MLB Trade Speculation: The Biggest Trade Rumors for Each Team
The MLB trade deadline is still more than a month away and, though we’ve yet to see any blockbuster deals, there’s been a lot of discussion and rumors flying around.
Some of these rumors are just that and have long since been buried. But many of them could offer a preview of some of the names that will be on the trade market come July.
Here’s a look at the biggest trade rumors for each team so far in the 2011 season.
Note: Teams are listed in alphabetical order with the A's first and the Yankees last.
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The A’s have already made a couple of minor deals already, trading left-hander David Purcey to the Tigers and infielder Steve Tolleson to the Padres. However, general manager Billy Beane is far from done.
Beane won’t trade any of Oakland’s stud young pitchers (Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill), but the same can’t be said of Oakland’s impending free agents (Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui).
The big name on Oakland’s radar is the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and it’s possible they could get the slugger without having to give up any of their top prospects (Grant Green, Michael Choice). The A’s have the pitching to contend this year, but at seven games out in the AL West they need a big bat to get back in the race.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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Even though the Angels won their arbitration hearing with Jered Weaver, agreeing to pay him a record $7.37 million in 2011 (for second time arbitration eligible pitchers), there’s still a lot of doubt about Weaver’s future in the organization.
Weaver, 28, has a 2.14 ERA in 13 starts this season and is a leading candidate for the Cy Young award after finishing fifth in voting last year. He’ll likely command upwards of $10 million in his third and final year of arbitration, and there seems to be nothing stopping him from filing for free agency after the 2012 season.
Weaver expressed an interest in signing a long-term deal with the Halos, but considering his agent is Scott Boras that seems unlikely. The Angels (currently 4.5 games out of first place) could cut their losses and save a few million dollars by trading Weaver now while his value is at its highest.
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The Astros should in full sell mode despite a new ownership group that has to be careful about not alienating a sensitive fan base.
GM Ed Wade will listen to offers for pretty much everyone on the roster, including young stars Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence. But the player most likely to get moved is Brett Myers.
The 30-year-old right-hander was brilliant last season with a 3.14 ERA in well over 200 innings. He’s not pitching quite so well this year (4.82 ERA in 12 starts), but there are many teams that still view Myers as a capable No. 5 starter. At the top of that list are the New York Yankees.
Toronto Blue Jays
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The Blue Jays would be a playoff contender in any other division, but with a 30-29 record they are just fourth in the AL East.
However, that won’t stop GM Alex Anthopoulos from wheeling and dealing. The Blue Jays contacted the Mets about several of their players, including Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, and it’s always possible talks could heat up again.
The Blue Jays seem happy with Yunel Escobar at short (he leads Toronto in plate appearances), but an outfield of Jose Bautista and Beltran could do some serious damage.
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The Braves have been all over the map this season. For a long time the big rumor was that the Braves would trade starter Derek Lowe because they had so much pitching depth. However, the Braves have no desire to deal the veteran, at least for now.
If they do, one of the things they’ll be looking for in return is a right-handed hitting outfielder. There aren’t too many to choose from (Carlos Beltran and Josh Willingham come to mind), and none would offer the kind of insurance Atlanta needs if Chipper Jones goes down again.
Atlanta has a good, young team, but even with a 32-28 record the Braves are 3.5 games out of first place and 1.5 games out of the wild card (with three teams in front). Another big bat could relieve the pressure on struggling sluggers like Dan Uggla and Jayson Hewyard.
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The Brewers are off to a 33-26 start and are in the thick of the playoff race, currently leading the NL Wild Card. A big part of Milwaukee’s success is thanks to Prince Fielder, who is having another monster year and is among the league leaders in home runs (13) and RBI (45).
Fielder, 27, has been in trade rumors for as long as Adrian Gonzalez, yet GM Doug Melvin has resisted pulling the trigger on a deal. But for how long?
The Brewers already extended Ryan Braun and it doesn’t look like there’ll be room to offer Fielder the mega-contract he deserves.
St. Louis Cardinals
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The Albert Pujols trade rumors were insane to begin with, so let’s just pretend that those never happened. One rumor that did have some legs, however, is the status of veteran right-hander Chris Carpenter.
