MLB Trade Scenarios: Predicting All 30 Teams' Biggest Trade Chips for July 2013

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2012

MLB Trade Scenarios: Predicting All 30 Teams' Biggest Trade Chips for July 2013

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    Less than 24 hours have passed since baseball's trade deadline, so what better time to take a look ahead?

    Less than 12 months from now, the rumor mill will be spitting out rumors and speculation at a furious rate; reporters will be tweeting and typing like it's nobody's business, and general managers across the league will be grateful for having unlimited voice and data plans on their smartphones.

    With a far more intriguing group of players potentially available at the deadline in 2013, we could be in line to watch this year's deadline action look minuscule by comparison.

    What players could pull off such a feat?

    Let's take a look.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton, RF

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    There may not have been a more polarizing player who was—or wasn't—on the market than Justin Upton.

    People were split as to whether the 24-year-old Upton was worth the package of players that Arizona might seek in exchange for him, and while he remains a member of the Diamondbacks, that doesn't mean that he's long-term for Arizona.

    This is now the second time in less than 12 months that rumors surrounding Upton have reached a fever pitch only to quiet down again—this time after comments from Ken Kendrick, the Diamondbacks' managing partner, to the Arizona Republic's Scott Bordow: "I think we're better off with him on our team. I [think] this whole thing has gotten way more attention than it deserves."

    Upton could be a prime candidate to be traded this winter, and if that's the case, Arizona could look to move center fielder Chris Young, left fielder Jason Kubel or shortstop Stephen Drew (if his 2013 option is picked up) instead.

Atlanta Braves: Brian McCann, C

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    By the time spring training rolls around next year, Brian McCann will be 29 years old and entering the final year of his contract. The chances of him celebrating his 30th birthday as a member of the Braves aren't high.

    McCann is sure to generate a ton of interest once he hits free agency, especially from American League clubs that can offer him the chance to prolong his career as a designated hitter, enabling them to offer him more years on a contract than a National League club like the Braves—not to mention the large dollar figure that he's going to receive as well, which isn't likely to sit well with Atlanta.

    With Christian Bethancourt working his way through the Braves' minor league system and expected to be ready to take over behind the plate in 2014, the Braves will have one of the most valuable trade chips (McCann) in baseball when next year's trade deadline rolls around.

Baltimore Orioles: Wilson Betemit, IF

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    The Orioles don't have much in the way of pending free agents following the 2013 season, and while they would probably not mind moving one of their underachieving starting pitchers—Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz or Chris Tillman—they aren't going to sell low on any of them.

    If they are able to get back on track, the Orioles would look to keep them, not move them.

    Which brings us to Betemit, the well-traveled utility infielder who has never lived up to the hype but still carved out a spot in the league for himself.

    He doesn't make much in the way of money and could be attractive to teams looking to add some depth to their bench. The Orioles wouldn't get a lot in return for him, but on a roster full of players under team control who are far more valuable, Betemit is the most expendable piece the Orioles have.

Boston Red Sox: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

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    Take your pick: the then-28-year-old veteran who has found his game with the Red Sox or the 25-year-old prospect who has never gotten a chance to show what he can do on an everyday basis.

    Either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway would be the Red Sox's most valuable trade chip come July 31, 2013, and my money is on Saltalamacchia being shipped out of town before Lavarnway.

    Alex Speier of WEEI 850 in Boston says that the man known as "Salty" drew interest from other teams leading up to this year's deadline, but that with the Red Sox in buyer mode, there wasn't any serious consideration given to moving him.

    That could change next summer, as the Red Sox will need to make a decision on who their starting catcher is going forward. While he's unproven, you'd have to give the edge to the younger, cheaper option who is under team control past the 2013 season.

Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza, RHP

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    Have you ever experienced deja vu? It sure seems like we've been here and seen this all before, doesn't it?

    Another year and another round of Matt Garza rumors that resulted in the 28-year-old staying in Chicago.

    Unless he is moved this winter—which is a possibility—Garza will enter 2013 as a less valuable commodity than he was the previous two seasons, as the coveted extra year(s) of team control will be gone and Garza will become the traditional two-month rental.

    That being said, we know that there is always a market for quality starting pitching, especially pitchers who have a proven track record of success in both leagues.

    If Garza winds up being dealt this offseason, left fielder Alfonso Soriano—who the Cubs have made it known they are willing to pick up most of the remaining salary on (per ESPN's Jayson Stark)—could emerge as the Cubs' most sought-after veteran.

Chicago White Sox: Brett Myers, RHP

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    Could Brett Myers find himself on the move again in 2013?

    You bet he could.

    With Addison Reed the closer of the future in Chicago, Myers becomes expendable. As he'll be in the final year of his contract, the obstacles that the Astros faced in moving him won't come into play for the White Sox.

