Inside Baseball: 70 players who could hit the trade block

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

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While it’s still a bit early to know who could be traded, it’s never too early to form a good list of who could go in trade. Here are 70 players who could hit the block, ranked in order of headline potential (i.e., big names first; though admittedly, many at the top guys are among the least likely to go anywhere).

1. Zack Greinke, D-backs SP. A lot of things work against a trade: A team that’s in the thick of the race, an overpriced contract that few teams could even afford (almost $150 million to go through 2021), a limited no trade (he likes the Phoenix-Scottsdale area) and a long list of starters expected to be available. But if they fall back, well, he does make 3 ½ times what the next highest-paid D-backs player makes, and the guys in charge weren’t the ones who signed off on it.

2. Justin Verlander, Tigers SP. With $76 million to go through 2019 (about half what’s owed Greinke, though one rival points out the Tigers have shown no indication to pay it down). The Dodgers were the main team that showed interest in the winter. But the Tigers are seen as not too likely to sell, especially with no one running away with things in the AL Central. “I think they go for it to honor Mr. Ilitch, and besides that, he’s a likely Hall of Famer, which makes him a tough guy to trade,” one rival says.

3. Josh Donaldson, Jays 3B. He has to get back (that’ll be soon) and the Jays have to be convinced this isn’t their year, but rivals could see him out there. Would take a haul back, obviously.

4. Gerrit Cole, Pirates SP. Teams would be lining up for the hard-throwing ace who many see thriving in a bigger market. But as was pointed out here last week, there’s no urgency to trade — at least not yet. That day may not be here yet, with two more years to go before free agency, but as one rival says, “the day’s coming.”

5. Jose Quintana, White Sox SP. He’d get a haul considering the salary’s reasonable and there are 3 ½ years left ($33 million through 2020 assuming the team options are picked up, according to Cot’s, which has been used for most of the salaries here). They don’t have to deal him this summer, of course, but he’s the first one on this list that’s likely to go. “The need will be greater this summer (than the winter),” one rival surmises. The Astros and Yankees were among teams to show interest earlier, but the field would be big.

6. Ryan Braun, Brewers OF. He wasn’t claimed when on trade waivers last year (he has $70 million to go through 2020) and now has a full no-trade (it’s quite possible the Dodgers are the only team he’d accept). No, it doesn’t seem very likely. “I’m just not sure where he goes. L.A. makes the most sense, but I don’t know if they need him,” says a rival.

7. A.J. Pollock, D-backs OF. Now that he’s less than two years from free agency, he could become a bit more available. The Nats could make some sense, though Michael Taylor’s doing fine so far in place of Adam Eaton. “Winter time trade,” one rival predicts.

8. Chris Archer, Rays SP. The Rays have listened before, but it’d take a haul as he’s a bargain ($19 million to go through ’19). Alex Cobb remains the Ray most likely to go, though if Archer hits the block, some see the Cubs, where he was once a minor leaguer, as a good partner, assuming Rays ownership is finally over the Joe Maddon defection now (they were taking awhile to get past that at last check).

9. Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B. He’s playing much better lately, but it’s hard to see them trading him after he was used to recruit fellow Cuban Luis Robert. Plus, folks just aren’t paying huge bucks — he has $31 million to go through 2019 — for slugging first basemen these days.

10. J.D. Martinez, Tigers OF. The Tigers are likely going for it, but his hot start is a nice reminder how good he can be.

11. Ian Kinsler, Tigers 2B. The price tag was understandably high this winter since he’s a productive player with a fair deal ($18 million to go through next year assuming his option is picked up). The Tigers will probably hold, but if they do sell, he’d bring the most back in return.

12. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates OF. He’s slumping even worse this year than last, meaning they probably can’t get back anything they’d like. The $25 million through ’18 no longer looks like a bargain and that includes a 2018 option that’s fallen from a surety to just likely

13. Jake Odorizzi, Rays SP. Less likely to go than Cobb but probably more likely than Archer.

14. Dee Gordon, Marlins 2B. With him basically repeating the same off year as last year, one GM predicted there was “zero” chance they could move him now. Another calls that contract a “terrible” deal, echoing the first that the Marlins’ two veterans with real trade value are Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, who don’t seem especially likely to be dealt. (Giancarlo Stanton is a good player but his contract would make him even more untradeable, too.)

15. Alex Colome, Rays RP. Understandably, they’d seek a haul back. Hard to see him going anywhere. But they might, says one rival, “if they get exactly what they want.”

16. Eric Hosmer, Royals 1B. He’s the free agent the Royals most want to sign long term. But with no first rounder coming back for a qualifying offer, if they are out of it, he should be out there.

17. Kelvin Herrera, Royals RP. One of the game’s most under-rated relievers also has a reasonable $5.325M salary. Meaning KC could bring a haul back.

