Ten days remain before the MLB non-waiver trading deadline. After July 31, deals can still be made but players have to clear waivers in order for trades to be completed. Ergo, for clarity and simplicity, there is a week and a half remaining for teams to swing deals. For our purposes, it is best to focus on who is moving, where they will land and what it will cost for your team to get their prize for the stretch run. 95 games have been played, leaving 67 over the remainder of July, all of August, September and finally the October postseason. No second place team in any division trails by more than 5 games and some divisions have four contenders within that 5 game margin. Conservatively a dozen teams are in contention for the AL and NL wildcard spots. In most cases, it is easy to see which teams will be in the mix but their position can still be determined by the final two months of the season.
Rumors abound regarding who is on the trading block and what deals will be made. Truth is that any team currently over the magic .500 mark (which includes Washington, Cleveland and Pittsburgh) should consider themselves in the playoff picture – unless they are in divisions where .500 still puts them a dozen games off the lead. The other mitigating factors include strength of division and possibility of wildcard spot – with respect to a team’s place in the financial hierarchy. For example the New York Yankees (currently second in the AL East) have a virtually boundless payroll and seem to make multiple moves every year to get any and all players desired. Smaller market teams like Tampa Bay (third, behind the Yankees and Red Sox) can probably only afford to make one trading deadline move. Last year there were approximately 20 separate deals in the 24 hours leading up to the deadline but 2011 should see fewer deals in volume that are likely to make a louder splash on the playoff push.
SELLERS: (teams with no hope of contending in 2011) San Diego, LA Dodgers, Houston, Chicago Cubs, Florida, Washington, New York Mets, Oakland, Kansas City, Baltimore, Toronto. Now add in those who think they may contend but their hopes may be soon dashed against the stark reality and you include teams like Seattle and Colorado. 13 teams that will likely be mathematically eliminated before the trading deadline makes these “SELLERS.” One could debate the viability of “tweeners” like Minnesota, Cincinnati, Arizona or Tampa Bay because they have a long haul to leapfrog the frontrunners but teams decide that not me!
BUYERS: Everybody else. Seventeen teams or twelve teams, the numbers will prove themselves as we close in on the changing of the leaves, Back to School season and the final postseason push. For now, the number of buyers and sellers could be titled in either direction – thanks to the wildcard, league parity, injuries, upsets, pure dumb luck, skill, guile and of course fate (which is another term for pure, dumb luck). The New York Yankees are always buyers treating “lesser” MLB teams as their high-priced farm system to develop talent for the Evil Empire. Los Angeles Angels should be buying as should other contenders like Chicago (White Sox), Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis and San Francisco. Again though the true rub is with teams like Minnesota, Cincinnati, Texas, Detroit, Cleveland and … Pittsburgh? Indeed the Pittsburgh Pirates (last seen leading a division during the 1992 Presidential campaign) and Cleveland Indians (insert Major League movie reference here) are both currently division leaders. Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis and the Chisox will all make sure these races are dogfights as they jockey not only for position but for available free agents.
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CARLOS BELTRAN, NYM may be the most sought-after sure-fire rental player in recent memory…or at least since Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay… Potential suitors could be qualified as any team currently at or over .500 with an interest in pushing for the playoffs. That list could be pared down a bit to teams that are willing to trade prospects – which still leaves a slew of teams. Mind you, the Mets have as much as said they would be willing to pick up a large portion of Beltran’s 2011 salary (which is estimated at $9 million remaining over the season’s final couple months) so it changes the game. Beltran is 34 years old, currently in the final months of a 7-year $119M contract and will likely seek a large 3-year deal from some other team in 2012. This is a mercenary warrior finishing his 12th season and not someone looking to purchase real estate but this is also the most effective offensive weapon available on the 2011 trade market. Over 91 games and 386 AB in 2011, Beltran has posted a .293 BA, 97 H, 30 doubles, 55 runs scored, 59 RBI and 14 HR for an abysmal baseball team. He is a centerfielder playing right but any team would be foolish not to consider adding Beltran to their team based on pure talent. This rigmarole regarding his “attitude problems and ego issues” is hogwash.
TEAMS INTERESTED: San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Pittsburgh Pirates
BEST BET: While Texas, Arizona, New York Yankees or Los Angeles all prove intriguing, this has to be the San Francisco Giants . They have prospects to offer including first baseman Brandon Belt and/or pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. Trading both blue chip prospects seems an exorbitant price for a rental player but the defending champs have to play to win now, don’t they? Look for the Mets to do anything to restock their farm system. K-Rod was the first to go but he will not be the last. Jose Reyes, David Wright, Mike Pelfrey and the entire Mets bullpen have been discussed… Good luck movin’ up cause they’re MOVIN’ OUT!
