The Giants, Phillies, Braves, Mariners, Athletics, and Angels are a few contenders short on power with the trade deadline less than two months away. Let's take a look at some power bats that might be available in late July.
We'll let Fred Wilpon decide whether these guys are superstars or just very good players. But Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Hunter Pence are the best potentially available power bats this summer. I'm aware that Reyes only has one home run and is not considered a power hitter, but his .489 slugging percentage still ranks 18th in the league and ahead of Ethier.
I don't expect Kemp or Ethier to be traded this summer. The Dodgers may be under new ownership next year, the last year of control for both outfielders. They'll both get eight-figure salaries in arbitration, but the team can afford that even with a payroll reduction. Pence also appears unlikely to be dealt, suggested ESPN's Jayson Stark on Monday.
I have a hard time seeing the Mets sell low on Wright, given his back injury. Reyes should be available, but Beltran is the true star-level power bat on this market. About $6MM of his $18.5MM salary will remain on July 31st, and the Mets could kick in a few million to sweeten the return.
Having Solid Years
Carlos Quentin, Jason Kubel, Laynce Nix, and Casey Blake are having solid years, though the sample sizes remain small and several of these guys were disappointing last year. No one here is earning more than $5.25MM, so salary should not be a factor. Kubel is on the DL and Blake recently came off it. Nix has nine home runs in just 130 plate appearances, 118 of which came against right-handed pitching.
Quentin is the best bet here, if you don't mind questionable defense and occasional injury concerns. He's under team control through 2012. With Juan Pierre and Alex Rios both struggling, and Pierre up for free agency at season's end, the Sox might feel compelled to keep Quentin. If you're seeking a left-handed bat instead, renting Kubel is the more feasible alternative. He could bring draft pick compensation after the season, which should increase the Twins' asking price.
Regulars With Power And Flaws
The Orioles have four regulars who have flashed power in recent memory: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, and Luke Scott. Lee is on the disabled list and Scott is playing through a shoulder injury. The four hitters have combined for a .238/.311/.383 line this year, so acquiring them would be buying low.
The Cubs can offer Carlos Pena, Aramis Ramirez, and Alfonso Soriano to the power market; the trio was discussed at length here. Pena would be the most movable player; would a return to Oakland make sense?
A pair of corner infielders under the age of 27 who might be available: Ian Stewart and Chris Davis. The Rangers don't have much of a spot for Davis, so he's a fine trade chip. The Rockies may be reluctant to give up on Stewart, who has been raking at Triple-A prior to a hamstring injury after earning a surprising demotion. Stewart returned to the lineup tonight by the way.
A batch of part-time bats who have shown power here and there: Brad Hawpe, Edwin Encarnacion, Garrett Jones, Marcus Thames, Rod Barajas, Lyle Overbay, Bill Hall, and Jeff Baker. Baker is the one having a nice year, though he's on the DL for a strained groin. The 29-year-old infielder crushes lefties.
Jim Thome deserves special mention, as few players in the game match his power when he's healthy. Right now he's on the DL for a strained left quad, and when he returns the Twins would probably like to see him get those seven remaining home runs for 600 in their uniform. A late August deal makes more sense.
Check out our list of potentially available starting pitchers here.