While there’s hope from pitching-needy teams that former Cy Young Award winners Shane Bieber and Corbin Burnes will be made available via trade this offseason, perhaps the most likely frontline starter to be dealt is Tyler Glasnow.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported earlier this month that the Tampa Bay Rays are “widely expected” to trade Glasnow this winter. The 30-year-old righty is entering a contract year, with the Rays currently on the hook for $25 million in 2023. While Glasnow would earn an extra $1 million trade assignment bonus if he is dealt, the chance to collect prospects in return for an expensive player might be too much for the low-budget Rays and president of baseball operations Erik Neander to pass up.
If you’re a team looking for a workhorse, Glasnow probably won’t be your cup of tea. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2021 and set a career-high with 120 innings in 2023, hardly a Roy Halladay-esque workload.
But when Glasnow has pitched, he’s demonstrated Cy Young-caliber talent. In parts of six seasons with the Rays, Glasnow is 27-16 with a 3.20 ERA and 3.10 FIP over 388 1/3 innings pitched. Again, the innings total is very low relative to other frontline starters, but there will no doubt be teams that convince themselves they can help Glasnow to be available on a more consistent basis if they get him into their organization.
With so many hopeful contenders — specifically in the National League — looking for quality pitching, here’s a look at five potential trade landing spots for Glasnow.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have already signed veterans Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, both of whom logged over 180 innings in 2023. However, Lynn posted a 5.73 ERA this past season, while Gibson finished with a 4.73 ERA. Make no mistake, St. Louis needed to add multiple starting pitchers this offseason, but at this stage of their careers, neither Lynn nor Gibson projects to take the ball early, if at all, in a postseason series.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has added innings eaters to his rotation, but he also needs to land a pitcher with ace-level stuff. Glasnow would fit that bill – and he would offer a chance for the Cardinals to not have their most recent major trade with the Rays be the erroneous deal that saw them part with Randy Arozarena in January of 2020.
With Max Fried set to become a free agent next offseason and a pretty poor recent history of keeping their starting pitching healthy, the Braves could use someone who provides stability, which is why they were seen as suitors for the ultra-reliable Aaron Nola before he re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Glasnow’s strength, of course, hasn’t been his availability. Still, Atlanta needs better starting pitching to avoid another disappointing postseason exit. Even if Glasnow is unlikely to make 30+ regular season starts, he, Fried, and Spencer Strider would be a pretty impressive trio atop Atlanta’s rotation when October rolls around.
According to MLB Pipeline, eight of Atlanta’s top 10 prospects are pitchers, so they could intrigue the Rays by offering some young arms in exchange for Glasnow.
Justin Steele finished fifth in NL Cy Young Award voting this past season, going 16-5 with a 3.06 ERA and 4.9 FanGraphs WAR across 173 1/3 innings pitched. With Marcus Stroman likely to depart in free agency, the Cubs need at least one more impact arm to pair with Steele atop the rotation, which will also include Jameson Taillon and Kyle Hendricks.
Luring new manager Craig Counsell away from the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers was the first major move of the offseason for the Cubs. Even if they can’t ultimately land two-time AL MVP Shohei Ohtani in free agency, it’s likely they will make at least one more significant addition.
Chicago isn’t going to move former first-round pick Cade Horton, but 24-year-old righty Ben Brown — acquired from the Phillies in August of 2022 for reliever David Robertson — might make sense as part of the return for Glasnow.
I know, even if the Rays are going to trade Glasnow, they probably don’t want to move him within the AL East and further hinder their postseason chances for 2024. Similarly, if there is another contending team that won’t be willing to take on Glasnow’s $25 million salary, it’s probably Baltimore.
That said, the Orioles have the pieces to make a tempting offer if they’re willing to do so. Just Baseball’s Aram Leighton lists a staggering seven Baltimore prospects among the top 100 in the sport.
And really, that’s just skimming the surface of the hoards of young talent – specifically position player talent – that general manager Mike Elias has accumulated. Shortstop Joey Ortiz, second baseman Connor Norby and outfielders Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser could all be possible trade targets for the Rays. Furthermore, with so many quality prospects on the horizon, don’t rule out the possibility of the Orioles trading from their big league roster to upgrade their starting rotation.
Glasnow, Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez would be a superb trio to build their rotation around, and it would be an added bonus if John Means regains his All-Star form in 2024.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Walker Buehler will return to the mound in 2024 after missing the entirety of the 2023 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he won’t be joined by a ton of familiar names.
Clayton Kershaw is a free agent, and while it sounds like the future Hall of Famer hopes to pitch in 2024, shoulder surgery will likely prevent him from being ready until the summer. Former ERA title winner Julio Urías is a free agent, and after a second domestic violence arrest, there’s a very real chance his MLB career is over. And Tony Gonsolin, an All-Star in 2022, will probably miss all of next season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery of his own.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers should probably be connected to every notable starter this offseason, because they need to add multiple arms. Catcher Dalton Rushing, second baseman Michael Busch, RHP Gavin Stone and outfielder Josue De Paula are top prospects in the Dodgers organization that could be part of a trade for Glasnow, should the Dodgers be interested.