An Early Look at Top 6 Midseason Position Player Trade Deadline Candidates
H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve recently taken a look at some starting pitchers and relievers who could be available by midseason, assuming their team is out of contention or just has a lot of depth and is looking to upgrade in another area.
The names mentioned weren’t huge names, mostly because teams we assume will be bad typically don’t have deep pitching staffs. When it comes to position players, though, there are several names that will not only be fun to talk about as the rumor mill gets going, but that could also make a lot of sense for teams to move before August 1.
Hunter Pence, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino were three of the biggest names changing teams in July 2012. Here are the top six players most likely to be available this July.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox have high hopes after an eventful offseason. Going from 69 wins to the playoff race would be quite a feat, although it wouldn’t be that surprising. This is a talented team with some help on the way.
But just in case they don’t bounce all the way back, at least we can look forward to the Jacoby Ellsbury trade talks. The 29-year-old will be a free agent after the season, and contract extension talks weren’t going to happen after he missed most of 2012 with an injury and then wasn’t very productive after returning.
While the Sox could probably afford to sign Ellsbury long term if they chose to do so, they already have a replacement-in-waiting, Jackie Bradley Jr., and another capable center fielder, Shane Victorino, under contract through the 2015 season.
If Ellsbury rebounds and the Sox do not, expect plenty of teams to be interested in acquiring him for the final two months.
Dexter Fowler/Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies
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I listed them together because the Rockies won’t trade both. They don’t have to trade either, actually. Fowler (pictured) is under contract for three more seasons, while Gonzalez is signed through the 2017 season.
Another bad year in Colorado, though, and the Rockies will at least test the market and see what type of value each player has.
Both outfielders are 27 years old, cover a ton of ground in the outfield and mash at Coors Field. On the other hand, both are getting expensive and neither is nearly as productive at the plate on the road.
The price will be high, but a contending team in need of some outfield help might not hesitate to meet the asking price, knowing that either player will bring a ton of talent and would be sticking around for a while.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres
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The Padres could get peak value if they traded Headley during the season because the acquiring team would have control of him through 2014. But if the Padres play more like the second-half version of 2012 (42-33), he’s probably not going anywhere until at least next offseason, as they’d probably be right in the playoff mix.
By early July, the Padres will already have a pretty good idea of what they have in Jedd Gyorko, Headley’s heir apparent at the hot corner, because he’ll be in the starting lineup from Opening Day (exclusively 2B when Headley returns from DL stint, 2B/3B with Headley out).
The line of teams that could be interested in Headley by midseason could include the A’s, Braves, Dodgers, Phillies, White Sox and Yankees, assuming they’re in contention.
Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
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The oft-injured Morneau played in 134 games last season after playing in just 150 combined the previous two seasons. Even more encouraging was that the 31-year-old had a few very good months and, at times, looked somewhat like his former MVP self.
Morneau had a .959 OPS in May, then posted back-to-back months of .848 and .850 in July and August. In between, he struggled mightily. If he can maintain an OPS in the mid-.850s through the All-Star break and, more importantly, avoid the injury bug, teams will be happy to give up a decent prospect, as well as take on the remainder of his $14 million salary for a two-month rental.
The Blue Jays, who have reportedly had interest in bringing Morneau back to his home country of Canada in the past, could make sense if Adam Lind isn’t producing. The Rays would also make sense, as well as the Yankees if Mark Teixeira’s injury keeps him out for the majority of the year.
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs
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The 37-year-old has been involved in trade rumors for several years now, although most of them had the Cubs eating much of his remaining salary and not getting back a lot in return.
By holding their ground and not giving him away just to save a few bucks, they’ve allowed the seven-time All-Star to rebuild his value after a strong 2012 season (.262 BA, 32 HR, 108 RBI).
Contending teams in need of some right-handed pop will have interest if he keeps it up. The Cubs would still need to eat some salary (he’s owed $36 million between 2013-2014) but not as much as they would have prior to his bounce-back year of 2012.