Barring any surprises -- I think we'd all welcome some surprise hot stove activity -- the two biggest stories of the 2017-18 MLB offseason will be the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes and the Giancarlo Stanton trade market. Ohtani is expected to be posted in the coming days and the 21-day negotiating window means his free agency will be wrapped up before Christmas. That'll be fun.
As for Stanton, it is not set in stone he will be traded this winter, but it sure seems inevitable. The Marlins are looking to slash payroll and Stanton is the team's highest paid player. He's also their best player and one of the best in baseball -- Stanton hit 59 home runs in 2017 and is the reigning NL MVP, after all -- so his trade value might never again be as high as it is right now.
Stanton is hardly the only big name player who could be on the move this winter. In fact, giving the generally good but not great free agent class, I think we're going to see some pretty significant trades this offseason. More than usual. That'll be fun. Trades are a blast. So, with that in mind, here are 10 players not named Giancarlo Stanton who could be traded in the coming weeks.
Jose Abreu 1B / White Sox
2017 WAR: +4.7
Over the last calendar year or so the White Sox have stripped down their MLB roster to begin a rebuild, a rebuild that has given them one of the top farm systems in baseball. GM Rick Hahn has traded away every worthwhile veteran except one: Jose Abreu. The team's star first baseman hit .304/.354/.552 (140 OPS+) with 33 home runs in 2017, making it his best season since his monster 2014 rookie campaign.
Abreu is now two years from free agency and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $17.9 million in 2018, a rather hefty salary for what amounts to a luxury item for the ChiSox. They don't figure to make much of an effort to contend next season. Realistically, Abreu's trade value only goes down from here, as he gets closer to free agency. This is the time to move him. Hahn knows that. Once you trade away Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, there's no sense in keeping Abreu. Go all the way in.
Here is what Hahn told reporters, including Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago, about a potential Abreu trade earlier this offseason:
"What I tried to do is lay out the question at hand and the issue at hand, and we have to as a front office make that decision," Hahn said. "And frankly, on both players (Abreu and Avisail Garcia), those decisions don't have to be made this offseason. They're both controllable through 2019. We have the luxury if we want to play it out another year, play it out another half a year to see if the performance continues, see if the trade market changes. As was the case when we sat here with Quintana a year ago. Yes, he was potentially a trade candidate, but the market didn't respond the way we had anticipated, so we had to wait. It's not me just dancing around or being cute. There isn't a firm answer right now. We don't know what the options are. One of them conceivably is extending, and we have to wait and see what that cost entails."
The downside here is that the free agent first base market is always crowded. Why trade top prospects and take on a big salary in Abreu when you could simply spend money to sign someone like Carlos Santana or Lucas Duda? No, those players aren't as good as Abreu, but the free agent options may be more cost effective.
Possible trade suitors: Cardinals, Mariners, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Yankees.
Zach Britton RP / Orioles
2017 WAR: +1.0
The Orioles are in a tough place right now. They went 75-87 and finished in last place in 2017, their rotation is mostly a mess, and next offseason core players Zach Britton, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado will all become free agents. Machado doesn't figure to go anywhere this winter. Jones? Maybe. Britton? Very possibly. I wouldn't call it likely, but it is definitely possible.
Forearm woes limited Britton to 37 1/3 innings in 2017, during which he went 15 for 17 in save chances and pitched to a 2.89 ERA (151 ERA+) and a 1.53 WHIP. While not awful, that is a far cry from Britton's historically great 2016 season, and his excellent run from 2014-16. He allowed more hits (39 to 38) and the same number of walks (18) in 2017 than he did in 2016 in 29 2/3 fewer innings. That combined with the forearm problems are a red flag.
Of course, bullpen help is always in demand, and the free agent market is short on shutdown closers aside from Wade Davis and Greg Holland. There figure to be plenty of teams in on Britton. Remember, he was very nearly traded to the Astros at the deadline before a medical issue with one of the prospects going to Baltimore squashed the deal. Britton is available and only a year away from free agency. The O's could cash him in for a nice package of young players this winter.
Possible trade suitors: Basically every contender. They'd all love to add Britton to their bullpen at the right price.
Maikel Franco 3B / Phillies
2017 WAR: -0.2
Two years ago Maikel Franco looked like the next big thing. He hit .280/.343/.497 (130 OPS+) with 14 home runs in 80 games with the Phillies in 2015, his first extended taste of the show. His defense wasn't great, but with a bat like that, you'll live with the subpar glovework. The Phillies were rebuilding and Franco looked like a potential centerpiece.
Instead, the 25-year-old Franco slipped to .255/.306/.427 (94 OPS+) in 2016 and .230/.281/.409 (81 OPS+) in 2017. Ouch. He went backwards instead of improving on his 2015 breakout. The Phillies are looking for pitching this winter and it has been speculated Franco could be used as trade bait. GM Matt Klentak of course told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki he still believes in Franco.
Top offseason trade candidates not named Giancarlo Stanton
CBS Sports | Nov 28