UBALDO JIMENEZ, COL No one has officially made a play for Jimenez – in fact Colorado has not made a decision as to whether or not they want to trade him but whispers and rumors pervade the Denver air. Some say Ubaldo has lost a few MPH and lack of velocity means the Rockies have given up. Others say the Rockies still consider themselves contenders and may be looking to swing a deal so they can challenge the Giants now in a weak NL West. Aaron Cook could be available as could Todd Helton and anyone not named “Cargo” or “Tulo” but this is all speculative. BEST BET should be the New York Yankees
RYAN DEMPSTER, CHC signed through 2011 with an option for 2012 @ $13.5M there is virtually no buzz about Dempster. He’s 7-6, 4.68 ERA and 1.374 WHIP in 20 starts for the hapless Cubs. At 34 years old, his prime in terms of upside potential may be behind him, but he is not far off from his career averages. As a starter with the Cubs, he is 6 games over .500 (59-53) with a 3.79 ERA and 1.328 WHIP in 124 starts and that’s with the conditions in Wrigleyville. Maybe that is due to Dempster’s lack of postseason experience (2 NLDS games in 2007 & 2008) but he is a proven, veteran pitcher with a lot to offer. Dempster is very involved in the Chicago community and likely has little to no interest in leaving but what about his interest in winning? Carlos Zambrano may be far more likely to be traded though “Big Z” carries with him emotional and financial baggage to the tune of $18M per season with vesting options in 2012 and 2013.
TEAMS INTERESTED: San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Cincinnati Reds
BEST BET: Clearly every team is seeking more pitching but making a deal at the trading deadline is usually to add a pitcher to the front end of the rotation – assumedly a Top Three who will give you a couple starts in a 7-game series (someone like CC Sabathia who was overused worse than an adolescent greyhound with Milwaukee in 2008). On most of these staffs Dempster would be a 4 or 5 – as would Zambrano. St. Louis Cardinals would prove interesting.
RYAN LUDWICK, SDP at 33 years old, Ryan Ludwick has never been a marquee name, has never been truly sought after and is a veteran of 4 Major League teams over 9 seasons. He is about to play for his fifth different team. The question remains as to which team it will be and whether or not he will find a new team for 2012. Ludwick was sent to San Diego in a three way deadline deal last year and finds himself with San Diego for $6.78M because essentially no one else seemed to want him! Who wouldn’t want a .263 lifetime hitter averaging 25 HR, 94 RBI, 31 doubles with a .795 OPS? That’s a darn good question. Ludwick’s best seasons were spent in St. Louis including a 37-HR, 113-RBI 2008 campaign followed by 22-HR, 97-RBI year in 2009. No one is suggesting that Ludwick wasn’t helped by the powerful Cardinal bats named Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds but placing this solid bat on a contending team makes everybody better!
TEAMS INTERESTED: Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates
BEST BET: Whether or not Tampa, Pittsburgh, Colorado and Minnesota find themselves in the running, the best fit would be Philadelphia. The Phillies are desperately in need of a corner outfielder who can produce runs and their lineup is woefully vulnerable to left-handed pitching. Signability is a question because the Phillies want to trade without sacrificing their entire farm system – but they would be more amenable to a deal if they knew they could extend Ludwick past 2012. Raul Ibanez is 39 and his expiring contract will be his curtain call. Ludwick fits.
HEATH BELL, SDP Some say Bell’s All-Star slide was an effort to draw attention to himself and to broadcast his entry onto the national stage. Clearly no one notices much of what happens in San Diego but Bell’s numbers speak for themselves. 118 SV in 8 seasons is 20 per year but Bell didn’t become a closer until 2009. Since then he has registered 42 saves (2009), 47 saves (2010) and 27 in 40 games this season and 6.4 strikeouts per 9 IP. Bell is 33 years old and will be a fan favorite wherever he goes – especially celebrating the final strikeout in the World Series. His $7.5M contract expires in 2011 but Bell is seeking a new team not just a mercenary rental situation. San Diego just swung a deal for Adrian Gonzalez that would make King Solomon blush and will seek more blue chip prospects in return. Bell better hope San Diego doesn’t price him out of the market as the Trading Deadline is essentially the Padres World Series.
TEAMS INTERESTED: San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, anyone with a pulse in the race. Tampa and Pittsburgh may be disqualified by not having an actual pulse in their races.
