As the 2014 MLB trade deadline approaches on July 31, star players on teams out of contention for a playoff spot, like David Price, find themselves on the trading block.
As these teams build for the future, star players older than 25 serve little utility. Here are four players who need to be traded by the deadline.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs ace has had a tremendous season. In 97.0 innings, Samardzija has 90 strikeouts, a 2.78 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. However, none of this has led to wins for Samardzija or the Chicago Cubs. Through 15 starts, Samardzija has a 2-6 record, and the Cubs are 12 games out of first place in the NL Central (as of June 18).
The Cubs aren't going to be making a run at the World Series anytime soon, so signing a 29-year-old pitcher to a long-term deal doesn't make a lot of sense for the franchise. However, Samardzija's contract expires at the end of this year, so the Cubs don't want to let him walk away for nothing.
According to a report by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, "The Braves, Mariners and Blue Jays are among the most interested, with one source suggesting offers already have been made by at least two teams."
Matt Kemp, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers' outfield has become a crowded place. Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have all competed for playing time this season. Besides Puig, none of the other three have played consistently, and Kemp lost playing time in center field to Ethier earlier this season.
At the beginning of June, it would have been an easy decision to trade Kemp, but his recent run of impressive play may make that a more difficult decision.
In his last 10 games (through June 17), Kemp is hitting over .400 and has five multihit games. The streak has increased his average from .238 to .267.
Some may see this as a sign that the Dodgers need to hold onto Kemp, but in reality it means Kemp is more tradable. The Dodgers should strike while the iron is hot and get as much as they can for the injury-plagued outfielder. According to a report from ESPN.com's David Schoenfield, the Seattle Mariners may be the team most interested in trading for Kemp.
Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee is no spring chicken, and the Philadelphia Phillies don't appear to be getting better any time soon. The 35-year-old left-hander has pitched well for the Phillies, but his age makes him an unlikely piece in Philadelphia's future plans.
Lee has posted a 3.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched in 2014. He is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury, but there is still interest on the trade market for the four-time MLB All-Star.
According to New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees are on the market for a starting pitcher, and Lee may be one they are targeting, via the New York Post's Ken Davidoff:
[We're] always willing to look at options come July, come the trade deadline. And I think we've shown that. Some years we've done stuff, like last year with Soriano. Some years we haven't. But we're not going to ever lay down and die. We're going to do what we need to do to stay in.
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
The best available player and most likely be traded before the deadline is Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price.
2014 has not been a great season for Price (5-6 with a 3.93 ERA), but his track record of success and his relatively young age (28) have teams coveting the hard-throwing lefty.
According to Fan Graphs, the Rays have just a 1.1 percent chance to make the playoffs this season. They need to build their team for the future, and no player on their roster will be able to generate more interest than Price.
The Rays should certainly get their money's worth if a trade goes down, per ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (subscription required):
The Rays could get a large package for Price, as many as four or five prospects, but it's more likely they’ll shoot for quality over quantity and end up with a two-for-one or three-for -one deal, with the possibility of more players being thrown in by either side.
Bowden also lists the Los Angeles Angels as one of the front-runners to acquire Price:
C.J. Cron would have to be the central piece in the deal, and given his potential to develop into a 30-homer, middle-of-the-lineup hitter, he'd be a perfect fit for the Rays, who are trying to build the middle of their lineup to complement Evan Longoria and Wil Myers.