Establishing Each MLB Team's Top 2014 Trade Market Priorities
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline may seem like it's still a ways off, but considering the trade market really starts to heat up when the calendar turns over to July, we're just a couple of weeks from the rumor mill kicking into full swing.
There is still some work to be done as far as teams establishing themselves as buyers or sellers, with a number of clubs hovering around the .500 mark, but a fairly decent picture can already be painted of what teams will be looking to do in July.
The following article breaks down all 30 MLB teams' 2014 trade-market priorities, and you will see the following four terms used when referring to potential moves:
- Trade: A player almost certain to be moved, due to an expiring contract or his status on a rebuilding team.
- Shop: A player that could be on the move, if the price is right.
- Add: A clear area of need for the team, and one that it will almost certainly address at the deadline.
- Explore: A potential area of need for the team, and one worth at least exploring other options for at the deadline.
So here in the middle of June, this is a preliminary look at what all 30 teams could be looking to do between now and the end of July.
- TRADE RP Brad Ziegler
After closing out the 2013 season as the Diamondbacks' closer, Ziegler has returned to the setup role in which he has thrived throughout his career. In 35 appearances this year, he has a 2.70 ERA and a team-high 14 holds, and he is set to hit free agency at the end of the season, so he looks like the team's most likely trade chip.
- TRADE RP Joe Thatcher
At the deadline last year, the Diamondbacks sold low on starter Ian Kennedy, landing San Diego Padres southpaw Joe Thatcher to help shore up their bullpen.
That deal has backfired, as Thatcher has been reliable but Kennedy has returned to form this year for the Padres. Flipping Thatcher again this July could help them offset some of what they lost in moving Kennedy, and there is always a market for good, left-handed relievers.
- SHOP 3B Martin Prado.
One of the most versatile players in the game, Prado still has two years left on his current contract at $11 million each, but in a market that is incredibly thin on bats the Diamondbacks would be wise to at least test the market on him. Their asking price will be high, and rightfully so, but they may just be willing to find someone to pay it.
- ADD another left-handed reliever
Last year at the deadline, the Atlanta Braves acquired veteran left-hander Scott Downs to help shore up their bullpen for the stretch run. A year later, they are again in need of a second southpaw to complement Luis Avilan, especially if Alex Wood winds up back in the rotation at some point.
- ADD another starting pitcher
The Braves have some depth from which to draw, with Alex Wood and David Hale both currently pitching out of the bullpen, but adding another frontline arm could push them over the top in the NL East. They have some prospect depth to utilize, should they opt to make a run at one of the top arms out there, though it is not necessarily a glaring weakness.
- ADD a frontline starting pitcher
If the Baltimore Orioles are going to secure an AL playoff spot, they will almost certainly need to not only add a starting pitcher, but one that is capable of stepping into the role of staff ace.
All five of their starters have an ERA over 4.00 right now, and Opening Day starter Chris Tillman has been the worst of the bunch with a 5.20 ERA though his first 13 starts. It looks like their top target will likely be Jeff Samardzija, and he could go a long way in righting the ship.
- ADD catching depth (if Matt Wieters is out for the year)
With starting catcher Matt Wieters currently sidelined with an elbow injury, and potentially facing season-ending surgery if he doesn't show signs of improvement, the Orioles could be looking for help behind the plate.
Caleb Joseph and May acquisition Nick Hundley are currently sharing catching duties, but they have provided next to nothing offensively to this point, and the team could look to add another backstop come July.
Boston Red Sox
- ADD a right-handed hitting outfielder (if they're buyers)
With Jacoby Ellsbury gone, Shane Victorino missing time and guys like Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley and Grady Sizemore struggling to hit their weight, the lack of outfield production has been a big reason for the Boston Red Sox's struggles this season.
Adding a right-handed hitting platoon bat like Chris Denorfia of the San Diego Padres could help their overall production at a relatively low cost.
- SHOP SP Jon Lester (if they're sellers)
If the Red Sox are not able to right the ship by the time July rolls around, ace Jon Lester could be one of the most valuable trade chips out there.
