Though the season is less than two weeks old, the potential for midseason trades is always present.
For small-market teams, acquiring highly-touted prospects for players that will soon be free agents is customary.
The contenders will look to the small-market teams when trying to add some depth for a postseason run.
Here are 10 small-market players that may be on the move this season.
If a contender is looking for an innings eater down the stretch, look no further than Livan Hernandez.
Even at age 36, Hernandez can still baffle hitters with his “ephus” pitch.
He’ll be a free agent after this season, so the Washington Nationals may look to acquire some young talent for him.
The Nationals have high hopes for the next few seasons, especially when Stephen Strasburg returns healthy and Bryce Harper makes his debut. However, they may unload some veteran players to further strengthen their minor league system.
Hernandez may be one of the first to go.
In addition to Livan Hernandez, Rick Ankiel may not be a Washington National for too long.
Ankiel signed a minor league deal this winter, but won the center field job in Washington.
Ankiel is no stranger to mid season trades. He began last season with the Kansas City Royals, but was dealt to the Atlanta Braves for the postseason push.
Though he began his career as a pitcher, Ankiel has some pop that may benefit a contender down the stretch.
A team in need of a left-handed bat may give Washington a call about Ankiel.
Though Jeff Francis just arrived in Kansas City this year, he may not be there too long.
After a few strong seasons with the Colorado Rockies, injury troubles caught up with Francis.
The Royals signed him to be the ace of their young staff, and he is already off to a hot start, recording a 1.98 ERA in his first two starts.
If Francis can continue to prove he is healthy, he will be a likely trade target before the deadline.
Kelly Johnson has quietly put together a solid five-year Major League career.
He is set to be a free agent at season’s end, which means the Arizona Diamondbacks may look to deal him.
Johnson had a career year in 2010, hitting .284 with 26 HR and 71 RBI.
He can be a consistent force atop or at the bottom of a contender’s batting order.
Ryan Doumit has club options for 2012 and 2013, but the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely try to move the injury-prone player.
Notice I said “player” because Doumit really doesn’t have a position anymore. Chris Snyder should do the bulk of the catching once he returns from a lower back injury.
Doumit can play the outfield—albeit not too well—but the Pirates’ outfield in quite crowded with Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata and Matt Diaz.
An American League team wanting to add some insurance may take a chance on Doumit. He still has a decent bat, and, more importantly, the Pirates appear ready to move him.
Like Ryan Doumit, Paul Maholm is a prime candidate for a mid season trade.
Maholm is coming off a tough year in Pittsburgh, and may benefit from a change of scenery.
He has a $9.75 million club option for 2012, so the Pirates really will try to move him. There were rumors about possible trades this offseason, but nothing could be worked out.
Maholm has pitched in tough luck for the Pirates, but has the stuff to be a consistent starter for a contender.
He would be a nice pick up for a team making a playoff run down the stretch.
Aaron Hill had a monster year in 2009, in which he hit .286 with 36 HR and 108 RBI.
Though the power numbers remained last season, he struggled to a .205 batting average
Hill has two $8 million club options the next two seasons. He’s only 29, so the Toronto Blue Jays may be able to get some value for Hill in a trade this season.
The Blue Jays have highly touted infield prospect Brett Lawrie looking to make the jump to the majors, though he’ll be playing third base in the minors.
Hill is off to a slow start this year, so the Jays may be inclined to move their second baseman even sooner.
Grady Sizemore opened this season on the disabled list, but has recently begun playing rehab games in the minor leagues.
The former All-Star played in only 33 games last season before knee issues sidelined him the rest of the way.
He has great speed and power, but has to prove he can stay healthy. Though Sizemore is only 28, the Cleveland Indians’ patience may be running out, especially with the young Michael Brantley filling in.
If Sizemore returns healthy and productive, the Indians may capitalize on their chance to move him. Sizemore has an $8.5 million club option with a $500K buyout for 2012.
He’s a dynamic athlete who would really help a contender down the stretch—assuming he’s healthy.
Joakim Soria is no longer baseball’s best kept secret.
The Royals’ closer has been lights out in the ninth inning the past three years.
However, there were rumblings this offseason about possible trades involving the All-Star closer.
Soria is signed through this season, but will have three option years.
The Royals are off to a good start, but let’s see how long that lasts. Contending teams would be salivating over the chance to acquire Soria for the back end of their bullpen.
Though the Milwaukee Brewers have been the hot pick to win the N.L. Central, they still have to go out and win.
Prince Fielder will likely be the most targeted free agent this offseason, behind Albert Pujols. Fielder is off to a torrid start, and is currently leading the N.L. in RBI.
The Brewers may not have the funds to lock up Fielder long-term. Fielder will seek a five to seven year deal worth easily over $100 million.
If the Brewers stay in contention, there’s no way they’ll look to move Fielder. However, if things don’t work out in Milwaukee, the Brewers would be wise to trade Fielder in order to at least get some value for a player they’re likely to lose.