BEST BET: Everybody wants bullpen help but how many of these teams are willing to guarantee Bell the closer’s role? How did “K-Rod” do going to Milwaukee to share the closer’s role? How does Rafael Soriano like caddying for Mariano Rivera? If you had Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson would you send prospects for Bell? What if you had no bullpen at all? That’s the clincher. St. Louis Cardinals are most desperately in need of a closer. Send their entire bullpen along with John Jay to San Diego for Heath Bell and Mike Adams. Give Tony LaRussa a closer, any kind of offense and a setup man and there is nothing he cannot accomplish…right?
JEFF FRANCEOUR, KCR “Frenchy” seems to travel a lot and never get anywhere… Atlanta… New York… Dallas… Kansas City…7 seasons, 46 postseason plate appearances and at age 27, he could be on the move again. Mind you, he signed with then-God-forsaken Kansas City at an inexpensive $2.5M with an option for 2012 – making him droolworthy for GM seeking production without overpayment. So he’s never hit 30 HR (averages 20 with high of 29 in 2006) usually drives home 90 RBI (topped 100 in back to back seasons with Atlanta), averages 33 doubles, and a .267 batting average. What’s not to like? Five tool players don’t grow on trees.
TEAMS INTERESTED: Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers
BEST BET: All teams could use some extra punch in their lineups. If Franceour went to St. Louis he may not need a realtor but that’s not the deciding factor. Team need plus salary constraints plus prospects available equals Minnesota, Phillies, Chicago or … back to Atlanta Braves.
JOSE REYES, NYM has officially been taken off the market by the NY Mets. Injuries and a renewed interest in trying to re-sign Reyes have inspired the malfeasant Mets to reconsider dealing him. That could be due to the volatility of the market as well. JJ Hardy just signed an extension with Baltimore anticipating a poor market for shortstops in 2012. In addition the Mets clearly saw Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran as higher priorities. Off the table.
ARAMIS RAMIREZ, CHC again bears the question… who wouldn’t want to add this player? Don’t let a no-trade clause or his age (34) fool you because the Cubs won’t even ask for a gaggle of prospects in return. There is no joy in Wrigleyville these days and Ramirez would jump at the chance to leave – as might teammates Carlos Pena or Kosuke Fukudome. Ramirez’s 5 year $75 million contract has an option for 2012 so by then he would be 34 years old and still a viable option for another 3-year deal. Take a .302 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI in 384 PA and a career average of .300, 30, 108 with 35 doubles. This guy deserves a chance to play for a winner!
TEAMS INTERESTED: Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves
BEST BET: This one should be determined by players and circumstance as much as supply and demand. Third base used to be a power position for driving in runs and now those players have gradually neared extinction. Chipper Jones is out for the season, Alex Rodriguez is contemplating the merits of surgery vs. toughing it out (leaning toward the latter while screaming “owie-owie-owie-owie” as he runs in circles) while Evan Longoria has spent an inordinate amount of time shelved over the past 14 months. Placido Polanco has chronic back issues and is traditionally weaker in second half of the season. To those four teams and others like Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis I respond “Aramis Ramirez is the answer to some of your team’s problems. Which team makes him top priority? Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!
HUNTER PENCE, HOU if it seems as though every newspaper in every city in the league has run a story about acquiring the service of Hunter Pence, that’s because it is true. Pence is signed to a 1 year deal @ $7M through 2011 then is arbitration eligible in 2012 and not a free agent until 2014. Houston would ask for a murder of prospects were they to trade him… except that they have expressed no interest in trading him. Pence is 28, meaning that he will be in his early 30s by the time the Astros are relevant again. Perhaps the team will be in the American League or perhaps new management will go on a free agent spending spree but conventional wisdom dictates that the franchise has to build around someone. Carlos Lee is not the answer, Brett Myers is a certifiable lunatic and the rest of the squad is far too green. In 2011 Pence has put up solid numbers (.315, 11 HR, 61 RBI) but this guy is certainly no…um…no… Cesar Geronimo? Jose Cruz? Lance Berkman? Jeff Bagwell? Pence is a nice player and can do most everything you would ask but he is by no means a franchise player – at least not any franchise other than the Astros. Houston, we definitely have a plethora of problems!
JIM THOME, MIN/VLADIMIR GUERRERO, BAL are essentially the same player as far as the trade market is concerned. Both are now full-time DH, both are extremely powerful players and were once prolific home run terrors but both will be limited in what they could contribute. Vlad (7 HR, 31 RBI, .385 SLG) is a righty where Thome (7 HR, 22 RBI, .417 SLG) is a lefty as the two have combined this season for a .225 BA, 14 HR and 53 RBI – or what used to make a good first half for either with a .280-.300 BA. Time is cruel and neither of these men will change teams unless it is to trade their current jersey for Hall of Fame jerseys.
