MLB Insider: 5 early candidates to be moved at MLB trade deadline

Shohei Ohtani (17) after batting against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Shohei Ohtani (17) after batting against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

With the offseason slowing down, let’s take a look ahead to the baseball trade deadline. Who are some possibilities to get traded?

The MLB offseason has come to a screeching halt, with many of the top names such as Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Trea Turner having agreed to mega deals. There are still a few intriguing names that remain unsigned, including right-hander Michael Wacha and veteran outfielder David Peralta.

But who could be available at the trade deadline in July?

Here’s an early look at five names who figure to be prominently featured in the rumor mill.

MLB trade rumors: 5 early candidates to be moved at 2023 trade deadline

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

You just knew that this list had to include Ohtani. But what are the odds that the Angels actually trade him?

In the early stages of the offseason, general manager Perry Minasian said that the Angels would not trade Ohtani. But what if they are out of contention? With Ohtani a pending free agent, and in a strong position to become baseball’s first $500 million player, then things could get interesting.

But the Angels have surrounded Ohtani with perhaps the most talented roster in his time in Los Angeles and may not be done adding this winter, with starting and relief pitching still a need. For now, a trade should be viewed as unlikely. But all it takes is for one team to call and make an offer that causes Minasian, owner Arte Moreno and the front office to reconsider their offseason stance.

Aroldis Chapman, Kansas City Royals

Chapman signing with a team that is not expected to compete in 2023 — and signing a one-year, $3.5 million contract — makes him a prime contender to be dealt at the trade deadline.

That is, of course, if Chapman proves he can still pitch at a high level. He is no longer the 105-mph flamethrower that he was when he came into MLB, but he is still capable of consistently throwing in the 99 mph range. He’ll also need to answer questions about why he refused to throw a simulated game before the Yankees finalized their Division Series roster and abandoned his team in the middle of the postseason, prompting general manager Brian Cashman to say: “There’s some questions about whether he’s been all-in or not for a little while.”

Still, relief pitching is always among the most coveted assets at the trade deadline. So if Chapman performs at a high level, there will surely be numerous teams interested in acquiring the left-hander.

Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates

After failed contract extension negotiations, Reynolds demanded a trade from the Pirates. The team has indicated, both publicly and privately, that they have no intentions of trading the star outfielder.

That hasn’t stopped teams from checking in on Reynolds. The asking price is substantial, according to sources, and an offseason trade is believed to be highly unlikely. A trade during the season could be more realistic, but if the Pirates don’t budge from their asking price, the 27-year-old Reynolds could be in Pittsburgh through the 2023 season.

Zach Plesac, Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians were willing to move some of their controllable starters — Shane Bieber and Plesac — at the 2022 trade deadline. It wouldn’t be surprising if they maintained that stance.

The Guardians have a long history of trading players before they sign long-term extensions, as evidenced by the Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger trades. So Bieber could easily be the name listed here. But I’ll go with Plesac, who could benefit from a change of scenery.

Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins

This is if Kepler is not traded before the regular season. Kepler broke out during the 2019 season, hitting 36 home runs, but has not played at that level since.

Kepler, 30 in February, is among the Twins’ most expensive players. Coming off a down season in which he averaged just .227 with nine home runs and 43 RBI, he’s a prime buy-low candidate. One team that has shown interest in Kepler, according to sources: the New York Yankees, whose hitter-friendly ballpark could be exactly what he needs to bounce back.

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