Updating Top Suitors for Top MLB Trade Deadline Targets

Ben Berkon@benberkonContributor IJuly 29, 2013

Updating Top Suitors for Top MLB Trade Deadline Targets

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    With the July 31 trade deadline just days away, the hot stove has heated up considerably.

    Several top targets, like Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez and Ricky Nolasco, have already been traded. But the majority of July trades tend to occur closer to the deadline itself.

    So for fans hoping their team lands one of Jake Peavy, Alex Rios or Ervin Santana, there’s still plenty of time for a trade to be executed.

    Both Chicago teams will likely compete for the most deadline trades, but other disappointments like the Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels could, too, join the fray.

    For the time being, below is an updated list of top suitors for every most discussed MLB trade deadline target.

    All statistics (through July 27) are sourced from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

Jake Peavy

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    With Matt Garza now a member of the Texas Rangers, pitching-starved teams have turned their attention to Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy. Peavy has only posted a 4.28 ERA (versus 102 ERA+), 1.13 WHIP and 4.47 K/BB this season, but the right-hander has been elite in the past and owns a career 115 ERA+. 

    There is an extensive interest in Peavy. The list includes the Atlanta Braves (tip to Mark Bowman of MLB.com), Oakland Athletics (per John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group), Baltimore Orioles (according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com) and even the Seattle Mariners (reported by Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com).

    But other teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers have all scouted the 32-year-old starter as well, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

    Fans might not have to wait long for a Peavy trade, however, as Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com recently reported that an undisclosed deal is on the precipice of happening. 

    Even if this particular rumor falls through, with so many teams interested in Peavy’s services, the White Sox can kick back and let everyone outbid themselves.

Kevin Gregg

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    The Chicago Cubs are in full sell mode. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has already traded Carlos Marmol, Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston, Matt Garza and, most recently, Alfonso Soriano. The next most logical trade candidate is closer Kevin Gregg.

    Gregg, 35, has posted a 2.82 ERA (versus park-adjusted 140 ERA+), 1.27 WHIP, 2.06 K/BB and 20 saves. Even though teams have also inquired on fellow reliever James Russell, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, Epstein is more inclined to move Gregg.

    Teams like the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers (who released Gregg earlier in the season) and Detroit Tigers could use Gregg, but the career 107 ERA+ reliever isn’t superior to Koji Uehara, Kenley Jansen or Joaquin Benoit.

    Perhaps only the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have witnessed J.J. Putz, Heath Bell and David Hernandez all struggle in 2013, would see Gregg as a ninth-inning upgrade.

Alex Rios

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    Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com indicated that the Chicago White Sox have raised the white flag. And after Jake Peavy, who appears to be on his way out, outfielder Alex Rios is arguably the team’s next best chip. 

    While Rios has not replicated his fruitful 2012 season (park-adjusted 125 OPS+ and 25 home runs) to date, the right-handed hitter has still posted a solid 103 OPS+ with 12 home runs and 22 stolen bases.

    The Texas Rangers appear to be interested in Rios, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, as the team will likely lose outfielder Nelson Cruz to a Biogenesis-related suspension. But per Buster Olney of ESPN.com, general manager Jon Daniels might rather dangle closer Joe Nathan for a hitter instead of dealing more prospects.

    Needless to say, the White Sox need prospects in return—not a veteran closer.

    Another option could be the Pittsburgh Pirates. Heyman writes that the Pirates see Rios as an upgrade over Jose Tabata in right field.

    Rios will earn $12.5 million in 2014 with a $13.5 million team option for 2015 (and a $1 million buyout). The 32-year-old isn’t exactly cheap, but could provide a team with a good role player.

Luke Gregerson

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    Technically, the Detroit Tigers’ interest in Luke Gregerson dates back to March 2013. But according to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Tigers are again in on the San Diego Padres reliever.

    Gregerson has continued his reign as one of the most consistent late-inning relievers in baseball. The 29-year-old has posted a 2.98 ERA (versus park-adjusted 117 ERA+), 1.03 WHIP and 4.11 K/BB over 42.1 innings for the Padres this season.

    While the Tigers would still likely use Joaquin Benoit as their closer, adding Gregerson would give the team much needed late-inning help.

    The Tigers appear to be the frontrunner for Gregerson, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Padres are receiving “a lot of hits” on the reliever.

Michael Young

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    The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t completely willing to call it a year, but that doesn’t mean third baseman Michael Young isn’t available. According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Phillies are letting teams know that Young—but not Cliff Lee—could be had.

    In addition, Olney mentioned that Chase Utley, who—like Young—will be a free agent after the season, is not available for trade in the event an extension cannot be reached. 

    The 36-year-old Young has posted a solid season at the plate, hitting .277 with an 8.8 percent walk rate, seven home runs and park-adjusted 104 OPS+. The big knock on him, however, is his defense. The infielder has gloved an abysmal -1.7 dWAR, which makes him a bad starting option for a National League team.

