The Winter Meetings start Sunday in San Diego, and the trade rumors already have started to swirl. They’ll continue to do so even after clubs leave town on Wednesday, because the month of December usually is good for a few significant deals.
Contenders want veterans to bolster their chances, while rebuilding teams want talent for the future. Who are some prospects who could be on the move? We undertake the highly speculative exercise of identifying a potentially tradeable farmhand for each of the 30 organizations below. It’s unlikely that 100-loss clubs (Nationals, Athletics, Pirates, Reds) are going to part with youngsters, but that doesn’t stop us from hypothesizing.
Our midseason list of prospect Trade Deadline candidates hit on two guys who changed addresses shortly thereafter. The Twins used Spencer Steer as the headline to pry Tyler Mahle from the Reds, while the Braves utilized Tucker Davidson to obtain Raisel Iglesias from the Angels.
Blue Jays: Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (No. 2/MLB No. 70)
Signed for $3.5 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, Martinez has the best power in Toronto’s system, slammed 30 homers in Double-A at age 20 and also possesses plus arm strength. But he batted just .203/.286/.446 with a 28 percent strikeout rate and is blocked by Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman.
Orioles: Jordan Westburg, INF (No. 5/MLB No. 76)
Baltimore is close to competing and will have to decide whether it wants to keep building from within or use some pieces to make trades. They have big leaguers at both middle infield positions with Gunnar Henderson ready to play third (or second or short), so they could decide Westburg and his nearly ready power bat (27 homers in 2022) could bring back some big league help at other spots.
Rays: Mason Auer, OF (No. 11)
Auer went from being a fifth-round pick out of San Jacinto (Texas) JC in 2021 to batting .292/.372/.487 with 48 extra-base hits and 48 steals between Single-A and High-A in 2022. He needs more polish but would make an attractive trade chip because he comes with well-above-average raw power, speed and arm strength.
Red Sox: Nick Yorke, 2B (No. 4)
Boston has a surplus of middle infielders and isn’t going to stand pat after a last-place finish in the American League East, so perhaps Yorke could be had. The 2020 first-rounder from a California high school slumped to .231/.303/.365 in High-A but he rebounded in the Arizona Fall League, recapturing his advanced hitting ability and displaying 20-homer potential.
Yankees: Oswald Peraza (No. 3/MLB No. 50)
The presence of top prospect Anthony Volpe and good shortstop depth in the system could make Peraza expendable, though he’s a superior defender to Volpe and could push him to second base in New York’s lineup of the future. Signed for $175,000 out of Venezuela in 2016, he batted .306/.404/.429 in an 18-game September stint with the Yankees and comes with 20-homer upside and plus speed, arm strength and glovework.
Guardians: Will Brennan, OF (No. 19)
Cleveland suddenly finds itself with plenty of outfield option in the Majors and upper Minors, including Brennan, a 2019 eighth-rounder from Kansas State with a similar profile to Steven Kwan. He batted .314/.371/.479 between Double-A and Triple-A, led the Minors with 166 hits and ranked second with 40 doubles, then went 15-for-42 (.357) in Cleveland.
Royals: Tyler Gentry, OF (No. 8)
Outfielders are the strength of Kansas City’s system, including Gentry, who batted .326/.422/.542 with 21 homers and 10 steals between High-A and Double-A. The 2020 third-rounder from Alabama features average-to-solid tools across the board yet could get squeezed out of the Royals’ outfield of the future by Gavin Cross, Nick Loftin and Drew Waters.
Tigers: Izaac Pacheco, 3B/SS (No. 8)
Though Pacheco has solid power and provides similar defense at third base, rebuilding Detroit has a number of talented left-side infielders. Signed for an above-slot $2.75 million as a 2021 second-rounder from a Texas high school, he batted .254/.331/.408 with 11 homers and 12 steals between Single-A and High-A in his full-season debut.
Twins: Edouard Julien, 2B (No. 14)
Julien’s advanced bat is just about ready for the big leagues, though it’s unclear where he fits best defensively. The Twins could sell high after Julien led the Arizona Fall League in hitting (.400 average) after he posted a .931 OPS in Double-A during the regular season.
