At this point in the season, most MLB teams have a pretty good idea of where they stand in the pennant race. Wins and losses are tallied, injuries are assessed and options are weighed. For most teams, it’s time to either buy or sell.
The trade deadline is fast approaching, and apart from a couple expected moves, there hasn’t been a lot of action on the trade market. Expect that to change in the coming days as contenders gear up for a final push and flailing teams look to cash in on the value.
The Chicago Cubs have already taken advantage of trade-market value this season, dealing starter Matt Garza and outfielder Alfonso Soriano to continue their rebuilding process, as reported by ESPN 1380 and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
Soriano trade was just approved. He's in LF batting 4th #yankees— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 26, 2013
Who else will cash in on value prior to the trade deadline? Let’s take a look at the latest rumors involving some of the biggest names on the trade market.
Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau hasn’t hit better than .267 in the last two-plus seasons, but he’s still one of the better left-handed bats available on the trade market.
Per Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Orioles may be interested in making a move for him:
According to an industry source, the Orioles have contacted the Twins abut Morneau – who has about $6 million remaining on his deal – but the conversations were defined as preliminary.
All-Star Chris Davis is playing first base for Baltimore, but the Orioles could certainly use another bat in the DH role. As it stands, there are few better options short of high-priced outfield talent.
Minnesota isn’t in full rebuilding mode, but it isn’t that far off. If the Twins hope to add more youthful talent to aid in the process, Morneau is going to have to be the first domino to fall.
At 49-55 and 10 games back in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies should be considering all their options on the trade market. Catching the Atlanta Braves isn’t impossible, but it’s not all that likely.
Michael Young and Cliff Lee are two extremely tradable assets the Phillies may be considering moving. Per Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, at least three teams are interested in Young:
Rangers, Red Sox, Orioles all in on Michael Young. Probably makes most sense for Orioles as DH— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 28, 2013
The 36-year-old third baseman isn’t having the offensive success we’re used to seeing from him (.277 batting average), but he’s still one of the most consistent bats potentially available.
Boston, Texas and Baltimore are all in the hunt for a postseason appearance, and all three options make sense on some level.
But the Phillies may have an additional asset who could sweeten the pot and ensure a massive return.
Per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is keeping his options open regarding Lee:
Ruben Amaro Jr. said he has no desire to trade Lee because he sees him as part of #phillies future, but is keeping open mind.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 26, 2013
The 34-year-old hurler is having another terrific season, posting a 10-4 record and a 3.05 ERA in 20 starts this season. It makes sense Philadelphia would be hesitant to part with him, but Lee could potentially bring back a massive package of talented young prospects.
Young is more likely to be dealt, but keep an eye on Philadelphia as the deadline draws near.
San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is having another terrific season, and according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Giants may look to get a “strong return” for his services:
#SFGiants like Pence and need Pence. Want to keep him long-term. But given poor quality of hitters available, team may get a strong return.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 27, 2013
It comes as no surprise San Francisco probably doesn’t want to deal the 30-year-old right fielder. Despite hitting .253 last season, Pence hit 24 home runs and added 104 RBI, and is on pace for similar numbers in 2013.
In 103 games this season, Pence is batting .278 with 14 homers and 51 RBI, adding 14 stolen bases to this point after swiping just five last season. He’s not an elite five-tool player, but he does have the mix of plate prowess, baserunning abilities and defensive stability to take a contender over the top.
Per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Texas Rangers could be in the mix to acquire Pence:
The Rangers, facing the possibility that right-fielder Nelson Cruz could be suspended and without much production from their other outfielders, have set their sights on Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios, San Francisco right fielder Hunter Pence and Seattle designated hitter Kendrys Morales to fill a need for a right-handed hitter, according to baseball sources.
Rios and Morales are both intriguing options for the Rangers—and perhaps less costly options as well—but Pence would certainly fill a need should Cruz be suspended. If the Giants can manage to give up less for Pence than for either Rios or Morales, this could be a very likely scenario.