Major League Baseball's trade deadline passed Monday afternoon, with Mike Clevinger serving as the biggest name to change teams. Clubs will now be unable to make external additions through the rest of the 2020 MLB season, but that doesn't mean that the speculation has to end there. Rather, we decided it would be a worthwhile endeavor to preview the offseason trade market.
Below, you'll find 10 veterans who could possibly be moved in deals this winter. Note that we're not saying they will be moved, or that they're the likeliest to go; only that there's reason to think they'll pop up in conversations before Opening Day 2021. (The players are listed alphabetically.)
Chaim Bloom traded Mookie Betts in his first offseason at the helm. Would he trade Xander Bogaerts in his second? We're not so sure. Bogaerts, who has blossomed into a fantastic hitter, gained no-trade protection at the deadline and is under contract for at least another five seasons at $20 million a pop (or, less than his market value). Bloom will probably listen if someone wants to talk about Bogaerts, and it only takes one conversation to change the tide. We just don't see a great incentive to move him, or a reason to be in a hurry about it.
The Cubs never appeared to get close on a Kris Bryant trade last winter, but they'll probably explore the possibility again this offseason. He's a year away from free agency and, barring a late-season turnaround, he'll be coming off a disappointing and injury-interrupted campaign. Bryant has been a reliable above-average hitter throughout his career, so the biggest concern with him is his health. It's anyone's guess whether the Cubs will be able to extract fair value.
The Rangers need a lot of help to turn their ship around, to the extent that trading Joey Gallo two seasons before he qualifies for free agency might be the most sensible long-term approach. Because Texas listened on the slugger at the deadline, it seems fair to assume the club will do the same this winter. Gallo has been an above-average hitter for years, and he could be a difference-maker for a contender if he can return to his 2019 form heading forward.
Although Josh Hader won't be a free agent until after the 2023 season, the Brewers have incentive to find the intersection between his value to them and his trade value as a whole. The Brewers have listened to inquiries on him dating back to last winter, and it stands to reason they'll continue to do so until they find a deal to their liking. Milwaukee's budget appeared stretched thin over the winter, so Hader's escalating arbitration prizes make him one to watch.
Ender Inciarte doesn't possess the Q Score that others on this list have, but he's an obvious trade candidate as he nears the final guaranteed year on his contract (during which he'll make $8.7 million). The Braves have young Cristian Pache, a potential Gold Glove Award winner, to throw in center field, and they could use some additional financial breathing room. Because Inciarte hasn't hit at all this season, Atlanta might have to eat some of that money in a deal.
After this season, Kevin Kiermaier is guaranteed $25 million over the next two years. This is about the juncture where the Rays tend to move on from their well-compensated veterans, and it would make sense for them to weigh that possibility heading into the winter. Josh Lowe, a former first-round pick, performed well enough in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League to envision him becoming Tampa Bay's regular center fielder by this time next year.
Over the last 13 months, Cleveland has traded Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, and Trevor Bauer. Francisco Lindor, who will be entering his final year of team control, figures to be the next to go. He isn't having his standard year, but his track record speaks for itself. The one complication here is Lindor's salary. He's certain to earn a raise on the $17.5 million he was scheduled to make in 2020, and teams could use the pandemic to leverage that against Cleveland.
Provided Lance Lynn stays hearty and hale the rest of the way, he could head into the offseason having finished in the top five of Cy Young Award voting two years in a row. That, plus his $8 million salary for next season, should inspire contenders to take renewed interest in acquiring his services. The Rangers, a team stuck in transition, could use all the help they could get.
Whit Merrifield has been on these lists for years, but the Royals keep kicking the can down the road. Maybe this will be the winter that changes? Merrifield is having another productive season at the dish, and his defensive versatility makes him a fit for every team. His budget-friendly contract, by the way, will pay him less than $10 million over the next two seasons. Given teams' financial uncertainty, this might be the winter someone makes an offer that cannot be refused.
The Pirates figure to weigh offers on what remains of their big-league roster this winter. Even with Joe Musgrove missing time because of injury, he figures to be one of their most marketable players. He's proven to be at least a league-average starter, and he has two more seasons of team control left. One way or another, he's unlikely to be on the next good Pirates team.