Trade talk will surround these players all year

March 18th, 2021

We’re two weeks away from Opening Day, when all 30 clubs will take the field with high hopes of a fresh start and endless possibilities.

But as spring turns to summer, some teams will naturally find themselves in position to look toward 2022, setting up what should be another intriguing Trade Deadline.

Last year’s Deadline saw the Padres acquire Mike Clevinger and Trevor Rosenthal, the Marlins deal for Starling Marte and the Reds trade for Archie Bradley, bolstering their respective rosters with postseason berths squarely in sight.

Which players will be the talk of the trade market this summer? Here’s a look at some likely candidates, some interesting possibilities and some dark-horse names that could be swirling around the rumor mill come July.


, SP
, SP (Reds)
Under club control through 2023

This talented duo has been mentioned in trade rumors for quite some time, but the Reds held serve last summer and took advantage of the expanded postseason format in 2020, punching a ticket to October for the first time since 2013. After losing Trevor Bauer to free agency and sending Raisel Iglesias to the Angels in a trade, the Reds will face an uphill battle to return to the postseason this year, which could accelerate the plan to move one of their two coveted starters.

, IF/OF (Rangers)
Under club control through 2022

The Rangers’ decision to trade Lance Lynn this offseason was a clear sign that Texas is in the middle of a rebuild, making it likely that other players could be moved in the near future. Gallo will earn $6.2 million in 2021 and is arbitration-eligible for one more year, so he can impact two pennant races/postseasons for a team acquiring him this summer. For the Rangers to get back the value they would want, however, Gallo will have to look more like the 2019 All-Star version of himself (.986 OPS) than the guy who posted a .679 OPS in 2020.

, SP (Mariners)
Under club control through 2021

Paxton signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal to return to Seattle, hoping to restart his career after another injury-plagued year with the Yankees in 2020. Paxton has shown himself to be a frontline starter in the past, but durability has been an issue; he’s hit the 150-inning mark just twice in his career. If Paxton bounces back and stays healthy, he could help the Mariners contend for a playoff berth, but Seattle is likely another year away from becoming a serious contender, giving GM Jerry Dipoto a potential trade chip in the left-hander.

, SS (Rockies)
Under club control through 2021

A part of next offseason’s potentially historic free-agent class of shortstops, Story is the most likely of the group to be dealt now that the Rockies have finally moved on from Nolan Arenado. Some have theorized that the money Colorado saved by trading Arenado can now be used to lock up Story, but given the way the Arenado saga went down, will the shortstop want to commit to a long-term future with the Rockies? Story has been one of the best players in the game over the past three seasons, giving the Rockies a huge asset to move this summer if they don’t think they can sign him to a new deal.


, SS
, 3B/OF
, C (Cubs)
Báez/Bryant under club control through 2021; Contreras 2022

The Cubs shed some payroll this offseason with the trade of Yu Darvish to the Padres and the decision to non-tender Kyle Schwarber, but the current state of the NL Central should allow Chicago to compete for a division title. If things go awry, however, impending free agents Bryant and Báez could find themselves on the block along with Contreras, who won’t be a free agent until the end of the 2022 season.

, SP (Giants)
Under club control through 2021

The Giants chose not to trade Gausman last summer, holding on to the right-hander in an attempt to make the postseason. That didn’t happen, but Gausman returns for 2021 after accepting a qualifying offer. The Giants have a number of impending free agents on the roster -- Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Donovan Solano could all hit the open market next fall -- but Gausman will be a valuable trade chip if president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi decides to become a seller this summer.

, RP (Angels)
Under club control through 2021

The Angels acquired Iglesias from the Reds as part of their effort to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014. The AL West still features a pair of formidable teams in the Astros and Athletics, presenting Joe Maddon's team with a challenging task. Unless a playoff berth appears to be in reach for Mike Trout and company, Iglesias -- who is in his walk year -- could be among the most highly coveted relievers on the market.

, CF (Marlins)
Under club control through 2021

Miami exercised Marte’s $12.5 million option this offseason, bringing the 32-year-old back for another season. The Marlins are seeking a return to October, but as the lone player on the roster making eight figures, Marte would likely be the first one traded if the season went south in the ultra-competitive NL East. Marte, who was traded twice in 2020, is set to become a free agent this fall for the first time in his career.

, RF/DH (Royals)
Under club control through 2021

Soler and the Royals settled on an $8.05 million deal for 2021, the final season before the 29-year-old becomes a free agent. Kansas City made some interesting moves this offseason, adding Carlos Santana, Andrew Benintendi, Mike Minor, Michael A. Taylor and Greg Holland among others, giving the Royals an injection of veteran help. But the White Sox, Twins and Indians still pose a serious roadblock to Kansas City’s playoff hopes, setting up a potential summer fire sale of short-term contracts beginning with Soler.


, SS (Astros)
Under club control through 2021

Another member of the vaunted shortstop class of 2021, Correa seems as likely to sign an extension as he does to be traded this summer. The Astros expect to contend as usual, though the loss of George Springer to free agency and Justin Verlander to elbow surgery could make the road to October a little bumpier. If the Astros believe they won’t be able to sign Correa to a long-term deal -- and if Houston’s path to the playoffs appears to be in doubt -- the club could make an aggressive move and trade Correa to a contender to help restock the farm system.

, RP (Brewers)
Under club control through 2023

With two more years of arbitration eligibility ahead of him, Hader could be a popular trade target next offseason. Milwaukee is always cost-conscious, however, so the idea of jumping the gun to maximize the All-Star reliever’s value can’t be discounted -- especially if the Crew finds itself in a precarious position in the winnable NL Central.

, OF/DH (Red Sox)
Under club control through 2021

Martinez has two years and $38.75 million remaining on his contract, though the slugger can opt out at the end of 2021 if he chooses. That could complicate a potential trade if the Red Sox look to move him, though the chance to join a contender could be appealing for Martinez if Boston struggles again this season. We saw the impact he had down the stretch when the D-backs traded for him in the summer of 2017, and given his front-loaded contract, Martinez’s salary shouldn’t be a huge deterrent if a contender wants to add some pop to its lineup.