One Player Every MLB Team Would Like to Trade
If a team would "like" to trade a player, it's very likely that the player's value is nowhere close to being at its peak. In fact, the value of that player probably already peaked long ago. And I bet the team didn't want to trade that player then.
It's not that teams don't ever trade a player at peak value. Oftentimes, a team has payroll limitations and a productive player's future earning projection does not fit into their budget. Rather than wait until the player is close to free agency, they will make a trade with two or three years left of team control in order to get the best possible return.
A bad team without much help on the way might also trade one of their players with the most value to help restock the farm system or bring some young talent to the major league roster.
In either case, the team did not "like" trading one of their best players. It just became necessary.
Now back to those players whom a team would not only "like" to trade, but would also "love" to trade and would even pay a big chunk of the salary and take only a fringe prospect in return to do so.
Whether it's a player not living up to expectations of a big contract or just not being as good as a younger and less expensive option at the same position, each team normally has some players whom they would like to get rid of, and hopefully, get something in return.
Here's one player from each team who is currently being displayed on the "sales rack."
The Arizona Diamondbacks have several candidates, including relievers Heath Bell and J.J. Putz, as well as Martin Prado, who has a .642 OPS after inking a four-year, $40 million contract extension after being acquired from Atlanta in the Justin Upton deal. But it's outfielder Cody Ross who wins out here.
Signed to a three-year, $26 million deal this past offseason, the 32-year-old Ross has a .690 OPS with only four homers and 21 runs batted in over his 64 games since starting the season on the disabled list with a strained calf.
While his track record is strong—he has a .787 OPS with an average of 17 homers, 26 doubles and 64 runs batted in per season since 2006—Ross is in a situation where he's not playing regularly in an outfield that could become even more crowded once Adam Eaton returns from the disabled list later this month.
Manager Kirk Gibson seems to prefer A.J. Pollock's defense in center field with Gerardo Parra in right field and either Ross or Jason Kubel in left field. If Eaton comes back healthy, they could utilize their outfield depth to try and acquire some much-needed bullpen or rotation help.
If the D'Backs had their choice, it would likely be Ross and the estimated $23 million guaranteed he's still owed over the next two seasons that can land them a pitcher before the trade deadline. Considering Ross' struggles, that's very unlikely to happen.
The Braves knew they were getting a very streaky player when they signed B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million free-agent deal this past offseason. But with his projected overall production—20-plus homers, 30-plus stolen bases and an OPS around .750—they figured it was well worth it to endure a few slumps per season.
But, thus far, they've mostly seen the "bad" version of Upton and only a few flashes of the "good" Upton. Aside from the first two weeks of June when he was 10-for-40 with four homers and nine walks, the 28-year-old has been awful with a .163 batting average (33-for-203), four homers, 24 walks, 77 strikeouts and five stolen bases.
Yes, he is due for a breakout month. But four more years of this isn't worth the occasional spurt of greatness, and it's unlikely that the Braves are too excited about paying him to be really good just once in awhile.
My first choice, Jake Arrieta, was traded, as Don Connelly of The Baltimore Sun reported, to the Chicago Cubs earlier today, so congratulations on the O's for trading a player they really wanted to trade. The 27-year-old had run out of chances in Baltimore and couldn't learn on the job with a competitive big league team.
On to my second choice, Tsuyoshi Wada, who is making $4.1 million this season to pitch in the Triple-A rotation. He made close to $4 million in 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. With today's acquisition of Scott Feldman and Wei-Yin Chen close to returning from an oblique injury, Wada's chances of making a start for the O's is slim to none.
The Baltimore bullpen is also in pretty decent shape, although he could get a look at some point. Regardless, they will likely get close to zero contribution on an $8.14 million investment.
Their best bet of getting anything out of the deal is to trade him to a team with a rotation need while paying most of his remaining salary and hoping to get a lower-level prospect with some upside in return.
The 32-year-old lefty has a 5.74 ERA in nine starts with Norfolk, but he's allowed just five earned runs in 18 innings with four walks and 14 strikeouts over his last three starts.
