MLB Trade Speculation: Each Team's Player Most Likely to Be Dealt
Even though the MLB trade deadline is still some two-plus months away, it's never too early to start speculating on which players will get dealt.
Virtually every team is involved during the trading deadline, whether they are buyers, sellers or a little bit of both. Every team also has players that other clubs covet, and it remains true that you have to give up something to get something.
With that in mind here's a look at each team's most tradable asset and the odds of them actually getting dealt.
Tampa Bay Rays: Johnny Damon, OF
The Rays may not want to move Damon if they stay atop the AL East, but it makes more sense to trade a veteran with a $5.25 million price tag than a young prospect.
Damon's done OK in Tampa Bay. The 37-year-old has been relegated to DH duty, but he's still a serviceable hitter with five home runs to date and even five steals. He's also one of the few veteran players on a team full of young stars.
The Rays need bullpen help (assuming Kyle Farnsworth can't maintain a 1.35 ERA), and they can find better overall hitters than Damon in the minors.
New York Yankees: Eric Chavez, 3B
The Yankees really aren't the type of team to trade away players on the major league roster, and, even though it defies conventional wisdom, there's no chance of them dealing either Jorge Posada or Derek Jeter (neither of whom deserve to be starters for a championship caliber team).
That leaves Chavez, a former All-Star third basemen who hasn't been able to stay healthy since 2006. He signed with the Yankees as a high-risk, high-reward free agent and thus far has managed a .303 batting average in 17 games.
He's still only 33 so there should be plenty left in the tank, and there's no way he'll get any consistent playing time behind Alex Rodriguez. Best case scenario is Chavez stays healthy long enough to prove that he can still be a reliable major league starter, and the Yankees deal him for starting pitching.
Of course, he's currently on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his foot.
Baltimore Orioles: Justin Duchscherer, P
Duchscherer is another reclamation project who, like Chavez, was last seen in an Athletics uniform.
The 33-year-old righty is still recovering from a strained left hip and has not pitched a single inning for the Orioles this season, but is expected back well before the trade deadline. He has a good track record and has made the All-Star team two times, once as a starter and once as a reliever.
Baltimore wants to use Duchscherer as a starter, but they might opt to trade him for a different one. It all depends on when he gets on the field and what he does when he gets there.
On the plus side, he's only due $700,000 this season, so there should be plenty of teams willing to take a chance on him.
Boston Red Sox: Marco Scutaro, SS
Scutaro was almost traded during spring training but managed to open the season as Boston's starting shortstop. However, now with Jed Lowrie (.864 OPS) tearing the cover off the ball there's no reason to put the 35-year-old journeyman in the lineup anymore.
Scutaro has never been known as much of a slugger, but this season it seems like he's forgotten he even has a bat. His batting average is down to .235, and he only has three extra-base hits in 76 plate appearances. He's also beginning to show his age and is currently stuck on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
It's hard enough getting regular playing time when you're an automatic out, let alone when there are two younger and more talented players ahead of you. Even if Lowrie cools down, rookie Jose Iglesias is more than ready to step in as the starter.
The Red Sox aren't in any rush to get rid of Scutaro, and they may want to wait until he starts hitting. there are plenty of teams, however, that would love to rent a utility guy like Scutaro for a couple of months.
Toronto Blue Jays: Travis Snider, OF
It's pretty safe to call the Blue Jays sellers at this point. However, unlike most sellers this team doesn't have any expendable veterans and is, in fact one of the youngest teams in the league.
One of those youngsters is Snider, a talented hitter who slugged 14 home runs last season in just 298 at-bats but has struggled to stay on the major league roster. He's taken a big step backwards this year, hitting just .184 in 25 games and earning himself a promotion.
Toronto has plenty of good outfielders between Rajai Davis, Juan Rivera and Jose Batista, and Snider is probably best suited as a DH anyway, so a trade is looking more and more likely.
He's still only 23, and there will be a power-hungry team willing to take a flier on a guy with 30-home run potential who will be under team control until 2016.
Cleveland Indians: Austin Kearns, OF
Count me among those that doesn't think the Indians can keep up their torrid pace, even if their offense really is this good. The best thing for a team like this to do is to ride the wave of success for as long as possible without mortgaging the future.
