Now that Major League Baseball’s trade deadline has passed, it’s time to focus on the more important things in life. Like, say, offseason trade candidates. That’s right, we’ve decided to look ahead to the winter and highlight 10 players who could soon be on the move. To those with trade and rumor fatigue: we’re sorry; to those who can’t and/or won’t stop roster forecasting, do note: this is not supposed to be a list of 10 players likeliest to be dealt. Also note: there is no order.
Where else would we start? Noah Syndergaard will have two more years of team control remaining after the season, and should continue to appeal to teams as a potential cost-controlled ace. The Mets sure hope he pitches better down the stretch, though their defense and catching woes are partially to blame. Expect the Padres and Yankees to be linked to Syndergaard once winter rolls around. And whether he’s traded or not, expect his situation to be discussed ad nauseam.
The Royals will remain in a tricky situation with Whit Merrifield, who is a well-rounded All-Star-caliber player signed for the rest of his prime at a trifling cost. Extracting equal value is going to be difficult to do, yet can the rebuilding Royals afford to resist dealing their top chip? Dayton Moore has so far, and may continue to do so. If the ask drops, however, Merrifield would make sense for just about every contender or hopeful due to his defensive versatility and cheap contract.
Matthew Boyd was one of the top pitchers rumored to be available this summer. He deserves a world of credit for improving his stock in short order, going from a back-end starter on his way out of the league to someone who could be listed alongside the Marcus Stromans and Trevor Bauers of the league. Boyd won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season, but it’s hard to see him sticking with the Tigers until then. The question is whether anyone will pay Detroit’s ask for him.
The Rangers have been more competitive than expected this season, and Mike Minor is part of the reason why. Texas has him signed for one more season at less than $10 million. They could elect to shop him around this winter, but keep in mind they’re opening a new ballpark next spring and may throw around some cash this winter to field the best team they can. Trading Minor would seem to clash with those potential plans.
We’re doubling up on Rangers because, while we think Minor could stick with the Rangers into next season, we doubt Nomar Mazara will. Once a top prospect, he’s failed to live up to his promise and is already arbitration eligible. The Rangers probably regret not moving him for Shane Bieber when they were said to have had the chance at the 2018 deadline. Nonetheless, they’ll probably find a taker for him this winter — and if they don’t, he could be a non-tender candidate.
Mazara may appeal to teams looking for a buy-low outfielder, but Starling Marte will be more intriguing for contenders looking to upgrade in a meaningful way. He has two years and $24 million worth of club options remaining on his deal, and the Pirates seem more likely to shop him around than not. Marte remains an above-average hitter and fielder who can provide value on the basepaths.
It’s to be seen how the Zack Greinke trade alters Arizona’s offseason plans — and whether it leads them to keep some of their veterans, like Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley. David Peralta would make sense for the Diamondbacks to cash in, given he’ll be a free agent after next season and doesn’t appear to be a legitimate extension candidate. Peralta is an above-average platoon bat. The market isn’t too kind to those, so it’s possible Mike Hazen and crew just hold onto him, too.
We’re going to finish with three consecutive closers. Felipe Vazquez’s situation is well known from this deadline: He’s a stellar pitcher with a team-friendly employed by a middle-of-the-road club. We could see this going either way, with someone ponying up to employ one of the best relievers in baseball, or the Pirates deciding none of the offers are for fair value and standing pat.
One league source told CBS Sports that teams were “frothing” after Edwin Diaz at the deadline. That Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t move him could mean none of the offers were compelling, or it could mean the Mets have decided Diaz is a crucial part of their future competitive hopes. We’ll see how the rest of his freshman season in New York plays out, because it could go a long way in informing whether he’s a probable trade candidate, or someone whose stock is rebounding.
Cleveland has a high-grade front office, and an ownership group that doesn’t like to spend money. Brad Hand will have two seasons (and more than $17 million) left on his deal come winter. Don’t be surprised if Cleveland checks the temperature on what they could get for him — with an eye on then using those savings, and the return, to bolster their club in other ways.