Boston Red Sox
Thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox were already able to trade away a few players on big-money contracts that were excessive based upon on-field production. They also stayed away from any free-agent deals longer than three years this past offseason, and, thus far, have gotten solid production from most of their veterans with hefty guaranteed salaries.
One player who is losing trade value quickly is former closer Andrew Bailey, who has blown four saves and allowed nine earned runs, including five homers, in five innings over his last seven appearances. Up until then, he had a 1.47 ERA with six saves and four holds.
The problem is that Bailey can't build up his trade value without pitching in a late-inning role. But the first-place Red Sox can no longer trust him with the game on the line. They have the depth to withstand the loss of the 29-year-old, but the Sox will do the smart thing and avoid "selling low" on him at this point, even though it might be best for both parties.
With Scott Feldman already sent to Baltimore in a trade, the Cubs will turn their focus to finding the best offer for another free-agent-to-be, Matt Garza.
The 29-year-old Garza, who might be the top starting pitcher available on the trade market, could also move relatively quick. This would leave the Cubs with a few weeks to work on finally moving Alfonso Soriano and at least a small portion of his contract out of town.
The Cubs probably missed the boat when they failed to trade him last July when Soriano, 36 at the time, was coming off a two-month tear when he had a .948 OPS with 15 homers in May and June. This May and June, he hasn't been terrible, but his OPS is at .752, and he's hit eight homers over that span.
While Soriano is a year older and his production has dipped, his contract is one year closer to expiring, and the Cubs might be more willing to eat a lot of the remaining amount (estimated $27 million through 2014) if they can get a good prospect in return.
Selling points for the Cubs will be Soriano's .864 OPS versus left-handed pitching, and, despite a very small sample, his 7-for-13 stint as a designated hitter with two homers.
He could be an ideal fit for an American League team looking for a right-handed hitting designated hitter who can play left field occasionally. Soriano has a no-trade clause, but he might be willing to waive it in order to get back into a pennant race, which he hasn't been a part of for a while as a member of the Cubs.
Chicago White Sox
The 33-year-old Adam Dunn is on pace to hit 40 homers for the seventh time in his career. So why would the Chicago White Sox like to trade him? Because they're just not very good and sending him and his $15 million salary in 2014 elsewhere while he still has some value might be a pretty smart move at this point.
After a huge month of June (.991 OPS, 9 HR, 24 RBI), the time to sell might be now. If a team in need of some middle-of-the-order power can live with the sub-.200 batting average and 195-strikeout pace, the Sox could find a taker.
Although the White Sox expect to be competitive again in 2014 and are typically willing to spend money, they could use the savings on Dunn to fill a couple of what could be many holes on the roster this coming offseason.
Although his fastball velocity is down just a tick (93.7 MPH in 2013, 94.7 MPH in 2012, according to FanGraphs), Jonathan Broxton continues to show signs of decline since early in his career with the Dodgers (2.00 ERA, 3.5 BB/9, 11.6 K/9, 0.6 HR/9).
His overall numbers were strong in 2012 (2.27 ERA, 27 Sv, 10 holds), especially after coming over to Cincinnati (22.1 IP, 3 BB, 20 K) in a trade with the Kansas City Royals, but he had an unimpressive overall 3.5 BB/9 and 6.3 K/9.
Before landing on the disabled list with a strained forearm in mid-June, the 29-year-old had a 4.33 ERA with 11 walks and 20 strikeouts in 27 innings. He also allowed three homers, which is more than he allowed in 58 innings last season.
Broxton plays an integral role on this Cincinnati Reds team, but I'm sure they'd take the do-over and try to find a better solution this upcoming offseason if they could trade him and the $17 million of guaranteed salary he's due through 2015.
An All-Star the past two seasons with 75 saves in 83 chances, Chris Perez has established himself as one of the more reliable closers in the league.
But there are some potential concerns.
Dealing with a salary over $7 million in 2013 and a potential $10 million payday in 2014, his last year of arbitration eligibility before he becomes a free agent, a few concerning off-the-field issues, a capable in-house replacement in Vinnie Pestano and a few contending teams looking for a closer, Perez's days with the Tribe could be coming to an end.
