By: Chris Larson
Moving along in our Trade Deadline Preview, it's time to begin focusing on individual players who could be traded over the next 6 weeks. Every year at the Trade Deadline, a lot of the focus surrounds around both starting pitchers and relievers that could make a contending team take that next step forward, but the offensive players deserve just as much attention.
As we have seen the last couple of Trade Deadlines, offensive players who have been traded have had an immediate impact with their new squads. Take for instance the J.D. Martinez trade from two years ago, which immediately catapulted the Arizona Diamondbacks offense to the next level, and helped the team secure a postseason berth. How about the impact of Tommy Pham, who went from St. Louis to Tampa Bay on Trade Deadline Day last year, or the acquisition of Mike Moustakas for the Milwaukee Brewers? All three of those are prime examples of a time, when a position player got traded and made an immediate impact with their new squad, something that will likely happen once again this season.
Here are 7 offensive players to keep a close eye on between now and July 31st as their names swirl around in trade rumors.
* All stats discussed are current at the start of play today. *
1. Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) - Of the names listed below, Anthony Rendon is likely to be the biggest star traded offensively this Trade Deadline season, but that's assuming that the Washington Nationals elect to be sellers in the first place. Over the span of the past couple of weeks, many fans and experts alike expected the Washington Nationals to be in full-blown sell mode over the next 6 weeks, but over the past week there's been some chatter that they might end up buying instead of selling. Granted, that situation remains fluid, but if the Washington Nationals could take away anything from last year's Trade Deadline, it's that you should trade pending free agents when teams come knocking. If you recall, last July the Washington Nationals had a trade established with the Houston Astros that involved Bryce Harper, before Washington's ownership group ended up nixing it altogether. The same thing could happen this year with Rendon, but for Washington's sake let's hope not especially if they are not in contention this time around.
2. Whit Merrifield (Kansas City Royals) - As has been written about on here before, the Kansas City Royals are making it known that they are willing to move anymore, outside of shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and third baseman Hunter Dozier, on their 25-man roster. It doesn't appear that their stance on that is going to change anytime soon, as the Royals currently occupy last place in the American League Central, nearly 23 and 1/2 games out of first place and four games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the American League's worst record. For the Royals, Merrifield is their biggest trade asset and he is signed to an extremely team friendly deal that pays him around $14.5 million dollars through the 2022 season and includes a Team Option worth $10.5 million dollars for the 2023 regular season. That is going to be a significant selling point for inquiring teams and something that Kansas City can use to get the best return possible, assuming they trade him to begin with, because after all he was signed to that extension to be a pillar of their future core.
3. Trey Mancini (Baltimore Orioles) - After the massive selloff of several big trade assets last July and over the course of this past offseason, the Baltimore Orioles don't have a lot to give anymore, but if there's one guy to watch on their 25-man roster it's first baseman/designated hitter, Trey Mancini. Mancini is in the midst of his prime right now at 27 years old and is having a very good season overall. Going into play today, Mancini is batting: .304/.361/.558 over 276 at bats with 84 hits, 18 doubles, 2 triples, 16 home runs, 35 RBI, 23 walks, and 59 strikeouts. Depending on the team, he could be a very nice addition in the middle of their lineup and help to lengthen things out come the postseason. One potential fit lies in the American League East with the Tampa Bay Rays, but if the Baltimore Orioles are hesitant to trade him to a division foe, then the Houston Astros might be a great destination. After all, the Astros were one of the runner-ups in the Edwin Encarnacion trade, that occurred last Saturday, and that could signal that they are looking for some extra help in that designated hitter/first baseman role.
4. Starling Marte (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Unlike last Trade Deadline when the Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves in the buyer category, this looks like a year in which they will be sellers. While they were identified as a team where there might be more crickets than anything else between now and July 31st on here this past weekend, there might be some teams that come knocking on the door for outfielder, Starling Marte. A few seasons ago, 2016 to be exact, the Pittsburgh Pirates thought that Starling Marte was on the cusp of taking his game to the next level, but that just hasn't been the case since that point. In 2017, he was suspended due to steroid use and then had a season last year in which he recorded 109 strikeouts over 559 at bats. Granted, last year's stat line (.277/.327/.460) and this year's line (.283/.325/.475 over 265 at bats) aren't that bad in the bigger picture, meaning that Marte might be the perfect guy in line to be traded, along with potentially another teammate of his, Melky Cabrera. Although Starling Marte could absolutely benefit from a change of scenery, the Pittsburgh Pirates still haven't shown any convincing signs that they are definitely ready to move on just yet, meaning that this is one fascinating name to watch from now until July 31st.
5. Nick Castellanos (Detroit Tigers) - Ever since last year's Trade Deadline and all throughout this past offseason, one of the more prominent names mentioned in trade rumors for the Detroit Tigers was outfielder, Nick Castellanos. Overall, Nick Castellanos is having somewhat of a down season with an Isolated Power Value of (.184) and a (-7.1) Defensive Rating, but there should still be a handful of teams that could envision adding him to their lineup. However, Castellanos, who is in the midst of his age 27 season, is a free agent at season's end which means that the acquisition cost won't necessarily be, as high as it would otherwise be, for some of the other names on this list. Furthermore, it doesn't look like Nick Castellanos is in the future plans for the Detroit Tigers, as there have been plenty of reports that have discussed how Castellanos has yet to hear from the Tigers front office regarding a potential extension. Even if Castellanos was slated into the Tigers future, it might be best to sell him now for a few assets and then look to resign him in free agency this offseason.
6. Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis Cardinals) - Depending on what direction the St. Louis Cardinals elect to go, Marcell Ozuna is going to be the biggest name on the St. Louis Cardinals 25-man roster to keep an eye on. Like Nick Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna is going to be a free agent at the end of this season meaning that there is the potential of St. Louis selling him off now, to at least get a piece or two back in return. One problem for the Cardinals is going to be that Ozuna is having a down year offensively and has been really struggling as of late, something that they likely didn't envision, when they acquired him from the Miami Marlins prior to the start of last season. To this point, Ozuna has racked up 65 strikeouts over 268 at bats, which is on pace to outdo his previous strikeout totals from the past couple of seasons (110 over 582 at bats last season and 144 over 613 at bats in 2017). However, the good news is that the power is still there, as illustrated by his (.504) slugging percentage along with his overall Isolated Power Value of (.250). If St. Louis makes Marcell Ozuna, there should be a few teams lining up for his services.
7. Kole Calhoun (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - Yes, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were recently named as one of the more fascinating teams to watch on here this past week, but for the teams that miss out on Starling Marte, Nick Castellanos, or Marcell Ozuna, Calhoun could be a potential option. Granted, it all depends on if the Angels are willing to make him available in the first place or if they are planning on being buyers, but right now it could be assumed that Calhoun could be had for the right price. As is the case with Nick Castellnos and Marcell Ozuna, Kole Calhoun could potentially be a free agent after this season, but does have a $14 million dollar Team Option for next season. Therefore, if the Angels plan on contending next year, they might want to hold onto Calhoun, but if not, he could be a nice fit for some contending team for the remainder of this season as well as next. So far this season, Calhoun has the best slugging percentage of his career (.490) and an (11.2%) walk rate, which is also a career high, over 255 at bats. For a guy that was down in the minor leagues last year at this time, this season has been a resurgence and it might be the perfect time for the Angels to market him in an effort to get something in return.