The 2022 MLB trade deadline is today at 6:00 PM ET, and one of the most valuable players in baseball could be on the move, with the Nationals appearing likely to trade star outfielder Juan Soto. It makes for an interesting discussion for today’s Top Ten Tuesday: Which MLB players would be the most valuable on the trade market today? The criteria are tough because of contracts and age—in some cases, teams might want to bring in a player in the quest for a championship that season. But I took a long-term approach into account for these rankings.
10. Aaron Judge
Sandy Alcantara and Mookie Betts are other players that would fetch a ton on the trade market, but it’s scary to think how much Judge would be worth right now in middle of his potential record-breaking 2022. Through 101 games, Judge already has MVP-caliber numbers for an entire season: a .299 average, 43 homers, 89 runs scored, and 93 RBI. Judge had a relatively late start to his MLB career and is now 30 years old, but his freakish size and talent will help him continue to produce as he ages.
9. Trea Turner
Not only is Turner a five-tool player that can steal a ton of bases as well as hit home runs, hit for average, and play excellent defense—he does it at a premium position up the middle at shortstop. Teams around the majors can sometimes have trouble finding a recipe that works near the top of a batting order, but Turner is a player you can slot in at the leadoff spot (though Mookie Betts has been the leadoff hitter for the Dodgers when healthy) and be confident in superb production.
8. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
If not for Ohtani’s mind-boggling 2021, Vlad Jr. would already have an American League MVP award. The age (just turned 23 in March) and raw power and hitting ability is very exciting, but Guerrero is below some other players in part because he’s not quite the all-around talent—baserunning, defense—as others on the list. But a hypothetical trade market that includes Vlad Jr. would lead to a massive return for the Blue Jays, as the slugger could be placed in the heart of any lineup and make a major difference offensively.
7. Bryce Harper
As a legitimate phenom or wunderkind when he was a teenager, Harper has always been a rare player—and his production has been even more impressive considering the expectations placed on him. He has a couple of NL MVPs under his belt and can do it all at the plate and in the field. However, Harper’s ascendency over the past couple of seasons with the Phillies has led to the most impressive stretch of his career. Harper is now essentially a .300 hitter that’s good for 35-40 homers. The only knock at this point is the bad injury luck.
6. Mike Trout
Sticking with unfortunate injury luck, Trout could still arguably be in the top two if we knew he was going to stay on the field—he’d at least be up a spot or two. We’re still talking about truly one of the best players in the history of the game, and the soon-to-be-31-year-old should remain productive for several more years, health cooperating. Trout is a maven out in centerfield, he can hit anywhere from No. 1 to No. 4 in the lineup while dropping around 40 bombs and getting on base at an historic rate, and he can still fly on the basepaths when called upon (though he doesn’t steal many bases anymore). Overall, Trout would obviously get a king’s ransom in return in a trade.
5. Fernando Tatis Jr.
We have not seen Tatis Jr. on the field yet this season, but let’s not forget what he’s done to begin his MLB career. Last year said a lot: a .282 average with 42 homers in 130 games. Tatis plays a key position at shortstop, but he has the flexibility to play just about anywhere on defense, which could help later in his career. Tatis isn’t going to be available for trade anytime soon after signing a 14-year contract with the Padres last year, but the return would be crazy if he was put on the block.
4. Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna is still working his way back to his top-tier form after last year’s ACL tear ended his season prematurely and he was out while his team won the World Series. The hope is that he’ll again be a .280-.300 hitter with monstrous power numbers, which should happen in due time. The 24-year-old is supremely athletic with plus ability on defense, and he’s one of the best basestealers in the majors (he led the NL with 37 steals and 127 runs scored in 2019 as a follow up to his Rookie of the Year 2018 season). Acuna does it all, and his eight-year, $100 million contract is a bargain for the Braves.
3. Julio Rodriguez
Rodriguez is built in a similar mold to Acuna in that he’s an extremely athletic five-tool player. He’s one spot higher due to the age (21 years old). Rodriguez has helped elevate the Mariners into the AL wild card mix this season, with 18 homers and 21 stolen bases—and he put on a show during the Home Run Derby, displaying his tantalizing power. The Dominican outfielder would probably return at least three or four of an organizations’ top prospects in a trade.
2. Juan Soto
The Nationals have been, uh, generous with trades in the past (like trading away Trea Turner and Max Scherzer to the Dodgers), but we should get a good idea of Soto’s value by today’s 6:00 PM ET trade deadline. The all-around athletic ability and tools could push Soto below both J-Rod and Acuna Jr., but Soto just gets on base at such a tremendous clip (his .427 OBP is top-15 in the history of Major League Baseball). Soto’s swing and plate discipline should help him be a foundational piece for 15 years.
1. Shohei Ohtani
It’s almost impossible to quantify Ohtani’s potential value on the trade market, which made it difficult to envision the Angels trading him away this season. The Japanese superstar just turned 28 last month, and he’s proven to be a basically once-in-a-lifetime talent. Ohtani arguably both hits and pitches at a top-ten level, and it’s unlikely that they both fall off over the next several years (or longer). If injury or something else causes a decline in pitching ability, Ohtani should still be a stud at the plate. And even if he’s not a 30-to-40-homer guy into his late 30s, he’d hopefully still be pitching at a high level. All this is to say that there’s very little bust factor with Shohei, even if he doesn’t always remain an elite two-way guy. Just imagine the boost from acquiring an ace starting pitcher that can hit two homers on his “off days”.