2014 MLB Trade Deadline

MLB Trade Targets Stock Watch: Which Available Players Are Rising and Falling

Jason CataniaMLB Lead WriterJuly 16, 2014

MLB Trade Targets Stock Watch: Which Available Players Are Rising and Falling

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    Few pitchers have been hotter than David Price lately, which makes him the biggest name on the trade market.
    Few pitchers have been hotter than David Price lately, which makes him the biggest name on the trade market.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    With just about two weeks until Major League Baseball's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, how a player is performing can make a big difference not only in whether he winds up getting swapped but also what the return for his services is.

    While teams that are out of the running and looking to sell would prefer to have their potential trade chips doing well or even getting especially hot as other clubs come calling, things don't always work out that way.

    Here, then, is a look at a batch of trade candidates whose value has been rising—and falling—with a flurry of wheeling and dealing likely on the horizon.

Value Rising: David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Why His Value Is Rising

    Four reasons. One, the Tampa Bay Rays aren't entirely out of it given the state of the AL East, where being 9.5 games back doesn't mean what it used to mean. The Rays can use that as leverage in talks by telling David Price suitors, "Hey, unless you overwhelm us, we're gonna keep Price and let this thing play out."

    Two: Price just might be pitching better than he has at any point in his career of late, with an ERA of 1.85 since the start of June. For the season, the 28-year-old's 3.12 FIP is right in line with the past two, and his 7.8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a career best.

    Three: With the Chicago Cubs having traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics, the pitching market lost two big pieces in one fell swoop. Price is now the biggest available name—and it's not close. The supply went down, but the demand has only gone up.

    And four: The Rays don't have to trade Price now, because he's under team control through the 2015 season. While they're likely to get more for him between now and July 31 since the acquiring team would have an extra 10 to 12 starts from an elite pitcher, the Rays could wait until the winter to create a bidding war and then go with the best offer they get.

    For his part, Price realizes he might not be long for Tampa, as he told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:

    Since 2012, (the Rays and I) both understood that for Tampa to continue the kind of success we've had over the past five or six years, this is the way they operate. I would love to stay there and for us to continue to be successful. But I don't know if that's a possibility.

Value Falling: Justin Masterson, RHP, Cleveland Indians

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Why His Value Is Falling

    Frankly, at this stage of the season, between Justin Masterson's struggles (5.51 ERA, 1.65 WHIP), his questionable health (a knee injury has him on the disabled list) and his pending free agency, he is almost impossible to move.

    For a Cleveland Indians club right at .500 at 47-47 heading into the second half, the best bet might be to hope they can hang around while some other underperforming players get hot (Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Nick Swisher) and/or healthy (Michael Bourn), and then hope Masterson might have a dozen decent starts in him once he's back.

    Looks like the Indians dodged a bullet by not inking Masterson, 29, to that extension before the season, which Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer had reported to be about $17 million per for two or three years.

Value Rising: Jake Peavy, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Why His Value Is Rising

    It's no secret that the Boston Red Sox, stuck at the bottom of the AL East, would like to move Jake Peavy because they're going nowhere, and he's a few short months from hitting the open market.

    In fact, the 33-year-old has been linked quite a lot to the St. Louis Cardinals recently, including by Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston and Jayson Stark of ESPN. In addition to losing Yadier Molina at least through August, they have had significant injuries to their rotation. They're without left-hander Jaime Garcia for the rest of the year and won't be getting young right-hander Michael Wacha back any time soon, per Jenifer Langosch and Alex Halsted of MLB.com.

    Although Peavy hasn't had a strong season, he's done his part to improve his trade value of late, throwing three straight quality starts and sporting a 19-5 strikeout-to-walk mark in his past 19.0 frames.

    No longer a top-of-the-rotation arm, Peavy might yet have enough left in the tank to at least provide some depth and quality innings for a contender, whether that's the Cardinals or another club. His experience pitching in both leagues doesn't hurt, either.

Value Falling: Addison Reed, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Why His Value Is Falling

    Addison Reed's 2014 just hasn't been good. Sure, the 25-year-old has 21 saves and 42 whiffs against only nine walks, but he sports a 4.30 ERA and has given up nine homers—an absurd total for a reliever who has thrown 37.2 innings.

