The ability to absorb a few million dollars at the trade deadline is a pretty powerful bargaining chip. Teams never mind shedding salary, but you won't find many clubs willing to take it on. Some teams always have the financial might to absorb a contract or two; others can take on payroll under the right circumstances and some are sitting tight no matter what.
To predict which teams will be able to take on payroll this trade deadline, MLBTR looked to recent history and the latest rumors. Here are the results:
- Yankees – It's hard to imagine a team with an Opening Day payroll of $213MM letting a few more million stand between them and a deal this summer.
- Cubs – Same goes for the Cubs, who opened the season with a $144MM payroll. It's the team's first summer under new ownership.
- Red Sox – Not only are they big spenders ($168MM Opening Day payroll), they are aggressive at the deadline. Last year, the club added Victor Martinez, Alex Gonzalez and Casey Kotchman.
- Nationals – The Nats could have the financial might to take on Roy Oswalt's entire contract, if you believe one of the officials ESPN.com's Jayson Stark spoke to. They also have to budget for the bonus their number one pick will demand. We're talking many millions no matter what, but possible selection Bryce Harper could demand an eight-figure deal.
- Dodgers – An official told Stark that he can imagine the Dodgers taking on $5MM or so. GM Ned Colletti said earlier this week that he could add payroll in the right deal, in spite of the McCourt divorce.
- Angels – The Angels have some money, according to Stark's sources.
- Giants – Pat Burrell at the major league minimum wouldn't exactly constitute "buying," but the Giants operate under a relatively big budget.
- Rays – They are expected to lower payroll in 2011, so they don't seem like a logical candidate to add salary, but they have been creative and aggressive at the deadline in recent years, discussing deals for the likes of Jason Bay and Victor Martinez.
- Reds – The Reds have financial flexibility and a willingness to get creative, according to one of Ken Rosenthal's sources.
- Phillies – They're staying in touch with Pedro Martinez, which presumably means they have at least a million or two to work with. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he'll be reluctant to give up prospects, but it's not hard to imagine the Phillies taking on payroll.
- Cardinals – The Cardinals were big spenders at last year's deadline, acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday. They , which could cost them a few million, even though expects a buyer's market.
- Blue Jays – Team president Paul Beeston is "all about winning" in the words of GM Alex Anthopoulos (via the Toronto Star). It will be a balancing act between short-term needs and long-term goals, but the Jays could spend if they're in contention.
- Some teams that don't appear on this list will likely become spenders this summer, but these are at least some of the clubs that could take on salary in the right deal.