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MLB:let’s start thinking about trade candidates

Memorial Day and the MLB Draft are in the rear-view mirror. It’s the second week of June. More than one third of the season has been played. We now have an idea of what teams are contenders and what teams are not this season, which means we can start thinking about trade season. Sure, most deals happen in July, but we’ve seen some big ones in June in recent years. It’s definitely not too early to start thinking about it, especially since MLB has switched to a single trade deadline this season.

We’ll run through possible non-contending teams and discuss which players might be available and why. Please note that this is purely based on market needs and fits. We are not reporting on specific players being on the block. If there’s a peeved player in a locker room talking about how he’s not going to be traded, things have been taken out of context.

Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman is an intriguing option. He’s under team control through 2020, so a deal would be for roughly a season and a half of his services. He’s got a 3.31 ERA through 81 2/3 innings this season. Aaron Sanchez is two years younger (26) and is also controlled just through 2020. He has a 4.25 ERA and 4.85 FIP this season, so he might not be quite as attractive.

I also believe Ken Giles could be on the move again. He’s also controlled through 2020. So far this season, he has a 1.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 25 innings. A lot of teams need bullpen help, too.

I’m sure they’ll be able to trade someone, but every player is either under control for several more years or bad. It’s an uphill battle for Mike Elias and company.
The Indians were expecting to contend this year. They had won three straight AL Central titles. They are 10 1/2 games out of first place and two out of the second AL wild-card spot. To be clear, in this position they can’t sell. They wouldn’t do so before hosting the All-Star Game, either. After that, though, if they fall to something like six games out of a playoff spot, they might end up selling. If they do, Trevor Bauer (under control through 2020) and Corey Kluber (club options for 2020 and 2021), if healthy, will certainly be big-name options. Brad Hand is controlled through 2020 with a 2021 club option and would also be an option that would land a good return.

Speaking of good returns, let’s get nuts. This past offseason, in an interview with The Athletic, Indians owner Paul Dolan basically cried poor and of Francisco Lindor , he simply said fans should “enjoy him.” I don’t think it’ll happen, but Lindor would land them a huge return. He’s a superstar at age 25 and controlled through 2021.

James McCann entered this season a career .240/.288/.366 hitter. At age 29, he entered Tuesday hitting .329/.373/.484 this season. He’s under control just through 2020. If the White Sox feel a market for him, it would make sense to sell high.

The big one here, though, is closer Alex Colome . He hits free agency after 2020 and is 30 years old. He’s pitching to a 2.19 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. Again, lots of teams in contention need bullpen help.

One of the most obvious trade candidates in baseball is outfielder Nick Castellanos. He’s 27 and hits free agency after this season. Unfortunately for the Tigers , he’s having his worst year since 2015.

Someone who isn’t having a down year is closer Shane Greene . The 30-year-old right-hander entered Tuesday leading the AL with 19 saves and pitching to a 1.04 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.

Alex Gordon has a mutual option for 2020 and entered Tuesday hitting .279 with a .360 on-base percentage. It’s possible, though not likely. A lot of the other possible options ( Brad Boxberger , Martin Maldonado , Homer Bailey ) aren’t having seasons that would make them attractive on the open market, but you never know.
We know Jerry Dipoto is open for business. He always is and he already dealt Jay Bruce . Who else? Well, Edwin Encarnacion has 20 homers and a club option for 2020. Dee Gordon is signed through 2020 with a club option for 2021. Tim Beckham hits free agency after 2020 and is cheap. Mike Leake has a mutual option for 2021.

Basically, any veteran who isn’t controlled past 2021 is likely on the table.

Starters Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill are both on one-year deals, so they could go. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is, too. I wonder about Kole Calhoun ? He has a club option for 2020.
Reports in the offseason indicated the Mets were turning down general manager candidates who wanted to rebuild. One of the reasons they hired Brodie Van Wagenen was that he wanted to go all in. They aren’t very good, though, so who knows what the route this summer will be? If Jason Vargas keeps pitching well, he’d be a good candidate. He has a club option for next season. I wonder about Noah Syndergaard ? He’s controlled through 2021 and it’s possible a contender might bet on the upside.
The Nats come into Tuesday having won 12 of their last 16 and if things continue on this path, they won’t be sellers. They were built to contend this year. If, however, they stumble, the biggest available name in July will be Anthony Rendon . He’s 29, one of the best players in the league and hits free agency after the season.

Past him, Yan Gomes and Adam Eaton both have club options for 2020 and 2021.

And then there’s Sean Doolittle . The lefty can serve as closer or setup man and has a 2020 club option. We’ve already been over the fact that lots of teams will be in on relievers, so there will be a big market. Also, Howie Kendrick is having a big season and is a free agent this coming offseason. If they sell, he’s definitely on the move.

Curtis Granderson will get traded for a third straight season. Martin Prado , Sergio Romo and Neil Walker (if he gets healthy) are also veterans who hit free agency after the season, so they’d be on the block as well. What about Starlin Castro ? There’s a $16 million club option that is unlikely to be picked up, so he’s another candidate, though he’s having a terrible year.
If they do sell, there are a lot of guys here who would be candidates. The following Reds players hit free agency after the season: Tanner Roark , Scooter Gennett (he’ll be back soon), Yasiel Puig , Alex Wood (if he can get healthy), David Hernandez , Jose Iglesias and Zach Duke . Keep an eye on this team.
They could be in contention, but also could be moving toward sell mode. If anyone needs catcher help, Francisco Cervelli hits free agency after the year and could be moved once he’s able to return from a concussion. Outfielders Corey Dickerson , Lonnie Chisenhall and Melky Cabrera all hit free agency after the season. What about Jordan Lyles ? The Pirates got him incredibly cheap on a one-year deal and he’s pitched to a 3.64 ERA so far. He’s currently on the injured list, though.
They enter Tuesday at exactly .500 and have a stocked farm system along with some great, young talent already at the big-league level. If they fall back enough to sell, it’ll only be players who aren’t a part of the future nucleus. I’m looking at the bullpen and Kirby Yates is one of the best in baseball. He’s also 32 years old and only controlled through next season. It’s possible he goes. Craig Stammen is definitely one who will be on the move if they sell. Past that, they’ll likely keep the band mostly together.
Sitting in a hot streak and well over .500, they couldn’t justify selling right now, but give it a few weeks. You never know. This team traded Paul Goldschmidt while watching Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock walk last offseason and likely were preparing to be sellers this July. They will be ready to deal if need be. Adam Jones is on a one-year deal and is having a good year, so he’s the one that jumps out. Fellow outfielder Jarrod Dyson is also a free agent after the year and would make sense to move. Alex Avila could serve a team’s backup catcher need and Greg Holland would fit in lots of bullpens.
Will a Giants legend be dealt? He really might. Madison Bumgarner hits free agency after the season. He’s not nearly as good as he used to be, but he’s a quality lefty and would work just fine as a rental for a handful of teams. Also a free agent after the season? Will Smith . The lefty closer has been unreal this season with 35 strikeouts against five walks in 24 2/3 innings (2.19 ERA, 0.73 WHIP). Most of the rest of the roster isn’t really all that tradeable, though I wonder if Jeff Samardzija gets hot and the Giants are willing to eat some money. He’s due $19.8 million next season before hitting free agency. He has a 3.72 ERA in 67 2/3 innings.



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