MLB trade candidates: Juan Soto, Pete Alonso, Mike Trout could be on the move this offseason

The free-agent market this offseason is all about Shohei Ohtani and the plurality of starting pitchers available, but not every impact move will be made with signings.

As always, the trade market figures heavily into the offseason mix, from the big names who could move to the under-the-radar pick-ups that make decision-makers look like savants in the postseason. So we thought we’d take a look at the 17 most intriguing names who could be traded over the next couple months.

These aren’t the 17 most likely to be moved — that list would look much different — or even the 17 biggest names who might possibly be dealt. Think of it as a mash-up of those two lists. No matter how you look at it, the choice for the top spot was pretty easy. 

1. Juan Soto, OF, Padres

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: We’ll dive deep on Soto soon, but let’s just say plenty of teams will be interested in trading for the elite hitter this offseason. Not only would they get a season of production unlike anything available on the free-agent market, but it would give them nearly a year of exclusive negotiating time for a possible long-term contract. 

Shohei Ohtani is the biggest name on the offseason Hot Stove, but where Soto ends up — if, of course, the cash-strapped Padres trade him — could have just as big of an impact on the 2024 standings. And you can’t blame for fans of dreaming about adding Soto to pair with, let’s say, Aaron Judge with the Yankees. 

2. Corbin Burnes, SP, Brewers

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: The Brewers were never likely to sign Burnes to a long-term extension, not after his value dramatically rose with the 2021 NL Cy Young award. And that was before his anger toward the Brewers’ front office after his arbitration experience last spring. Now, with manager Craig Counsell jumping ship? Burnes won’t be in a Milwaukee uniform in spring 2025, and the front office will get the biggest return if they deal him now. 

The wild card? Owner Mark Attanasio would probably love nothing more than to have his club finish ahead of Counsell’s Cubs, and they can’t do that without Burnes. So maybe they keep him for now and see what things look like at the midseason trade deadline?

MORE: Craig Counsell burns bridges in Milwaukee with jump to Cubs

3. Dylan Cease, SP, White Sox

Contract status: Free agent after 2025 season

Why he could be dealt: Even with a healthy amount of starting pitchers available on the free-agent market and several others available via trade, Cease stands out. His ability to miss bats is elite, and even though his numbers took a bit of a tumble last year — from a 2.20 ERA and second-place finish in the AL Cy Young voting in 2022 to a 4.58 ERA in 2023 — he still is very appealing to pretty much every contender.

Cease isn’t a 200-innings starter, but he has been consistent in taking his turn, making 97 starts the past three seasons, with averages of 176 innings and 222 strikeouts. The White Sox aren’t contending anytime soon, and Cease could bring back the type of young players/prospects who could help long-term. 

4. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Rays

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: Glasnow is an interesting case. He has yet to stay healthy for a full season as a starter — his 21 starts in 2023 were a career high — but he has the swing-and-miss stuff that teams crave (12.2 K/9 last year) and postseason experience. As a looming free agent who plays for the Rays, it seems more likely that he’ll be traded than extended, and they won’t let him just leave as a free agent. 

5. Jonathan India, 2B, Reds

Contract status: Under club control through 2026

Why he could be dealt: The Reds already cold-blooded Joey Votto this offseason, so why not India, too? There’s no doubt what he’s meant to this club and fanbase — on and off the field — but the truth is the Reds have more talented young rising stars ready to roll. That’s not a knock on India, but an infield of Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz and Noveli Marte (sorted out somehow between SS/3B/2B) with Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand at the corner spots/DH could be elite for a lot of years. 

India has only ever played second in the bigs and he’s OK but not great with the glove. With a career 105 OPS+ he’s not ideal as a full-time DH. He turns 27 in December and has three years of control left, so he’ll be appealing to a lot of clubs who don’t have the Reds’ level of infield talent. If/when he gets moved, it will almost certainly in a deal to bring back pitching. 

6. Shane Bieber, SP, Guardians

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: Few players are connected more to the Cleveland franchise than Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young winner — Jose Ramirez is probably the only other one on that list — but his situation represents a dilemma. It’s not just that he’s a free agent after the year and the cost of an extension is tricky, it’s that his performance took a step back in 2023.

