The Winter Meetings are coming up (pending CBA resolution); which means right now is the perfect time for a nice juicy MLB Blockbuster. With that in mind I decided I would run through the top 10 major trade candidates on the market. With many of the teams not buying being pretty bare (Phillies, Braves, Padres), the talent market is pretty dependent on a few major teams who could theoretically contend in 2017 deciding to instead sell (Tigers, White Sox, Rays).
I will also give each player a pretend blockbuster just for fun, as people love to speculate (see: United States stock market). I have no inside information, and am not an MLB GM, don’t take these too seriously. I will try my best to make them fair, but they are more for interest than their predictive prowess.
For Free Agency News, check out our 2016 MLB Free Agency Predictions
10) David Robertson, RP, Chicago White Sox
This year the Free Agent Market is ripe with closers, as Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon are all free agents. However, the market is also ripe with buyers, since obvious contenders in the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Nationals all have a clear need for a closer, the Yankees are also expected to be major players for Chapman, and the Rangers and Astros could also look for a dominant 9th inning guy. The result of this is somebody is getting shut out of the Free Agency Arms race, and will have to turn to trades. Unless the Royals make Wade Davis available, something we may see at the 2017 Trade Deadline, the best reliever available looks to be the Chicago White Sox David Robertson. Robertson took a bit of a step back last year, but still looks the part of a solid MLB closer, and at worst would be a terrific 8th inning guy on a contender, as he once was for the New York Yankees. Robertson still has 2 years and $25 million left on his contract, so the White Sox surely wouldn’t expect too large a return.
Hypothetical Trade: Robertson to the Texas Rangers for RHP Alex Speas
9) Zack Cosart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Cosart was nearly dealt to the Seattle Mariners at the 2016 trade deadline, but they recently found their man in Jean Segura, so cross the Mariners off for a landing spot. Cosart quietly put up a solid 2.5 win season for the Reds last year, and isn’t owed a prohibitive amount of money like Robertson.
Hypothetical Trade: Cosart to the Minnesota Twins for RHP Fernando Romero
8) Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Braun is far removed from the 7 win, MVP caliber seasons of 2011 and 2012, but he is still a good to great hitter and a 3 win player. There is no question Braun could help a team in the 2017 season, and the Brewers are highly motivated to deal him since they have no real shot to contend soon. Braun is owed a large chunk of cash, so he won’t bring back a massive return, but he is certainly worth an interesting player or two
Hypothetical Trade: Braun to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Yasiel Puig
*That one was easy, an oft-rumored deal.
7) Todd Frazier, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Frazier crushed 40 HR’s last year for the White Sox, so while his OBP and defense aren’t quite what you dream off, there is no doubt he is a useful MLB piece. Frazier projects to be around 3 win player next season accounting for a slight rebound, and is only signed for 1 more year at a reasonable rate, so he should bring back a decent prospect at the least. The White Sox would theoretically be motivated to move him if they are indeed selling off, as extending him for big money wouldn’t make much sense for a team that would theoretically be heading down a long path of losing.
Hypothetical Trade: Frazier to the Atlanta Braves for 3B Rio Ruiz, RHP Lucas Sims
6) J.D Martinez, OF, Detroit Tigers
Now we are talking about the real stars. Martinez put up a 142 wRC+ last year, so there is no question some serious value behind this bat. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, but he’s only a corner outfielder so it isn’t too damaging. J.D is set for Free Agency in 2017, so if the Tigers do decide to sell, he is a no brainer trade candidate.
Hypothetical Trade: Martinez to the St. Louis Cardinals for RHP Jack Flaherty, OF Nick Plummer, RHP Connor Jones.
5) Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland A’s
Gray may be the least available on this list, but he would surely be a prized commodity if he did reach the market. The A’s are unlikely to sell low on their young ace, but even after an underwhelming 2016 there is no question Gray would bring back a huge haul.
Hypothetical Trade: Gray to the New York Yankees for SS Jorge Mateo, LHP Justus Sheffield, OF Blake Rutherford.
4) Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers.
Kate Upton and I agree, Verlander probably deserved the 2016 AL Cy Young. So while he has some expensive years left on that deal, its easy to a high budget team making a deal for the impact right hander without having to sacrifice to much prospect depth.
Hypothetical Trade: Verlander to the Texas Rangers for 3B/1B Joey Gallo, 2B Andy Ibanez.
3) Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
The best hitter of our generation still has 7 years and around $210 million left on his deal, which isn’t ideal for a 34 year old. Then again, Miggy put up a 150 wRC+ last year and was worth 5 wins, so the immediate impact is quite large. Simply put, that contract is more than fair for at least the next couple of years, so an AL team with room at 1B and DH shouldn’t be scared to call the Tigers about Miggy.
Hypothetical Trade: Cabrera to the Boston Red Sox for LHP Jason Groome, RHP Michael Kopech and 1B Sam Travis.
2) Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays.
You can make the argument he is as valuable as #1 on the list and I wouldn’t fight you, but he is coming off a significantly worse year so he lands at #2. Still, it would take a kings ransom to pry Archer from the Rays, but that doesn’t mean the Rays aren’t listening. The 28 year old can be controlled for 5 more years well below market value, and is projected to be around a 4 win pitcher next year, so he would bring back an incredible package.
Hypothetical Trade: Archer to the Chicago Cubs for DH Kyle Schwarber, OF Albert Almora, 2B Ian Happ, and RHP Dylan Cease. (Bonus Points for a Reunion)
1) Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox
By now you have probably heard how Chris Sale will require a historic return. The fact the Sox are even considering dealing him can be debated, as some would argue players like Sale are almost never dealt for a reason, but whatever. I guess we all trust Kenny Williams to not totally screw this rebuild up since the Cubs won the World Series doing something vaguely similar but not really. This is a rant for another day. Sale is under team control for 3 more seasons and would easily be the best pitcher on his new team, unless he went to a certain LA team, in which case if you are a lefty hitter in the NL West demand a trade tomorrow.
Hypothetical Trade: Sale to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 1B/OF Cody Bellinger, RHP Jose De Leon, OF Alex Verdugo, RHP Yadier Alvarez and SS Gavin Lux.
* I would love Julio Urias, but I just don’t see the Dodgers doing that.