The big 36-year-old is not pitching well this year with a 4.25 ERA in 13 starts and he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season. There was some speculation that Carpenter would be traded in the wake of the Adam Wainwright injury during spring training.
But, much to everyone’s surprise, the Cardinals are legitimate contenders. They lead the NL Central by two games and have the second best record in all of baseball, so expect to be buyers and not sellers at the deadline.
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Forget about Pujols, whether it’s through a trade or free agency. The Cubs reportedly won’t have the financial flexibility to throw any kind of cash around this offseason because of debt violations. That means the trade market is the only way this team is going to get better.
Any number of players from the Cubs roster could be moved, including Carlos Pena, John Grabow, Kosuke Fukudome, Kerry Wood and Jeff Baker. One name we could add to that list after last night is Carlos Zambrano.
The 30-year-old right-hander blew up on his team after another extra inning loss to the Cardinals. He’s always been a great pitcher when healthy and after the latest meltdown he might be finally willing to waive his no-trade clause. The Cubs still have to find a team that’ll be willing to pay Zambrano $18 million next season.
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The Diamondbacks seemed ready to blow up their team as recently as two weeks ago, but then a funny thing happened—they started winning. Arizona is six games above .500 and just a half game outside of first place and the wild card.
That drastically alters what GM Kevin Towers is going to do at the deadline, but one trade rumor that just won’t die is what the Diamondbacks are going to do with Justin Upton.
The 23-year-old outfielder was made available during the offseason and virtually every team in baseball made a call, but Towers ultimately decided to hold on to his prized possession. Upton is probably Arizona’s best offensive player and the Diamondbacks need someone as a trade chip for pitching, although Towers seems committed to finding an internal solution.
Los Angeles Dodgers
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MLB basically owns the Dodgers now, so it’s hard to imagine GM Ned Colletti having any flexibility to make enough moves to make the team into a contender. He may also have a problem signing LA’s two big sluggers, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, to long-term extensions.
Ethier, 29, is having a monster season with a .325 batting average and .870 OPS. He’ll be a free agent after this season, however, so the Dodgers may be tempted to trade him if they can’t get back in the race soon.
Ethier and the Dodgers had discussions about a contract extension before the season began, but they couldn’t agree to a deal. Colletti will have a much tougher time extending Ethier now with the outfielder having a career year.
San Francisco Giants
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The big name on the Giants’ radar is, and always has been, Jose Reyes. Initial rumors were floated around in May and they have not quieted down, especially in the wake of owner Fred Wilpon’s candid comments about his players.
The Mets’ shortstop, meanwhile, has gone on an absolute tear. He’s hitting a career-high .337 and leads the league in hits and triples. He’s also in the final year of his contract.
It doesn’t look like there’s any way that the Mets will keep Reyes beyond 2011 and the Giants remain the most likely trade partner, especially with shortstops Miguel Tejada and Mike Fontenot really struggling at the plate.
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The Indians at 33-24 are the surprise team of the season and what they’ll do at the trade deadline is anyone’s guess. They could take on salary, but GM Chris Antonetti has no desire to part with any of Cleveland’s top young players.
One player who may not fit that designation anymore is Grady Sizemore. The one-time superstar has been in and out of the lineup all year because of injuries and could be a free agent after the 2011 season. He’s still only 28.
The Indians seem pleased with what they’ve gotten out of center fielder Michael Brantley, so they could use Sizemore as a trade chip to acquire pitching. Then again, they could see how much they can get out of him and deal him in the offseason.
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The Mariners desperately need an offensive upgrade since they are hitting just .230 as a team (.642 OPS) and have two regulars hitting under the Mendoz line. Even Ichiro Suzki (.264) is struggling. Despite this, Seattle is three games above .500 and just 2.5 games out of first place.
That means there’s no way GM Zack Zduriencik will think about dealing Felix Hernandez. The Mariners have the best rotation in the AL right now and King Felix is their ace.
