MLB Trade Rumors: Tim Lincecum and the Top 10 Players Still on the Market
While it's true that trading for reinforcements in August is much more difficult for MLB teams to do than it is in July, it's certainly not impossible.
We've already seen four waiver-wire trades completed, most notably the Texas Rangers' acquisition of Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox. With nearly half of the teams in baseball still considering themselves contenders for a playoff spot, it's fair to say that more moves are on the way.
Sure, not all of those future deals will include a player of Rios' magnitude, but a handful of impact players who could change the face of playoff races in both leagues could be moved—including San Francisco's Tim Lincecum.
Who else besides Lincecum could be traded between now and the end of the month?
Let's take a look.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are current through games of August 13.
DH/1B Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
It's not surprising that Adam Dunn cleared waivers, with nearly $20 million remaining on his contract that runs through next season.
It is surprising that there hasn't been more chatter on the rumor mill about the strikeout-prone slugger, who has posted a .290/.407/.535 slash line with 15 home runs, 43 RBI and nearly as many walks (43) as strikeouts (59) since June 1.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculates that Dunn would be a good fit with the Orioles, Rangers or Yankees, all of whom could use a powerful left-handed bat in their lineup.
RHP Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays
Given his miserable performance this season and that he's on the DL with a strained right forearm, per Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, an August trade involving Josh Johnson is highly unlikely.
Still, there's no denying that when he's on, Johnson is one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. With the 29-year-old set to hit free agency after the season, there could be a contender out there who views him as a buy-low candidate who simply needs a change of scenery to turn things around.
He's already cleared waivers, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, which makes him eligible to be traded to any team without having to pass through waivers a second time.
1B Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported at the end of June that the White Sox were "open for business" and that the team was willing to discuss trades involving all but two players: Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
On Tuesday, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Konerko had been placed on waivers, giving each of the other 29 MLB teams a chance to claim the 37-year-old first baseman—though, as Rosenthal notes, Konerko can use his 10-and-5 rights to block a deal to any team.
The veteran first baseman has battled a bad back for much of the season, and with his contract expiring, it's fair to speculate that this could be the last time we see Konerko as an active player.
Due roughly $3.25 million for the rest of the season, he could be an attractive addition for a team looking to add a right-handed bat to the bench or as part of a platoon at first base.
Convincing him to leave Chicago, where he's been since 1999, will be a far bigger obstacle to completing a trade than his mediocre production or balky back.
RHP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
While San Francisco would like to re-sign Tim Lincecum after the season and plans on making the two-time Cy Young Award winner a qualifying offer, the Giants will listen to offers on the 29-year-old right-hander.
The team's asking price for Lincecum at the end of July was said to be very high, and with his recent string of impressive starts—he's pitched to a 1.23 ERA and 0.68 WHIP over his last 22 innings of work, walking four and striking out 23—that asking price may have actually increased since then.
With a $22 million salary this season, Lincecum would be a lock to pass through waivers unclaimed, allowing the Giants the opportunity to trade him anywhere.
While the team plans on offering him a qualifying offer, there's no guarantee he'll accept it, and what the team could acquire for him in a trade now is far better than the compensatory draft pick it would receive if he left via free agency, which would take years to make any sort of impact in the Bay Area.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo says that the Giants simply didn't get an offer that was good enough for them to seriously consider moving Lincecum at the non-waiver trade deadline. Part of the reason for that may be that teams still see him as a bullpen piece, not a starter.
With his recent string of success, contenders may have a completely different view of "The Freak" now, and it wouldn't be surprising if a team made a move to add him to its rotation for the stretch run.
1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins
After hitting only eight home runs over his first 379 at-bats, Justin Morneau has suddenly rediscovered his power stroke, going deep six times over his past 56 at-bats and swinging the bat as well as he has at any point this season.
Since the calendar flipped to August, Morneau has hit .268 with nine extra-base hits (three doubles, six home runs), 14 RBI and a .936 OPS.
Not too shabby.
That Minnesota decided to place its longtime first baseman on revocable waivers—as first reported by Peter Gammons—just as his power returned is no coincidence. According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, this is exactly what the Twins were waiting for before trying to move the former AL MVP for the second time this season.
Only a few hours before the non-waiver trade deadline hit on July 31, Baltimore and Minnesota were talking about a possible Morneau deal, but according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles decided against making a move due to Morneau's contract and lack of production.
But Baltimore wasn't the only team linked to Morneau before the deadline. Both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay were reported to have varying levels of interest, and Cafardo also threw Cleveland and Toronto into the mix as potential landing spots for the 32-year-old.
Earning $14 million in the final year of the six-year, $80 million deal that he signed with the Twins before the 2008 season, Morneau is due only a fraction of that—roughly $4 million—for the rest of the season.
