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We’ve all had jobs that, for one reason or another, just didn’t work out. Maybe you couldn’t get on the same page with your coworkers or your skills were not properly utilized, or the commute was too long. Whatever the reason, sometimes things don’t work out, and you have to go elsewhere to find success and happiness. No one has to be at fault. That’s just life.
Baseball is no different. We see it almost every year, a player leaves his team through a trade or free agency, and his performance improves almost immediately. Tyler Glasnow is a great example. Things weren’t working for him with the Pirates, then he got traded to the Rays, and right away he was a different pitcher. A new location, a new coaching staff, a new outlook completely changed his career trajectory.
“They gave me so many opportunities and I didn’t show them what I could do,” Glasnow told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after being traded by the Pirates. “It was bittersweet, but it definitely is a good chance for me to grow.”
There are dozens of change of scenery candidates around the league but only a handful get that fresh start each year, and not all of them take advantage. Some guys get the chance and never break through. It’s a hard sport, this baseball. Here are 10 players who could do with a new perspective, ranked in order of how much they need it.
A year ago, Dalbec looked like a potential building block following a second half in which he hit .269/.344/.611 with 15 home runs in only 61 games. His extreme contact issues caught up to him in 2022 and he produced a .215/.283/.369 line with a 33.4 percent strikeout rate. Given the positions he plays, that is well below the minimum acceptable standard on offense. Things got so bad for Dalbec that the Red Sox, a last place team that should’ve spent the last few weeks of the season auditioning young players, sent him to Triple-A in September. Top prospect Triston Casas will get a long look at first base next year and , plus Dalbec won’t unseat Rafael Devers at third. Even if Devers leaves as a free agent next year, Dalbec turns 28 in June. He doesn’t have another year to wait to get regular playing time, if he gets it at all. He needs a fresh start.
Possible trade fits: Diamondbacks, Giants, Tigers. Dalbec has mostly played first base in the big leagues in deference to Devers, but he’s a natural third baseman who is a better defender on that side of the diamond. A team that lets Dalbec play his most familiar and most comfortable position, and is willing to live with the swing and miss issues, stands the benefit the most.
Not too long ago Adell was considered one of the five best prospects in the sport. Now he’s ticketed for a third straight season in Triple-A because Mike Trout will be flanked by Taylor Ward and the in the outfield, and Shohei Ohtani is locked in at DH. Adell, who is still only 23, is a .271/.335/.542 hitter in 140 career Triple-A games. He’s done all he needs to do at that level. He hasn’t shown much at the MLB level yet — .215/.260/.356 in 161 games — but Adell is at the point in his career where he needs to be challenged by big leaguers to become a productive big leaguer himself. That won’t happen with the Angels barring an injury or an unexpected trade.
Possible trade fits: Athletics, Nationals, Pirates. Basically any rebuilding team that can afford to be patient with a talented young player who has experienced some very painful growing pains to date.
Herrera went from being blocked by Yadier Molina to being blocked by Willson Contreras. The Cardinals’ top catching prospect could replace Andrew Knizner as the backup catcher soon and gradually get more starts as Contreras gets older and spends more time at DH, . Regular at-bats aren’t opening up anytime soon barring an injury. Herrera is only 22 and he’s played 66 career games in Triple-A, so a full season at that level in 2023 wouldn’t be the end of the world. Bottom line though, the kid is almost MLB-ready and the Cardinals just signed a three-time All-Star for a five-year contract. Herrera is blocked for the foreseeable future.
Possible trade fits: Astros, Cubs, Red Sox. Imagine Contreras going to the Cardinals and St. Louis trading Herrera to the Cubs? It won’t happen, though the Cubbies do need a catcher. As much as the Astros love Martín Maldonado, he turns 37 next year and they have to begin thinking about a succession plan behind the plate.
If the season started today, Kelenic would almost certainly be in left field for the Mariners. The club is said to be seeking another outfielder though, , and they’re smart to do that. Kelenic has been overmatched at the big league level (.168/.251/.338 in 147 career games) and a team that is now firmly in the hunt for a World Series title should want a better, more sure thing in a corner outfield spot. It feels like both Kelenic and the Mariners would benefit from a change of scenery. There’s a lot of baggage here. Kelenic arrived from the Mets with a lot of hype and hasn’t lived up to it, even as . You hate to give up on a player this young (24 in July) and with so much talent, but sometimes it’s best to move on rather than try to force something that isn’t working.
Possible trade fits: Reds, Rockies, Royals. Similar to Adell, pretty much any rebuilding team willing to give Kelenic a long leash and work through things at the MLB level would be the best fit for him.
This list skews toward young players and Kepler still feels young, but he turns 30 in February. He’s rapidly approaching “he is what he is” territory, if he isn’t there already. The Twins have five candidates for the two corner outfield spots and DH, and they’re all left-handed hitters: Kepler, the newly acquired Joey Gallo, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Matt Wallner. Excluding Gallo, , Kepler is the oldest and most expensive of the group, making him the obvious trade candidate. The juiced ball helped him swat 36 home runs in 2019 and he’s been trying to return to that level since, and I sense some frustration among the fan base with his career trajectory. It feels like Kepler would benefit from a new organization, and the Twins have the internal depth to replace him.
