The trading deadline can make or break a team. The right trade can lift your team to a pennant. A bad move can wreck your franchise for years to come.
Last season, we saw just how dramatic an effect a trade can have. The Cliff Lee-to-Texas trade propelled the Rangers to the World Series.
This year, as is the case every year, there will be players available on July 31, and there will be teams looking for that one missing piece which will land them a spot in the postseason. Here is a list of some of those who could find themselves in trade talks come the deadline.
Billingsley was talked about as a great prospect during his minor league tenure, but has yet to reach the potential.
However, he is still only 26 years old, and is still a promising young player. He has had a winning record every year and an ERA below four in all but one of his five major league seasons; his worst mark was still good, at 4.03.
The Dodgers are a franchise on a bit of a slide. The debacle of their ownership’s finances is the most interesting story surrounding the team, and it detracts somewhat from the poor performance on the field.
It was reported that Billingsley was the key to a potential trade for Roy Oswalt last season, but of course that never materialised. Now, it is a different matter, and with his being a free agent in two years, the Dodgers may look to move him.
The old adage goes: "You can’t have too much pitching."
The Philadelphia Phillies almost do. With the acquisition of Cliff Lee in the offseason, they can boast the best rotation in baseball. Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt are a phenomenal top four.
Blanton fits in nicely as a five, but with reports that the Phils have still been looking at FA pitchers, the rumours of a Blanton trade will not go away.
Jamie Moyer’s Tommy John surgery may have saved Blanton temporarily, but even in the best-case scenario, he will bounce between the rotation and the bullpen.
Despite his success in Chicago, and his repeated desire to stay with the White Sox, a Buehrle trade has long been discussed in the media. Now, with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright sidelined for the season with Tommy John surgery, the rumor mill has started up again.
The 2010 season was a bit of a step back for the left-hander. He posted the second-worst ERA of his career and was one shy of his worst loss total. He is still a very good pitcher, however, and he is in the last year of his contract.
If the White Sox are out of contention in the Central by the end of July, he will be a prime candidate to be moved.
Given his contract, this is a bit unlikely. Carmona is signed through this year, but team options could be picked up for the next two seasons after that. Were it not for that, a trade would be more likely. Carmona is by far the best pitcher on the Indians staff.
Not only do Cleveland love trading away their aces (See: Sabathia, CC, and Lee, Cliff), they are a terrible team and will not improve in 2011.
Danks had another very good season last year. He finished with a 3.72 ERA and a 15-11 record. He has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining after the upcoming season, so if the White Sox were to move him, 2012 is more likely than 2011.
On the other hand, Chicago do have other needs, and could be in position to make a playoff push come the deadline.
This is, like Carmona, another Indians trade possibility which is far from likely. However, as we all know, Cleveland is not the best-run organization in baseball.
Masterson has not transitioned well to a starting role. A few good outings aside, he has been very poor.
In his season and a half in Boston, his ERA+ was 124.
In roughly the same time in Cleveland, his ERA+ is a lowly 85.
He will be arbitration eligible after this season, and still has promise, so might attract some attention, especially since the Tribe will be out of the running by mid-April.
Were it not for his 2008 season—in which he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA—Dice-K would be regarded as one of the biggest busts in recent memory. His other three earned run averages were 4.40, 5.76 and 4.69.
Still, there are those who think he has what it takes to be successful in the MLB. He has two years remaining on his contract, but with Boston likely crying out for a catcher, he will be the biggest MLB-ready trade chip on the Red Sox roster.
Or perhaps Papelbon will be.
He had a very bad 2010, with career-worst marks in walks, homers and runs allowed. Despite this, he is one of the top 10 closers in baseball and will be a free agent at the end of the season.
The Red Sox might want to get something for him; with Daniel Bard waiting in the wings, it is almost a certainty Papelbon will sign elsewhere in the offseason.
Santana tends to suffer from the "hot one year, cold the next" problem.
Here are his ERA+ numbers from the last six years: 91, 107, 79, 127, 87 and 104. Given that, he is due for a below average 2011. He is a good pitcher overall, though, and will attract attention at the deadline.
Weaver is the ace of the Angels staff right now, but after the righty’s arbitration hearing went against him, there will be tension between the two parties. He reportedly described the hearing as "interesting" and "kind of fun," but it is doubtful he really enjoyed any part of it. He led the league in strikeouts and it was poor run support which saw his 3.01 ERA translate to a 13-12 record.
He is a Scott Boras client, so the chances of deciding against testing the free agent waters are almost none. The Angels may look to move him this year or next, but with it looking and sounding increasingly unlikely that the two sides will ever reach a long-term deal, that might be sooner rather than later.