Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado have taken turns at the center of trade rumors all winter. Will any of them be dealt before spring training? Maybe the Cardinals find a way to add Arenado. Maybe the Dodgers, having lost out on Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole as big-ticket free agents, will step up and acquire Lindor or Betts as a final piece to an already great team. Or maybe they all stay put for now.
If any of these three players do get traded before the season begins, they will join a list of the best baseball players ever traded during the offseason. Over the past two seasons, Betts ranks second to Mike Trout in position-player WAR, Lindor ranks seventh and Arenado ranks 10th. You might get some disagreement on their exact placement, but all three players are consensus top-10 players in the game.
The initial task here was to arrive at a list of the 10 best players traded during an offseason, but I quickly realized that would be a frustrating assignment — the list of candidates was much deeper than you would think, and how do you rate the player at the time of the trade?
Lindor, for example, ranked tied for 26th among position players in WAR in 2019. The…