SPORTS MLB trade candidates: Tyler Glasnow, Dylan Cease, Pete Alonso,...

MLB trade candidates: Tyler Glasnow, Dylan Cease, Pete Alonso, more stars who could move next after Juan Soto

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Need evidence of Shohei Ohtani’s incredible gravitational pull? Rumors about his free-agent decision, and then the decision itself to sign a 10-year pact worth $700 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers, completely overshadowed Wednesday’s blockbuster trade that sent Juan Soto to the New York Yankees. Think about that. A 25-year-old slugger on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory was shipped to the Yankees … and it dominated headlines for maybe two days.

Maybe the Soto trade had another factor working against it: a sense of déjà vu. After all, this was the second time in a matter of 18 months that Soto had been shipped from one coast to another, having previously been sent from the Washington Nationals to the San Diego Padres in summer 2022. 

Whatever the case, it’s not every day that a star of Soto’s magnitude gets moved. While acknowledging that “star” is a vague concept that cannot be easily defined, the Soto deal got us thinking about who will be the next to move. That thinking, in turn, resulted in the following article.

Below, we’ve identified eight players who we think can reasonably be described as “stars” (albeit not on Soto’s level), and who we think have a decent chance of being traded over the next year-plus. Do note that we’re not saying these players will all be traded — we’ve expressed skepticism when appropriate — just that they aren’t as untouchable as you might think based on their Q score.

With all the usual caveats out of the way, let’s get to it. (The players are presented in order of the perceived likelihood of a trade.)

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Top Rays executive Erik Neander has tried his best to sell the possibility of Tampa Bay hanging onto Glasnow and his $25 million salary. Does anyone believe it? Not us. Glasnow is one of the league’s best pitchers when he’s healthy, amassing a 130 ERA+ and 4.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio since joining the Rays in 2018. Unfortunately, he’s appeared just 37 times over the last three seasons. Put another way, if Glasnow makes $1 million per outing in 2024, it would result in a new career-high in starts. A large-market team can afford to take the plunge. The Rays? Not so much, in our estimation. 

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This feels like a winter of transition for the Brewers, who have already lost executive David Stearns to the Mets, manager Craig Counsell to the Cubs, and ace Brandon Woodruff to an ill-timed shoulder injury. (The Brewers subsequently non-tendered Woodruff.) Milwaukee could keep the transformative vibes going into the new year by moving Burnes and shortstop Willy Adames ahead of their walk years, thereby recouping younger players to form a core alongside teenage outfielder Jackson Chourio. Burnes has received Cy Young Award consideration four years running and is slated to clear $15 million in arbitration. The Brewers could keep him into the summer, but doing so would weaken their trade return if they pivot midseason. 

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Cease is a highly appealing target for contenders. Not only is his projected arbitration price under $9 million, he’s under team control for an additional season longer than either Glasnow or Burnes. Plus, there’s reason to believe that Cease has an extra gear that could be unlocked by him landing in the right situation. The White Sox appear open to dealing Cease, and it seems more likely than not that he’s shipped out before the spring.

4. Willy Adames, SS, Milwaukee Brewers

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We covered Adames a little in the Burnes comment above. He’s coming off the worst offensive season of his career (as judged by OPS+), and he’s expected to make more than $12 million next year. Yet his trade value may be unaffected given the paucity of quality shortstops available to contenders. As with Burnes, Adames’ trade value would dip in-season if they keep him, dash the qualifying offer potential for other squads, and then fall out of the race over the summer.

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This is the point where we suspect the likelihood of a deal drops below coin flip level. Arozarena isn’t far removed from authoring one of the greatest postseason runs in league history, but he’s entering his first year of arbitration and already projected to make $9 million. Did we mention that his agent is Scott Boras, rendering extension attempts highly unlikely to succeed. If we had to guess, the Rays will probably keep Arozarena for another season as a means of counterbalancing the loss of Glasnow. After that? It’ll likely be time to say goodbye. 

6. Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox

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Robert has been identified by new general manager Chris Getz as the one player on the White Sox roster who is largely untouchable in trade talks. Fair enough, but we do wonder how long that will last. Robert, who is dynamite when healthy, is only under contract through the 2027 season. The White Sox do not appear in position to compete this year, leaving them with a three-season window where they could realistically build a winner around him. Maybe owner Jerry Reinsdorf will pony up and pay Robert what it takes to keep him in town. Otherwise, Getz might have to concede at some point over the next 18 months that dealing Robert for a bounty is the best path forward — and that each and every passing day results in a diminished return.

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The Mets are in an interesting position with Alonso as he nears his walk year. Generally analytical executives, like new point guard David Stearns, do not value right-right first basemen. The catch-22 here is that while Stearns may not value Alonso enough to sign him to a long-term extension in a vacuum, he might have no choice if other executives won’t give him a good enough return to justify a trade. If it were up to us, the Mets would extend Alonso this winter. He’s a fan favorite and it’s not like owner Steve Cohen will miss the money. 

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Let’s be clear: we do not think Bichette is getting moved this winter. We did recently lay out why the Blue Jays should listen to offers, with his encroaching free agency and the weak middle-infield market serving as two of the top reasons. Again, that doesn’t mean Toronto will or even should move him. Those factors do mean that, if this season were to go wonky, or if it becomes apparent that a long-term extension is improbable, they might warm up to moving him and fetching a king’s ransom in return. 

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