This week’s GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., marked the start of trade talks around the league as teams also reached out to agents for players who are now on the open market. Although free agency typically dominates MLB transactions in November and early December, a blockbuster trade or two always seems to occur. This year, a lot of big names are being discussed in trade talks, but that doesn’t mean they will be traded. Trade talks are part of the front office process, though they don’t usually lead to a deal.
This free agent market is filled with rookie pitchers, but some teams don’t want to commit more than $100 million to acquire a top-five starter; They prefer to trade up front types who only have a year of exposure on their books but get a similar talent level – think shooters like Corbin Burnes, Tyler Glasnow, or Shane Bieber.
The free agent market for position players isn’t strong outside of headliners Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman (Shohei Ohtani is in his own category as the best rookie). And position player), so teams seeking a middle-order impact bat are touching base with the Padres on Juan Soto and the Mets on Pete Alonso. Although both players could remain where they are and sign contract extensions with their current teams, it is also possible that they could be traded between now and the end of the Winter Meetings in early December.
To set the stage for trade season, here’s a look at 10 of the top players who could be traded this winter, as well as my quick thoughts on them and what I’m hearing in my conversations with people across the game.
1. Juan Soto, LF, Padres
Juan Soto is a year from free agency and will earn a much higher salary next season. (He’s arbitration-eligible and MLB trade rumors project he’ll make $33 million; he made $23 million this year.) He rejected a 15-year, $440 million extension offer from the Nationals in 2022, prompting them to deal him to the Padres at the time Final trade. Soto, 25, is coming off an impressive season in which he slashed .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs, 109 RBIs and 132 walks in the league in 162 games. He posted an OPS+ of 158 and 5.6 WAR (Baseball Reference). The Padres have discussed an extension with Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, but the two sides do not appear to be close to reaching an agreement. So, when teams call, the Padres make it clear they will listen and consider offers for the three-time All-Star. But according to a major league source briefed on the Padres’ plans, they will likely keep him until next July and see where they stand in the standings before deciding whether or not to move him. However, if the right offer is on the table this winter, you never know.
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2. Corbin Burns, RHP, Brewers
The Brewers are dealing with the shocking news that their manager, Craig Counsell, has left for their archrival, the Cubs. Additionally, they know that two-time All-Star Brandon Woodruff will miss most, if not all, of next season after undergoing surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his right shoulder last month. Woodruff is entering the year of his career. Corbin Burnes is also a free agent after next season, and the Brewers don’t appear to have the appetite to extend him to a $100 million contract, so there’s a strong possibility they trade him this winter if they can get an attractive deal. Of promoting prospects in return. However, to make a trade, they may have to wait until top free agent pitchers like Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and Sonny Gray find new homes. Burns, 29, posted a 3.39 ERA last season in 32 starts, with 200 strikeouts in 193 2/3 innings. He made three straight All-Star teams and finished in the top seven or better in the National League, voted Cy Young in all three of those seasons, and won the award in 2021. You’ll love several big-market teams, including the Dodgers, Yankees and Phillies. To land Burns even though they only controlled him for one year.
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3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays
Tyler Glasnow is healthy again and playing like the ace he is. The righty went 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.083 WHIP in 21 starts last season, striking out 162 in 120 innings. He was even better in the second half of the season, when he went 8-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 13 starts. Glasnow, 30, is signed for $25 million in 2024 and will be a free agent after the season. His trade market will be strong and filled with contending teams like the Dodgers, Rangers, Orioles and Braves looking for short-term starters. The Rays are always looking to today and to the future and their best play is to move him this winter rather than wait until the trade deadline, where they will likely be in the running, making him more difficult to deal at this point.
4. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
Pete Alonso belted 86 home runs over the past two seasons and drove in 249 runs, the most in the major leagues. The three-time All-Star is entering his age-29 season and will be a free agent at the end of next year. Boras is his agent He told reporters At the GM meetings on Wednesday, he met with Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns to discuss Alonso and “tell him that when it comes to the Polar Bear, we’re not in a decadent hibernation.” We’ll have to see if the Mets and Alonso make any progress on an extension. Stearns, who was officially drafted immediately after the regular season, wants to make his mark on the team. He is open to Alonso trade discussions and Alonso extension discussions. The Cubs, Mariners and Giants have been rumored as potential destinations if Alonso is traded.