2019-22: 2.91 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 10.9 K/9, 5.4 K/BB, 1.050 WHIP
2023: 3.80 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 7.5 K/9, 3.1 K/BB, 1.234 WHIP

The strikeout dip is probably the most concerning. The question is, does that dip drop Bieber’s trade value enough that the Guardians might find more value in keeping him through the offseason, then maybe hoping he pitches better in the first half? Maybe just keep him hoping for a run at a very winnable AL Central in 2024?  

7. Dylan Carlson/Tyler O’Neill, OF, Cardinals

Contract status: O’Neill’s a FA after 2024, Carlson is under club control through 2026

Why they could be dealt: The Cardinals have outfielders, and they need pitching. Either Carlson or O’Neill will be traded this offseason for arms, and it’s not impossible that they’ll both be moved. O’Neill has tremendous upside, but he’s always on the IL for reasons that often seem to frustrate those in the organization. It’s probably best for both to part ways. 

Carlson has been injured a lot, too, but he’s a switch-hitter with solid pop and a plus defender when healthy. Feels like he’s been around a long time, but he’s just 25 and it’s easy to imagine his best years are ahead, which is why the Cardinals might be hesitant to deal him. But that’s also why teams would still value Carlson even with his limited playing time/production the past few years. There was a reason he was a consensus Top-15 prospect in baseball a few years ago. 

Brendan Donovan could be dealt, too. The Cardinals would prefer to keep Donovan, a lefty hitter who gets on base (.381 career OBP), is an outstanding defender all over the field and has several years of club control remaining, but he could be a key part of a package that could bring back an impact starting pitcher.

MORE: Ranking the top 99 available free agents for 2024

8. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: Alonso is one of the game’s best home-run hitters and has been a rock for the Mets’ lineup since he arrived as the NL rookie of the year in 2019. But an extension will be expensive, and it’s fair to wonder if the Mets will hesitate a little bit considering Alonso had full-season (not counting 2020) career lows in OPS+ (122), on-base percentage (.318) and exit velocity (89.5 mph), among other things. Certainly possible. And if they’re not intent on locking him up long-term, it makes sense they’d try and move him. But they wouldn’t move him without a replacement on the way, and the only guys that could fill his power-hitting shoes go by the names of Soto and Ohtani. 

So, yeah. He’d be higher on this list if we thought there was a higher possibility he’ll be moved. 

9. Willy Adames, SS, Brewers

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: Adames has been the most consistent power source in the Milwaukee lineup since he was acquired in a deal with the Rays on May 21, 2021, popping 75 homers in 387 games with the Brewers. But he’s a free agent after this season and it seems unlikely that Milwaukee will sign him long-term, so he’s available. He’s 28 years old, an above-average defensive shortstop with power. There will be teams interested.

10. Mike Trout, OF, Angels

Contract status: Contract runs through 2030, for lots and lots of money

Why he could be dealt: Look, I would be pretty shocked if Mike Trout is dealt this offseason. But this is a list of intriguing trade candidates, not “likely to be traded” candidates, and any deal involving Trout certainly would be intriguing, eh? And though it would be relatively shocking, it’s not impossible. As has been reported often, Trout’s comfortable in Anaheim and he feels a loyalty to the organization and the fans. And you know owner Arte Moreno loves his superstars, so the only way Trout is moved is if he demands a move. 

But when Shohei Ohtani leaves and the reality of the new situation sets in, maybe that happens. The other element in play: Even though he’s a no-doubt Hall of Famer and still elite when healthy, he’s owed so much money and has been on the IL so often — he’s played only 237 of a possible 486 games the past three years — that it’s fair to even wonder what the Angels would get back for him. To get any significant return, they’d have to sent along a considerable chunk of change, and that’s not going to be appealing. 

MORE: Breaking down top candidates to sign Shohei Ohtani

11. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: The Cardinals are chasing three new starting pitchers this offseason, and even though the front office has promised to increase the budget to make that happen, they aren’t signing three free-agent pitchers. One (or two) will have to come via a trade, and Goldschmidt has been mentioned by some as a candidate. After all, he’s a free agent after the season and at 36 years old, he doesn’t figure into the long-term plans. 

But I’m not sure that makes sense, for a couple reasons. For starters, the Cardinals have other (younger) position players who could be moved, and then you have to factor in Goldschmidt’s production, which took a dip last year from his 2022 NL MVP levels. So if he’s not bringing back a massive return, why move him? The only real scenario that makes sense is if a team that intends to compete for the 2024 World Series title has a big need at first base and has a surplus of young pitching to trade. Maybe Seattle? Baltimore? It’s not a long list of potentials.

