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10 MLB Stars Most Likely to Be Traded in 2022-23 Offseason

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    Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    With the summer deadline having come and gone on Aug. 2, Major League Baseball’s trade market is closed until winter.

    When it opens back up, you can bet that some of the league’s name-brand players will inevitably be on the move.

    We’ve gotten a head start by speculating on 10 stars who could make their way to market during the 2022-23 offseason. Some were the subject of trade rumors leading up to the Aug. 2 deadline, while others generally fit the mold of trade bait based on their contract status and the contention timelines and budgets of their employers.

    We’ll count them down in order of their likelihood to be traded, starting with the least likely and ending with the most likely.

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    Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    2022 Hitting Stats: 103 G, 443 PA, 24 HR, 11 SB, .257 AVG, .350 OBP, .504 SLG

    2022 Pitching Stats: 18 GS, 105.0 IP, 85 H (12 HR), 152 K, 24 BB, 2.83 ERA

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2023


    Why It Could Happen

    While it was no great surprise that the Los Angeles Angels chose to hold on to Shohei Ohtani, it was likewise no great surprise that they were at least willing to listen to offers for him before the Aug. 2 deadline.

    As a premier slugger who’s also one of the game’s most dominant starting pitchers, the 2021 American League MVP has singular value on the field. And while he is under club control for one more season after 2022, a rebuild is frankly in order in Anaheim. At 44-61, the Angels are staring down their seventh straight losing season.

    The thinking around the league, then, is that the Angels should seriously consider cashing in Ohtani while they can. As a rival executive put it to Jon Heyman of the New York Post: “In 14 months, he’s out the door. And once he’s out the door, he’s never coming back.”


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    All the clamoring for Ohtani prior to the deadline always did seem like wishful thinking. Everything ultimately depended on whether Angels owner Arte Moreno would OK a deal, and that report from Heyman notes that he didn’t even want to hear offers.

    Perhaps there’s a non-zero chance of Moreno having a change of heart this winter, but it’s probably more likely that he’ll stay his usual course. That is, the one in which he signs huge checks for a small core of stars and otherwise skimps on depth pieces.

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 65 G, 270 PA, 16 HR, 0 SB, .215 AVG, .252 OBP, .465 SLG

    Contract Status: Under contract through 2025, with option for 2026


    Why It Could Happen

    Though Salvador Perez has been a mainstay behind the plate for the Kansas City Royals since 2011, it’s about time for a changing of the guard.

    In the person of MJ Melendez, the Royals have a catcher of the future who also seems to be ready right now. The 23-year-old came into this season as a consensus top-100 prospect, and he’s looked the part in racking up a .732 OPS and 11 home runs for the big club.

    Kansas City Royals @Royals

    MJ leads us off!<a href=”https://twitter.com/CapitalOne?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CapitalOne</a> // <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TogetherRoyal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TogetherRoyal</a> <a href=”https://t.co/JkR2KjXdDi”>pic.twitter.com/JkR2KjXdDi</a>

    There would be no downside to living with an embarrassment of riches behind the plate if the Royals were contending, but they’re now seven years removed from their last season over .500. There’s thus good sense in cashing in the 32-year-old Perez and making a full pivot to the future.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    The dam did break a little bit when they traded veteran utility man Whit Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Royals have a tendency to be loyal to their guys. And if anyone’s earned that kind of loyalty, it’s certainly Perez.

    Beyond that, he doesn’t have to go anywhere if he doesn’t want to. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan noted in discussing Perez’s trade candidacy on June 3, the veteran can veto any trade proposal by way of his 10-and-5 rights.

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    John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 91 G, 397 PA, 23 HR, 2 SB, .319 AVG, .375 OBP, .596 SLG

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2023


    Why it Could Happen

    According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, the Boston Red Sox saw Matt Olson’s eight-year, $168 million contract with Atlanta as a framework for an extension for Rafael Devers when the two sides were negotiating during the spring.

    Even at the time, that would have been a severe underbid for a two-time All-Star third baseman who’s still only 25 years old. And in the wake of Austin Riley’s recent 10-year, $212 million pact with Atlanta, Devers’ market value has only gone up.

    The situation between Devers and the Red Sox bears a resemblance to the one that preceded Mookie Betts leaving Beantown in 2020. And that was when Boston was only a year removed from winning the World Series, whereas now it is a middling team built largely on veterans who are on expiring contracts.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    Then again, those expiring contracts should be conducive to an extension between Boston and Devers. If Xander Bogaerts opts out of his deal, only Chris Sale, Trevor Story and Eric Hosmer will be on the team’s books past 2023, and the latter is on the San Diego Padres’ dime.

