Best Fits for Jeff Samardzija, David Price and Top MLB Trade Candidates
The MLB trade deadline is still nearly two months away, but with the amateur draft now in the rearview mirror, the rumor mill will likely start to heat up around names like Jeff Samardzija and David Price in the days and weeks to come.
This year's trade market figures to be very pitching-heavy, with no real impact bats on the market unless the Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers decide to sell and make Michael Cuddyer and Alex Rios available.
However, the pitching that is available is impressive, and after a quiet deadline last year, there could be some huge trades that go down this July.
Let's take a look at some of the top trade candidates here in early June and examine which teams are the best fit to acquire them.
OF Chris Denorfia, San Diego Padres
Best Fit: Boston Red Sox
Outfield production has been arguably the biggest hole for the Boston Red Sox so far this year, as the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency and an injury-plagued year from Shane Victorino has left them struggling to piece together a viable trio of guys.
They are not likely to go after a big-name bat, and frankly, there really are none available unless the Rockies decide to shop Cuddyer. But a secondary piece that can hit right-handed and share the load with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field would make a lot of sense.
Chris Denorfia is one name that figures to come up plenty in trade talks come July, and as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports wrote, he's the type of player teams look for to fill out their roster.
"Denorfia doesn’t possess outstanding tools, but he's precisely the type of player contending teams want in July," Morosi write. "He plays multiple outfield spots and entered the weekend with an .822 career OPS against left-handed pitching."
The Red Sox were linked to Denorfia in the offseason, and as long as his price doesn't get driven up by other teams, he could be a nice low-cost addition.
SP Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians
Best Fit: New York Yankees
An All-Star for the first time last year, Justin Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 193 innings while leading the AL with three complete-game shutouts.
The Cleveland Indians were unable to come to terms on an extension with the right-hander in the offseason, and he is set to hit free agency this coming offseason as a result.
The Indians are currently 31-31 and just four games back in the AL Central, but if they slide at all expect Masterson to be on the move at the deadline. He has not been great this season with a 4.72 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 13 starts, but he looked great his last time out allowing just three hits and striking out 10 in seven shutout innings.
The New York Yankees will certainly be in the market to add an arm, and Masterson could be their best option. He'll come cheaper than someone like Jeff Samardzija, but has the potential to be just as big down the stretch if he returns to form.
For Masterson, if he could pitch well down the stretch in the big market that is New York, it would only help boost his stock heading into free agency as he looks to join the $100 million club.
2B Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Best Fit: San Francisco Giants
The Milwaukee Brewers have shown so far that their hot start was no fluke, as they currently hold a five-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
That should put them in a position to be buyers at the deadline, but that does not change Rickie Weeks' status as a potential trade chip. The former All-Star has been ousted at second base by Scooter Gennett, and if the Brewers can get some value out of the free-agent-to-be, they'll no doubt be open to moving him.
He's been productive in limited action this year, hitting .314/.366/.453 in 86 at-bats, and with a sparse market for bats in general, the Brewers should be able to find an interested party.
The San Francisco Giants have gotten a .177/.268/.321 line from their second basemen on the season, with Brandon Hicks (.187/.306/.380, 8 HR, 20 RBI) seeing the bulk of the playing time in place of the injured Marco Scutaro.
With the best record in the National League, there is no reason for the Giants not to go all-in on this season, and if acquiring Weeks for some mid-level talent is enough to improve their, roster there is no reason for them not to do it.
RP Huston Street, San Diego Padres
Best Fit: Detroit Tigers
The San Diego Padres have a very reasonable $7 million team option on Huston Street for next season, so they don't need to trade the veteran closer by any means, but they'd be crazy not to at least shop him and see what kind of return they could get.
The 30-year-old is 18-of-18 on save chances with a 1.08 ERA and 0.76 WHIP on the year, and he picked up career save No. 250 earlier this season. There figures to be a handful of veteran relievers on the market, but Street would be far and away the best option for teams looking to shore up their bullpen.
One team with a glaring need to upgrade the bullpen is the Detroit Tigers, as veteran Joe Nathan has not been the answer in the ninth inning as hoped. This is a team that still has legitimate title hopes, and adding Street could be the move that pushes it over the top.
The Tigers farm system is fairly weak, and the asking price for Street will be incredibly high, but it may be a move the Tigers are forced to make if their bullpen doesn't sort itself out over the next month.
SP Jason Hammel, Chicago Cubs
Best Fit: Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays currently sit atop the AL East standings with a 5.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles, so expect them to be active at the deadline, with a real shot at winning the division as things stand right now.
Adding another arm to the rotation will be priority No. 1, but according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, their focus will be on "rental" pitchers, so they are likely out on Samardzija and Price.
The name Heyman floated out in his article was Kansas City Royals ace James Shields, but with the Royals just two games under .500 and 2.5 games back of a wild-card spot, it's still too soon to assume that Shields will even be available come July.
Instead, Jason Hammel could be a potential fit, and he is off to a fantastic start to what is his first season with the Chicago Cubs. After signing a one-year, $6 million deal in the offseason, Hammel has gone 6-3 with a 2.53 ERA and 0.88 WHIP through his first 12 starts.
He won't come at a bargain price if he keeps pitching like he has, but the Blue Jays should be able to hold onto both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez and still put together a good enough package to land Hammel.
SP Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
Best Fit: Baltimore Orioles
The AL East has been flipped on its head, with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays both well under .500 and double-digit games behind the Jays. That leaves the Orioles in an interesting position to potentially make a run at a division title here in 2014.
Their starting rotation has been subpar once again, as it currently ranks 24th in the MLB with a 4.49 starter's ERA, and all five starters have an ERA north of 4.00 on the season.
If the O's are going to truly make some noise come October, they need a front-line arm to anchor their staff. And according to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, they look like the front-runners so far to land Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija.
The Cubs are looking to add high-end pitching prospects to their farm system, and the Orioles have that with the likes of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez and Hunter Harvey, among others.
A package built around two of those arms, with either Bundy or Gausman as the key piece, would certainly be tough to pass up for the Cubs. The two teams have a good relationship of late, with Scott Feldman going from Chicago to Baltimore at the deadline last year, and another trade could very well happen.
SP David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Best Fit: St. Louis Cardinals
This one may not be as likely to happen as the other trades suggested so far, but it's not out of the realm of possibility, and in terms of where the best fit is for David Price, the St. Louis Cardinals make a lot of sense.
Chances are the Rays won't trade him in-division, so that takes two of the top teams looking to add arms, the aforementioned Orioles and Blue Jays, out of the mix.
Offense has been the biggest issue for the Cardinals so far this season, but given the pieces they already have in place, it's simply a matter of waiting for guys to get hot rather than going out and looking to add another bat.
Adam Wainwright is the clear ace of the staff, and while Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller are both supremely talented with bright futures, getting a second truly elite arm to pair with Wainwright could be huge for them come October.
A package built around Allen Craig or Matt Adams would be one possibility, but the Cardinals have enough minor league talent that they could put together an attractive offer without having to include either of those guys.
Perhaps a deal with Lance Lynn as the major league center piece, an advanced bat like James Ramsey or Stephen Piscotty and a high-upside arm like Rob Kaminsky or Tyrell Jenkins would be enticing enough for the Rays to pull the trigger.