Earlier in the week, MLBTR owner Tim Dierkes published our list of the 14 players we consider to be the likeliest trade candidates following the ongoing MLB lockout. That list was the result of an extensive talk with Tim, myself and Anthony Franco, wherein we considered the possibility of more than 100 players and whether they could (or could not) viably change hands. While that Athletics-heavy list contained who we agreed to be the likeliest, it certainly didn’t represent every plausible trade candidate in our eyes.

As Tim noted within that post, we wound up sorting our list of plausible trade candidates into various buckets/tiers. The top 14 was simply the likeliest, regardless of contract or quality of player, but for the remainder of the exercise, we chose to categorize things based on how impactful a player might be to his new team. This, admittedly, is subjective. We didn’t establish a defined set of concrete parameters in labeling this group “impact” players; rather, we focused on mid-rotation (or better) starting pitchers, high-leverage relievers and hitters with recent All-Star-worthy performances (even if they didn’t necessarily result in an actual All-Star berth). Three wins above replacement in a given season wasn’t a firm cutoff, but we did ask at multiple points whether we a player had recently or could be reasonably expected/projected to turn in a 3-WAR season while sorting them.

Once these players were tiered, we further broke them down by whether they were legitimately plausible candidate to change teams or just someone whom other clubs would be trying to pry away. Basically, none of Tim, Anthony or myself would bat an eye to see Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas traded. Bryan Reynolds or Cedric Mullins, though? We’ll probably hear about teams trying to pry those players loose from their respective clubs (hence their inclusion), but a deal coming together seems like a long shot and would register as a mild surprise (if only because of the asking price and remaining club control).

As Tim explained, some of these players are interconnected. While the Reds have three starters who could plausibly change hands, we don’t necessarily think all three will move. It’s the same with the A’s roster. They could plausibly move multiple players — GM David Forst said amid November reports of a mandate to slash payroll that they’d have to listen on the whole roster — but that doesn’t mean the A’s are going to trade seven or eight players.

Anthony will follow this list up in the near future with a collection of solid regulars who we believe could change hands and/or will be in high demand following the lockout, but for now, here’s our second tier of trade candidates — legitimate impact players who could plausibly change teams but perhaps aren’t as likely to go as those listed by Tim earlier in the week…


Plausible/Decent Chance to Move

Luis Castillo / SP / Reds

The Reds’ offseason transactions since the close of the 2020 season have included a salary dump of Raisel Iglesias, non-tendering another quality reliever (Archie Bradley), trading Tucker Barnhart to Detroit, and placing Wade Miley on waivers rather than picking up a reasonable $10MM option. GM Nick Krall kicked off the 2021-22 offseason by declaring a need to “align our payroll to our resources.” Rumors of trades involving Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (listed among our 14 likeliest candidates due to his age and larger price tag) and Tyler Mahle naturally followed.

Even if the Reds aren’t actively shopping the 29-year-old Castillo, teams will be calling to inquire, and Krall and his staff will be listening.  The Reds probably aren’t going to shop him and simply let him go for the best offer, as they control him through 2023. They could always hold and market him again this summer or next offseason if no enticing offer materializes post-lockout.

Still, Castillo might be the best starting pitcher who could feasibly change hands. He got out to a brutal start in 2021, but over his final 22 starts, Castillo was excellent. He racked up 135 1/3 innings (six-plus innings per start) and notched a 2.73 ERA with a 26% strikeout rate, a 9.4% walk rate and a massive 59.9% ground-ball rate. Castillo’s ugly April/May results skew both his 2021 numbers and his collective numbers from 2019-21, but over the past three seasons he’s still posted a 3.61 ERA while fanning 27% of his opponents.

Maybe he’s not a true “ace,” but Castillo is a playoff-caliber starter for virtually any team. He’s projected to earn $7.6MM in 2022 and would be owed one more arbitration raise in 2023. Essentially, he’ll cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20MM for the next two seasons — a bargain rate that should be reflected in a huge asking price from the Reds.


Tyler Mahle / SP / Reds

Mahle doesn’t have the name value that Castillo brings to the table, and his track record of success is shorter. Nonetheless, he’s blossomed into a sharp mid-rotation arm over the past two seasons, sporting a 3.72 ERA with a 28.1% strikeout rate and 8.9% walk rate. Unlike Castillo, he’s a fly-ball pitcher, which has at times bitten him at his bandbox of a home stadium; Mahle has given up 30 home runs in 227 2/3 frames dating back to Opening Day 2020, and 24 of them have come at home. He posted a 2.30 ERA away from Great American Ball Park in 2021 and, in his career, has a 5.09 ERA at home versus a 3.72 mark on the road.