White Sox: Cristian Mena, RHP (No. 10)
At age 19, Mena reached Double-A at the end of a season in which he logged a 3.80 ERA and 126/38 K/BB ratio in 104 1/3 innings at three levels, but he’s still a couple of years away from helping a White Sox club that is looking to win now. The most expensive pitcher in Chicago’s 2019 international class, he signed for $250,000 out of the Dominican Republic and works with a low-90s fastball while flashing a plus downer curveball in the upper 70s.
Angels: Adrian Placencia, 2B/SS (No. 8)
While the Angels system is relatively thin, it does have some depth in terms of infielders, especially at the lower levels. With Zach Neto likely heading to the upper levels with Kyren Paris, there are also talented players on the dirt like Denzer Guzman, Werner Blakely and Placencia, who held his own in full-season ball in 2022 and started to tap into some power.
A’s: Luis Medina, RHP (No. 11)
Yes, the A’s are more in rebuilding mode. And yes, they just got Medina from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas Trade Deadline deal. But they do have some pitching depth at the upper levels and guys who miss bats like Medina does — 10.8 K/9 in his Minor League career and 12.8 K/9 in the Dominican Winter League this offseason — always have value.
Astros: Korey Lee, C (No. 7)
A surprise 2019 first-rounder out of California, Lee has big raw power that translated into 25 homers in Triple-A and he also has well above-average arm strength. Yet he hit just .238/.307/.483 at Triple-A before going 4-for-25 (.160) in a brief callup, and Yanier Diaz has passed him on the Astros’ catching depth chart.
Mariners: Bryce Miller, RHP (No. 5)
It could be argued that former No. 2 overall pick Emerson Hancock is more “expendable” at this point, but Miller might have more trade value, and the Mariners showed just how close they are to competing for a title. With a relatively set big league rotation and some other options down on the farm, Miller’s four-pitch mix could fetch a good return, especially since after he pitched his way to Double-A in his first full season of pro ball, he’s close to knocking on the door.
Rangers: Justin Foscue, 2B (No. 5/MLB No. 78)
Texas has more middle infielders than it knows what to do with after investing $500 million in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last offseason, then graduating Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith to the Majors. And toolsy Luisangel Acuña has a higher ceiling then Foscue, a 2020 first-rounder from Mississippi State. He batted .288/.367/.483 with 15 homers in Double-A, though his speed, arm and defense are fringy.
Braves: Kyle Muller, LHP (No. 1)
Muller seemed to take a big step forward in Triple-A in 2022, particularly in terms of finding the strike zone, so there’s just as much chance he could help the Braves out in 2023. But he hasn’t been able to establish himself in the opportunities he’s been given in Atlanta and they could decide a change of scenery is needed. Big lefties with plus stuff are always in demand.
Marlins: Kahlil Watson, SS/2B (No. 7)
Would Miami be willing to deal the 16th overall pick in the 2021 Draft after an uneven full-season pro debut (.231/.296/.395 with 30 extra-base hits and 16 steals in 83 games) that included a suspension and fellow youngsters Jose Salas and Yiddi Cappe passing him in the organization’s shortstop pecking order? If he figures things out at the plate, he could have well-above-average speed and otherwise solid tools across the board.
Mets: Ronny Mauricio, SS (No. 6)
A one-time Top 100 prospect, Mauricio has definitely showed off his power, with 20 homers in 2021 and 26 more in 2022, though there are questions about his approach and ability to hit. His outstanding showing in the Dominican Winter League so far this offseason (.306/.353/.500) could help the Mets strike while the iron is hot, especially with Francisco Lindor entrenched at short in New York.
Nationals: Jeremy De La Rosa, OF (No. 10)
While they rebuild, the Nationals might not be so excited to part with young talent. But if they’re looking to turn things around quickly, one area of depth they have is in young, toolsy outfielders at the lower levels. With a top three prospects of Robert Hassell III, Elijah Green and James Wood, De La Rosa’s power-speed combination could be dangled to bring in help in Washington, or even the upper levels of the system.
