Nearing the midway point of the season, the differences between the "haves" and "have nots" have become relatively clear. With this, comes the debate of which players from the latter group could help teams in the former.
This season, pitchers seem like the rage in the trade market, with various ideas for Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Kevin Millwood, and the rejuvenated Brett Myers. However, many of the contenders, such as the Red Sox, Phillies, and Angels, could use assistance in the field and lineup.
While Lee and Oswalt are considered the top prizes on the market by the media and fans, here are 10 potentially available hitters who could help teams win in 2010.
10) Lance Berkman - 1B, Astros
"Big Puma" is having one of his most forgettable seasons in 2010, currently sporting a mere 103 OPS+. A no-trade clause and relatively high salary (albeit with a $2 million dollar option in 2011) make him a difficult move for Houston, as well.
This all being said, Tampa Bay, Texas, Colorado, and Los Angeles (both of them) might be in the market for a first baseman at the trade deadline.
Berkman has a rest-of-season projection of .272/.384/.492, and a "Grade B " hitter (according to John Sickels) should be enough to wrestle Berkman from Houston.
9) Ty Wiggington - 2B, Orioles
Lost in the mess that is the 2010 Orioles is a bit of a revelation: Ty Wiggington. Receiving additional playing time due to the loss of Brian Roberts, Wiggington has excelled with the bat, posting a .270/.356/.480 hitting line.
With the struggles of Luis Castillo and Clint Barmes, Wiggington seems like a perfect match for the Mets and Rockies, respectively.
Once again, a "Grade B" hitter should be enough to grab Wiggington in this instance.
8) Austin Kearns - LF, Indians
Remember Austin Kearns? He was a sensation in his rookie year, coming into 2002 as Baseball America's No. 11 prospect, and hitting .315/.407/.500 for his hometown Reds once he was called up. He looked like a star in the making.
Time has not been nice to Kearns, though, and from 2003-09, he hit for only a 99 OPS+. After two poor seasons in Washington, he looked like he was down to one more chance.
He received this chance in Cleveland, and has so far performed in it. Kearns sports a .279/.359/.438 batting line with seven home runs, good for a 120 OPS+.
Also attractive about Kearns is that not only is he under contract for just this season (making him an attractive low-risk option), but he is only making $750,000 in 2010.
A deadline deal for him would result in a $250,000 investment for a club, for a guy who is looking to be well worth that money.
Who could use Kearns? The Red Sox have seen their outfield decimated, and their initial low-risk fourth OF investment of Jeremy Hermida has not worked.
Raul Ibanez has struggled in Philadelphia, and the Phillies should be in the market for a role-player at the position.
The Giants could also use some help in right field, as Nate Schierholtz is simply not an MLB starter (it is a shame the Giants do not have a guy like Fred Lewis on their roster, right?).
If the Indians play this right, they could land a top 100 pitching prospect for the services of Kearns.
7) Jose Guillen - DH, Royals
Guillen is finally playing like someone who was signed for three years / $36 million, or at least close to it. The career free-swinging problem child is finally making some contact in 2010, and this has helped him to achieve a 118 OPS+.
The problems with trading Guillen, however, are his high salary, his back-to-back bad seasons, his positional limitations, and his reputation.
However, Seattle has already traded for Branyan and has shown that it will not give up on its 2010 season if the price is right. Could Guillen potentially find himself DH'ing at Safeco?
6) Derrek Lee - 1B, Cubs
Has struggled to the tune of a 86 OPS+/92 wRC+. This being said, Lee is projected to OPS .829 from this point forward, which is certainly a respectable number.
Lee shares the same problems as Berkman, minus the no-trade clause, and generally the same market.
I rate Lee at No. 6 because I feel he is easier to trade, and comes with less risk than Berkman.
5) Garrett Jones - RF, Pirates
Why is a pre-arbitration player listed on here? Why would a team want to give up on a good hitter with under two years of MLB service time?
When you are the Pirates, however, it is a different story.
The Pirates have been on a mission to fix their farm system, apparently at the expense of the MLB team. If they really want this strategy to work, then they should be willing to part with anyone not named Andrew McCutchen on their roster.
The problem with Jones, however, is his defense. Despite his .882 OPS in Pittsburgh, he has only been good for 1.5 WAR.
His bat might be a bit light to be a long-term DH solution, and his glove is too weak to be a starter in the field. That being said, any team that wants to have him, may still have to part with a top 75 hitting prospect to get him.
Jones shares the same market as Kearns, and is rated higher due to being a more prized bat. Outside of center field, and maybe catcher, the Pirates should be all ears.
4) Jhonny Peralta - 3B, Indians
Probably the "most balanced" of all the men listed here, Peralta brings a slightly above-average bat (104 OPS+) and an average glove, with a reasonable 2010 salary of $4.85 million (and nothing owed after 2010).
He has the off-chance of playing himself into Type B FA status, which could also provide value to whatever destination he ends up heading, and the Indians would likely look for a top 100 pitching prospect to trade away Peralta.
Shares a similar market with Wiggington, and is rated higher due to being younger, and more established as a starter at this stage of his career.
3) Josh Willingham - LF, Nationals
We now hit the prized commodities of the potential deadline deals. We will start with Willingham.
The Nationals are slipping out of contention, and with Strasburg, and soon-to-be Harper in the mix, are likely not desperate to win in 2010.
Willingham, however, has been fantastic, with a .277/.408/.498 batting line in a mediocre hitting park.
While his glove is nothing compared to the aforementioned Austin Kearns, he has by far the best bat out of the group, and is also not hitting his first big payday until 2012, likely due for about $6.5 million in 2011.
Essentially, Willingham will be worth about five WAR in his next season and a half, and be paid $8.8 million to do it. For a fringe team, this has to be around a $15-$20 million surplus.
Because of this, the Nationals should be asking for a top pitching prospect, or a top 75, maybe top 50 hitting prospect.
2) Adam Dunn - 1B/LF/DH, Nationals
The Nationals sure do have plenty of trade chips, don't they?
Dunn, to the chagrin of many a geek like myself, has seen a dip in his walk rate (an 11.4 percent BB rate would be a career low). It is hard to cry too much, though, when a 147 wRC+ would be his career best, and is looking like a 35-40 home run guy again.
While Dunn has expressed a desire to not be a DH (to his credit, his defense has, so far in 2010, been not the typical badness we have come to expect from the man), I am sure a chance to finish 2010 with a contender would change his mind quickly.
With no money due to him beyond 2010, Dunn is easily one of the best targets this summer.
Would 2-3 months of Dunn be worth a top 50 prospect? Given the size of the 1B market, and the large amounts of tight races going on in MLB, I would say that the Nationals could wrangle a player of this caliber away, or at least a top 100 hitter and pitcher.
1) David DeJesus - LF, Royals
Probably a surprise to see him at No. 1, but for a team looking for a player that will just help them win, I think this is the guy.
Perpetually underrated, due in part to being a balanced player with good defense in a power position, partly due to losing his youth in Kansas City, DeJesus is finally getting the attention he deserves with a .326/.394/.479 batting line.
In addition to his fine batting line, DeJesus continues to perform at a high caliber in the outfield, and has a 2011 club option which could add even more value to him.
Able to play all three outfield positions, DeJesus should be attractive to almost everyone on the market, like the Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, Braves, Mets, Phillies, Giants, Padres, and Rockies.
Given the potentially high amount of buyers, and the relative worth of DeJesus, it is imaginable that the Royals could come away with a top 10 pitching prospect, top 50 hitter, or a combination of two high-level prospects in both groups.