Monday, June 16, 2014

Potential Buyers & Sellers at the MLB Trade Deadline (6/16/14 Edition)

Potential Buyers & Sellers at the MLB Trade Deadline

Big Sellers: Chicago Cubs – Make no mistake, the Cubs are positioned to finish with one of the worst records in Major League Baseball, thus have no real interest in buying. Numerous Cubs have been linked to possible deadline trades including Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney, and possibly Nate Schierholtz. Per Bruce Levin, the Detroit Tigers were interested in both Barney and Schierholtz, but both have tanked their value with poor seasons, especially Schierholtz. Other teams linked to Darwin Barney include the Yankees and Rangers. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have an active interest in acquiring Schierholtz, as their outfielders have a collective .214 batting average. I think it is likely that Schierholtz to the Red Sox gets done sooner rather than later due to their need of another outfielder. If both Barney and Schierholtz get traded, I would expect lottery ticket-esque prospects akin to Corey Black, and not much else in return. While there are little links to trading Valbuena right now, his rising stock and value as a utility guy make him a target to be traded in late July. Hammel and, more importantly, Samardzija are the two big arms that are likely to be traded at the deadline. According to Bob Nightengale the Giants, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Red Sox, and Blue Jays all appear to be in on Samardzija. The Chicago Sun-Times also reports the Mariners to be interested in not only Samardzija, but Hammel as well. I am not sure I buy the Giants rumor, and even if I did, I just do not see the pieces there for the Giants to trade, as their top prospects, all arms, have struggled this year. The Yankees need pitching, but they cannot make a competitive package for Samardzija, as it would focus around Gary Sanchez, who I do not believe is a strong enough anchor in a big trade. You have to keep in mind Samardzija has another year of team control under arbitration in 2015, so he is not a rental like David Price would be. The two most intriguing teams of those mentioned are the Orioles and the Mariners. Some combination of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and Hunter Harvey would make up a trade package for Samardzija, but I am not sure if the Orioles would be willing to deal all three, or even two, for the Cubs ace. If I am Jed Hoyer, I would try to angle for Dylan Bundy, who has seemingly recovered completely from Tommy John surgery, and the rising Hunter Harvey, who will definitely start for some team in the future. I think Bundy can still be an ace on a winning big league team, so the Cubs should move Heaven and Earth to try and obtain him. The Seattle Mariners really should make every attempt at Samardzija, even if it means giving up top prospect Taijuan Walker, as they have had poor experiences developing prospects and could have a proven arm in Samardzija. Some combination of Victor Sanchez, Tyler Pike, and James Paxton could be added to a package with Walker, which would be difficult for the Chicago Cubs to turn down. If the Mariners only go after Hammel, who has been dominant all year, posting an ERA+ of 139 so far, expect a package of some sort of those secondary prospects just mentioned; Sanchez, Pike, and Paxton. Gordon Wittenmeyer expects Hammel to end up in Seattle, despite the Braves and Blue Jays being potentially interested in Hammel.

Buyers: Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays want a starting pitcher. They, correctly, do not see Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, and Brandon Morrow as reliable arms in a tight race in a tough division, let alone arms to trust to start in the playoffs. Bob Elliot reports big overtures have been made towards Jeff Samardzija and David Price, both of which are under team control this year and next. Buster Olney seems to think they do not have the pieces for either, but I disagree. Aaron Sanchez has command issues and a slight injury history with his shoulder, but he is still a top twenty-five prospect according to just about everyone. Some package of Hutchison, Stroman, Osuna, and Norris would likely have to be included in any package for either ace, but Alex Anthopoulos has shown a willingness to not hold onto his prospects too tightly in the big trades made with the Marlins and Mets. Jon Heyman seems to think that the Blue Jays are more likely to go for a short-term like James Shields, but the Royals are still in the playoff hunt and I do not think Dayton Moore is going to trade a piece that big, so I would rule that out regardless of what Heyman says. A.J. Burnett and Justin Masterson might be available as rentals depending how their teams trend toward the trade deadline. Burnett is the more likely of the two as the Phillies will not sniff the playoffs this season, regardless of how hard Ruben Amaro Jr. keeps hoping. The one hiccup in a Burnett to Toronto deal is Burnett has essentially a no trade clause in his contract, allowing him to block trades to twenty-one teams. The teams on Burnett’s no trade list have not been disclosed, so there is uncertainty there.

Maybe Sellers: Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates could be buyers, but the refusal to pay A.J. Burnett shows that they will not make any sort of meaningful deadline trade to keep the struggling Pirates in contention in the National League Central. Paul Swydan expects Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano to be moved either before the deadline or in the offseason. Gerry Fraley reports that Gaby Sanchez is available and that the Texas Rangers are taking a look at him after Mitch Moreland’s injury. Jason Grilli will be a free agent after this season, so we will really know if the Pirates are buyers or sellers if Grilli is moved. This is not a 94-68 team like last year and they play in a relatively tough division with the Cardinals and Reds, so I think it is fair to say that they should and will become sellers from all indications. The only thing stopping me from calling them sure fire sellers is Andrew McCutchen heating up and Gregory Polanco getting called up and producing in his limited amount of time. Maybe Polanco keeps them from selling off, but it is too difficult to say at this point.

