MLB Trade Talk: 10 Players Who Will Be Available If Fringe Teams Struggle
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In baseball, teams are always on the hunt for more talent. Those with a shot at the postseason are especially interested in improving their chances of success.
On the other hand, teams on the edge who may not have a shot at contending could seek to dump payroll or stock up on prospects for a future run.
The following is a list of 10 players who will be available if fringe teams begin to struggle.
James Shields, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
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The Rays have had a wide variety of upheavals very early in the 2011 season. After losing six consecutive games to start the year, things continued to go downhill.
Right after the six-game skid, more drama unfolded in the form of another Manny Ramirez moment. Apparently, Ramirez was notified of some “issue” involving the MLB drug policy. Rather than face the potential consequences, Ramirez abandoned the Rays and announced his retirement.
The hole in the lineup on an already struggling team may soon put Rays management in trade mode. The one of most likely candidates to go may be pitcher James Shields.
At 29 years of age, Shields is still a young, serviceable pitcher. Many teams in need of pitching help may look at Shields as a viable option. And if the Rays are out of the race early, they could be sellers.
Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets
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In the final year of his contract, the clock on shortstop Jose Reyes’ time in New York may be ticking early. The cash-strapped Mets could be looking to dump payroll sooner rather than later.
The Mets financial issues make re-signing Reyes highly unlikely. So if they are going to lose him at the end of the year anyway, why not get something in return before the trade deadline?
In a talented division with both the Phillies and Braves as likely front-runners, the Mets' chances of competing in the NL East this year are slim. And Reyes is an All-Star shortstop, making him very attractive to other teams.
Look for Reyes to be moved before the trade deadline.
Michael Young, 3B, Texas Rangers
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This past offseason, Michael Young was bumped from his regular role as the Rangers' starting third baseman when Adrian Beltre was signed. Young was relegated to a utility and DH role.
Angered by the situation, Young asked to be traded, saying he felt “misled and manipulated,” according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
And while Young is adapting to his new job since the Rangers did not trade him, the potential still exists. As it gets closer to the trade deadline, teams who find themselves in need of an infielder may come knocking at the Rangers' door.
The only real issue in trading Young is sure to be his hefty salary. He is owed about $48 million over the next three seasons. But if there is a team out there who feels Young could be the final piece to their puzzle, they may be willing to pay.
J.D. Drew, RF, Boston Red Sox
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The Boston Red Sox got off to a shaky start to their 2011 season, losing their first six games. That trend may or may not continue, but either way the Sox are in a tough division.
If the Sox find themselves out of the race at midseason, they may consider trading J.D. Drew. In the final season of his contract, Drew is owed $14 million in 2011.
After the Sox signed Drew in 2007, his production dropped off a little, and he played fewer games due to injuries. And although he remained a solid player, many feel he did not earn his hefty salary.
At 35 years old, Drew is likely on the back end of his career. If Boston falters, Drew and his big paycheck could be moved if they can find a taker.
Russell Branyan, 1B, Diamondbacks
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This offseason, the Diamondbacks signed Russell Branyan to a minor league deal. He made the team out of spring training and will share time at first with Juan Miranda.
Branyon has been a frequent trade target over his 14-year career as he is mostly a bench guy and a power hitter. Many teams look for this type of player before the trade deadline to bolster their bench down the stretch.
In 2011, the D-backs have their work cut out for them if they plan on catching the reigning World Champion Giants or any of the other three teams in the NL West.
Odds are good that Branyan will be worth more as a bargaining chip for the D-backs than he is on their bench come trade time.
Ryan Doumit, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pirates tried all offseason to trade catcher Ryan Doumit with no success. And now with Chris Snyder on his way off the disabled list, plus Jason Jaramillo on the roster, the Pirates do not want three catchers on the roster.
So the Bucos will continue their quest to trade Doumit. The problem is that Doumit never lived up to his potential and is a very average player.
Then again, any teams who see their catcher go down due to injury early in the season may be willing to give him a shot.
It would be nice to see Doumit find a new home, because being unwanted by the worst team in baseball is probably not the best feeling in the world.
Carlos Zambrano, P, Chicago Cubs
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The Cubs have had their issues with Carlos Zambrano over the years. His erratic behavior, dugout tirades and many conflicts with teammates have put him in the trade talks for years.
Regardless, Zambrano is a very good pitcher. But if the Cubs falter yet again in 2011, Zambrano would make a nice trade piece.
The other obstacle, however, is that Zambrano has a full no-trade clause in his contract, giving him the final say.
The Cubs are probably tired of his antics by now. So the question is then, is Zambrano tired of losing? If he is and the Cubs are out of it by the deadline, a trade may be possible.
Heath Bell, RP, San Diego Padres
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The San Diego Padres' 2011 season seems like the great unknown. After a run at the playoffs in 2010, the Padres collapsed late and missed out. This year, they lost five of their first seven games.
Whether or not the Padres will contend in 2011 has yet to be seen. But if they fall out of the race, pitcher Heath Bell may turn into trade bait.
Bell has expressed interest in a long-term deal, but the Padres have signed him to just one-year deals the last several seasons. Their financial situation and the team’s failure to contend are both issues.
And if the Padres do not have a shot this year either, Bell may be shipped out of San Diego.
Jered Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels
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Quickly becoming one of the elite starting pitchers in baseball, any team would be thrilled to scoop up Jered Weaver. For now, he is with the Angels.
But this offseason, feathers were potentially ruffled when Weaver lost his arbitration case with the Angels and received $7.365 million instead of the $8.8 million he requested.
Plus, Weaver is under team control through the 2012 season, which makes him quite valuable in a trade. If the Angels are not going to contend, they may look at getting a very attractive package from another team in exchange for Weaver.
Livan Hernandez, SP, Washington Nationals
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Any hopes the Washington Nationals had of competing in 2011 went out the window when young pitching phenom Steven Strasburg went down, undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Filling one of their starting pitching holes is veteran Livan Hernandez, also in the final year of his contract with the Nats.
At 36 years old, Hernandez does not have a long-term future in D.C. But any teams who are hurting for starting pitching and trying to make a run at the playoffs make look for a guy like Hernandez to fill the void.
In exchange, the Nationals would look for prospects to help build their club of the future.