Kearns is most certainly not a part of the future and is one of the few expendable pieces on the roster. He's only making $1.3 million this year and will be a free agent in 2012.
He's the perfect utility outfielder, with enough pop and defense to help a team every few days. Some contending team will have an injury to their starting outfield and come calling for Kearns.
If you're wondering why Grady Sizemore isn't here instead, it's because you don't trade your best player when you have the best record in the league. I'm pretty sure that's a rule in the baseball bible.
Kansas City Royals: Wilson Betemit, 3B
The Royals are another surprise team that have vastly exceeded expectations. But, as with the Indians, they don't have the pitching to make an extended run. Not yet, anyway.
Kansas City got incredibly lucky with their free-agent acquisitions, most notably Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, and they'll be very tempted to trade away either one if the right deal comes along. But Betemit remains the most likely trade candidate, especially if he keeps hitting at his current clip (.317/.385/.465).
The 29-year-old is primarily a third basemen but can play all over the infield and has good power. A team like the Athletics would love to have him.
Detroit Tigers: Magglio Ordonez, OF
The Tigers are going to have a hell of a time trying to move a 37-year-old outfielder who can't defend or hit anymore and is owed $10 million this season. But if Detroit is willing to pick up a portion of his salary, then there are a handful of teams willing to pick up a slugger with nearly 300 career home runs for the stretch run.
Right now, Ordonez is stuck on the bench behind Ryan Raburn and Brennan Boesch and will stay there until he can get as many extra-base hits (four) as strikeouts (11).
Despite their mediocre start, you can never count out the Tigers as long as they have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello atop the rotation. Joaquin Benoit has been a disaster out of the bullpen, however, so middle relief is a big need.
Chicago White Sox: Edwin Jackson, SP
Jackson, 27, seems to the odd man out in Chicago where the return of Jake Peavy has created a six-man rotation.
In eight starts, Jackson is 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA and 7.0 SO/9 IP. He's due $8.35 million this season and will be a free agent in 2012. He's also no stranger to the trade market, having been dealt three times in the last three seasons.
The White Sox need to get more production out of their outfield which, outside of Carlos Quentin and his .910 OPS, has been awful. Jackson would make a good No. 4 or 5 starter for a team that has some outfield depth to send to Chicago.
Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano, SP
It's difficult to trade away a pitcher who has the stuff to throw a no-hitter every time he steps on the mound, but time may be running out for this 27-year-old lefty.
Liriano has been up and down all season. He did record the first no-hitter of the season, yet he still has a 7.07 ERA on the season and more walks (27) than strikeouts (21) in 35.2 innings.
The Twins have already replaced him in the rotation with Kevin Slowey, and it doesn't make much sense to put a guy with control problems in the bullpen--especially when he's making $4.3 million.
The Twins don't want to sell low on Liriano, and they don't want to give up on the AL Central race, but sooner or later they're going to come to the conclusion that it's time to cut their losses and retool for next year.
If they don't, then Minnesota is going to end up either non-tendering Liriano or paying him upwards of $5 million to walk people every five days.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jeff Mathis, C
The Angels moved one catcher during the offseason (Mike Napoli), but don't be surprised to see them move another one once Hank Conger is entrenched as the full-time starter.
Mathis, 28, has been a good player for the Halos as a part-time catcher. He's not known as a particularly good hitter, but he calls a good game and is steady behind the plate. He's also due to be a free agent after the 2012 season, and there's little chance the Angels will hold on to him.
There are numerous teams that could use a part-time catcher, especially the Red Sox. The Angels, meanwhile, will be looking for an outfielder who can fill in for the injured and struggling Vernon Wells.
Oakland Athletics: Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B
Forget about the A's trading one of their stud young pitchers. The core of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez is staying put. The same can't be said, however, of Kouzmanoff, a power-hitting third baseman who is struggling in his second season in Oakland.
The 29-year-old is down to a line of .205/.237/.352 and has just seven extra-base hits. He's making $4.75 million this season, and though he will be arbitration eligible next year, he's a strong non-tender candidate.
