There are 17 teams within 5 games of first place (or in first place) as I write this. What that means is that there are very few buyers and sellers. Among those 13 teams outside 5 games, the Mets, Rockies, and A’s probably like their chances of making a run enough to be buyers, not sellers. What that means is that there are 20 teams who are buyers, 10 who are sellers, and at least a few of the sellers probably still haven’t thrown in the towel yet. Lookin’ at you Minnesota. So why bother writing an article on the trade deadline when no one has any idea of who will be sellers? Because it’s a really slow week in sports and I refuse to talk lockout, that’s why.
However, there are a handful of guys who we can pretty safely earmark as guys who are available, and an even greater number of guys who you could probably get with a good enough offer. Obviously, these guys come in different classes, so let’s break this down even more and then look at what teams might be interested in their services.
Limited Upside Position Players
If you are the Pirates or Diamondbacks, teams that need big additions, these guys will not cut it for you, but could serve as nice little adds. They are not especially desirable but could conceivably help o The key to these guys is that they are usually past-their-prime guys who the team didn’t really have a place for going forward.
Orlando Cabrera (Indians)- If a team is patient enough, they might be able to just snag Grandpabrera off waivers, but for now, teams could probably get O-Cab for cheap. I should also note that he has been crazy hot the last week so maybe he will stick around on the Indians. We will see.
Chris Getz (Royals)- I was pretty surprised to see him here too, but he is hitting a legitimate .270 and is young, but not young enough for the Royals to really covet him.
Jamey Carroll (Dodgers)- If you need a utility infielder who has been hitting a bit lately, why not go with Carroll, a journeyman who can come in and help fill some gaps.
Corey Patterson (Blue Jays)- Yes, THAT Corey Patterson. He is nothing special, but if a team needs some depth in the OF with a little speed, he could be an option.
Jason Frasor (Blue Jays)- Frasor is the rare guy on this list that is not back-of-the-bullpen help, but rather long/middle relief that could step in and help. Don’t expect hsi numbers to stay where they are, but he can still help a team out that needs some bullpen depth.
Ryan Franklin (Cardinals)- Franklin, like teammate Chris Carpenter, has stats that do not tell the whole story. Franklin seems to be having an unlucky campaign by advanced metrics, but that doesn’t measure how many meatballs he serves up. We will see if his 23% HR/FB, .365 BABIP, and FIP all head for the norm. Admittedly I should watch him pitch before endorsing him, but he has my preliminary support.
Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers)- LA’s Pillsbury Throwboy is one of many Dodgers who could get traded with the Dodgers’ money troubles. We have seen the best and worst of Broxton, but there has got to be a buyer out there somewhere.
Matt Capps (Twins)- If the Twins decide to throw in the towel, Capps could be available for back of the bullpen help to a team like St. Louis who has had some issues (see Ryan Franklin).
Heath Bell (Padres)- He will not be cheap, but he would be worth it for a team that needs a closer. His numbers also look like they are set to go up as the season goes on and he moves (high LD%, only 6 K/9, pitcher-friends ballpark). This is the time to sell, Padres fans.
Mike Gonzalez (Orioles)- Remember when this guy was a coveted free agent as a closer-of-the-future? Yeah no more, but he could still be a good option for a team with pen issues.
Nice Pieces That Will Cost You Something, But Will Not Break The Bank
Tim Stauffer (Padres)- He might be a bit hard to pry away from San Diego, but I think he would be an outstanding addition if you can get him for a reasonable price. The question is where San Diego puts the price tag on him. I am guessing a little too high.
Hunter Pence (Astros)- Pence is a guy I have never liked personally, but would definitely add to a banged up OF. He will hit and work hard if nothing else. Oh, and he will bring his wife, Terrie Barr, along.
Michael Bourn/Jason Bourgeois (Astros)- They are pretty similar speedy outfielders who have good, but unspectacular bats. I think their would look good in Atlanta where they could replace the mediocre McLouth.
Chase Headley (Padres)- Another Padres guy who will be hard to grab, and probably will not move, but would be a pretty good addition to a team with corner infielder needs. He is 27, so he will not be cheap, but he probably will not be too overpriced.
Melky Cabrera (Royals)- Melky has never been anything special, but he has a good arm, decent glove and decent bat. Sometimes that is all a team needs, and KC should pull the trigger on a potential Melky offer, though it seems they want to contend this year or next year and not 3 years down the road.
Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers)- He is really a tweener. Too old to cost you too much, but stats too good to get for a bag of potato chips. I would definitely take a flyer on his as a 4th starter.
Jason Marquis (Nationals)- He will not cost too much and I wouldn’t personally take a flyer on him, but he is have a pretty solid season and could help a rotation somewhere.
