The Orioles are 19-21 through the first 40 games, but they look to have no shot at the playoffs once again. The Yankees are as strong as always and the Rays have stormed back after their awful start. Even the Red Sox have started to show up a little.
Since the Orioles won't be a part of the playoff push, they will almost definitely be deadline sellers, especially because they have a lot of veterans nearing the ends of deals that would be very attractive to teams in need of some help.
Here are the five players that the Orioles could ship out of Baltimore to open up some room for younger players and net some prospects to build for the future.
Very few teams have a perfect bullpen, so clubs are always trying to improve. Getting a quality bullpen are at the deadline could make the difference in the playoff push. Getting a left-handed reliever that has closer experience and can get right-handed hitters out as well is a blessing.
The Orioles will surely be looking to deal Mike Gonzalez. He fell out of favor with Baltimore fans after two games in 2010, where he was handing games to the Rays and Blue Jays in the opening week. Gonzalez is in his final year of a two year deal, but is set to make $6 million this year, so he'll be tougher to move.
Gonzalez needs to be a little more consistent to warrant a team spending prospects to pick him up. He has great stuff when he is on, but struggled early and has fallen back into a funk now. His two perfect innings with four strikeouts against the White Sox on April 30 are a testament to his talent, but he needs to find his groove again.
His season ERA looks scary at 8.53, but his career ERA of 2.92 is more of an example of what he can bring to the table. Look for teams with shaky left-handed specialists or an unsure closer job to pursue Mike Gonzalez at the deadline.
I get the feeling that the Orioles will want to hold onto Hardy, although he is headed to free agency at the end of the year. He has been solid defensively and when healthy, he has hit pretty well.
Since recovering from an oblique injury that kept him out for a month, Hardy has been on fire. He's hit .357 in the seven games, with two home runs and eight RBI. He's also put on a show defensively. That's why the Orioles may keep him. Shortstop has been a mess for the O's since Miguel Tejada first left and Hardy could be resigned at the end of the year to shore up the position until Manny Machado is ready in 2013 or 2014.
The Tigers stand out as a team that could use him. They could move Peralta back to third and use Inge as more of a utility player. His offensive struggles are holding the team back.
Derrek Lee is just another of the guys that could get moved. There aren't a ton of teams looking for first base help and of the ones that do, Lee might be a little pricey. He is set to make $7.25 million and could push that up to as much as $10 million.
Another problem is his dwindling performance. He hasn't done much to impress with the bat. He is also dealing with an oblique injury that could keep him out for a little, but it likely won't keep him out long.
Lee's pluses are veteran leadership and incredible defense. Lee brings up the defenders around him because he moves well and is a big target at 6-foot-5.
The Rays are a good fit, but the money will probably keep that from happening. A more likely fit could be the Angels, especially with Kendrys Morales out for the year. If Mark Trumbo struggles, look for Lee to go west.
Target Teams: Rays, Angels, Athletics
Vladimir Guerrero is showing he can still hit and that could be a big help for the Orioles. Vlad is probably the highest profile player that the O's could trade. He is on a one year deal and it's not too pricey considering his presence in the lineup and history.
The biggest knock is that he can't defend anymore. I'm sure he still has the arm to gun down runners, but he can't run anymore, so he can't go to the NL.
The Yankees seem like a match made in heaven. Jorge Posada's struggles and drama have put his career with the Yankees in jeopardy and Vlad would be a big upgrade to an already scary offense. They also have the money to pick up any contract.
Long Shots: Red Sox, Rangers
Luke Scott has seemed to be in a lot of rumors for the past few years. He has shown in the past that he can be one of the best hitters around when he gets hot, but can be very streaky.
Scott's bat is the one reason that he could get traded. His defense is not terrible, but his torn labrum affects his throwing, so NL teams will be wary.
Teams need to know what they're getting into if they pick up Scott. He is a very religious man with pretty strong views that he isn't afraid to voice. His controversial Obama comments put him in hot water. That shouldn't affect him much on the trade block, but could come into play.
He has been a little down lately offensively, but has great power. He is also under team control through 2012, which makes him less likely to be traded, but adds to his value and risk.
The Dodgers are a great fit. Jerry Sands hasn't been very good and Scott would allow him to go back to the minors and develop, while the big league team gets one of the most powerful outfields in baseball.