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25 MLB players that could be traded during the 2023 season

25 MLB players that could be traded during the 2023 season

The 2023 MLB season is almost approaching, and it’s never too early to speculate about how it might play out. Every year, it appears like we have a good idea of who should contend and who is likely to suffer, which makes looking ahead to the trade deadline unavoidable. In July, veteran players on middling teams are always on high alert. Their clubs frequently try to recoup some of their value by bringing back strong minor leaguers. With that in mind, consider the following 25 men whose names you might hear a lot about in the coming months.

Shohei Ohtani is the only prospective trade candidate this year who could approach the seismic Juan Soto trade from last summer, albeit it is still not an apples-to-apples comparison. When Washington sent Soto to the Padres, he was much younger and had several years of control. Ohtani is a two-way superstar like we’ve never seen before, but he’ll be a free agency at the conclusion of the season. The Angels have consistently expressed their unwillingness to trade him and their want to keep him in Los Angeles in the long run. But Ohtani wants to win, and the Angels have repeatedly failed to assemble a strong enough club around him and Mike Trout. And signing Ohtani to a large salary extension will not improve the team’s financial ability to bring in an all-star supporting cast. Los Angeles should have seriously contemplated a winter trade this offseason, given the number of interested clubs will be limited if they wait until July. And keeping him all year and then letting him sign elsewhere is just lousy business. This will be a fascinating issue to follow throughout the season.

Bryan Reynolds

For years, Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds’ name has been discussed in trade conversations, and he even asked to be transferred this winter. Even though it’s spring training, the all-star switch-hitter is still in Pittsburgh. This is primarily due to the Pirates’ understandably high valuation of their finest player, but they will have to be more flexible at some time. Reynolds is still in arbitration, so he has years of club control left, albeit the longer the Pirates wait, the less valuable that control becomes. There’s also the matter of Reynolds’ age, which is now 28. Pittsburgh is in the midst of a reconstruction that is unlikely to be completed before he becomes a free agent, and the player has already expressed a desire to depart. The Pirates will never receive more for Reynolds than they did this summer, when an acquiring team might have him for three pennant runs. As Ohtani remarked, not pulling the gun at some time becomes a bad business decision.

Corbin Burnes

Corbin Burnes’ presence here may surprise some, especially given that he isn’t set to become a free agent until after the 2024 season. However, the equation may have changed dramatically just a few weeks ago. Burnes and the Brewers were unable to reach an agreement in arbitration, thus the case was heard in court. Listening to Burnes speak later, he was obviously dismayed to hear Milwaukee blame their lack of a playoff berth in 2022 on him, and he admitted that his relationship with the team had been significantly harmed. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out in the future. On paper, the Brewers appear to be back in the thick of things in the NL Central, but what if that doesn’t happen? If Milwaukee isn’t in the race by July and a team comes calling to attempt to sign Burnes for a year and a half, they’ll have to listen. But would they really give up their ace?

German Marquez

Speaking of possibly impact starting pitchers who will be on the move this summer. German Marquez of the Rockies has been the subject of trade speculations for some time, but the stars appear to be aligning for something to happen now. Marquez has been a consistent innings eater throughout his career, missing only one game in six full seasons. Pitching all of his home games in Colorado has inflated his ERA slightly, but this is a pitcher who has been an all-star for a long time and has frequently gone toe-to-toe with other teams’ aces. He’ll also be a free agent at the end of the season. Colorado is unlikely to compete in a division that includes powerhouse teams from Los Angeles and San Diego, and if the team is eliminated in July, Marquez will almost probably change outfits.

Christian Walker

Last summer, the Diamondbacks could have found a buyer for their slugging first baseman, Christian Walker, but they chose not to. Unless anything unexpected happens in the coming months, they will almost certainly have another opportunity if they so desire. Walker hit.242/.327/.477 with 36 home runs and 94 RBI last season. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but he’s not that skilled defensively. However, he can smack the ball over the fence with as much force as any right-handed hitter in the National League. Contenders would give up outstanding young prospects to add his power, and Arizona would be foolish not to try to capitalize on that.

Jose Leclerc

The Rangers poured resources into their offense a year ago, signing both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, then tried to fix their rotation this winter by adding Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi. But are they prepared to compete in a division that contains the defending World Champions in Houston, a playoff club in Seattle, and an Angels team that boasts two of the sport’s top players? If that answer is no, Jose Leclerc, their closer, may become a significant trade chip. The righty needed Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2021 and some of last season, but he pitched well when he returned. In 39 innings, he had a 2.83 ERA while limiting opponents to a.200 batting average and striking out over a batter per inning. Leclerc’s contract contains a club option for 2024, although that would not hinder a trade.

David Bednar

Right-hander David Bednar, who pitched for the Pirates in the all-star game last summer, has quietly been one of the best relievers in the National League over the previous two years. Bednar converted 19 saves in 2022, ended with a 2.61 ERA, and struck out 69 batters in 51.2 innings across 45 appearances. Pittsburgh is under no obligation to sell him because he is still in arbitration and will not be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2026 season. However, a solid closer is a luxury that a losing team does not require, and combining Bednar with a hypothetical Bryan Reynolds trade might earn the Pirates a sizable windfall.

