It might only be May, but it is never too early to look at MLB trade scenarios. There have already been a few minor deals done this season, but as we get closer to the July 31 deadline, the big names start to become involved in the trade talk.
On this list, we take a look at players who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves in the trade spotlight. Some players have performed well above expectations and suddenly have some unexpected trade value. Others have been terrible in 2011, and it would be best if they were shopped.
There were few people who thought Lowe would be able to continue producing into 2011. Not only has the 38-year-old stayed relevant, he is the ace of the Braves staff, with a brilliant 3.22 ERA this season.
The Braves would not be averse to trading the veteran righty, even if they are in the playoff hunt.
Sanchez is really the only tradable player with any value. A great start has helped that. He is on pace for the second-best season of his career, after his rookie campaign.
K-Rod’s contract is an interesting one. There is a clause therein which holds that if he finishes 55 games during the regular season, a $17.5 million player option for 2012 will kick in.
That is just ridiculous, and if the Mets, with their current financial problems, end up paying that, they deserve everything that is coming to them. Rodriguez has never matched the level of his record-breaking 62-save 2008 season in Anaheim, though last year he did have a good 2.20 ERA.
He is well on his way to 55 GF, but the Mets will want to avoid that. Trading him to a team looking for a setup guy rather than a closer, makes sense for both teams, as they would avoid the 55-game threshold.
A lot was said about the Phillies’ rotation in the offseason. They have lived up to the hype.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels all have FIPs under 3.00 (Doc’s is just 1.48), and Roy Oswalt’s ERA is a strong 3.33.
Blanton is very much the other guy. His ERA is 5.83. The Phillies would like to bolster their offense and can very much afford to let Blanton go.
The Cubs signed Pena in the offseason to a one-year deal. His .196 average from the season before was ignored because he has 30-homer power. His BA has improved, yes, but it is still a painful .213.
He has also only gone yard three times. Pena was probably just a rental, so the Cubs would have no qualms about trading him at the deadline, especially with the rumors about their going after Albert Pujols.
With 106-mph man Aroldis Chapman waiting in the wings, it only makes sense to trade Cordero, who has a ridiculous $12 million salary he is never going to live up to.
He has been good but not good enough to keep his job.
Carlos Lee is killing the Astros. He cannot hit, he cannot field and he cannot run. The ‘Stros are building for the future.
The only reason Lee is in that future is because they owe him $36 million over the next two years and his .278 wOBA limits his potential trade value. They would have to eat a lot of his contract, but they have to get rid of him.
Okay, so Fielder has not exactly played himself into a trade bait position. Rather, he was always in this situation to begin with.
Actually, he has played very well. He is on pace for a 30-100 season, and his average is up 30 points on last year and is the second-best of his career.
People have talked about trading him for years. It is more likely than ever it will happen in 2011.
Doumit never really lived up to his expectations, something which never, ever happens with young Pirates players.
Pittsburgh’s pitching has been surprisingly strong this season; their biggest weakness is offense. Doumit has performed relatively well, but there is no way the Pirates are going to pick up his $7.5 million team option. They also have an in-house replacement in Chris Snyder.
The Yankees decided against retaining Berkman at the end of last season. At the time, the move made sense—he would have been expensive and they had nowhere to put him.
Think they are regretting that now? Berkman has been awesome in 2011.
He has slugged 10 home runs, driven in 32 and is hitting at a .372 clip. Simply put: His trade value is high.
Johnson was already the most movable piece for the D-Backs, according to Ken Rosenthal, and Arizona is in desperate need of pitching, both starting and relief. The fact he has struggled greatly means they will now more than happily move him.
As Rosenthal says, he needs to raise that batting average to raise his value, but Arizona will not think twice about letting him go.
Iannetta is here almost by default. He is the only Colorado player who is tradable, is not a young prospect and is not Troy Tulowitzki.
The Rockies’ pitching is good, but there are some black holes in their lineup.
Loney’s start has been terrible. He has appeared in all 36 games for the Dodgers this season but has managed just two extra base hits (2B and HR) on his way to a .227 average.
With the call-up of Jerry Sands, Loney will be looking over his shoulder. He is arbitration-eligible for one more year, but there were rumors of his being non-tendered even last winter.
Bell is having a great season. His ERA is just 1.29, he already has eight saves and is striking out twice as many batters as he walks. However, he will be a free agent at the end of the season and will command a high salary in 2012.
San Diego has other options at closer, and while Bell is having a great season, the Padres are not going to compete this year, and it makes little sense to keep him.
