1 trade candidate for all 30 teams

July 18th, 2020

During a recent conversation with a team executive, I noted the unique nature of this year’s Trade Deadline, which will arrive just 39 days after Opening Day.

“That’s true,” the executive said. “But it’s also four weeks before the end of the season.”

Um, good point.

The 60-game sprint that all 30 teams will embark upon beginning next Thursday and Friday will present all types of challenges for front offices, especially when it comes to roster management. The Aug. 31 Trade Deadline will be one of the toughest tests for executives, who must decide whether to buy, sell or stand pat for the final month.

“If you’re a team who has a player in their walk year, are you better off getting something -- especially if you get off to a bad start?” a National League executive said. “Some team we all think is good is going to start slow, so you could see them take less [for an impending free agent] than you would typically get because it’s better to trade a guy than not to. There’s so much unknown. I could see there being zero action or I could see a ton of action. It wouldn’t surprise me either way.”

Which players might be on the move if the latter occurs? MLB.com dug into each roster and came up with one potential trade candidate from every team. Reminder: For 2020, only players in the 60-man players pools can be traded, which means that many top prospects -- especially those at the lower levels -- are off-limits for an in-season trade.


Blue Jays: Travis Shaw, INF
Under club control through: 2021

Having added a pair of veteran starters (Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark) to the rotation, the Blue Jays are counting on their young core of position players to continue to develop. Shaw was signed to play first base, though Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s new focus on the position will shift Shaw to the hot corner on most days. If he bounces back from a subpar 2019, Shaw will have value to other teams, while Toronto could move him since it has other infield options to replace him in the lineup. Shaw has another year of club control, making him more than just another rental. Closer Ken Giles, who is also headed for free agency after the season, could also be a trade candidate.

Orioles: Mychal Givens, RHP
Under club control through: 2021

Givens was a popular name on trade-candidate lists a year ago, but the right-hander struggled during the first half of 2019, causing his value to plummet. Givens and the Orioles settled on a $3.225 million deal in his second year of arbitration, so he would represent a good value -- and an additional year of club control -- for a contender if he gets off to a solid start this season.

Rays: Kevin Kiermaier, CF
Under club control through: 2022

The longest-tenured player on the Rays, the 30-year-old Kiermaier remains a staple of Tampa Bay’s lineup. But we’ve seen the Rays move players with multiple years remaining on their contracts, and Kiermaier has two years and nearly $24 million left on his deal after the 2020 season. The Rays also made a deal in February to add Manuel Margot, a 25-year-old who could step in as the team’s center fielder should Kiermaier be traded.

Red Sox: Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Under club control through: 2020

Bradley’s name was mentioned as a trade possibility all winter, though he and the Red Sox ultimately settled on an $11 million salary in his final year of arbitration. With Mookie Betts now wearing a Dodgers uniform and Chris Sale set to miss this season following Tommy John surgery -- not to mention the great expectations for both the Yankees and Rays in the AL East -- the Red Sox could find themselves in sell mode before the end of August. Bradley could be a solid addition for any contender in need of outfield help.

Yankees: Miguel Andujar, 3B/OF
Under club control through: 2023

The Yankees opted not to deal Andujar last season as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery, betting that the 25-year-old would rebound and find the form that helped him finish second in 2018 AL Rookie of the Year voting. Gio Urshela emerged as a pleasant surprise at third base in '19, and if he carries that momentum into 2020, Andujar, who won’t be arbitration-eligible until this offseason, would become a valuable trade chip. The Yankees might use their positional depth to add to the rotation, which could lose Masahiro Tanaka and/or James Paxton to free agency in the offseason.


Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
Under club control through: 2021

Did you think anybody else would be listed in this spot? A Lindor trade feels inevitable, though it remains to be seen whether that will happen before Aug. 31 or sometime this offseason. A team acquiring the All-Star shortstop in-season would have Lindor for two pennant races and/or postseasons, though it’s unlikely that the Indians will lower their asking price even in a shortened season.

Royals: Ian Kennedy, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

The veteran right-hander pitched well in the closer’s role last season, notching 30 saves and a 3.41 ERA in 34 save situations. Kennedy’s $16.5 million salary equates to $6.1 million in the shortened season, which means a team dealing for him in late August will only owe him about $3 million. Kennedy’s contract (five years, $70 million) has made him virtually untradeable over the past two years, but given his success in the bullpen and the expiring contract, this might be the year he gets dealt.

Tigers: Matthew Boyd, LHP
Under club control through: 2022

The Tigers signed veterans C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Austin Romine this offseason, but given that all three are on one-year deals that will leave them as free agents after the season, none figure to bring back a sizeable return. Boyd, who settled for $5.3 million in his second of four arbitration-eligible seasons, will be the most appealing candidate given that he’s under club control through 2022 and the club has a bunch of promising pitching prospects -- such as Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning -- coming up behind him.

