10 AL players who could be traded this offseason

In this two-part series, RunSportBet MLB editors Michael Bradburn and Jason Wilson identify 10 players in each league liable to be dealt this offseason and rank their likelihood of being traded – using a scale from 1 (unlikely) to 5 (extremely likely).

Kyle Seager, Mariners

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Age: 32
Position: 3B
Contract: Signed through 2021 (2 yr/$38M + 2022 option)
Trade factor (1-5): 5

While a sure thing doesn’t exist, a trade involving Seager is pretty close. The veteran won’t figure into the Mariners’ long term plans, and he rebounded enough from a putrid 2018 to restore his value. He’s still a top defender at the hot corner and has spent a minimal amount of time on the injured list throughout his career. Teams that miss out on free agents like Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas may be forced to look at Seager as a plan B. Any deal could depend on how much of the third baseman’s salary Seattle is willing to eat. In addition to Seager, teammates Domingo Santana and Mitch Haniger could also wind up wearing new uniforms by Opening Day.

Whit Merrifield, Royals

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Age: 30
Position: 2B/OF
Contract: Signed through 2022 (3 yr/$14.5M + 2023 option)
Trade factor (1-5): 3

Though the Royals have repeatedly balked at the idea of trading Merrifield, it might be the best decision they could make. Kansas City is a long way off from entering a new competition cycle, by which time the 30-year-old Merrifield may have aged out of his prime years. Multiple teams have expressed interest in him, with the Chicago Cubs the latest club to reportedly kick the tires on the speedy infielder. Merrifield would be a top option for any contender looking for help at the keystone, particularly because the free-agent market at second base is awful. His deal is ridiculously team-friendly and could warrant an overpay in prospect capital from a desperate team in pursuit of a championship.

Francisco Lindor, Indians

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Age: 26
Position: SS
Contract: 2nd-year arb (FA after 2021)
Trade factor (1-5): 2

Lindor isn’t hitting free agency right away, but the clock is ticking. If the Indians can’t ink the 26-year-old to an extension, trading him will become increasingly likely. Lindor’s name has already bubbled up in trade speculation with the Dodgers and many other teams can be expected to follow. However, unless the Indians get bowled over by an offer, they shouldn’t expedite the process just for the sake of it. A generational talent of Lindor’s quality would require a massive return, and any deal with the Dodgers needs to start with infielder Gavin Lux. Otherwise, wait it out and if nothing lands, pay the man what he wants.

Corey Kluber, Indians

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Age: 33
Position: SP
Contract: Signed through 2020 (1 yr/$17.5M + 2021 option)
Trade factor (1-5): 3

Kluber is a more realistic trade option for Cleveland, though there will be questions surrounding his durability after a mostly lost 2019. After five consecutive 200-inning campaigns, Kluber was limited to 35 2/3 over seven starts and didn’t pitch after May 1. His $18-million option for 2021 includes a $1-million buyout, so his contract won’t be a back-breaker if he bellyflops. That said, Kluber’s value might be the lowest it’s been in years, so the Indians may be wise to hold off on a deal until he demonstrates health and effectiveness on the mound again.

Mookie Betts, Red Sox

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Age: 27
Position: OF
Contract: 3rd-year arb (FA after 2020)
Trade factor (1-5): 2

There is no reality where the Red Sox should trade Betts. The impulse to deal him makes sense because it’s been reported repeatedly that he wants to test free agency in lieu of signing an extension in Boston. But this roster, with Betts, is good enough to contend in 2020. Without him, the Red Sox’ odds of being competitive enough to win another World Series drop drastically. Is there a realistic return package that gives Boston a better shot? Almost definitely not. Still, if a team is desperate enough to dump a bunch of high-upside prospects/major-league ready players for one year of Betts, the temptation may prove too great to resist.

David Price, Red Sox

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Age: 34
Position: SP
Contract: Signed through 2022 (3 yr/$96M)
Trade factor (1-5): 3

Moving Price will require some galaxy-brain thinking. If the Red Sox are too desperate to unload his contract, they may settle for a limited return. An option for Boston would be to find a comparably odious contract on a shorter term and work out a deal that way. For example, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler is earning $29 million over the next two seasons. One-for-one won’t cut it, but that type of path could work. It seems unlikely, but somehow shedding Price, or even a sizable portion of what’s owed to him, would go a long way toward Boston’s pursuit of Betts.

Miguel Andujar, Yankees

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Age: 24
Position: 3B
Contract: Pre-arb (FA after 2023)
Trade factor (1-5): 4

A promising beginning to Andujar’s career was derailed by injuries throughout 2019. He seems like a fine option to be moved considering the Yankees’ wealth of infield options after the breakout season of Gio Urshela. Trading Andujar would also open the door for the team to upgrade at the hot corner via free agency if the Yankees emerge as players for Rendon or Donaldson. Andujar was the runner up for the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year award after batting .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs and 47 doubles in 149 games. There will be interest in the third baseman, and he may be expendable.

Matthew Boyd, Tigers

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Age: 28
Position: SP
Contract: 1st-year arb (FA after 2022)
Trade factor: 4

The Tigers missed a golden opportunity to cash in on Boyd’s first-half success last season and may now be forced to take what they can get. Boyd was an elite strikeout artist in 2019, fanning 238 opponents in 185 1/3 innings, but a 4.56 ERA rendered that somewhat moot. He was often undone by the gopher ball, resulting in inflated numbers. However, the remaining years of team control before Boyd’s eligible for free agency combined with his strong start last campaign should be enough to keep his market afloat.

Ken Giles, Blue Jays

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Age: 29
Position: RP
Contract: 3rd-year arb (FA after 2020)
Trade factor: 4

Giles was one of the best closers in baseball last summer, and if it wasn’t for a bout of elbow inflammation in July, he may have been moved at the trade deadline. With a clean bill of health, Giles makes far more sense as a trade candidate than either Lourdes Gurriel Jr. or Danny Jansen – both of whom have appeared in tenuous trade rumors this autumn. With one year left before hitting free agency, signing an extension with the rebuilding Blue Jays seems unlikely for Giles. It would make sense for Toronto to flip him to a contender with bullpen holes, like the Dodgers or the Cardinals.

Marcus Semien, Athletics

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Age: 29
Position: SS
Contract: 3rd-year arb (FA after 2020)
Trade Factor: 2

Trading Semien would not be a popular move with Oakland’s fanbase. He’s coming off a season where he finished top-three in AL MVP voting after notching career bests in home runs (33), RBIs (92), doubles (43), and slash line (.285/.369/.522). But, he’s poised to get a substantial raise prior to hitting free agency for the first time and if the A’s are unable to swing an extension – which both he and the team are exploring – the odds of a deal will increase exponentially. Additionally, Oakland is apparently looking at trades for Blake Treinen, Jurickson Profar, and Josh Phegley. Moving any or all of them would make Semien’s retention more likely. Still, the A’s have a track record of cutting bait when the cost of doing business gets too high, and Semien may never be worth more than he is right now.