MLB Trade Scenarios: Justin Morneau and Every Team's Top Available Hitter
One of the greatest things about the trade deadline in baseball is that fans of every team have something to watch for no matter where their team sits in the standings.
Whether your team is the scuffling Chicago Cubs or the streaking Miami Marlins, each team will have top hitters available. The exciting difference between the two is that for the good teams, the available players will be prospects such as Reds' speedster Billy Hamilton, while the struggling teams will look to get rid of veterans, such as Minnesota's Justin Morneau, to rebuild for next season.
Heading into June, the contenders and pretenders are establishing themselves throughout the league. As we get closer to the trade deadline, more and more top hitters and prospects will become available.
Arizona Diamondbacks OF Gerardo Parra
The NL West is a very weak division, possibly the worst in baseball, so the Diamondbacks find themselves in an interesting position:
Should they buy or sell?
While the Dodgers look strong at the moment, they were just swept by the 24-30 Milwaukee Brewers, and Matt Kemp is out at least four weeks. With Daniel Hudson and Chris Young returning to form, the D-Backs could easily make a run at the division.
I think they will be buyers, and a deal centered around Gerardo Parra would be able to solidify their pitching staff as Justin Upton, Jason Kubel and the aforementioned Young hold down the three outfield spots.
Atlanta Braves SS Tyler Pastornicky
When the Braves sent down Kris Medlan to stretch out and become a starter, it was a signal to the rest of the league that they mean business.
One other casualty that did not get as much notice was the demotion of Tyler Pastornicky.
The slick fielding shortstop has a bright future at the big league level, but it appears he is not quite ready. The problem for Pastornicky is that this may not just be a short-term move when you consider how highly GM Frank Wren speaks of Andrelton Simmons' special talents.
A shortstop with Pastornicky's glove and hitting potential will be a valuable commodity on the trade market. When the trade deadline comes around, look for him to be in high demand as other teams look to take advantage of the Braves' relative depth up the middle of the diamond.
Baltimore Orioles 1B/3B Mark Reynolds
The struggling Orioles first and third baseman has maintained his infamous high strikeout rates and poor batting average, but this season he has not hit for the power that made those poor numbers manageable.
Having said all of that, Reynolds had a much better May, with more walks than strikeouts in limited time, so the potential is still there. A team looking for some more power or platoon partner for a corner infield spot, like the New York Mets and their Ike Davis problem, should be willing to take a chance if the O's are willing to eat his contract.
Boston Red Sox 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis
Kevin Youkilis is not only the player most likely to be moved on this list, but he is also the player who has the most value.
However, because of the incredible performance of Will Middlebrooks and the presence of Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz, the Red Sox have run out of places to play Youkilis.
With the pronounced pitching struggles in Boston this season, not to mention their depleted outfield due to injuries, the Sox should not have trouble moving the veteran infielder as teams have already come calling, according to ESPN.
Chicago Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano
Bryan LaHair had a nice run to start the year, but Soriano is the best hitter that the Cubs have, and his seven May home runs to go along with a .591 slugging percentage prove that.
The Boston Globe reports that Theo Epstein and the front office will be willing to eat a good portion of his contract. If that is in fact true, the Cubs should be able to move him because as a DH or corner outfielder, his bat will be able to help a good amount of contenders.
Chicago White Sox OF Trayce Thompson
The White Sox's play of late has surprised a lot of people as they have established themselves as one of the best teams in the American League.
It is still very early in the season, but with the Tigers struggling, the Sox may see an opening for a playoff run. Their production from third base this season has been awful, with Orlando Hudson and Brent Morel hitting a combined .179.
Trayce Thompson is a former second-round pick that broke out last season with 24 home runs. He was ranked as Chicago's fourth best prospect heading into the season and could be their best trade bait heading towards the trade deadline this season.
Cincinnati Reds SS Billy Hamilton
A top-50 each of the last two seasons, Billy Hamilton's incredible speed has established himself as one of the best leadoff prospects in all of baseball.
After stealing 103 bases last year in A-ball, getting on-base at a solid .340 clip, Hamilton has stepped up his game this season with a Ricky Henderson-esque 62 steals in just 53 games, getting on-base at a .411 clip in High-A ball.
With Cincinnati sitting atop the NL Central and Zack Cozart already in the fold at SS, if the Reds decide to go after one of the bigger bats/arms on the market, they certainly have a nice piece to offer in Hamilton.
Cleveland Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
As long as the Indians stay competitive in the AL Central, Lonnie Chisenhall will remain in the trade market, since Chris Antonetti has been an aggressive GM in his brief time as the Indians' go-to man.
After a solid debut last season, the ex-first rounder already has two home runs in 18 at-bats and could be the center of a package if/when the Indians make a move.
Colorado Rockies 1B Jason Giambi
The Rockies have played a lot better of late, going 6-1 over the past week, so they are not pronounced sellers just yet, but if their pitching continues to struggle, Jason Giambi could become a viable trade target for contenders.