Aramis Ramirez (Cubs)- This name has been floated plenty, and with good reason. He is not cheap, and you will have to pay for him, but he is by far the most proven guy in this group. I could see him in a number of places since he is one of the better hitting 3B in the league, but I would bet he ends up with the White Sox. Kenny Williams has a pretty quick trigger finger that has served him both good and bad (I think mostly bad) over the years and I think he is going to add Aramis.
Jose Reyes (Mets)- Not getting dealt. I think the Metsmake a run at the Wild Card. He is also the biggest thing we ahve to a big time trade piece this season.
The Adam Jones Type- Adam Jones is a pretty good player, but the Orioles have made it clear they want to win now. He would be a great piece to add for a lot of teams, but his situation in Baltimore will likely cancel out any opportunity teams have of getting him. There are plenty of guys like this, but most of them are on fringe contenders right now so they will not get moved.
I am not sure if these teams would make these guys available as they are all good with good contracts without being so good that you can get a haul of prospects for them, but I think few teams would be genuinely disappointed with an acquisition of one of them.
The Big Timers
Here is the issue with this group this year. With so many teams still in contention, and so many of the teams out of contention big on either young talent or old-washed up guys, there are very few sellers who have gems. The Marlins aren’t going to offload any of their young guns, no one wants most of the Orioles’ old guns, the Twins have very little actual talent, Houston sucks, and I doubt the Dodgers put guys like Ethier and Loney on the block. There just isn’t too much out there as far as big time guys who are on teams with no shot.
A lot of Indians fans have been throwing the name Carlos Beltran around, but the Mets think they are in it so there is very little chance they would move him right now. That is one of the reasons the timing for this article is bad, but I digress. There just aren’t that many guys teams would trade right now that you would call top-notch guys.
Oh and just for fun, let’s add Contender/Pretender to it. We are talking Contender for the Playoffs, also, not the World Series.
Yankees- Contender Needs: Nothing Adds: Bullpen Arm
The Yankees will likely see if their arms get healthy, and if they do, will stay out. However, if Hughes or Colon have a hard time getting back, the Yankees will first call the bakery to see if Colon just got stuck there, and then will call about an arm. Even though it is the Yankees, I doubt they make a move for a big arm, or even a move at all unless it is a reaction to the………
Red Sox – Contender Needs: Bullpen Arm Adds: Heath Bell
I see them adding a bullpen arm down the line somewhere, maybe Heath Bell, maybe Matt Capps, I don’t know. They will add an arm at the back of that bullpen.
Rays- Contender in the Central, Pretenders in the East Needs: Nothing in particular, but could use an upgrade in many spots Adds: Nothing
The Rays probably need a piece or two to stay with the Red Sox and Yankees, but they have made clear in the past they will not trade away their future to contend now. They cannot take on much in the way of contracts, and are not willing to give much away, so they will add nothing and miss the playoffs, and you know what? That is ok.
Tigers- Contenders Needs: Hitting, anywhere, anyone Adds: None imminent, but will add a bat, and maybe an arm.
The Tigers have several awesome pieces (Verlander, Miggy, V-Mart), a few solid ones for the moment (Peralta, Avila), steady Brennan Boesch, a guy who struggles to hit but isn’t moving (Austin Jackson), a pile of trash (Magglio, Raburn, Inge), and a few guys in between. Same goes for their staff with Verlander at the top, then a couple guys with talent who aren’t getting it done (Scherzer, Coke and Porcello), and then Brad Penny. They probably need an arm, but I am not sure if they can get one. They had better though if they don’t want to get eaten up by this next team down the stretch.
Indians- Contenders Needs: OF Depth, Corner IF Adds: Hunter Pence. Ok, probably not but I would like to see it.
This is one of very few teams that really doesn’t need an arm coming down the home stretch. They have an awesome AAA team who they can call on down the stretch, are pretty set in the bullpen, and pretty set in the rotation including the AAA guys. However, the Shin-Soo Choo injury has created some issues. the Travis Buck-Shelley Duncan platoon gets pretty tiresome and Grady Sizemore has stopped hitting lately. Hell, no Indians have been hitting lately, but it seems most pronounced in Sizemore and Brantley lately. With the call-up of Lonnie Chisenhall to play 3B, a bevy of minor league options to play 2B (assuming Orlando Cabrera cools off again soon) and an okay Matt LaPorta coming back, the Tribe should be alright. However that Choo injury needs addressing.
If Beltran is not available, and I don’t think he will be, Hunter Pence becomes an option. However, he plays right, not center, where I personally would like to see the Indians move Sizemore, push Brantley to center, and go with Pence in left. However, none of this will happen because not many teams are eager to take on Grady right now, especially the Astros. The Indians could use a stop-gap OF, but I doubt we see any bigger names being the answer there.
