Projecting the Top 15 MLB Trade Targets Available in July
As the calendar changes to July, those MLB trade whispers will turn into loud shouts. Because of that, there's no better time to rank the top 15 trade targets who figure to be available over the next month.
Players like Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir have heard their names grind through the rumor mill for the better part of the 2015 season. While those stars will command the majority of the attention, players like Ben Zobrist, Adam Lind and Mike Leake can also be difference-makers for contenders.
When ranking these top trade targets, we took contract length, money owed and overall talent into account.
Let's get started!
Others Possibly Availaible
Here are some other players who will draw interest over the next month:
Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies
The 34-year-old hit .319 last season and is flirting with the .300 mark again in 2015. Morneau has a $9 million mutual option after the year with an affordable buyout.
Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
Ramirez is struggling in 2015, but he's a professional hitter. The 37-year-old will come relatively cheap—he's a free agent at the end of the season.
Ike Davis, Oakland A's
Davis has a powerful bat that would be a solid addition for a team in need of some left-handed pop. He just returned from the disabled list (strained left quad).
Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies
Revere has no power, but he still manages to hit for a decent average and steal bases. He's not a difference-maker, but he could interest teams with outfield needs.
Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks
Ziegler remains one of the top right-handed relievers in the National League. With a team option at the end of this season, he's affordable and won't cost the farm.
15. Jean Segura
2015 Stats: .259/.288/.347, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 10 SB, 70 wRC+, 0.0 WAR
Jean Segura is the likeliest shortstop in MLB to be playing for a new team in the second half.
Segura is always going to be inconsistent at the dish. His on-base percentage has dipped under .300 due to the third-lowest walk percentage in baseball (2.8 percent). He frequently puts the ball in play, but he still swings over 50 percent of the time.
But at just 25, Segura isn't without value. He's a lifetime .268 hitter who has flashed decent power and above-average speed. Remember, he's only two years removed from a rookie season stat line of .294/.329/.423, 12 homers and 44 steals.
Segura still hasn't entered his prime, so it's hard to truly quantify his overall offensive value. His youth and team-friendly contract certainly improves his stock. The earliest he can become a free agent is 2019, with his earliest eligible arbitration date in 2016.
Segura has his flaws, but he does enough on the diamond to help a team with shortstop needs. The Milwaukee Brewers could decide to keep him, but Segura's name will come up in more than one trade discussion over the next month.
14. Mike Leake
2015 Stats: 5-4, 96.2 IP, 3.91 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 5.59 K/9, 2.42 BB/9
Mike Leake's near-4.00 ERA may not impress on paper, but he's pitched better than that number throughout the course of the 2015 season.
Leake began the campaign by allowing just 13 earned runs in his first seven starts. The right-hander then surrendered a whopping 20 earned runs in his next three.
Since that horrid stretch, Leake has found his best stuff again. He gave up only nine earned runs in the next five starts, logging at least seven innings in three of those outings. Those three bad games can't be swept under the rug, but he's been good for the better part of this year.
Leake is one of a handful of Cincinnati Reds players who will be available over the next month. He's pitching well, is only 27 and will be a free agent this winter. Expect Leake to receive plenty of attention leading up to the deadline.
13. Aaron Harang
2015 Stats: 4-10, 101.0 IP, 3.56 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 6.42 K/9, 2.32 BB/9
After he posted a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts for the Atlanta Braves in 2014, Aaron Harang's career resurgence has continued for the Philadelphia Phillies this season.
Harang has a 3.56 ERA in 16 starts while leading the Phillies in innings pitched. The right-hander isn't a strikeout machine, but he's lowered the amount of hard contact he's surrendered this season.
Despite his impressive numbers, Harang's value has diminished over his last few outings. After allowing just 16 runs in his first 11 starts, Harang has given up 24 in his last five. Still, the veteran hurler has proven to be a reliable innings-eater, and clubs will covet him on the market.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Harang won't be too pricey. He won't lead a team to the World Series, but Harang has value at the back end of a playoff rotation.
12. Gerardo Parra
2015 Stats: .290/.318/.446, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 105 wRC+, -0.2 WAR
For years, Gerardo Parra was known for his fantastic outfield glove. After all, he recorded a ridiculous 41 defensive runs saved for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013.
But in 2015, Parra is proving he's more than just a trusty defender. The 28-year-old has been as consistent as any player in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup. Parra has also improved his hard contact percentage to 32.6 percent, which is the highest mark of his career.
He's not perfect, but Parra's consistency in multiple facets of the game gives him significant value.
"Parra's best trait is he's able to do anything," Brewers manager Craig Counsell told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He's able to do anything. He can play all three outfield positions; good defense everywhere. You can look at him at any spot in the lineup, and he's maybe not the perfect fit, but he can do everything."