Jonathan Schoop

Jonathan Schoop, the experienced second baseman, hit.278 with 22 home runs, 84 RBI, and 30 doubles in 2021, making him one of the American League’s most effective offensive infielders. Unfortunately for him and the Tigers, his ’22 season was far from stellar. Schoop hit.202/.239/.322 in 131 games, with only 35 extra-base hits. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, and it’s safe to say he’ll be hoping to make a big comeback. From Detroit’s vantage point, the AL Central does not appear to be particularly difficult, yet they are far from the favorite to win it. If they fall out of the race this summer and Schoop is hitting well, he is definitely someone with whom they should negotiate.

Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman had a completely wasted season with the Yankees a year ago, as several stints on the injured list–including one due to a tattoo infection–prevented him from being a significant part of New York’s AL East championship ballclub. Chapman was generally unproductive on the mound, pitching to a career-low 4.46 ERA in 43 games. He struggled with command, giving 28 walks in only 36.1 innings, and the Yankees were happy to let him leave this winter. His final destination was Kansas City, where he would strive to restore himself as an upper-echelon closer. If he succeeds and the Royals drop out, Chapman will become an appealing deadline option for contenders.

Brad Keller

In Kansas City, starting pitcher Brad Keller has had an up-and-down career, pitching to a 4.25 ERA in 139 games, but he stands out as someone who could benefit from a change of environment. For the past six years, the big right-hander has been a good soldier for the Royals, and he showed flashes of how terrific he can be when he’s on during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season. Keller will be a free agent at the end of the season and will almost probably not be back in Kansas City in ’24, so expect some team to take a low-risk gamble on him later this summer.

Alexis Diaz

The Reds trading away blazing right-handed reliever Alexis Diaz may seem absurd, but it may not be so far-fetched. Cincinnati is entering a critical transition moment. All-star first baseman Joey Votto, the franchise’s face, may be entering his final season with the team. The Reds have moved away veteran stalwarts Eugenio Suarez, Luis Castillo, and Jesse Winker in the last year. Simply put, this team requires a reboot. Diaz is coming off a great rookie season in which he posted a 1.84 ERA in 63.2 innings while striking out 83 batters and keeping opponents to a ridiculous.131 batting average. However, as indicated in the David Bednar slide, an exceptional closer is a luxury that a rebuilding team does not require. The price would be expensive, and the Reds are under no obligation to sell him, but if a team came them and offered a king’s ransom for a true high-leverage late-inning reliever, Cincinnati would be insane not to listen.

Andrew Chafin

For quite some time now, veteran Andrew Chafin has been one of the game’s better left-handed set-up men, and he seems to be discussed as a potential bullpen acquisition for a competitive team. After a successful season in Detroit a year ago, Chafin signed a free-agent contract with his previous team in Arizona this winter. His contract with the Diamondbacks includes a club option for 2024, but it has no bearing on his availability to other teams at the deadline. Every contender could use a solid lefty who can counter potent left-handed hitters, and Chafin’s name will be bandied about front offices in July.

Garrett Cooper

Since his debut in 2017, right-handed swinging Garrett Cooper has appeared to be a man whose best position is in the batter’s box. The Marlins tried him in both outfield corners and first base until the National League implemented the designated hitter a year ago, which alleviated some of their issues. Cooper is a valuable offensive element. In 119 games last year, he hit.261/.337/.415 with 44 extra-base hits. However, injuries as well as a lack of a genuine defensive home have kept him from reaching his full potential. Cooper will be a free agent at the end of the season, and at 32 years old, he does not figure prominently in Miami’s plans. If he has a solid first half, the Marlins will almost certainly make him available in a trade.

Darin Ruf

While the majority of the players expected to be dealt later this summer are now on clubs that aren’t expected to contend, that isn’t the case here. Darin Ruf was acquired from the San Francisco Giants last year in the expectation that he might crush left-handed pitching as part of a DH tandem. To put it simply, it did not happen. Ruf had only 10 hits in 66 at-bats for the Mets, did not hit a home run, and struck out 20 times. To be honest, it’s a little surprising he’s still in Queens after New York was forced to go in other areas down the stretch. If the veteran has another difficult start–pun intended–in 2023, the Mets will not hesitate to try to trade him and give younger players like Mark Vientos or Francisco Alvarez a chance.

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana, a veteran switch-hitter, struggled through a generally difficult 2022 season split between Kansas City and Seattle, batting just.202/.316/.376 in 431 at-bats. However, the fact that his power was still there, as indicated by his 19 home runs and 18 doubles, was somewhat promising. Santana joined the Penguins as a free agent this winter, but at 36 years old, he is not in their plans for the future. The Pirates are almost definitely hoping that the veteran can get out to a decent start, pass on some expertise to their younger players, recover some of his value, and then be traded to a bat-needy contender in a few months.