A free agent at the end of the year, Lester turned down a four-year extension offer in the neighborhood of $70 million to $80 million before the season, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. With so much pitching depth in the minors, it seems like a very real possibility that Lester is pitching elsewhere in 2015 one way or another, so don't be surprised to see him shopped.
- TRADE SP Jeff Samardzija
After the two sides failed to come to terms on an extension before the start of the season, the odds of Jeff Samardzija being traded this July rose considerably, and a hot start to the season only raised his trade value.
With an extra year of team control and his status as perhaps the top arm on the market, there is reason to believe the Cubs should be able to best the haul they got for rental arm Matt Garza at the deadline last year.
- TRADE SP Jason Hammel
The Cubs took a chance on Jason Hammel with a one-year, $6 million deal this offseason, and it has already paid major dividends. The veteran is currently 6-3 with a 2.53 ERA, and he ranks second in the NL in BAA (.191) and WHIP (0.88).
They signed Scott Feldman to a one-year deal and flipped him at the deadline last year, and all signs point to them doing the same with Hammel this time around.
- SHOP UT Emilio Bonifacio/OF Nate Schierholtz
Outside of the two arms above, the Cubs have a handful of other pieces that could potentially bring a decent return. Soon-to-be free agents Emilio Bonifacio and Nate Schierholtz top that list, and in a thin market for position players both could fetch a mid-level prospect.
Chicago White Sox
- TRADE 1B/DH Adam Dunn
Signed to a four-year, $56 million deal before the 2011 season, Adam Dunn bounced back from a terrible first year with the White Sox to hit 41 and 34 home runs in the past two seasons, respectively.
He's flashed solid power so far this year with an .846 OPS and 11 home runs, and if the team shops him he could be the top bat on the market and an impact addition for a contender.
- TRADE RP Matt Lindstrom
A free agent at season's end, Matt Lindstrom had stepped into the role of closer for the White Sox before landing on the DL with an ankle injury at the end of May. If the hard-throwing right-hander can prove healthy, there would no doubt be at least a few teams interested in the veteran's services.
- SHOP SS Alexei Ramirez
Alexei Ramirez has been one of the more consistent shortstops in baseball since coming into the league in 2008, and he trails only Troy Tulowitzki (30.7) and Hanley Ramirez (25.0) in WAR over that span with a 20.8 mark.
He is signed for $9.5 million next season, with a $10 million option for 2016, so the White Sox don't need to move him. However, if they decide to shop for more young talent, Ramirez could net a sizable return with the terrific start he's off to this year.
- SHOP a starting pitcher
The Cincinnati Reds generally shy away from making big moves at the trade deadline, but this year could be different, especially if they are in a position to sell when July rolls around.
With Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani and Robert Stephenson likely to fill three of the team's rotation spots long-term, chances are at least one of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake will be pitching elsewhere in the not-too-distant future.
All three are set to hit free agency after the 2015 season, along with this year's surprise starter, Alfredo Simon, so shopping one of those guys now when they still have a year of team control could net them the biggest return.
- SHOP SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Regardless of whether or not they wind up as buyers or sellers this year, it would not be at all surprising to see Asdrubal Cabrera hit the trade market this July.
With Cabrera set to hit free agency at the end of the season, and top prospect Francisco Lindor banging down the door with solid numbers as a 20-year-old in Double-A, his time in Cleveland is likely over one way or another by the end of 2014.
- TRADE SP Justin Masterson (if they're sellers)
Masterson made his first All-Star appearance last year when he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA, 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and an AL-high three complete-game shutouts.
But the Indians failed to come to terms on an extension with the right-hander this offseason, and he is now set to hit free agency at the end of the season. After posting a 5.21 ERA through his first 12 starts, Masterson has looked sharp his last two times out, as he may finally be turning a corner here in 2014. If the Indians are selling and don't feel they can re-sign Masterson, he could be a highly sought secondary arm on the trade market.
- ADD a starting pitcher (if they're buyers)
Indians starters rank 25th in the MLB with a 4.55 ERA, and while the trio of Josh Tomlin, T.J. House and Trevor Bauer has been functional, the team will likely still need to add another arm if it hopes to make a return trip to the playoffs in 2014.
