The contrasting strength between the hitting and pitching markets is massive.
On the mound, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have already been dealt, while David Price remains easily the most valuable potential trade target of the summer. In the batter's box, there have been whispers about studs such as Troy Tulowitzki and Giancarlo Stanton, but it will take the moon to force the Colorado Rockies and Miami Marlins into a deal. Realistically, the market is much weaker than that.
Still, teams throughout the majors are in need of hitting help as they prepare for a stretch run to the postseason, and a lack of stars won't limit the amount of trades. They will just alter the perceived value.
With the MLB trade deadline just more than two weeks away, let's take a look at the most recent buzz.
Mariners Going After Marlon Byrd?
Robinson Cano forecast it way back in March when he told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports: "I'm not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat."
He was right. On an average night, the Seattle Mariners' lineup features about six or seven left-handed hitters. Mike Zunino and Corey Hart are the only righties who receive consistent playing time, while Justin Smoak is a switch-hitter. And the latter two have both spent time on the disabled list and are pretty easily replaceable.
The M's are currently third-to-last in the majors in OPS and hold an atrocious .247/.294/.348 team slash line against left-handed pitchers. Thanks to a marvelous pitching staff, though, they have a hold on the second wild-card spot and will be buyers at the trade deadline for the first time since the Reagan administration(ish).
Expect Lloyd McClendon's squad to be in the conversation for every available hitter, but according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, Marlon Byrd is currently on the radar:
Byrd may not be an on-base machine (.263 average, .315 on-base percentage), but he hits from the right side of the plate, possesses great pop (18 home runs, .479 slugging percentage) and could immediately upgrade either of the corner outfield positions for the Mariners.
Seattle is one of four teams on Byrd's no-trade clause, but it sounds like that may just be a product of the Mariners' recent struggles.
“Those really are things that were just put on at the time being," Byrd said of the clause, via CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury.
The Seattle Times' Ryan Divish cited a source who agrees:
Source said that #Mariners have had serious discussions with Phillies about Marlon Byrd. Said he is willing to waive his no trade clause.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 13, 2014
With the Mariners' desperation for some right-handed power, and Philadelphia's 42-53 record, this one makes sense from both sides.
Chase Headley a Potential Replacement for Edwin Encarnacion?
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently eighth in the majors in average (.258), seventh in OBP (.325), fourth in slugging (.422), fourth in OPS (.747) and first in home runs (116).
Hitting may not seem like a priority for the Jays, who are 4.0 games out in the East and 2.5 out in the wild card, but a right quad strain to Edwin Encarnacion, who has been destroying baseballs this season, changes things.
Fox Sports' Jon Morosi gave a look at a potential timetable:
Edwin Encarnacion expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks, but that could change based on evaluation in next few days. DL is certain. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind are also on the DL, meaning a move for a hitter may be necessary if the Jays hope to tread water over the next month. According to Morosi, San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley is a potential solution:
Talks between Padres, Blue Jays on Chase Headley remain ongoing, source says. Toronto's need increased in light of Encarnacion injury.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
After an MVP-caliber season in 2012, Headley hit just .250/.347/.400 last year and continued to regress in 2014. Through 74 games, he sits at a mediocre .226/.296/.350.
Still, while those numbers will have Blue Jays fans scared to touch him with a J.A. Happ-sized pole, Headley's struggles have largely been the result of a back injury, and he has looked far more healthy over the past two weeks.
In July, he is hitting .327/.327/.462 with a home run off the typically untouchable Clayton Kershaw. It will be interesting to see if Toronto's interest remains should Headley's value continue to rise.
Royals Interested in Jonny Gomes?
The Kansas City Royals are quickly slipping further away from the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, but they still have a 20.1 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs.
Being right on the fringe may force Dayton Moore and Co. to add a role player, but one who won't ruin the farm or hinder the future. Boston Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes would fall into that category.
Crasnick has the most recent gossip:
The Sox are realistically out of playoff contention, and Gomes, who is hitting just .234/.329/.351, is a free agent after the season. In other words, he would be an extremely cheap addition for the Royals, which isn't going to excite everyone.
HoundSports' Adam Hooker put it simply:
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports that the Royals have made Jonny Gomes a "potential target." KC needs a splash; this is a mere ripple. #GoBig— Adam T. Hooker (@coachhooker) July 15, 2014
It may not seem worth it, but the 33-year-old veteran has postseason experience and is the perfect platoon player. Against left-handers this season, he is hitting .306/.403/.429 in 119 plate appearances.
While it wouldn't be a move that would set the league on fire, it's an easy way for the Royals to increase their power production in right field over left-handed hitters Nori Aoki and Raul Ibanez.