Sonny Gray

Last year, the Twins acquired righty Sonny Gray in a spring training deal with the Reds, and the veteran pitched well for them, posting a 3.08 ERA in 24 starts. The AL Central was surprisingly poor a season ago, with the White Sox and Twins both underperforming and the Tigers and Royals failing to advance, allowing Cleveland to practically win the division by default. Minnesota hopes to compete for the Central title in 2023, but if they fall out of contention, Gray, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, may become an enticing trade possibility for contenders.

Ryan Tepera

Reliable relief pitching is typically in high demand in July, and this year will be no exception. Ryan Tepera, a veteran righty, signed a two-year deal with the Angels last March, and his first season in Los Angeles was a success. In 59 innings, the Sam Houston State product posted a 3.61 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP while limiting opponents to a.202 hitting average. Tepera is a seasoned middle reliever who will play in his 400th Major League game this season. If the Angels aren’t in contention, he could absolutely aid a contender.

Paul Blackburn

The rebuilding A’s have sold off nearly every valuable veteran player they possessed over the last two winters in an effort to bolster their minor league system. The skill deficit in Oakland is palpable right now, but starting pitcher Paul Blackburn may be their most valuable remaining trade piece. In 2022, the righty received his first shot at being a full-time member of a big league starting five, and he pitched effectively, ending with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 21 starts. Blackburn is unlikely to make a difference in a pennant race, but he might enhance a team’s starting pitching depth. And Oakland appears to have little need for him in the future, as he will not be a member of the next good Athletics squad at 29 years old.

Jesus Aguilar

Staying in the Bay Area, Oakland acquired experienced right-handed hitter Jesus Aguilar to a one-year free-agent contract this winter in an effort to field a competent big league team while their prospects mature. Last season, the 32-year-old split time between Miami and Baltimore, slashing.235/.281/.379 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI. Aguilar is no longer the fearsome slugger he once was with Milwaukee, but he’s a decent veteran bat who should aid Oakland at first base and DH. At least during the first four months of the season. If he has a reasonably decent season, you can bet the A’s will try to trade him before the deadline to a contending team.

Kyle Finnegan

Last summer’s trade of Juan Soto essentially ushered in a new era of Nationals baseball, as well as a reconstruction that will take a long time to complete. Washington will be a very young team in 2023, and they will undoubtedly go through growing pains as they try to compete in what is perhaps the finest division in baseball. Even before the season begins, this squad is nearly destined to be a July seller, and when I think about what they could have to offer, one name keeps coming to mind: Kyle Finnegan. The Texas State product is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever who has consistently struck out more than one batter per inning throughout his career. He had a 3.51 ERA in 66.2 innings last season, while also converting 11 saves and recording 14 holds. He’s also still arbitrage eligible and under contract through 2025, which means Washington might get more for him in a trade than if he were just a rental.Aaron Loup is an actor.

Left-hander Aaron Loup signed a two-year free-agent contract with the Angels last winter after having the best season of his career as a Met in 2021. He performed effectively in his debut year with Los Angeles, though not quite to the level of his previous season’s 0.95 ERA. Regardless, Loup has long been one of the finest and more reliable southpaw set-up men in the game, and if the Angels aren’t genuinely contending this summer, you’d have to think he’ll be on the move.

Trevor May

Let’s talk about righty Trevor May, another former Mets reliever. The 33-year-old has spent the last two seasons in Queens, and while he pitched quite effectively in ’21, injuries hampered some of his consistency the previous season. Despite the dismal year, he was able to sign a free-agent contract with the A’s, who brought him on with the idea of making him their closer. This is an excellent opportunity for May. If he pitches well in the first four months of 2023, he will be one of the top relievers available at the deadline.

Nick Senzel

Not long ago, Nick Senzel was considered one of the top prospects in baseball. Coming out of the University of Tennessee, Cincinnati drafted him second overall in the 2016 draft with hopes of him becoming a major part of their core for years to come. Fast forward to the present, and Senzel has a lifetime slash line of.240/.303/.360 with 67 extra-base hits in 273 big league games. The Reds are clearly in transition right now, and Senzel is under contract through 2025, but this could be a situation where he needs a change of scenery, and Cincinnati could hunt for a team prepared to bet on his prior promise.

Daniel Bard

If Rockies closer Daniel Bard can replicate his great 2022 season, he could be the most sought after late-inning reliever available in July. In 57 games last season, Bard had a 1.79 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP while keeping opponents to a.162 batting average and striking out 69 batters in 60.1 innings. He converted 34 of his 37 save chances and was easily Colorado’s most consistent player. Bard will turn 38 in June, and the Rockies have him contracted through next season, but if the Rockies fall out of contention early and a team displays a willingness to pay a premium to acquire Bard for two stretch runs, Colorado should pull the trigger.

Charlie Blackmon

It would be unusual to see Charlie Blackmon in a new outfit, but it is a possibility that could happen later this summer. The veteran outfielder has spent his entire career with the Rockies, but he will turn 37 in July and is in the final year of his deal. As a ten-and-five player, Blackmon has no trade rights and could veto any potential transaction if he decided to stay in Denver. However, if the Rockies are not in a playoff battle, going to a contender with a chance to win may become appealing.