Possible trade fits: Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees. It should be noted Kepler has been shifted in more than 90 percent of his plate appearances the last three seasons. He should benefit when the shift goes away next season, so there’s some untapped potential here.
Acquired in the 2021 Joey Gallo trade, Duran is capital-B Blocked in Texas. The Rangers are set all around the infield for the foreseeable future — Josh Jung at third, Corey Seager at short, Marcus Semien at second, Nate Lowe at first — and Duran is a natural second and third baseman. Texas has given him some playing time in the outfield in the minors, though it’s unclear whether that’s viable long-term. Duran is only 23 and he made his MLB debut this past season after entering the year as a borderline top 100 prospect. He’s an obvious trade chip, particularly with a free agent market that is short on quality infielders, and a trade would the best thing for Duran’s career given the apparent lack of playing time in Texas.
Possible trade fits: Brewers, Red Sox, White Sox. The Rangers won’t have any trouble finding a trade partner for a talented young second/third baseman.
It’s probably not great for the Red Sox that two players — Dalbec and Duran — seen as possible foundational pieces as recently as a year ago are now looked at as change of scenery candidates. Duran turned 26 in September and he’s got a bit of a Quad-A thing going: .272/.353/.503 in 128 Triple-A games and .210/.269/.354 in 91 MLB games. He’s had trouble with big league velocity and some defensive issues in center field as well, and there were times the Red Sox appeared frustrated with Duran’s play. Masataka Yoshida, Enrique Hernández, and Alex Verdugo do not exactly make up a powerhouse outfield, so Duran could still play his way into the mix, though I wonder if he’s already at the end of his rope with Boston. A new team could be a welcome change.
Possible trade fits: Dodgers, Giants, Marlins. With Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Nimmo signed, the free agent center field market is a wasteland, and it’s not like it’s easy to trade for a good center fielder either. Duran may be out of time with the Red Sox, but the market figures to work in their favor and net them a nice return should they decide to move on.
Through no fault of his own, Kiner-Falefa became a lightning rod in his first year with the Yankees. He didn’t make the Yankees pass on Carlos Correa or Corey Seager last offseason, or call up top shortstop prospect Oswald Peraza in September but only play him sparingly. Kiner-Falefa was the same player in 2022 that he’s always been, meaning a below-average hitter with range at short but a knack for misplays. He got benched at times in the postseason and the Yankees appear ready to give the shortstop reins to Peraza (or Anthony Volpe), and losing playing time is not a thing Kiner-Falefa needs as he enters his contract year. He’s a useful utility player miscast as a starting shortstop. A return to the Yankees in 2023 feels like it would invite too many bad vibes.
Possible trade fits: Marlins, Twins, Rockies. For Kiner-Falefa, the best fit is a team in a low pressure environment that can put him at shortstop or third base full-time and just let him play. The Yankees put him in a tough spot this past season.
As things stand, Peterson is no higher than sixth on New York’s rotation depth chart behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, José Quintana, Carlos Carrasco, and Kodai Senga. He might even be seventh behind Tylor Megill as well. Peterson pitched quite well this past season while yo-yoing between the rotation, the bullpen, and Triple-A. The Mets give him a great chance at a World Series ring, no doubt, but Peterson just turned 27 and I’m guessing he’d love a chance to start full-time and really establish himself in the big leagues. The team does have some age-related risk in their rotation, so keeping Peterson would be smart, but you can also understand why he might welcome a trade to a club willing to give him rotation spot no questions asked.
Possible trade fits: Giants, Padres, Twins. As a lefty starting pitcher with another four years of team control, Peterson fits just about any team. The Mets would have no issues finding trade partners if they actually put Peterson on the block.
The 2022 season was one to forget for Weathers. He allowed 101 runs in 123 Triple-A innings, and while that was in a hitter friendly environment in El Paso — El Paso hit .284/.365/.485 as a team in 2022 — the scouting reports matched the numbers. Weathers wasn’t crisp and generally didn’t impress. The Padres are thin in the back of the rotation, so they kind of need Weathers, but they’ve also struggled to finish off the development of young pitchers at the MLB level. Eric Lauer, Chris Paddack, and Cal Quantrill all either stalled out or went backwards in San Diego, then Lauer and Quantrill went elsewhere and got better (Paddack, who was traded to the Twins, underwent Tommy John surgery in May). A fresh start in a new organization known for developing pitchers would benefit Weathers.
Possible trade fits: Brewers, Cardinals, Rays. Like I said, teams that have a strong track record of developing pitchers would be the best bet for Weathers. He’s talented, he’s left-handed, and he only turned 23 last weekend. I’m sure teams would be lining up to pry him away from the Padres.
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