Willing or unwilling, players have and will continue to be shipped around with the MLB trade deadline approaching.
Plenty of players have moved already, but some are trickier. Some franchises surely regret it now, but gifted players with no-trade clauses make dumping them on another front office all the more tiresome and costly.
It's an interesting tug of war, not just between players and their teams, but between organizations attempting to compete with each other on the market. Below, fans will find contenders trying to upgrade through creativity and pretenders hitting the panic button on a rebuild.
Ryan Howard Being Shown the Door
Go ahead and file the hapless Philadelphia Phillies under the pretender column, and understand that the front office is going to hit a desperation mode with slugger Ryan Howard sooner rather than later.
The slumping Howard has been an obvious trade candidate for most of the season, as he continues to be simply mediocre at the plate and not nearly worth the five-year, $125 million extension the franchise bestowed upon him just two years ago:
As CBS Sports' Jon Heyman points out, the front office might be willing to bite a large chunk of the bullet in order to get rid of the 34-year-old slugger:
Howard...has $70 million to go through 2016, so any acquiring team would only be expected to pay a small portion of the overall deal, which includes a $10-million buyout for 2017. While he has 15 home runs and 60 RBI, everyone understands he is badly underperforming, including him.
He has an extensive no-trade provision which covers 20 teams, but with the Phillies making clear that they'd prefer he'd be gone, he'd seem to have incentive to accept a trade, if they could find one.
This comes on the heels of Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reporting that the organization has pondered simply releasing him outright.
With Howard getting benched as of late and names such as Darin Ruf in the pipeline, the writing is on the wall in regards to his tenure with Philadelphia—one that has stretched back for about a decade. His no-trade clause is impressive but essentially irrelevant at this point.
Edwin Jackson Enters the Fray
The Chicago Cubs are in a pretty similar situation, although their issue comes on the mound in the form of 30-year-old Edwin Jackson.
Jackson is due in the neighborhood of $26 million through 2016, as per Spotrac.
In reality, that's not a horrible number—except Jackson has a 5.61 ERA in 20 games to go with just 100 strikeouts and 49 free passes. He hasn't done much to help himself with the deadline upcoming either, as he allowed two more earned runs early Thursday night, as illustrated by ESPN Stats & Info:
Edwin Jackson allowed 2 ER in the first inning. He entered the day with a 5.61 ERA, highest in the NL among qualified starters.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 25, 2014
That was just early in the proceedings, though, as in total, he allowed five runs on seven hits through 87 pitches about halfway through the sixth inning.
Clearly, the Cubs would not mind unloading Jackson, and Heyman writes that they "are trying to trade" him but also notes that the New York Yankees "don't seem interested."
It's a bad sign if the injury-riddled Yankees, still firmly in contention in the AL East, are not interested in bringing on a starting pitcher.
“You’ve seen crazier things happen,” said Jackson, concerning his chances of being traded, as per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Anybody can be a candidate to be traded.”
Perhaps Jackson simply needs a change of scenery. Fine, but the Cubs don't seem to be willing to wait around and might just eat a ton of cash in the process in order to clear future funds.
Drew Stubbs Might, Too
It might be a major error to label Drew Stubbs as a "breakout" player, but the Colorado Rockies may be wise to keep furthering the notion until they can sell high.
Stubbs is great defensively and can steal loads of bases, but his career year comes at Coors Field, a venue notorious for being friendly toward hitters. As the numbers show, Stubbs is a major benefactor of the change in scenery:
As Thomas Harding of MLB.com parlays off a note from Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, Seattle is a team that might be able to convince the brass in Colorado to sell:
It's hard to know if the Mariners can get Stubbs for cheaper than other right-handers, such as Marlon Byrd, but it's worth a shot, as their quest for more righties in the lineup continues.
As an added bonus, Stubbs is better than most names Seattle has to throw in the outfield, although how he would hit away from Coors Field has to create some doubt. While great in a platoon, one has to wonder if any team is willing to take the dive or if the Rockies are even interested in selling.