- SHOP 1B/OF Michael Cuddyer (if they're sellers)
The Colorado Rockies don't have many tradeable pieces if they wind up as sellers in July, but reigning NL batting champion Michael Cuddyer is one guy they could look to shop.
The three-year, $31.5 million deal he signed before the 2012 season has proven to be a great move by the Rockies, but there is some question as to whether they will look to re-sign the 35-year-old at the end of the season. If not, he could be one of the more valuable bats at the deadline and net the Rockies some needed prospect depth.
- ADD starting pitching (if they're buyers)
Like in years past, the Rockies will only go as far as their starting pitching allows, and after a terrific start to the season, they have fallen off significantly as a result of some sub-par pitching.
Prospect Eddie Butler made his debut last week, and fellow prospect Jon Gray could follow soon after, but if they are going to make a run at contention, they will almost certainly have to pick up another arm at the deadline.
- ADD a reliever or two
The Detroit Tigers remain a team with legitimate title hopes in 2014, but if they are going to make a return trip to the World Series, they will have to sort out their bullpen issues.
With Joe Nathan flopping in the closer role and everyone outside of the trio of Joba Chamberlain, Ian Krol and Al Alburquerque with an ERA north of 4.00, they have no choice but to look for a veteran arm or two at the deadline.
Jose Veras was a solid pickup last July, but they could find themselves in the market for a legitimate closer this time around. Regardless, they will be looking to bolster their pen one way or another.
- EXPLORE potential short-term shortstop options
Jose Iglesias will presumably be back next season, and he remains the team's shortstop of the future, but kicking the tires on some short-term options makes sense.
The Tigers are currently employing a platoon of Eugenio Suarez and Andrew Romine at the position, but they have gotten just a .203/.262/.264 line from the shortstop position on the year. Look for guys like Cliff Pennington, Clint Barmes and Ramon Santiago to be potential targets.
- SHOP CF Dexter Fowler
In one of their first big moves as buyers since they began rebuilding, the Astros shipped Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes to the Colorado Rockies for Dexter Fowler this past offseason.
He's been an on-base stud once again this year, hitting .284/.397/.404 with a team-high 37 runs scored, and the team could look to flip him for more than they gave up as a result. He has one year of arbitration left and could push $10 million after earning $7.35 million this year.
- TRADE any veteran relievers with value
The Astros added a handful of veteran arms to their bullpen this offseason, and they will likely listen to offers to any and all of them once July rolls around.
Both Jesse Crain and Matt Albers are currently on the DL, but they still have some time to establish value. Left-handers Tony Sipp and Darin Downs could be of interest to someone looking for a southpaw, while closer Chad Qualls has the added value of being more than a rental player with a reasonable $3 million salary for next year and a $3.5 million option for 2016.
Kansas City Royals
- SHOP SP James Shields (if they're sellers)
The Royals gave up a king's ransom to acquire workhorse James Shields before last season, shipping a package of prospects built around Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays, and now he is set to cash in as a free agent this upcoming offseason.
There's a very real chance he'll price himself out of Kansas City, and while the team could opt to hold onto him to make him a qualifying offer, they will no doubt try to recoup some prospect talent first by shopping him if they fall out of it by July.
- ADD power of some sort (if they're buyers)
On a position-by-position basis the Royals don't have any real glaring holes; it's more a matter of players performing up to their potential. They have been playing better baseball of late and are still very much in the hunt for an AL playoff spot, and if they wind up buying, their focus will be on finding a power bat.
They have just 28 home runs as a team so far this year, with Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez leading the way with six each, and picking up someone who can hit the ball out of the ballpark with some regularity will be their No. 1 priority.
Los Angeles Angels
- ADD a left-handed reliever
The Los Angeles Angels bullpen is currently without a left-handed reliever, and while Jose Alvarez and Nick Maronde have both seen time in the majors this year, adding a proven veteran could go a long way in solidifying their relief corps.
