MLB Trade Speculation: 13 Contract-Year Players Who'll Be on the Market
Only two weeks into the season, clubs should be starting to find out their team's weaknesses and strengths.
Before you know it, the August 31st trade deadline will be approaching and teams will be focused on improving their clubs. On the other end, poor teams will have fire sales for some of their top-notch players.
By August, teams should know whether they are in the playoff hunt or not.
Here are 13 players that could be on the market if their teams do not perform through the first half of the season.
Shawn Camp leads a long list of relievers who are in the last year of their contracts.
Camp is still a relatively unknown name to the common fan.
Up in Toronto, Camp has posted two-straight solid seasons as one of the Blue Jays setup men.
Because of his three-quarters release, Camp is able to deceive batters just enough.
In six outings thus far, Camp has yet to allow an earned run and has only given up hits in two of his six appearances.
Paul Maholm may be the best contract-year starting pitcher on the market in August.
That really is not saying too much, now is it?
However, Maholm has shown throughout his career that he can be good and serviceable at times. Teams like the Yankees or Cardinals could use an upgrade at the No. 5 spot in their rotation.
Maholm could also be used as a situational lefty out of the pen for a contending team. In his career, left-handers are only hitting .209 against him and Maholm has a WHIP of 1.00 against them.
After pulling himself from the Texas game, manager Eric Wedge seems a little upset at Jack Wilson.
Wilson is in his third year with Seattle after spending his whole career with the Pirates. After switching teams, Wilson has been moved more to an off-day and defensive replacement role.
Maybe a change of scenery would be good again for the 33-year-old veteran.
Wilson has the ability to still player either SS or 2B and would be a good utility bench player for a contending team.
I doubt the Orioles can keep up their winning ways throughout a grueling 162-game season. After they fade back, they will become sellers at the deadline and their top trading piece will be J.J. Hardy.
Hardy has tapered off the past few seasons, but can still be a guy who can get a clutch pinch-hit HR or RBI. In 2007 and 2008, Hardy hit a total of 50 HR for Milwaukee.
I could see Tampa Bay taking a look at a backup SS. For his career, Hardy is a .294 hitter indoors.
The Angels acquired Scott Kazmir two years ago and he really has not panned out any better than he did for Tampa Bay.
Last year, Kazmir ended up 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA. In his only start this year before going on the DL, Kazmir was rocked for five runs in just 1.2 IP.
Kazmir has had injury problems throughout his entire career. If he can remain healthy, he can help a contending team as the fifth starter.
His first six games for LAA in 2009: 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA.
The Oakland A's are trying to build around their young pitching staff, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen.
Michael Wuertz is a veteran who could become expendable because he is in the last year of his contract. Wuertz has always been a dependable reliever for whichever team he has been on.
He plays his best ball in September, when it matters the most. His career-low months in ERA are August (2.58) and September (2.17).
Jack Cust is known for his long-ball abilities from his time with Oakland.
Cust—now a DH with Seattle—could be a good hitter off the bench for any NL team. He could also upgrade the DH position for an AL team like New York.
Cust has 25-HR potential if given the opportunity to play. Even if he is more of a bench player for a contender, his threat to hit a pinch-hit HR could be very valuable.
After having a bad final season in Atlanta, Kelly Johnson reinvented himself and his swing in Arizona last year.
He ended up being one of the best hitting 2B in baseball in 2010, hitting .284 with 26 HR and 71 RBI.
After signing another one-year deal, Johnson could be traded to a contending team after his Diamondbacks fade out of the race.
Johnson is also an underrated fielder; he only made eight errors last year.
If the Phillies need a longer-term replacement for Chase Utley, they must look at Johnson.
Jason Kubel may be the Twins OF pushed out of the mix when Ben Revere arrives at the Major League level. Revere has been dominating in the minor leagues for years now and is ready to play at the next level.
Kubel has had three-straight good years for the Twins, but I still think that Minnesota would be hurt the least with his departure.
A career .282 hitter against RH pitching, he could platoon in the OF for a playoff team.
Back in 2006, Joel Zumaya was the premiere setup man in the game. Injuries have limited Zumaya to averaging only 27 appearances per year since his best season.
His roaring fastball can make any hitter look silly when he has his A-game. The times where Zumaya gets in trouble is when he becomes wild.
In 2008 and 2009, his WHIP almost reached 2.00.
If he returns healthy after his stint on the DL this year, Zumaya could be a real asset to any team's bullpen.
Jason Marquis is in his second year with the Nationals. After an injury-plagued first season, Marquis looks to have a better year in 2011.
So far, he is off to a good start, going 12.1 IP and allowing 5 ER in his first two starts.
Marquis can be a playoff starter for a team like New York or St. Louis. If the Yankees are going to do damage in the playoffs, they are going to need to find another reliable starting pitcher.
Juan Rivera is off to a slow start for the Blue Jays. He was the centerpiece returning to Toronto after they sent Vernon Wells to the Angels.
Rivera is still a solid No. 3 or 4 OF that has some pop left in his bat. When healthy and playing, he is a 20-25 HR player.
Chicago or Cincinnati are teams that could use Rivera's services.
Aramis Ramirez is off to a blazing start after having a disappointing 2010 season. Ramirez is a career .284 hitter who has averaged about 25-30 HR per year.
Because he is fragile, his defense can be a liability at times, but his offensive numbers can make up for that in a hurry.
Ramirez is a threat every time he steps in the batter's box.
He is equally good against righties or lefties, which makes him valuable as an everyday player.