The MLB trading deadline is a mere 53 days away, so let the rampant speculation begin!
Each team has a player that is most likely to be traded in an event that they become sellers. To be fair, not each player on this list is a Milton Bradley; most are stand-up people and talented athletes.
But, for varying reasons, they don't exactly fit into the team's long-term plans. In the event of a fire sale, these 30 MLB players will be the first to go.
Dan is a Boston Red Sox featured columnist. Follow him on twitter @dantheman_06.
To be fair, there aren’t many people wielding torches and sharp objects calling for Upton’s head on a pike in Arizona. In fact, Upton’s production is one of the main reasons why the D-Backs are sitting at a cool 33-27 (.550), just one game of the NL West lead.
But, whether the Diamondbacks deny it or not, the trade speculation last offseason was very real, and there would be few clubs not interested in acquiring Upton if his services became available.
At this point, it’s unlikely that the Diamondbacks move Upton before the trade deadline. It’s entirely possible Arizona looks to add pieces in an attempt to win the NL West. It would take a major slide for the D-Backs to sell, but Upton would be the most enticing trade candidate if that was to happen. He would likely bring in multiple, high-end pieces.
There isn’t much on the trade market in terms of starting pitching, so Derek Lowe would be a logical deadline trade candidate. The Braves have a surplus of starting pitching. Besides the phenomenal front three of Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens, the Braves have Brandon Beachy (DL) in the fold as well as prospects Julio Teheran and Mike Minor.
Word on the street is that the Braves don’t want to deal Lowe, but that could certainly change as teams searching for starting pitching are willing to up their offer as the deadline nears.
At this point, a good portion of the Baltimore Orioles roster has to be considered trade bait, so it’s hard to pick just one player.
While both Derek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero are free agents next season, therefore making them very likely trade candidates, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the O’s moving Mark Reynolds their top deadline priority.
Reynolds’ season has been atrocious. He has upped his long-ball total recently (nine HR), but his .188 batting average and .693 OPS are laughable at best. His WAR is minus-0.4, and his UZR is minus-9.8. He isn’t hitting or fielding, and the O’s are committed to him beyond 2011. Reynolds still has years left on his deal (guaranteed $7.5 million in 2012, option for 2013). Scary thoughts, people.
The Orioles could certainly take available of the putrid state of National League third baseman and Reynolds’ reputation as a slugger. It would free up cash and give the Orioles’ management and fanbase peace of mind knowing that they no longer have to worry about Reynolds.
The Red Sox aren’t going to be sellers at the deadline, but JD Drew remains a possible trade candidate. Drew is hitting a paltry .226 with a .662 OPS, and right field remains an open carousel in Boston.
The Red Sox aren’t having offensive problems despite Drews’ struggles, but they could look to upgrade in right. Adding a right-handed bat to the mix is certainly a possibility.
While the bullpen and starting rotation will be Boston’s biggest priorities at the deadline, and Drew would likely fetch next to nothing in the trade market, he could be dealt if the Red Sox feel the need to bring in another outfielder.
After Zambrano’s latest media meltdown, it seems only a matter of time before he’s dealt. The Cubs are going nowhere fast, and Zambrano is one of the more “appealing” trade options that the Cubs have.
While Zambrano has a no-trade clause, he would be insane not to waive it. Or, just insane. Who knows?
The White Sox have an abundance of starting pitchers, and Edwin Jackson seems to be the odd man out. He’s a free agent following the season, and he’s currently underperforming (4.50 ERA, 1.55 WHIP).
Still just 27, Jackson is on his fifth stop in the major leagues. The talent is unquestionably there, it’s just an issue of whether or not he’ll ever reach his full potential. Jackson is still young enough to generate buzz on the trade block, and with the White Sox underperforming, don’t be surprised to see him dealt.
The Reds have disappointed so far this year, although they’re still in the running for the NL central. The Reds have a lot of needs—starting pitching, bullpen, SS/DB depth—and Hernandez could be a name that would generate some interest.
Hernandez is having a solid season at the plate (.320/.385/.541, 7 HR, 17 RBI), but given his age (35) and his previous experience, the Reds would most certainly be selling high on a fast start, not trading away the next Johnny Bench.
Given the state of major league catching Hernandez would be appealing to numerous teams looking to solidify their backstop for the stretch run.
