Marte traded: The D-Backs are fresh off a disastrous season in which they lost 110 games for the second time in franchise history. The 2022 campaign won't be much different, prompting them to trade their biggest star in Ketel Marte. Arizona will have plenty of suitors for the 28-year-old, who is owed $8 million next season and has two affordable club options for 2023 and 2024. Those are reasonable sums for a versatile player capable of playing three different positions and for someone who posted an OPS above .900 in two of the past three seasons.
Acuna goes 30-30 despite late start to season: Ronald Acuna Jr. will reach the mark for the second time in his career. He could return to the Braves as early as May after tearing his ACL in July 2021. However, he doesn't need a lot of games to show off his dazzling combination of power and speed. The two-time All-Star went deep 34 times with 25 stolen bases over a combined 128 contests between 2020 and 2021. There's a chance he won't run as often after his knee injury. Regardless, it'll be good to see one of the best players in baseball on the field again.
Rizzo returns: The Cubs said they're rebuilding after trading many of their stars – Anthony Rizzo among them – at last year's trade deadline. But signing Marcus Stroman shows they may still have eyes on competing, even in the interim. That's why, when the lockout ends, Rizzo will find his way back to Wrigley Field as a free agent. The 32-year-old is immensely popular on Chicago's North Side, and he clearly loved being a Cub, so the fit is without question. But he'd also boost their lineup and allow the team to potentially sell high on Frank Schwindel, who took over for Rizzo last year and had a breakout season as a 29-year-old rookie. The rebuilding Cubs can still make a run at something in the weaker NL Central, and Rizzo will help the new-look squad surprise people.
Gray, Castillo traded: In November, after trading popular catcher Tucker Barnhart, Reds GM Nick Krall mentioned the club planned to align their payroll to their resources next season while focusing on scouting and developing young talent in their system. In short, the Reds will trim payroll and build around affordable, young talent in the upcoming year. This leads to Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo getting traded. The pair combine to earn around $17 million in 2022. That doesn't sound like much to pay two proven pitchers – both of whom are capable of winning the NL Cy Young – but the Reds already proved money would play an important role in their future roster construction when they gave away Wade Miley for nothing following his terrific 2021 campaign because he was set to earn $10 million.