The MLB trade deadline is July 31, but that doesn't mean general managers will sit on their hands and wait until the last second to make a deal.
There is plenty of baseball to be won in July as teams battle for supremacy in their respective divisions, and the earlier a team jumps on the players it wants, the better.
The Oakland Athletics took this ethos to heart. They picked up two high-caliber starters in Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a deal with the Chicago Cubs. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal first reported the news:
Exact deal: Russell, McKinney and Straily to #Cubs for Samardzija, Hammel.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 5, 2014
This means some other teams have to make moves to keep pace, right?
Let's take a look at the latest buzz surrounding some of the more interesting trade pieces out on the market.
Mets Willing to Hear Offers for Bartolo Colon
Bartolo Colon has enjoyed a bit of a late-career resurgence over the past couple of seasons. He's boasts a 3.88 ERA this season with 76 strikeouts in 106.2 innings pitched for the lowly New York Mets.
It's a wonderful output from a 41-year-old veteran, but the Mets could still be interested in shopping him before the trade deadline. According to the club's sources for the New York Post's Mike Puma, the Mets will listen to offers for Colon. Puma went on to give some background on the Mets' line of thinking, per his sources:
Though Colon is owed $11 million for next season, the view within the industry is that contract won’t prohibit the Mets from making a deal with a contender in need of rotation help. An AL executive called Colon’s contract “relatively friendly.”
But sources indicated general manager Sandy Alderson has no pressure to deal Colon, and the Mets could wait past the July 31 non-waiver deadline in attempting to maximize their return.
Colon would be an ideal rental for a big-market team looking to make a playoff push. The New York Yankees are in need of pitching help, as manager Joe Girardi believes CC Sabathia could be done for the remainder of the season.
If Mets general manager Sandy Alderson holds on to Colon into August, he could unload his contract for a team dealing with an injury bug before the postseason.
Dayan Viciedo Drawing Interest
According to ESPN's Gordon Edes, the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants have approached the Chicago White Sox about acquiring outfielder Dayan Viciedo.
Viciedo is a Cuban slugger who can play both in both right and left field. He's not especially quick nor is he a standout on defense. His most tantalizing trait is his power, although this aspect of his game has dwindled in recent years.
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At just 25 years old, his best years could still be ahead of him as a hitter, provided he finds the right situation to regain his 2012 form. The Mariners would give him the best opportunity because of their desperate need for a right-handed hitter.
Edes notes, per his sources, that the Mariners are considering trading right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer in a potential deal.
Seattle does not have a single right-handed outfielder on the current 25-man roster, severely handicapping manager Lloyd McClendon's lineup choices against lefties. Catcher Mike Zunino leads the team with home runs off lefties with three, as per MLB.com. If Viciedo can regain some of his mojo, this would be an excellent situation for both parties.
Blue Jays Looking for Infielders
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently neck-and-neck with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East, no thanks to the production from the hot corner. ESPN's Jim Bowden reports, rather pessimistically, that the team is scouting two third baseman and a second baseman in an attempt to improve production in the infield:
Blue Jays have scouted Martin Prado, Aaron Hill & Chase Headley heavily but none are playing well and all overpaid for production #3BSearch— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 4, 2014
Brett Lawrie and Juan Francisco have been rather disappointing at the hot corner this season for the Blue Jays. Both players are batting below .250 and have combined for just 25 home runs and 70 RBI on the season.
Lawrie is currently on the DL with a finger injury, leaving the light-hitting Francisco to hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive.
Of the three players Bowden mentioned, Martin Prado fits the team's needs the best. He's batting .268 with three home runs and 34 RBI and can also provide cover at shortstop. However, Aaron Hill may be more attainable at 32 years old. He's batting .248 on the season and notched 42 RBI and would provide cover at second base since Maicer Izturis is likely done for the year.
The Arizona Diamondbacks could be willing to sell either Prado or Hill considering they are 36-52 and entrenched in the NL West cellar.
If the Blue Jays don't pull the trigger on any one of the three guys, Bowden's report is at least an indication they will continue to push for greater success this season.