It’s only mid May, so maybe it is a little early to start talking about the trade deadline. At this point in the season, it would be a little early for someone to hold a fire sale. But teams could certainly be looking to make a few trades before the deadline.
They could be trying to take a page out of the Cleveland Cavaliers operations manual. They may be good, but not good enough, and looking for some new, young talent.
A good player on a bad team could also be in a contract year. Rather than let him walk away, they trade him. Better to get something than nothing, right?
For a variety of reasons, the following veterans could find themselves on new teams by the time the trade deadline rolls around at the end of July:
Elvis Andrus, shortstop, Texas Rangers: Technically, he is under contract for four more years at a cost of $58 million to the Rangers. But he could opt out at the end of this season and hit free agency. He’s a good all-around player who turns 30 this season—so, if he is going to get a big money deal it is going to be now.
The Rangers shipped Yu Darvish off to the Dodgers rather than lose him in free agency. They’ll probably do the same with Andrus.
Mike Moustakas, third baseman, Kansas City Royals: He played like a guy that deserved to get paid last year, but the market was a bit wonky this offseason. As expected, he rejected the Royals qualifying offer thinking he’d get a more substantial long-term deal with someone—but he didn’t.
Rather than let him walk next year in free agency, the Royals would be smart to trade him now. So far, he is following up last year’s breakout season with another stellar year.
Manny Machado, third baseman, Baltimore Orioles: According to the rumor mill, Machado could command almost as much money as Bryce Harper in the offseason. Since there is no way the Orioles are going to make that big of an investment in one guy, they might as well get what they can for him.
Since he is one of the best offensive weapons in baseball, they’ll be able to get quite a bit for him.
J.T. Realmuto, Catcher, Miami Marlins: The Marlins got rid of most of their talent in last winter’s fire sale. But for some reason held on to Realmuto. As teams start to shape up their rosters for a postseason run, the 27-year old catcher will be in demand. Who wouldn’t want to add a catcher hitting .322 to the lineup?
It doesn’t hurt that he’s affordable too (he’s making $2.9 million this year).
Brad Hand, relief pitcher, San Diego Padres: The Padres signed him to a three-year, $19.75 million extension in the off-season. But when you are on the bottom of a competitive division like they are, no one is off limits. With the importance several teams have been placing on their relievers of late, he could become a hot commodity.
Who wouldn’t want a guy with a 2.45 ERA, 35 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.09 (as of 5/16)?