It’s not all about what teams will do, but more of what they should do.
As the Major League Baseball trade deadline arrives on July 31, teams are going to be frantically making calls looking to see who’s on the block and who isn’t. Depending on the team’s position, they’ll determine whether they want to be sellers this year—giving up on the playoffs—or buyers—hoping to make the playoffs.
That determination makes all the difference in the world.
While we’re still a little over two weeks away from Deadline Day, it’s time to look into the players who should be on the move. Teams will hope to acquire a player who’s going to make a franchise better in the short term or long term. If players hear their names on the rumor mill then there’s a chance they will get dealt.
So, which player should get traded before July 31? Here’s a look at a player on each team who the front office may decide to keep for the rest of the season, but could be packing his bags just as easily. If the organization is smart, they’ll pull the trigger on these players when presented with the opportunity to do so.
*All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.
Baltimore Orioles: Don’t Change A Thing
Baltimore isn’t in first place in the AL East, but it already has the talent in order to make a run in the second half of the season and clinch a playoff berth. Chris Davis and Manny Machado have been firing on all cylinders and the offense doesn’t need to be messed with at this point.
If this were a week or two ago, Jake Arrieta would’ve been the guy who should be traded. But general manager Dan Duquette beat me to the punch. He dealt the right-hander to the Cubs in exchange for Scott Feldman, a middle-of-the-rotation guy the Orioles desperately needed to acquire in June. Baltimore doesn’t need much else.
Boston Red Sox: Stephen Drew
While Stephen Drew is currently on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, he’s the type of player who is very expendable. As Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wrote last month, the Red Sox can now trade Drew since June 15 has passed. He also notes that Boston would have no problem finding a taker for the shortstop.
Boston has Jose Iglesias, who has been red hot this season, at shortstop while Drew recovers. Iglesias, however, should be playing short when Drew comes back and not third base. If Will Middlebrooks gets promoted from Triple-A and starts to hit like a professional baseball player again, Drew will be out of a job.
New York Yankees: Phil Hughes
Phil Hughes is the definition of an up-and-down pitcher. You never know what you’re going to get from him each year. In 2010, he went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA. He’s probably never going to be better than that. This year, he’s 4-8 through 17 starts with a 4.55 ERA and an average of 7.39 strikeouts and 2.37 walks per nine innings.
The Yankees are dangling Hughes at the moment, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, as the Bronx Bombers seek to aid their struggling offense. With Michael Pineda attempting to make his way back to the big leagues, it would make sense to deal Hughes in order to open up a spot for the former Seattle Mariner.
Tampa Bay Rays: Luke Scott
The Rays don’t really need Luke Scott on the active roster anymore, so Tampa Bay should look into seeing if another team wants him. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote, before Wil Myers was promoted, that if the Rays were to call him up, they’d have a tough time finding playing time for the top prospect.
The Rays did promote Myers, and they have a bit of a logjam now in the outfield. Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce are locks for the starting lineup and Myers needs to play every day too. Kelly Johnson has had a solid year as well. By ditching Scott, Tampa Bay could play all four, with three in the outfield and one as the DH.
Toronto Blue Jays: Munenori Kawasaki
Once Brett Lawrie returns from the disabled list, expect the Blue Jays to start mixing things. Toronto currently has too many infielders on the active roster and someone is bound to get dealt before the deadline. The one player that the Blue Jays should look into trading is Munenori Kawasaki.
While Kawasaki isn’t the most productive player in the world, he would be valuable to a contender seeking a backup infielder. The Blue Jays don’t need three backup infielders on the 25-man squad. He has the most value of the other guys with similar roles, so if Toronto isn’t going to make the postseason, it should trade him.
Chicago White Sox: Matt Thornton
If the White Sox are going to trade anyone before July 31, it appears that Matt Thornton is going to be the guy. Thornton is one of the few great left-handed relievers in baseball, and a ton of contending teams would love to get their hands on him. But Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago says that team will be paying a lot to get him.
Hayes writes that the White Sox are asking for “high-end prospects” in exchange for the lefty’s services. That price tag might be a little high considering Thornton hasn’t been too sharp this year. He’s 0-3 in 40 appearances with a 3.86 ERA in 28 innings of work. But, hey, if a team needs a lefty, maybe they’ll give up the youngsters.
