Top 10 Candidates To Be Moved at the 2024 MLB Trade Deadline

These ten big names are possible candidates to be moved ahead of the July 30 MLB trade deadline.

Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates his grand slam homerun with Jose Altuve #27 and Kyle Tucker #30, to take a 5-3 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates his grand slam homerun with Jose Altuve #27 and Kyle Tucker #30, to take a 5-3 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on June 24, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

One of the early bounce-back stories of 2024 is Jesse Winker. Following a pair of disappointing seasons with the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers, the former All-Star had to settle for a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals that included an invite to spring training.

So far, the low-risk deal looks like a shrewd move from general manager Mike Rizzo, one that could net the Nationals a lottery ticket this summer if they choose to deal Winker to a contender.

A month into the season, Winker is slashing .257/.372/.406 with three home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 walks and a 127 wRC+. That’s much more in line with the type of offensive production he put up during his five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds than his underwhelming output from the past two years.

On what projects to be a weak trade market, there should be plenty of interest in Winker, whether it’s to play left field, right field or some combination of the two. The Nationals — who could promote top outfield prospects James Wood and Dylan Crews before the 2024 season is out — don’t have much of a reason to hold onto Winker, who will be 31 in August and is not under contract beyond this season.

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Winker just missed out on cracking our first list of big-name trade candidates in advance of the July 30 deadline. Here are the top 10 trade candidates one month into the season.

Stats, rankings, and records updated prior to first pitch on May 2.

10. Kenley Jansen: Closer, Boston Red Sox

Tanner Scott of the Miami Marlins could have taken this spot, but Jansen has had a better start to the 2024 season and just edged him out.

One of the greatest closers in MLB history, Jansen recorded 29 saves a year ago, but his 3.63 ERA hardly reminded anyone of his peak years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, he’s only two years removed from recording 41 saves for the Atlanta Braves and has looked strong to open the 2024 season.

The biggest question with Jansen is whether a World Series contender will view him as a clear upgrade over their current closer. If not, would they trade for someone that recently moved into fifth place all-time in saves and use him as a set-up man?

9. Trevor Rogers: LHP, Miami Marlins

Rogers is the first Marlin on the list, but before it’s done, you’ll see a red fish and a blue fish too.

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It’s difficult to know exactly what to make of Rogers. Through his first six starts, he has a 4.31 ERA and 3.39 FIP over 31 1/3 innings of work. He was also an All-Star and runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year in 2021, when he finished the season with a 2.64 ERA and 4.3 fWAR over 133 innings pitched.

However, he struggled in 2022 and ’23, going 5-13 with a 5.26 ERA and just 1.1 fWAR. A left biceps strain limited him to just 18 innings pitched at the MLB level a year ago, so it’s unclear how much he’ll be able to handle late in 2024.

Rogers is still only 26 and can’t become a free agent until after the 2026 season. With that profile, the Marlins will probably deal him. But, he feels more like an investment that a team on the fringes of contention will make, hoping more to add a piece that will be in their rotation for a few seasons rather than just a rental to help them win a title in 2024.

8. Erick Fedde: RHP, Chicago White Sox

A former first-round pick by the Washington Nationals, Fedde earned a two-year, $15 million deal from the White Sox after a dominant season in the KBO.

After posting a 5.41 ERA and 5.17 FIP over parts of six seasons in D.C., Fedde has been one of the only bright spots on a putrid White Sox team, as he’s 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA and 4.00 FIP over six starts.

General manager Chris Getz might feel like the White Sox have such little talent that he can’t part with the few healthy and productive players the team has. Fedde being under contract through next year also makes it more tempting for the White Sox to keep him around.

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That said, the White Sox are years away from contending, and Fedde is 31. If a suitor is willing to pay a little more because of the few quality options available and because Fedde will earn an affordable $7.5 million next season, the White Sox should cash him in for a lower-level prospect and hope for the best.

7. Jesús Luzardo: LHP, Miami Marlins

The version of Luzardo that posted a 3.48 ERA over 50 starts between 2022 and ’23 would be the top pitcher available on the market this summer. However, it’s unclear if that’s what version a suitor would be getting right now.

Luzardo went 0-2 with a 6.58 ERA and 5.06 FIP over his first five starts of 2024. He’s now on the injured list with left elbow tightness.

It’s possible Luzardo will return from the injured list, get hot and ultimately find himself on a new team this summer. But considering he’s under team control through the 2026 season, there isn’t really a rush. Sure, it would be great for the Marlins to be able to take advantage of a weak trade market this summer and maximize the return on Luzardo. Yet right now they would be selling low, and there’s little motivation to do that.

6. Tyler O’Neill: LF/RF, Boston Red Sox

Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has his work cut out for him trying to return the Red Sox to their former glory, particularly if ownership doesn’t go back to spending at the level they once did.

With that said, Breslow seems to have made one of the best offseason additions in acquiring O’Neill from the St. Louis Cardinals after a pair of injury-riddled seasons. While O’Neill did miss a little time with a concussion, he’s mostly been healthy thus far and the results have been tremendous.

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Offensively, O’Neill currently leads the AL (min. 90 PA) in slugging percentage (.658) and OPS (1.073). Defensively, the two-time Gold Glove Award winner has been able to adjust to playing left field at Fenway Park. He also has experience at the two other outfield spots and could realistically play right field regularly if that’s what an acquiring team needed.

The Red Sox could hold onto O’Neill, hoping to either re-sign him or extend a qualifying offer in the offseason. But there will likely be enough interested suitors that the soon-to-be 29-year-old moves this summer.