Phillies: Griff McGarry, RHP (No. 4)
Andrew Painter and Mick Abel aren’t going anywhere, and there’s every chance McGarry helps out the Phillies’ staff, either as a starter or reliever, in 2023. But after making it to the World Series, they’ll want to do everything possible to get back. That could include sending McGarry’s swing-and-miss stuff (13.4 K/9 in 2022) and spotty command (5.5 BB/9 last year) somewhere to get more established big league talent.
Brewers: Joey Wiemer, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 84)
The tools are undeniable, coming off of two straight 20-20 seasons in the Minors. Add in the fact that he’s close to big league-ready and rebuilding teams will certainly have interest. The Brewers would be dealing from a position of strength, with top prospects Jackson Chourio, Sal Frelick and Garrett Mitchell all outfielders ready for, or close to Milwaukee.
Cardinals: Michael McGreevy, RHP (No. 9)
St. Louis’ first-round pick in 2021 spent most of his first full season in Double-A and the elite strike-thrower did some good things, but he also didn’t miss a ton of bats and was pretty hittable with Springfield. Now, the Cardinals do amazing work in helping pitchers figure things out and they might want to keep McGreevy in Triple-A to back up the big league rotation, but it feels like Gordon Graceffo has passed McGreevy on the depth chart.
Cubs: Owen Caissie, OF (No. 10)
Caissie fits the classic right-field profile with his well-above-average raw power and plus arm strength, and he batted .254/.349/.402 with 11 homers as a 19-year-old in High-A. Part of the Yu Darvish trade with the Padres in December 2020, he ranks as the fifth-best outfield prospect in Chicago’s system, behind Top 100 prospects Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis and Kevin Alcantara and 37-homer slugger Alexander Canario.
Pirates: Jared Triolo, 3B (No. 24)
Pittsburgh added Triolo to the 40-man roster this offseason after an up-and-down 2022 season in Double-A, though he finished very strongly. He’s a plus defender, but third base is his best position, where Ke’Bryan Hayes isn’t going anywhere. He has seen time at shortstop and even the outfield, so there is some positional flexibility here as well.
Reds: Matt McLain, SS (No. 5/MLB No. 73)
Something has to give here, right? The big league infield seems pretty stocked and the farm system has some depth on the dirt, led by the exciting Elly De La Cruz. Noelvi Marte is already moving to third, it seems, and there’s also Edwin Arroyo. Maybe McLain can slide over to second, or maybe the former first-rounder could become trade bait.
D-backs: Dominic Fletcher, OF (No. 13)
Arizona has plenty of outfield upside with Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas and recent first-round picks Corbin Carroll and Druw Jones, so they could use Fletcher to shore up weaknesses in other areas. A 2019 supplemental second-rounder from Arkansas and the younger brother of Angels infielder David Fletcher, he’s a quality defender who batted .312/.378/.486 with 12 homers between Double-A and Triple-A.
Dodgers: Michael Busch, 2B (No. 4/MLB No. 42)
Los Angeles is loaded at the Major League and Minor League levels and doesn’t have enough room to play all its rising young position players. One of the best all-around offensive talents in the 2019 college class, Busch went in the first round out of North Carolina and hit .274/.365/.516 with 32 homers this season between Double-A and Triple-A.
Giants: Heliot Ramos, OF (No. 18)
A 2017 first-rounder as a Puerto Rican high schooler, Ramos has leveled off and been passed by multiple outfielders in San Francisco’s system. He hit just .227/.305/.349 with 11 homers in Triple-A and went 2-for-20 with the Giants, though there’s still plus raw power and arm strength to fit the right-field profile.
Padres: Jay Groome, LHP (No. 12)
Have left arm, will travel? The Padres got the 2016 first-rounder from the Red Sox at the Trade Deadline this past season in the Eric Hosmer deal. After having difficulty getting going (injuries didn’t help), he really started figuring things out in 2022. His ceiling might not be as high as it once was, but a lefty back-end starter, or one whose stuff could tick up in shorter stints out of the ‘pen, has a lot of value.
Rockies: Adael Amador, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 61)
Colorado loves its homegrown players and Amador is still pretty far away. (He’ll play at age 20 in 2023, likely moving up to High-A.). But looking ahead, it’s difficult to see where Amador could play up the middle, with Gold Glover Brendan Rodgers at second base and Ezequiel Tovar ready to take over for a long time at short.