Major League Baseball consistently sees its transaction activity pick up around the trade deadline at the end of July.
Big names get moved to contending teams in need of that final piece to the puzzle that will put them over the edge, and make them a lock for the postseason, and even potentially a World Series contender.
Last year we saw names like Johnny Cueto, Carlos Gomez, Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, David Price, Ben Revere, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ben Zobrist all change teams and make postseason apperances.
Most notably last season, though, we saw Yoenis Cespedes be traded from the Tigers to the Mets, who with his help went on to make their first appearance in the Fall Classic since 2000. Cespedes’ production skyrocketed with the Mets and landed him a three-year deal this offseason.
Even though only five of the nine players listed above are still with the team they were traded to last season, it’s easy to see that their addition to the team was important.
The regular season has not begun and we are over four months away from the trade deadline, but here are the five players that I say will get traded this year. I’m also going to give you three players that could change teams.
Players that will get traded
James Shields, SP San Diego Padres
It seems hard to believe that it’s been just one year since James Shields signed a four-year deal with the Padres, but it was a long year for San Diego.
Matt Kemp and others joined with the hopes of getting the Padres out of the basement of the NL West and into the playoffs, instead the team won less than half its games last year and finished fourth in the division.
Things don’t look any more promising heading into this season, as the rebuilding process looks like it will continue.
Shields, who turned 34 years-old over the offseason, showed no signs of slowing down last season when he posted a 13-7 record, the best win-loss percentage of his career. He can definitely help a team win.
Two potential landing spots for Shields would keep him in the National League, one being the St. Louis Cardinals, the other being the Pittsburgh Pirates. St. Louis has recently been spenders at the deadline and could use his help if the Cards want to get past the Cubs.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, could be in need Shields’ services for multiple reasons. If the Pirates are exceeding realistic expectations heading into the All-Star break, they could be buyers in attempts of making the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. Also, Shields gives the team a proven pitcher for the next two years in the event that Gerrit Cole leaves at the end of the season.
Stephen Strasburg, SP Washington Nationals
I’ve been saying it since last season, Stephen Strasburg’s days in Washington are numbered.
It may not sound likely but hear me out.
Strasburg is owed $10.4 million this season. He only made 23 starts in 2015, dealing with multiple nagging injuries that twice forced him to miss time on the DL.
The former No. 1 overall pick has yet to win more than 15 games in a season, and with the injury problems that don’t go away, he hasn’t fully lived up to expectations. To be fair, Strasburg had very lofty expectations to live up to, though.
Strasburg is arbitration eligible at the end of the season, but this upcoming offseason in Washington will be solely devoted to trying to lock up Bryce Harper long term. It’s no secret that it’s going to take a ton of money to keep him in DC.
My thinking is this: Strasburg is also going to want big money just like all of Scott Boras’ clients do. Washington will realize it’s going to be too hard to lock both up long term and improve elsewhere on a team that needs improving.
We saw last year that teams are more than willing to part with current prospects and draft picks for what most likely will be a two- or three-month rental if it means helping them make the playoffs. A team will make Washington an offer they can’t refuse, especially when it’s no guarantee Strasburg returns in the offseason.
Chris Carter, DH/1B Milwaukee Brewers
Was anyone else really surprised back in January when Chris Carter signed a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers?
Carter left Houston, a young team that made the playoffs and nearly won its division last year, to go to a rebuilding team in Milwaukee that hasn’t seen October since 2011.
He may strike out a lot… okay, an awful lot… but he’s also extremely capable of hitting 25+ home runs and driving in 70+ runs. In other words, he can help a team win.
Milwaukee signed Carter in January to fill a need at first base, however, the one-year deal screams trade bait.
If Carter does indeed get traded during the regular season, odds are it will be to an American League team in need of a power bat to be the DH down the backstretch of the campaign.
Every team can always use the offense, and as small as his current contract is, teams won’t have to “give up the farm” to get him.
A few teams that could be in the discussion for Carter come July: Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox. Chicago could even make a run at Carter earlier in the season since it just lost Adam LaRoche to retirement.
