Top 3 Trade Candidates in the AL This Offseason (And Where They Could Be Headed)

Free agency isn't the only way for a team to acquire the pieces it needs in the offseason. It's probably the easiest—just throw money around and you can bring in all the help you need. 

Many teams, though, prefer to go the trade route. The smart front offices have stockpiled strong farm systems, that can help pay off not only in homegrown talent, but also as valuable trade chips. 

There are a number of big names on the trade market this winter, and in the American League, a three-time Top 3 MVP candidate heads up the list.

1. José Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

Ramirez can be the piece that pushes a team into contender status. The 28-year-old third baseman is loaded with power and speed, and there aren't many teams that couldn't use his .853 career OPS (.943 over the past two years), and his strong defense at the hot corner. For the third time in his career, he's a finalist for the Gold Glove Award at third base.

But the Indians are rebuilding, and after trading Francisco Lindor last offseason, no one would be surprised to see them try to capitalize on Ramirez' peak value right now. He's signed for two more seasons at reasonable money (averaging $13M annually), so he'll cost a pretty penny for any team looking to land him. 

Potential Destinations: Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants

2. Matt Olson, Oakland A's

Stop us if you've heard this before: The A's are slashing payroll. By missing the playoffs in 2021, and then letting manager Bob Melvin go to the San Diego Padres, it's obvious that the A's are in re-tooling mode. 

Olson is a two-time Gold Glove winner, an All-Star, and is coming off his best season (39 HR, 111 RBI, .911 OPS). He will bring in a huge prospect haul for the always-prospect-minded A's. 

Potential Destination: New York Yankees (particularly if free agent Anthony Rizzo goes elsewhere). Olson is a left-handed hitter, and could make a mockery of the short right-field fence at Yankee Stadium.

3. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

With only one season left of arbitration, Buxton is entering his contract year. It's tantalizing to think about what this 5-tool star could do if only he could stay healthy. But that is a big IF. The 27-year-old is in his prime, but has averaged just 70 games a season in his seven-year career. And he's only reached that mark once in the last four seasons. 

Buxton has said he would love to stay with the Twins, but it's been reported that he turned down a 7-year, $80M contract offer this summer from Minnesota, one that contained a "unique incentive package". For 70 games a season, that's not chump change. By him turning it down, it increased the odds significantly of a trade this winter. 

Potential Destinations: Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees. Both teams are desperate for a front-line center fielder, and both made strong overtures at this year's trade deadline. 

Keep an eye out for other big names on the block as well, including Whit Merrifield, Josh Donaldson and Matt Chapman. 

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports