The 2023-24 MLB offseason is well underway, and the stove is red hot. Still, as of right now, only four notable free agents have come off the board: Aaron Nola returned to the Phillies on a seven-year contract, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson each signed one-year pacts with the Cardinals, and Reynaldo López signed a three-year deal with the Braves.
On the whole, it feels like the free agent market is on hold until Shohei Ohtani signs. Once he does, the floodgates should open.
On the trade front, things are a bit different. Teams that are unsatisfied with the free agent class could look to upgrade their rosters in other ways.
Now, we’re going to take a look at some of the under-the-radar candidates. The names can’t offer value equal to that of Soto or Burnes. However, there is a ton of talent to be had in the “bargain bin” of trade targets.
Yandy Díaz – Tampa Bay Rays – 1B/3B
The penny-pinching Rays are said to be “open for business” this offseason. Some of the top names they could move on from include Glasnow, Manuel Margot, Harold Ramírez and Yandy Díaz.
Díaz, 32, is fresh off of what was easily the best season of his career. The corner infielder hit 22 home runs while driving in 78 and leading the AL in batting average. Along the way, he made his first All-Star Game, took home a Silver Slugger Award and finished sixth in MVP voting.
Currently signed to a cheap three-year, $24M contract (with a team option for a fourth season), Díaz’s value will never be higher. He’s on the wrong side of 30, but he’s fresh off of one hell of a year at the dish and should be flipped before regression sets in.
Potential fits: Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants
Eloy Jiménez – Chicago White Sox – OF/DH
While Jiménez remains an injury-prone player, he’s also got a ton of potential that’s likely still untapped. Turning 27 next week, the corner outfielder is also locked up on an extremely team-friendly deal, but he’s stuck on a club destined for a rebuild.
So here the White Sox sit, with multiple high-value trade chips on their roster. Moving on from Jiménez feels like the perfect starting point. Last year, he hit 18 home runs in 120 games; both numbers are his highest in a season since 2019. The talent is there for him to turn into a franchise cornerstone if he can stay healthy.
Potential fits: Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers
Christopher Morel – Chicago Cubs – INF/OF
Morel is easily the youngest player to make this list and is yet another example of a player just reaching his prime. The 24-year-old hit 26 home runs in 107 games last year and was a major bright spot for the Cubs.
The problem, of course, is that he doesn’t have a position on defense. He has spent time all over the infield and outfield, but the metrics don’t favor him anywhere. Next year, Morel is going to get some time at first base, which feels a bit like defensive purgatory for a player so young.
The bat is there, though, and that’s where the majority of Morel’s value lies. He also is not even eligible for arbitration yet, so the amount of team control still tied to his name is significant.
Potential fits: New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox
Ryan Mounctastle – Baltimore Orioles – 1B
There isn’t a whole lot out there in the way of trade rumors surrounding Mountcastle. However, the ridiculous amount of prospect depth the Orioles have nearing the majors could certainly place some pressure on the front office to move him.
The 26-year-old had a tough time staying on the field in 2023, making it into just 115 games, but he still was a productive hitter when healthy. Coming up behind him on the depth chart are youngsters like Coby Mayo, Max Wagner and Heston Kjerstad, all of whom have been receiving time at first base on their ascent to the major leagues.
Mountcastle has a history of mashing lefties and is under team control through the 2026 season. With the Orioles due to receive some major help from their farm system, moving on from Mountcastle while he still has sky-high value feels like the play.
Potential fits: San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals
Freddy Peralta – Milwaukee Brewers – RHP
The first of several Brewers to find their name on this list, Peralta joins Burnes and Adrian Houser as starting pitchers the Brew Crew could move.
Peralta, 27, has been money since his full-time move to the starting rotation a few years back. In 2023, he made 30 starts for the first time in his career and posted a 3.86 ERA and a 112 ERA+ with 210 strikeouts.
Locked up on an extremely team-friendly deal, Peralta, like most others listed before him, has his value boosted a bit by his contract. Moreover, the right-hander is still quite young, and after the year he had, he should command a haul for Milwaukee.
Potential fits: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers
Trevor Rogers – Miami Marlins – LHP
With the Marlins needing to address multiple holes this offseason, dealing from their pitching depth is the way to go. Rogers, 26, finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year race back in 2021 but hasn’t quite been able to A.) stay healthy or B.) replicate his success in either of the seasons since.
Rogers is only in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so he’s still under control through at least 2026. He has shown immense promise in the past but is very much on the verge of becoming a roster casualty with so much pitching depth already on hand for the Marlins.
Potential fits: St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees
Brent Rooker – Oakland Athletics – OF
One of the hottest commodities at the 2023 deadline, it was shocking to see the A’s hold on to Rooker. The right-handed outfielder broke out in a big way for the club in 2023, hitting 30 home runs with an .817 OPS in 137 games.
At 29 years old, Rooker is firmly in the window of what should be his prime. Like many others before him on this list, his value likely will never be higher. For a rebuilding A’s club that’s stuck in the mud, moving him now is the way to go.
Potential fits: Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Guardians, Los Angeles Dodgers
Taijuan Walker – Philadelphia Phillies – RHP
Walker’s name has not had a whole lot of steam around it this offseason, but he’s the definition of an under-the-radar trade candidate. In a career-high 31 starts this past year, Walker went 15-6 with a 4.38 ERA and 98 ERA+. Nothing jumps off the page about his performance, but it’s serviceable.
The 31-year-old is about to enter year two of a rather bloated four-year contract, so if the Phillies are serious about their pursuit of more starters beyond Nola, shedding this money might be crucial.
It also does not help that he was rather vocal about his disapproval of Phillies management during the postseason. Maybe cutting bait and freeing up the money for, say, a Yoshinobu Yamamoto pursuit would be for the best.
Potential fits: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals
Devin Williams – Milwaukee Brewers – RHP
As recently as a year or two ago, it would have been crazy to even think about Williams being moved. The right-handed reliever has turned himself into one of the very best in the game and continues to dominate the opposition.
Williams, 29, is coming off a season in which he posted a 1.53 ERA and 36 saves in 61 outings. He also struck out more than 13 batters per nine innings and allowed just four home runs all year.
As a Brewers sell-off becomes more and more likely, look for Williams to become a casualty. His value is very high, and he would bring back a haul for a team that could use the prospect depth.
Potential fits: Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros
Christian Yelich – Milwaukee Brewers – OF
Of anyone on this list, Yelich would be the hardest to move. It’s not that he’s not still a star-caliber player, but rather the massive contract tied to his name. The 31-year-old still has five years, $130M and full no-trade protection on his current deal. The Brewers would certainly need to absorb a big chunk of his salary if they want to unload him.
Yelich won the NL MVP Award in 2018 and nearly went two in a row in 2019. Ever since, his production has gradually declined. However, he bounced back in a big way in 2023 (19 HR, 76 RBI, .818 OPS in 144 games) and did a lot to build his trade value back up.
Losing one franchise icon in Craig Counsell was bad enough for the Brewers. If a rebuild is indeed coming, they’d be wise to consider moving any player, including Yelich, another all-time great in the city of Milwaukee.
Potential fits: New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets