MLB Trade Scenarios: Every Team's Most Expendable Player
By now, major league baseball teams have pretty much set up their lineups and rotations, if not for the upcoming season then at least for spring training to see what they have. Some teams are also realizing that they have pieces that are expendable.
They could be players not living up to contracts, they could be players mired deep in the roster who don't really fit or they could simply just be players the team is tired of. Some of these players could be valuable as trade bait since they aren't needed for the team they are currently on.
Here is each team's most expendable player.
Baltimore Orioles: Alfredo Simon
The Baltimore Orioles have a pitching staff made mostly of young players that they're trying to groom, and they have already traded away their veteran innings eater, Jeremy Guthrie. As their lineup is young as well, who does that leave that's expendable?
Alfredo Simon is already 30 and has now had an ineffective season as a starter and one as a closer. If he were young like Brian Matusz or Zach Britton, then the team could look the other way, but right now it would take little effort to replace him.
Boston Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka
It seemed like only a couple years ago that Daisuke Matsuzaka was the next big thing to come out of Japan, and perhaps he was. He went 18-3 in 2008 and looked like he could anchor the rotation for a long time in Boston.
Instead, he's been either hurt or ineffective since then, and while he will likely remain a starter in 2012, I'm sure the Red Sox would gladly give him and his contract away if they got even an average starting pitcher in return.
New York Yankees: Joba Chamberlain
Just a short time ago, A.J. Burnett held this position, but the Yankees were able to get rid of him and ship him to Pittsburgh. Who does that leave in this spot?
I would put Joba Chamberlain here, since he's effective enough when healthy to perform fairly well, even if he's stuck in the bullpen as opposed to starting. However, the Yankees have an abundance of starters, and his attitude as a starter did not sit well with Yankees' fans.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jeff Niemann
The Tampa Bay Rays have six great starting pitchers to choose from once the season begins, and to whittle it to five, I've brought up trading James Shields many times. That doesn't mean he's the most expendable, far from it.
Jeff Niemann has been a solid piece of the starting rotation the past three seasons, but his numbers haven't been more than that, and every other pitcher in the rotation seems capable of having a great year at any time. This makes Niemann rather easy trade bait if they would rather keep Shields.
Toronto Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion
The Toronto Blue Jays have quite a bit of young talent that has now made a splash. While that bodes well for the team as a whole, it does not for Edwin Encarnacion.
Brett Lawrie will likely be the everyday third baseman, and Adam Lind will likely see the most time at first. As a result, Encarnacion will be bouncing around and may spend a good amount of 2011 as DH again, as long as they don't end up putting Lind there and J.P. Arencibia at first too often.
Encarnacion's versatility is a good thing for the Blue Jays, but if they feel they need to make a move around deadline time, he's likely the player who would be gone.
Chicago White Sox: Jake Peavy
Jake Peavy finally seems to be healthy heading into 2012, but at this point the Chicago White Sox have to be tired of the failed experiment.
He doesn't show up in trade rumors, but I think that's just because of his $17 million contract for this year. He's expendable, but the White Sox would rather not cut their losses just yet and give him one more shot. Besides, they don't have much else that's expendable thanks to an anemic farm system.
Cleveland Indians: Matt LaPorta
In 2008, Matt LaPorta was a rising star in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, the cornerstone of the CC Sabathia trade. A few years later, there may not be anywhere to realistically put him on the Indians' roster.
Casey Kotchman will be the starting first baseman, and Carlos Santana will see some playing time there as well. This leaves LaPorta as the odd man out and likely to be gone sooner rather than later.
Detroit Tigers: Brandon Inge
Brandon Inge is practically a relic at this point. He has been a Detroit Tiger since 2001, and he's played wherever they've needed him. With Miguel Cabrera already moving to third base and Alex Avila cementing the catcher job, Inge is moving yet again, this time to second base.
A position battle with Ramon Santiago will emerge in spring training, but if Inge loses, it's silly to have a guy who hit .197 last year making $5.5 million on the bench, making him very expendable.
Kansas City Royals: Joakim Soria
The trade rumors surrounding Joakim Soria the past couple seasons make sense, and now he has gone from being a great closer to pick-up to, according to some who cover the Royals, someone who may not even be the best closer option.
While I see Soria bouncing back from an iffy 2011 season, his trade value is at a low point right now, making him a lot more expendable then he may normally be, which is bad for the Royals if they still want to trade him. After all, they could easily make Aaron Crow or Greg Holland the closer.
Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano
This is a tough one, because after the Twins' 2011 season it's difficult to say whether they have future plans to gut the roster, and as a result a huge number of players could be expendable.
I chose Francisco Liriano for one reason. His expiring contract, as well as his flashes of greatness, is enough where if I were a GM and in need of pitching, I'd be willing to take a flier on him.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Bobby Abreu
With the signing of Albert Pujols, the Angels had a lot of talent in the first base/DH roles, and Albert Pujols will take first with Mark Trumbo likely seeing time where he can get it. While Trumbo had been subject of trade rumors as a result of the signing, he's not the most expendable player.
Current DH Bobby Abreu holds that title, as he will be 38 when the season starts, has one year left on his contract and does not have much left in the tank. Giving Mark Trumbo everyday playing time would work better than trying to use Abreu as much as possible.
Oakland Athletics: Brandon McCarthy
The Oakland Athletics are a team that always trades pitchers fairly quickly. Brandon McCarthy's breakout season with Oakland in 2011 was just that, as he came out of nowhere.
As a result, if the A's can get prospects for him as well, don't expect the Cahill and Gonzalez trades to be the only changes to the starting rotation, even if McCarthy is precisely the type of player the Moneyball method is trying to bring into Oakland.
Of course, after their spring cleaning this past season, they have almost no one left who is expendable in a trade.
Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins
For Seattle, I'm going to use the literal definition of the term expendable: someone the team could get rid of and just shrug it off. That applies to Chone Figgins, who has been an utter bust for Seattle.
The reason he remains is because of his contract, which still runs through 2013. No one's going to pick it up, so Seattle will have to make do with what it has for a little while longer and hope Figgins finally starts playing well.
Texas Rangers: Yorvit Torrealba
Yorvit Torrealba looked solid when he was behind the plate this past season for the Texas Rangers, and he should have no trouble doing so again. Why is he expendable then?
The Rangers already have Mike Napoli, who can play plenty of games at catcher. When he takes a few games off from there to play first base, they don't need a backup quite as strong as Torrealba, so he could always be a deadline piece if needed.
Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens
The Atlanta Braves have a nice number of pitching prospects in their farm system who look to be great in the majors. Mike Minor has shown great promise, and Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino could be great starters as well.
Jair Jurrjens' contract is the first to expire and hit the free-agent market (Tim Hudson's does as well, but he provides the veteran leadership), and that's why the Braves tried to trade him this offseason. He's a great pitcher to have, but he likely won't be around when the Braves hit their stride.
Miami Marlins: Juan Oveido
Paying $6 million in 2012 for an average closer is one thing, but paying that for a closer whose name was not what we thought is something else, and that's what the Marlins have to deal with.
Leo Nunez/Juan Oveido isn't all that great a closer, and the Marlins could likely find a better one with little effort. In fact, they did when they signed Heath Bell, so there's no real reason to keep Oveido around now.
New York Mets: Mike Pelfrey
The New York Mets are not only getting Johan Santana back this year, but they completely restocked the bullpen, which should make it a lot easier on their starters.
It also makes Mike Pelfrey expendable. He already knows that he has to perform in 2012, and the Mets have shown that they'll cut a player who isn't performing no matter what his contract is. Of course, in reality, expendable seems to be more of the fan's opinion of him after 2011 rather than what he really is.
Jason Bay may be a better choice here, but given his contract, it would be difficult to find a suitor.
Philadelphia Phillies: Joe Blanton
Like a couple other teams already mentioned, the Phillies have six starters in their rotation, and a couple are among the best in the league. The sixth one and the odd man out in this case is Joe Blanton.
Opposing teams know this, so Blanton is getting plenty of looks from other teams. There's no real reason for the Phillies to keep him, since he's a free agent after this season and they'll be concentrating on Cole Hamels, who is the same.
Washington Nationals: Chien-Ming Wang
The Nationals acquired Chien-Ming Wang in 2010 to bolster their starting rotation, which was not that good at the time. The rotation is miles better now, but it's no thanks to Wang.