Maybe Buyers: Texas Rangers – The Rangers will be buyers at the trade deadline, despite playing in the now lively AL West. There is pretty much no shot that they catch the Oakland Athletics, despite it being June, with the number of injuries the team has suffered. Jurickson Profar is likely done for the season. Prince Fielder is done for the season. Donnie Murphy just got off the DL. Tanner Scheppers is on the DL. Mitch Moreland is on the DL and might be out for a while. Alexi Ogando is on the DL. Matt Harrison is on the DL. Martin Perez is on the DL. Geovany Soto is on the DL. Derek Holland is on the DL. Yu Darvish has had neck stiffness and is day-to-day. Does that sound like a team that should be buying in an already tough division? Nope, but Ranger GM Jon Daniels has expressed interest in buying to try and stay in the AL West race or even wildcard race. The Rangers were dealt a big blow when Kendrys Morles did not sign with them, leaving their first baseman situation problematic. Career minor leaguer, thirty-two year old Brad Snyder is currently their first basemen, so they will have to make a move if Moreland is out for a longer period of time than expected. The Rangers are in the market for a quality starting pitcher, looking at Jeff Samardzija or perhaps Jon Lester if things completely fall apart for the Red Sox and they become sellers at the trade deadline. I am sure a package involving phenom Joey Gallo would draw interest from the Chicago Cubs. David Price is also in the mix as a possible Rangers target, but he too would force Jon Daniels to give up Joey Gallo. Daniels is well-known for valuing his prospects too highly, and with Gallo already valued high by many, Daniels may see him as untradeable, killing the Rangers chances of getting a Price/Samardzija-type arm. The Rangers are the most likely team to flip from buyers to seller from now until the deadline, as many things can still happen and Jon Daniels is hard to figure out. I’ll keep them as buyers until the fat lady sings (or Jon Daniels finally folds his hand).

Sellers: Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks are completely out of the NL West race and have been a disaster in terms of run differential. The team is likely to end up with a bad record and a high draft pick, so will likely be looking to move some pieces to acquire young talent. Ken Rosenthal states that Arroyo, McCarthy, Hill, Thatcher, and Parra will be on the trading block by July 31. Recently sent down Trevor Cahill will be near impossible to trade without the Diamondbacks eating a significant sum of the large amount of money owed to him in the future. Gregorius has been a target of the Mets, but with Tony La Russa taking power away from Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, it is unknown whether he would be willing to trade Gregorius. Arroyo and McCarthy would make great 4/5 starters on many contending teams including, but not limited to, the Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, Angels, Giants, and Marlins among others. The Diamondbacks will not receive top prospects that a David Price or Jeff Samardzija would bring, but could fetch quality young bats from the Yankees in Eric Jagielo or the Red Sox in Garin Cecchini or even Mookie Betts, or a young arm like Justin Nicolino from the Marlins. Outside of a few pieces, this is really a big rebuilding process for La Russa and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Likely Sellers: New York Mets – Although Alderson recently said the team has the resources to be buyers at the deadline, I think they are more likely to be minor sellers as they’re already five and a half games back on the lead in the National League East. I do believe GM Sandy Alderson when he says Jon Niese is not on the trading block. The team could and very well likely will contend next year, but with injuries and inconsistency the Mets will be making at the least some minor moves. Somehow forty year old Bobby Abreu has heated up the Mets otherwise dismal offense. Over the past month Abreu has posted a weighted on base average of .398, which is out of this world good if you do not understand wOBA. In 91 plate appearances for the Mets, Abreu has posted an OPS of .846, while being a solid right fielder. It really is crazy, but he could be the top bat at the trade deadline. The Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers are the two teams that come to mind as potential destinations, as Nori Aoki has been poor offensively in RF for the contending Royals and Torii Hunter has looked lost for the Tigers. Maybe the Mets can fetch someone like Sean Manaea or Devon Travis for him, but that’s a big maybe for a rental on an old man that is extremely hot right now. Peter Gammons seems to think that Bartolo Colon could be a potential trade target and he is right. Colon has been better than his ERA would indicate and would draw plenty of attention for teams looking for a mid/back rotation starter. I have listed a ton of them, but Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, Angels, Mariners, etc. all make sense. He could at least fetch a lottery ticket-type prospect or two from one of those teams, which I think Alderson would do a deal for. I would not expect any cornerstone moves for the trade deadline, but I really do think they will be buyers (or attempt to be buyers) in the offseason.