JASON MARQUIS, WAS Despite the fact that the Washington Nationals are for the first time sitting at the .500 mark later than April, right here and right now let’s declare this guy the best bargain on the market!! Jason Marquis is 32 years old, makes $7.5M per year and won’t be a free agent until after the 2012 season. Five teams after his debut for the 2000 Atlanta Braves, he has amassed 104 victories (but has only won as many as 15 games in 2 of those seasons) averaging 200 IP, 200 H, 112K/74BB and 31 starts per season. Washington will accept prospects to dump salary as they have Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman tabbed to be future aces but trading for Marquis should be a move that no one talks about but everyone considers. Also on this same staff are Tyler Clippard (first time NL All-Star) and Sean Burnett. Imagine the Yankees trading several of their vaunted prized pitching prospects to Washington in exchange for 2 of these 3 Nationals arms – or possibly all three. Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos have been discussed for the Ubaldo Jimenez trade but Marquis/Clippard/Burnett would be a potential secondary target deal.
Not unlike the renown Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” you could easily comprise lyrics with the sheer volume of possible players moving or not moving or speculated to be moving or about whom teams have said nothing but are planning to move – or who might be thrown into another deal at the last minute. Tempting as it would be… (Coco Crisp, Betemit, DeJesus and Carlos Lee, Reed Johnson, Keppinger… Fukudome is a no go…Mike Gonzalez, Jon Rauch, Wandy Rodriguez… Dotel, Bedard, Javier Vasquez…Edwin Jackson’s fifth team should trade him to his sixth team, where that is we won’t know until the Chisox stay or go…) I will thankfully refrain from doing so (for now) and will try to focus instead on the fact that all of these rumors remain simply that until teams start matching up supply and demand. Trades require some combination of tempting, can’t miss, blue chip prospects in return for viable veterans – or to be more explicit – a need is required on both sides. Not every team in need has the prospects to deal. Not every team with the prospects is willing to part with them for a rental player.
That is the price of admission and the way the game has been played. GMs across the league can’t afford to let their high-priced veteran players walk away leaving nothing so they trade them in their contract year for a plethora of prospects – hoping that they will become cornerstones of the franchise in the near future. The history of overpaying for a marginal player with a slew of foundation prospects is long and storied but these teams are sacrificing future talent for a chance to win now ( http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/06/29/mlb-trade-talk-%e2%80%93-who-goes-who-stays-who-pays/). Teams must decide if it is worth the ante to even have a chance to gamble on the ultimate prize – while considering that making the wrong move in the wrong year can cripple a franchise – and cost a GM his job!
MLB Trade Talk, Who Stays, Who Goes, Who Pays? http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/06/29/mlb-trade-talk-%e2%80%93-who-goes-who-stays-who-pays/
Trading Deadline Approaches http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/06/20/trading-deadline-approaches/
Let’s Talk Turkey http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/07/13/lets-talk-turkey/
Trade Talk Season – Check With IRS First http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/05/21/trade-talk-season-check-with-irs-first/
2011 Trading Deadline Class
|Luke Scott BAL||Jason Marquis WAS||Heath Bell SDP|
|Chone Figgins SEA||Aaron Cook COL||Hiroki Kuroda LAD|
|Hunter Pence HOU||Erik Bedard SEA||Tyler Clippard WAS|
|BJ Upton TBR||Wandy Rodriguez HOU||Sean Burnett WAS|
|Carlos Beltran NYM||Ubaldo Jimmenez COL||Randy Choate FLA|
|Aramis Ramirez CHC||Edwin Jackson CHW||Leo Nunez FLA|
|Michael Cuddyer MIN||Carlos Zambrano CHC||Kyle Farnsworth TBR|
|Ryan Ludwick SDP||Jeremy Guthrie BAL||Chad Qualls SDP|
|Jeff Franceour KCR||Brett Myers HOU||Mike Adams SDP|
|Josh Willingham OAK||Javier Vasquez FLA||Jon Rauch TOR|
|Carlos Lee HOU||Octavio Dotel TOR|
|Melky Cabrera KCR||Mike Gonzalez BAL|
|Wilson Belemit KCR|
|Milton Bradley SEA|
|Vladimir Guerrero BAL|
|Jim Thome MIN|
|Jesus Montero NYY|
|Coco Crisp OAK|
|Jason Kubel MIN|
|David DeJesus OAK|
|Reed Johnson CHC|
|Jeff Keppinger HOU|
|Kosuke Fukudome CHC|
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org