The Indians continue to win games, but one of their weakest links this season has been Orlando Cabrera. His OPS is just .580, his WAR is minus-0.8, and his UZR is a very poor minus-7.1.
Cabrera is providing next to nothing for the Indians. Cabrera could add middle infield depth and veteran presence to a club, but he doesn’t seem to be a fit for the Indians.
With Jorge de La Rosa out for the year, the Rockies might have to make a move if they want to stay in contention.
One of their biggest areas of strength is outfield, and Seth Smith could be an interesting piece for any team looking to add some left-handed pop down the stretch. Smith struggles to hit lefties, but he has combined for a .299/.357/.521 slash line with five HR in 185 PA this year.
He would be a luxury to any contender looking to add OF depth and left-handed pop. He could figure into a timeshare or a reserve role.
If the Tigers fall out of contention in the AL Central, closer Jose Valverde could be on the move. Unless the team is willing to pick up his $9 million option for 2012, Valverde will become a free agent following the season. Given his age (will be 34 next season) and the large amount of late-inning relief help on the free-agent market next season, the Tigers might not be willing to pick up the option.
Valverde provides late-inning help for any contender, which is always a hot trade commodity.
Chris Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez aren’t hitting. Both of them will need to be productive if the Marlins wish to keep pace with the Braves and the Phillies in the NL East. A roster shakeup could be needed to fix the offense, and Ramirez won’t be the one on his way out if that occurs.
Coghlan is just 25 and doesn’t hit the free-agent market until 2016. The Marlins could receive a nice return for him that could keep them in the playoff race.
The Houston Astros aren’t going anywhere soon. They’ll most certainly be sellers at the trade deadline. Bud Norris, Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ all figure into the Astros’ long term plans, where Brett Myers’ future with the team is iffy.
Myers is an innings eater who could bolster the middle of any rotation. While he might not wow the competition with his stuff, he could be a useful piece for a contender looking to add starting pitch depth for the stretch run.
While Joakim Soria has regained the closers role in KC for now, his season has been completely erratic. He has just 20 strikeouts to 10 walks, and he’s blown five of his 13 save opportunities.
Soria needs just 18 more appearances this year to guarantee a $6 million option for 2012, but 2013-14 are not guaranteed.
Soria has dynamic stuff, but it might be time for a change of scenery for the former All-Star closer. The Royals may be willing to find a taker for his contract in a contender looking to add some bullpen help.
After underwhelming in Toronto, Wells hasn’t done any better with the Angels. He batted just .183 this year until he hit the DL.
I’m positive that everyone in the Angels’ organization is counting down the days until Wells leaves. The Angels have another $63 million committed to Wells during the 2012-14 seasons. While Wells certainly qualifies as a player that the Angels can’t get rid of fast enough, I doubt the Angles find a taker for him.
The Angels would be wise to try and move some of their aging outfield depth—i.e. Wells, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu—in order to free up room for Peter Bourjous and eventually Mike Trout, although their contract situations may not allow the Angels to do so.
Jonathan Broxton is a free agent after this season, and giving everything that has transpired in the last year, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be back.
It wasn’t too long ago that many consider Broxton the best closer in baseball. At the very least, he’s still only 26, and he still possesses dynamic stuff. If he proves to be healthy, there would be at least a few teams willing to take a chance on Broxton in the hopes that he rediscovers himself in time for the playoffs.
The Milwaukee Brewers might just have to come to grips with the fact that Prince Fielder isn’t sticking around next season. They’ve tried offering him an extension, but no dice: Fielder is reportedly seeking around eight years, $200 million.
Given Fielders’ production this year and the struggles of Albert Pujols, he could actually see money in that range this offseason. While the rumor mill isn’t yet swirling regarding Fielder, it just doesn’t make sense for the Brewers to hold onto him unless they plan on significantly outbidding any competitor this offseason.
The Twins have been baseball’s biggest disappointment this year. If Liriano stays healthy and productive, his name will receive heavy trade consideration.
The Twins aren’t comfortable with the idea of signing Liriano longterm, given his volatile injury history. If healthy, Liriano possesses dynamic, ace-potential stuff, as well as a left-handed arm, that would be a welcome addition to any playoff contender. If Liriano keeps up his recent string of success, he’ll likely be the best starter on the trade market.