He is nowhere near the player he once was on the Yankees and Athletics, but as a bat off the bench or designated hitter, Giambi has shown he can still play. With a .431 OBP this year, not to mention his .603 slugging percentage last season, the Rockies' first baseman will garner a lot of interest on the trade deadline if made available.
Detroit Tigers SS Jhonny Peralta
Who knew the Tigers might be sellers at this year's trading deadline?
With the Tigers' record at 25-29 heading into Tuesday's action, a lot of the veterans may be made available come July, and Jhonny Peralta is one that would generate a lot of interest.
The veteran shortstop has a very reasonable $6 million option for next season with a $550,000 buyout. For a middle infielder who has hit double-digit homers each of the last seven years, four of which were seasons of 20 or more, he would be one of the best bats available, not just from the Tigers but in all of baseball, even with his sluggish start.
Houston Astros 1B Carlos Lee
The Astros hung around a lot longer than most people thought, but after a recent eight-game losing streak dropped their record to 23-31, the veterans are back on the market.
Despite his age and seemingly consistently growing body, Carlos Lee has not stopped hitting.
While he may not top 20 home runs this year after being a consistent 30-homer threat, he is still hitting .297 and would have 100-RBI potential in a lineup that scores runs.
Kansas City Royals OF Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur has never lived up to the lofty expectations that were placed on him after his hot start with the Atlanta Braves back in 2006.
However, he has always mashed lefties throughout his entire career (.299/.347/.499 over 1097 at-bats) and has the best right field arm in baseball.
This season he started slowly, but after a 20-20 campaign last year and a great May during which he rebounded to hit .321 with a .566 slugging percentage, "Frenchy" will be a sought-after bat.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim OF Peter Bourjos
The Angels' young outfielder is an incredibly talented player that would be just about every team’s center fielder of the future except for a select few.
With Mike Trout entrenched in the Angels OF for the next 10-20 years, the best way to maximize Bourjos’ value is in a trade.
While the young outfielder has not hit that well this season, hitting just .215, he has struggled with inconsistent playing time. After a strong 2011, he proved more than capable and with his plus-plus defense in center field, he will be an asset in high demand if made available. The Nationals are reportedly interested.
Los Angeles Dodgers 3B Alex Castellanos
The Dodgers have played themselves back into playoff contention this season, and their new ownership should be aggressive when the trade deadline arrives as they try to make a statement to their fan base.
Alex Castellanos, one of their top hitting prospects, is absolutely mashing at Triple-A with a .379/.476/1.253 slash line heading into Tuesday's action. If the Dodgers decide that he is not quite ready to contribute at the big league level, he will certainly garner a lot of interest on the trade market as LA tries to improve its chances of playing deep into October.
Miami Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez
After a strong rookie season in 2010 during which he hit .273 with 19 home runs and 85 RBI, it appeared as if the Marlins had their first baseman of the future in Gaby Sanchez.
However, after a sub-par 2011 where he did not take positive steps forward and a drastic decline in 2012 where he hit .197 in 122 at-bats, the Marlins demoted him to Triple-A and have gone on an incredible 23-9 run since their slow start.
The Marlins are currently in first place in the powerful NL East, so if they see a way to improve their chances in 2012, they have an asset in Sanchez that is just waiting for a new opportunity.
Milwaukee Brewers OF Corey Hart
After losing Prince Fielder in the offseason, the Brewers have struggled to maintain last year's success.
As we head into June baseball, Milwaukee sits at 24-30 despite playing in one of the weakest divisions in all of baseball. Even though he is signed through 2013, if the Brewers decide they are going to be sellers at this year's deadline, Corey Hart could become the most valuable asset available.
Hart is on his way to another 20-plus home-run season with 30 homers well in reach, and for a team looking for a power-hitting outfielder, he could become this season's Hunter Pence.
Minnesota Twins 1B Justin Morneau
The Twins have struggled from the get-go this season, but one of the most positive things to happen in baseball all season has been the health and resurrection of Justin Morneau.
While his average is not at his normal .300 level, he had an outstanding May with five homers, 16 RBI and a .642 slugging percentage.
His health is an unknown, but if he can stay on the field over the next two months and produce, there will be teams that inquire about Morneau.
New York Mets OF Jason Bay
This picture of Jason Bay represents how his tenure with the New York Mets has gone thus far.
After Terry Collins announced that he was going to return Tuesday against the Nationals, Bay got sick, and the Mets had to make another statement saying he would not be able to return. Everyone gets sick, but this is just another episode in the two-plus years of disappointment that has surrounded his tenure in New York.
Captain Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been nothing short of outstanding this season and represents the future, so if Bay can return to form at all, the Mets could look to deal Bay in order to rectify the worst bullpen in baseball.
New York Yankees C Austin Romine
One of the reasons the Yankees were willing to trade Jesus Montero this past offseason was Austin Romine.
However, now that he has been surpassed by Gary Sanchez (possibly the best catching prospect of the entire group), Romine looks like the prospect that will bring back the biggest potential return to help the Bombers' struggling rotation.