If the Cleveland Indians can get a solid enough return on the 28-year-old Perez, they'd probably consider making a deal. But first-place teams, which the Indians are at the moment, rarely subtract from their 25-man roster unless they can fill another hole elsewhere.
Since that might be tough to do, expect Perez to stick around for the remainder of the season before he's shopped aggressively after the season.
When it's all said and done, they could very well just non-tender Perez since there aren't too many teams interested in paying $10 million to their closer.
A competitive Colorado Rockies team doesn't need to trade away their closer, Rafael Betancourt. And they're probably not actively shopping him as might be the case if they were non-contenders. That doesn't mean they wouldn't trade him in the right deal.
After all, they have a pretty good option to replace him in 25-year-old lefty Rex Brothers, who has an 0.52 ERA with 17 walks and 37 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched on the season. He also has four saves and six holds.
If a team interested in strengthening the back of the rotation for the stretch run offers a good prospect for the 38-year-old Betancourt, who has a $4.25 million mutual option for 2014, the Rockies would likely take it knowing that the ninth inning is still in good hands with Brothers. Unfortunately, landing a good prospect for a 38-year-old reliever is highly unlikely.
A once-useful reliever, Phil Coke is having his worst big league season (0-5, 6.29 ERA in 25 appearances) and is in danger of losing his roster spot with the Detroit Tigers. The emergence of Drew Smyly as the team's top lefty reliever also makes the 30-year-old Coke expendable. Too bad he doesn't have any trade value at this point.
His best bet is for the Tigers to trade him to a team willing to give him a shot in hopes that a change of scenery could help. If it does, he's still under team control for another season, and it will have worked out great for his new team. If not, he can be non-tendered in the offseason.
I'm sure it wouldn't take too much for the Tigers to trade him, even if it meant eating a portion of his remaining $1.85 million salary. He is getting lefties out, (.211 BAA) so a contender with that specific need might even be interested.
With "First Baseman of the Future" Jonathan Singleton, likely to be in Houston as early as the start of next season, the Astros are giving Brett Wallace another shot now. They're hoping he can carry over what he was doing in Triple-A (.952 OPS, 11 HR) in order to boost his trade value. Thus far, he's only 4-for-20 with a homer, triple, no walks and five strikeouts.
The former first-round pick can also play some third base, but he's not being showcased for his defensive versatility. If he can hit, some team will give him at-bats as the designated hitter or first baseman. And they'll likely give the Astros a decent prospect in return, which is what they're hoping. Either way, it's unlikely that he's in the team's long-term plans.
Kansas City Royals
Wade Davis' last outing, when he gave up six earned runs and walked five batters before departing after just one inning of work, isn't the reason the Kansas City Royals would like to trade him.
Well, it probably doesn't help. But the 27-year-old has been pretty solid aside from a few occasional disasters, and he could have some value because of his age and team-friendly contract ($4.8 million in 2014, $7 million club option in 2015, $8 million club option in 2016, $10 million club option in 2017).
That might be good enough reason for the Royals to hold onto Davis. However, they have starting pitching depth and other needs on the roster.
While Ervin Santana moves to the front of the "players to trade" priority list if the Royals become non-tenders, Davis is the guy they'd probably be most willing to move if they had to depart with a starter in exchange for an outfielder or second baseman.
Los Angeles Angels
Despite a terrible start, it is way too early to give up on Josh Hamilton. The 32-year-old is finally showing signs of life with nine hits in his last 21 at-bats, including three doubles and four walks to boost his OPS to .675. Still not great, but it's probably enough to lay off on the talks that the Hamilton signing was a complete bust.
Even if Hamilton did turn out to be a bust, they'd have to endure just four more seasons of him, costing $106 million. That is a huge sunken cost if Hamilton doesn't come close to returning to his previous form.
But it doesn't come close to the $212 million they'll be paying Albert Pujols over the next eight years. And those will be eight extremely long years if he continues to battle injuries and continues to lose the ability that made him one of the best hitters of his era.
The 33-year-old's .752 OPS with 13 homers in 80 games while playing through a painful foot injury shows that he still has something left in the tank.