One name to keep an eye on if the Mariners do fall out of the race over the next month is Erik Bedard. The 32-year-old lefty was a big offseason acquisition back in 2008, but injuries kept him out of the Seattle rotation for most of the last two seasons. He’s healthy now, pitching well and is only making $1 million on a one-year deal.
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At 31-26 the Marlins are in the thick of the playoff race and just a game out of the wild card despite a slow start by superstar Hanley Ramirez.
The Marlins might be the best young team in baseball and they’ll be aggressive at the trade deadline.
The one player the Marlins have been connected to so far is Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit, and the veteran utilityman could provide depth all over the diamond.
New York Mets
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Every player on the Mets roster is probably up for grabs right now after owner Fred Wilpon quite literally threw his best players under the bus, including Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.
But although Reyes and Beltran are the two names most likely to move, the most interesting trade candidate is David Wright. The 28-year-old third baseman is struggling hitting the ball (.226/.337/.404), but he’s young and only owed $15 million in 2012.
The Mets need a lot of help and Wright would easily be worth more on the trade market than any of his players. He may not want to leave New York, but the Mets may owe it to him to let him play out his prime for a contender.
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The Nationals (26-33) are still quite a ways from seriously competing, but that doesn’t mean they can’t improve the team in preparation for next season and beyond.
The big name on GM Mike Rizzo’s wish list appears to be Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton. The Nats haven’t been getting anything out of their centerfielders and Upton would represent a massive upgrade.
The 26-year-old never really hit for average, but he has a rare combination of power (seven home runs), speed (12 steals) and defense. He’ll also be a free agent after 2012 and the Rays likely won’t have enough cash to keep him, so a trade is possible even if the Rays are contending.
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The Orioles are a vastly underrated team and, even though they’re dead last in the AL East with a 26-31 record, this is a club with a very bright future.
One player who won’t be a part of that future is Vladimir Guerrero, a 36-year-old DH who just keeps smacking the ball. Guerrero could help a lot of teams in need of a power right-handed bat and Baltimore already has plenty of offense as it is.
The Orioles are also poking around on Prince Fielder, but they could wait until the slugger hits free agency before making a move on him.
San Diego Padres
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The rebuilding Padres unloaded Adrian Gonzalez in the offseason and, unless their recent surge is a sign of things to come, it’s only a matter of time before they unload Heath Bell as well.
The San Diego closer has a 1.80 ERA in 25 appearances and 16 saves. Bell, 33, is also in the final year of his deal. You don’t pay a closer $7.5 million to close games for a losing team, so the Padres have little choice but to make Bell available.
The Cardinals are among the teams interested in Bell. The Rangers and Yankees could also get involved.
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The Phillies dream rotation lived up to the hype, but the offense is still floundering. Even with Chase Utley now back they’re hitting just .250 as a team with an embarrassing .319 on-base percentage.
That means the Phillies are going to go hard after an impact bat. The big name on GM Ruben Amaro’s wish list is Hunter Pence, a player that could help ease the burden of replacing Jayson Werth.
However, there’s a major roadblock the Phillies must get past first. At $175 million the Phillies are dangerously close to the luxury tax (estimated at $177 million) and would have to unload some high-cost players like Raul Ibanez or Joe Blanton to acquire a hitter.
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It’s been over a decade since the Pirates were relevant and at 28-30 it’s not inconceivable that the club could be buyers at the trade deadline, if only for the chance to get to .500.
The Pirates could use an upgrade at first base and a veteran starter, and have lots of pieces they could move. Both catchers, Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit, could be available since they’ll be free agents at the end of the season.
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Michael Young has been playing for the Texas Rangers since 2000, but the second baseman-turned-shortstop-turned-third baseman-turned designated hitter is on the decline.
Young, 34, requested a trade back in February and the Rangers failed to make a deal, in large part because few teams wanted to pay him $18 million a year. Young responded by accepting his role and hitting .319 with a league-leading 18 doubles, making GM Jon Daniels look like a genius.
The Diamondbacks showed interest in spring training, but wouldn’t give up lefty prospect Tyler Skaggs. The Rockies were also reportedly very close to making a deal. Don’t be surprised to see talks heat up again.
