If you’re like me, then you’re doing whatever you can to fill the need for sporting news while the MLB is still in a lockout. Over the past few weeks, we had the opportunity to sit through one of the most joyous times of the year for sports drama: the NBA Tradeline. Who’s going where? Which superstar hates their situation and wants a fresh start? What team will land the biggest fish?
With that in mind (and the fact that we still don’t have much positive news regarding the MLB’s return), let us delve into what the 2022 MLB trade deadline might look like. These are trades that, if they happen, will give that championship-odds boost to teams that we always want to see happen on July 31st.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics (Age at 2022 Deadline: 29)
Significant Statistic; Ranks Top 3 in 3B OAA, Success Rate Added, and Defensive Runs Saved
It’s been long known that the A’s are trying to shed salary and finally prepare themselves for a full rebuild. Personally, I think that Matt Olson might be the safer bet between Oakland infielders. He’s played more games and is the more consistent hitter (153 OPS+, 39 HR in 2021). Olson is also a little younger, and both Matt and the other Matt will hit free agency in 2024.
The reason that I think Chapman will be a headliner more than Olson is that there is a lot of “mystery” in Chapman. Think about it from a GM perspective. You know what you are getting with Olson. However, you also know what it will cost to acquire and extend him. With Chapman, you’re going to give up much less and you know right away that you have one of the best defensive third-basemen in the league. But what if Chapman stays healthy? What if he finds that 125 wRC+, 39 HR form that he had in 2019? Then you just gave up less for an MVP-level, platinum glove third-baseman. Pretty good deal if you ask me.
Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs (Age at Deadline: 30)
Significant Statistic; Career 114 wRC+, his nickname is apparently Willy the Beast
To be Frank Ocean with you all, I have no clue why the Cubs did not trade Contreras at last year’s deadline along with a majority of what was remaining of that 2016 Cubs team. I thought for sure that he ranked behind Javy, Bryant, and Rizzo when it came to endearment from Cubs fans. Nonetheless, Willson, Kyle Hendricks, and Jayson Heward are the last ones standing from that magical run.
Fast forward to 2022, Contreras is still an above-average catcher. He can still unleash fury on a baseball (Max exit velo of 111.54 mph, 21 homers last year), and he’s played in over 75% of games since 2018 (not terrible for a catcher). The Cubs are in a weird philosophy stage; they traded away lots of noticeable faces last year in order to avoid payroll issues but then gave $71 million over three years to a veteran in Marcus Stroman. Will(son) Contreras be a stable batterymate to Stroman for the first half of the year and then get dealt for the right price?
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (Age at Deadline: 28)
Significant Statistic; FB, SL, and CB all produced negative run values in 2021
Now we start to get into some debate. I personally think Glasnow is gone by the time of his next MLB start. I think that the Rays see a 28-year-old, three-pitch starter with a history of Tommy John surgeries that they don’t want to give big bucks to and can move for real talent. When he returns on Opening Day 2023, that’ll be his age-30 season. He’ll be 31 when he hits free agency in 2024. We haven’t seen guys like Glasnow (6’8″ flamethrower with a long, funky delivery) before. How will his arm hold up after surgery and such a long break from the game?
Tampa Bay is such a good team with such a good farm system, the team will probably be able to replace Glasnow either internally or they will do that thing where they find another fridge guy who turns into the second-coming of Bob Gibson.
But maybe the Wander Franco extension signals a changing mindset in the Trop. They are a team that is uniquely built to both win now and continuously funnel in star prospects. But their plan of a cost-controlled starting rotation and rolling out rookies to make big postseason starts got them a first-round playoff exit last year. They need that one, big-name ace that they haven’t had since the likes of Scott Kazmir and David Price. I really want the Rays to keep Glasnow, but everything that they have shown me about star pitchers tells me he’ll be off to Seattle by the time he’s a free agent.
J.D. Martinez, OF/DH, Boston Red Sox (Age at Deadline: 34)
Significant Statistic: Since coming to BOS in 2018, .297/.369/.917, averaging 29 HR and 90 RBI/season
I’ll be honest with you. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan. I don’t want J.D. Martinez to wear any uniform other than the one he is in right now. Life as a Red Sox fan is much more fun when there is a monster in the middle of the lineup at DH. However, I am also a realist and attempting to think about this without bias. This is a trade that HEAVILY depends on how good the Red Sox are next year. If they are buyers or sellers at the deadline will gauge how much time Julio Daniel has left in a Red Sox uniform.
This has nothing to do with Martinez’s ability to hit a baseball. After a weird 2020, he came back in 2021 and was slashing .299/.369/.930 at the All-Star break before he, like the rest of his team, slid a little bit towards the end of the season. This has more to do with his contract, the universal DH, and what Boston has coming down the pipe. This is the last year of his 5yr/$109M deal. The universal DH means that he can get a bigger deal in the offseason and might not return to the Sox anyways. Also, J.D. leaving opens a path for stud prospect Triston Casas to play 1st and slide either Rafael Devers or Bobby Dalbec to full-time DH for a much lower price.
In my dream world, Kyle Shwarber resigns soon, J.D. plays this year out and becomes Boston’s full-time hitting coach, and then Casas comes full-time in 2023 and begins his reign of terror on the MLB.
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals (Age at Deadline: 23)
Significant Statistic: He’s Juan Soto
OOOOHHHH BOY BEST FOR LAST. Now, Soto still has three years left before he hits the open market and it really isn’t that outlandish to start speculating Soto becomes the first $450+ million dollar player. If you want to know why this isn’t a crazy argument, consider this; Soto will only be 26 years old when he hits free agency, and this is what his baseball Savant page looks like
At the pace he’s on, Soto will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer by the time he’s even eligible for this deal.
Now, it’s still a long way away, and obviously, the only organizational goal the Nationals should have for the next three years is to extend Juan Soto. They offered him a 13-year deal worth $350M before the lockout that Soto rejected. We saw a generational talent in Mookie Betts get traded when his original team didn’t give him a fair offer, and Soto’s asking price is going to be higher than Mookie’s. We also saw the Nationals trade two franchise players at the deadline last season, so there are precedents to a situation like this. If he is ever traded, just imagine what the trade package will look like. Just think about it. Then think about how poorly the team that rents Juan Soto will feel when he leaves for $700 million over 20 years.