However, the Indians have to worry about a fan base that will be pretty pissed off if management doesn’t give them a chance to win this year, so I think they have to do something, just nothing big or breaking the bank. Beltran would fit the bill, but the Mets may not sell. I have no idea, but I think that management has to do something to avoid a fan mutiny. Sorry, done with the Tribe now.
White Sox- Probably Contenders Needs: Nothing specific, middling overall Adds: Aramis Ramirez
I think Kenny Williams makes a deal and gets skinned again. Edwin Jackson for Daniel Hudson is just as bad now as I said it was then. I admire making moves trying to win, but not when it is reckless and dumb. Just for the record, I don’t think they make the playoffs anyway. And about the “Probably” before contenders, it just means that I think this team is quietly schizo and should contend but could just crash.
AL West- Contenders
They are all buyers. They are all sellers. I don’t feel like going into any of them in depth because you don’t want to read a 10,000 word dissertation on the AL West. I wish the Mariners would go get a bat, I wish the Rangers would be consistent and be as good as they should be, I wish the Angels would go away because I don’t like most of their players, and I think the A’s don’t deserve to contend with a lineup like that. That’s pretty much all I have to say about the division.
Phillies Needs: A Training Staff equipped with Magic Adds: Harry Potter type potion to keep all closers healthy
Lidge? Hurt. Contreras? Hurt. Madson? Hurt. Run! Run for your life you Bastardo!
Braves- Pretenders for Division. Wild Card Contenders Needs: Hitting since 1992 Adds: Michael Bourn, or Adam Jones if they can pry him from the Orioles’ dead cold hands
The Atlanta Braves needing hitting is like the Masters: A tradition unlike any other. They needed it for Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz, they needed it last year, and they need it again. They would also be in on Beltran if the Mets were looking to move him, though I cannot see them moving him within the division. Bourn seems more likely though he will be be the kind of bat they need. Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann cannot be the only RBI guys on a title contender.
That being said, they have one of the best records in baseball and would be scary in a short series.
Brewers- Contenders Needs: Zach Greinke to be good again Adds: None, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a move on Headley
I wouldn’t ever be shocked to see a team making a move, but I think the Brewers stand fairly pat here. They might add an arm in the bullpen but I would be surprised if they did anything major.
Cardinals- Contenders Needs: Bullpen help, 2B Adds: Not sure, but I think they will make a biggish move
The Cards are going to do something with the bullpen (Matt Capps? Heath Bell?) but I think they should ask around about 2B too. Maybe Orlando Cabrera finds time there, but they are probably better off with Skip there. The bullpen needs some work but I am not sure if the Cardinals really want to go get another arm since they usually prefer to take lower value guys and let Dave Duncan work his magic.
Reds- Pretenders Needs: Pitching Adds: None
Honestly, I think the Reds are done. I know they are only 2 games out, I just do not think they are going to keep up with Milwaukee or St. Louis and will fall off the pace fairly soon. Thus, I see very few moves in the Reds future.
Pirates- The Pretenders Needs: More eye patches, beards, and hitting Adds: Nothing, might sell off all talent just to keep with tradition.
Every player on the Pirates should have a beard. Non-negotiable. Frankly, I feel a little funny even including them in this discussion. It’s like when you include your adolescent child in a more mature discussion for the first time, except the kid is 34 and has just never been exposed to that stuff. The Pirates will add no one and will be fine with that.
Giants- Contenders by default Needs: Hitting Adds: Nothing big, could go after a middle infielder
To quote Keith Law’s tweet from a few days ago, “Wanna hear a great joke? Brandon Crawford is hitting 2nd tonight!” My Indians just got swept by the Giants. The pitching, missing Hafner, and just generally awful execution can be blamed for it, but the real thing I took out of this was that the Giants have the worst lineup I could possibly imagine. Somehow they won the World Series with that and it gives me hope, but they should probably add a bat if they would like to make another run. Really, any bat would do.
Diamondbacks- Pretenders Needs: Corner infielders, some kind of bench Adds: Nothing big
Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are not enough to keep the Diamondbacks contending, so I do not think they make any moves. They have a small payroll so they cannot afford any big time improvements, and that is realistically what they would need to make a run in the playoffs. They could well win the NL West with how mediocre it looks, but my money is still on the Giants to win it and the Diamondbacks to sink to 3rd.
That is all we have for now. Hope you found this column more helpful than me, because after writing it, I have less of a clue of where guys are going than when I started. That’s what you get for a slow news week. Maybe we will go with full-out Women’s World Cup coverage and analysis. Just kidding.
… But seriously…
Sorry for the mediocre column, we will be back and better next week.