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MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing Each AL West Team's Biggest Needs, Trade Chips

Charles de GrasseContributor IIIJuly 26, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing Each AL West Team's Biggest Needs, Trade Chips

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    The Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, and Seattle Mariners have completely different missions this final pre-trade-deadline week. The following slides explore each team's potential moves. I work my way down from penthouse to cellar.

    I present two lists for each team, trade chips and most-wanted players. I put most-wanted lists first for the two teams in buying situations. The two teams building for next season lead off with their trade chips. In other words, big names get top billing. I spill a little more ink on the Rangers and Mariners because their situations are more clear as buyers and sellers.

Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers are returning to the playoffs this fall. If the Rangers make any moves, they will make moves to improve their chances of winning the World Series this year.

    The iron is hot in Texas. They hit it last year with a deal for Cliff Lee that took them to the World Series. This week will see them swing the trade hammer again.

    Most Wanted:

    1. Carlos Beltran

    Beltran is hitting hard this season and getting on base. The Rangers are one of many teams looking at the right fielder according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Joel Sherman of the New York Post and ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick also put the Rangers on their lists of teams scoping Beltran according to MLB Trade Rumors. Some combination of Beltran, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Young hitting three-four-five would make the Rangers' order a real tussle for most pitchers.

    2. Hiroki Kuroda

    The right-handed starter Kuroda is in a lot of trade chatter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports includes the Rangers in that list

    3. Relief Pitching

    I'll get into this somewhat with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have a chip the Ranger might want. In any case, the Rangers desire bullpen fortification according to T.R Sullivan of MLB.com, coming to me via MLB Trade Rumors.

    Trade Chips:

    1. Darren O'Day

    O'Day is a 28-year-old submariner with a career ERA of 2.73 and only ten innings work this season. He might go with another player on this list.

    2. Leonys Martin

    Martin is a 23-year-old left-handed hitting center fielder playing Double-A ball. He is profiled as a gap-power hitter with more doubles than homers who can draw a walk. John Sickels is my source.

    3. Martin Perez

    Perez is a 20-year-old left handed starter playing Double-A ball. The word is he is much improved after a poor 2010 season in Double-A. Richard Durrett of ESPN is my source.

    The Rangers might move any or all of these three players to improve the big league club this season.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    The Los Angeles Angels are in a tough position, second place. From here the choice between selling and buying is hard.

    Most Wanted:

    1. Heath Bell

    According to Jason Stark of ESPN (here) the Angels are in the crowd interested in Bell.

    2. Mike Adams

    Adams is another San Diego Padre reliever the Angels like. Adams is Bell's setup man right now.

    Aside from Bell and Adams, the Angels aren't looking at big-name additions writes Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times. Bell and Adams are likely too rich for the Angels according to Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

    Trade Chips:

    The Angels don't have many minor-league chips. They cashed in a few last year for Dan Haren. Their position is not enviable. The Angels are looking at trading away young, up-and-coming major league players for better, more expensive players. This is a painful because if doesn't work this year it will hurt a lot in years to come. The following players are in this category.

    1. Peter Bourjos

    Bourjos plays a fantastic center field, enough to forgive a weak bat.

    2. Howie Kendrick

    Kendrick's salary is still low and he hits fairly well, with a .301/.357/.455 triple slash of batting average, on-base perccent, and slugging percent this season

    3. Mark Trumbo

    Trumbo is a hard-hitting first baseman. Moving him might really hurt as he looks to be a cheap power hitter for some team for a long time.

    I don't think any big Angel moves are likely this year because almost all moves involving trading too much talent for too few 2011 playoff chances.

Oakland Athletics

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    Oakland: land of the trade, home of the A's. The Oakland Athletics will likely unload a few players this week.

    Trade Chips:

    1. Andrew Bailey

    2. Craig Breslow

    3. Coco Crisp

    4. David DeJesus

    5. Rich Harden

    6. Conor Jackson

    7. Hideki Matsui

    8. Josh Willingham

    9. Michael Wurtz

    Most will be free-agents before the Athletics start winning, and acquiring as much young offensive talent as possible would benefit the A's moving forward. Look for any number of these players to be dealt this week, or at worst discussed at length.

    Most Wanted:

    Prospects or money or anything else they can get in return for their chips. Naming names here is hard for teams in the selling mood. Hot prospects belonging to any team interested in the Athletics wares are what would be here were I to list players.

Seattle Mariners

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    The Seattle Mariners before the All-Star break were in a position to consider short term upgrades. Then the American League keel-hauled them. Mariner transaction motives shifted as a result. The front office will be looking to build a winner in 2012, dealing to teams badly needing a few more wins this year.

    Trade Chips:

    1. Erik Bedard

    The Mariners deep reserves of starting pitching put Bedard in the chip category. His injury history limits his value.

    2. Chone Figgins

    I include Figgins because the Mariners need to be ready to unload him wherever, whenever they can. He isn't a chip, so to speak. The Mariners just need to get rid of him. If Jack Zduriencik must put on his Flim-Flam Man shoes to mention Figgins in transaction talks, he should.

    3. Doug Fister

    The Mariners starting-pitching depth puts Fister on this pile. Jason Vargas looks more likely to be the starter dealt away though. See the Jason Vargas notes for more details.

    4. Brandon League

    League trade speculation sells by the ton. I generated some myself and by no means do I discourage others. The economic factors justify it. League is more valuable to a team that needs a couple more wins now than to a team thinking about 2012 and 2013. The Texas Rangers are exactly the sort of team that should be pursuing League. The Rangers have a weak bullpen and are in position where every immediate improvement improves World Series chances. Mariners president Chuck Armstrong says any trade of League is unlikely before the deadline (according to MLB Trade Rumors) so who knows.

    5. Jason Vargas

    Vargas is more likely to be dealt that Fister. I put both of them in the exiguous category. The Mariners are more interested in keeping Fister so he is less likely to get a ticket to elsewhere than is Vargas writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com

    Most Wanted:

    Prospects or money or anything else they can get in return for their chips. Like the Oakland Athletics, the Mariners list of wants is not overly specific. They would likely prefer hitters as close to MLB readiness as possible.

    I am firmly in the camp believing Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda will not and should not be traded anytime soon. The team is built around pitching, the pitching is built around Hernandez and Pineda. Hernandez and Pineda are both appreciating assets held by a team running a long-term plan. A trade involving them doesn't make sense in the Mariners' strategic context.

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