We are still months away from the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline, but it’s not too early to start thinking about which names could trade places come the summer. Even though there’s a lot to sort out between now and August, a number of teams have fallen back in the standings, and could look to sell in the near future. So, which names look to be top trade candidates this summer? Let’s take a look at our list.
Related: When is the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline?
After a brutal 14-28 start to the 2023 season, the Chicago White Sox seem poised to be sellers at the deadline. And given how things have gone thus far, it might put star shortstop Tim Anderson in play. Anderson missed nearly three weeks of the 2023 season due to a knee sprain, and only hit .260/.304/.313 with five extra base hits in his first 102 plate appearances of the season — all of which are below his career norms. But when on his game, very few can hit like Anderson.
An Anderson trade is a tricky one, namely because of his starpower and the fact that the Sox do have another year of control via a team option. However, it’s been a ugly start to the 2023 campaign, and it’s looking more and more like the White Sox will need to do a retool in order to get the train back on track.
The A’s are off to a historic start to the 2023 campaign — and for all the wrong reasons. Oakland won just nine of its first 43 games, putting the Athletics on pace to win less than 40 games this season. There’s not much in the way of trade chips on this A’s team, but one intriguing piece to watch is 1B/OF Seth Brown. Brown’s only played in eight games this season as of May 16 due to injury, but he recorded back-to-back 20+ home run campaigns for the Athletic in 2021-22.
A left-handed power hitter that can get on base as well, Brown could bring in a nice return given his skills and controllability. Brown’s first season of arbitration will come in 2024.
Royals RP Aroldis Chapman has appeared to have revitalized his career with Kansas City. The 35-year-old lefty’s velocity — which was considerably down in 2022 — has ticked back up to levels that we haven’t seen in five years. That velocity, coupled with a plus slider, have yielded above-average K% and exit velocity numbers for Chapman. Through his first 16 games of the 2023 season, Chapman struck out 23 batters over 14.2 IP and pitched to the tune of a 3.68 ERA.
Left-handed relievers always hold value, and Chapman should be highly coveted if he can stay healthy.
White Sox SP Lucas Giolito posted a 4.90 ERA in 2022, his highest in the Majors since the 2018 season. So far, the 28-year-old has rebounded nicely. Giolito posted a tidy 4.8 BB% rate over his first nine starts of the 2023 season, a figure that would rank as the lowest of his career should that stand for the rest of the season. Giolito’s command has been much improved, as he’s demonstrated great command of his fastball and worked hitters up in the zone with efficiency. Not to mention, Giolito’s slider has emerged as a strong secondary offering, although he still uses the changeup with regularity.
A free agent at the end of the 2023 season, Giolito will likely be dealt this coming summer.
The Rockies signed former All-Star RP Brad Hand as an extra left-hander this past spring when Lucas Gilbreath required UCL reconstruction surgery. The 33-year-old performed well for Colorado over the first quarter of the 2023 season, as he logged a 1.16 WHIP and 25 strikeouts over 16.1 IP.
Hand’s postseason track record is spotty, but his ability to get both left and right-handed hitters should still make him a name to watch among playoff hopefuls this summer.
The Cardinals acquired SP Jordan Montgomery from the Yankees last summer for Harrison Bader, and the former University of South Carolina star has been nothing but a steady hand for St. Louis since the deal. Over his first 19 starts as a Cardinal, Montgomery struck out 102 batters across 109.1 IP and posted a a 3.53 ERA. A crafty lefty that could easily slot into the middle of any team’s rotation, the soon-to-be free agent is another starter to watch this summer.
If the Cardinals choose to sell or not re-sign Montgomery, the lefty should bring in a haul for St. Louis. However, it’s not a given that the Cards will be sellers come July. Even though the Cardinals owned a 17-25 record over the team’s first 42 games, St. Louis went 7-1 over an eight-game stretch between May 7-15 and looked more like the team that won the NL Central just one year ago.
Rockies OF Jurickson Profar went unsigned for most of the offseason after he opted out of his deal with the Padres, and didn’t ink with Colorado until the middle of March. Profar’s performed fine with Colorado thus far, as he belted 13 extra base hits (5 HR) and posted an above-average BB% rate of 11.8% in the first quarter of the season.
A switch-hitter with power and good awareness at the plate. the 30-year-old would fit in nicely among contenders that need another outfielder come the summer.
There might not a bigger starter on the market this summer than Tigers SP Eduardo Rodriguez. The 30-year-old left-hander dominated over the first six weeks of the 2023 season for the Tigers, during which he struck out 47 over 51.2 IP and posted the second-best ERA (1.57) in the league. Very few hitters have been able to hit Rodriguez, who relies heavily on a good fastball that he pounds up in the zone and a plus cutter that can beat both left and right-handed hitters.
Rodriguez is technically signed through 2026, but an opt-out that can be triggered at the end of the season complicates the situation. Given his performance thus far, it’s expected that “E-Rod” will test the market again and that may mean a trade out of Detroit.
The Pirates jumped out to a hot start this season, and newcomer 1B/DH Carlos Santana played a role in that early run. Santana slashed .276/.357/.429 over the first month of the season, but he — and the rest of the Pirates, for that matter — cooled off in May. Pittsburgh could be inclined to move the veteran this summer, as he’s been a known punisher of left-handed pitchers throughout his career.
The 37-year-old may not be the Santana of old, but his abilities to hit left-handers and come through in clutch moments should make the 1B/DH an intriguing option for playoff-bound teams.
We finish off this list with another left-handed reliever in Alex Young. Young started his career as a starter with the Diamondbacks in 2019, but has found a new home in the bullpen in recent years. The 29-year-old performed well with the Giants last year, and has continued to be effective with the Reds this season. Through his first 17 games (17.1 IP), Young struck out 21 batters and walked just three.
The move to the pen has done wonders for Young, and his arsenal, which includes a sinker, curveball, and a plus changeup, fits well in a relief role.