May 25, 2011 by Matt Musico
I was reading an article by Jim Bowden on ESPN.com this morning and even though we’re still two months away from the MLB trading deadline, potential sellers are starting to show themselves; after two full months of a season, a lot of front office executives are able to see if their respective teams need a player or two to put them over the top, or if they need to get rid of some contracts and receive some prospects in return to try and compete next year. The top 5 teams and the players that Bowden mentioned would be moving come July are as follows:
1. New York Mets: Jose Reyes, Frankie Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran.
2. Houston Astros: Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez, and Brett Myers.
3. Minnesota Twins: Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Jim Thome.
4. Chicago Cubs: Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Ryan Dempster, and Carlos Zambrano.
5. San Diego Padres: Heath Bell.
Out of these five teams, the players I could see most likely on the move in the next two months are Jose Reyes, Hunter Pence, Michael Cuddyer, and Heath Bell. It’s pretty obvious what Jose Reyes can bring to the table to a new team; with offense down across the league this year, and team on the fringe of being a contender (i.e. the San Francisco Giants) could make a run at Reyes because he has the potential to jump start a stagnant offense. Hunter Pence also brings a lot to the table when you talk about offense, defense, and most especially, youth. As the spring turns into the summer, I have a feeling that the Phillies are going to make a run at Pence because now with Chase Utley back in their everyday line-up, they are looking for someone to fill the void that Jayson Werth left when he signed a monster contract with the Nationals last winter. Also, Pence is young enough where the Phillies can look to lock him up long-term.
Michael Cuddyer can be valuable to any contender because of his versatility to play 1st base, 3rd base, the outfield, and DH. With the Twins having an absolutely horrible year, it seems quite evident that they will be dealing to clear some salary for next year. It’s tough to pinpoint who would be seriously interested in someone like Cuddyer because of his versatility, but I could see teams that could use a veteran presence in the clubhouse going after him; teams that come to mind are the Marlins, the Reds, or even the Brewers. A couple of others teams that could use his versatility could be the Yankees and the Rays. Cuddyer doesn’t make superstar money, so he could fit into the Rays equation; the Yankees could use him as a more productive option to give Teixeira, Rodriguez, or Swisher a day off.
It seems as if as long as the Padres stay out of contention, Heath Bell will definitely be on the move. Contending teams are always looking for solid relief pitching, preferably with experience as a closer, during a pennant race. Bell is the Padres best asset and they will be able to yield the most prospects for him. I expect quite a number of teams to be interested in Bell, with the Phillies and Cardinals coming to mind.
The players that I feel are the least likely to be dealt include Frankie Rodriguez and any one of the players mentioned from the Cubs. K-rod won’t be dealt solely because of his contract. If K-rod finishes 55 games this season, a player option of $17.5 million will automatically kick in for 2012. Now, you’re thinking that’s a pretty good deal because he probably won’t reach 55 saves this year; yes, he probably won’t, but this counts all games that he finishes, whether it’s a save situation or not. A team looking for a 4 month rental on a relief pitcher won’t be willing to give up some prospects if they are stuck paying K-rod $17.5 million next season.
Also, I find it highly unlikely that the Cubs would be able to move Ramirez, Dempster, Pena, or Zambrano. Ramirez could be moved, but a lot of teams wouldn’t want to make a move for someone with a long injury history and is no longer in the prime of his career; Dempster had one great year as a starter, got a nice contract from it, and hasn’t able to repeat that productivity. Pena may have the best chance to be on the move, but his lack of ability to get on base other than hitting home runs is a big concern. If he moves, it would be solely because of his defense. Finally, Zambrano is just an absolute nutcase and I think that if he is put into any other clubhouse in the middle of a year, he would blow up whatever chemistry was there. An off-season trade is more likely for him. Also, after shipping some highly touted prospects to the Rays for Matt Garza over the winter, the Cubs asking price for these players have the possibility to be too high for any team to gamble on.
Who do you think will or won’t be on the move as the MLB trading deadline starts to lurk? Who do you hope that your favorite team can pick up along the way to put them over the hump and get into October? Let me know what you all would like to see as we inch closer to July 31st.
Category Sports | Tags: Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez, Brett Myers, Brewers, Cardinals, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Pena, Carlos Zambrano, Chase Utley, Chicago Cubs, ESPN.com, Frankie Rodriguez, Heath Bell, House Astros, Hunter Pence, Jason Kubel, Jayson Werth, Jim Bowden, Jim Thome, Jose Reyes, K-rod, Mark Teixeira, Marlins, Matt Garza, Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins, MLB trading deadline, New York Mets, Nick Swisher, Phillies, Rays, Reds, Ryan Dempster, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Wandy Rodriguez, Yankees