Major League Baseball's trade deadline passed on Aug. 1, capping a frenzied stretch that saw Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Lucas Giolito change teams. To think, those moves came after months of Shohei Ohtani divination. In the end, the Los Angeles Angels decided against trading their star, even as he encroaches upon free agency. Only time will tell if they come to regret that decision, or if they'll be rewarded for their faith -- be it with a playoff berth, and/or, ideally, a new long-term agreement.
If you enjoyed all the Ohtani speculation, as well as the actual deals involving star players, then fear not. The beauty (or agony, depending on your perspective) of baseball is you're only ever a few months away from the start of a new feeding frenzy. The reality is that, for a certain kind of person, this is what makes MLB so captivating. Fair enough, we say.
With that in mind, CBS Sports has identified eight stars who could be on the move next. This is, of course, more of an exercise in reading the tea leaves than it is an exact science. But below we've laid out our explanation for why we think each of these players could pop up in trade rumors as soon as this winter. Do note that the players are ranked in order of their perceived availability.
Let's get to it.
1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays
Glasnow is a brilliant talent who might win a Cy Young Award if he's ever able to stay on the mound for a full season. Unfortunately, his availability has been severely impacted by injuries in recent years, including the Tommy John surgery that wiped out most of his 2022 campaign.
The Rays signed Glasnow to a two-year pact last August that extended their team control into 2024 at the cost of $25 million. That's a hefty amount for a franchise that has never fielded an Opening Day payroll over $90 million thanks to ownership-imposed budget restraints. In fact, the Rays have more money committed to their 2024 payroll than their 2023 figure -- and that's without taking into account arbitration prizes or outside additions. (Randy Arozarena, who could've made this list, will be among those getting raises.)
Tampa Bay's front office had discussed Glasnow in trades before signing him to the aforementioned deal -- that shouldn't be news; they, along with other teams, discuss most every player at some point or another. We fully expect them to renew those talks this winter. This time with greater urgency.
There's no two ways about it. The Padres have disappointed. Add in how rumors have already surfaced suggesting San Diego will not be signing Soto to a long-term deal to keep him in town beyond his winter 2024 free agency date, and it seems only natural that they'd gauge his value this winter.
Soto remains an elite hitter. He has a great eye, and he makes a ton of hard contact, albeit often at lower launch angles that correspond better with singles and doubles than home runs. His fielding isn't as valuable, and it seems like a given that he's going to transition to DH at some point in the coming years.
The last part is unlikely to matter this offseason. If the Padres get serious about moving Soto, they're sure to have a number of suitors lining up to add an impact bat near the top of their lineup for next season.
3. Shane Bieber, RHP, Guardians
Whatever possibility there was of the Guardians moving Bieber at the deadline was erased when he was placed on the injured list with an elbow injury. That's a tough break for a Guardians front office who was able to move Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger in recent years before they suffered major injuries.
Bieber's value was already difficult to pin down. The 2020 AL Cy Young winner has already shown markable decline in two important respects: fastball velocity and strikeout rate. That decay makes it difficult to see him regaining his ace status, even if he proves able to maintain an above-average ERA if and when he returns to the mound.
Keep in mind Bieber will be a free agent come winter 2024, meaning time is running low in two respects as it pertains to them moving him for good value.
4. Corbin Burnes, RHP, Brewers
Burnes is the first of three Brewers represented on this list. Each member of the trio is heading for free agency come winter 2024. Burnes is listed first because he's already had a public dispute with the franchise over the arbitration process that saw him admit it harmed their relationship.
Even if Burnes and the Brewers have reconciled, it seems unlikely that the pair would be in it for the long haul. He's been one of the best starters in the game since 2020. Barring an injury or an unforeseen development, he should be in line to receive the kind of massive free-agent contract that franchises like Milwaukee seldom hand out.
That doesn't mean Burnes will definitely be traded this winter. It does mean that the Brewers are probably already planning for life after him.
5. Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox
Cease, last year's AL Cy Young Award runner-up, hasn't been as effective so far this season. He has, however, remained an above-average starter who possesses plus bat-missing ability. Factor in that he won't be eligible for free agency until winter 2025, and he's an undeniably enticing trade target.
The question with Cease is whether the White Sox will make him available this winter. It seems like a no-brainer to us -- Chicago does not appear to have favorable odds of improving enough to make serious noise next year -- but it's not our jobs on the line, either. Chicago reportedly was open to moving him at Tuesday's deadline for the right package.
That established, if the White Sox shop Cease, they should be well-positioned to obtain a good package of players in return.
6. Willy Adames, SS, Brewers
Adames is the second of three Brewers on this list. As with the two others, he's heading for free agency after next season. It's unfortunate, then, that he's in the midst of what would be his least productive big-league campaign (as judged by OPS+) thanks to a downturn in his quality of contact.
You could make the case that a down year might enhance Milwaukee's chances of signing Adames to a long-term extension. Maybe that will prove to be the case. But, from where we're sitting, the free-agent deals signed by other star shortstops in recent winters makes it difficult to see him giving up a chance to test the open market when he's this close to dipping his toes in the water.
As such, the Brewers would be wise to at least gauge the market for Adames this winter. You know, just in case something good is out there.
7. Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Brewers
Woodruff has popped up in trade rumors before. He's certain to populate them again this winter given that he'll be a year away from reaching free agency.
Mind you, the rest of the season is going to be important for Woodruff and the Brewers as it pertains to proving he's healthy and re-establishing his value. He's missed most of the campaign because of a shoulder strain. He'll need to prove that he's the same caliber of pitcher that he was before the injury, which is to say a well-above-average starter with two All-Star Game appearances and a top-five finish in Cy Young Award balloting to his name.
Milwaukee has a lot of difficult decisions to make over the coming year.
8. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
Robert's inclusion is similar to his teammate Cease's. The White Sox are a bad team without a clear pathway to improvement. Like Cease, Robert would fetch a considerable amount of young talent in a trade. That talent, in turn, would allow the White Sox to jumpstart yet another rebuild.
Unlike Cease, Robert is locked into an extension that will pay him less than $70 million through the 2027 season. In a perverse sense, that both increases his trade value and decreases the chances of Chicago feeling pressured to move him. Why would they? He's not only a bargain relative to his play, he's the top reason to come to the ballpark or tune in to White Sox games on the television.
Who knows, though. Maybe some team will make the White Sox an offer for Robert that they just can't refuse. Until then, we can always speculate.