8 MLB stars most likely to be on trade block by 2022 deadline | Launderer’s report

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    Is it too early to think about the Major League Baseball trade deadline in 2022? Why yes. And also a little presumptuous, given that the league is not yet out of its work stoppage.

    But hey, sometimes you have to speculate on which stars could be traded six months from now.

    There are eight that we think could hit the block later than sooner, either because their value is expected to inflate, or because their teams are expected to fall out of contention for the 2022 playoffs, or some combination of which precedes.

    Please note that this is not a list of candidates to trade before opening day on March 31. Don’t expect to see anything about the Matt Olsons and Craig Kimbrels of the world.

    As for the eight players on this list, let’s run through them in alphabetical order.

1 of 8

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    2021 statistics: 144G, 568AP, 27HR, 0SB, .261AVG, .347OBP, .476SLG, 124 OPS+, 3.1 rWAR

    If you think Josh Bell is a trade candidate at presentyou are not wrong.

    Still, there’s a complication if the Washington Nationals want to trade Bell in the near future. Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson is by far the best first baseman in the commercial market.

    The Nats might not get a proper offer for Bell even after Olson moves, let alone while he’s there. In this case, the best thing to do is to stick with the 29-year-old and hope his value will appreciate over the course of the season.

    As is, Bell has value as a capable power hitter in the cold corner. Still, he’s been known to be hot and more like a superstar. He certainly did in the first half of 2019. Although lesser, he found another stride by posting a .381 OBP and hitting 15 homers in the second half of 2021.

    If Bell does the Nationals the kindness of a hot first half in 2022, any number of teams might be willing to pay a premium price to rent him before the free agency calls his number after the season.

2 out of 8

    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    2021 statistics: 33G, 33GS, 187.2IP, 181H(19HR), 192K, 75BB, 3.98ERA, 120 ERA+, 4.7 rWAR

    Over the past two years, it’s often felt like Luis Castillo is as much a walking trade rumor as one of the National League’s most successful pitchers.

    So it’s gone this winter, but maybe in the face of what the Cincinnati Reds intend to do. Like ESPN Buster Olney reported in November the Reds are less open to moving Castillo than they are compatriot Sonny Gray, who owes more money in 2022.

    Plus, there’s a potential upside to retaining Castillo. His value is good now, but it should improve if he can pick up where he left off. After struggling out of the gate in 2021, he has recovered to hit a 2.73 ERA in his last 22 starts.

    He’s a legitimate No.1 starter, and this one would come with control of the club until 2023.

    Because such a player is an extremely valuable trade token, the question is whether the Reds will be able to sell. Considering they only won 83 games last year and lost some talent over the winter, that seems likely.

3 out of 8

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    2021 statistics: 151G, 622PA, 27HR, 3SB, .210AVG, .314OBP, .403SLG, 100 OPS+, 3.5 rWAR

    Courtesy of Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic and others, word got out that the A’s want to cut costs and are willing to trade just about anyone.

    That includes first baseman Matt Olson, as well as pitchers Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas. It could also mean Matt Chapman, a slick and powerful third baseman, but the A’s could benefit from keeping him around a bit longer.

    As strong as Chapman’s value is, it could be stronger. He hasn’t been consistent with the bat the past two seasons, as he’s come on base just a .306 clip. It is not difficult to connect this point with the hip surgery which he had in September 2020.

    The possibility of the 28-year-old fully recovering from this injury in 2022 is more than tantalizing. He could return to the form he had in 2018 and 2019, through which he had an OBP of 0.348, 60 homers and the world war four at baseball.

    If Chapman becomes that guy again, the A’s will have MVP-caliber talent with control of the club through 2023 to take advantage of the summer market.

4 out of 8

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2021 statistics: 128G, 483AP, 21HR, 5SB, .237AVG, .340OBP, .438SLG, 108 OPS+, 4.1 rWAR

    Willson Contreras looked like a trade candidate in early winter, but the direction the Chicago Cubs have taken since has diminished that possibility.

    Rather than continue disassembly they started last July, the Cubs added. To their pitching team, Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley. On offense are outfielder Clint Frazier and receiver Yan Gomes. And stay tuned, because Carlos Correa is still here and a possibility for Cubs.

    Even with a star of Correa’s caliber, however, the North Siders have a decent chance of being raced in the NL Central as well. As it stands, they barely project more WAR than the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    If a disappointing 2022 season is indeed what awaits the Cubs, then it’s likely only a matter of time before the 29-year-old Contreras leaves town.