Cleveland Indians: Danny Salazar
The Indians will still be in contention at the All-Star break, but Cleveland needs to improve its pitching staff if it wants to stay in the hunt for the entire year. At the moment, the Tribe have the fourth-worst staff in baseball in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Cleveland needs an upgrade and needs one fast.
Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer rattled off a few available arms that the Indians may pursue, but wonders if acquiring one would be worth trading Danny Salazar—one of the pitchers with the most potential in the organization—as well as one or two other top prospects. Right now, Cleveland should take its chances.
Detroit Tigers: Avisail Garcia
The Tigers have struggled all season long to find some back-of-the-bullpen help. Bruce Rondon didn’t work out. Neither did Jose Valverde. Joaquin Benoit has been fine so far, but Detroit would much rather have him in the eighth inning instead of the ninth. Look for the Tigers to target a big-name closer in the coming weeks.
Jayson Stark of ESPN reports that if the Tigers are going to get what they want, they’ll have no problem trading a top prospect such as Avisail Garcia or Nick Castellanos. Castellanos is going to be better than Garcia in the future, in my opinion, so if the Tigers have to choose between one or the other, they should trade Garcia.
Kansas City Royals: Ervin Santana
Ervin Santana isn’t having the best year of his career, but he’s certainly bounced back nicely after a horrible 2012. Last season, he went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA in 30 starts. Through 18 starts this year, he’s 5-6 with a 3.37 ERA. It wouldn’t be crazy if the Royals dealt him, even though they just acquired him less than a year ago.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that Santana may have the most value of any pitcher on the market this summer, but the Royals will likely end up keeping him. But why not deal him? Kansas City will likely be able to get a couple of top prospects in return, and the team isn’t going anywhere in 2013? Revamp the farm system.
Minnesota Twins: Glen Perkins
The Twins have a very valuable reliever on their hands in Glen Perkins. A failed starting pitcher, the Minnesota lefty has turned his career around by throwing darts late in games for the Twins. This season, he’s 20-for-22 in save opportunities and has only allowed seven earned runs in 32.2 innings of work.
Minnesota is saying that Perkins isn’t available, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. But is that the right move? Dave Cameron of FanGraphs doesn’t think so, as he believes that a team can’t be built around a reliever. I’m with Cameron here. Minnesota should sell high instead of keeping him in the organization for the long term.
Houston Astros: Bud Norris
I don’t think there’s a scenario where Bud Norris is still employed by the Astros on August 1. Norris told Brian McTaggert of MLB.com that he knows his future is out of his hands and that there’s a chance he gets dealt toward the deadline. If Houston really makes him available—and it will—he’ll be one of the top starters available.
Keeping in mind that Norris does pitch for one of the worst teams in baseball, he’s 6-8 with a 3.63 ERA through 19 starts. He’s striking out an average of 6.39 batters and walking around 2.8 per nine innings of work. Norris probably already has a bag packed because he knows he’s going to be dealt at any moment.
Los Angeles Angels: Scott Downs
The Angels have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league this year, and while they’re currently in third place, I don’t see any way they sneak into the postseason. So, you know what that means? It’s time to do some selling. Not major selling, though, but some notable names could be dealt in the next two weeks.
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com believes that if the Angels continue to win games before July 31, they could dangle some players like Scott Downs or Jason Vargas. Downs has been one of the top left-handed relievers in the game for some time now, and there’s no doubting that a contender would love to have him for the seventh or eighth inning.
Oakland Athletics: Don’t Change A Thing
If I’m Billy Beane, I’m unplugging my phone line and throwing away my cell phone. Why would the A’s want to change anything about their team right now? Oakland has one of the most complete teams in the league at the moment and it seems more than likely that the franchise makes the postseason again in 2013.
Maybe if someone like Chris Young was having a good season, Oakland could think about trading him. But he has no value, as he’s hitting .189/.271/.368 in 58 games. If Beane is going to make any moves before the trade deadline, it’ll be to add a player. He doesn’t really need to get rid of anyone, and shouldn’t wreck the chemistry.
Seattle Mariners: Oliver Perez
The Mariners aren’t in any hurry to start trading some veteran assets, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but there’s no question that they employ some sought out talent. Oliver Perez is one of the guys that many teams will be calling about before July 31, as the lefty is having a remarkable season in the bullpen.
Perez was always a very average starting pitcher, but has been fantastic in relief the last two seasons. He posted a 2.12 ERA in 33 appearances a year ago, and has been better in 2013. The left-hander has pitched in 38 games for Seattle this season and has allowed just seven earned runs for a 1.75 ERA. Start calling, contenders.