12. Jorge Polanco/Max Kepler, Twins

Contract status: Both free agents after 2024 season

Why they could be dealt: The Twins won 87 games and broke their long playoff losing streak in 2023, both of which were huge steps in the right direction. This could be a rough offseason, though, with the front office saying the club will shed payroll over the coming months. Their rotation will look different (Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda are free agents), and long-time Twins Polanco and Kepler could both be dealt. The Twins exercised their option on Polanco, but mostly because what he represents is a rarity on the market this offseason — a switch-hitting infielder who is a solid defender and has good pop at the plate, at a reasonable salary ($12 million). He doesn’t really have a position with the Twins anymore, with the emergence of Royce Lewis at third and Edouard Julien at second. 

Kepler’s 2023 was his best season since 2019, with 26 homers and a 121 OPS+. He’s a good defensive outfielder, and a left-handed hitter, but similar to Polanco, the Twins have other (cheaper/younger) options available for both corner outfield spots. And, again, entering an offseason with very little pop available on the free-agent market, this is a good time to get good value for a hitter like Kepler. 

13. Ha-Seong Kim, 2B, Padres

Contract status: Free agent after 2026 season

Why he could be dealt: Yeah, it seems odd to put Kim on this list, because when you look at the problems/issues the Padres had in 2023, he wasn’t anywhere on that list. Kim won a Gold Glove, hit 17 homers to go with 38 stolen bases and led all Padres position players with his 5.8 bWAR. But his departure could be part of the solution, partially because of the return he could bring back. The Padres need pitching, and won’t be able to spend a ton of money on the free-agent market. Kim has a few years of club control remaining, which is key when trying to find pitchers with years of club control remaining. Plus, dealing him would let Jake Cronenworth move from first base back to second and allow the Padres to figure out a way to get more offensive production from first base.

Why not just trade Cronenworth, who hit 10 homers and had a 92 OPS+, instead of Kim? Well, you see those numbers — his production has dipped a bit every year, significantly in 2023 — and his 7-year, $80 million extension kicks in starting with the 2024 season. That’s not exactly the type of trade bait that brings back significant pitching help. 

14. Lane Thomas, OF, Nationals

Contract status: Free agent after 2025 season

Why he could be dealt: No judgment if you didn’t notice how good Thomas was for the Nationals in 2023. The right-handed hitter popped 28 homers, to go with 20 stolen bases, 86 RBIs and a 3.3 bWAR, and on a market with relatively few mid-level impact bats, Thomas’ value is pretty high. The Nationals don’t have to trade him, of course, but the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot shouldn’t be discounted. Thomas turned 28 in August, and lots of clubs would welcome a bat like his with two years of club control. The question the Nationals have to ask themselves is this: When they plan to contend again, is Thomas part of that equation? It’s obvious the core is youngsters like C.J. Abrams, Josiah Gray, Mackenzie Gore, Keibert Ruiz and others not yet in the bigs, but if Thomas isn’t there, the best time to move him is now. 

15. Anthony Santander, OF, Orioles

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: His contract status makes him a logical candidate, but feels like his big bat — 61 homers the past two seasons — brings a lot of value to this still-young Orioles lineup. On the other hand, he might not be in the long-term plans, what with all the young players on the way, so moving him makes sense. So, basically, the Orioles should/will listen, but won’t trade him unless the return is right. 

16. Alex Verdugo, OF, Red Sox

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: Verdugo’s had his moments with the Red Sox, but he’s never lived up to the (unfair) expectations after he arrived as a primary piece of the Mookie Betts trade. His combined OPS+ the past three years is 103, and the Red Sox have lots of young outfielders ready to get a bulk of the playing time in 2024. Honestly, he probably won’t bring back much value but it would be surprising if he’s with the organization when spring arrives.

17. Elias Diaz, C, Rockies

Contract status: Free agent after 2024 season

Why he could be dealt: There isn’t much in the way of quality catching available on the free-agent market this offseason, which brings Diaz — the 2023 All-Star Game MVP, remember? — into play for the Rockies. But they won’t just trade Diaz, a popular player, for a nothing return, so the question is this: Would Diaz bring enough of a return to justify moving him? Not sure that’s going to happen. 

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