How Much Will Marcus Stroman, Tim Anderson and the Top MLB Trade Targets Cost?

How Much Will Marcus Stroman, Tim Anderson and the Top MLB Trade Targets Cost?

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    Marcus StromanMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    It’s the time of year to start talking about MLB trade candidates ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline, and while countless lists will be made ranking the best potential trade candidates, that doesn’t always provide much context for what a player is potentially worth on the trade market.

    For example, Marcus Stroman and Lucas Giolito are, arguably, the two best pitchers expected to be available this summer, but both are headed for free agency this offseason, assuming Stroman opts out of the final year of his deal.

    Meanwhile, Shane Bieber still has a year of arbitration control remaining in 2024, so while he is having a down year by his standards, he is perhaps a more valuable trade chip than the other two pitchers who are having a better season.

    Ahead, we’ve highlighted seven notable trade chips and provided a breakdown of their potential trade value using deals made for comparable players in recent years.

SS Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

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    It has been another disappointing start to the season for the Chicago White Sox, and they look like the team best positioned for a full-blown fire sale this summer if they decide to wave the white flag.

    Shortstop Tim Anderson is controllable for one more season beyond this year by way of a $14 million club option in 2024, but flipping him now in a market that is extremely thin on shortstop talent could be the team’s best move.

    The 29-year-old is hitting just .250/.291/.293 with nine extra-base hits in 220 plate appearances, but a change of scenery to a contending team could go a long way in jump-starting his season.

    Projected Trade Cost

    The Los Angeles Dodgers look like an obvious fit for Anderson given their lack of production at shortstop, and that should play into the White Sox’s hands as they will have far and away the best available player at the position.

    His 2024 club option makes him more than just a two-month rental, but his lack of production so far this season also takes a bite out of his trade value.

    The last time a high-profile shortstop was on the move at the deadline, the Chicago Cubs sent free-agent-to-be Javier Báez to the New York Mets in a deal that brought back outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong who is now a consensus top-25 prospect in baseball.

    The White Sox will no doubt be looking to pry at least one similarly talented prospect loose in what should be a multi-player package.

RPs Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman, Kansas City Royals

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    The Kansas City Royals are giving the Oakland Athletics a run for their money for the title of worst team in baseball, and rumors are already swirling around the bullpen duo of Aroldis Chapman (26 G, 2 SV, 7 HLD, 2.96 ERA, 16.3 K/9) and Scott Barlow (25 G, 7 SV, 4.21 ERA, 12.6 K/9).

    According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Royals are open to the idea of trading them as a package deal, and that would no doubt be an appealing option for contenders like the Philadelphia Phillies (4.28 ERA, 21st in MLB), Texas Rangers (4.31 ERA, 22nd in MLB) and Los Angeles Dodgers (5.04 ERA, 29th in MLB) who rank near the bottom of the league in bullpen ERA.

    Chapman is a rental arm pitching on a one-year, $3.75 million deal, while Barlow is coming off back-to-back 2.8-WAR seasons and is controllable through 2024 via arbitration.

    Projected Trade Cost

    A relevant potential comparison is the deal that sent veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals at the 2017 trade deadline in exchange for Blake Treinen and then-prospects Jesús Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse.

    Luzardo and Neuse were both top 10 prospects in the Nationals system at the time of the deal, though short of being included on most Top 100 lists. Treinen was also a significant part of the trade as a controllable arm who took over as the team’s closer and eventually developed into an All-Star.

    It’s not out of the question to think a team in need of multiple bullpen pieces might be willing to part with a similar package of young talent for the Royals duo.

RHP Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians

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    Shane Bieber won AL Cy Young honors during the shortened 2020 season, and he was still pitching at a frontline level last year when he finished 13-8 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 200 innings to finish seventh in the AL balloting.

    The 28-year-old leads the AL with 95 innings pitched, and he has a solid 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, but his strikeout rate has dipped to a career-low 17.5 percent and his batted-ball metrics are down across the board.

    With club control through the 2024 season, now might be the best opportunity for Cleveland to maximize his value if they don’t intend on locking him up long-term. The industry consensus seems to be that he will be dealt this summer, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

    Projected Trade Cost

    The Cincinnati Reds traded a pair of quality starting pitchers with one year of club control remaining last summer, sending Luis Castillo to the Seattle Mariners and Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins.

    A pair of top 100 prospects in Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo headlined a four-player return package in the Castillo deal.

    Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand were the top pieces in a three-player package for Mahle, and while they were not top 100 prospects at the time, Steer has emerged as a standout rookie and Encarnacion-Strand has been one of the most productive hitters in all of minor league baseball this year.

    Expect a Bieber return this summer to land somewhere in between those two packages, perhaps returning one top-100 prospect and a few other quality secondary pieces.

3B Jeimer Candelario, Washington Nationals

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    Ed Zurga


    The Washington Nationals signed Jeimer Candelario to a one-year, $5 million deal after he was non-tendered by the Detroit Tigers, hoping to buy-low on a player who was just a year removed from a 3.7-WAR season in 2021.

