MLB: Houston Astros and the 5 Biggest Sellers on the Emerging Trade Market
Now that the new car smell has worn off on the 2011 season, it is time to turn the focus to which teams have emerged as title contenders and which are already planning for 2012, and, more specifically, which will be buyers and sellers in a few months when the trade deadline comes along.
No one gave the Astros a chance entering the 2011 season and so far they haven't really changed anyone's opinion. They are a team that is in transition or rebuilding, and will be looking to shed contracts and some of their veteran talent for younger prospects. Players like Brett Myers, Carlos Lee, Bill Hall, Clint Barmes and Brandon Lyon are some that come to mind that could be in different jerseys by the end of the season.
Here are five other teams that seem like logical choices to join the Astros as sellers at the trade deadline.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox have the fifth-highest payroll in the majors this season and have the worst winning percentage. As of Sunday, they had a record at 13-22 and were 10 games back of the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians.
They have five players (Alex Rios, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy and Mark Buerhle) all making over $10 million this season. I have to think Jerry Reinsdorf and the rest of the owners are not happy in the direction that the Sox are heading and may look to shed some payroll this summer, bring in some young talent and try and turn things around.
The Sox have not been sellers for some time now and have added a lot of payroll the last two years, whether it is claiming Alex Rios off waivers in 2009, trading for Peavy in 2010, or signing Adam Dunn to a big contract this winter. The lack of success this season I think may change the Sox philosophy at the deadline.
New York Mets
Reports have already started to circulate around the Mets possibly trading some of players, specifically Jose Reyes, who becomes a free agent after this season. It was reported by CSNBayArea.com less than a week ago that the Giants already had internal discussions about trading for Reyes, but that was quickly shot down by Giants' GM Brian Sabean, with some choice words thrown in there.
Like the Chicago Sox, the Mets have a high payroll (seventh highest in the majors) and are not going anywhere. They are currently sitting in last place in the NL East and already eight games behind the Phillies. I think Reyes will be the big name at the trade deadline, especially with the strong season he has put together so far.
I know this one may come as a shock to some people, as the Brewers were one of the popular World Series picks. However, they have not lived up to expectations, losing eight of the last 10 and sitting six games under .500. Add in the fact that Price Fielder is a free agent after this season, and if the Brewers are not confident they can sign him to a long-term deal, I could see them moving him for a king's ransom of prospects instead of allowing him to walk away for nothing.
We are still months away and the Brewers could quickly go from sellers to buyers if they start putting wins together and/or sign Fielder to a long-term deal. However, at this point I could see the Brewers moving towards sellers in hopes to bring in more prospects to help in the future.
I do believe that half of the NL Central will be sellers and, in a shocker, I don't think the Pirates will be one of those teams. The Cubs on the other hand, I think fall into this category because of their slow start. They have a high payroll and have veterans whose values are higher than they have been in years.
Carlos Zambrano is off to a 4-1 start with a 4.23 ERA and 33 strikeouts in seven starts. Alfonso Soriano already has 11 home runs this season and even Kosuke Fukudome is hitting .359 so far this season. Each player commands a salary over $14 million this year, but there may be a team or two out there that would overlook the high price tag to add these players.
The reason the Dodgers made this list was not necessarily that they are bad on the field or have fallen out of contention for a playoff spot, but rather that the ownership is a mess over in Dodgerland. If MLB tries to sell the organization, it will be easier if they have a smaller payroll. This is sometimes a tactic owners take when trying to sell their organization, as expenses are lower and that makes the organization more desirable.
The Dodgers don't have a lot of players commanding big salaries, but Hiroki Kuroda and Rafael Furcal, once he returns from DL, could be two players that the Dodgers make available. We are still a little less than two months away from the deadline and a lot can change in that time, but this season should have an interesting trade deadline.