Oakland Athletics OF Jonny Gomes
With a 1-9 stretch over their last 10 games, the Athletics have virtually assured themselves of being sellers at the trade deadline.
One of their biggest potential assets will be outfielder Jonny Gomes.
Throughout his career Gomes has been a dynamic hitter against left-handed pitching, posting a .278/.377/.498 slash line in 816 at-bats over the course of his career. In a platoon role or as a power hitter off the bench, Gomes should garner interest from a lot of clubs.
Philadelphia Phillies OF Domonic Brown
After coming into the 2011 season ranked as the fourth best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America, it appeared Domonic Brown had a bright future ahead of him in Philadelphia.
However, despite the departure of Raul Ibanez, Domonic Brown has remained in Triple-A the entire season thus far and has struggled.
With Chase Utley homering in his first rehab game on Monday and Ryan Howard on the mend as well, the Phillies are going to try and milk everything they can from this season, and moving their once-promising young outfielder may be the price they have to pay.
Pittsburgh Pirates 1B/3B Casey McGehee
Considering how historically bad the Pirates have hit at the major-league level this season, there is no way they would trade anyone that is actually hitting, prospect or not.
Having said that, one of their top hitters that would most definitely be available if he could turn around his season is Casey McGehee. With Pedro Alvarez the Pirates' long-term answer at third, it makes McGehee expendable if he manages to turn his season around.
San Diego Padres OF Carlos Quentin
The Padres' biggest offseason acquisition finally made his debut this past week, and wow, what a debut it was.
Through five games Carlos Quentin is 9-for-19 with three home runs and seven RBI. While the Padres can wish he was healthy the entire season, they still have plenty to root for with Quentin because the better he plays now, the more he will net the Padres at the deadline.
San Francisco Giants C Tommy Joseph
Last season the San Francisco Giants swapped their top pitching prospect to acquire Carlos Beltran. This season, it would not surprise anyone if they go a similar route as July approaches.
As the third best prospect in the Giants system heading into the year, catcher Tommy Joseph would interest a number of teams and could be a trade candidate if Brian Sabean and his staff are looking for a big bat.
Seattle Mariners SS Brendan Ryan
Who is the third best fielder in all of baseball?
According to FanGraphs.com, that man would be Brendan Ryan. Considering he plays the most important defensive position on the diamond at shortstop, even though he is hitting just .171, he has immense value.
That Mariners are slowly falling out of contention, and as Ryan enters his second arbitration year, there would be a lot of contenders that would inquire about his services.
St. Louis Cardinals 1B Matt Adams
The St. Louis Cardinals have the luxury of having an incredibly deep farm system.
Even after the departure of Albert Pujols and the injuries to Lance Berkman and Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals have been able to plug in Matt Adams and the production has not suffered.
When Berkman and Carpenter return to health, they will be able to use their surplus to add to their struggling bullpen and hope lightning strikes two years in a row.
Tampa Bay Rays SS Reid Brignac
The Rays have never been an organization keen on trading any of their prospects, never mind their top hitters, but one of their former top minor leaguers has struggled of late and could be made available.
After ranking in Baseball America's top 100 prospects four consecutive years from 2007-2010, Reid Brignac has not been the same hitter over the last year and a half. Since the start of the 2011 season, the versatile middle infielder has hit .188 in 409 at-bats across Triple-A and the MLB.
Sitting atop the American League East as Tuesday's action means the Rays will at least listen to trade offers to improve their club.
With Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson playing well at the big league level and former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham in Triple-A, the need for Brignac is quickly dissipating.
Texas Rangers OF Julio Borbon
It is not that often a team is so deep it can keep a young outfielder as talented as Julio Borbon in Triple-A, but that is how good the Rangers have become.
Not only is Borbon a career .307 hitter in the minors, but over 684 at-bats in the big leagues, he is hitting .284 with 40 steals.
The Rangers are looking to make their third consecutive World Series and bring home the title this time around. Borbon is a hitter that should be able to bolster just about any part of their big-league roster if they choose to move him.
Toronto Blue Jays OF Travis Snider
All Travis Snider is looking for is an opportunity.
Having ranked as the 11th best prospect and sixth best prospect in 2008 and 2009 respectively, it is hard to believe that Snider is still just 24 years old, especially considering he has seven years of minor league experience with 2,000 plate appearances.
After going 4-6 in their last 10 games, the Blue Jays may want to give Snider a chance to play everyday for their team, but if they want to make a push for the playoffs, the dynamic young outfielder would be able to bring back a nice return.
Washington Nationals OF Roger Bernadina
While he has always had tantalizing talent, Roger Bernadina has yet to put it together for a full major-league season, and his time in Washington may run out soon.
The Nationals have had themselves a breakout season and find themselves tied for first place in the best division in baseball. As we get closer to the trade deadline, Mike Rizzo and their front office will be looking to add pieces for a deep run into October, and Bernadina's potential should entice many rebuilding teams.