5 potential MLB blockbusters: Donaldson among best available bats

Jeff Blair phones in to The Jeff Blair Show to discuss the typical mentality of MLB players regarding potential trades.

Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is still more than a month away, but teams have already started wheeling and dealing.

The Seattle Mariners got a head start on their American League rivals by acquiring reliever Alex Colome and veteran outfielder Denard Span from the Tampa Bay Rays. In the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks added to their outfield by picking up Jon Jay from the Kansas City Royals.

Neither of those moves can be referred to as blockbusters, but there are plenty of upper-echelon players who could find new homes by the time August rolls around. With a number of teams already playing for the future, there is plenty of incentive for them to shop their stars in search of players who can help long-term.

Here are five big-name position players who could be moved this summer…

Manny Machado

One of the most coveted players league-wide, Machado is slugging along for the MLB-worst Baltimore Orioles. Due to hit the open market at season’s end, the 25-year-old shortstop is putting together the best campaign of his career at the perfect time. Before a team shells out hundreds of millions of dollars for his services, they’ll have a chance to rent his talent for a few months — for a hefty price.

A player with a .311/.380/.586 slash line isn’t available for trade all that often, so the Orioles have to make sure they maximize their return in any deal. With many suitors expected to be in the mix, a bidding war could fetch Baltimore a package it can use to fortify its franchise for the long run.

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Machado will command a hefty contract this off-season. (Nick Wass/AP)

Josh Donaldson

The Toronto Blue Jays superstar has spent much of 2018 on the disabled list, which has only hampered his trade value. When he has been in the lineup, the production has been worse than what we’re used to seeing from the 2015 AL MVP. Donaldson has posted a .757 OPS with five home runs in 36 games but those numbers must be taken in context considering the nagging injury issues.

Plus, after a sub-par start to the 2017 season, Donaldson showed down the stretch how he can almost single-handedly carry a lineup with his performance. Over the final two months of the year, the Pensacola, Fla., native had an OPS north of 1.000 and blasted 22 of his 33 home runs.

Assuming he can get fully healthy, Donaldson would offer a massive boost to a team looking for an answer at third base. The fact he’s scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the year could limit what Toronto gets back in trade, but expect the asking price to be substantial nonetheless.

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Jose Abreu

The Chicago White Sox rebuild is well underway and Abreu could be the next piece dealt. One of the steadiest first basemen in the league, Abreu has had a batting average right around .300 in each of his five MLB seasons.

On paper, he would seem like a logical fit for either the Mariners or Angels as they try to dethrone the Houston Astros in the AL West. Seattle could stand to upgrade from Ryon Healy at first base while Los Angeles has a hole with Albert Pujols moving back to the designated hitter spot in the wake of Shohei Ohtani’s injury.

Another appealing reason for teams to target Abreu is his extra year of control. The 31-year-old Cuban won’t reach free agency until after the 2019 season.

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J.T. Realmuto

Spared from the latest Miami Marlins fire sale that saw Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich all migrate north, Realmuto has been producing steadily in south Florida. The catcher leads the Marlins with a .889 OPS and could see his RBI total take off in a better lineup.

Realmuto has been one of the most consistent offensive backstops in the game for a few years now and would be a welcome addition to any club searching for a short- and long-term answer behind the plate. With two more years of control remaining on his contract — a window that probably won’t see the Marlins return to contention — Realmuto would figure to offer stability at a position that doesn’t boast many offensive threats.

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Realmuto is one of the most consistent offensive catchers in MLB. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Mike Moustakas

After struggling to find a contract during the off-season, Moustakas started 2018 with a bang, hitting .302/.578/.914 with eight home runs over the first month of the season for the Royals. He’s cooled off since, but is still a reliable source of power, especially if he makes his way out of pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium.

It remains to be seen how much interest he’ll garner on the trade market, especially when you take into account that he was passed up by so many teams during free agency, but he’d be a solid gamble for a team looking for a rental third baseman with some left-handed pop. Moustakas is making just $5.5 million in 2018 and his contract carries a mutual option for 2019 worth $15 million. If an acquiring team wishes to part ways with the two-time all-star at the end of the year they could go simply send him back into the free-agent pool.

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*Honourable Mention: Scooter Gennett

While he doesn’t boast the star power of others on this list, Gennett is having an unbelievable season that proves his breakout 2017 was no fluke. The Cincinnati Reds second baseman ranks second the National League with a .339 batting average and has plenty of power to boot. Under team control for one more year after this one, Gennett would be an appealing option for teams searching for more than just a rental. Better still, he’s able to play all over the diamond.

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