The Giants are struggling. The defending World Series champions have been languishing around .500 all season and need to do something. There has been talk of the Giants moving Pat Burrell.
San Francisco has a number of moving parts in its outfield and would not mind getting something in exchange for one of them. Burrell was great toward the end of the season last year, and that will give him some trade value despite his weak start.
The O’s made an incredible 6-1 start but since then have gone 8-18. They have scored four runs in a game just twice this month and need some offensive help.
Derrek Lee signed a one-year deal but has not produced. He has low value, but the O’s will take what they can get, especially if it means getting out of a $7.25 million contract.
While Scutaro has been struggling at the plate with a .235 batting average and one solitary home run, Jed Lowrie has built something of a cult following in New England and stolen the starting shortstop job.
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat since obviously Montero is not an MLB starter. He has not played himself into trade bait, rather his team’s starters have.
The Yankees still need a solid starter if they are to make a run at a 28th world championship. Montero is perhaps their highest-rated prospect and catchers with a strong bat are few and far between.
New York has a few catching prospects in their system and will consider a package centered around Montero if they find a starter they covet.
There were rumors either Shields or Matt Garza would be traded last season. It turned out to be Garza, who was dealt to the Chicago Cubs. Now the attention turns to Shields.
The Rays have a very deep farm system, as far as starting pitching goes, and would almost certainly consider shopping Shields. A big reason is that he has struggled in recent years. In 2009, his ERA was 4.14; in 2010 is had risen to 5.18, and he had a losing record both years.
Now factor in that he has performed magnificently this year. He is 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP. His trade value will have risen, and the Rays would not be averse to a trade.
The Jays need pitching, and Patterson is a veteran outfielder who is having his best season in five years.
Well, who do you trade if you are the Indians? They are the best team in baseball, and you do not really want to mess with it.
Of course, no one expects them to remain the best team in the majors all season. They have a young team who might fade as the season goes on. If that does indeed happen, Cleveland might look to trade someone to strengthen their team for 2012.
A prime candidate is Justin Masterson, who has struggled since being traded from Boston in 2009. Finally, though, it seems like he has made the transition to full-time starter. He is 5-0 with a 2.11 earned run average. He is arbitration eligible, but many teams need starting pitching.
The White Sox are the third-worst team in baseball, yet have the fifth-largest payroll. Hopes were high of a run to the postseason, but that does not look likely with the team as presently constituted.
Mark Buerhle is their most attractive target, but he has a clause in his contract which will see him extended by a year at $15 million. That will put off some teams, but Buehrle is still a good pitcher and the White Sox need to do something.
If Peralta can maintain his early form, 2011 might be his best season since 2005. He is batting .288 and is third on the team in RBI.
The Tigers have a very young lineup; Peralta and Miguel Cabrera are the exceptions.
The Royals have a good farm system, which always helps when you consider trading a major league starter. After a poor 2010, Gordon has made a great start in 2011, batting at a .309 clip.
He is young, and while the Royals control him for another two years before he will be free agency eligible, they will take any kind of bullpen help for Gordon—a highly rated prospect just a few years ago—if they can get it.
He was woeful, then he tossed a no-hitter. Those trade rumors are not going away.
Pineiro has pitched for four teams in five years and could be on the way to his fifth. He is a free agent at the end of the year and has started well this year, winning both of his starts so far.
Ellis has played with the A’s his entire career, since 2002, and is popular in Oakland. But his time there could be coming to an end.
His contract expires this season, his batting average is a paltry .190, and the Athletics have a good prospect at second in Jemile Weeks.
No, not Felix Hernandez. The Mariners are inching closer to competing and got a pretty good package for Cliff Lee last season; they are not going to shop their Cy Young-winning ace.
They have tried to shop Milton Bradley, though. The M’s DFA’d him two days ago, but no one is going to consider him.
Ichiro likes it in Seattle and is confident he can still play at a high level. A .315 BA last season and a 10th-straight 200-hit year proves that.
The Mariners are in rebuilding mode. They do not have good veterans to trade, and they will never move their prospects to make a title run this year or next.
After a ferocious 9-1 start, the Rangers have fallen to .500. They need to do something. We look at the offseason drama surrounding Michael Young.
Young was not pleased the Rangers signed third baseman Adrian Beltre, meaning he would have to become the full-time DH.
Texas sort of wanted to trade him. Young definitely wanted to be traded. Now that the defending AL champions are struggling and with Young having a brilliant season (.338 BA, 26 RBI), the trade rumor mill will start up again for the 34-year-old.