Once the Thanksgiving holiday ends, MLB teams tend to go full-steam ahead in the execution of their Hot Stove battle plans.
To make an impactful deal, you must have assets you are willing to part with. In the American League East, each team has an intriguing player that could have a “For Sale” sign attached to him.
The Red Sox have a franchise player with a sticky contract situation. The Yankees might move a third baseman who has already proven his ability to be a stud offensively. The Rays have impressive depth in their starting rotation, which could make one of their arms available. The Blue Jays have a closer coming off a big year, but they might not want to pay him what he would make in his final year of arbitration. And the Orioles could move their best player from last season in the right deal.
Here is a breakdown of the top assets for all five teams in the AL East.
Blue Jays: Ken Giles
Giles had one of the best seasons of his career in 2019, posting a 1.87 ERA while striking out 83 batters in 53 innings and saving 23 games. After making $6.3 million through arbitration last year, the right-hander is due for another raise in his free-agent walk year. The Jays have done well in the past signing lower-cost relievers and getting value out of them, so don’t be surprised if they go down that road again. In exchange for Giles, perhaps Toronto could find a cost-controllable starter and an outfield prospect that would patch an obvious weakness in their farm system.
Orioles: Trey Mancini
During the O's rebuilding period the last couple of years, Mancini has emerged as the face of the franchise, while also being their most productive player. This could make things sticky if the Orioles try to trade him. Given the position they are in, with many needs to fill, they will need to consider everything. Mancini is, without question, their best trade piece. He isn’t a free agent until 2023, meaning that his value is tied into his years of team control. Not a defensive specialist by any means, Mancini would be more attractive for an AL team. While it isn't necessarily likely that Baltimore will deal Mancini, the club needs to keep the option open.
Rays: Young pitchers
The Rays are the envy of most organizations due to the depth of their pitching staff. This could allow them to deal from their talented pool of young power arms to help fill another one of the club's needs. Despite numerous injuries, Tampa Bay had one of the best pitching staffs in the Majors last season, and it’s only projected to get better in 2020. Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos will enter the season at full strength, and they will join Charlie Morton and Ryan Yarbrough to form one of the most formidable rotations in the AL.
Red Sox: Mookie Betts
In an ideal world, the Red Sox would sign Betts for many more years and he could be the face of their franchise. However, they’ve made attempts to do this in the past and Betts has stated multiple times that he’d prefer to test free agency and make his decision then. Betts is now entering the final year of his contract, meaning this is Boston’s last chance to package him in a trade rather than lose him for nothing more than Draft-pick compensation after the season.
What might also compel new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to deal the ultra-talented Betts is that Sox ownership would like to bring the team’s payroll below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $208 million for next season. Betts earned $20 million in the arbitration process last year and he will top that next season. Boston’s farm system could use some replenishing, and trading Betts would be another way to bring some top prospects to the Red Sox.
Yankees: Miguel Andújar
With Andújar out for all but 12 games last season due to injury, Gio Urshela stepped up in a big way at third base. That leaves Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with the ability to unload Andújar, who was the runner-up to Shohei Ohtani in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2018. Cashman has said he’s already getting calls from GMs wondering what the plans are for Andújar. If he stays, he would give New York additional lineup depth and could play first base or left field in addition to backing up Urshela at third. If the Yanks trade Andújar, expect Cashman to try to score some starting pitching.