The hope was that a healthy Sean Burnett could be the answer, but he managed just three appearances this year before undergoing a second Tommy John surgery.
- EXPLORE other DH options
Getting Josh Hamilton back healthy will no doubt provide a big boost for the offense, and scoring runs has not been an issue this year, as they have put up 4.76 runs per game, but they could still kick the tires on another bat.
Veteran Raul Ibanez is hitting just .152/.254/.265 with three home runs in 151 at-bats as the primary DH right now, and while the 42-year-old is a great guy to have in the clubhouse, the team would be better off if his role in the offense were smaller.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- EXPLORE other catching options
With A.J. Ellis missing significant time and struggling at the plate when he has been healthy, the Dodgers have gotten a meager .181/.266/.276 line out of the catcher's position this year.
Tim Federowicz and Drew Butera are currently splitting time, with Ellis shelved by an ankle injury, and the lack of production should be reason enough for the Dodgers to at least keep tabs on the catching market. If someone like Kurt Suzuki is made available, he could be a nice addition.
- SHOP an outfielder, probably Matt Kemp
The Dodgers still have high aspirations for the 2014 season, and rightfully so with one of the game's best starting rotations at their disposal. That being said, they could still look to sell on an outfielder at the deadline, with Matt Kemp being the most likely candidate to be moved.
At this point Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier essentially have zero trade value, and while Kemp has not exactly torn the cover off the ball, his upside is enough to make him an interesting trade chip.
Moving him would open things up for top prospect Joc Pederson to make his way to the majors in the second half; and he could provide an immediate spark, as he's currently hitting .332/.440/.623 with 11 doubles, 16 home runs and 13 steals at Triple-A Albuquerque.
- ADD a starting pitcher
The Marlins find themselves in the surprising position to be buyers at the deadline this time around, and while the starting rotation has done a nice job of keeping things together after Jose Fernandez went down, they could certainly use another frontline arm alongside Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi.
They will likely give top prospect Andrew Heaney a look before they make any additions, as the Super 2 deadline has come and gone, and he is 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 9.3 K/9 between Double-A and Triple-A on the year. He could certainly give them a boost if he keeps pitching like he has once he reaches the majors.
- EXPLORE second base options
Marlins second basemen have hit .249/.332/.386 on the year, but the position has been a revolving door with Derek Dietrich, Jeff Baker, Donovan Solano and now Ed Lucas all seeing time at the position.
Things could become even more cluttered soon, as Rafael Furcal is currently on a rehab assignment and could rejoin the team soon as well. One would think some combination of their in-house options could adequately fill the spot, but with so much flux it would not be surprising to see them kick the tires on whatever happens to be out there come July.
- ADD position player depth
When healthy, the Brewers have one of the better lineups in the National League, led by a trio of potential All-Stars in Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy.
Mark Reynolds provides some versatility, as he showed when he slid over to third base in place of the injured Aramis Ramirez, but as a whole the team is incredibly thin on position-player options should injury strike again.
Guys like Elian Herrera, Jeff Bianchi and Irving Falu have all seen time at the utility infielder spot so far, and adding a proven veteran who can play all over the infield and provide a professional at-bat seems like an obvious move.
- TRADE LF Josh Willingham
Despite what the addition of Kendrys Morales may imply, the Twins will still likely be sellers come July unless they go on a hot streak over the next couple of weeks. They simply don't have the pitching to be legitimate contenders at this point.
With an expiring contract and some intriguing offensive potential when healthy, Josh Willingham has to be considered the most likely player to be moved at this point, and if the market is as thin on bats as it's expected to be, he could bring some value in return.
- SHOP 1B/DH Kendrys Morales and C Kurt Suzuki
The Twins will not be able to make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer at the end of the season, but he is eligible to be traded come July, so if he steps in and starts hitting but the team falls out of it expect him to be on the block.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki is less likely to be moved and is actually a candidate to be re-signed, but it would be worth at least gauging his value on the trade market. He has been a steal on a one-year, $2.75 million deal, and he could net a big return if he winds up being the only viable starting catcher option on the market.