    Worse yet, Reed has compiled three of his five blown saves over his past seven outings, which isn't exactly the kind of thing that inspires confidence among contenders seeking stability in the ninth inning.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks are out of it and already have traded away some players, like starter Brandon McCarthy, reliever Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana. They're looking to move as many pieces as possible, per Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, but Reed isn't making it easy for them to get anything much for him.

    Considering Arizona acquired him just last offseason for third base prospect Matt Davidson—currently hitting .213 with a strikeout rate just shy of 30 percent at Triple-A—the return would be even less this time around.

Value Rising: Huston Street, RHP, San Diego Padres

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Why His Value Is Rising

    On the flip side, here's a closer whose stock is on the upswing. Huston Street, 30, has been in the bigs for 10 years, and 2014 has been his best one so far.

    Not only does Street have 24 saves (against just one blown opportunity), a career-low 1.09 ERA and a ridiculous 0.76 WHIP, he's also stayed off the disabled list for the first time since 2009. No wonder teams have been checking in with the San Diego Padres about his availability, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.

    Given that there are more than a few contenders in need of closers and/or bullpen help (read: Angels, Tigers, Orioles, Giants, Brewers), it's hard to imagine Street wouldn't bring back a solid prospect or two for the Padres to put toward the future.

    While stopped in San Diego, it's worth noting that right-hander Ian Kennedy is another hot arm with one more year of team control who could be traded, especially with the Padres looking to move past the recent firing of general manager Josh Byrnes.

    The 29-year-old Kennedy has breathed some life back into his career in San Diego (3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a career-high 9.6 K/9), making him just the kind of piece the Padres should swap while there are all sorts of suitors in search of mid-rotation help in the wake of Samardzija and Hammel landing in the same location.

Value Rising: Marlon Byrd, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Why His Value Is Rising

    The Philadelphia Phillies lost their last two before the break, dropping them to 42-53 and 10 games out of a playoff spot. So here's hoping GM Ruben Amaro Jr. finally goes the seller route for a franchise that has been heading the wrong direction for three years now.

    If so, Marlon Byrd will be a sought-after commodity—just like he was this time last season—because of his power. Consider: Only 15 players in the majors have hit more than Byrd's 18 homers. The soon-to-be 37-year-old would provide a boost to a team in need of some pop, like the Seattle Mariners, who have had "serious discussions" about Byrd, according to Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times.

    As David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes: "Byrd could very well end up being the most important deal of the year, especially if the Phillies are unable to find anybody willing to trade talent for Jonathan Papelbon (which all indications suggest is the case)."

    Remember, the Mets dealt Byrd to Pittsburgh during the waiver trade period in 2013, where he hit .318/.357/.486 in 30 games to help the Pirates reach the playoffs. So he's been through this before and made an impact.

    Even more reason why Amaro should sell, starting with Byrd: In exchange for the outfielder (and catcher John Buck) last August, the New York Mets got Vic Black, who's been a useful bullpen arm this year, and infield prospect Dilson Herrera, who is triple-slashing .312/.366/.431 and recently was promoted to Double-A at the age of 20.

Value Falling: Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, Minnesota Twins

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Why His Value Is Falling

    The Minnesota Twins were somewhat on the outskirts of contention when they inked Kendrys Morales to a prorated one-year contract back in early June after the MLB draft had begun and he was no longer attached to draft-pick compensation.

    While the point was to bolster the offense to see if they could hang around the race, Minnesota's backup plan might well have been to consider the possibility of inking Morales in order to flip the veteran for future pieces if the rebuilding Twins fell out of it—which they have.

    Thing is, Morales hasn't cooperated with that, seeing how the 31-year-old "slugger" is batting just .229 with a .328 slugging percentage.

    Same goes for another slumping bat in Josh Willingham, whom the Twins should have sold high after his 35-homer, 110-RBI 2012. Now a 35-year-old free-agent-to-be, Willingham has battled injuries and is hitting .212 (not to mention an even-worse .128 since June 15).

    That doesn't mean he can't be traded, only that the return won't be all that exciting.

     

    Statistics are accurate through July 14 and come from MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, except where otherwise noted.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11

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