    Assuming only American League teams inquire on Young, he would be an ideal designated hitter. According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, the Baltimore Orioles appear to be the frontrunner for the veteran’s services.

    It’s worth noting that the Texas Rangers, whom the Phillies acquired Young from in the offseason, are paying $10 million of his $16 million salary this season.

Bud Norris

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    For teams not looking to dent the farm in trades for Jake Peavy or Ervin Santana, Bud Norris might be a cheaper alternative.

    Norris has posted a 3.93 ERA (versus park-adjusted 106 ERA+), 1.41 WHIP and 2.09 K/BB in 2013. The right-hander, who boasted a career 8.8 K/9, has witnessed the impressive rate drop 2.4 points this season.

    Regression aside, according to both Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Atlanta Braves are interested in Norris’ services on account of Tim Hudson’s season-ending injury. On the flip side, however, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com opined that the Braves would rather acquire a starter with “big-game experience.”

    The Astros might be better off holding on to Norris until at least Peavy or Santana get dealt.

Marlon Byrd

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    If the New York Mets are playing coy on the Marlon Byrd trade front, then they’re doing a marvelous job thus far. Byrd, who is hitting .278 with a park-adjusted 131 OPS+ and 17 home runs, appears to be off the market in lieu of a massive offer.

    In fact, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, the Mets are “looking for a top 10 or 15 prospect” for Byrd. Needless to say, the Mets have yet to find a trade partner.

    The Texas Rangers could use Byrd’s bat, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com opines that the team prefers several outfielders—including Alex Rios, Giancarlo Stanton, Michael Cuddyer, Jose Bautista and Hunter Pence—to Byrd.

    Assuming the Mets relent a bit on their asking price, perhaps the Rangers—or another contender—would make an offer on the 35-year-old right fielder.

Yovani Gallardo

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    A year ago, Yovani Gallardo would have been untouchable. And for good reason. The then-26-year-old owned a career 3.63 ERA (versus park-adjusted 113 ERA+), 1.29 WHIP and 2.64 K/BB. Gallardo even placed seventh in the 2011 Cy Young Award voting.

    But 2013 hasn’t been kind, as the Brewers right-hander has posted a 4.88 ERA (versus 80 ERA+), 1.46 WHIP and 2.08 K/BB. Gallardo’s once team-friendly contract (five years, $30.1 million) all of a sudden is an albatross. Throw in an early-season DUI and the 27-year-old almost seems dump-worthy.

    Aside from a June 28 report from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal citing the Arizona Diamondbacks as a suitor, there hasn’t been any recent noise surrounding the once highly regarded pitcher. In fact, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com mentioned that three scouts who recently observed Gallardo “all described him as just a No. 4 or 5 starter.”

    Even though Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks the Brewers should focus on “[salvaging] a pitcher losing his stuff,” the Brewers might just rather rid his remaining $11.85 million for 2014 (including $600,000 2015 buyout). 

    Perhaps if the Atlanta Braves lose out on Jake Peavy and Bud Norris, they’d be willing to buy low on Gallardo.

Nate Schierholtz

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    The Chicago Cubs made one of the best signings this offseason, inking outfielder Nate Schierholtz to a one-year, $2.25 million deal. The Cubs must be pretty proud of themselves, as Schierholtz has rewarded the team with a career-best park-adjusted 135 OPS+, 14 home runs and a 7.1 percent walk rate. 

    But not everyone has been surprised by the output. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reportedly advised ownership to re-sign Russell Martin and add Schierholtz too. The Steinbrenners apparently overruled Cashman and forced him to instead sign Ichiro Suzuki to a two-year deal.

    Schierholtz, 29, will undoubtedly find his way onto a contender in the next few days as the Cubs continue their roster overhaul.

    One suitor will likely be the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though the Pirates prefer Alex Rios, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the team also likes Schierholtz’s bat.

Ervin Santana

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    The Los Angeles Angels gave Ervin Santana away, sending the 30-year-old to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor leaguer Brandon Sisk last October. After posting a dismal 5.16 ERA (versus park-adjusted 74 ERA+), 1.27 WHIP and 2.18 K/BB in 2012—and being set to earn $13 million in 2013—perhaps the move was just.

    But Santana has been elite in 2013, spinning a 3.06 ERA (versus 134 ERA+), 1.07 WHIP and 3.57 K/BB. As an impending free agent, the Royals, who have little chance of catching either the Detroit Tigers or Cleveland Indians, have prudently been listening to offers on the righty.

    According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, the Atlanta Braves are looking to add starting pitching they deem as “legit upgrades.” That label likely includes either Jake Peavy or Santana.

    But while Santana will be good as gone after the season, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star insisted that the Royals don’t plan on letting their best chip go cheaply. In fact, Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Royals are possibly looking for a better package than what Matt Garza brought the Chicago Cubs.

    The loser of the Peavy sweepstakes will likely go hard after Santana.