    They very well could decide to hold onto Myers, but it makes little sense to do so if they are still high on Reed. Bullpen help is always a valuable commodity at the deadline, and while the White Sox could find themselves once again in the thick of a pennant race, Myers would be the most expendable bullpen piece that they have.

Cincinnati Reds: Bronson Arroyo, RHP

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    Entering the final year of the contract that made him all but unmovable in the past, Bronson Arroyo could find himself somewhere besides Cincinnati for the second half of the 2013 season.

    With right-hander Daniel Corcino working his way through the Reds' minor league system with an eye on 2013 as the year he makes his major league debut, Arroyo could be moved to a team seeking an innings eater that doesn't come with a lot of baggage.

    After a disastrous 2011, Arroyo has seemingly gotten back to his usual self in 2012, posting a solid 3.76 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 20 starts for the Reds. If he can maintain this level of performance through the first half of the 2013 season, the Reds may be able to use him as part of a package to acquire the leadoff hitter they desire.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez, RHP

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    There was some chatter about the Indians potentially moving 26-year-old closer Chris Perez (per Fox Sports) in the days leading up to this year's trade deadline but, obviously, those rumors didn't come to fruition.

    While Perez and Vinnie Pestano have comprised an excellent combination in the eighth and ninth innings, it's fair to wonder if Pestano could pick up the ninth inning duties on his own, allowing the Indians to look into moving Perez, who becomes a free agent following the 2013 season.

    If not Perez, right-handed starter Justin Masterson could wind up being moved. ESPN's Jayson Stark reported earlier this month that Masterson was "definitely available."

    Under team control through the 2014 season, a then-28-year-old Masterson could bring the Indians a sizable package in return should they look to move him.

Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez, LF

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    It's understandable that the Rockies wouldn't want to move a stud outfielder like Carlos Gonzalez, but for a team with as many holes as the Rockies have, it may be the only way for the franchise to turn the corner towards respectability and being a contender once again.

    Third base prospect Nolan Arenado, once thought to be ready for prime time in 2012, has regressed in Double-A, flashing neither the power or plate discipline that made him a Top 100 prospect heading into the season.

    Basically, there isn't any major help coming through the Rockies' farm system, so trading an established commodity like Gonzalez is likely the only way for them to plug multiple holes at once.

    Owed $71 million through the 2017 season, Gonzalez would bring back a package of high-ceiling youngsters the Rockies can build around. They also still have perennial MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, so it's not as if they would be trading away their only marketable asset.

    If not Gonzalez, outfielder Dexter Fowler could generate interest around the league, though on a much smaller scale than Gonzalez would.

Detroit Tigers: Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF

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    There wasn't a more sought-after member of the Tigers organization over the past month than 20-year-old third base prospect Nick Castellanos, a player the Tigers repeatedly indicated wasn't available:

    The #Tigers are telling teams_at least right now_that prized 3B prospect Nick Castellanos is unavailable.

    — Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 16, 2012

    Blocked at the major league level by Miguel Cabrera at third base and Prince Fielder at first base, the Tigers are trying to convert Castellanos into a right fielder—something that lowers his value to other teams should the Tigers eventually decide to move him.

    Even without having played an inning of major league ball, Castellanos could bring the Tigers a sizable return were they to entertain offers.

Houston Astros: Jed Lowrie, SS

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    While Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was able to move the three biggest trade chips that he had before the deadline this season in Carlos Lee, Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, he was willing to keep wheeling and dealing up until the very last second.

    Even after dealing Carlos Lee, Myers, Wandy and Lyon, Astros telling teams they're still open to more deals. Even Lowrie, who is on DL.

    — DKnobler (@DKnobler) July 30, 2012

    Lowrie, who will be 29 by next year's deadline, is an inexpensive middle infielder (even after getting a raise in arbitration after this season) who has come into his own with regular playing time in Houston.

    With the Astros apparently taking a page out of the Tampa Bay Rays' book when it comes to rebuilding—be really bad for a few years while stockpiling as much talent as possible—it stands to reason that the asking price for Lowrie might not be as high as some think it could be.

Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler, 1B/DH

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    In recent days, the Royals were telling anyone who called to talk about 26-year-old Billy Butler that they would require a package resembling what the Angels paid to acquire Zack Greinke from the Brewers to pry him away from Kansas City, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark.

    That might seem like a hefty asking price for a player who hasn't played more than 20 games in the field since 2010, but Butler is a big-time player who doesn't get much attention outside of Kansas City. Owed $16 million through the 2014 season (with a $12.5 million team option for 2015), Butler has proven himself to be a .300 hitter with power and the ability to hit with runners on base.