Oakland will look to get what they can for Kouzmanoff, especially with Andy LaRoche playing so well at the hot corner.
As far as needs, both Coco Crisp and David DeJesus are off to weak starts so the outfield is definitely a concern. There's also only one player on the team (Josh Willingham) slugging over .400.
Texas Rangers: Brandon Webb, SP
The Rangers have been trying to scrape together a competitive team despite losing outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, as well as starter Tommy Hunter. They won't make a panic move unless things really get out of control, but one think they could is deal the rehabilitating Brandon Webb.
Webb, 32, has not thrown a meaningful pitch since 2008 as he continues to recover from right shoulder surgery. Before his injury, though, Webb was one of the best pitchers in the game and an annual contender for the Cy Young award. The Rangers signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal hoping to get something out of the right-hander.
Webb is still a ways away from returning, but if he proves he can still pitch then the Rangers will have teams lining up to make a bid for him.
Seattle Mariners: Eric Bedard, SP
Dreams of a killer one-two punch never materialized for the Mariners, as Bedard has struggled since he stepped off the plane in Seattle.
He made 15 starts in both 2008 and 2009 and then missed the 2010 season. He's back this year and has made seven starts, miraculously without suffering an injury. However, his ERA is at 4.78, and his strikeouts are way down.
Bedard, 32, is not the lights out pitcher he once was in Baltimore anymore, but the left-hander is still a serviceable starter. If he can stay healthy then the Mariners will happily move him for some offense or bullpen help.
Seattle is expected to be a big-time seller and Bedard just headlines the list of trade candidates. Also on that list are Brandon League, Jack Wilson and Brendan Ryan.
Philadelphia Phillies: Joe Blanton, SP
The Phillies are a contender so don't expect them to make a big subtraction from their major league roster, although guys like Jimmy Rollins and Jose Contreras would make great trade chips. Instead, look for a smaller deal that won't have any bearing on the team's championship aspirations.
Blanton, 30, was almost dealt before the season began, but the Phillies are sure glad they held on to him after injuries to Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels depleted the rotation.
The right-hander has a 5.83 ERA in five starts but has thrown at least 175 innings in each season of his major league career. Blanton is also signed through 2012 at $8.5 million a season.
The Phillies won't make a move until everyone gets back, but there's no reason to keep Blanton around when he has zero chance of making the playoff roster. Bullpen help is a top priority.
Florida Marlins: Anibal Sanchez, SP
The Marlins are holding strong in the NL East despite a slow start by Hanley Ramirez and injuries to Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton, but can it last?
One of the players keeping Florida in the race is Sanchez. In seven starts, the righty has a 3.46 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 41.2 innings, as well as a career-high rate of 9.3 SO/9. He's been a terrific starter for the Marlins when healthy.
However, the cost-conscious Marlins are notorious for trading away their expensive stars before they have to pay for them, and Sanchez definitely qualifies.
The 27-year-old is making $3.7 million this season and will be a free agent after the 2012 season. If the Marlins want to get a big package for Sanchez, the time to trade him is now.
Atlanta Braves: Derek Lowe, SP
The Braves have one of the best rotations in baseball with the way Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson are pitching, and that could make Lowe expendable as a trade chip.
The 37-year-old righty is pitching well too, with a 3.73 ERA in 50.2 innings. Lowe is one of the most durable pitchers in the game and despite his age, has thrown at least 180 innings in every season since 2002.
He's on pace to repeat that feat in Atlanta, but the Braves will be tempted to trade him and his $15 million contract to free up space for other players.
Plenty of teams, the Yankees especially, would be eager to pick up Lowe if he is made available. The Braves would likely want prospects in return to continue their rebuilding efforts.
Washington Nationals: Rick Ankiel, OF
The Nationals have been sellers every year of the 21st century, and this season should be no exception.
Ankiel, 31, should be one of the players on the market for Washington. The outfielder is still on the disabled list with a sprained right wrist suffered during a fight, though he was hitting poorly (.221/.302/.288) when he was playing regularly.
The Nationals seem happy with Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse in the outfield, so there's no place anymore for Ankiel and his $1.5 million contract.