A spacious home park would benefit Mahle perhaps even more than your average starter, although his penchant for yielding fly-balls will likely always make him a bit susceptible to the long-ball. Mahle has also been more of a guy who pitches into the sixth rather than completes six or seven frames (5 1/3 innings per start since 2020), but that’s increasingly common in today’s era of aggressive bullpen usage.

Mahle’s shorter track record may give some fans pause, but teams are likely comfortable projecting him as a quality arm based on the past two seasons of missing bats at a high level. And, that shorter track record has left him with a lower price point in arbitration, as he’s projected to earn $5.6MM in 2022. Like Castillo, he’s controlled through 2023, so there’s no immediate urgency to move him — especially given his affordable price tag. Still, teams will be calling, and the Reds can justifiably ask for a strong return.


Frankie Montas / SP / Athletics

Sticking with pitchers who have two remaining years of club control, Montas joins a long list of Athletics who could be traded post-lockout. Amid reports of a mandate to slash payroll, GM David Forst outwardly acknowledged back in November that the A’s will have to listen to offers on the majority of their roster.

Montas, unlike free-agents-to-be Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt, is controlled through 2023. And unlike Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, his projected $5.6MM salary is a bit easier for the A’s to stomach. That’s why Montas is in this “bucket” of our trade candidate rankings, but even if he’s not as likely to move as some of his teammates, a deal is certainly still plausible.

Though Montas isn’t without red flags — he served an 80-game PED suspension in 2019 and had never reached 100 innings in a big league season prior to 2021 — it’s hard to ignore the quality results. Since 2018, Montas has pitched 401 innings of 3.57 ERA ball with a 24.4% strikeout rate, 7.3% walk rate and 43.7% ground-ball rate. His swinging-strike rate has continued to improve, and this past season’s 26.9% strikeout rate was a career-best. He’ll turn 29 in May, and he’s an upgrade for any team’s rotation.


Tyler Glasnow / SP / Rays

Glasnow is the most talented name on this list and, when healthy, looked the part of a legitimate ace with Tampa Bay. From 2019-21, Glasnow tallied 206 innings with a 2.80 ERA and fielding-independent marks to match. He punched out a ridiculous 36% of his opponents, walked just 7.8 percent of them and kept the ball on the ground at a 45% clip. Among the 114 starting pitchers who totaled at least 200 innings in that time, Glasnow ranks tenth in swinging-strike rate and second to only Shane Bieber in his combined percentage of called and swinging strikes. Only Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole had higher strikeout rates.

With that type of profile, two years of team control remaining and a projected $5.8MM salary for the 2022 season, a healthy Glasnow would be a no-brainer for the Rays to keep. Of course, Glasnow is not healthy. He’s likely to miss most, if not all of the upcoming season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last August. Arb-eligible players who miss an entire season due to injury typically sign on for a repeat of their prior year’s salary, meaning that in 2023 Glasnow will likely pitch on the same salary as 2022. Using that same $5.8MM projection, the Rays would be looking at about $11.6MM for one season of Glasnow, when his workload would need to be monitored coming back from major surgery.

Glasnow’s career-high innings total in the Majors is 2018’s 111 2/3, and his career-high for any professional season is when he reached 155 innings between Triple-A and Pittsburgh combined back in 2017. Realistically, the Rays would probably be thrilled to get 100-120 innings from Glasnow in 2023 — and an $11-12MM price tag on that modest total is rather steep for a team with Tampa Bay’s general payroll concerns.

Other clubs would welcome the opportunity to take that chance, however. We’ve seen two-year pacts for Tommy John rehabbers like Drew Smyly ($10MM with the Cubs), Michael Pineda ($10MM with the Twins) and Garrett Richards ($15.5MM with the Padres). Glasnow’s price tag is toward the lower end of that spectrum in terms of dollars, but the cost of trading prospects also has to enter into the equation. For an arm of this caliber, however, there are plenty of teams that would take the plunge.

Glasnow, for his part, recently told Chris Rose that he strongly hopes to remain with the Rays. Perhaps there’s a contract to be worked out that could benefit both parties, but Glasnow himself acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding his status and that president of baseball operations Erik Neander will have to listen to some offers if and when other teams come calling.