A dark horse that could potentially make a deal for Carter is Houston. The Astros decided not to potentially overpay him in the winter, but it doesn’t mean they won’t trade a prospect or two for him in the summer if it means winning the division crown in the fall.
One way or the other, though, I don’t see any way Carter is still in Milwaukee at season’s end.
Austin Jackson, OF Chicago White Sox
It seems like Austin Jackson can never find a team that wants him long term, which is sad considering the talent he has. Jackson, who spent all of his first four seasons in the majors with the Detroit Tigers, has since played for three different teams since the start of the 2014 season.
In fact, Jackson has been shipped to a new team at each of the previous two trade deadlines.
The trend continues this season.
Jackson signed a measly one-year, $5 million contract with the White Sox in the offseason to join a crowded outfield. Jackson is not currently listed as a starter on Chicago’s team website, however, you can safely assume he will find his way into the lineup at the start of the regular season.
Jackson could potentially be a part of a trade that would bring Chris Carter to the Windy City, like I mentioned above.
Although it’s impossible to predict injuries, Jackson could be a trade candidate in the event that a key outfielder goes down midway through the season on a contending team.
The Texas Rangers made an offer to Jackson before he signed with the White Sox, so there is potential that the Rangers could come calling once the All-Star break rolls around.
One thing that could keep Jackson in Chicago is if the team exceeds expectations and is a true contender. If the White Sox are fighting for a playoff spot, he’ll play out his contract with the team. If they are out of the playoff race going into August, though, I doubt he stays put.
At only 29 years-old, though, he certainly is still capable of producing at a high level, whether it’s on the White Sox or another team.
Josh Reddick, OF Oakland A’s
As you will soon see by some of the players on these lists, I’m foreseeing that Billy Beane will be in a selling mood this season.
Beane may have added Kris Davis over the offseason, but by no means is this team in position to make they playoffs. Oakland will once again be fighting to stay out of the basement in the AL West.
Now completely removed from the Brett Lawrie-Josh Donaldson trade that worked out very well for the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s once again time for Beane to make a questionable transaction.
Insert Josh Reddick.
Reddick had one of the best seasons of his seven-year career last year, hitting 20 home runs and driving in nearly 80 runs. Like Jackson, Reddick is certainly serviceable and can help a team win.
He can bat in the middle of the lineup but also has decent speed, so he could fit well almost anywhere in the order.
Reddick has only played for American League teams thus far during his career, but don’t be surprised if a National League team in search of a bat makes an offer.
One team that could potentially inquire about Reddick could be the Nationals, potentially either trying to get rid of Jason Werth’s contract.
Players that could get traded
Alexei Ramirez, SS San Diego Padres
As long as the Padres are getting rid of good players and retooling for the future, they might as well trade Alexei Ramirez, too. Ramirez signed a one-year deal in January with San Diego.
At 34 years-old he could fill a role similar to that of Ben Zobrist last year – an established veteran that can fill a need in event of an injury or underperforming infielder.
Chris Coghlan, OF Oakland Athletics
After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Miami Marlins, Chris Coghlan spent the last two years with the Cubs before trading him to the A’s.
Coghlan had the best year of his career last year when he hit 16 long balls, which shows that he’s still improving.
He’s no stud, but he’d be a good role player for a team.
Mark Teixeira, 1B New York Yankees
This trade possibility comes with a big asterisk beside of it.
Through the offseason Mark Teixeira was a name that came up as a guy that could be traded during the season. He’ll turn 36 this season, is in the last season of his contract with the Yankees, and has battled injuries the last few years.
On top of it all, New York’s potential face of the future in Greg Bird showed his potential. However, Bird will be sidelined for at least most of the season with a shoulder injury, which required off-season surgery.
These are the two scenarios that could play out.
One: Bird appears to be ahead of schedule in the rehab process and will return before the end of the season, Teixeira isn’t having that great of a season, and the Yanks are likely out of playoff contention.
Two: New York decides not to rush Bird back to the majors and decide to let Teixeira play out the rest of his contract before (likely) not re-signing him in the offseason.
Something tells me Bird will be back this season.