MLB trade contenders Five teams including Cardinals and Rangers with

MLB trade contenders: Five teams including Cardinals and Rangers with fascinating players to trade

When it comes to the deals that happen between Major League Baseball’s 30 franchises, the most intriguing is that clubs trade players from positions of strength. As an example, consider the recent three-player trade in which outfielder Daulton Varsho was sent from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The Diamondbacks had too many talented outfielders, and the Blue Jays also had many talented catchers. So what did they do? They broke each other’s blockades.

The Varsho deal, along with an otherwise lethargic trading market this offseason, got us thinking here at CBS Sports about other teams that could be well-equipped to strike similar strength-versus-strength deals. Below are five such teams that have positional clusters that would lend themselves to serving in a Blue Jays-like role, where they trade one talented if somewhat blocked player for another player who happens to fill a need area.

But first, we are required by law to ask you to consider this as a thought experiment only. Now let’s get to the rumble, stumble, and rumble. (Note that there is no actual rhyme or reason for the order of the teams.)

No other MLB organization has more compelling prospects on the left than the Reds. In the past summer alone they added Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cam Collier and Sal Stewart through trades and the draft to a group that already includes personalities such as Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Tyler Callihan, and Jose Torres, among others. Cruz (No. 11) and Marte (No. 13) both made CBS Sports’ top 20 prospects list, and Arroyo and Collier weren’t far behind. Still in the talent accumulation phase of their rebuild, the Reds would be wise to move some players they deem irrelevant to fill other holes in their depth map.

We’ve already mentioned the Brewers’ potential blockade in the outfield. The short version is they roll into the season with a starting group that includes Christian Yelich, Garrett Mitchell and Tyrone Taylor or some other mediocre option. They will have a chance to replace the latter in due course as top prospects Sal Frelick and Joey Weimer are set to begin their years at Triple-A. Additionally, Jackson Chourio, one of the best prospects in all of the sport, will start his 2023 season in Double-A. If Chourio plays like he did last season, he could force his way into the majors before he celebrates his 20th birthday, leaving the Brewers with more talented outfield players than roster spots.

Likewise, we’ve covered Rangers’ newfound pitching depth elsewhere. Texas has continued to sign, re-sign and trade for veterans, giving them a starting five that should include a combination of Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, Martín Pérez, Jon Gray and Jake Odorizzi. Additionally, Rangers have several youngsters who haven’t fully established themselves in the majors that they could move. Think Taylor Hearn, injured Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto, Spencer Howard and Cole Ragans. As if that weren’t enough, there are also a number of new high draft picks, including top five picks Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, and 2018 duo Owen White and Cole Winn. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Rangers move some of the above names to improve their offensive performance in the coming weeks.

As with the Brewers, the Cardinals project more talented outfielders than they have roster spots. St. Louis is likely to rock the year with a combination of Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar and Juan Yepez. You’ll have Alec Burleson on the bench and a couple of fascinating gits (though from significantly different backgrounds) just a phone call away: Moisés Gómez, former minor league free agent, and Jordan Walker, former first-round pick and top contender . It seems almost guaranteed that the Cardinals will act from their outfield depth before August. O’Neill, who is by far the closest to the free hand, seems the most likely to go.

We started with the collection of infielders from one Ohio team, let’s end with another. The Wardens have many options in the center to offer to other teams. They will likely open the 2023 season with Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez as a doubles combo, but in a pinch they will have Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman with them. The depth of the Guardians extends well beyond those four, too, with intriguing prospects of Brayan Rocchio and Jose Tena in Triple-A and Angel Martinez in Double-A. You can understand if the Guardians want to hold on to more of their depth than they normally would – Rosario is a forthcoming free agent, after all – but they should still be able to part with one or two of these players to rise elsewhere at some point between now and the close of business.