With Parra's contract expiring at the end of the season, the putrid Brewers will certainly move him to a contender. He may be an under-the-radar target, but Parra has the ability to make his mark on the playoff race.
11. Andre Ethier
2015 Stats: .260/.340/.457, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 123 wRC+, 1.1 WAR
Will the Los Angeles Dodgers part ways with outfielder Andre Ethier? That question should receive some clarity over the next few weeks.
Ethier has managed to play in 71 games this season and has been pretty impressive when he's suited up. He is hitting the ball harder in 2015 than he did a year ago, leading to an increase in average and on-base percentage.
A major wrench in any potential Ethier trade is the remaining money on his deal. The Dodgers owe the 33-year-old roughly $34 million over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, with a 2018 option that vests if Ethier has at least 550 plate appearances in 2017 or at least 1,100 plate appearances combined in 2016 and '17.
That's a lot of money for an aging player already showing signs of regression on the back end of his career. Still, Ethier has enough left in the tank to help a contender that's willing to pick up the tab.
10. Tyler Clippard
2015 Stats: 30 G, 31.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 8.33 K/9, 4.02 BB/9
How many teams could use a reliever with a career sub-3.00 ERA and over nine strikeouts per nine innings? Yeah, all of them.
That consistency has been exactly what Tyler Clippard has produced since his first full season in 2009. The right-hander flourished with the Washington Nationals in the early stages of his career, pitching in a variety of different bullpen roles.
Clippard has given the Oakland A's the same versatility this season. He's bounced back and forth between closer and setup man, posting a 2.87 ERA with 13 saves in the process. The 30-year-old has seen a concerning jump in his walks, but the strikeout stuff is still there.
With his contract up after the 2015 season, Clippard's days in Oakland are numbered. Bullpen pieces are always exchanged around the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and the right-hander is among the best available late-inning arms on the market.
9. Adam Lind
2015 Stats: .291/.362/.494, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 133 wRC+, 1.4 WAR
Like Gerardo Parra, Adam Lind is another Milwaukee Brewers player who would give any potential contender a huge lift.
Following up a standout season in 2014 with the Toronto Blue Jays, Lind is crushing the baseball again for the Brewers this year. The 31-year-old has increased his fly ball-to-home run ratio and hard contact percentage in 2015.
Lind has made a career punishing right-handed pitching, as evidenced by a lifetime .862 OPS vs. righties. Although he has struggled against same-sided pitchers since his major league debut, Lind's .250 average against southpaws this season is a positive sign.
There's no shortage of offensively challenged contenders, which makes Lind an attractive trade chip. On top of that, an affordable $8 million team option for 2016 gives him even more value.
8. Ben Zobrist
2015 Stats: .256/.348/.449, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 125 wRC+, 0.4 WAR
Ben Zobrist's versatility separates him from virtually every other player in MLB.
Zobrist made his name playing every position under the sun for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he's continued that in Oakland. The 34-year-old has played second, left field and right field for the A's in 2015.
He is a perfect fit for a team that has injury or depth issues.
Offensively, Zobrist has maintained his elite plate discipline. His 1.64 walk-to-strikeout ratio would rank first in all of MLB if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Considering he's always putting the ball in play, Zobrist's .252 average on balls in play suggests he'll see a climb in the category in the second half.
Despite being a rental, Zobrist will have plenty of suitors over the next month. His ability to play all over the diamond and produce at an above-average level at the plate make him one of the top position players on the market.
7. Jeff Samardzija
2015 Stats: 5-4, 108.2 IP, 4.56 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 7.29 K/9, 1.66 BB/9
Jeff Samardzija hasn't pitched as badly as his plus-4.00 ERA would indicate.
Samardzija will be a free agent at the end of the season, only fueling the trade rumors. But the 30-year-old recently told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he's trying to keep a clear mind amid the trade reports.
"It just taught me not to pay attention to it," said Samardzija. "It's easy to get distracted in this game, whether it's trade rumors or personal life…so many different things can take you off your game on the field. It's so important to make your priorities between the foul lines, and everything else after that takes care of itself."
Samardzija may not be as attractive a candidate as some of the other hurlers who figure to be on the market, but he does have big-time stuff. For the right team, he could be a fine addition to a playoff rotation.
6. Jonathan Papelbon
2015 Stats: 14-of-14 in save opportunities, 1.82 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 10.01 K/9, 2.12 BB/9
If we're looking at production alone, Jonathan Papelbon is among the game's most valuable relievers.
Aside from 2010, Papelbon has recorded an ERA under 3.00 in every season of his career. He's locked down 30 or more saves in eight seasons and averaged 10 or more strikeouts per nine innings six different times. The 34-year-old has maintained that elite production in 2015. Papelbon is perfect in 14 save chances with a 1.82 ERA and over 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Any team would love that type of production, but Papelbon's unfriendly contract has hindered any potential deal. He's owed $13 million next season if he pitches in five more games this year.
