MLB Trade Deadline: Players with the Most to Lose at the Deadline

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline: Players with the Most to Lose at the Deadline

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    The trade deadline is less than a week away, and so far it has been as quiet a year as there has been in recent memories.

    Rumors continue to swirl and there is still plenty of time for significant deals to be made, and the days ahead will go a long way towards determining the playoff picture.

    Every trade that is made has a ripple effect on a team's roster, as position players are pushed to the bench, starters are pushed to the bullpen and on the other side of things, prospects are moved to a team where they are likely to contribute sooner in most cases, but worse off in some.

    Here is a look at the players with the most to lose at the trade deadline, as they could be pushed out of the picture in the days ahead or, in some cases, already have been.

C Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox

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    The Red Sox have had at least one team interested in backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, as Peter Gammons tweeted that they could make a play for him if the price for Ramon Hernandez proves to be too high.

    In all reality, he may be the best catcher on the market, and other teams could be interested as well.

    If he is moved, that would open a path for 24-year-old Ryan Lavarnway (.300 BA, 8 HR, 41 RBI at Triple-A), but if he is not moved, the catching prospect who hit 32 HR with 93 RBI in the minors last season will likely have to wait for a September call-up and will have a limited role.

2B Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

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    The Orioles are likely unwilling to part with top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado in any deadline deals, making Schoop their highest-rated prospect potentially available.

    With question marks moving forward at second and third base, Schoop has a great opportunity to seize a starting job as soon as he's ready in Baltimore, but that may not be the case if he is traded elsewhere.

SS Tyler Pastornicky, Atlanta Braves

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    When the Braves chose to let veteran Alex Gonzalez walk in free agency this past offseason, they were ready to turn things over to 22-year-old Tyler Pastornicky at shortstop. A .314 BA, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 27 SB season in the minors in 2011 gave the team enough confidence to hand him the job.

    However, he struggled to a .248 BA, 1 HR, 12 RBI line through the season's first two months and was sent down in favor of Andrelton Simmons (.296 BA, 3 HR, 15 RBI), who looks to have seized the job.

    When Simmons went down with an injury, rather than give Pastornicky another shot, the team traded for light-hitting Reds veteran Paul Janish and he has been playing every day.

    Pastornicky could be used as trade bait or could assume a reserve role, but it looks as though he squandered his chance at an everyday job, at least for the time being.

3B Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Uribe was an integral part of the 2010 Giants, hitting .248 BA, 24 HR, 85 RBI and serving as a utility infielder before settling in as the team's everyday third baseman down the stretch.

    Coming off of that season, the Dodgers gave him a three-year, $21 million contract that has proven to be a terrible decision.

    Since the start of the 2011 season, he has hit .199 BA, 6 HR, 45 RBI in 417 at bats in posting a -0.7 WAR. 

    If the Dodgers are able to acquire an upgrade at third base, Uribe would likely be bumped behind Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston Jr. as utility infielder and could simply be released.

LF Johnny Damon, Cleveland Indians

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    Damon enjoyed a surprisingly productive season last year with the Rays, hitting .261 BA, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 19 SB. Despite that, he received little interest in the offseason and wound up signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Indians.

    With a thin outfield due to the loss of Grady Sizemore, Damon quickly worked his way into a starting job but he has hit just .233 BA, 4 HR, 17 RBI through 189 at bats this season.

    The Indians lineup is in desperate need of a right-handed bat, with seven left-handers and a pair of switch hitters in the everyday lineup. Left field is the easiest and most likely area to be upgraded, and that would mean a trip to the bench for the 38-year-old Damon.

CF Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds

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    Stubbs showed his tremendous upside in his first year as a starter back in 2010, as he hit .255 BA, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 20 SB.

    However, that dropped to .243 BA, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 40 SB in 90 more at bats last season as he led the NL in strikeouts with a whopping 205 whiffs.

    He's lost some at-bats to Chris Heisey this season, and has hit just .220 BA, 9 HR, 24 RBI, 19 SB, and it is looking more and more like poor plate discipline will keep the 27-year-old from becoming a star.

    Hitting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, Stubbs has posted a .289 on-base percentage this year, and finding someone who can get on base ahead of the Reds potent middle-of-the-order is the team's biggest need.

    If someone like Shane Victorino is acquired, it would mean Stubbs battling with Ryan Ludwick and Heisey for at-bats in left field, as his role would be cut down significantly.