    Even if the Red Sox can’t work out a long-term deal with Devers, a trade hardly figures to be a fait accompli. Boston can instead try to construct a contender for 2023 and keep a trade of Devers in its back pocket for the summer if things don’t work out.

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 104 G, 456 PA, 9 HR, 24 SB, .263 AVG, .324 OBP, .394 SLG

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2025


    Why It Could Happen

    After trafficking in nothing but misery between 2017 and 2021, the Baltimore Orioles are suddenly contenders this season. At 54-51, they’re only 1.5 games off the pace in the American League wild-card race.

    Yet even as the wins piled up, the club’s rebuilding mindset lingered and eventually broke through to the forefront when the front office went full-cynical at the trade deadline, moving All-Star closer Jorge Lopez and fan-favorite slugger Trey Mancini.

    If the Orioles remain in asset-selling mode into the winter, Cedric Mullins may well be next. Mentions of the 2021 All-Star in trade rumors haven’t been infrequent over the last year or so. And with him having come down from last year’s 30-30 effort just in time for arbitration-eligibility in 2023, Baltimore’s last best chance to get a huge haul for him may be nigh.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    As painful as it might have been for Orioles fans to watch Mancini and Lopez leave town before the deadline, general manager Mike Elias indicated that the sell-off marked the proper end of the club’s years-long rebuild:

    Nathan Ruiz @NathanSRuiz

    Mike Elias said he expects the Orioles to try to make significant additions this offseason: “It’s liftoff from here.”

    If so, he may not be in the mood to trade a 27-year-old center fielder with club control for three more seasons after all.

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    Justin Berl/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 90 G, 374 PA, 16 HR, 4 SB, .258 AVG, .340 OBP, .458 SLG

    Contract Status: Under contract through 2023, plus club control through 2025


    Why It Could Happen

    Though the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Bryan Reynolds to a multiyear deal in April, a contract that buys out two of four arbitration years is hardly a proper extension for a star of his caliber.

    It’s going to take something more substantial to keep the 27-year-old in Pittsburgh beyond 2025. And because the largest contract in Pirates history is for a mere $70 million, Reynolds’ price tag may be beyond what the club can afford owner Bob Nutting is willing to pay.

    In the meantime, teams will surely keep calling about Reynolds. The Miami Marlins and New York Yankees have been two especially aggressive callers, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, and the 2021 All-Star has generally been a regular in trade rumors over the last few years.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    Though the Pirates have never been big spenders, there’s perhaps some hope to be mined from the fact that the franchise-record $70 million deal happened very recently between the team and Ke’Bryan Hayes. Maybe, just maybe, there’s more in the vault for Reynolds.

    But if nothing else, the Bucs secured some cost control over Reynolds (he’ll make only $6.8 million next season) when they did that two-year deal. They can bide their time see how things go in 2023, which is not an unreasonable target year for the end of the team’s rebuild.

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    Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 13 GS, 67.0 IP, 55 H (6 HR), 87 K, 34 BB, 4.16 ERA

    Contract Status: Under contract through 2023


    Why It Could Happen

    Have you seen the San Diego Padres’ playoff odds lately? After their deals for Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Josh Hader, those odds have unsurprisingly spiked in the last few days.

    So too, however, has the Padres’ payroll. They’re now easily over the $230 million luxury-tax threshold, putting the team on track to pay penalties for a second year in a row. And since they already have more luxury-tax allocations for 2023 than all but one team, some cutting may be in order for the winter if the club wants to avoid making it three years in a row.

    Which brings us to Blake Snell, who’s earning $13.1 million this season and $16.6 million in the final year of his contract next season. That money was seen as a potentially cuttable expense by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic before the deadline, and it may well fit that bill again this winter.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    Even if the Padres want to cut costs during the offseason, they may have to find ways to do so that don’t involve trading Snell.

    The 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner looked vaguely expendable when he was sharing a rotation with Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger and MacKenzie Gore, but Gore is gone now and Manaea and Clevinger are due for free agency this winter. The Padres will thus be in a position this winter not to subtract from their rotation, but to keep and add to it.

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 102 G, 420 PA, 9 HR, 6 SB, .274 AVG, .355 OBP, .428 SLG

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2023


    Why It Could Happen

    The Chicago Cubs positioned themselves as sellers with several trades in the days leading up to the Aug. 2 deadline, and it seemed all but certain that Willson Contreras and Ian Happ would be next.

    In a shocker, both ended up staying. As he’s slated for free agency at the end of the season, the Cubs won’t get any more chances to cash in Contreras. Happ, on the other hand, would seem to be an obvious candidate to be offloaded ahead of his walk year in 2023.

