The four major American sports are unique to others around the world, as sport is treated just as much as a business as anything else, and big trades are made each and every year. That happens in the Major League Baseball much more than any of the other major sports, as the depth of the minor league systems is definitely unmatched. Each and every year at the midseason trade deadline, big stars, role players, minor league veterans and huge prospects alike all get moved with the betterment of the organization in mind, and such trades can make or break the future of a team.
That will be no different in the year 2017, as there are teams on the precipice of the World Series, while others are just a move away, meaning the deadline is vital to what we will see happen in October. The following are 15 players who will likely be on the move before said deadline, and while some of them may not happen, some others might. If these guys were all on the move, they would definitely help a playoff hopeful in solidifying their chances in October of reaching the Fall Classic.
15 Ivan Nova
Ivan Nova was once a prized prospect in the Yankees organization, but after injuries and struggles upon his arrival in the majors, he has become an afterthought. He then made his way to the Pittsburgh organization, and it has revitalized his career. He re-signed with the team in the offseason after an impressive 2016 campaign, but with their World Series window rapidly closing, it looks like the team should begin to rebuild, as they do have some young players with bright futures. Nova is one of the tradable pieces that they have on the roster (that they’d be willing to part with), and for a solid, back of the rotation piece, the team should be able to get a nice return of some good minor league prospects.
14 David Robertson
The Chicago White Sox geared up for a deep post season run prior to the 2016 season, but after another disappointing campaign, it looks like they are on the rebuild, as they parted with their best player in Chris Sale. Before the trade deadline in 2017 hits, expect them to make at least three moves to continue this rebuild. One of those is with veteran closer David Robertson, who will command quite a price on the trade market, as he is one of the best relievers available, being someone who can work anywhere in the ‘pen effectively, especially in the 9th inning. Such relievers are always sought after, and with teams like the Giants looking to make the playoffs with weak bullpens, there will be many trade partners for the Sox.
13 Howie Kendrick
After a successful stint with the Angels and the Dodgers, Howie Kendrick chose to return to his first team, the Philadelphia Phillies, in the offseason. Although that is a return to his first team, probably with the intent of retiring where he came up, they may see more value in him as a trade piece and entertain the idea of moving him for a high level prospect to continue their promising rebuild process once they're out of contention. Similar to the likes of Coco Crisp on the 2016 Cleveland Indians, he may do more for a team as a veteran leader who has stepped up and played big in the biggest games in October. But he can play second base and left field, meaning he would be an asset in many different ways for any team he plays on.
12 Evan Longoria
This will be the toughest trade on the list to make, as Longoria has been the heart of the Tampa Bay Rays ever since he came into the majors, but with the team not going anywhere and him chewing up a major part of their salary cap, it would be a great opportunity to start their rebuilding process on the right foot. Longoria may be past his prime on the diamond, but as a veteran leader who has experience in the biggest moments that baseball has to offer, he’d be a valuable asset to any team in the majors. As mentioned, the team that brings him in will need to swallow a huge salary, but a young team like the Yankees would shine with a veteran presence such as Longoria, who also knows the AL East better than anyone in the game today.
11 Billy Hamilton
The Cincinnati Reds were one of the top teams in the National League between 2011 and 2013, and they had stars like Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman on the team, but after they failed to progress in the playoffs, the team began a rebuilding process. When up against the might of the top teams in the NL Central, that process will need to continue for quite some time. While the team could benefit from unloading Joey Votto, his contract is too big for someone to take on, and that leaves Billy Hamilton, who could be a serious help for any playoff contender. He plays amazing defense in any outfield position, and with his speed, he can be a threat off the bench or in a starting lineup, so expect the Reds to make some moves this season, with this one being the most high profile.
10 Sean Doolittle
We’ve already mentioned how important relievers are, and how much demand there is for them at the trade deadline. After the Athletics have traded away six of their All-Stars from the 2013-14 teams, the last one standing will be the next on the move, and that’s the team's closer, Sean Doolittle. It may be hard to part with your team's veteran closer, but with the team not going anywhere, especially with the Mariners, Astros and Rangers in the West, it would be a good time to part ways, as there are always a plethora of teams looking to upgrade their bullpen. Doolittle can come in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, and that makes him even more valuable, so expect him to be on another team come September in the playoff hunt.
9 Martin Prado
There aren’t many players in the majors today as versatile as the Marlins Martin Prado, and while he may be a key part of Miami’s lineup, the team is still a year or so away from contending. He is already past his prime, meaning his value to this team may be as a trade asset that can bring back a prospect who can help them once the entire team and rotation develops. He may not be the defensive stud or power hitting threat in the middle of the order that he once was, but with his veteran presence and versatility, he can impact a team in more than one way, and always come up big when it matters most. This would be the best play for both parties, as the right trade would help the Marlins for many, many years to come.