CF Peter Bourjos, Los Angeles Angels

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    Bourjos enjoyed a breakout season of sorts last year in his first chance at extended at-bats, hitting .271 BA, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 22 SB and playing terrific defense in center field.

    However, with the emergence of Mike Trout alongside Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter, Bourjos has seen limited playing time this season with just 148 at-bats on the season.

    A deal is rumored to be in the works that would send Bourjos to the Rays as part of a deal for James Shields, where he would be the replacement to B.J. Upton at season's end if he is not signed.

    With Torii Hunter set to hit free agency at season's end as well, Bourjos is likely to move into a starting role next season with the Angels, and as of now the Angels are in a better position to contend for a title moving forward than the Rays, so it would be a move down for the 25-year-old.

RF Daniel Nava, Boston Red Sox

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    The 29-year-old Nava entered the season with just 161 big league at-bats under his belt, but he has already seen significant playing time already this season in the wake of injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

    With those two now back, the Red Sox could look to move an outfielder, but if that does not happen, Nava could see himself pushed way down the depth chart as the fifth or possibly even sixth outfielder behind Ryan Sweeney and Scott Podsednik.

    That could mean a trip back to the minors.

RF Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City Royals

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    Francoeur was plucked from the scrap heap last season and rewarded the Royals with a .285 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI, 22 SB season.

    That earned him a two-year, $13.5 million extension, but he has struggled to match those numbers this season with a .245 BA, 8 HR, 27 RBI line.

    Top prospect Wil Myers (.313 BA, 29 HR, 79 RBI in minors) will be up soon, and Francoeur will likely be the odd man out with Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain figuring more largely into the team's future. 

    The Royals have shopped him to the Reds and Indians, but so far there has been little interest in Francoeur and he looks headed for the bench.

SP Randall Delgado, Atlanta Braves

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    The Braves are looking to add a top-of-the-rotation starter at the deadline, and they have a number of solid young pitchers who could be used to pull off a deal.

    It looked as though the team had acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs on Monday, but things went south and he invoked his 10-and-5 veto rights for the time being and the situation is in limbo at the moment.

    The player heading the other way in the deal was reportedly right-hander Randall Delgado, in a move that would take him from the rotation of contender earlier this season to a rebuilding effort in Chicago. 

SP Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles

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    Hunter has been optioned to the minors and recalled on three separate occasions already this season, and if the Orioles pick up a starter at the deadline, he will more than likely be the odd man out.

    In 17 appearances (15 starts), he has gone 4-5 with a 5.57 ERA, although he has looked better in his last two starts, allowing just four runs in 14.1 innings of work.

SP Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs

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    There was a time at the beginning of July when Matt Garza was viewed as the most valuable trade chip on the market, thanks to his control beyond this season.

    However, he left his last start after three innings with arm soreness. Things have become even more complicated as Garza is likely to be unavailable until Monday, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago, as he leaves to be with his wife, who is due to give birth.

    Scouts will no doubt want to get a look at him to make sure he is fine before any team pulls the trigger on a deal for him, and his next start could come less than a day before the July 31 trade deadline. 

    In the end, his injury and unavailability could prevent him from being moved to a contender down the stretch.

SP Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox

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    The White Sox have been surprise contenders this season, and they have already been active at the deadline in trading for third baseman Kevin Youkilis and reliever Brett Myers.

    Despite their position as a buyer, the team is reportedly looking to deal starter Gavin Floyd, who is on his way back from injury. The idea being, the prospects they acquired could be flipped to acquire a better starter. 

    It's never good for a veteran player when he is dealt from a contender, and who knows where Floyd could end up. Quite possibly in a worse situation than the White Sox.

SP Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels

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    A former first-round pick and the No. 83 prospect in baseball entering the season according to Baseball America, Richards has gotten his first real shot in the big leagues this season and he's been terrific.

    In eight appearances (seven starts) he has gone 3-1 with a 3.53 ERA, as he has effectively taken the fifth-starter job from Jerome Williams.

    Despite that, the Angels have been actively shopping for a starter to join Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana in a terrific rotation.

    One rumor has the Angels shipping a package that includes Santana to the Rays for James Shields, but if the team does not include Richards, he would be the odd man out, despite his solid numbers.

SP Jacob Turner, Miami Marlins

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    The top prospect heading to the Marlins in the deal that brought Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers, Turner leaves a good situation in Detroit for a situation in flux in Miami.

    He had earned a call-up in Detroit, and won his last start on Sunday before being traded.

    However, the Marlins opted to replace Sanchez in the rotation with Wade LeBlanc and sent Turner to Triple-A, as he will need to earn his spot in the Marlins rotation down the stretch.

