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The San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins agreed to the first big trade of the regular season on Friday night, sending two-time All-Star second baseman Luis Arraez to the west coast in exchange for four minor-league players. (You can read our full analysis by clicking here.) Arguably, the most remarkable part of the swap was that it happened in early May, more than two months before Hug Watch normally goes into effect.

In a few respects, the Marlins were the perfect candidate to serve as the first mover. They have a new front office in place, led by Peter Bendix, a former Tampa Bay Rays executive. Bendix hardly touched the roster over the winter. It was as if Bendix wanted the Marlins to prove that last year's playoff run was a fluke. They did, getting off to a 9-25 start that allowed him to begin the deconstruction without it feeling hasty. Expect Bendix to remain busy between now and the official passing of the deadline -- as we reasoned earlier this spring, the Marlins have a few other attractive trade candidates

The more interesting consideration is whether or not the Marlins' move will grant permission to other sellers to start conducting business. If we had to guess? Probably not. It's one thing to field a crummy team; it's another to start making white-flag trades before Memorial Day. Gate revenue isn't as vital as it used to be, but teams don't want to give their blessing to fans to stop caring before the team has played 50 games.

Still, say we're wrong about that. Say that teams like the Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies, both of whom have worse records than the Marlins, begin to strip-mine their rosters now, rather than waiting to get busy. Who are some of the players likeliest to be on the move? Below,  we've highlighted 10 early trade candidates to give you an idea of what the market could look like over the coming weeks. 

As always, note that this is more of an art than a science, especially at this point in the season. (Also note that we've excluded the Marlins, since we covered them in more detail back in April, and that the players are presented in alphabetical order.)

1. Jalen Beeks, LHP, Colorado Rockies

Blame the alphabet if this feels like an underwhelming starting point. We felt Beeks was an interesting waiver claim last winter: essentially a rental lefty with a history of suppressing quality of contact. He's continued to miss barrels despite pitching in Coors Field and having both his strikeout and walk rates crater. Indeed, Beeks ranks in the 89th percentile in average exit velocity, according to Statcast. We think he's a worthwhile trade candidate for a team seeking a utility pitcher who can work in a single- or multi-inning role alike. It wouldn't surprise us if his strikeout rate rebounded once he's freed from pitching in Denver, either. 

2. Paul Blackburn, RHP, Oakland Athletics

Blackburn has populated articles like this one since 2022 when the A's celebrated the end of the owner-imposed lockout by gutting their roster. He's continued to get good results this season (111 ERA+, 3.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio) after surprisingly mothballing his sinker in favor of a four-seamer. We write "surprisingly" because Blackburn's sinker had been his primary offering throughout his career. Anyway, he has one more year of team control remaining. Steel yourselves now, because headlines are going to refer to him as a "former All-Star" when he gets moved. (Hey, it's true.)

3. Erick Fedde, RHP, Chicago White Sox

Give the White Sox credit: signing Fedde to a two-year pact worth $15 million following an overseas stint looks like a nifty deal. He overhauled his arsenal to feature a splitter and a sweeper, and in turn, he's toting a 153 ERA+ and a 4.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio through six starts. Technically, the White Sox cannot trade Fedde without his consent prior to June 15 -- that's true of all free agents who signed a big-league deal -- but they'd be wise to begin investigating his market sooner than later.  

4. Austin Gomber, LHP, Colorado Rockies

Gomber has taken his lumps since being shipped to Colorado in the Nolan Arenado deal. He's now on the shady side of 30 and a year away from reaching free agency, making this a sensible time for the Rockies to move him to a different team. Gomber isn't particularly exciting. He's a soft-throwing lefty without much swing-and-miss ability. He is off to a decent enough start this season (103 ERA+ through six outings) and we think that his whole deal would work better outside of Coors Field. Even then, we're still envisioning him serving as a No. 5 starter or perhaps as a swingman.

5. Eloy Jiménez, OF/DH, Chicago White Sox

We feel obligated to include Jiménez, who has drawn trade interest in the past. He's in the midst of a would-be career-worst season, as he entered Saturday with an 87 OPS+. On a potentially related note, teams are throwing him more breaking balls than fastballs for the first time. Jiménez offers negative secondary value, so it's concerning that he's been more of an average offensive performer than not since 2021. Factor in how Jiménez isn't cheap (he's making $13 million this year with a buyout to come on his club option) and we're sadly not sure he's going to inspire a robust market. 

6. Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox

Pay no mind to Kopech's ERA. There's a lot to like about his game. He has elite arm strength, averaging 98.8 mph on his four-seam fastball. He's generated 30% whiffs to date, resulting in a 34.8% strikeout percentage that ranks top-20 among hurlers with at least 10 innings pitched. Kopech does walk his share of batters despite an above-average strike rate, and it's fair to have some concerns about the quality of contact he surrenders. But you're fooling yourself if you think the Dodgers, or one of these other pitching-smart organizations, wouldn't want him on their staff. He has an additional year of team control remaining. The White Sox have no reason to wait.

7. Mason Miller, RHP, Oakland Athletics

We know, we know. We do this song and dance every deadline with a good reliever on a bad team, and then nothing transpires. We'll justify including him anyway because it's not just us: a member of a rival front office recently asked who we thought Miller would be pitching for come Aug. 1. As great as Miller has been this season, the combination of his injury history and his pyrotechnic arsenal has those in the industry thinking the A's would be wise to cash in before his arm checks out. We certainly hope that's not the case, but we get it: pitchers who throw this hard generally aren't built to last. Even so, do we actually believe the Athletics will actually trade him before the deadline? Nah.

8. Martín Pérez, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

As with Fedde listed above, Pérez cannot be traded without his consent prior to June 15 after signing as a free agent with the Pirates over the offseason. Fair enough. Pérez isn't particularly flashy; he doesn't miss bats or post impressive strikeout-to-walk ratios, and he doesn't even generate that many ground balls anymore (he entered Saturday at 42%, which would be his lowest mark since 2020). He's continued to get outs and keep runs off the board. He's done so in a reliable enough manner over the last five years to label him a credible back-end starter.

9. Luis Rengifo, 2B, Los Angeles Angels

Rengifo has had a weird career arc. He was almost traded before the pandemic to the Dodgers as part of a deal that would've involved Joc Pederson and Andy Pages. That swap fell apart, and so did Rengifo for a couple of years. He's since enjoyed a resurgence, entering Saturday sporting a would-be career-best 139 OPS+. We don't believe that's going to stick, but he has his charms if you can overlook some notable blemishes. (He doesn't hit the ball hard; he's very aggressive at the plate; he's not a good defender; and so on.) Namely, the switch-hitting Rengifo has been adept at crushing left-handed pitching, sporting a .900-plus OPS against them each season since 2022. He has an additional year of team control remaining, so the Angels may elect to hold onto him. If they do make him available, though, expect him to draw interest as a plausible second-division starter at the keystone. 

10. Ross Stripling, RHP, Oakland Athletics

By virtue of being Oakland's highest paid player, Stripling is also the Athletics' most likely to be dealt over the coming months. He throws strike after strike with a full arsenal, including a low-90s four-seam fastball that rents an apartment at the top of the zone. His overall numbers aren't pretty (blame it on a drubbing he took at the hands of the Texas Rangers), but he's recently recorded some solid starts against the first-place Orioles and Guardians. There's only so much pitching to go around. Stripling, then, is a perfectly fine candidate to slot in as someone's fifth starter.