MLB Trade Speculation: The 10 Best Power Hitters Who Will Be Available
The first month of the season has come and gone. And so far, there have only been a handful of minor trades.
But before long, trading season will start to open up, and rumors will be swirling more and more. Who will be moved, and where will they land?
So as the season steams long, let's take a look at 10 power hitters that could be on the move on or before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
The Minnesota Twins may be in trouble. The team is not scoring—their 103 runs scored entering play on Sunday is last in the American League. After Sunday's lost to the Red Sox, they are 12-20 and are in fourth place in the division.
And despite Joe Mauer rehabbing from a leg injury, there aren't many signs of things turning around in the Twin Cities. Changes could be coming if this trend continues.
One of those changes could be DH Jim Thome. The 40-year-old was recently placed on the 15-day disabled list but can still provide a potent bat when healthy (see his 25 home runs from a season ago).
He is signed through this season and sits just nine home runs shy of the magical 600 plateau. As this could be his final year in baseball, and since he has never won a World Series, he may ask to be traded to a contender this summer.
Choice of potential trade partners could be limited to the American League, however, as Thome has played a total of four games at first base since 2006. The offensively challenged Oakland Athletics could be a possible suitor.
Albert Pujols wearing another uniform other than his #5 St. Louis Cardinals jersey seems incredibly inconceivable. But this possibility may be a reality, perhaps sooner than later.
Having been unable to agree to an extension before a laid out deadline during this year's spring training, Pujols is set to test the free agent waters for the first time in his career following the 2011 season. That is, of course, unless he is dealt to another team this summer.
This wouldn't be the first time a possible Pujols trade was rumored. Last year, during spring training, rumors were flying of a possible Pujols-Ryan Howard trade. The Phillies wound up signing Howard to a multi-year extension.
What remains unclear to this point is whether or not the Cards would be able to re-sign Pujols as a free agent. If they feel like they would be unable to, their demands for a return may be a less than if they felt they could be players in the sweepstakes.
And remember, as hard as it is to imagine Pujols playing for another team (like the rival Cubs, perhaps?), premier players have been traded during the primes of their careers. The Texas Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees before the 2004 season.
Chris Davis was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 5th round of the 2006 first-year player draft. And despite tearing up the minor league system, with 98 home runs and 354 RBI over six seasons (including four and 11 in 2011), Davis has yet to translate that into sustained Major League success.
He made his big league debut in 2008 and hit 17 home runs in just under 300 at-bats with the Rangers. Since then, the Rangers have given Davis every chance to excel and prove himself. They traded fellow blue-chipper Justin Smoak to Seattle last season in the Cliff Lee deal. They've moved Mitch Moreland to the outfield.
But Davis has still not had a breakout campaign in the Major Leagues, and is currently batting .250 with one solo home run accounting for his lone RBI in 2011. The Rangers' patience could be growing thin, and with an already stacked lineup, could afford to move the 25-year-old Texas native. He still has plenty of years to grow into his talent, but it may indeed happen with another ball club.
Albert Pujols is certainly not the only slugging first baseman to be on this list. Prince Fielder's tenure in Milwaukee could be coming to an end before too long.
Like Pujols, Fielder is due to become a free agent after this season, and is certain to draw a significant interest. The second-generation power threat will eclipse 200 home runs this year, the seventh of his career.
The Brewers are unlikely to trade Fielder as long as they remain in contention. But whenever a player is facing free agency, there's always a possibility of a trade — especially if the team will be unable to re-sign the player.
What is guaranteed is, the Pujols-and-Fielder saga will be a very interesting one to watch over the next few months
The New York Mets enter play on Monday with a 15-18 record, good for last place in the division. And, in a season where expectations are particularly low in Queens, the Mets could find themselves in a position to deal a number of their current stars.
Carlos Beltran is in the early stages of a resurgent season, following two disappointing, injury-plagued seasons. In 31 games in 2011, Beltran leads the league with 12 doubles, and has five home runs to go a long with his .297 batting average.
The blockbuster seven-year, $119MM contract he signed before the 2005 season is due to expire after this season, which makes him a very ideal trade candidate. It would be highly unlikely for the Mets to re-sign him, and especially if the team continues to struggle while he rebounds, look for the Mets to trade him and his 285 career home runs to a contending team.
Baltimore Orioles' general manager Andy McPhail spent this past off season bolstering his ball club's offense. He brought in shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Mark Reynolds in trades with Minnesota and Arizona respectively. And he signed free agents Derek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero.
Yet, despite the added thump, the O's still find themselves in last place in the AL East, with a losing record. It is still early in the 2011 season, but so far it can be said that McPhail's moves haven't exactly panned out. Hardy has played just six games so far due to an oblique strain, and Reynolds, Lee and Guerrero have not hit well at all.
Guerrero was signed to a one-year, $8MM contract before this season, and may be the most movable piece of the Orioles' offense. At 36 years old, he still has enough pop in his bat to be a threat in a lineup, and he is making a run towards 500 career home runs. That pursuit will likely continue in a different uniform however.
Carlos Lee has to be considered one of the more underrated players in the game right now. Since coming to Houston in 2007, El Caballo has averaged 28 home runs and over 100 RBI per season from '07-'10. And though the Astros have struggled as a team during his tenure, you can hardly blame Lee for their troubles.
Lee's current six-year, $100MM contract is due to expire after the 2012 season, and he is owed $18.5MM in 2011 and 2012. And with the 'Stros buried in the NL Central division, they could very well look to move the big left fielder, and give some of their younger prospects some playtime.
It's been a real roller coaster ride for J.D. Drew in Boston. After posting his first career 100-RBI season in 2005, he signed a 5-year, $70MM contract with the Red Sox. Since then, he's hit 76 home runs and has a .270 batting average (entering the 2011 season).
This season is the final year on that contract, and with the Red Sox loaded with outfield talent waiting in the wings, Drew could become expendable come July. At 35 years old, Drew still has some pop in his bat, evidenced by the 22 home runs he hit in 2010.
He's off to a bit of a slow start in 2011, hitting just a little over the Mendoza line. But he has the ability to turn things around, and could be a rather cheap pick-up for a team in need of outfield depth.
Met fans, you may want to turn away from this slide.
If you are still reading, consider yourself warned. The New York Mets could very well make David Wright available during this summer's trading season. It seems unfathomable, since Wright is the face of the franchise. But there have been rumors that Wright's days in Queens could be numbered.
Of course, moving the star third baseman would be highly unpopular among Mets fans. But ownership (particularly that of the Mets) has never really been known to ask the fans for their opinions when deciding what players to trade.
It would be heart-wrenching, and in my opinion a bad idea, to see Wright leave Queens. But if the Mets are indeed headed into a full rebuilding mode, then no one on the 25-man roster may be safe.
Carlos Quentin has been one of the more consistently productive hitters for the Chicago White Sox over the last three-plus seasons. That includes this current season, a season in which the White Sox have been offensively challenged. But Quentin has seven home runs early on, and is tied for the MLB lead in doubles with 13.
And yet, he has not yet received his big payday. He isn't due to become a free agent until after next season, which could make him a rather hot commodity if the South Siders decide to make him available this summer.
Of course, if the rest of the White Sox lineup comes to life, they may very well decide to hang on to the former first-round draft pick in hopes of climbing back to the number one spot in the division.