While it's possible that he could be the fifth starter this year, he has fallen so far from his great years as a Yankee that he's more than expendable; who knows if anyone would even pick him up on waivers?
Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano
The Cubs are a surprisingly tough one to pick. The obvious choice would be Carlos Zambrano, but the Cubs successfully got rid of him, and they let Aramis Ramirez sign elsewhere as a free agent. Who's left?
It's impossible to get rid of his deal, but Alfonso Soriano lands here pretty much by default, since dollar for dollar he's one of the most expendable players in the league right now.
Cincinnati Reds: Homer Bailey
The Mat Latos trade shifted a lot of the Reds' pitching staff around. Latos became a key piece of the rotation alongside Johnny Cueto, with Bronson Arroyo being the veteran arm.
Other arms can make their way in, but Homer Bailey seems the odd man out. The Reds have Bailey as the fifth starter now, but they were certainly considering shipping him off for a better pitcher already this offseason, so they could do so again.
Houston Astros: Brett Myers
The Houston Astros had three big contracts that they could have feasibly traded away this past offseason in Carlos Lee, Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez. Which of the three is most expendable?
I'd have to say Myers because his contract would be the easiest to move of the three, but also because Rodriguez could still anchor the rotation while Myers is traded for a nice prospect or two who could help out, since he won't help if he walks as a free agent.
Milwaukee Brewers: Chris Narveson
The Milwaukee Brewers have a very consistent group from one through four in their rotation, and they all can be counted on. They also have Chris Narveson, who can be decent but is certainly replaceable.
If the Brewers run into a snag and need help down the stretch, Narveson could be the one to go, since he wouldn't be helping in the playoffs anyway.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Nate McLouth
The Pittsburgh Pirates signing Nate McLouth would make no sense if he hadn't already had his best years in a Pirates uniform. Besides, the outfield is arguably the strong part of Pittsburgh's lineup already.
If he has a nice year, then he could be traded to pick up some good pieces, and if not, his contract was cheap enough that he's expendable to begin with.
St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle McClellan
The St. Louis Cardinals already have a deep starting rotation, making anyone who's not already in it expendable. Where does that leave Kyle McClellan?
Well, the Cardinals have already been shopping him around, and he has accepted the uncertainty that goes along with it. The only way he wouldn't be expendable is if the Cardinals suddenly decided that Kyle Lohse was a one-season wonder and traded him, which isn't going to happen.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Gerardo Parra
I've brought up the possibility of Gerardo Parra being traded many times before even though the rumors died as quickly as they sprouted up, so it seems like it won't happen.
Still, Parra's abilities are too valuable to be limited to a fourth outfielder role, so he does feel expendable since his talents would be better used elsewhere, even though the Diamondbacks, I'm sure, are fine with such major outfield depth.
Colorado Rockies: Esmil Rogers
Over the past year, the Colorado Rockies got a boatload of young pitching prospects to go with a couple of veterans keeping things going. As a result, they can get rid of some of the dead weight in their rotation.
They've mostly done that, but Esmil Rogers remains for whatever reason. His ERA was over seven last year and he hasn't really shown he can do anything at the major league level yet.
Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney
The easy choice here would be Ted Lilly, but he has a no-trade clause in his contract, so he's not expendable even if the Dodgers wanted him to be. And Andre Ethier is still too productive to be expendable.
The answer could be James Loney. The other teams in the division either have a young first baseman ready to break out or an aged veteran at the position. The Dodgers have Loney, who is serviceable at best and could certainly be upgraded.
San Diego Padres: Jason Bartlett
While the San Diego Padres have many players under team control past this year and a very deep farm system, no one is technically under contract past 2012. Who would be the most expendable in such a case?
That title would belong to the player who people are talking about, and the Padres have a couple of them. The Red Sox in particular are eyeing Jason Bartlett, and the Padres should at least be able to get something for him.
San Francisco Giants: Barry Zito
Barry Zito remains a Giant despite the depth the team has in the rotation because of his contract, and he still has two years left on it.
If anyone were to actually pick it up, then I would be shocked if the Giants kept him around. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Eric Surkamp make for a great 2012 rotation already.
It says more about Zito than anything that I have him as most expendable despite his contract.