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Monday, July 16, 2018

10 potential MLB trade candidates

Manny Machado

Major League Baseball’s trade deadline may be over a month and a half away, but that doesn’t make it too early to start looking at names that could potentially wind up on the market or the teams that could be eager to sell them. With a big free agent class upcoming, some teams may simply cut bait while they can and grab as many good prospects as are offered to them. Big names like Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and Cole Hamels could find themselves swapping uniforms come the end of July.

You only need to look at the impact Justin Verlander had on the Houston Astros last year to understand what a good trade can do for an organization. It’s likely that someone will have a similar effect on an eventual champion this season. Who will it be? Here are ten players who could be on the move.

1) Manny Machado, Orioles

Machado may end up being a rental, but what a rental he would be. Offensively, his contract year has been the best of his career so far; he’s hitting .327 with 18 home runs. He remains a gifted defender at shortstop and one of the game’s brightest stars. As such, he would cost someone a huge haul to land. He’s good enough though that he could put someone over the top. Maybe that team would even get a head start on convincing Machado to sign the huge contract he’ll get at the end of the year.

2) Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays

It’s been an injury-plagued season for Donaldson, who has featured in only 36 games so far with an underwhelming .234 average. He still has power, having hit 33 home runs a season ago, and he still plays a good third base when healthy. It’s simply a question of whether a team will believe the price tag is worth the risk, as the Blue Jays may be forced into thinking about moving him as they hurtle toward the bottom of the standings. Given that he will be a free agent after the season, it would certainly make sense to.

3) Cole Hamels, Rangers

When the Rangers acquired Hamels at the 2015 trade deadline, they intended for him to help them remain contenders for years to come. He did pitch in three playoff games in Texas, but the Rangers didn’t win either series, and they now occupy the AL West basement comfortably. Hamels is 34 now and not the ace he once was, though he remains a quality pitcher with another year of team control after this one. That second year of team control will hold some appeal to interested teams.

4) Zach Britton, Orioles

It was just last year that Britton was close to being moved to the Houston Astros at the deadline, but ownership wouldn’t let it happen. That was a mistake. Britton got hurt and his trade value is down, though someone will still pay plenty for a player with his track record. The expectation is that he should return from an Achilles injury in time to audition for potential suitors. If he looks like himself, teams will be queuing up, as a lot of contenders — hello, Cleveland — are badly in need of bullpen help.

5) Mike Moustakas, Royals

It looked like Moustakas was going to leave Kansas City last winter, but his market collapsed and he ended up back with the Royals on a one-year deal. In July, the ride may finally end if the non-contending Royals opt to move one of their more prominent trade chips. Still only 29, Moustakas is hitting at a steady rate to the tune of a .270 average with 12 home runs. He may present a good option for teams that can’t or won’t land Donaldson from the Blue Jays.

6) Kelvin Herrera, Royals

With the Royals looking likely to sell off anything of value, Herrera will be the other name in demand. A free agent after the season, Herrera has only boosted his trade value, posting a 0.79 ERA in 2018. He’s a two-time All-Star and could see his value increase further if Zach Britton doesn’t look like himself. Herrera may end up as the best reliever available on the market.

7) J.A. Happ, Blue Jays

The veteran Happ isn’t an ace, but he’s a steady mid-rotation arm who could help a contender. His 4.08 ERA isn’t great, but it’s been below 4 for a good portion of the season. He also has lots of playoff experience with both the Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. Happ may not anchor a rotation, but a team that isn’t looking to part with their best prospects but needs some help in the pitching department could do much worse.

8) Chris Archer, Rays

Archer has been a steady fixture in trade rumors for years, and there’s a case to be made that Tampa Bay waited too long to move him, with his 4.24 ERA a career-worst over a full season. He’s still striking out plenty of batters, though, and has a lot of team control remaining. The stuff is still there as well, which would be enough to inspire teams to take a chance on Archer. The question is whether the Rays are actually willing to make him available at a reasonable price.

9) Francisco Liriano, Tigers

The Tigers took a shot with Liriano and it has worked out about as well as they could have hoped it would. His 3.90 ERA should gain the attention of contenders, and he has shown in spurts that he can still get strikeouts and pitch well consistently. He’d be a cheaper option, no doubt, but teams will definitely be eyeing him to fill out their rotations.

10) Matt Harvey, Reds

Anybody want to take a chance? Possibly not. Harvey hasn’t looked a whole lot better since joining Cincinnati, putting up a 4.44 ERA in five starts. His strikeouts are up a bit and his walks down, but he’s still giving up over a hit an inning and doesn’t look like his old self. There’s still a pedigree there, and MLB teams are always big believers in the notion that they can help complete someone’s career reclamation. The Reds may find some success moving Harvey as his contract will not be an issue this time. It’s unlikely, but it’s worth a shot.

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