Twins: Jhoulys Chacin, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

The Twins have plenty of rotation options, with José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi and Kenta Maeda leading the way. Chacin, who was added to the 60-man player pool after inking a non-roster deal with Minnesota, had a down year with the Brewers and Red Sox in 2019, but teams seeking back-of-the-rotation help could find him useful down the stretch.

White Sox: Alex Colomé, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

Chicago has two expiring contracts (Colomé and James McCann) and another significant club option (Edwin Encarnación), so if one of these players is to be dealt, Colomé figures to be the choice given teams’ constant need for bullpen help. With former closers Kelvin Herrera and Steve Cishek on board (as well as Aaron Bummer), the White Sox would have alternatives for the ninth inning if Colomé was moved.


Angels: Brandon Marsh, CF
Under club control through: at least 2026

The Angels are seeking their first postseason berth since 2014, having made a big splash this winter with the signing of Anthony Rendon. The rotation remains suspect, so the idea of dealing from the club’s outfield depth would seem to make sense. Marsh, the Angels’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline (and No. 79 overall in the Top 100), is being blocked by Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Jo Adell (the team’s No. 1 prospect), so moving him for a much-needed arm could be in the cards.

Astros: Forrest Whitley, RHP
Under club control through: at least 2026

The reigning American League champions seem unlikely to deal any of their core pieces as they look to return to the postseason for a fourth consecutive season. Despite his struggles in 2019, Whitley remains Houston’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, though it should be noted he was drafted by the prior front office regime, leaving no emotional attachment for general manager James Click. Should a team view Whitley -- who has yet to appear on Houston’s 40-man roster -- as a change-of-scenery prospect candidate and make a solid offer, it’s not difficult to imagine a deal materializing, as there will be few prospects of this caliber available this summer.

Athletics: Sheldon Neuse, 3B/SS
Under club control through: at least 2026

Oakland’s No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline is projected to be Major League-ready this season, but he’s blocked by Matt Chapman at third base and Marcus Semien at shortstop. Billy Beane has never been shy to make a deal if he sees a window for his team to contend, so the 25-year-old infielder could be used to add for the stretch.

Mariners: Dee Gordon, 2B
Under club control through: 2021 (club option)

Seattle’s youth movement limits the candidates, as only Kyle Seager, Yusei Kikuchi and Gordon have prorated salaries north of $1.11 million this season. Gordon’s prorated salary for 2020 is $5.085 million, meaning the Mariners could pay it down in order to move him. The 32-year-old hasn’t been the same player in his two years in Seattle that he was in Miami, but he could be a useful, versatile player for a contending team.

Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo, OF/DH
Under club control through: 2020

Choo possesses 10-5 rights, so he would need to approve any trade, but the addition of the universal designated hitter opens up 15 more teams that could potentially use his services. Texas hopes to contend in the competitive AL West, but if the club opts to sell, Choo’s power and on-base skills should make the 38-year-old attractive to buyers. With only one year left on his seven-year, $130 million deal (he’s slated to earn a prorated $7.77 million this season), Choo’s salary won’t be as difficult to move as it might have been in recent years.


Braves: Shane Greene, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

The Braves boast impressive bullpen depth, with Mark Melancon, Will Smith, Greene and Luke Jackson leading the unit. Both Melancon and Greene are slated to become free agents after the season, though Greene’s salary (he’ll earn a prorated $2.31 million this season, while Melancon will make $5.18 million) should make him more appealing to a wider array of teams. If GM Alex Anthopoulos decides he needs to add a player for the stretch run, the relief corps appears to be the biggest area of strength from which to deal.

Marlins: Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS
Under club control through: 2020

Villar’s bounce-back season in 2019 helped him land a one-year, $8.2 million deal with the Marlins, though that figure will now be a prorated $3.034 million -- the most of any player on Miami’s roster. Villar’s impending free agency could make him an attractive rental candidate if the Marlins find themselves struggling in the ultra-competitive NL East.

Mets: Marcus Stroman, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

GM Brodie Van Wagenen shocked the baseball world when he dealt for Stroman last summer, a move made with an eye on 2020. Stroman won’t be traded if the Mets are in contention, but if New York falls behind in the NL East, anything could happen. Stroman, who will earn a prorated $4.44 million in his contract year, was a highly sought-after arm a year ago; if he’s made available, the same will likely be true next month.

Nationals: Michael A. Taylor, OF
Under club control through: 2021

Despite losing Rendon, the defending champions have a well-rounded roster, having added Starlin Castro, Eric Thames and Will Harris this winter. With Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton making up the starting outfield, Taylor could be an expendable piece if GM Mike Rizzo identifies another area in need of help. Taylor, who will earn roughly $1.23 million in prorated salary, is arbitration-eligible for a fourth time next offseason.