Other Nationals' players expected to be on the trading block include Jason Marquis, Ivan Rodriguez and Todd Coffey. All could be had for the right price, and we will likely see some minor moves over the next month.
New York Mets: Carlos Beltran, OF
I could write my dissertation on what the Mets are going to do at the trading deadline, but to spare you the time of reading through it I'll just summarize their season in one, simple word: SELL!
The Mets are going in the wrong direction and need to blow up a roster riddled with overpaid, underachieving superstars. In his defense, Beltran is the only one of the major stars (Jose Reyes, David Wright, Francisco Rodriguez being the others) who is producing up to his paycheck.
The 34-year-old center fielder is hitting .294/.384/.587 and has already surpassed his home run (eight) and double (13) totals from last season.
Beltran is making $18.5 million in the final year of a mega-contract he signed with the Mets back in 2005. The Mets need to trade Beltran while he's still sizzling hot, especially since there's zero chance of A) the Mets contending this season, and B) the Mets resigning Beltran.
Don't be surprised to see New York move the rest of their infield too (Ike Davis excluded).
St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter, SP
The odds of Albert Pujols being traded border between the odds of Barry Bonds returning to baseball and the odds of Osama bin Laden returning to life. Suffice to say, it's not happening.
The same can't be said, however, of Carpenter. The 36-year-old righthander has been the ace of the Cardinals staff since coming to St. Louis in 2004. He's struggled early this year, with just a 4.32 ERA in eight starts, but he's been remarkably consistent over the course of his career and is a three-time All-Star.
So why would the Cardinals trade him?
The answer, as always, is Pujols. Carpenter makes $15 million this season and the Cardinals hold a $15 million option on him for next season that is a good bet to be exercised if he stays healthy.
St. Louis could free up some cash to throw at Pujols by trading Carpenter and building the rotation around Jamie Garcia and Kyle McClellan.
Cincinnati Reds: Mike Leake, P
The Reds have more starters than they know what to do with, and it looks like the victim of that pitching surplus will be Leake.
The 23-year-old righthander made 22 starts as a rookie for Cincinnati last season and fairly reasonably well, compiling a 4.23 ERA in 138.1 innings. Leake started off the 2011 season in the Reds rotation as well, but was pushed out by Johnny Cueto after a poor start and is now stuck in the bullpen.
There are plenty of teams that would be happy to trade for a promising young pitcher and the Reds could really use some bullpen help--especially if Aroldis Chapman can't find the strike zone again.
Cincinnati could also use an upgrade in left field, where Jonny Gomes and his .186 batting average isn't getting it done.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ryan Doumit, C
The Pirates haven't been this close to a division title in about 15 years, but even though it'd be nice to end all those years of losing the reality is that this team is still probably a couple of years away.
That means the Pirates will once again be selling at the trade deadline. Doumit, 30, is a great candidate to be moved because he's a backup catcher and is making $5.1 million. He's a decent enough hitter and has a solid .275/.359/.464 line in 25 games so far, and he can even play in the outfield a little bit.
Pittsburgh will probably trade Doumit whether or not they stay in the playoff race. Look for the Red Sox to be serious bidders, with the Pirates looking for starting pitching depth in return.
Chicago Cubs: Kosuke Fukudome, OF
The Cubs would love to dump Alfonso Soriano and his $18 million/year contract (not to mention his 11 home runs), but that just isn't happening. Instead, look for Chicago to try to move their Japanese import and the $13.5 million remaining on his deal.
Fukudome, 34, is a good player, but has not played up to expectations. After making the All-Star team as a rookie in 2008 his production has stalled.
He's having a career year so far for the Cubs (.344/.454/.389) and that might improve Chicago's chances of moving him, but zero home runs and zero stolen bases after 28 games is definitely worrisome.
Moving Fukudome would open up a spot for prospect Tyler Colvin to become a starter and free up enough dollars for the Cubs to make a run at Pujols. Chicago is desperately looking for a fifth starter.
Milwaukee Brewers: Brandon Boggs, OF
It doesn't look like the Brewers are going to move Prince Fielder anytime soon, so rather than speculate about mega-trades that have zero chance of happening, here's a deal that could actually go down.
