Worthless MLB Trade Bait No One Else Wants
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
General managers are always on the lookout for a great bargain. They also know that certain players won't have a chance to become bargains until all 30 teams have passed on acquiring them multiple times and their value dips to the point where the best their current team can do is eat the remaining salary and taking back a fringe prospect in return.
Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol is the latest example of a player no one else wanted. At least not at the Cubs' asking price, which likely wasn't very much. After failing to find a taker for the 30 year-old, the Cubs designated him for assignment a few days ago.
They'll have 10 days to trade him for what would amount to the aforementioned fringe prospect and the Cubs eating most of his remaining 2013 salary ($9.8 million) or wait until he clears waivers—there is no chance he won't clear waivers—and either release him or offer an outright assignment to the minors, which he can decline and become a free agent.
Marmol, who has been one of the most erratic late-inning relievers in baseball over the past few seasons, has been very effective at times—he had a 1.52 ERA with 12 saves in 13 chances to go along with 17 walks and 39 strikeouts in 29.2 second half innings last season. For this reason, Marmol will go from unwanted to highly-coveted since he can be had for almost nothing.
Here are five other players that are likely being shopped but are drawing very little interest from the other 29 teams in the league.
Heath Bell, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks
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The D'backs might have been one of the few teams, if not the only team, in baseball willing to take a shot on Heath Bell this past offseason with the Marlins shopping him just one disappointing season into a three-year, $27 million deal.
Not only did they give up a decent prospect—infielder Yordy Cabrera (.752 OPS, 12 HR in Low-A) was acquired from Oakland and sent to Miami in a three-team trade—to acquire Bell in October, they also agreed to take on $13 million of the remaining $21 million left on his deal.
Three months into the season, general manager Kevin Towers is likely regretting that decision. The 35 year-old Bell, who was one of the best relievers in baseball after Towers, then the general manager of the San Diego Padres, acquired him from the Mets in what turned out to be one of the most lopsided deals of the decade, has an ERA over 5.00 after allowing a home run in five straight appearances.
Any general managers out there willing to trade for a reliever who is capable of giving up a homer in five consecutive games? Anyone? Anyone?
Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
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When Andre Ethier agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract extension last June, he had an .857 OPS on the season with 10 homers and 53 runs batted in. He was 30 years old, named to two consecutive All-Star teams and had been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball up until that point.
A year later, that extension is looking like a huge mistake by general manager Ned Colletti as Ethier's performance has fallen off greatly (.714 OPS). The emergence of rookie Yasiel Puig has pushed Ethier to fourth on the depth chart once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list, which could be as early as next week. This obvious development only hurts Colletti's leverage in trade talks.
Finding a taker for Ethier without a long-term commitment would be difficult at this point. Finding a taker for him and the $70-plus million left on his contract is near impossible. The Dodgers would probably be willing to eat a chunk of the salary but probably not as much as would be necessary for a team to give back something of value in return.
The Dodgers will need Ethier to rebuild some value before a trade becomes a realistic possibility. This might be difficult, though, considering he'll be on the bench more often than not once Crawford returns.
Edwin Jackson, SP, Chicago Cubs
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The Cubs will be focused on finding the best trades for free agents-to-be Scott Feldman and Matt Garza next month, but the starting pitcher they probably would love to send packing is Edwin Jackson, who has been a disappointment in year one of a four-year, $52 million deal.
In his first 15 starts, Jackson has a 5.84 ERA and has completed at least six innings in only six of those starts. I guess that's what the Cubs get for giving $13 million per season to a guy who, despite still having some upside at age 29, had established over 204 big league starts where he was a mid-to-back-of-the-rotation innings eater.
He's also a guy who had been traded six times in a span of five-and-a-half years and is now with his 8th organization since breaking into the majors in 2003. The Cubs would love to make it nine, but they appear to be stuck with one of the most frustrating pitchers in the game for the foreseeable future.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
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With Mark Teixeira out for the season with a wrist injury and Kevin Youkilis out an estimated two months with a back injury, the Yankees probably need Alex Rodriguez back in their lineup. After all, the Yankees' current third baseman of choice, David Adams, is hitting .179 (17-for-95) with three walks and 27 strikeouts.
In fact, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to think the Yankees need Rodriguez more than any other team in baseball right now. And that's good because no other team in baseball other than the Yankees will be paying the estimated $100 million—not including bonuses for home run milestones—due to him through the 2017 season.
The 37 year-old was still a useful player in 2012, posting a .783 OPS in 122 games before finishing with another awful post-season performance (3-for-25, 2 BB, 12 K). Still, whatever he does have left in the tank—which is uncertain after hip surgery—probably isn't enough to make up for the massive contract, more speculation of PED use and other off-field distractions.
If they could dump Rodriguez and even a small portion of his salary, they'd be happy to continue penciling Adams or Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nuñez or anyone else on their roster into the lineup at third base if they could avoid dealing with Rodriguez over the next few years.
Since no team is willing to take on, let's say 25% of his remaining salary, the Yankees might as well hold on to him for now.
Chris Young, OF, Oakland Athletics
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If there's a silver lining in Kevin Towers acquiring Heath Bell (one of five players on this list), it's that he traded away Young in the same deal. OK, so he didn't exactly get a great return on Young—infielder Cliff Pennington has a .601 OPS for the D'backs—but Young has been a much bigger disappointment.
But the three-team trade would've been a complete disaster had Young been having a solid year with Bell and Pennington struggling. The 29 year-old Young is not having a good year, though, with a career-low .636 OPS in 51 games.
With right-handed hitting outfielders Michael Choice (.293 BA, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 42 BB, 68 K) and Michael Taylor each having strong seasons down in Triple-A (.311 BA, 8 HR, 16 2B, 36 RBI), the A's could've had a nice trade chip if Young had been having a typical season.
Center fielders who play good defense and are capable of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases don't grow on trees. But finding a team willing to invest the estimated $5.5 million (half of $8 million salary in 2013, plus $1.5 million buyout for 2014 club option) in hopes he can turn things around just isn't going to happen at this point.