcast numbers were impressive in 2023, when he ranked in the top 12 percent of players in xSLG, average exit velocity, barrel percentage and hard-hit percentage. But the 24-year-old was also among the worst hitters in the league in whiff percentage and strikeout rate, showing plenty of holes in his swing. Morel, who hit 26 homers in 107 games, is blocked at second base by Nico Hoerner, and the Cubs don’t seem to view him as an everyday third baseman. Chicago could give him a look at first base or DH, but given his raw power and the fact that he won’t be arbitration-eligible for two more seasons, Morel could be an intriguing trade chip for the Cubs.

Pirates: , RHP
Bednar was a popular trade candidate at last summer’s Deadline, but the Pirates opted to hold on to the two-time All-Star closer. Bednar is entering his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons, offering up great value to any club seeking a cost-controlled answer in the closer’s role. The Pirates could hang on to Bednar and still use him as trade bait next summer or next offseason, so there’s no urgency for Pittsburgh to move him.

Reds: , 2B
The Reds were said to be open to moving India prior to the Trade Deadline in exchange for controllable pitching, and while the former NL Rookie of the Year is viewed as one of Cincinnati’s leaders, he might be the club’s best trade chip this offseason. The Reds could play Matt McLain at second base and Elly De La Cruz at shortstop, while Noelvi Marte and Christian Encarnacion-Strand could also fit into the infield picture.

National League West

D-backs: , SS
Arizona already made one big deal this offseason, acquiring Eugenio Suárez from the Mariners for a pair of players. But finding another arm to go with Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly should be a priority for the reigning National League champs, though it isn’t likely to come cheap. With Ketel Marte under club control through 2028, Troy -- the club’s No. 3 prospect and a Top 100 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- could be used in a package to acquire a frontline starter.

Dodgers: , INF/OF
Vargas’ production in the Minors hasn’t translated to the Majors yet, but the 24-year-old is still highly regarded around the game and could help the Dodgers bring back a desperately-needed arm such as Tyler Glasnow or Corbin Burnes. Vargas has slashed .310/.392/.487 in 470 games in the Minors since 2018, but that line stands at .191/.290/.350 in 99 big league contests.

Giants: , C
Patrick Bailey has now entrenched himself as the Giants’ catcher of the future, making Bart -- a former top prospect -- expendable. Other clubs might view Bart as a change-of-scenery candidate, and given the dearth of catching on the free-agent market, somebody might take a chance that Bart -- the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft -- realizes his potential away from the Bay Area.

Padres: , OF
Who else did you think would be listed here? Soto is one year away from free agency, and given the expected price tag, San Diego could opt to deal the three-time All-Star to recoup some of the prospect capital it used to acquire Soto in the summer of 2022 if the chances of re-signing the superstar seem bleak.

Rockies: , C
It remains to be seen whether Drew Romo (Colorado’s No. 9 prospect) is ready to take over behind the plate for the Rockies, but Díaz is entering his final year before free agency and the catching market is underwhelming this offseason. Last year’s All-Star Game MVP, Díaz is a solid defensive catcher with some pop in his bat, making him a potential starter for a number of clubs seeking help at the position.