    The 29-year-old is one of only 33 players across baseball this season with at least 30 extra-base hits, and he is hitting .260/.338/.453 for a 120 OPS+ with 2.3 WAR in 67 games. He has also provided solid defensive metrics (4 DRS, 4.1 UZR/150) at third base.

    Flipping him for prospects is a no-brainer for the Nationals, and his team-friendly salary and switch-hitting ability should make him a target for a number of contenders.

    Projected Trade Cost

    A good comparison for what Candelario might bring back in a trade is last year’s deal that sent Brandon Drury from the Cincinnati Reds to the San Diego Padres. Drury was a similarly productive rental bat playing on a team-friendly deal who plugged in as a corner infielder in the San Diego lineup.

    The Padres gave up teenage infielder Victor Acosta in that deal, a year after signing him for $1.8 million as a high-ceiling teenager out of the Dominican Republic.

    He was hitting just .243/.346/.360 across 131 plate appearances in rookie ball at the time of the trade, but he had enough upside to rank as the No. 18 prospect in a loaded Cincinnati farm system to begin the 2023 season.

RHP Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

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    During the three-year stretch from 2019 through the 2021 season, Lucas Giolito was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. He earned AL Cy Young votes each year during that stretch while posting a 3.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

    The 28-year-old struggled a bit last season with a 4.90 ERA in 161.2 innings, but he has bounced back this year with a 3.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 86.1 innings while tallying eight quality starts in 15 outings.

    “The White Sox don’t plan to keep starter Lucas Giolito after this season, and will make him available at the trade deadline if they are out of the race,” wrote Bob Nightengale of USA Today in May.

    At 12 games under .500, all signs point to the White Sox being sellers this summer.

    Projected Trade Cost

    Left-hander José Quintana was the top rental starter on the market last offseason, and he had similar numbers with a 3.50 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 103 innings through 20 starts when the Pittsburgh Pirates flipped him to the St. Louis Cardinals for MLB-ready starter Johan Oviedo and prospect Malcom Nuñez.

    Giolito’s track record as a frontline starter and better strikeout stuff means he will likely command a bigger return, but it’s important to remember there is a cap on what a two-month rental will bring back in a trade.

    For a team like the Baltimore Orioles that could use a bona fide ace or other contenders looking for a potential top-three starter for the postseason, Giolito might still be worth a top 100 prospect for the 2023 postseason run.

LHP Eduardo Rodríguez, Detroit Tigers

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    The Detroit Tigers signed Eduardo Rodríguez to a five-year, $77 million deal prior to the 2022 season, but injuries and a stretch of time away from the team limited him to just 17 starts and he posted a 4.05 ERA in 91 innings.

    The 30-year-old stormed out of the gates with a 2.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 67 strikeouts in 67.2 innings this season over his first 11 starts before a ruptured finger pulley sidelined him in early June.

    An article from Jason Beck of called six weeks the average timetable to return to action, which means he could be back in time to make a start or two before the deadline.

    Further adding to the situation is the fact that Rodríguez can opt out of the final three years of his contract this offseason, so he could be a two-month rental or a multi-year addition to the rotation.

    Projected Trade Cost

    There are so many moving parts with Rodríguez that it’s tough to nail down an accurate comparison, but the deal that sent Frankie Montas from the Oakland Athletics to the New York Yankees last summer is worth examining.

    Montas dealt with shoulder inflammation last season that clouded his trade market before he was ultimately sent to the Yankees along with reliever Lou Trivino in exchange for top pitching prospect Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Luis Medina and Cooper Bowman.

    The right-hander came with an additional year of club control, so he was more than just a rental, which could also be the case with Rodríguez if he decides against opting out of his deal.

    First things first, Rodríguez will need to prove he’s healthy.

RHP Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs

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    In his second season with the Chicago Cubs, right-hander Marcus Stroman has been a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate over his first 15 starts, going 8-4 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 91.2 innings.

    With the Cubs hovering on the outskirts of the NL wild-card picture and the 32-year-old poised to opt out of the final season of his three-year, $71 million deal this winter, he is shaping up to be the prize of the deadline.

    The question is what the current peak value of a rental arm is, especially with multiple other quality starting pitching options on the market.

    Projected Trade Cost

    After shocking the industry by holding onto Willson Contreras last summer, the Cubs might just hold onto Stroman if a team is not willing to part with at least one top-100 prospect and a few other high-upside pieces.

    The big difference here is the fact that Stroman will not be eligible for a qualifying offer after accepting one from the New York Mets prior to the 2021 season, so there will be more motivation on the Cubs’ end to get a deal done.

    Stroman and Lucas Giolito will potentially be the best rental pitchers traded since Max Scherzer was packaged along with Trea Turner in a deal between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, so they will be setting a new market for what two months of a pitcher of their caliber is worth.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.