The Carlos Correa saga that loomed over baseball’s offseason finally came to an end this week, meaning the top 25 players in this year’s free agent class have all found homes.
That doesn’t mean the hot stove is done cooking this winter. With moves still left to be made before spring training begins, we asked ESPN MLB experts Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Buster Olney, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield to weigh in on the storylines that will dominate the final month of the offseason.
Which players are most likely to be traded? Which under-the-radar free agents could still make a big impact? And which teams need to do something before it is too late? Here is what they predict.
Who is the biggest name who will be traded the rest of this offseason?
Olney: Pablo Lopez of the Miami Marlins. The signing of Johnny Cueto adds even more depth to a team that is already stacked in starting pitching, and now Miami GM Kim Ng can start to use some of her rotation surplus to augment the starting lineup. A rival evaluator sees a potential match with the San Diego Padres — Lopez, a good starter who is two seasons away from free agency, in return for steady shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who is under contract for the next couple of seasons with an option for 2025.
Rogers: All signs point to Lopez. The addition of Cueto and the positive return to the mound of Edward Cabrera in the second half last season give the Marlins depth where most teams don’t have it. If Miami had a contending lineup, then trading from that depth wouldn’t make sense, but the Marlins’ offense needs a boost and Lopez can bring them back a hitter. With a couple more years under team control, Lopez has good value right now.
Doolittle: The Marlins signed Jean Segura and then Cueto, so we can no longer describe their offseason as “diddly-squat,” but they haven’t made their most likely play yet, which is to deal from their surfeit of starting pitchers. As Buster and Jesse suggest, the recent signing of Cueto was likely made to bolster the veteran depth in the rotation, making a trade that much more likely. The name I keep coming back to is Lopez, an excellent pitcher who would fit seamlessly in any clubhouse and on any depth chart. Miami badly needs to balance its roster between pitching and position players, and I’d be shocked if some kind of move like that is not forthcoming. Which team is at the other end of this presumed swap for, I presume, a starting-caliber position player is at present a mystery.
Gonzalez: Gleyber Torres, who was offered to the Marlins for Lopez ahead of last year’s trade deadline. DJ LeMahieu can easily replace Torres at second base, and the New York Yankees have a glut of other middle infielders in incumbent shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and three talented young players — Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera. Torres, who has two years of control remaining, has tailed off offensively in recent years and might benefit from a change of scenery. Trading him, meanwhile, could allow the Yankees to plug remaining holes in left field and the back end of their bullpen.
Schoenfield: Hey, how about the Boston Red Sox and Yankees making a trade for Kiner-Falefa? With Trevor Story sidelined for most of the coming season, the Red Sox need a shortstop. Trades between the two teams are rare, but the Yankees did trade Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in 2021. However, Kiner-Falefa wouldn’t be the best player traded if Lopez or Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds goes. And since nobody has mentioned Reynolds, I’ll mention him. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Yankees, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners are among the teams that could use an outfielder, so with so many potential trade partners, I think the Pirates make a deal they like.