By Jason Fryer
Since the introduction of the 5th Wild Card during the 2012, a number of teams believe they still have a chance to make a second half run and make the playoffs. With all teams just past the half-way point and the baseball trade deadline less than 3 weeks away, its a good time to look at the teams that will be sellers at on July 31st, and examine who they will trade and to what team. The teams that are listed for each player below (in parentheses) rank the most to least likely future location for that specific player.
Minnesota Twins: With a record of 37-50, the Twins are 11 games back in the AL Central (4th place in the division) and don't have nearly enough pitching or offense to get back into the race. So with that said, the players that the Minnesota Twins will make available are:
NYY, OAK: This seems like a perfect match for the Yankees; a solid defensive first baseman , with a expiring contract (Teixeira is out for the season but has 3 seasons remaining on his contract), and a left handed hitter (have you seen how easy it is for left handed power hitters to pull a home run to the right field porch of Yankee Stadium. Perfect match for the Yankees and impending free agent Justin Morneau.
Long shot Twins Trade:
Joe Mauer: I understand that Mauer is a local Minnesota kid that made it big however, with 5 years and 115 million remaining on his contracts, the Twins should at least listen to trade offers for the star catcher. The 30 year has put together another solid season (.309, 8 HR, 30 RBI, .391 OBP, .852 OPS) but he's had a number of back problems in the past which will only get progressively worse as he get older. If the Twins were to trade Mauer available, they would receive a number of quality of prospects before he reaches the downhill of his career and be able to start over.
If they don't trade him soon, Minnesota won't be able to trade him, and as a mid market ball club, they would be stuck with a large contract for a number of years. Sorry Twins fans, but with the Tigers having a quality rotation that included two of the best starting pitchers in the league and a offense that features two of the best hitters in the league. If that's not enough, both the Royals and Indians feature young roster that have a number of quality players. I don't see the Twins or White Sox (their next) competing for a number of years.
LAD: The Dodgers can add another 100 million dollar contract to their books (Crawford, Kemp, Gonzalez, Greinke, and eventually Kershaw). How much fun would that be.
Chicago White Sox: The 2012 White Sox were one of baseball's best stories; seeing the birth of a young star pitcher (Chris Sale), comeback pitcher (Jake Peavy), comeback hitters (Adam Dunn won the award but Alex Rios was Chicago's best hitter), and a successful first time manager (Robin Ventura). The prospects for the 2013 White Sox looked bright as they would have just about everyone returning from the previous season in addition to adding Jeff Keppinger to their lineup and a healthy John Danks to their rotation.
Things haven't turned out that way as Chicago's south side team has been one of baseball's most disappointing teams in 2013. In addition to the players listed below, (that I believe will be moved at the trade deadline) I feel Chicago will also take calls for Alexi Ramirez (has 2 years remaining on his contract) and Adam Dunn (has more more year at 15 million left on his deal) but I would be surprised if either was traded before July 31st. So who will the White Sox trade at the trade deadline:
Pit, NYY, OAK, BAL, TB, TEX: A number of American League teams would love to add Konerko to their team as a designated hitter. As for the, National League, only one team made my list. If Konerko was moved to the Pirates, Konerko would have to play first everyday, and Pittsburgh could move Garrett Jones to the outfield. Pittsburgh could use another power hitter and veteran who had previous playoff experience to their lineup.
TEX, LAA, BOS, COL: If the White Sox would be willing to trade Peavy within the American League, I feel the Rangers or Angels would be best place for a player of his caliber if they want to be a title contender for the 2013 season. Remember, with Texas and Los Angeles resources, they would both be able to afford Peavy's contract for thefollowing season and appreciate not have to worry about the keeping an often injured player in the twilight of his career. This is a great risk but a risk that a number of contenders should be doing anything in their power to take.
BOS, ARZ, ATL: The Red Sox lost their best left handed reliever out of their bullpen in Andrew Miller and need to find a way to replace him.
Long shot White Sox Trade:
Addison Reed: Most feel Chris Sale would be the long shot trade option but as he would bring the White Sox a kings ransom in return. However, with Sale recently signing a team friendly 5 year contract extenuation, I would be shocked of the team traded him. On the other hand, with the White Sox long shots to contend for a number of years to come, I believe they should look to trade their other young pitcher: Addison Reed. Following an inconsistent 2012 season, the 24 year old closer has rebounded to record 22 saves on the season. With Reed in only his second full season, I feel he has all the potential to become an elite closer in the future.
DET, NYY, STL, COL: The Yankees? Yes the Yankees. They need an heir apparent to Marino Rivera when he retires following the 2013 season. The Yankees tried using David Robertson as their closer following Rivera's injury last year, but he showed that he can be one of the best setup men in baseball, but not closers. With Reed andRobertson, the Yankees would have one of the best young setup/closer combinations in baseball.
Seattle Mariners: Unfortunately for the great fans of the pacific northwest, it seems the Mariners will finish towards the bottom of the division and with a below .500 recorder the fifth time in six years. With Seattle over 10 games back of a potential playoff spot, this might be a good time for the Mariners to trade their older veterans and soon to be expiring free agents to their young up and coming core which includes Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin, Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager, Taijuan Walker, and Danny Hultzen.
Raul Ibanez: The 41 year old outfielder has been a terrific power source for a Mariners team (22 HR) that has been desperate to add a power player to their roster. To tell you how significant Ibanez has been to the Seattle offense, prior to this season, the Mariners finished in bottom half in team home runs each of the past three season (twice in the bottom 5), and were craving a legitimate left handed power threat that could hit 20-30 home runs out of Safeco Field (and yes I know they brought in the fences in Seattle, but they didn't change the dimensions in right field, so a left handed pull hitter like Raul Ilbanez wasn't helped at all). A number of teams that need power or a quality designated hitter for a year (yep, he's a free agent after this season and he has a friendly contract) would love to add a veteran playoff performer (remember last years playoffs) like him.