- ADD a starting pitcher (if they're buyers, or can buy low)
It goes without saying that if the Twins are in a position to contend when the deadline rolls around, they will have to aggressively pursue another starting pitcher.
However, they could also be players to buy low on an arm that is under team control through this season, similar to what the San Diego Padres did with their acquisition of Ian Kennedy at the deadline last year.
New York Mets
- SHOP a veteran starting pitcher
As things stand right now, the New York Mets will be in an interesting position when spring training rolls around next year, at least as far as their starting rotation is concerned.
With Matt Harvey back healthy and top prospect Noah Syndergaard expected to be vying for a spot, joined by Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, Jake deGrom and Rafael Montero, the team will have eight starters competing for five spots.
Gee is the obvious candidate to be moved among that group as a 28-year-old who is in line for a decent raise in his second year of arbitration eligibility. For the team to have any chance of moving him, though, he'll need to prove he's over a strained lat that currently has him shelved with no clear timetable for his return.
- EXPLORE shortstop options
The Mets are not in a position to buy as far as this season is concerned, but if they can add a piece that could help them long-term, there is no reason not to at least consider their options.
If a team like the Seattle Mariners or Arizona Diamondbacks are motivated to move someone like Nick Franklin or Didi Gregorius, and the Mets can swoop in and acquire him at a reasonable price, it could certainly help the team's 2015 outlook.
New York Yankees
- ADD a frontline starting pitcher
With Ivan Nova out for the season and both Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia sidelined until at least July and possibly well beyond, the New York Yankees have been forced to dig deep as far as their starting rotation is concerned.
Rookie Chase Whitley (5 GS, 2.42 ERA) has done a great job of stepping into one of those spots, but Vidal Nuno and David Phelps have both struggled. If they Yankees have any chance of making a significant postseason run, they have to add a frontline arm between now and the deadline—it's as simple as that.
- EXPLORE corner infield options
Mark Teixeira has hit when he's been in the lineup this year, but after missing 14 games with a hamstring injury, he has recently been dealing with wrist inflammation in the same wrist he had surgery on last year.
Kelly Johnson has seen some time at first base, and all over the field for that matter, but adding another power bat that is capable of stepping in as the everyday first baseman if Teixeira goes down would be a good safety net for the Yankees should such a player become available.
Perhaps another run at Kendrys Morales come July?
- SHOP RP Jim Johnson
It didn't take long for the Athletics to remove Jim Johnson from the closer's role this year, as he made it all of five appearances before being demoted to middle relief. For a small-market team like the A's, $10 million is an awful lot to spend on a middle reliever.
He's posted a respectable 4.15 ERA in 20 appearances since getting the hook and has a 2.16 ERA on the year on the road compared to 14.04 at home, so if anyone can benefit from a change of scenery come July, it's Johnson.
With no top closers projected to be available, unless the San Diego Padres decide to move Huston Street, there could be plenty of teams interested in Johnson.
- EXPLORE the second base market
Eric Sogard may be a fan favorite and a solid defensive second baseman, but a .195/.265/.233 line over 133 at-bats simply does not cut it for a team that is in position to legitimately contend for the pennant this season.
Albert Callaspo has also seen time at second base, hitting .222/.315/.304 on the year, but he is best suited as a utility man who plays all over the infield.
The second base market will likely be thin, and the A's could have some competition from the San Francisco Giants as far as acquiring someone, but they have to at least explore their options.
- SHOP SP Cliff Lee
As badly as they need to start rebuilding, the Phillies really don't have all that much in the way of movable pieces.
Chase Utley is not going anywhere, Jimmy Rollins' value is dragged down by an $11 million vesting option next year (plus he'd have to waive 10-and-5 rights) and it's unlikely anyone will commit to taking on 36-year-old Marlon Byrd with another year at $8 million on his contract.
If any of their big veteran pieces are going to be moved, Cliff Lee remains the most likely and most attractive option of the bunch.
A $25 million salary for next year and a $27.5 million option in 2016 that carries a $12.5 million buyout make things difficult, but his track record of postseason success still makes him an commodity.