5. Justin Verlander: RHP, Houston Astros

When the Astros reacquired Verlander from the New York Mets last summer, it seemed like the future Hall of Famer would finish his career in Houston. And that felt right. Whether that proves to be reality or not is less clear.

In part because Verlander opened the season on the injured list, Houston is off to an abysmal start in 2024. The Astros have played in the ALCS seven years in a row, so they’ve probably earned the benefit of the doubt. But also, all great runs eventually come to an end. General manager Dana Brown and owner Jim Crane will need to be honest with themselves this summer as they decide how to proceed.

Verlander is 41 years old. His contract contains a $35 million option for 2025 that will vest if he pitches 140 innings this season. The good news for the Astros is the Mets will be on the hook for $17.5 million of the option if it vests. That could make Houston more inclined to hold onto the three-time AL Cy Young Award winner.

At the same time, the fact that it would only cost $17.5 million to keep Verlander next year — if the option vests — will make him even more appealing as a trade candidate, especially on a weak market. So, the Astros will certainly have suitors this summer calling on the former AL MVP.

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4. Ryan Helsley: Closer, St. Louis Cardinals

It’s too early to tell what mindset the Cardinals will have when July rolls around. But, if they aren’t in contention, it would seem like a crossroads where president of baseball operations John Mozeliak would at least need to consider taking a step back for the remainder of the year and trying to retool in the offseason.

The guess here is that wouldn’t include a trade of future Hall of Fame third baseman Nolan Arenado, who is still under contract through the 2027 season. It might include trading Paul Goldschmidt (more on him in a minute). Helsley is probably the third most interesting player to monitor if the Cardinals sell to some degree this summer.

If St. Louis views itself as an organization planning to contend in 2025, there’s a case to be made for retaining Helsley, who has one more year of arbitration remaining. Then again, you can only throw at or near triple digits so many times before you either run out of gas and/or need major surgery.

A closer is a luxury on a bad team, and if that’s what the Cardinals prove to be in 2024, maximizing what they get back for Helsley now could be what’s best for them from a long-term perspective.

Since the start of the 2022 season, Helsley’s 1.69 ERA is the second-lowest mark among all qualified relievers. Even teams that don’t necessarily like having one player entrenched as the closer would have to make a call to the Cardinals if Helsley is available.

3. Paul Goldschmidt: 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

It’s been a pretty brutal first month of the season for the former National League MVP. His slow start is something to monitor, considering he’s 36 years old. Eventually, every player hits a wall, and it’s fair to wonder if that is what is happening to Goldschmidt.

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Then again, Goldschmidt still homered 25 times, drove in 80 runs and walked 87 times last season. He’s also seen as a strong defender at first base. Even if he is past the height of his powers, you have to think there’s going to be some resurgence from Goldschmidt.

If the Cardinals do indeed end up at a crossroads, it will be interesting to see how they view Goldschmidt. Given that he’ll turn 37 in September and is in a contract year, they probably wouldn’t get a huge return for him.

Would Mozeliak hold onto Goldschmidt, hoping that the potential future Hall of Famer either accepts a qualifying offer or is willing to return on a short-term deal next winter? Maybe. This is his sixth year in St. Louis, after eight with the Arizona Diamondbacks. It might mean something from a legacy perspective to have Goldschmidt play for the Cardinals as long as he did with the D-backs.

But, he’s never played in a World Series and probably won’t get many more opportunities. If the Cardinals aren’t contending and Goldschmidt is interested in joining a pennant race, St. Louis should do right by the seven-time All-Star.

2. Alex Bregman: 3B, Houston Astros

Again, there’s a chance the Astros climb out of the early hole they’ve dug for themselves and are either buyers or just kind of stand pat before the trade deadline. However, if 2024 turns into a lost season, it would behoove them to consider offers for Bregman, as it has long seemed that the Scott Boras client will head elsewhere in free agency this upcoming offseason.

For as much success as Bregman has had in Houston, there’s something to be said for a change of scenery after parts of nine seasons in one place. A new challenge could reenergize Bregman, and given that he has 19 career postseason home runs, there would certainly be a slew of contenders interested in him if the Astros do indeed listen.

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The caveat here is that Bregman has just one home run this season and has an OPS under .600. If he doesn’t heat up, it might make sense for the Astros to keep him for the rest of the year and extend a qualifying offer in the offseason. Maybe he’ll accept it. If not, Houston will still get some draft pick compensation in return.

1. Luis Arraez: 2B, Miami Marlins

Miami invested major resources to acquire Arraez from the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2022 season, trading talented righty Pablo López as they tried to capitalize on a surplus of pitching to make up for a lack of offensive talent in the organization.

But while Arraez won his second consecutive batting title in 2023, former general manager Kim Ng, who traded for him, is no longer in Miami. She was replaced last offseason by Peter Bendix, the team’s new president of baseball operations. And a year after the Fish made the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the National League, they’ve looked like one of the five worst teams in the sport over the first month of the season.

If the Marlins think they are bound to have better luck keeping their star pitchers healthy next year, they could hold onto Arraez and try to contend in 2024. They could also wait to trade him until the offseason.

Still, what earned Arraez the No. 1 spot over more accomplished players like Bregman and Goldschmidt is that he’s still only 27 years old, and any team that trades for him this summer would be getting him for two pennant runs since he can’t become a free agent until after the 2025 season. The Marlins will never get more for Arraez than if they trade him this summer.

If there’s a knock on Arraez, it’s that he isn’t a very good defensive second baseman, as evidenced by the -5 DRS and -7 OAA he already has on the year. That said, the fact that Arraez isn’t tied to playing second base could actually increase his number of suitors. Teams could theoretically play him at first base, third base, left field, DH or some combination, in addition to his natural position.

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