Tampa Bay Rays
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The Rays are in a very interesting position. At 30-29 they are tied for third in the AL East and will have a hard time leapfrogging either the Red Sox or Yankees. However, this is a very good team with lots of very good players.
B.J. Upton rumors aside, one scenario that’s been floated around is Tampa Bay acquiring Jose Reyes. Reid Brignac (.167/.202/.175) has been a disaster at shortstop and the Rays could really use another bat in the wake of Manny Ramirez’s sudden retirement.
The Rays don’t typically trade their prospects or young guys, but with 12 of the top 89 picks in the drafts GM Andrew Friedman may have some flexibility.
Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox were hot after Carlos Beltran before ultimately signing Carl Crawbord, but the Beltran rumors haven’t gone away.
Beltran, 34, is having a rebound season with a .284/.367/.522 line and a league-leading 19 doubles. He’ll also be a free agent after 2011 and the Red Sox have the financial flexibility and trade chips to get a deal done.
It’s possible GM Theo Epstein could make a deal for the switch-hitting Beltran if J.D. Drew doesn’t stay healthy. Even if Drew avoids injuries, however, his bat (.226 BA, 12 RBI) has become a liability.
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The Reds have been quiet so far this year and seem fairly content with a .500 team, despite a vastly underachieving rotation.
Their recent 5-13 slide should pass and the Reds could give the team a boost with internal options like Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier or Zack Cozart.
If GM Walt Jocketty decides to go outside of the organization one position to look at is shortstop, where Paul Jannish has just a .525 OPS. Jose Reyes is probably a pipe dream, but Marco Scutaro and Jason Bartlett are definitely options.
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The Rockies are off to a disappointing 27-31 start, but the talent is there to make a run at a division title.
I already covered the Michael Young rumors in an earlier slide, but the Rockies might want to figure out what they’re going to do with another third baseman first. Ian Stewart, 26, was a fixture in Colorado for two-plus seasons, but he only lasted 21 games in 2011.
The Rockies won’t sell low on Stewart, but they’ll certainly make him available if the right deal comes along.
Kansas City Royals
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The Royals have the best farm system in baseball and many of their biggest prospects are already in the majors, so this is a club that could be very quiet or very loud at the deadline.
Wilson Betemit is receiving the most interest of players on the Kansas City roster, but Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera could be moved as well to capitalize on huge seasons for the two outfielders.
In the rotation both Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen could be moved to make room for Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery and others.
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At 31-27 the Tigers are 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central and 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the wild card.
The Tigers don’t have too many trade chips with so much money tied up in underperforming players (Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez). One thing they could definitely use, though, is another hitter.
The Tigers are among the teams interested in Carlos Beltran and they could really use a reliever as well with the Joaquin Benoit signing looking like a disaster.
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The Twins are beyond done at this point and it’s only a matter of time before they go into full-scale sell mode.
Anybody on the roster outside of Joe Mauer is fair game at this point. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young are the best candidates for a trade, with Jim Thome also likely available.
The Twins may also make Joe Nathan and Matt Capps available for the right price, since both could be free agents after this season.
Chicago White Sox
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The White Sox are in a similar position to the Twins, although a recent sweep of the Boston Red Sox and the return of Jake Peavy to the rotation could be a sign of things to come.
Still, the White Sox are seven games back and if they don’t close the gap soon then they’ll begin selling off their players.
Edwin Jackson will be the easiest to move, especially since he might be demoted to the bullpen anyway. If GM Kenny Williams decides to get creative then John Danks, Mark Buerhle and Carlos Quentin could all be available for the right price.
New York Yankees
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The Yankees have miraculous survived the first third of the season with the likes of Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon in the rotation. However, nobody expects that to last much longer.
The Yankees have been linked to every potentially available starter, from Derek Lowe to Mark Buerhle to Carlos Zambrano. But the most interesting name to keep an eye on is Twins lefty Francisco Liriano.
The Yankees supposedly offered the Twins Nova and Ramiro Pena in exchange for Liriano and were turned down. The Twins, meanwhile, really want Manuel Banuelos. Liriano has been very inconsistent this season (5.73 ERA despite a no-hitter), but the Yankees may still be willing to take a chance on the once dominating pitcher.