A frenzy of activity at the annual MLB winter meetings and in the days and weeks since has left the free-agent market close to picked clean.
Jurickson Profar, Michael Conforto, Trey Mancini and Jean Segura are among the top position players still looking for new homes, while Nathan Eovaldi, Corey Kluber and Michael Wacha are among the top pitchers still on the market.
For expected contenders that have been relatively quiet in free agency or that still have major holes to plug on their rosters, the focus will now shift to the trade market, and there are some intriguing names that are potentially available.
Ahead we’ve built seven blockbuster trade proposals for teams that still have significant needs, and these will be the players and teams to monitor in the coming weeks as we head into 2023.
To SF: RHP Liam Hendriks
To CWS: IF Tommy La Stella, OF Vaun Brown, RHP Mason Black
The San Francisco Giants have made a few splashy moves in free agency, but they have yet to do anything of substance to upgrade a bullpen that ranked 20th in the majors with a 4.08 ERA.
Camilo Doval, John Brebbia and Tyler Rogers were a solid trio, but the rest of the relief corps is up in the air. Adding another proven late-inning option would go a long way in solidifying what was a weakness in 2022.
This trade package would rid the Chicago White Sox of the $29.3 million still owed to Hendriks while also plugging the hole at second base with Tommy La Stella. His $11.5 million salary in 2023 also helps to balance the scales financially.
The big return pieces for the White Sox is outfielder Vaun Brown, who hit .346/.437/.623 with 24 doubles, 23 home runs, 75 RBI and 44 steals in 103 games while reaching Double-A in 2022. Right-hander Mason Black rounds out the package after posting a 3.21 ERA with 136 strikeouts in 112 innings between Single-A and High-A last season.
The Giants shore up their bullpen, while the White Sox land a second baseman and add two top-10 caliber prospects to their farm system.
To TB: OF Alek Thomas
To ARI: IF/OF Vidal Bruján, LHP Mason Montgomery
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been known to be shopping their surplus of outfielders all offseason, and the Tampa Bay Rays are a potential fit for an upgrade in center field. Trade-deadline pickup Jose Siri fits best in a fourth outfielder role where his offensive game is not overexposed.
Alek Thomas was a bit overmatched at the plate in his first big league action, but he still managed 1.4 WAR in 113 games thanks to his stellar defense (6 DRS, 5.0 UZR/150). The No. 32 prospect in baseball at the start of the 2022 season, Thomas hit .313/.389/.499 in 1,403 plate appearances over four minor league seasons, so there is still a wealth of untapped upside offensively.
In return, the D-backs get a versatile former top prospect in Vidal Bruján who could benefit greatly from a change of scenery and a pitching prospect on the rise in Mason Montgomery.
Bruján has top-of-the-scale speed and an advanced hit tool, but he has yet to receive an extended look in the majors and has struggled in limited action while shuttling back and forth to Triple-A.
Montgomery, 22, enjoyed a breakout 2022 season with a 2.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 171 strikeouts in 124 innings between High-A and Double-A. He would immediately join the top-tier of pitching prospects in the Arizona system.
The Rays would get a suitable replacement for Kevin Kiermaier, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency, while the D-backs would add a high-ceiling pitching prospect and buy low on a player in Bruján who was a consensus top-100 prospect just last year.
To MIA: C Danny Jansen
To TOR: LHP Braxton Garrett, OF Antony Peguero
The Toronto Blue Jays don’t need to trade from their trio of catchers if they don’t find a suitable return. They could just as easily carry all three backstops on the MLB roster, especially if they intend to use Alejandro Kirk regularly as the starting designated hitter.
That said, the opportunity to add a controllable starting pitcher to the back of the rotation would provide some welcome depth, and the Miami Marlins look like the ideal trade partner with a surplus of arms and an offense in desperate need of help.