The Philadelphia Phillies would love to shed Papelbon's deal, but they may have to take on salary to do so. He may not end up with another team in 2015, but Papelbon will be widely discussed throughout the league over the next month.
5. Scott Kazmir
2015 Stats: 4-5, 90.1 IP, 2.79 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 8.47 K/9, 3.29 BB/9
Scott Kazmir has used his time in Oakland to turn around his career and position himself to earn a lucrative contract this winter.
The left-hander posted a 3.55 ERA in 32 starts last season. As a follow-up act, Kazmir has lowered that ERA to a 2.79 mark and is striking out over eight hitters per nine innings in 2015.
Kazmir, like many players on this list, will be a free agent in 2016. And teams won't have to part with the quantity or quality of prospects that they would for the likes of Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto.
But Kazmir isn't far behind those two hurlers in terms of production. With as many pitching-needy teams as there are in the majors, the southpaw might be the most popular target on the market.
4. Carlos Gomez
2015 Stats: .279/.319/.438, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 7 SB, 107 wRC+, 0.9 WAR
Despite his shenanigans over the years, Carlos Gomez is the top available position player on the trade market.
There's not much Gomez can't do on the diamond. The outfielder has stolen over 100 bases and hit over 70 homers since 2012. He's also finished in the positives in defensive runs saved in every season of his career.
Gomez has battled various injuries in 2015, but he's still playing above replacement level. He's also hitting over .300 in June. A player of Gomez's caliber is the type of talent that can significantly impact the playoff race.
"'He'd be a huge piece,' one rival GM said—though of course, it'd have to be a team that needs a center fielder or would consider moving its center fielder to left," wrote Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The Brewers owe Gomez $9 million next season, which is a steal for a player pegged to make much more than that when his contract expires after the 2016 campaign. On a contending team, Gomez would be a major factor in the playoff picture.
3. Johnny Cueto
2015 Stats: 4-5, 96.2 IP, 2.98 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 8.57 K/9, 1.77 BB/9
Johnny Cueto doesn't get as much love as some of the other top starters in MLB, but the Cincinnati Reds right-hander has been one of the most consistent hurlers in the game over the last few seasons.
Cueto has posted a sub-3.00 ERA in every year since 2011. The 29-year-old is coming off a 20-win, 2.25-ERA season in 2014 and is producing at a high level once again in 2015.
The latest high-profile starting pitchers to hit the free-agent market have cashed in on their merits. With Cueto headed toward free agency and a $200 million deal this winter, the Reds will be looking to turn his fantastic run in Cincinnati into a talented package of prospects.
There figures to be some squabbling regarding Cueto's value. Despite his recent production, he's still a rental and has dealt with various nagging injuries this year.
But aside from Cole Hamels, no starter is more capable of flipping the playoff picture on its head than Cueto.
2. Aroldis Chapman
2015 Stats: 15-of-16 in save opportunities, 1.95 ERA, 1.98 FIP, 15.59 K/9, 5.29 BB/9
The Cincinnati Reds figure to be one of the most active teams on the trade market over the next month.
Closer Aroldis Chapman isn't a free agent after the season, but that won't stop clubs from attempting to pry the strikeout machine away from Cincy. Judging by the haul Craig Kimbrel netted for the Atlanta Braves, dealing Chapman may actually be in the Reds' best interest.
Chapman is unlike any pitcher we've ever seen. The left-hander has a career strikeout percentage of over 42 percent, and he's 128-of-142 in career save opportunities.
The Cuban sensation is under contract through 2016, but he's eventually going to sign the most lucrative deal of any reliever in MLB history. The Reds are unlikely to meet that asking price, so trading Chapman at his peak makes sense.
The Kansas City Royals showed the baseball world just how important a bullpen is in the playoffs last season. Chapman is arguably the best relief pitcher in the game and would be a huge acquisition for any contending club.
1. Cole Hamels
2015 Stats: 5-6, 99.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 9.60 K/9, 3.08 BB/9
The Cole Hamels saga should come to a conclusion over the next month, as the Philadelphia Phillies could finally deal their ace before the trade deadline.
Hamels has done his part to maintain his elite trade value. The left-hander has recorded a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts this season. Hamels has logged at least six innings in 13 of those 15 starts and has allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of those outings.
As always, money is an issue with a potential Hamels blockbuster. He's owed $23.5 million each year over the next three seasons with an option year in 2019. That's plenty of cash, but in today's starting pitching market, that's actually a bargain for a pitcher as consistent as Hamels.
He must also approve any trade, something he's been more receptive to in recent weeks.
“I have not been approached,” he told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “When I’m approached, then I can make a decision and provide an answer about a team. But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”
Hamels will be a hot topic among baseball circles over the next month. But considering the impact he could have on the playoff picture, he's worth the discussion.
Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs and accurate as of June 29.