8 James Shields
James Shields is a veteran pitcher, and he has played in the biggest games the MLB has, succeeding every step of the way, gaining him the nickname “Big Game James." That alone should tempt a playoff contender to bring him in and add depth to their rotation. We have seen the last few teams to win a World Series have had the deepest rotations, and adding a veteran like Shields to a rotation would be huge come October, as he could pitch a vital Game 3 or 4 in a big series. He is definitely past his prime, so the White Sox shouldn’t expect to get too much for him, but a team that is willing to take on his salary to prime them for a deep playoff run will reap the rewards.
7 Cameron Maybin
Cameron Maybin was once considered an elite outfielder in the game of baseball, and was almost a five-tool player, but since he has suffered a few injuries, and it looked like he would struggle to find a starting spot on any Major League team. He bounced back last season, however, and has now found himself with the Angels, who, despite having players like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on the team, aren’t looking likely to get a playoff spot in 2017. The team isn’t going to be able to move Pujols, and moving Trout is something they definitely wouldn’t do, so a defensive player like Maybin who can impact a team well at the top of the order would be the most obvious candidate, and the team could get a decent package back for him.
6 Brian Dozier
Like always, there were a lot of big moves at the trade deadline in 2016, but one of the big names rumored to be on the move that stayed put was the Twins second baseman, Brian Dozier. One season later, a team is likely going to swoop in and get the power hitting star. Teams like the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees could always use some thump in the middle of their lineup, and bringing in a star like Dozier could any team from playoff hopeful to World Series favorite, but it won’t come without a price. Someone who has just hit his prime like Dozier, who also had a career year in 2016, will command a huge package, but the Twins should be motivated to move him. Expect a team to swoop in and capitalize.
5 Wil Myers
There have been teams who quickly gear up in the space of 12 months for a big playoff run, but nothing compares to the San Diego Padres, as they picked up Wil Myers, Matt Kemp and Craig Kimbrel all in an effort to compete with the might of the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. That failed mightily, and the team traded away Kemp and Kimbrel, and got a fairly good package in return. Now that the 2017 season has started, the Padres are at the bottom of the totem pole in the West, and they should look to trade away their last star player, 1B/OF Wil Myers. Myers can hit for power and average, and has the versatility that can again make him a star in the majors. With teams like Houston, Seattle and Los Angeles all looking for versatile stars to help their World Series bid, you can expect him to be on the move quite soon.
4 Todd Frazier
This is the third and final big move that the White Sox should make during the 2017 season, and if they can accomplish all three, they will have an assortment of top-level prospects with more potential than any other rebuilding team in the majors heading into the 2018 season. Like most on this list, Frazier will command a steep price, but for a veteran player who plays good defense at the corner and who can add a huge amount of power to the middle of a lineup, it’s a no-brainer for a playoff contender with a whole in their lineup to bring him in. The Giants, Dodgers, Astros and Yankees are all prime candidates to pick him up, as they have a hole in their lineup and top-level prospects to deal, so expect him to be competing for a playoff spot in 2017.
3 Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun is one of the most controversial players in the MLB today, and after losing his MVP award because of PED use, he has been on a mission to prove he is one of the best players around today. Unfortunately, that is being wasted with the Brewers. He is still a great defender, and he can consistently hit around the .300 mark with plenty of power, and although a team will need to put a huge package together to pry him from Milwaukee, he will be worth bringing in to solidify the middle of a lineup. The Giants and the Yankees are the two teams that come to mind when thinking of a perfect landing spot, but any team that wants to improve its lineup would be wise to at least inquire into Braun’s services.
2 Chris Archer
After years of the AL East being a battle of the two heavyweights, the Red Sox and the Yankees, the Rays rose up on the back of their phenomenal rotation and challenged the top teams. But after several seasons of success, their rotation has been torn apart, as they have parted with David Price and Matt Moore. In 2017, expect them to deal their biggest current star, Chris Archer. There were rumors that he may have been on the move during the 2016 season, but they dealt Matt Moore instead. With every other team in the East looking like playoff contenders, they need to begin a rebuilding process, and if they can get a good return for Archer (like they should), that process will get off to a fast start.
1 Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen has been one of the best players in the game of baseball over the last few years, but as we've already mentioned, the World Series window for the Pittsburgh Pirates with this core may already be over, and trading away McCutchen for a group of top level prospects could be a good way to ensure their rebuild process is as good and quick as possible. There are plenty of teams who would give up these prospects to get someone so talented in all areas of the game, with the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Astros, Mariners being the favourites to land his services. If the Pirates decide to hang onto their star center fielder, it would be completely understandable, but up against the might of the Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Mets and Nationals in the National League, it would be the best to forego this season if it's not going well at the trade deadline, which is a distinct possibility.