Phillies: Jay Bruce, 1B/OF/DH
Under club control through: 2020

The addition of the DH to the National League should mean more at-bats for Bruce, whose power has long been his best attribute. Playing in the final year of his three-year, $39 million deal, Bruce will earn a prorated $5.18 million during the shortened season, most of which will be paid by the Mariners as part of last year’s trade. He’s one of several impending free agents along with Didi Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto, though without a clear starting spot, Bruce might become a trade chip if the Phillies are in need of an arm for the pennant race.


Brewers: Brett Anderson, LHP
Under club control through: 2020

Milwaukee is in a unique position, with every player on the roster under club control through at least 2021 … except for Anderson, that is. That’s as good a reason as any to list him here, though it will take strong performances by young pitchers Eric Lauer, Corbin Burnes and/or Freddy Peralta for the Brewers to feel comfortable dealing Anderson for help in another area.

Cardinals: Andrew Knizner, C
Under club control through: at least 2026

The Cardinals are unlikely to move anybody from their Major League roster, though Daniel Ponce de Leon could be a candidate if they do. Four of St. Louis’ top five prospects are still a year or two away from the Majors, but Knizner -- a 25-year-old catcher ranked by MLB Pipeline as the club’s No. 6 prospect -- could be dealt if the Cardinals decide to extend impending free agent Yadier Molina beyond 2020.

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B/OF
Under club control through: 2021

Like Lindor, this one isn’t much of a surprise. Bryant is headed for his fourth and final year of arbitration, meaning he would be available for two pennant races and postseasons if he’s dealt before Aug. 31. Bryant is a more likely offseason trade candidate, though an overwhelming offer could tempt Chicago to move the former MVP depending on the Cubs’ place in the standings. It should be noted that Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez and Kyle Schwarber are also slated to become free agents at the end of the 2021 season, and the Cubs probably won’t end up re-signing all of them.

Pirates: Keone Kela, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

Kela is a high-end back-of-the-bullpen arm who has been dominant when he’s been healthy. He’s also an impending free agent earning a prorated $1.378 million this season, so it would behoove the Pirates -- who are building for the future -- to get what they can for him unless they unexpectedly emerge as a contender.

Reds: Trevor Bauer, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

Bauer is the most notable Reds player in his contract year, a key piece of a rotation that Cincinnati expects to ride to the postseason. But the Reds haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013, so it’s far from a certainty that they’ll get there in this 60-game sprint. Bauer, who will earn a prorated $6.475 million (he settled with the team on a $17.5 million salary to avoid arbitration), is arguably the top starter on next winter’s free-agent market.


D-backs: Robbie Ray, LHP
Under club control through: 2020

Ray has been a fixture on the trade-rumor market for well over a year, but now that he’s headed for free agency at the end of the season, a trade could very well happen if Arizona gets off to a bad start in 2020. Ray will earn a smidge less than $3.5 million for his prorated salary, so if the D-backs aren’t confident they will be able to sign him to a new deal next winter, teams around the league would surely show interest in a solid starter at that price.

Dodgers: Joc Pederson, OF
Under club control through: 2020

The Dodgers thought they had a trade to send Pederson to the Angels in February, but the deal fell through. If he was that close to being traded once, Pederson figures to be available this summer if the Dodgers -- who have a glut of outfielders on their roster -- are seeking an upgrade elsewhere. The 28-year-old slugger is set to earn a prorated salary of $2.87 million before hitting free agency this winter.

Giants: Jeff Samardzija, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

Fellow starters Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly could also be in this spot, as all three pitchers are set to hit free agency at the end of the season. The biggest hurdle to a Samardzija deal in recent years has been what’s left on his five-year, $90 million contract, but he’s set to earn a prorated salary of about $7.3 million in 2020. Samardzija posted a 2.67 ERA in 16 starts beginning July 1 last year, so a similar start to this season could boost his trade value.

Padres: Kirby Yates, RHP
Under club control through: 2020

The Padres have postseason aspirations in this shortened season, hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. San Diego, which likes its bullpen depth, has discussed an extension with Yates, though the closer remains unsigned beyond this season, when he’ll earn a prorated salary just over $2.6 million.

Rockies: Daniel Murphy, INF
Under club control through: 2021 (mutual option)

Murphy is slated to DH and play first base this season for Colorado, though Ryan McMahon could step in if the veteran was to be traded. A proven postseason player, the 35-year-old Murphy has a solid postseason résumé, which should make him marketable around the league. He’s set to earn a prorated salary just under $3 million in 2020, though his contract includes a mutual $12 million option for 2021 with a $6 million buyout, half of which is deferred.