But if he's already declining now, what kind of production will he be giving the Halo's three years from now when he won't even be halfway through his 10-year contract. They'd trade him now if the other 29 teams in the league weren't asking themselves the same question.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Andre Ethier made my recent list of "Worthless MLB Trade Bait," and he doesn't get a pass here either. The 31-year-old, who will be out of a starting job once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list later this month, continues to struggle with a .703 OPS and only five homers in 79 games.
The Dodgers know they won't get a good deal for Ethier right now, and it's unlikely that his value rises while he's sitting on the bench. So the Dodgers are pretty much hoping he goes on one of the hottest streaks of his career over the next few weeks in order to drum up some interest before the deadline.
It would be an amazing turnaround, considering he's hitting just .240 with one homer over his last 36 games. Ethier will soon join Vernon Wells as one of the most expensive fourth outfielders in the game.
The Miami Marlins don't want to trade Giancarlo Stanton and probably don't have to trade him anytime soon. This means that the "Hot Stove" talk around them certainly won't be as interesting, but teams around the league will have interest in a few of their relievers.
Since closer Steve Cishek likely has the most value out of the group, and the Marlins don't really have that much use for a closer, since they don't win very much, he's the guy they'd like to trade.
Several contending teams have a need for late-inning bullpen help, so this is the ideal time to trade the 27-year-old Cishek, who has a 3.12 ERA and 15 saves in 17 chances. He's particularly tough on right-handed hitters (.128 BAA), but he's also effective enough against lefties that contending teams wouldn't have a problem sticking him in a setup role.
The Milwaukee Brewers are willing to deal Yovani Gallardo, and although general manager Doug Melvin will initially set the asking price as though the 27-year-old right-hander was a true "ace" at the top of his game with at least another year of team control, you better believe he'll settle for much less.
After winning 62 percent of his games with a 3.63 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 9.2 K/9 over his first six big league seasons, Gallardo is having a rough 2013 season.
Not only was he arrested for a DUI in April, but he also hasn't pitched very well (4.78 ERA, 101.2 IP, 110 H, 38 BB, 82 K in 18 starts), and his average fastball velocity is down to 90.6 mph, according to FanGraphs, over 2 mph less (92.7) than it was back in 2011.
Although the Brewers probably won't admit it because it would hurt their leverage in trade talks, there has to be major concern with Gallardo, who is due $11.25 million in 2014 and has a $15 million club option in 2015.
By the looks of things, the Brewers could be ready to start rebuilding a very weak farm system, and they'd love to move Gallardo to a team willing to give up an elite prospect or at least two very good one's in return.
Trading away a player who has been with the team for over a decade, won an AL MVP and has been voted to the All-Star team four times during his tenure isn't the easiest decision in the world. But it would be much more difficult had he been healthy and productive over the last three years, which Justin Morneau has not been.
The Minnesota Twins will be listening to offers on the 32-year-old free agent-to-be while hoping he can boost his value in the next few weeks. He's coming off a very good June (.821 OPS), but he hit just two homers and has only four on the season. Teams looking for first-base help will likely want to add some more power to the middle of their lineup.
Morneau is nine for his last 28, with five doubles, and he's on pace for 97 runs batted in, so the Twins shouldn't have a hard time finding a trade partner.
New York Mets
Earlier today, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that the New York Mets were pondering a move to place Shaun Marcum, their most valuable trade chip, on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury.
It never happened, and the Mets aren't discussing any details. And that's probably because any concerns about Marcum would all but rule out a pre-deadline deal.
The 31-year-old is expected to make his next start later in the week and contending teams looking for rotation help will be keeping a close eye on his health and his effectiveness. And the Mets will be hoping he gets through the start without any issues and continues to build on back-to-back solid starts (14 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 5 BB, 4 K).
New York Yankees
Rookie David Adams has a .499 OPS while getting most of the playing time at the hot corner, so there's probably even a sense of relief that the 37-year-old Rodriguez has started a rehab assignment and could return in about three weeks.
Just because they need him now, though, doesn't mean they wouldn't trade him in a second if they could.
Sure, a lot of teams would probably be willing to take a shot on him if it didn't cost anything. But the Yankees aren't eating the entire remainder (estimated $100 million plus bonuses) of his contract and aren't going to trade him for nothing. He'll continue to be their problem for now.