- TRADE SP Francisco Liriano
Things have not gone well for the Pirates in their bid to make a return trip to the postseason, and with it looking more and more likely that the two NL wild-card spots will come out of the NL East and/or NL West, there's a good chance they wind up selling at the deadline.
Francisco Liriano was a bona fide ace for the Pirates last season, and while he has not been nearly as good this year at 1-6 with a 4.54 ERA, he still has value on an expiring contract and is the most likely Pirates player to be dealt.
- SHOP C Russell Martin
Another free agent-to-be, Russell Martin is still a candidate to be re-signed by the Pirates at the end of the season, so he's far from a sure thing to be available.
Still just 31, he does a great job at handling their staff and provides some pop in the lineup. With no clear-cut replacement behind him right now, unless the team thinks Tony Sanchez is ready to step into the everyday role, bringing him back makes sense.
That said, shopping him to get an idea of his value wouldn't hurt, and if the price is right, the team could very well pull the trigger on moving him.
- ADD a starting pitcher (if they're buyers)
Should the Pirates get hot in the next couple of weeks and instead opt to buy at the deadline, another starter would be their most likely target. It's hard to see them giving up any top prospects for an outside shot at a wild-card spot, though.
San Diego Padres
- TRADE OF Seth Smith and 3B Chase Headley
It's incredible just how far the trade value of Chase Headley has plummeted since last offseason, and with a meager .195/.279/.327 line he probably won't fetch much more than a couple of mid-level prospects from a team hoping he can get hot with a change of scenery.
Meanwhile, Seth Smith has emerged as perhaps the top available bat if he's put on the block, and the Padres would be crazy not to sell high on him. He's a free agent at season's end, and while he's been a solid fourth outfielder throughout his career, he's producing way over his head right now, and his value will never be higher.
- SHOP RP Huston Street
Veteran Huston Street has been the most effective closer in baseball so far this season, converting all 18 of his save chances with a 1.08 ERA and 0.76 WHIP.
He has a very reasonable $7 million team option for next year, so the Padres' asking price on him will likely be incredibly high. That being said, for a contender in desperate need of a late-inning upgrade, it's a price someone may be willing to pay.
San Francisco Giants
- ADD starting pitching depth
The Giants rotation has bounced back in a big way this year, as they rank seventh in the MLB with a 3.50 ERA after a terribly disappointing 2013 season. The addition of Tim Hudson has been a big reason for the turnaround, and while they are solid starting five, there is a clear lack of depth if someone were to go down with an injury.
Yusmeiro Petit is the next in line to start right now, but he has gone just 1-2 with a 5.81 ERA in five spot start on the year. This is not to say the Giants need to go out and trade for David Price or Jeff Samardzija, but bringing in a low-cost veteran for insurance would be wise.
Think Freddy Garcia with the Atlanta Braves last season.
- EXPLORE second base options
With Marco Scutaro sidelined all season with a back injury, the Giants have relied mainly on Brandon Hicks as their primary second baseman so far. While he has shown some pop with eight home runs and has been solid defensively, he's hitting just .185 on the year and has a 30.7 percent strikeout rate.
Scutaro could still be back at some point, and with the Giants offense taking a big step forward this year, the plus defense Hicks has provided has been enough to keep him in the lineup. But it's worth at least seeing who else is available.
- ADD a run-producer
Outside of Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano and maybe Michael Saunders, the Seattle Mariners offense has been poor at best once again. They are hitting an AL-worst .238 as a team and rank 10th in the league with 262 runs scored on the year.
Getting Corey Hart and Logan Morrison healthy would help, but they were not exactly tearing the cover off the ball when they were on the field. Meanwhile, Justin Smoak has been a sub-par option at first base once again, hitting .208/.282/.361, though he does rank second on the team with seven home runs.
The Mariners have been playing great baseball of late, and their pitching staff has been great, but if they are going to make the playoffs they need another bat in the middle of their lineup.
St. Louis Cardinals
- EXPLORE the frontline starting pitching market
The Cardinals have no glaring needs at this point, it's just a matter of their offense getting things going and hitting to their capabilities. However, they could make a play for one of the market's top arms if they decide to make a splash.
Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller certainly both have bright futures and are capable of being great every time they take the mound, but adding another proven veteran like David Price alongside Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation could push them over the top.
It's a longshot at this point, but they have plenty of talent from which to draw if they were to make a play for a big arm, and it's worth them at least getting involved in the conversation.
Tampa Bay Rays
- TRADE SP David Price
At 24-41, the Tampa Bay Rays are currently sitting on the worst record in baseball, and that makes it all but certain that they'll be looking to move ace David Price between now and the deadline.
Granted, most expected him to be gone before Opening Day rolled around, but it's hard to envision a scenario where the Rays decide to hold onto Price once again.
The big left-hander is making $14 million this season and will only see that salary increase in his final year of arbitration next year before hitting free agency in 2016. He's not having the best season, but his value is still at its highest right now with a year of team control left, and the return haul will be too much for the Rays to pass up.
- SHOP 2B/OF Ben Zobrist
With his defensive versatility and good mix of power and speed at the plate, Ben Zobrist has been one of the most valuable all-around players in baseball for years now, and a staple in the Rays lineup.
However, he is also 33 years old and in the final guaranteed year of his current contract. He has a very reasonable $7.5 million option for next season, so the Rays won't trade him unless they are blown away by an offer. That being said, what contender wouldn't love to add someone like Zobrist to the mix?
- TRADE OF Alex Rios
The Rangers have done an admirable job of keeping their heads above water through all the injuries this season, but unless something changes it looks like they'll be sellers in July. At 31-33, they are currently fourth in their own division, and there are seven teams ahead of them in the wild-card standings.
As far as movable parts, last year's deadline acquisition, Alex Rios, could bring a huge return if he keeps hitting like he has so far this year. The 33-year-old is currently hitting .335/.367/.492 with 25 extra-base hits and 12 steals.
He has a $13.5 million team option for next year with a $1 million buyout, making him more than just a rental player for whoever goes after him, and trading him could help the Rangers recoup some of what they lost in the Matt Garza trade last July.
- SHOP RP Joakim Soria
Once one of the best closers in the game during his time in Kansas City, Joakim Soria missed all of the 2012 season before serving in a setup role for the Rangers last season.
He beat out Neftali Feliz for the closer's job this spring and has returned to elite form, converting 13 of 14 save chances with a 2.08 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 12.3 K/9.
The Rangers have a $7 million team option on him for next year, so they don't need to shop him, but if the Padres decide to hold on to Huston Street he could be the top reliever on the market.
Toronto Blue Jays
- ADD a starting pitcher
The Blue Jays decided against signing one of the market's top arms in the offseason, instead banking on three arms from their in-house crop of starters to step forward behind Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey.
Drew Hutchison has certainly emerged as a solid third option, and Marcus Stroman has looked good in two starts since moving from the bullpen to the rotation. However, J.A. Happ has been hit-and-miss, and the team could certainly use another plus arm.
The Blue Jays have indicated they will focus on rental-type players at the deadline, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, so expect guys like James Shields and Jason Hammel to be among their top targets.
- SHOP SP/RP Ross Detwiler
After making 13 starts last season and posting a 4.04 ERA, Ross Detwiler lost out to Tanner Roark for the final rotation spot this spring, due in part to the Nationals' need for another left-hander in the bullpen.
He has not taken to the role as they hoped he would, though, posting a 4.78 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in 18 appearances.
Still just 28 years old, Detwiler has been a solid starter in the past, but he's slipped down the depth chart in Washington. He is an interesting buy-low candidate, as he's under team control through next season, so it's at least worth shopping him and seeing if they can perhaps flip him for a proven reliever.
- ADD a left-handed reliever
With Detwiler struggling, the Nationals' only southpaw out of the bullpen has been offseason acquisition Jerry Blevins, who has a 3.86 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 29 appearances.
Adding another left-hander to the mix is a must as the Nationals look to make a run at the playoffs, with Tony Sipp, Joe Thatcher and Wesley Wright expected to be among the available veterans on the market.