Danny Jansen posted a 141 OPS+ with 15 home runs, 44 RBI and 2.9 WAR in 72 games last season, and he would be a significant upgrade offensively over incumbent Jacob Stallings without giving up much defensively. The 27-year-old Jansen is controllable through the 2024 season, and he would be a candidate for an extension if he clicks with Miami’s young staff.
In return, the Blue Jays would get a quality back-end starter in Braxton Garrett who logged a 3.58 ERA and 3.56 FIP in 88 innings last season. He would provide some insurance for Yusei Kikuchi if he fails to rebound and a long-term rotation option with club control through the 2028 season.
Rounding out the package is 17-year-old outfielder Antony Peguero, who hit .286/.355/.424 with 16 extra-base hits in 50 games in the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut. He signed for $575,000 last January and has a chance for average-or-better tools across the board.
To MIL: 2B Gleyber Torres
To NYY: LHP Ethan Small, RHP Cam Robinson, RHP Abner Uribe
With Oswald Peraza looking MLB-ready last September, top prospect Anthony Volpe knocking on the door and Isiah Kiner-Falefa tendered a contract at the non-tender deadline, the New York Yankees have an abundance of middle infield options.
The most logical piece to move is Gleyber Torres, who is coming off a strong 2022 season but has dealt with ups and downs throughout his time in the big leagues.
The 26-year-old looked like a superstar in the making when he had a 38-homer, 3.0 WAR season in 2019. He struggled through a pair of lackluster campaigns after that but rebounded with a 114 OPS+, 24 home runs, 76 RBI and a career-high 4.1 WAR in 2022.
Trading him now coming off a solid performance and with two years of club control left might be the best way to maximize his value, and the Milwaukee Brewers look like a great fit, with a hole to plug at second base following the Kolten Wong trade and a glaring need for offensive help.
The Yankees would shed a projected $9.8 million in salary while adding an intriguing multi-inning bullpen weapon in Ethan Small. A first-round pick in 2019, he has racked up 242 strikeouts in 201.1 innings in the minors with a lethal fastball-changeup combination, and a move to the bullpen would help his stuff play up and make him an immediate contributor in 2023.
Right-hander Cam Robinson would be another immediate bullpen option for the Yankees after he posted a 2.49 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 with 25 saves in 52 appearances over three minor league levels in 2022.
The X-factor in this package is Abner Uribe. The 22-year-old has consistently sat in the triple digits with a true 80-grade fastball, but he is still working to develop into a pitcher and not just a high-octane thrower.
To BAL: RHP Carlos Carrasco, C James McCann, 3B/OF Mark Vientos
To NYM: LHP Drew Rom, OF Hudson Haskin
The New York Mets are actively trying to move starter Carlos Carrasco and catcher James McCann, which would trim $26.2 million from their 2023 payroll and $38.3 million overall in remaining salary commitments.
In today’s market, Carrasco is a bargain, with a $14 million salary in the final year of his contract after he finished 15-7 with a 3.97 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 152 innings. Meanwhile, McCann has hit just .220 with a 70 OPS+ and minus-0.3 WAR in the first two seasons of a four-year, $40.6 million contract.
The assumption has been that the Mets will need to eat considerable salary to move McCann, but an alternative might be to package the two veterans together along with a quality prospect and send them to a team in need of starting pitching help with the payroll flexibility to absorb all of that remaining money.
Enter the Baltimore Orioles.
The O’s are a team on the rise, but they still need help on the pitching side of things, with veteran Kyle Gibson currently penciled in as the likely Opening Day starter. Carrasco would immediately become the ace of the staff, while McCann would fill a void in the backup catcher role behind rising star Adley Rutschman.
Mark Vientos has little left to prove in the minors, but he also lacks a clear path to playing time with the Mets. The 23-year-old had an .877 OPS with 24 home runs and 72 RBI at Triple-A last season, and he would be a candidate for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Left-hander Drew Rom is useful depth with three remaining minor league options, but moving him would open a spot on the 40-man roster for the Orioles. Speedy Hudson Haskin had an .821 OPS with 41 extra-base hits in 109 games at Double-A last year, but he’s behind a number of others on the outfield depth chart in Baltimore.