Buyers: Los Angeles Angels – The Angels are finally competitive in the American League West this year, largely due to Ianetta, Pujols, and Hamilton finally producing with some decent pitching. Decent pitching, however, does not win you an AL West pennant, as Wilson and Weaver have been slightly above league average and Garrett Richards has pitched better than anyone could have reasonably expected, but the four and five starting pitcher spots have been rocky to say the least. Tyler Skaggs has yet to live up to the hype that I once bought into (and still believe is possible in the future) and Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker are not starting pitchers on a team that wants to make a deep playoff run. Bob Nightengale has listed the Angels as one of the teams in on this year’s prize, Jeff Samardzija. The problem is that the Angels do not have the prospects to match the Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays, or Rangers among the others that are in on Samardzija. Buster Olney believes they have enough to make a go at the other Cubs starter, Jason Hammel. Mark Sappington and Hunter Green might be enough to get a Jason Hammel deal done, but other offers for Hammel could be better. Nick Cafardo seems to think the Angels may wait until the offseason to go after Jon Lester, but maybe the Angels could throw out the entire farm for renting him as they are in striking distance. A minor need would be a left-handed relief arm and Alden Gonzalez indicates that they could go after Antonio Bastardo, Troy Patton, or Sean Marshall. I would not say the Angels are in a great spot because their farm system is just too weak to get a top pitcher, which they need, but they may be able to acquire a Jason Hammel-type and power though the post-season if they make the playoffs.

Buyers: Detroit Tigers – Everyone knows the biggest need for the Detroit Tigers is a bullpen arm, specifically a closer. Joba Chamberlain and Al Albuquerque have been good in the bullpen for them, but they need at least another quality bullpen arm. Joe Nathan has been bad during his tenure with the Tigers to say the least. I have not seen them linked to any name specifically for a bullpen/closer role, but I would assume the three previously mentioned (Bastardo, Patton, Marshall), Huston Street, and possibly Grilli if the Pirates start selling off. Another major hole for the Tigers has been shortstop, which has largely been played by Andrew Romine, who has put up an OPS+ of 45, which is horrendous. Jose Iglesias is not going to be playing this season, so there is a real dilemma there. Recent callup Eugenio Suarez has played beyond expectations in limited plate appearances, so they may stick with him. No links at this time, but I think there is an outside chance they make a play for Darwin Barney to use as an utility guy, if not SS if Suarez finds himself outmatched. Another hole for the Detroit Tigers has been Torii Hunter, who is putting up slightly below average offensive numbers, but has performed poorly in right fielder. Nate Schierholtz is someone on the Tigers radar and I think they should go after Bobby Abreu. In the case of Schierholtz, it would take much lesser prospects to obtain him, but he has performed poorly this season too. It is really hard to assign a value on Abreu at this point, but they should go after him.

Sellers: San Diego Padres – This season has been quite the disappointment to many Padres fans, already thirteen and a half games back in the division. Outside of Seth Smith, Huston Street and Andrew Cashner, the team has performed poorly to say the least. Padres closer Huston Street is almost certain to be traded by the deadline, as he has performed well and there are number of teams interested in him (Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels). Ken Rosenthal lists Street, Seth Smith, Ian Kennedy, and Chris Denorfia as players likely to be traded if not by the deadline, then during the offseason as the San Diego Padres organization undergoes changes. Ian Kennedy is in a similar spot as Jason Hammel in that he is a quality starting pitcher, but not top tier like Samardzija or Price. Angels and Blue Jays could be interested in Kennedy.  The Orioles, Rays, and Tigers might be interested in Smith as a corner outfielder. I would expect the Tigers to give Denorfia a look as a right fielder if they cannot get something done with Abreu or Smith. All of the teams interested have a fair amount of prospects, which could boost an already strong farm system.

Likely Buyers: Seattle Mariners – Although they are already seven games back in the American League West, they have shown some signs of life and have a good enough farm system to get some pieces to stay in contention. I have mentioned numerous times that they are in the market for pitching. They have been linked to David Price for some time now, but Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has yet to pull the trigger on any sort of deal for Price, which would undoubted require trading Taijuan Walker, something he has seemingly been against. Price, Samardzija, and Hammel are the three starting pitchers that have been linked to the Mariners, with Hammel being the strongest link. Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer have been bad in their stints as Mariners starters, but to be fair to Maurer they called him up a bit early (something that I worry they will do with Taijuan Walker). Hammel or Ian Kennedy at the least would keep them in the game and a Price or Samardzija would give them a significant boost. The Mariners are one of the teams supposedly in on Lester, but I do not see them giving him a long-term deal. Standing pat and hoping James Paxton comes back healthy will not get them to the playoffs. Their lineup might be passable if Brad Miller was not the shortstop. Miller has a disastrous OPS of .525. Maybe they give a look at Ben Zobrist or Darwin Barney to play the position. The market this deadline is just so shallow on possible shortstops. I think they can still make a go at a playoff spot, but they need to make moves, not sit.

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