SP Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

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    With the Brewers slipping out of contention, they will likely look to sell off their biggest assets in starter Zack Greinke and third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

    He is 9-3 with a 3.57 ERA on the season, but he has scratched from his last start in what manager Doug Melvin called a matter of "recharging his batteries," and nothing injury related.

    Still, it could be enough to raise a red flag and prevent teams from paying the price to acquire Greinke at the deadline.

    Also, the Brewers offered Greinke a contract extension of $100 million-plus that he turned down, according to Jon Heyman.

    He'll need to prove down the stretch that he is worth more, and if he does not wind up on a contender, it may be hard for him to do that. In the end, he may have cost himself some money.

SP Freddy Garcia, New York Yankees

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    Garcia was a pleasant surprise last season, going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA over 25 starts, and that was enough for the Yankees to bring him back on a one-year, $4 million deal.

    He's not been the same this season though, going 4-3 with a 5.37 ERA in 18 games (eight starts) and he'll be pushed to the bullpen whenever Andy Pettitte returns.

    If the team opts to add another starter for insurance, that could mean Garcia being designated for assignment, as the team already has David Phelps as a long-man in the bullpen.

SP Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pirates Opening Day starter in 2011, Correia went 12-11 with a 4.79 ERA last season and was named to the All-Star team.

    He's posted similar numbers this season, going 7-6 with a 4.31 ERA but with the team's recent acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez, he looks to be headed to the bullpen.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Jeff Karstens is more likely to hold onto the fifth rotation start than Correia. That will hurt Correia's chances of boosting his value, as he is set to hit free agency at season's end.

SP Scott Feldman, Texas Rangers

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    A 17-game winner back in 2009, Feldman was limited to just 11 appearances (two starts) last season and as a result he was left as the odd man out in the rotation this season.

    Injuries pushed him back into the rotation early in the season, but the signing of Roy Oswalt resulted in a return to the 'pen, and Feldman made his displeasure known at the time.

    More injuries have moved him back into the rotation, and on the season he has a 4-6 record with a 5.37 ERA in 17 appearances (11 starts), but he could be facing a return to the bullpen once again if the Rangers acquire a starter at the deadline.

SP Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays

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    As a 23-year-old back in 2010, Cecil put together a terrific 15-7 record with a 4.22 ERA, but he struggled last season with a 4-11 record and 4.73 ERA over 20 starts.

    He started 2012 in the minors, but got his chance in the rotation when the Blue Jays' rotation was decimated by injury. He has not exactly made the most of that opportunity, going 2-2 with a 6.34 ERA in six starts.

    The team already acquired J.A. Happ from the Astros, and could still look to add another frontline arm, which very possibly means a return to the minors for Cecil. 

SP Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals

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    Detwiler opened the season in the Nationals rotation, going 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA through nine starts, but he was moved to the bullpen when Chien-Ming Wang returned from injury.

    Wang struggled, however, and Detwiler has returned to the rotation and gone 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA over five starts.

    Nonetheless, the Nationals are looking for a starter and they have been linked to starter Zack Greinke and if they pull off a deal for someone, it would likely mean another move to the 'pen for Detwiler.

    The Stephen Strasburg innings limit could come into play here as well, and Detwiler could be in and out of the rotation, but for someone with a 3.01 ERA and 5-3 record, the team has not shown much confidence in him.

RP Frank Francisco, New York Mets

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    It has been an up-and-down season for Mets' reliever Frank Francisco, as he has gone 18-of-21 on save opportunities and posted a 1-3 record and 4.97 ERA.

    He's been on the shelf with a strained oblique, and while he is on the comeback trail, his days as closer appear to be limited in New York.

    The team has been looking at Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, and it is no secret they are looking to upgrade over Francisco in the ninth inning. 

    Depending on what happens in the days ahead, Francisco could return from the DL as a middle reliever, and set to earn $6.5 million next season, he becomes a very expensive one at that.

RP Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants

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    On the surface, Casilla has filled in nicely with 24 saves and a 3.25 ERA through 41 appearances on the season.

    However, he has blown six saves and has been particularly bad of late, going 3-for-7 on save chances with a 6.00 ERA in seven appearances since July 1.

    That has left the Giants reportedly interested in Indians closer Chris Perez, as Casilla is facing a demotion and given the success of Sergio Romo (0.62 ERA) and Jeremy Affeldt (2.39 ERA), he'd likely move to a middle-relief role.