While free agency will dominate the headlines throughout the offseason, there’s more than one way to improve your roster for 2024.
Last winter, the Mariners traded for Teoscar Hernández, the Angels acquired Gio Urshela and Hunter Renfroe, and the Brewers dealt for Jesse Winker – all before the Winter Meetings. December saw the Braves trade for Sean Murphy and the D-backs ship Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays for Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in two of the most impactful deals of the year.
For the sixth consecutive year, MLB.com has put together an All-Trade-Rumor Team, one position at a time, looking at the key players whose names figure to be staples on the trade market in the coming months.
Díaz earned the first All-Star selection of his career in 2023, then went on to earn MVP honors in the Midsummer Classic. He turns 33 on Nov. 17 and is due $6 million in 2024, the final year of his three-year, $14.5 million deal.
Buzz factor: Low. No. 9 prospect Drew Romo might not be ready to assume full-time duties, but the free-agent catching market is thin, which could prompt Colorado to shop Díaz this offseason.
The three-time All-Star is entering his walk year, and his final year of arbitration won’t necessarily cause the Mets to move Alonso, but if New York doesn’t believe it will re-sign the first baseman – and according to sources, it appears the two sides are far apart based on initial extension talks – the Mets could trade him rather than risk losing him for a compensatory Draft pick next offseason.
Buzz factor: Medium. Alonso seems prepared to play out his final controllable season and test free agency next winter the way Aaron Judge did with the Yankees in 2022. If Alonso is looking for Judge-type money as has been rumored, a trade becomes more likely than an extension.
There was talk of the Reds trading India over the summer if controllable pitching became available, though nothing came of it before the Trade Deadline. Cincinnati figures to seek rotation help again this offseason, and given its glut of young infield talent, India — the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year — might be the most sensible trade candidate on the roster.
Buzz factor: Medium. The Reds took a step forward in 2023 with 82 wins, a 20-win improvement over 2022. With Spencer Steer, Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Noelvi Marte already in the Majors and Edwin Arroyo, Cam Collier and Sal Stewart among those making their way through the Minors, the Reds have more than enough infielders to make an India move realistic.
The Dodgers acquired Rojas from the Marlins in January with the idea of using him as a utility player, but Gavin Lux’s torn ACL thrust the 34-year-old into a starting role for Los Angeles. Lux is due back in 2024, which could pave the way for Rojas — who ranked in the top 10 percentage in the league with 6 Outs Above Average — to be moved before the season.
Buzz factor: Low. Rojas will earn $5 million next season and has a $5 million option for 2025 (with a $1 million buyout), but until the Dodgers see Lux back on the field, Rojas could be a valuable insurance option.
Both Madrigal and Patrick Wisdom are arbitration-eligible this offseason, and while Madrigal is a great contact hitter who rarely strikes out and offers better defense at the hot corner, Wisdom has a huge advantage in the power department. Chicago could look to move one of the infielders to address another area on the roster.
Buzz factor: Low. Madrigal has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining and won’t cost a lot to retain. Unless other clubs come calling for him, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cubs keep the 26-year-old, who can also play second base.
No player will receive as much trade buzz this winter as Soto, who is one year away from free agency. The Padres dealt six players to the Nationals including C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore and top prospects James Wood and Robert Hassell III in exchange for Soto in August 2022, and while last season was a disaster for San Diego, Soto had a strong year (35 homers, 109 RBIs, .930 OPS).
Buzz factor: High. It’s highly unlikely that Soto will sign an extension with the Padres, so San Diego could opt to move him this offseason for prospects to help rebuild its depleted farm system. Soto will receive a raise from $23 million in his final year of arbitration, but the majority of contenders would have no trouble paying that to a player of his caliber.
Santander is entering his fourth and final year of arbitration and likely to earn a nice raise. The Orioles have Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays returning, with Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad — the team’s No. 2 and 3 prospects, respectively — ready to seize an opportunity in the Majors.
Buzz factor: Medium. Baltimore figures to invest in pitching this offseason, so unloading Santander’s salary would help free up some payroll. Santander has averaged 30 home runs with 92 RBIs and a .785 OPS since the start of 2022, a power bat many contenders would be interested in obtaining.
The Red Sox have depth in the outfield, and Verdugo is headed for his final crack at arbitration. With Masataka Yoshida and Jarren Duran locked in and Ceddanne Rafaela and Wilyer Abreu ready to make an impact, Verdugo — the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade — could be expendable.
Buzz factor: Low. Verdugo’s numbers won’t overwhelm anybody, but his strikeout rate is strong and his outfield play remains above average. If Boston wants to free up an outfield spot — and the payroll associated with it — Verdugo could be dangled in deals this offseason.
The White Sox made waves at last summer’s Trade Deadline, shipping out more than a half-dozen players in the course of a week. Most of those were expiring contracts, but Jimenez — who is owed $13 million in 2024 with club options for ’25 ($16.5 million) and ’26 ($18.5 million) — was not moved. Could that change this winter? Given his club options, a team might be willing to take a chance on him without having to commit long-term.
Buzz factor: Low. The only White Sox players with guaranteed money on the books beyond 2023 are Andrew Benintendi and Luis Robert, giving Chicago a chance to do a major reset. Jimenez has great power, but he has been unable to stay healthy enough to do much damage, averaging just 86 games per season since 2021. A team needing some pop might be willing to move on him.
It has become an annual ritual to wonder if and when the Brewers will trade their arbitration-eligible stars as they approach free agency. Brandon Woodruff’s shoulder surgery likely eliminates him from that list, though Milwaukee has Burnes and Willy Adames headed for free agency after 2024, making them both potential trade candidates. Burnes lost his arbitration hearing last year but is expected to get a hefty raise from his $10.01 million salary in 2024.
Buzz factor: Medium. Aces don’t hit the trade market very often, so the Brewers might gauge what type of return they could get for the three-time All-Star and 2021 NL Cy Young winner. That said, Milwaukee’s expectation to compete for the NL Central title could make this a wait-and-see situation that could drag all the way into the summer.
At first glance, it might seem strange that the Pirates would even consider trading Bednar, a two-time All-Star who is entering the first of three arbitration-eligible years. But that type of club control — not to mention the relative cost control — is appealing to other clubs, some of whom might be willing to exchange young, even more-controllable talent for the 29-year-old.
Buzz factor: Low. There was talk of Bednar being on the trade block last summer, but no deal ever got close to taking place. Pittsburgh will surely get calls on the closer, but there is no urgency to move him now unless another club comes with an offer GM Ben Cherington simply can’t refuse.
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