1 player each AL team could trade
The trade market has always been a popular way for teams to improve their rosters ahead of, or during, the regular season. That shouldn't change in 2022, even with Major League Baseball's current work stoppage throwing a wrench into clubs' negotiating plans.
With that being said, here are 15 American League players who could end up in different uniforms this season.
For the NL list, click here.
*All table stats are from 2021
*Salary projections courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors
Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini, 1B/DH
Projected 2022 salary: $7.9 million
Trading Mancini after his well-documented recovery from colon cancer would be an unpopular decision, but the AL Comeback Player of the Year might be too expensive for the rebuilding Orioles. The 29-year-old is projected to earn $7.9 million through arbitration, which would make him appealing for a team with a larger payroll.
Boston Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec, 1B
2022 salary: $575,000
Dalbec finished strong after an inconsistent debut campaign as the Red Sox starting first baseman, but he was essentially absent from the postseason with Boston opting to play Kyle Schwarber instead. With Triston Casas close to MLB ready and the Red Sox linked to Schwarber and Freddie Freeman in free agency, now might be the time to sell high on Dalbec.
Chicago White Sox: Craig Kimbrel, RP
2022 salary: $16 million
Kimbrel didn't pan out for the White Sox in a set-up role after they acquired him at last year's trade deadline. He's still an elite reliever, as evidenced by his 15.1 strikeouts per nine from a season ago, so a team in need of a closer could have him if they'd be willing to take on the $16 million remaining in his contract.
Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez, 3B
2022 salary: $11 million
Ramirez is owed just $25 million over the next two campaigns - if his 2023 option is exercised - and is coming off his fourth MVP-type season in the last five years. The Guardians could fetch a haul for the three-time All-Star equal to, or greater than, what they received last year for Francisco Lindor if they choose to trade him sooner rather than later.
Detroit Tigers: Joe Jimenez, RP
Projected 2022 salary: $1.8 million
It wasn't long ago that Jimenez looked like a long-term solution at closer for the Tigers, but things changed with Gregory Soto's emergence and Michael Fulmer's successful bullpen transition. Jimenez had trouble with walks and keeping runs off the board in 2021, but he could be an affordable late-inning bargain for teams if he can rediscover his 2018 All-Star form.
Houston Astros: Jake Odorizzi, SP
2022 salary: $5 million
There isn't room for Odorizzi in the Astros' rotation with Justin Verlander returning to join Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy in Houston's starting five. The veteran right-hander is only owed $5 million in 2022, which means he could be traded to a team in need of a starting pitcher.
Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield, 2B
2022 salary: $2.75 million
Another year, another Merrifield trade rumor. Only this time, the Royals could be as serious as ever about trading the two-time All-Star who posted his lowest OPS since his rookie campaign. With that being said, he still led the AL in doubles and steals, making him a valuable trade piece for the Royals. Kansas City has younger players in Nicky Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi, and Bobby Witt Jr. ready to play regularly.
Los Angeles Angels: Justin Upton, OF
2022 salary: $28 million
The Angels don't have many valuable trade chips - at least ones they'd be willing to part with - so Upton is our choice here. A team might be interested in trading for the four-time All-Star if Los Angeles was willing to eat most of his salary or take on another bad contract.
Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson, 3B
2022 salary: $21 million
The former AL MVP still rakes, as evidenced by his 127 OPS+ last season. But his $21-million salary is also a financial burden for the Twins, who only managed 73 wins in 2021. Minnesota is in a good position to go with a younger, more affordable team if they so choose, which makes trading the 36-year-old a likely scenario.
New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez, C
Projected 2022 salary: $7.9 million
Sanchez has been on shaky ground with the Yankees for more than a season, and he didn't do much to quiet the noise in 2021 after hitting .204 with a 99 OPS+. He's projected to earn $7.9 million in arbitration and still has thunder in his bat. These points make him an appealing option to clubs willing to overlook his defensive inefficiencies or who prefer to use him as a DH.
Oakland Athletics: Chris Bassitt, SP
Projected 2022 salary: $8.8 million
Oakland has plenty of trade chips to choose from this offseason, with Bassitt, Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, and Sean Murphy all reportedly available. With Bassitt only due $8.8 million through arbitration, there should be plenty of interest in the 32-year-old right-hander, who was in the midst of a Cy Young caliber season in 2021 before he was struck in the face by a line drive in August.
Seattle Mariners: Drew Steckenrider, RP
Projected 2022 salary: $2.1 million
The Mariners appear to be more interested in adding players than subtracting them, but if they did have to deal someone, Steckenrider could go. The 31-year-old was a completely different pitcher in Seattle after a horrible 2019 campaign with the Miami Marlins, which was followed by him missing all of 2020 due to injury. With relievers so volatile and Steckenrider's $2.1-million salary so low, the Mariners have good reason to trade him now while there's a market for his services.
Tampa Bay Rays: Manuel Margot, OF
Projected 2022 salary: $5 million
The Rays have received trade interest in Kevin Kiermaier this offseason, but his $12-million salary may be too much for some clubs to stomach. Margot, however, is only projected to earn $5 million through arbitration and possesses similarly outstanding defensive numbers to Kiermaier - both players recorded 13 defensive runs saved in the outfield last season. Margot is also four years younger than Kiermaier.
Texas Rangers: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS
Projected 2022 salary: $4.9 million
Kiner-Falefa did a terrific job in his first season as Rangers shortstop, recording 10 defensive runs saved, but his time at the position is up after Texas signed Corey Seager. Kiner-Falefa could slide over to third base, but there's reported interest in him from teams in need of a shortstop, including the Yankees, so he could be dealt instead.
Toronto Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF
2022 salary: $4.5 million
The Blue Jays have an overabundance of outfielders. While Randal Grichuk has been a popular name tied to Blue Jays trade rumors, Gurriel has more value and could be the type of player Toronto has to move in order to make a substantial gain for its big-league roster. Gurriel is also in his prime years and won't reach free agency until after the 2023 season.
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