    For a team desperate for pitching, moving their designated hitter to bring an influx of young, talented pitchers into the fold makes far too much sense for the team to not give it serious consideration.

Los Angeles Angels: Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH

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    CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reported that the Angels were telling teams that Kendrys Morales was available leading up to this year's deadline, so it stands to reason that he'll be available at this time next year as well.

    Blocked at first base by Albert Pujols and occupying the DH spot that seems a perfect fit for Mark Trumbo, the 29-year-old Morales is no longer a perfect fit on a stacked Angels' team. Under team control through the 2013 season, Morales would be nothing more than a two-month rental for another team.

    That being said, he certainly has enough value as a rental to bring back a piece that the Angels believe they need.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Ted Lilly, RHP

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    Entering the final year of his contract with the Dodgers, Lilly could become expendable if Allen Webster and Chris Reed are able to handle major league batters and become part of the Dodgers rotation heading into the 2013 deadline.

    A veteran starter who has had success in both leagues, the Dodgers' new owners would likely have no issues picking up whatever remained of his $12 million salary in 2013 in order to not only facilitate a trade, but to obtain a better quality of prospect(s) in return.

Miami Marlins: Josh Johnson, RHP

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    Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi may take home the "Thank you, Captain Obvious" award for this tweet shortly after the deadline passed:

    Josh Johnson drew interest from #Rangers, #RedSox, #BlueJays, #Reds among others. #Marlins decided to keep him.

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 31, 2012

    As with the Twins and Josh Willingham, I think the Marlins made a mistake not moving Johnson this year, as his value will never be higher. That being said, he'll still have value around the league even halfway through the 2013 season, the last year of his contract.

    While it's unlikely that Miami will receive anything close to the hefty package of players that they sought in exchange for him this year, Miami could still pick up some quality pieces to move forward with.

Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Hart, 1B/RF

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    While the Brewers were busy trying to unload Zack Greinke, teams were calling Milwaukee to talk about Corey Hart, only to be told that it would take a lucrative package—presumably pitch-heavy—to acquire him.

    A then-31-year-old Hart will be halfway through the final year on his contract, one that pays him $10 million in 2013. He could prove to be too costly a player for the Brewers to re-sign, so it's entirely possible that we'll see the Brewers move him to the highest bidder at next year's deadline, just as they did earlier this year with Greinke.

Minnesota Twins: Josh Willingham, LF

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    I do believe that the Twins made a huge mistake by not moving Josh Willingham at this year's deadline, as his value will never be higher than it is now—but that doesn't mean he won't have value again next year around this time.

    Willingham, who turns 34 in February, will still have a year of team control left on his contract when the trade deadline rolls around again next season. With the Twins desperately needing an influx of quality pitching, this will be their last time to turn a free-agent signing into legitimate help towards the future in Minnesota; something Willingham will not be a part of.

New York Mets: David Wright, 3B

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    Wright is the pick only if the Mets are unable to work out a long-term extension with him this winter, which is a possibility.

    Were the Mets to make Wright available—even as a rental player—they would be able to pick up multiple pieces from another team to build around, both on offense and on the mound (a Zack Greinke-type package).

    If Wright is signed to an extension, closer Frank Francisco could be moved to a team seeking to bolster their bullpen, though I think you'd be hard pressed to find a team willing to insert the then-33-year-old into the back of their bullpen based on his penchant for making things interesting.

New York Yankees: Rafael Soriano, RHP

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    With Mariano Rivera expected to make a full recovery and reclaim his spot as the Yankees closer in 2013, Rafael Soriano will find himself back in a middle-relief role. With a $14 million salary, he's an expensive middle reliever.

    The Yankees could look to pick up the cash left on his deal (including some of the $8 million player option Soriano holds for 2014) and move him to a team looking to bolster their bullpen, allowing them to bring back a better player than they would if they refused to pick up any of the cash left on his contract.

    With both David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain on board as potential replacements for Rivera when he finally does hang them up, Soriano is a luxury that the Yankees can afford to move.

Oakland A's: Kurt Suzuki, C

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    I'm shocked that Suzuki is still a member of the A's—I fully expected their acquisition of George Kotteras signaled that a deal to move Suzuki elsewhere was imminent.

    Obviously, I was mistaken.

    Suzuki has a $6.45 million salary coming to him in 2013, and there is a team option for $8.5 million available in 2014—hefty numbers for a soon-to-be 29-year-old who has posted a batting line of .229/.283/.348 over his past 208 games.

    But Suzuki is a veteran backstop, one who still plays solid defense behind the plate, and a player who could have value to a team in need of some stability behind the plate that doesn't necessarily need much offensive production from the position.

Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, RHP

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    With Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels both locked up for the foreseeable future, then-36-year-old Roy Halladay could be dangled by the Phillies to continue stockpiling talent as they look to re-tool on the fly.

    Assuming Halladay has returned to form by then, he could bring back quite a package for Philadelphia, even as a two-month rental.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez, LHP

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    Could Wandy Rodriguez be on the move again in 2013?

    By the time next year's trade deadline rolls around, Rodriguez will still have a year of team control left on his deal by virtue of a $13 million team option for the 2014 season.

    With Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon expected to join the Pirates rotation sooner rather than later, Rodriguez might very well find himself an expendable piece once again; one who would draw interest from other contenders looking to add a veteran arm to the mix.

San Diego Padres: Chase Headley, 3B

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    There wasn't a more sought-after bat on the market this month than Padres third baseman Chase Headley. A prime candidate to be moved this winter, there's also a decent probability that he remains a Padre and becomes a hot commodity on the trade market at next year's deadline.

    Under team control through the 2014 season, the Padres may have to alter their asking price on Headley dramatically if David Wright winds up joining Headley on the block at the 2013 deadline. That being said, he can still command some quality pieces in return for a rebuilding Padres squad.

San Francisco Giants: Gary Brown, OF

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    While the Giants gave up a lot to acquire Hunter Pence from the Phillies, they didn't part with their best prospect, outfielder Gary Brown.

    The outfield in San Francisco is crowded, and Brown simply doesn't have a place to play. Moving Brown to a team that is high on him could bring back the second baseman of the future that the Giants don't have in their system at the moment.

Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez, RHP

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    The Mariners keep refusing to deal Hernandez and with good reason, as he's one of the best pitchers in baseball. But his real value lies in the jump-start that trading him would bring to an organization that isn't winning anything with Felix on board.

    With Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker working their way through the minors, the future of the Mariners rotation lies with that trio, not Hernandez.

    Moving Hernandez would bring back a package of players that we have not seen in a long time—we are talking at least three, if not four, of a team's top prospects plus additional pieces.

    That's the kind of move the Mariners need to make, because for as good as Felix is, he can't carry the fruitless Mariners to a playoff berth by himself.

St. Louis Cardinals: Shelby Miller, RHP

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    ESPN's Jayson Stark noted that the Cardinals are indeed open to moving their top pitching prospect, Shelby Miller, in the right deal—though what that deal is remains to be seen.

    While the 21-year-old has struggled at Triple-A this season, posting a 5.44 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, he's drawn comparisons to the Giants' Matt Cain. Anyone who throws the ball like Cain is sure to garner significant interest from other teams around the league.

Tampa Bay Rays: James Shields, RHP

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    While Tampa wound up not moving James Shields at this year's deadline, he very well could be in play again either this winter or at next year's deadline.

    The Rays still seek long-term solutions at catcher and shortstop, and Shields is the most polished of the pitchers the Rays are said to be willing to discuss in trades.

    A contending team could be convinced to part with a player to fill one of those holes at this time next season—especially considering that the $12 million team option they would hold on him for 2014 is actually a pretty reasonable number, all things considered.

Texas Rangers: Elvis Andrus, SS

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    With über-prospect Jurickson Profar likely to make his major league debut at some point during the 2013 season, 23-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus could find himself the odd man out in Texas.

    Andrus would bring back a tremendous package from whomever traded for him and, at the very least, the Rangers should be able to shore up their starting rotation, which has been hit hard by injuries and will be without Neftali Feliz for the bulk of 2013 after he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Toronto Blue Jays: Yunel Escobar, SS

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    Having to pay a starting shortstop $15 million over the next three seasons is what most people would call a bargain—especially when they have a history of being an above-average performer with the bat in their hands and play solid defense.

    Such is the case with Yunel Escobar, who the Blue Jays are seemingly willing to move with the expected promotion of prospect Adeiny Hechavarria to the majors at some point in the next 12 months.

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal said that Toronto had attached a high asking price too high for the taste of teams with interest this season, including the Oakland A's. Should the Jays re-think their strategy on Escobar, they could add a piece or two without having to dip into their deep farm system.

Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon, 3B

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    With a team full of young talent, it's hard to find a player who could reasonably be called a trade chip—simply because it's hard to make the case that Washington should move any of them.

    That's not the case with third base prospect Anthony Rendon, who is blocked in the majors by Ryan Zimmerman. Rendon told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post earlier this season that he was comfortable playing second base, but he's only appeared at the hot corner or as a designated hitter thus far in his minor league career.

    It couldn't hurt the Nats to see what sort of return they could get for Rendon—if a team wants to overpay for him, so be it. If not, the Nationals would certainly be content to keep him in the organization.