Michael Morse: The Mariners had one mission this past offseason…to add power to their lineup from both sides of the plate. Mission accomplished. I just explained where the left handed power came from, now the right handed power. Following another down season in 2009, the Mariners decided to trade Michael Morse to Washington for another prospect that looked lost in his development, Ryan Langerhans. Following a few more inconstant seasons in Seattle, the Mariners decided to release Langerhans via free agency; Morse on the other hand finally figured out his approach at the plate as he finally received the true playing time that he had been looking for. In 2010, Morse recored his first double digit home run season (15) in only 98 games and 293 At-bats.
The following season, Morse had a broke out season (.303 BA, 31 HR, 95 RBI, .550 SLG, and .791 OPS) and proved he was ready to be a everyday starter. With Morse in the final year ofhis contract and most likely looking for one final big contract at 31 years old, I believe the Mariners either need to sign him now or trade him at the deadline. Its become difficult to find a legitimate power threat that produces an above average BA which Morse has proven he's capable of accomplishing (not including 2013, Morse has finished with a .289 BA or above each of the past 3 seasons). If Seattle really wants Morse back, they can look to trade him at the deadline and then work out a contract during the offseason.
Kendrys Morales: Since Morales suffered a broken leg during the 2010 season after hitting a game winning grand slam, Morales has been delegated to designated hitting duties for the most part, playing a combined 54 games at first base over the past two seasons. Though Morales hasn't been able to return to playing first base, he has continued to be a consistently quality hitter (.280 BA, 13 HR, 51 RBI, .340 OBP and .802 OPS). With Kendry Morales a free agent following the season (and a Scott Boras client), I believe the Mariners should make sure they can add a few assets prior to him becoming a free agency following the 2013 season. With his lack of speed and lateral movement, I think its safe to say that only American League teams that need a designated hitter would look to trade for Morales. With the Mariners still wanting to see if Justin Smoak can develop into a quality first baseman, look for either Morales and/or Ibanez to be traded at the deadline.
Oliver Pérez: Following a number of problematic seasons in Pittsburgh and New York, I never thought I would write the next sentence, but Oliver Pérez might be the most sought after pitcher prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Oliver has finally found his niche as a quality left-hander out of the bullpen and at 31 years old should have a few good seasons left in him. Pérez is set to be a free agent following the season so the Mariners should look to acquire a number of quality prospects before he becomes a free agent after the season.
Houston Astros: Fans of Houston, enjoy the signing of Dwight Howard and the Houston Texans for the next few seasons because its going to be a while until the Houston Astros return to being a quality team. With that said, I still love what GM Jeff Luhnow has done with the Astros, cleaning out all the big contacts and instead starting over with a number of veterans who he can look to trade at the deadline and young unproven players. The Astros would love to trade Carlos Pena (on a 1 year deal for 2.9 million) for a prospect but with a number of first basemen who have more value than Pena on the market, I would be surprised to see the Astros trade him at the deadline. Houston would also like to trade Ronny Cedeno to a contender so they could receive a prospect and give some of their young players more playing time.
Erik Bedard: When Bedard is healthy (and unfortunately it hasn't been often), Bedard has been a durable left-handed pitcher that has a tremendous curveball and doesn't walk too many batters in addition to having a great strikeout to walk ratio. I don't know if Bedard would be willing to pitch out of the bullpen, but I believe he could become a quality left- handed long or middle reliever for a team that's in contention.
TB, BOS, ATL, ARZ: The Red Sox had Bedard for a half of season and he put up solid numbers in 8 starts for the Red Sox. Tampa Bay on the other had wold give the Rays more veteran depth for an unproven Rays bullpen. The Rays two current lefties (Cesar Ramos and Jake McGee) in their bullpen have been inconstant and can't be completely trusted as the make a run in the brutal American League East.
Jose Veras: Following tough runs in the Bronx and Cleveland, Veras moved to the National League and since then has become a quality reliever (having an ERA below 3.80 during that time frame) for the Marlins, Pirates, and Brewers. The Astros decided to take a chance on Veras by bring him back to the American League and he's delivered posting a 3.29 ERA along with 17 saves for an Astros team that's only recorded 32 wins on the season. I don't think any contending team would be interested in bring in Veras as a closer, however I do feel they would trade for him to a middle reliever.
COL, BOS, DET: After looking at the right handed relievers (not including Betancourt) in the Rockies bullpen, it seems they need to add a quality reliever to their bullpen, if they want to stay in contention.
Long shot Astros Trade:
Bud Norris: The 28 year old right handed pitcher has been one of the Astros lone bright points this season. The Astros only have 4 pitchers that have a 4.00 ERA and below and with a 3.63 ERA, Norris has the lowest ERA amongst everyone in the Houston rotation. Prior to Norris' last start (5 IP and 7 ER) he had a 3.22 ERA and hadn't allowed more than 4 earned runs or more in his previous 9 starts. Norris is still arbitration eligible for the following two seasons, making him reasonable affordable and under the organizations control for the following two season. As for the Astros, their new management team has proven to be great at selling high on their most valuable players (Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence) while they still have affordable years remaining on their contract and are still in the prime of their baseball career. Houston has been terrific at selling high on players in their peek and buying low on veterans.
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