Finding a taker for a center fielder who can cover a ton of ground in the outfield, hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases shouldn't be too tough of a task. But Chris Young has made it difficult by hitting just .190 in 52 games.
As the team's fourth outfielder, the 29-year-old Young has played sporadically the past few weeks. The A's could use that as a reason as to why he's struggled when discussing him in a potential trade, but he struggled early in the season when he was playing everyday while the outfield was depleted because of injuries.
Due the remainder of his $8.5 million contract ($500,000 paid by Arizona) this season, Young also has a $1.5 million buyout for an $11 million club option for 2014. Any interested team would want the A's to pick up a portion of the guaranteed amount, leaving the A's with little incentive to deal him.
They'll likely just hold onto their outfield depth and hope Young can have a big second half and draw some interest from teams willing to make a trade in the offseason and pick up his club option.
Trade speculation has surrounded the Philadelphia Phillies all season long, but the one big name void in these talks has been first baseman Ryan Howard.
And that's because everyone knows team's don't want anything to do with his massive contract ($85 million guaranteed between 2014-2016) that is only going to look worse if Howard's performance continues to decline.
If the 33-year-old can, somehow, return to his pre-2012 form when he averaged 41 homers and 123 runs batted in between 2005-2011, maybe the Phillies can find a taker.
But even after a solid June (.883 OPS, 3 HR), he doesn't appear anywhere close to that player. He can also block trades to 21 teams, although that's probably an issue that will never come up over the course of his contract.
Trading a guy after he loses his job isn't always the best practice, but Clint Barmes is what he is, and any team that acquires him knows what they'll be getting—a solid defender who probably won't help much with the bat.
Since a couple of productive offensive seasons with the Rockies, Barmes has declined offensively, and he recently lost his starting job in Pittsburgh to Jordy Mercer, who is hitting .283 with four homers and eight doubles in 43 games.
It's a safe bet that Mercer holds onto the job for the remainder of the season, making Barmes a high-paid ($5.5 million in 2013) backup/defensive tutor.
Chances of making a trade that doesn't amount to the Pittsburgh Pirates just giving him away to a team willing to take on a few hundred thousand dollars of Barmes' salary are slim.
If a contending team happens to lose their starting shortstop to injury, however, then the Bucs could be in the driver's seat with the 34-year-old Barmes one of the only options available on the trade market.
San Diego Padres
Huston Street's trade value was extremely high at last year's All-Star break after posting a 1.13 ERA with 13 saves in 13 chances. But instead of trading him, the non-contending San Diego Padres signed their closer to a two-year, $14 million contract extension through the 2015 season.
Despite missing most of the second half with a calf injury, Street continued to pitch well when healthy. The Padres also didn't have to find a replacement in the offseason, so the contract extension appeared to be a solid move. Three months into the 2013 season, that is no longer the case.
While the 29-year-old has only blown one save, giving him a 38-for-40 conversion rate as a Padre, he's not fooling many hitters in 2013. He's struck out just 15 hitters in 27.1 innings while allowing an alarming 10 home runs. In the course of one one year, Street has gone from potential hot commodity on the trade market to not tradeable.
San Francisco Giants
No player in baseball has gone from doghouse to hero as often as Pablo Sandoval.
Whether it's an injury or being overweight, which may or may not be the cause of one of his many injuries, Sandoval hasn't always been in the good graces of his organization. But then, he has an MVP-caliber season (.943 OPS in 2009, .909 OPS in 2011) or is the World Series hero (.364 BA, 6 HR, 13 RBI, MVP in 2012) and all is forgiven.
That is, at least until the next season when he's still out of shape and not producing (.700 OPS in 65 games) and eventually on the disabled list again. The 26-year-old switch-hitter, who is signed through the 2014 season, could be too much of a headache and a risk for the San Francisco Giants to bring back for another season.
Due to make $8.25 million in 2014, the Giants could choose to shop Sandoval now and move on to the post-"Kung Fu Panda" era. His current 12-for-68 slump with no homers won't help that cause, though.