Boggs, 28, is a switch-hitting outfielder who is stuck on the depth chart behind the trio of Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart. Not one of those three is going anywhere and that means Boggs, who is out of options, may need to start packing his bags.
He's not an especially good hitter (career .211 batting average) but can play all three outfield positions and won't be a free agent until 2015. The Brewers could use a middle reliever.
Houston Astros: Brett Myers, SP
It's pretty much a given that the Astros are going to be sellers, and as many as five or six players could be on their way out of Houston. But who should start packing right now?
Myers, 30, is off to a poor start in 2011 with a 5.01 ERA in 50.1 innings, but the righty has a track record of success and is making $7 million this season and $11 million next season. The Astros would love to see Myers pick it up so they can flip to a pitcher-hungry team for prospects.
Bill Hall and Brandon Lyon should both be gone by July 31st.
San Francisco Giants: Miguel Tejada, 3B
The Giants seem to have a surplus at every position, and it's not inconceivable that they package these players to go after someone like Jose Reyes. But one player they can't justify holding on to is Tejada.
The 36-year-old infielder was once one of baseball's most prolific sluggers, but he's struggled in 2011. In 133 at-bats, he has just 26 hits (.195 batting average) and just one home run. He's since lost his spot in the lineup to Mike Fontenot and is also losing playing time to Mark DeRosa.
Tejada will be a free agent in 2012 and is only owed $6.5 million this season, so it's a small commitment for a team looking to add some thump to their lineup. The A's would likely be interested in bringing the former MVP back to Oakland for a playoff push.
Colorado Rockies: Ian Stewart, 3B
Like his counterpart in San Francisco, Stewart has been awful this season.
The 26-year-old lefty hit just .064 in 47 at-bats before being demoted to AAA. The Rockies have to be disappointed with Stewart's play after a promising rookie season (.804 OPS in 2008), and they've gone with Ty Wigginton in his absence.
Colorado doesn't have the luxury of waiting for Stewart to turn it around since they're good enough to contend for a championship right now, so a trade makes sense.
Stewart will be eligible for arbitration for the second time next year after making $2.3 million this season. The Rockies could use him as a trade chip for bullpen help.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jonathan Broxton, RP
It's tough to get a feel for what the Dodgers are going to do in the wake of the Frank McCourt-MLB feud. They could be forced to blow up the team just to make payroll, or they could hold on to everyone and make a run at the division like they did last year.
Regardless of which direction the team goes in, something has to be done about Broxton. The 26-year-old righty has been a disaster as the Dodgers' closer. In 12.2 innings he's surrendered eight earned runs and has just 10 strikeouts. Broxton has seven saves, which is only four more than former starter Vicente Padilla.
Broxton is in the final year of his contract and will make $7 million in 2011. That's a heavy price tag for a closer who can't close, but there are plenty of teams that could use a power arm in the eighth inning. Both the Yankees and Red Sox would be interested if Rafael Soriano and Bobby Jenks, respectively, don't deliver soon.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Melvin Mora, 3B
The Diamondbacks have a surplus of utility guys and need to start moving them, preferably for a starter or two.
Mora, 39, is the most attractive option because he's a strong hitter (career .278/.352/.433) and can play multiple positions. He's only making $2 million this season on a one-year deal and would be a great fit to a team looking to add some pop off the bench.
Josh Wilson, Willie Bloomquist and Geoff Blum are all trade options among Arizona infielders, and Russell Branyan and Xavier Nady could be moved out of the first baseman/outfielder role.
San Diego Padres: Heath Bell, RP
The Padres front office can continue to put on a positive face and assure fans that they're going to spend the money necessary to keep the club's best players in San Diego. But the reality is that a small-market team just doesn't operate like that, not successfully at least.
Bell, 33, is one of the best relievers in the game. After consecutive All-Star appearances in 2009 and 2010 the big righty has upped his performance and now has his ERA down to 1.20 in 15 games and has only given up nine hits in 15 innings.
There are always teams looking for pitching help at the deadline and Bell would be terrific as either a closer or setup man. The Padres need a hitter, preferably an outfielder or third basemen.