The MLB trade deadline is still six months away, but it's never too early to start discussing who might be on the move, right?
So, let's pull out the old crystal ball and come up with a trade candidate from each team. Even though most trades at the deadline involve minor leaguers on one side of the deal, for this exercise we'll focus primarily on players on big league rosters who could be dealt based on teams' biggest needs.
Let's get right to it.
Most likely need: Bullpen
Trade candidate: Pavin Smith/Dominic Fletcher
I don't love what Madison Bumgarner (4.88 ERA, 4.85 FIP in 2022) and Zach Davies (4.09 ERA, 4.83 FIP) will likely offer in 2023, so if the Diamondbacks sneak into playoff contention, it will likely be because a couple of the rookie starters -- Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson and Brandon Pfaadt -- have stepped up. That leaves the bullpen, which the Diamondbacks curiously did little in the offseason to upgrade after finishing 25th in ERA. Scott McGough, who had 69 saves in Japan the past two seasons, might emerge as the closer. Even after trading Daulton Varsho, the Diamondbacks still have outfield depth to deal from, although Smith could factor into the DH at-bats. Fletcher hit .312/.378/.486 in the minors.
Most likely need: Left fielder
Trade candidate: Ian Anderson/Bryce Elder
For all the worries about replacing Dansby Swanson at shortstop, the Braves should be able to fill the position adequately with a combination of Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia. GM Alex Anthopoulos keeps talking up Grissom's ability to remain at shortstop, but Arcia is a reasonable backup plan and there is plenty of offense elsewhere in the lineup. The bigger hole might be left field, where the Braves will attempt some patchwork combination of Eddie Rosario, Jordan Luplow, Sam Hilliard and Eli White. A Rosario/Luplow platoon is the first option, while speedy White is a defensive whiz.
The Braves' farm system has been thinned out the past couple of years with the Matt Olson and Sean Murphy trades, but if Mike Soroka can finally return -- fingers crossed -- that leaves Anderson and Elder sixth and seventh on the depth chart with prospect Jared Shuster behind them. If Atlanta does decide it wants one left fielder rather than four, it could deal from that rotation depth.
Most likely need: Starting pitching
Trade candidate: Anthony Santander
The Orioles played it disappointingly conservative this offseason, signing only Kyle Gibson and then trading for Cole Irvin to add to a rotation that was 21st in the majors in ERA. They'll be adding top prospect Grayson Rodriguez -- really, he should make their Opening Day rotation -- but if they are contending in July, starting pitching is likely to be their area of need, not that the trade market will be super deep in options.
Santander, coming off an impressive 33-homer season, saw his name in trade rumors this offseason, so we'll throw his name out there, especially if Colton Cowser, the No. 5 pick in 2021, hits in Triple-A and is ready for promotion. Baltimore is also deep in infield prospects, so it has the prospects to swing for a big deal if such a pitcher becomes available (think a Luis Castillo-type trade, like the Mariners made with the Reds last year).