For the 18 games that Franklin Gutierrez has played this season, he's reminded us all how good he is (.874 OPS, 5 HR) when healthy. The problem is that he's rarely healthy and has barely been on the field over the past three seasons.
The Seattle Mariners were hoping he could stay in the lineup long enough to at least boost his trade value. But the 30-year-old center fielder, who landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury in late April, went right back on with the same injury two games after returning.
With no timetable for return, the chances of a trade are slim and even if he does return in the next few weeks, the injury risk is too high for any team to give up something of value or take on any of his remaining salary ($7 million in 2013).
St. Louis Cardinals
This was the toughest choice because the "Most Brilliantly Run Franchise in Baseball," the St. Louis Cardinals, according to me, doesn't have a bad contract or a player it really doesn't want on its roster. But the player who has the least chance of giving solid value on a long-term deal is lefty starter Jaime Garcia, who had season-ending shoulder surgery in May after just nine starts.
Although he's expected to be ready for the start of the 2014 season, shoulder injuries can sometimes take longer than 12 months for recovery, and it can often take more time for a pitcher to return to peak form. The 26-year-old is set to make $17 million over the next two seasons (2014-2015).
Tampa Bay Rays
The 32-year-old Roberto Hernandez has had his moments during his first season with the Tampa Bay Rays, including a strong eight-inning performance (8 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, BB, 5 K) in his last start. But he's also had his share of poor outings, allowing five earned runs in five of his 15 starts.
As long as the Rays are playing well—they've won four in a row to run their record to 45-39— the Rays will probably want to stay away from giving a young starter like Jake Odorizzi a permanent spot.
But, Alex Cobb will eventually return from the disabled list, and the immensely talented Chris Archer is already in the rotation and should remain there in order to continue gaining valuable experience.
Hernandez could be the odd man out, and the Rays would prefer that he has solid trade value when it's time to make that decision.
The Texas Rangers could look for an upgrade at the corner outfield spot before the trade deadline with Alex Rios of the White Sox a potential target, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago. If they do, it's because David Murphy (.645 OPS) is not hitting this season, and he could be out of a starting job soon.
While Murphy would make for a more than capable fourth outfielder, rookie Engel Beltre has been impressive since his call-up, and Craig Gentry and Jeff Baker will eventually be back from the disabled list.
So moving the 31-year-old Murphy and the estimated $2.75 million remaining on his 2013 salary before he departs as a free agent after the season might be a better option, especially if a team thinks a change of scenery will help him return to his 2012 form (.859 OPS).
Toronto Blue Jays
We knew some team would take a chance on Melky Cabrera after a 2012 season in which he went from MVP candidate (.346 BA, 11 HR, 25 2B, 10 3B, 13 SB in 113 games) to a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test. That team was the Toronto Blue Jays, who signed the 28-year-old switch hitter to a two-year, $15 million deal.
The Jays have quickly figured out that Cabrera isn't the player he was in 2012 and probably not even the guy he was with the Royals in 2011 (.809 OPS, 18 HR, 20 SB in 155 games). He's pretty much been the guy who played one season with the Braves in 2010 (.671 OPS, 4 HR, 7 SB in 147 games) before they cut him loose.
Cabrera did have a solid month in May (.821 OPS), but he started slow and wasn't hitting much when he landed on the disabled list in late June.
A lot of teams were wary of giving him a contract with the uncertainty of how he'd perform after his PED suspension. Now that we've seen three months of mediocrity from Cabrera, I'm guessing that there are 29 teams with absolutely no interest in acquiring him.
Over an ugly 44-game span, Danny Espinosa posted a .465 OPS with four walks and 47 strikeouts before finally landing on the disabled list with a wrist injury. He's also playing with a partially torn rotator cuff, which couldn't have helped his cause.
With prospect Anthony Rendon taking over at second base and making a strong impression with the bat, the 26-year-old Espinosa stayed in the minors once he was activated from the disabled list with no clear path back to the Washington Nationals.
Espinosa's played a few games at shortstop to possibly showcase him to teams that would value him more at that position. But it won't help as long as he continues to struggle at the plate. Including his rehab assignment, Espinosa is 6-for-64 with no homers, five walks and 33 strikeouts.