The trade market for starting pitchers figures to be a very interesting one later this summer, as pennant races take shape and the pretenders fall off, and the contenders emerge as the calendar creeps towards July 31.
The starting rotations of several strong contenders, namely the Red Sox and the Yankees, have taken their lumps with injuries, thus the demand for starting pitching is quite high.
It seems, though, that the supply is relatively low. At least for premier arms. Many teams are still figuring out whether or not they want to be sellers. While few big names are available, there are, nonetheless, many decent arms out there that could provide some depth for the rotations of teams fighting for division titles and wild card berths.
Here are 13 starting pitchers who may be available at the trade deadline.
Many teams would love to have Andrew Miller, and maybe the Red Sox would listen to trade offers for their minor league pet project.
Miller has been exceptional over the past month at Triple-A Pawtucket, and last night he made his first start in the majors this season, receiving a no-decision in Boston's 14-5 win over San Diego (5.2 IP, 3 ER).
Boston doesn't have to trade Miller. In fact, they may stand to gain quite a bit from keeping him, given their pitching injuries. Regardless, the Red Sox figure to hear some good offers for Miller. Perhaps one would tempt General Manager Theo Epstein to pull the trigger.
Chris Capuano, 32, is putting together a solid season in Queens. With a one-year, $1.5 million contract, Capauno is probably the easiest starter for the Mets to move.
While he's by no means a standout candidate, Capuano's serviceable 4.29 ERA over 79.2 innings makes him a ideal candidate for a team looking to fill out their rotation on the cheap.
Vance Worley doesn't get the love that the rest of the Phillies' star-studded rotation gets, and that, as Phillies' feature columnist Archie Chisholm writes, may just be the very reason he finds himself with a one-way ticket out of Philadelphia.
The young and talented Worley may simply be more valuable as trade bait for the pitching-rich Phillies, who could stand to get some upgrades on offense or restock their minor leagues with less developed talent.
Jeremy Guthrie, 32, is putting together a solid 2011 on the heels of a solid 2010. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote the following on the right-hander last month:
"The Baltimore people insist Guthrie is going nowhere, that he’s very much a part of the team’s plans. But not many are buying it. As one NL scout put it, 'If you put together a package they can’t say no to, will they still say no?'"
That pretty much sums up Guthrie's status. He'd be a good addition—a reliable third starter—to any contender that is lacking depth beyond the first couple of slots in their rotation.
Jason Marquis is likely at his peak value right now. After a terrible 2010, Marquis has turned things around this year with a 3.86 ERA after 14 starts.
While Marquis allegedly wants to stay in D.C., the Nationals might elect to move him given the dearth of available quality arms to get a better-than-average return on his value.
ESPN.com's Doug Mittler reported the latest on Marquis on June 13.
While Pittsburgh isn't sliding into summer with their usual ineptitude, they are still a cheap team that figures to be out of the division hunt come August.
Paul Maholm has been a very solid starter in the Pirates' rotation thus far. His 3.29 ERA and 1.16 WHIP are miles better than his career figures in those categories; Maholm is bound to fall back to Earth sometime soon.
The Pirates are better this year than they have been in some time, however, it would still be smart for them to get some bang for their buck with Maholm and ship him out while he's hot.
Carlos Zambrano is one of several Chicago Cubs with massive contracts. Moving him and his bloated finances would behoove the Cubs; however, Big Z is eager to stay with the Cubbies and he will be a tough player to shop, given said ridiculous contract.
The Yankees would be a logical destination for Zambrano. While they are more eager for bullpen arms in the Bronx, starting pitching is a concern as well.
Down on the South Side, the White Sox' John Danks has had a trying 2011 this far. He's pitching well so far in June (1.23 ERA), but Danks had a downright ghastly May (6.89 ERA).
Meanwhile, Ken Williams is a notoriously aggressive and restless general manager. And Danks, who has been more mediocre than bad, might be the latest victim of Williams' quick trigger.
For what it's worth, Danks understands the realities of his situation, as MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports.
Even though the Twins have suddenly found some success (9-1 over their last 10 decisions), Kevin Slowey is a likely trade candidate. Slowey is currently at Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.) after struggling as a reliever earlier this season.
Slowey wants to get a shot as a starter, and both he and Twins' manager Rod Gardenhire realize that may not be in the cards for him with the Twins. LaVelle E. Neale III of the Minnesota Star Tribune wrote about this development in an article from May.
If the Houston Astros choose to be sellers, Wandy Rodriguez could be one of the better starting pitchers available in all of baseball.
Rodriguez, 32, has made 101 starts since 2007, logging a 3.33 ERA with 1.28 WHIP and a solid 2.87 SO/BB ratio.
The signs are all pointing toward another losing season in Kansas City, and the Royals might look to move Jeff Francis, who has a 4.83 ERA and 1.46 WHIP through 15 starts this season.
Francis is no ace, however, he is serviceable lefty pitcher who is only making $4 million this season. He'd be a nice look for a thrifty contender.
The Giants may feel that Jonathan Sanchez' value has peaked, and that they would be best of trading the 28-year-old lefty while his value is high and they have Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong pitching the way they have been.
Sanchez would easily be one of the strongest arms in a weak market this summer, and the Giants might look to move Sanchez for some offense, as this continues to be a weak link for this pitching-heavy team, especially sans Buster Posey.
Erik Bedard is quietly putting together his best season for Seattle in his fourth season with the club. It wouldn't be hard given his bad luck with injuries over recent years.
For their part, the Mariners are only a game out with July nearly here. It's surprising, to say the least. If Seattle continues to contend, there is no way Bedard moves. If a slide does occur any time soon, though, Bedard might find himself wearing pinstripes in the Bronx, or the threads of some other contender, before 2011 is out.