18. Sonny Gray, A’s SP. He’s probably going to have to put together a few more good starts to be more marketable, but he had one great one vs. the Marlins Wednesday. The potential is obviously there.

19. Roberto Osuna, Jays RP. Supremely talented closer, but this may not be the time. That doesn’t mean teams won’t ask, though.

20. David Robertson, White Sox RP. The sides couldn’t get together over the winter, but the Nats still make the most sense. The $21 million through ’18 may not seem like an overpay anymore, depending on desperation.

21. Ervin Santana, Twins SP. Though he isn’t a hard thrower, he’s limiting opposing hitters to a .144 batting average. Teams wanted the Twins to pay down the salary last year (he has $23 million to go through next year), but that shouldn’t be the case now. Of course, at present the Twins are in first place. And even if they fall a bit, in a market flush with starters, some rivals wonder whether the Twins will be the most aggressive to sell.

22. Jose Bautista, Jays OF. No one’s quite sure why the sides stayed together in the first place. His overall numbers aren’t up to his standards, but he’s showing very strong signs lately (.827 slugging percentage over his last 15 games, via @ckamka). That $18.5-million salary reflects the interest of Jays fans, and would have to be paid way down.

23. Jason Vargas, Royals SP. Soft tossers don’t usually bring back what you’d think, even if they are performing well (and Vargas clearly is) and fairly reasonably priced ($8 million salary). Plus, there may be a half dozen good starting pitchers out there. In any case, with $59 million to go, Ian Kennedy is much tougher to move.

24. Brian Dozier, Twins 2B. The Dodgers were the main suitor, and with Logan Forsythe back and Chris Taylor doing well, he doesn’t seem like a need for them anymore. Plus, the Twins are currently in first place.

25. Alex Cobb, Rays SP. He’s having a nice walk year despite still working to regain his trademark changeup and relying on a fastball-curve combination. The most likely of a trio of Rays veteran starters to go.

26. Mike Moustakas, Royals 3B. He’s also having a decent season in his walk year, and since first rounders don’t come with qualifying offers anymore, he’d likely go if the Royals sell.

27. Yonder Alonso, A’s 1B. Good timing for this late bloomer (and maybe the A’s), he’s coming into his own, just in time for free agency. “I think the A’s would talk about all their guys,” one rival suggests.

28. Zack Cozart, Reds SS. One of the game’s most under-rated players (his OPS is over 1.000), he was almost traded to the Mariners this winter before the deal was quashed for unknown reasons.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

29. Lorenzo Cain, Royals OF. He’s almost certainly gone after the year. The Nats could make sense if Michael Taylor doesn’t do the job. “Could see a Cain-Herrera combo to Washington,” one rival GM guesses.

30. Josh Harrison, Pirates INF. He was available over the summer, as the Pirates will consider anything. However there’s no hint he’s on the block now. Another issue: Jung-ho Kang appears stuck in Korea at the moment.

31. Todd Frazier, White Sox 3B. The ChiSox might have to offset a bit of the $7.5-million salary. He’d bring power and personality, but his stock seems down a bit. “He’s good in a home run contest,” says one skeptical rival. (Me: Get him to a bona fide contender, and the bet is he’d do better.)

32. Marco Estrada, Jays SP. He manages to win despite not cracking 90. “I think the Jays might trade their short-term guys,” one rival says. Estrada is one of those.

33. Jaime Garcia, Braves SP. He’s pitching well in a hitters’ park. Should have value.

34. Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies SP. The Phillies probably would have to significantly pay his hefty $17.2-million salary, and they’d be willing to do so if they get the right prospects back. Somehow, he manages to stay in almost every game despite an oddly low strikeout total.

35. Patrick Corbin, D-backs SP. He has one year left before free agency but still hasn’t gotten back to previous form.

36. Brad Hand, Padres RP. He’s a valuable lefty who may be the most coveted guy in the market, especially with his bargain $1.375-million salary.

37. Brandon Kintzler, Twins RP. He’s doing a surprisingly good job as the Twins’ closer, but think set-up for a contender.

38. Hector Santiago, Twins SP. Yet another Twin outperforming. But once again, they lead the AL Central.

39. Joakim Soria, Royals RP. Very professional pitcher is back in form.

40. Tony Watson, Pirates RP. The Pirates have a fine replacement in Felipe Rivero (a “beast,” says a scout) for Watson. Add him to the list of Nats possibilities, and it doesn’t hurt that Scott Boras now represents him.

41. Brandon Phillips, Braves 2B. He’s only slipped a bit, and the good news is, the Reds are already paying $13 million of the $14 million salary

42. Melky Cabrera, White Sox OF. Pro hitter is having an off year.

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