The 8 MLB Players Most Likely to Be Traded Before Opening Day

Author: Brandon Scott

Opening Day is less than two weeks away, and it’s still not clear whether team rosters will be presented as currently constructed. 

 

That’s because the 99-day lockout put a halt to everyday business in Major League Baseball, during which teams would have already worked through most of the intricacies of free agency and offseason trades. 

 

Even with the start of the season so close, trade rumors abound. 

 

There are some overpaid veterans on teams they are not helping. Meanwhile, there are also teams that aren’t totally interested in helping themselves. 

 

With all of that in mind, here are eight players most likely to be traded before Opening Day, with special consideration given to the latest reports and player-team dynamics.

 

8. Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres

 

Truth be told, Eric Hosmer would already be traded if not for the $60 million he’s due over the next four seasons and the no-trade list of 10 teams that includes possible landing spots for the San Diego Padres’ 32-year-old first baseman. 

 

The former is also in part why San Diego wants to trade Hosmer, who never lived up to the eight-year, $144 million contract he signed before the 2018 season. Hosmer slashed .269/.337/.395 with 12 home runs and 65 RBI last season. 

 

San Diego has been aggressively shopping him since the lockout ended after doing so at the 2021 trade deadline.

 

The obstacles the Padres are facing with his contract could stall this deal, but San Diego has had a desire to get something done for a while.

 

7. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Chicago White Sox

 

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Atlanta was interested in trading for Craig Kimbrel before signing Kenley Jansen to a one-year, $16 million deal, which mirrors the remaining money left on Kimbrel’s contract. 

 

The Chicago White Sox struggled to figure out how to best utilize Kimbrel after acquiring him from the crosstown-rival Chicago Cubs, and he subsequently did not perform up to his lofty standards. 

 

But Atlanta’s prior interest could be instructive. It was hard not to notice Kimbrel’s awkward fit with the White Sox, considering how they continued to rely heavily on incumbent closer Liam Hendriks. 

 

Kimbrel had a 0.49 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in 39 games for the Cubs last year before his numbers inflated to a 5.09 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 24 games for the White Sox after the trade. Since Hendriks has a firm grip on the closer’s role, Kimbrel seems out of place.

 

6. Dominic Smith (1B. OF) or Jeff McNeil (2B, OF), New York Mets

 

The Padres have been interested in the New York Mets’ Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil at various points, and SNY’s Andy Martino reported they’ve remained interested in Smith even after acquiring Luke Voit from the New York Yankees (h/t Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors).

 

Both players, along with J.D. Davis, have been rumored as possible trade candidates as the Mets bring in new position players to remake their roster. 

 

The Mets reportedly fielded several calls from around the league on McNeil. He and Smith could still provide depth for the Mets if no deal is done.

 

5. Wil Myers, OF, San Diego Padres

Like Eric Hosmer, the Padres have aggressively shopped Wil Myers since the lockout ended. And also like Hosmer, his contract is a large part of what makes him a trade candidate, though he’s the longest-tenured San Diego player after spending the last seven seasons there. 

 

Last season, Myers slashed .256/.334/.434 with 17 home runs and 63 RBI. The Padres are trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2021 season and would like to shed as many bad contracts as possible. 

 

Myers’ contract is not as bad as Hosmer’s. He’s owed $20 million with a club option for the same amount in 2023. 

Now is the right time to move on from Myers.

 

4. Frankie Montas, SP, Oakland Athletics

 

The A’s are openly having a fire sale, dealing some of their best players in recent weeks. 

 

Matt Olson was sent to Atlanta. Matt Chapman was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Chris Bassitt was traded to the New York Mets. 

 

Teams involved in trade talks for Frankie Montas get the sense the A’s are willing to go into the season with him still on the team, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, but the right deal could still presumably sway them. 

 

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the A’s are more focused on dealing Sean Manaea, while they’re “waiting to decide how to proceed” with Montas. 

 

Sounds like he’s getting traded soon.

 

3. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Guardians

This feels eerily similar to Francisco Lindor a little more than a year ago. There had been talks of an extension with Lindor, though there was no way Cleveland would ever pay it, and ultimately he was dealt to the New York Mets. 

 

Jose Ramirez is the Guardians’ best player, and trading him would be another shock to that fanbase, especially considering they have another two years of team control and are capable of being competitive in the AL Central this season. 

 

Still, the Toronto Blue Jays have long been interested in Ramirez. They tried unsuccessfully to acquire him at last year’s trade deadline. 

Toronto showed interest again after the lockout, but that was before trading for Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman.

 

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on March 16 that while it was unlikely the Guardians move Ramirez, other teams are interested. Ramirez and the Guardians had been in talks for an extension, but don’t be surprised by a trade if those negotiations break down.

 

2. Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Padres have been interested in the New York Mets’ Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil at various points, and SNY’s Andy Martino reported they’ve remained interested in Smith even after acquiring Luke Voit from the New York Yankees (h/t Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors).

 

Both players, along with J.D. Davis, have been rumored as possible trade candidates as the Mets bring in new position players to remake their roster. 

 

The Mets reportedly fielded several calls from around the league on McNeil. He and Smith could still provide depth for the Mets if no deal is done.

 

1. Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland Athletics

 

Like Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea is part of Oakland’s fire-sale plans, though it is possible he remains on the team come Opening Day. 

This is no longer viewed as the inevitability it once was; however, most anticipate Oakland will deal both stars sometime soon.

 

The A’s have already shipped out Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Chris Bassitt, which shows the obvious approach of starting from scratch. 

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Oakland is prioritizing trading Manaea over Montas. 

 

It makes sense because Manaea is the more expensive of the two arbitration-eligible starters after settling on a $9.75 million salary, compared to Montas’ $5.025 million. 

 

Manaea is also set to reach free agency after this season, while Montas is under team control through 2023.

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