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5. Shane Pepper, RHP, Guardians
Shane Bieber, like Burns, only has one year of control left, but the Guardians are in a much better position to give him up because of their stock of young players starting in the big leagues, including the rookie trio of Tanner Bibby, Logan Allen and Gavin Williams. And Triston McKenzie. This strong depth means they don’t have to ask to pitch in return, as the Brewers do, so Cleveland can focus on meeting its biggest need: controllable middle-of-the-order hitters who play the outfield or DH. Finding a trade partner shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with teams like the Orioles who have an overabundance of players and aren’t afraid to trade a starter for just one year given their wide-open chances of winning a World Series. Bieber, 28, is coming off an injury-shortened season (right elbow inflammation) in which he had a 3.80 ERA in 22 starts and struck out 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings, but returned from the injured list in late September to make two starts.
6. Anthony Santander, RF, Orioles
Anthony Santander has been one of the most underrated players on the Orioles’ roster this year, pitching third for much of the season. He slashed .257/.325/.472 with 41 doubles, 28 home runs, 95 RBIs, and a 121 OPS+. It was worth 3.0 WAR. Santander (29 years old) will be a free player after next season. His name continues to be mentioned in trade talks by teams looking for more offense. The Orioles are full of young players and could afford to trade Santander if they can get the right pitcher back in a deal. However, he is also an important asset to the club, so the front office is hesitant to move him.
7. Jonathan India, 2B, Reds
The Reds are loaded with talent on their roster: Christian Encarnacion Strand is expected at first base, Matt McClain at second base, Eli De La Cruz at shortstop, and Noelvi Marte at third base. This makes Jonathan India either a designated batsman or a trade piece and the latter seems to make more sense for both India and the club. India was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2021 when he slashed .269/.376/.459 with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs in over 150 games. In 2022, he played in just 103 games due to injuries but finished the season with 16 doubles and 10 home runs in 386 at-bats. Last season, he again dealt with injuries but managed to pitch in 119 games, slashing .244/.338/.407 (100 OPS+) with 23 doubles, 17 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts. His defensive metrics have trended downward, but most analysts believe it has more to do with injuries than his ability. India, who turns 27 next month, is arbitration eligible, while the rest of the Reds’ players are not, making him more available. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Nationals and White Sox are among the teams that could benefit from an upgrade at second base and may look to make a deal.
8. Willie Adams, SS, Brewers
The Brewers would like to sign Willy Adames to a long-term contract extension, but if they can’t come to an agreement, they could always move second baseman Brice Turang back to his original position at shortstop to replace him. Adames has been a leader for the Brewers but slashed just .217/.310/.407 last season with a 95 OPS+. However, he hit 29 doubles and 24 home runs and finished with 3.0 WAR. Adams, 28, like Burns and Woodruff, is arbitration eligible and will be a free agent after the 2024 season. The Giants could make sense as a trade partner if the right deal is reached.
9. Alex Verdugo, RF, Red Sox
Alex Verdugo will forever be known as the centerpiece of Boston’s Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers in 2020, which was clearly out of his control, but at the same time, raised expectations to levels far higher than were realistic for him. However, Verdugo hit .264/.324/.421 (100 OPS+) last season with 37 doubles, 13 home runs, 81 runs scored, and 54 RBI. The Red Sox want to get more leverage from outfield spots and want to upgrade if possible. Verdugo, 27, has been benched twice this year by head coach Alex Cora. He’ll be a free agent after next season, and doesn’t really fit the profile of new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, so I think he might be primed with the potential for a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
10. Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees
Gleyber Torres had a solid season, hitting .273/.347/.453 with 28 doubles, 25 home runs and 90 runs scored. He was worth 2.9 WAR and his .800 OPS ranked sixth among all second basemen. However, the Yankees have a plethora of young center fielders ready to take over the position and the club has been listening to trade proposals for him for over a year now. Torres turns 27 next month and will be a free agent after the 2024 season. If the Yankees can get the left-handed outfielder and pitcher they want in a trade, they won’t hesitate to move him.
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(Top photo by Juan Soto: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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