Texas Rangers: Ian Kinsler
I continue to dislike the idea of having Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar all on the active roster. There are only two spots for the three players. Texas cannot try to move everyone around so all three can be in the lineup each day. The Rangers need to smarten up, deal Kinsler and let Profar start at second each day.
How does Texas expect Profar to be a star in the big leagues if he isn’t playing on a daily basis? He wasn’t just the top prospect in the Rangers organization, but in all of baseball. The Rangers need to let the kid play. Kinsler will definitely bring back some valuable prospect and Texas should be just fine without him. Make it happen.
Atlanta Braves: Don’t Change A Thing
Why change things when you’re the top team in your division and a virtual lock to make the postseason this year? It wouldn’t make much sense for the Braves to do any sort of selling this summer. Atlanta could, however, look to acquire some talent that it can throw in its injury-plagued bullpen.
But in the scenario that Atlanta does look to acquire a reliever, I doubt that the Braves would trade any major-league talent. The Braves should trade a couple of minor league prospects if they’re going to make a deal. Don’t expect to see any massive moves from Atlanta this summer; just a minor one or two.
Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
This is the worst saga in sports. The Marlins have to put Giancarlo Stanton out of his misery and trade him already. The guy is in the beginning of his prime and Miami isn’t going to be able to get him a championship ring for many years. By the time Miami has enough talent, Stanton will be in free agency, signing elsewhere.
Owner Jeffrey Loria told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that he still wants to keep Stanton. Look, I understand the Loria is running a business, but he’s running it into the ground. I think people would respect him more if he finally sent Stanton elsewhere. He needs to swallow his pride and let the best player he has go.
New York Mets: Marlon Byrd
Look at Marlon Byrd go! Byrd is having an outstanding season for the Mets, as he’s currently hitting .268/.313/.506 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI through 76 games. He’s been one of the team’s top outfielders and, with the Mets still far from contending for a playoff berth, could be on the move before the calendar hits August.
Marc Carig of Newsday reports that the Mets have yet to field any calls on Byrd, but the scribe writes that New York expects that to change if he continues to hit. Byrd isn’t going to get the Mets a lot of talent in return, but New York could end up acquiring someone who turns out to be an above-average player.
Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee is the biggest name of the summer, and his availability is certainly in question. The Phillies aren’t really out of playoff contention yet, but will need to make a decision about the organization’s future soon. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that Philadelphia wants to contend in 2014.
The Phillies, however, won’t be contenders without Lee on the roster, in Martino’s opinion. But Philadelphia could get a ton of top prospects if it committed to rebuilding. The franchise is getting a little too old and needs more youth with a lot of potential. In order to contend down the line, the Phillies need to deal Lee right now.
Washington Nationals: Danny Espinosa
Danny Espinosa was so bad to start the season that the Nationals actually sent him to the minors—where he still is right now. In 44 games, he hit .158/.193/.272 with three home runs and 12 RBI. While he doesn’t have much trade value right now—if any—he could be a part of a bigger trade.
Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post thinks that sending Espinosa, along with potentially Tyler Moore, Ross Detwiler and a top pitching prospect—A.J. Cole or Lucas Giolito—might be enough to land David Price. While that might be a stretch—it really depends on Tampa Bay—it is a possibility.
Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza
The asking price for Matt Garza this summer is going to be “incredibly high,” a source told Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider subscription required). Garza, though, will likely be worth the price tag that the Cubs are going to put on him. He’s a veteran starter who can be the boost a rotation needs to make it to the playoffs.
While the right-hander has battled injuries this season, he’s still 5-1 in 10 starts with a 3.22 ERA. He’s striking out 8.11 batters and walking 2.52 every nine innings. If he can stay healthy for the remainder of 2013, he could finish the season with a couple of personal bests. Yes, it’ll cost someone a bunch of talent, but it’s worth it.
Cincinnati Reds: Bronson Arroyo
It may seem a little strange, but there is a chance that Bronson Arroyo gets traded this summer. The right-hander with a crazy leg kick is having a solid year, as he’s 7-7 through 18 starts with a 3.55 ERA. He rarely walks anyone but he isn’t going to strike out nine guys each time he takes the mound either.
While the Reds could use Arroyo in the rotation down the stretch, Cincinnati should cash in right now. The Reds would still have five starters capable of making the postseason without him. His contract status is the problem, per John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, so don’t be shocked if he gets dealt by July 31.
Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo is going to be discussed in a bunch of front offices in the next two weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up—if anywhere. Scouts told Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that he’s probably a No. 4 starter in the AL and a No. 3 starter in the NL. Will that impact how much the Brewers can get for him?
Gallardo is 7-8 this season with a 4.83 ERA through 20 starts. He has not been great, and may finish season with the highest ERA of his career. A change of scenery may be what the right-hander needs. If the Brewers can get a great prospect in return for him, there’s no sense in keeping him for the remainder of 2013.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Don’t Change A Thing
This isn’t last year. The Pirates will follow through in the second half and make the postseason in 2013. There will not be a collapse like there was in 2012. That being said, Pittsburgh can really just sit on its hand as the trade deadline approaches. The offense has been fine and the pitching staff has been great.
If the Pirates are going to do anything, maybe they trade for middle infield help. They won’t be trading any major-league talent or notable prospects, though. Clint Barmes has done enough to get the job done and Jordy Mercer should keep his job until Neil Walker is back, though. Pittsburgh shouldn’t ruin a good thing right now.
St. Louis Cardinals: Michael Wacha
There’s only one player that the Cardinals should sell part of the farm for this summer, and that’s Cliff Lee. If Lee is available, St. Louis needs to pull the trigger on a deal to land him. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks that Wacha is an extra arm right now, but the Cardinals shouldn’t deal him just yet.
The Cardinals have a tough test ahead of themselves in the second half, as the NL Central is going to be difficult to win. St. Louis could end up with a Wild Card spot, but that’s not a guarantee either. By dealing top prospects in exchange for Lee, the Cardinals would definitely be the top team in baseball.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randall Delgado
There’s no questioning that the Diamondbacks are going to have to improve their rotation if they’re going to make the playoffs this season. But according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Arizona is looking for a pitcher who’s signed past this season, instead of seeking to acquire an expiring contract.
Yovani Gallardo seems to be the team’s primary target, per Heyman, but if Arizona wants him, it’ll have to pay a pretty penny. Heyman writes that Tyler Skaggs or Randall Delgado could be a part of a potential deal between the Snakes and Brew Crew. If I had to choose, I’d definitely keep Skaggs and send Delgado packing.
Colorado Rockies: Michael Cuddyer
The Rockies started off the season very hot, which many didn’t expect, but it doesn’t seem likely that Colorado is going to be a playoff team in 2013. That being said, it wouldn’t be insane of the Rockies to capitalize on the talent they have on the roster now and pick up some top prospects for the future.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Rockies may be sellers instead of buyers this summer. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez would be off limits, but Knobler writes that the Rockies will listen in on Michael Cuddyer—albeit they’d have to be blown away. It’s at least an intriguing option to think about for Colorado.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Ian Stewart
Around a week ago, the Dodgers signed Ian Stewart, a utility man, to a contract. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that he chose Los Angeles over the Yankees, Marlins and Rockies. It’s somewhat of a puzzling move considering he doesn’t even have a spot on the active roster with the Dodgers—and he could elsewhere.
While the Dodgers may just want to stash him in the minors in case someone gets injured, there should still be interest in him from other teams. Last season for the Cubs, Stewart hit .201/.292/.335 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 55 games. He’s far from a great hitter, but could bring some value to a contender off the bench.
San Diego Padres: Edinson Volquez
Edinson Volquez is going to be in the second-tier of available starting pitchers in the next two weeks, behind the likes of guys like Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo. Volquez just isn’t having as good of a year as those starters. In 19 starts, he’s 6-7 with a 5.33 ERA and is walking an average of 4.3 batters per nine innings.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that there are a few teams calling about the availability of the right-hander. Center names the Orioles, Phillies and Blue Jays as teams with interest. Baltimore already got its guy—Scott Feldman—but Toronto and Philadelphia are definitely potential landing spots for Volquez.
San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum
Will the Giants finally give in and deal the two-time Cy Young award winner? The Freak was horrible last season, winning just 10 games in 33 starts and finishing the year with a 5.18 ERA, the highest ever for him. This year, he’s been better. Through 18 starts, he’s 4-9 with a 4.61 ERA. He’s walking fewer batters than in 2012 too.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that there’s no guarantee that the Giants would deal the right-hander, but he is a free agent and there might be a team willing to give up some notable talent for him. San Francisco likely won’t make the postseason, so it might as well get what it can for Lincecum.