ESPN 1500's Darren Wolfson reported last month that the Twins were willing to eat some of the money left on his deal if it meant getting something decent in return. It would stand to reason that Minnesota would still be amenable to doing that in order to facilitate a deal.
1B/OF Michael Morse, Seattle Mariners
Seattle had to wait for Mike Morse to return from the disabled list before it could really try and shop him. While the team made him readily available upon his return to action on July 30, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Morse remains the team's starting right fielder.
The 31-year-old isn't having a great season by any means and has struggled since coming off of the disabled list, hitting only .205 with four doubles, a home run and three RBI over his last 11 games.
Still, were the Mariners to put him on waivers, there's little chance that he'd make it out of the American League. A right-handed bat with some power who can become a free agent after the season, he'd make sense for Baltimore, Boston and New York, something Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe agrees with.
SS Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
After acquiring Leury Garcia from Texas in the Alex Rios deal earlier this month, the White Sox have more flexibility to trade either shortstop Alexei Ramirez or second baseman Gordon Beckham.
Moving Ramirez would make the most sense, with the 31-year-old under contract through 2015 and a far more valuable commodity on the trade market than Beckham at this point in their respective careers.
St. Louis was in hot pursuit of Ramirez leading up to the trade deadline, and he still makes sense for the Cardinals, who have gotten almost no production from Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma at the position. The two have combined to post a terrible .236/.284/.321 slash line this season.
C Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia isn't rushing to work out an extension with 34-year-old backstop Carlos Ruiz the way that it did with second baseman Chase Utley, leading to speculation that the man known as "Chooch" could be on his way out.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. didn't do much to squash that line of thinking with his recent comments to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News about the team's offseason plans:
Catching is going to a very big priority for us - maybe the biggest. There are some players out there. But there's not a lot of catching in the industry. It's going to be a tough decision for us. We might have to look to try to acquire it via trade. Or we could be looking right here at Chooch [Ruiz].
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported earlier this month that the Yankees tried to work out a deal for Ruiz at the deadline, only to be told by Philadelphia that he wasn't available.
While Ruiz still makes sense for New York, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo doesn't think that he'd clear waivers in the National League, pointing to St. Louis as a team that would likely have interest given Yadier Molina's sprained right knee.
With few quality catchers available, the Phillies may be able to find a contender who is willing to surrender a better prospect than you'd expect to land Ruiz.
LHP Jason Vargas, Los Angeles Angels
Jason Vargas looked like a pitcher who hadn't faced major league hitters in more than a month in his Tuesday night start against the Yankees, allowing four earned runs and eight hits over 4.1 innings of work.
But the 30-year-old southpaw has a track record of success, and with quality starting pitching always in demand—especially when it's a left-handed starter—there are few contenders who would pass up a chance to add him to their rotations.
With the blood clot in his left armpit no longer an issue and Vargas set to hit free agency after the season, it makes sense for the Angels to see what they could get for the veteran hurler.
There's little chance of a National League club making a claim on him, with Baltimore, Cleveland, New York and Texas all looking like teams that could benefit from adding Vargas to the back end of their rotations.
LF Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
No matter how you skew the numbers, 2013 has been a season to forget for Josh Willingham.
Since April 9, when he sat with a season-best .280/.486/.600 slash line, the 34-year-old has managed only a .208/.332/.371 line, nine home runs and 35 RBI while missing all of July with a knee injury that required surgery to repair.
While his performance hasn't improved since returning to action on August 9, hitting .130 (3-for-23) with a double, a pair of home runs and two RBI, Willingham could find himself moved before the end of the month, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.
Unlike teammate Justin Morneau, Willingham is under contract through 2014 at a reasonable $7 million salary, making him a fit in Minnesota's outfield and decreasing the team's need to move him.
That said, if trading the veteran could bring back a young, controllable piece that would help the Twins both now and in the future, the team would be foolish not to send him packing.
IF Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies
One of the hottest names on the rumor mill leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline was Philadelphia's Michael Young, who ultimately wasn't moved due to his full no-trade clause and the team's reluctance to admit that it wasn't truly a contender this season.
But the 36-year-old infielder has cleared waivers, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, and that opens the door for a move to still be made.
Of the three teams that Young was rumored to be willing to accept a trade to—the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees—only New York still has an obvious need for the veteran's services. The Bronx Bombers reportedly tried to acquire Young at the deadline, but they were rebuffed by the Phillies.
As versatile a player as you'll find available on the market, Young doesn't fit into Philadelphia's long-term plans. He's already been replaced at third base by Cody Asche and is currently manning first base.
It's fair to speculate that should a legitimate contender come calling, Young may be willing to expand the list of teams to which he'd accept a trade. Oakland is one team that comes to mind as an obvious fit for Young, where he would be a major upgrade at second base over the Eric Sogard/Alberto Callaspo platoon that the A's are using.