MLB Trade Deadline 2014: Bold Predictions 1 Week from Deadline Day
Thanks to the parity that has run through baseball this season, nobody expects much of anything to happen as the July 31 trade deadline draws near. It's been a theme that has run through discussions among B/R's MLB team this week, and hey, those who believe that may be right.
But I'm not one of those believers.
Sure, we aren't going to see a dozen blockbuster trades go down, but more than a few recognizable names are going to find themselves in a different uniform when August 1 rolls around—and they may not necessarily be the names that you're expecting.
With that said, here are my bold predictions with one week to go before the trade deadline hits.
A Pair of Rays Will Wind Up in St. Louis
While Tampa Bay has let it be known that it's going to wait until the last minute to make any moves (h/t Peter Gammons via WEEI.com's Conor Ryan), giving its current roster a chance to get back into the thick of the playoff race, the franchise is eventually going to trade David Price.
It might as well be now, while his value is at an all-time high and the Rays have a willing trade partner in St. Louis, a team with no shortage of young, inexpensive talent to offer up in exchange.
Sure, the Cardinals would like Price to agree to an extension before they make a deal, as originally reported by Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, but they'll have a year-and-a-half to get a deal done with the 28-year-old southpaw.
It's going to cost the Cardinals highly touted outfielder Oscar Taveras and a pair of young arms in Carlos Martinez and Shelby Miller, but a rotation that features Adam Wainwright, Price, Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha—once he returns from the disabled list—would be absolutely filthy.
But somebody has to catch that rotation, and with Yadier Molina out until sometime in September, the Cardinals will add either a low-level prospect or the always-popular player-to-be-named-later to satisfy the Rays, who will ship Molina's older brother, Jose, off to Busch Stadium along with Price.
Marlon Byrd's Demands Will Be Met
Marlon Byrd can block trades to four teams, including Kansas City and Seattle, per CSN Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, but he has let it be known that he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the acquiring team would guarantee the $8 million option on his contract for 2016, as reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.
Guaranteeing money to a 36-year-old outfielder in his age-38 season is a risky proposition, but it's one that the Royals have no choice but to accept. Kansas City needs to add a productive bat with some power to the lineup and could use an upgrade in right field.
Adding Byrd to the mix takes care of both of those issues.
The Phillies Won't Trade Anyone Besides Byrd
There's no shortage of players on Philadelphia's roster whom contending clubs would love to get their hands on, and as has been the case for years, the team's roster is in desperate need of a makeover and influx of young talent.
You'd think that it'd be easy for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to acquire that young talent, simply accepting the best offers that he receives and looking forward to 2015 and beyond.
But things are never quite as simple as they seem.
Take veteran starter Cliff Lee (pictured), for instance. Still one of the game's premier left-handed pitchers when he's healthy, the Phillies would be selling low if they were to trade him now, something that wasn't lost on Bleacher Report's Jason Catania:
Between losing so much time to an arm injury and being owed millions of dollars, it's hard to see how Lee goes anywhere while his value is at an all-time low—and with only one more start before the deadline to show he's healthy.
Between lucrative contracts, no-trade clauses and middling production of late from some of those sought-after players, the Phillies will do what they've always done as the trade deadline approaches: nothing of note.
Adam Dunn Returns to the National League
One of the great sluggers of his generation, Chicago's Adam Dunn sits in the final months of the four-year, $56 million deal that he signed with the White Sox in December 2010.
With his burdensome contract no longer a burden, the 34-year-old is finally affordable for nearly every team in the league. That includes the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that has seemingly been searching for a legitimate first baseman since Adam LaRoche manned the position from 2007-09.
Dunn is certainly more designated hitter than first baseman these days, but with a lack of impact first basemen available on the market and the Pirates hoping for a return to postseason action for the second year in a row, the team rolls the dice and hopes for the best, as they did with Justin Morneau last season.
Aaron Hill Finds His Way to Oakland
ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required) reported earlier this month that the A's were "aggressively" pursuing upgrades at second base, with Oakland setting its sights on Seattle's Nick Franklin, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
But there's no way that the Mariners are going to help a division rival that they're trying to catch in the standings, so the A's will turn their sights toward a more established option—Arizona's Aaron Hill.
While the 32-year-old's numbers are down this year (.251/.285/.381 slash line), he has a history of hitting for average and getting on base consistently and would be an immediate upgrade over the team's current platoon of Eric Sogard and Nick Punto, both at the plate and in the field.
Starter Tommy Milone, who has asked for a trade—per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal—heads to Arizona in exchange.
Ben Zobrist Isn't Going Anywhere
Productive and versatile, Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist was supposedly almost on his way to Seattle before Tampa Bay decided against the deal, according to Peter Gammons, via WEEI.com's Conor Ryan.
Unlike David Price, whose salary is expected to surpass $20 million in arbitration this winter, Zobrist is under team control on a more-than-affordable $7.5 million team option for 2015, even for the financially challenged Rays.
Zobrist will be just as sought after at next year's deadline as he is now—and the Rays will wait until then to move him.
Matt Kemp Winds Up in Seattle
Matt Kemp is due a lot of money—$107 million through 2019—and has become perhaps the most injury-prone former All-Star in the game today.
Those two factors, along with mediocre production—a .268/.333/.422 slash line with only eight home runs and 38 RBI—would seem to make him nearly immovable.
Kemp isn't opposed to leaving Los Angeles if it means that he can get some consistent playing time—specifically in center field—as his agent, Dave Stewart, told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Whatever [the Dodgers] want to do we’re favorable to, as long as it gives him an opportunity to play every day. He'd like to eventually go back to center field. He's not opposed to right or left. But his hope at some point is to get back to center.
With both the Angels (Huston Street) and Athletics (Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija) making moves to improve their teams, the pressure is on the Mariners to make an equally impressive addition to their roster.
Seattle had significant interest in the 29-year-old over the winter, and nobody would dispute the team's need for another right-handed impact bat to help protect Robinson Cano in the lineup.
The Mariners will get their man in Kemp, building a package around infielder Nick Franklin and left-handed starter James Paxton, who is currently working his way back from a strained lat muscle, in order to get the Dodgers to pick up a sizable chunk of the money left on Kemp's deal.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are current through games as of July 23. All injury information courtesy of MLB.com. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (subscription required).
*Hit me up on Twitter to talk all things baseball: @RickWeinerBR