    He’s a free agent after the 22-year campaign, after all, and he has a skill set that would benefit many teams. Namely, as one of best offensive receivers in the game.

5 out of 8

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    2021 statistics: 135G, 543AP, 26HR, 0SB, .247AVG, .352OBP, .475SLG, 127 OPS+, 3.2 rWAR

    Despite the team’s shock fall to last place in 2021, the Minnesota Twins seemed committed to a fight when they ink center fielder Byron Buxton to a $100 million extension.

    That the twins will be contesting is a whole other matter. They have so few starting pitchers that they may have to subtract a hitter (i.e. outfielder Max Kepler) to add a starter via a trade.

    Although Josh Donaldson is hypothetically a trade candidate, his age (36) and the money owed to him ($51.5 million) make him the kind of chip that would not bring back an impact pitcher. If the Twins move him, it will be more of a salary dump.

    That’s unlikely to happen before Opening Day, but the Twins could seriously consider offloading the veteran if they fall out of contention again in 2022. would not for the first time.

    Due to his age and his contract, moving him would be complicated. But if Minnesota were willing to eat cash, adding Donaldson’s power and experience would be all the more appealing to rival teams.

6 out of 8

    G Fiume/Getty Images

    2021 statistics: 147G, 616AP, 21HR, 0SB, .255AVG, .326OBP, .432SLG, 104 OPS+, 0.8 rWAR

    If it’s a reach, it’s only because Trey Mancini could be on a team that isn’t the Baltimore Orioles on Opening Day.

    They still have some rebuilding to do, after all. He’s a more sensitive trade chip than left-hander John Means or center back Cedric Mullins, who are under Baltimore’s control until 2024 and 2025, respectively. Mancini, who turns 30 on March 18, is expected to become a free agent after 2022.

    However, Mancini’s value is questionable.

    As much as his 2021 season marked a triumphant return after Colon Cancer, he hit just .230 with two homers in his last 50 appearances. As Mancini told the Baltimore Sunhe said to himself in July, “I have [freaking] two more months of this, and I’m tired.”

    A good offseason may be what Mancini needs to rise to the level of play he enjoyed in 2019 when he had 134 OPS+ and 35 homers. If that happens, even half a season of his services would be worth a shot for the Orioles.

7 out of 8

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2021 statistics: 32G, 32GS, 180IP, 165H(21HR), 176K, 64BB, 4.40ERA, 108 ERA+, 2.5 rWAR

    Will the Colorado Rockies face off in 2022? They apparently think so. Reports have linked them to a handful of notable players before lockdown, including 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant.

    Then again, nobody looks at the Rockies and sees a competently run franchise. They had three losing seasons in a row. They manhandled Trevor Story and Jon Gray last year. More recently, team owner Dick Monfort just got hired his 30-year-old son as the head of the professional scouting department.

    As they plan for the least WAR of any baseball team, the lowest may still be ahead of the Rockies. If something good can come hitting it, it’s a possible realization of “Hey, wait a minute, that’s not working.”

    If that happens, maybe they’ll use their wisdom and eventually cash in on German Marquez.

    The 26-year-old is about as consistent as it gets, having posted a ERA+ above average in each of the last five seasons. He’s also signed for $26.6 million through 2023 with a modest $16 million option for 2024. If he becomes available, he’ll be one of the most sought-after players in the summer market.

8 out of 8

    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    2021 statistics: 90G, 374AP, 14HR, 2SB, .318AVG, .377OBP, .532SLG, 143 OPS+, 1.8 rWAR

    The question you might be wondering is why the Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn’t trade Ketel Marte sooner rather than later.

    After going 25-35 in 2020 and then losing 110 games in 2021, they are not an obvious contender. Marte, meanwhile, has played at superstar level in two of the last three seasons and is controlled for less than $30 million via a guaranteed year in 2022 and options for 2023 and 2024.

    from arizona OK with Mark Melancon closer, however, seemed to signal internal optimism about his chances in 2022. That’s one reason D-backs might hold off on Marte, another being that his value might as well rise as to diminish.

    As good as the 28-year-old was when he could play in 2021, he has missed almost half of the season due to both hamstring injuries. Alongside his unforgettable year in 2020, rival teams have two reasons to have reservations about paying a royal ransom for him now.

    For said rival teams, the ideal scenario is for Marte to remain healthy and productive in 2022 as the D-backs once again fall on their faces. In this scenario, he would probably find his way to the block.

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