What else is there to say? The Mets just don’t want Jose Reyes. The Mets aren’t going to pay him when he hits free agency this year, and he’s just treading water in New York. Reyes will hit the market, and he will be dealt.
Russell Martin is having a phenomenal season behind the plate for the Bronx Bombers, and there just isn’t much room for the 39-year-old Posada anymore. Posada has struggled mightily as a DH this year, and he’s even had a much-publicized run in with manager Joe Girardi.
Catching is scarce, and there could be a few teams willing to take a chance on the seasoned Posada behind the plate.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently wrote that a major league scout informed him that Willingham was the only serviceable player to pluck from the A’s once they became sellers. The one-year contract was a nice buy-low signing, but when it’s time to cut loose, Willingham will be the first to go.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently speculated that a healthy Brad Lidge could be dangled on the trade market, given the success of Ryan Madson in the ninth inning. The Phillies need some offensive help, and Lidge, a seasoned closer with pedigree and postseason experience, could bring them that.
Kevin Correia has quietly put together a rather fine season. In 12 starts, Correia is 8-4 with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. His control has been excellent; he’s averaging just 2.0 BB/9.
It doesn’t look like the Pirates are going to break into the playoffs anytime soon, and Correia would be excellent trade bait in a thin pitching market.
The word is out on whether or not Jason Bartlett will be a Padre past July 31, although he isn't doing himself any current favors.
Offensively, the Padres aren't a great team, and they don't exactly have a solid option to replace Bartlett. However, the Padres may reach a point where Bartlett's trade value is more important, especially if he continues to struggle at the plate or if the Padres fall out of the playoff race.
If the Giants became sellers, Ramon Ramirez could attract some attention. In a span of 50 games with the Giants over the 2010-11 seasons, Ramirez has been lights out, posting a 1.07 ERA. He’s regained his form as one of the leagues better middle-relief men.
Erik Bedard is beginning to look like one of the best signings of the offseason. After a rocky start, Bedard has allowed three ER or less in his last eight starts. His ERA for the season is 3.46 and on the way down.
The Mariners have Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda to hold down the rotation long term, and Bedard’s one year, $1 million contract makes him a viable trade option for any contender, large or small market, looking to buy at the deadline.
If the Cardinals take a nose dive, you’ve got to think Berkman will be on his way out. At age 35, Berkman looked to be nearly done after a poor 2010, but he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball this year, leading the NL with a 1.043 OPS.
The Cardinals might not gamble on Berkman’s ability to repeat his success twice, or even continue his success later on in the season, and he would bring in a bucket-load if he’s still hitting by the trade deadline.
Upton isn’t exactly having a great season for Tampa this year. For all intents and purposes, Upton seems to be just a marginal MLB player at best.
And still, there will always be a team willing to take on Upton based on skill set and pedigree alone, in the hopes that he will finally reach his potential. The Rays may be willing to move Upton if they become sellers, especially as Upton is due for a pay raise via arbitration this offseason, which will be his final year under the control of the Rays.
Julio Borbon has never lived up to his potential with the Rangers. He’s fast, but he runs the bases inefficiently, and he can’t field all that well.
There were grumblings that David Murphy should start over Borbon earlier this season, and that idea could eventually become a reality, especially as Borbon has been linked as a possible trade target of the Washington Nationals.
With Jose Bautista’s incredible production, Aaron Hill may no longer be a vital to the Toronto Blue Jays’ offense as he once was. His value is even further diminished when considering that J.P. Arencibia is developing nicely, and 3B prospect Brett Lawrie isn’t that far off from a full time MLB gig.
Hill hasn’t produced on a great level since 2009, and he could easily become expendable. Hill is due $26 million in team options from 2012-14. Trading him would rid the Blue Jays of any potential overvalued salary commitments.
Jason Marquis is quietly putting together a career year at the age of 32. After starting just 13 games and posting a 6.60 ERA for the Nationals in 2010, Marquis is currently 6-2 and his ERA sits at 3.84.
Marquis isn't about to win a Cy Young, but his newfound control (career best 2.4 BB/9) and his experience make him a decent option for a team looking to add starting pitching depth. The Nationals would be wise to capitalize on Marquis' recent success through the trade market, especially as it looks as if they're already out of the playoff race.