    There was plenty of interest in the 27-year-old ahead of the deadline, to a point where Passan reported on July 26 that the Cubs were “likely” to trade him. This winter, that interest might not fade so much as morph, as Happ would be a potential trade-and-extend in the same vein as Betts, Olson and Paul Goldschmidt.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    That the Cubs were willing to hold on to Happ in the face of so much interest is a sign that they’re not going to trade him just to trade him. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer later confirmed as much:

    670 The Score @670TheScore

    Hoyer on <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cubs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Cubs</a> keeping Contreras, Happ “Simply trading players to say you got prospects that you don’t believe in or don’t find very talented, that doesn’t make anything great at all. We never found deals that exceeded the value of the players we had.”<a href=”https://t.co/6G2a7VCEze”>https://t.co/6G2a7VCEze</a> <a href=”https://t.co/GJ8jPm8x68″>pic.twitter.com/GJ8jPm8x68</a>

    It would follow that the Cubs will hold to this position this winter. And besides, there’s no rule that says they can’t simply extend Happ.

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    Ron Schwane/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 20 GS, 124.2 IP, 111 H (11 HR), 126 K, 28 BB, 3.39 ERA

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2024


    Why It Could Happen

    On paper, the Cleveland Guardians had the best of both worlds going for them ahead of the deadline. Not only a winning record, but also a deep farm system from which to pull shiny trade chips to make deals.

    Yet the Guardians have been known to also sell when they buy, and it seems they were willing to do that again this summer. As reported by Passan, they were willing to move controllable pitchers such as Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and even 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber.

    The willingness to trade Bieber, 27, could potentially be there again this winter. His second trip through arbitration might double his $6 million salary, which is already the second-highest figure on the Guardians payroll. As he’s no longer the kind of ace that he was in 2020, it would be understandable if Cleveland would just as soon get him off the books.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    Though Passan’s report stated that Bieber was available, it also made it clear that the price for the right-hander was “exorbitant.”

    The Guardians might back off from that this winter if their priorities shift to saving money, but that’s a hard thing to take for granted. Because even for them, spending $12 million or so on a pitcher like Bieber shouldn’t be an insurmountable hurdle.

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    Eric Espada/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 21 GS, 118.2 IP, 98 H (13 HR), 119 K, 35 BB, 3.41 ERA

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2024


    Why It Could Happen

    The Miami Marlins came into the 2022 season hoping to contend on the back of their exciting young arms, but it turns out that bats are also necessary for winning games.

    When the Fish set their sights on selling at the deadline, they had a notion to get a bat by dangling one of their arms. Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald reported that the club wanted an impact left-handed hitter and was willing to move Pablo Lopez to get it.

    Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

    Pablo López, K’ing the Side <a href=”https://t.co/JVpvMlnxKB”>pic.twitter.com/JVpvMlnxKB</a>

    So intense was interest in the 26-year-old that trade chatter went down to the proverbial finish line. Though nothing materialized, it’s not much of a leap to assume that the Marlins will revisit trading Lopez for the hitter they so badly need this winter.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    And yet, right now there is a question of how much of a pitching surplus Miami actually has. There are many recognizable names among their mound wares, but a few of them (namely Trevor Rogers, Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer) have had or are still having injury trouble.

    There’s also the obvious alternative to trading Lopez if the Marlins want to add offense: just spend some money on the free-agent market.

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    2022 Stats: 96 G, 393 PA, 13 HR, 1 SB, .244 AVG, .319 OBP, .437 SLG

    Contract Status: Under club control through 2025


    Why It Could Happen

    Just since March, the Oakland Athletics have traded Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino. As sales go, this one has been so fiery that even Beavis would want no part of it.

    Sean Murphy might also have gone ahead of the trade deadline. Rosenthal reported that the A’s were receiving interest in the 27-year-old catcher, who offers Gold Glove-winning defense in addition to prodigious power.

    Oakland A’s @Athletics

    WATCH THIS RIGHT NOW <a href=”https://t.co/VlMakEw4Cd”>pic.twitter.com/VlMakEw4Cd</a>

    Murphy will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so his salary is about to go way up. Rather than accept that, it would be like the A’s to move Murphy and hand the catching job over to one of two their two leading prospects, Shea Langeliers and Tyler Soderstrom.


    Why It Probably Won’t Happen

    Honestly? Even we can’t spin this one.

    It’s perhaps not impossible that Murphy will still be on the A’s come Opening Day of 2023, but our advice to A’s fans is to not get too attached.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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