However, the real motivation for this trade on the Mets side is the salary dump.
To LAD: OF Bryan Reynolds
To PIT: RHP Bobby Miller, 2B Michael Busch, OF James Outman, RHP Edgardo Henriquez
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been relatively quiet in free agency this year relative to past offseasons, signing Noah Syndergaard and J.D. Martinez to one-year deals but mostly steering clear of the high-end market.
With a hole to fill at second base or in left field, depending on where Chris Taylor lines up, there is still time for the front office to make a splash on the trade market to address a major roster hole.
Now that Bryan Reynolds has publicly requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates, it might be a matter of when and not if he is moved this offseason, though the club’s current asking price is high. One rival executive told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that the Pirates are seeking a “Soto-type package” for Reynolds, while others called him “super expensive” and “unlikely to move” this offseason.
The above proposal doesn’t quite reach Soto levels, but it would be a difficult offer for the Pirates to refuse.
Right-hander Bobby Miller (No. 26) and second baseman Michael Busch (No. 55) both earned a spot on Bleacher Report’s final Top 100 prospect list of 2022. Miller is a flame-thrower with the stuff to be a front-line starter and the polish to help in the near future, while Busch had an .881 OPS with 38 doubles, 32 home runs and 108 RBI in 142 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
Outfielder James Outman is also on the MLB doorstep after hitting .294/.393/.586 with 31 doubles, 31 home runs, 106 RBI and 13 steals in 125 games in the upper levels of the minors.
Right-hander Edgardo Henriquez is a projectable 6’4″, 200-pound right-hander who logged a 4.54 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 35.2 innings as a 20-year-old at Single-A last year. He has some of the best pure stuff in the Dodgers’ loaded farm system, with a fastball that has touched 101 mph and a hard slider.
If the Pirates wind up taking the best offer on the table for Reynolds this offseason, this proposal would be tough to beat.
To MIN: 3B Rafael Devers
To BOS: IF Jose Miranda, OF Emmanuel Rodriguez, RHP Matt Canterino, 2B Edouard Julien
“According to multiple league sources, the Red Sox and [Rafael] Devers are ‘galaxies apart’ in their contract negotiations. The current expectation from Devers and his camp is that the third baseman will be a free agent at the end of 2023, given the current state of contract talks,” ESPN’s Joon Lee wrote Monday.
The Red Sox organization is floundering, and it’s hard to see that changing dramatically enough for Devers to stick around. So trading him now might be the team’s best opportunity to maximize his value.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins were players on the Carlos Correa market right up until he signed with the San Francisco Giants, so they have the spending power to not only trade for Devers but also sign him to a long-term extension after he lands in Minnesota.
This trade package gives the Red Sox a controllable MLB player in Jose Miranda and three high-ceiling prospects, which would be a good get for any player entering his final year of club control.
Miranda posted a 116 OPS+ with 25 doubles, 15 home runs and 66 RBI in 125 games, and he is controllable through the 2028 season. He would immediately take over for Devers as the starting third baseman.
Outfielder Emmanuel Rodriguez would be the true prize of the trade package, as he hit .272/.493/.552 with 17 extra-base hits, 11 steals and more walks (57) than strikeouts (52) as a 19-year-old at Single-A last year. He has the highest ceiling of any player in the Minnesota farm system right now.
Right-hander Matt Canterino has dealt with some injury issues, but he has been virtually unhittable when healthy, posting a 1.48 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 85 innings in the minors. Rounding out the package is Edouard Julien, who hit .400/.563/.686 in 70 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League after posting a .931 OPS with 39 extra-base hits in 113 games at Double-A.
Losing Devers would be another crushing blow to the Boston fanbase, but if there’s no hope of signing him long-term, this would be a great return package to start the rebuild.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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