- Tyler Mahle, Reds: Mahle pitched to a 3.72 ERA with a 28.1 K% from 2020-21, but he owns a 7.01 ERA through his first six starts this year. Mahle, who seems to have cut his slider usage significantly this year, is not missing bats like he has in the past and is averaging only 4.28 innings per start. He is under team control through 2023 and given his past success will be targeted whether or not he’s able to right the ship with the Reds.
- Mike Minor, Reds: Minor is battling a shoulder injury and working his way toward a minor league rehab assignment. If he’s healthy and pitching acceptably, the Reds may flip him at the deadline to save money.
- Zack Greinke and Brad Keller, Royals: Greinke’s early success includes a strikeout rate of just 6.5%. He’s on a one-year, $13M deal, and the Royals figure to defer to his preferences regarding a potential trade. Keller, who is under team control through ’23, also doesn’t miss bats but does sport a strong groundball rate and ERA in the early going.
- Kyle Hendricks, Drew Smyly, Wade Miley, Cubs: Hendricks’ unique soft-tossing approach has resulted in a 4.90 ERA since 2021, and he has about $27M remaining on his contract through ’23. Trading him at this stage would be a disappointing end to a player who has meant so much to the franchise. On an affordable one-year deal, Smyly is more likely to go, though his skills have been middling since ’21. Miley has yet to make his Cubs debut due to elbow inflammation, but he’s set to make a minor league rehab start Thursday in St. Paul. While the Cubs in a sense have a starting rotation full of trade candidates, the returns wouldn’t be impressive, and the club might elect not to decimate that group without worthy replacements.
- Martin Perez, Rangers, Jose Quintana, Pirates, Michael Pineda, Tigers: Though early results are good, there’s nothing skills-wise to recommend these guys. Their teams could could flip them to others looking for depth, but there’s little urgency.
- Jordan Lyles, Orioles: The Orioles signed Lyles to eat some innings, so they might as well let him eat some innings this year, but they could probably be convinced to trade him.
- Patrick Corbin, Nationals: With $78M remaining on his contract, Corbin could only be moved as part of a salary dump.
- Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: With $169M remaining through 2026, Strasburg has one of the least tradeable contracts in baseball. He was set to face live hitters Wednesday at the Nats’ spring training facility as he recovers from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery underwent last July. I suppose there’s a scenario where he pitches for a month in the majors and looks like 2019 Strasburg, and someone goes about the complicated process of taking on some of his contract, but it’s unlikely.
As always, the market will take shape around the middle of July. The Phillies still have a reasonable shot at the playoffs at present despite a disappointing start, but if they fall further, impending free agents like Zach Eflin and Kyle Gibson could be traded. The Red Sox are in a similar place and could put some interesting names on the market like Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale and James Paxton.
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