Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Trade Market

A dozen teams look like potential July 31st sellers, if we exclude the Rockies.  With assumptions on who the Blue Jays, Orioles, Royals, Mariners, Athletics, Mets, Nationals, Marlins, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, and Padres might be willing to move, let's examine the strengths and weaknesses of the 2011 trade market.

  • Catcher: Weak.  If you're looking to add a starting catcher, the out-of-contention teams have very little to offer.  You might be able to get a Ronny Paulino or a Rod Barajas, but this group is more about backups.  Two players who could shake up this market if made available: Geovany Soto and Ramon Hernandez.
  • First base: Weak.  Relative to how few contenders actually need a first baseman, the outlook isn't awful.  Carlos Pena is the headliner.  Derrek Lee and James Loney are disappointing players who could still make a difference.  Guys like Luke Scott and Mark Reynolds are not generally considered first basemen but they could play the position regularly for a few months if need be.
  • Second base: Weak.  There are some players capable of starting at second, such as Jeff Baker, Jeff Keppinger, Omar Infante, and Jamey Carroll.  Still, there's not really a difference-maker.
  • Shortstop: Weak.  A team could try a salary dump player like Rafael Furcal, or check in on Jason Bartlett and Juan Uribe.  This position does have long shot potential to become strong if J.J. Hardy, Jose Reyes, or Hanley Ramirez become available.
  • Third base: Weak.  Reynolds is probably the only quality regular.  Wilson Betemit, Edwin Encarnacion, and Ian Stewart are worth a look.  Wild card: Aramis Ramirez if he changes his stance on being traded.
  • Corner outfield: Weak.  Carlos Beltran is definitely the top name, with Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Ludwick, Jeff Francoeur, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and Scott rounding out a less-than-stellar group of bats.  Hunter Pence is the potential wild card, though the Astros are not expected to move him.
  • Center field: Strong.  Coco Crisp and Marlon Byrd are viable options, while DeJesus could be passable.  There's also the chance that Colby Rasmus, B.J. Upton, and Michael Bourn are made available.
  • Designated hitter: Weak.  Take your pick from Vladimir Guerrero, Scott, Encarnacion, Jack Cust, and Hideki Matsui, but none of the AL teams will find clear upgrades.
  • Bench: Strong.  Reed Johnson, Greg Dobbs, Laynce Nix - there should be a veteran to fill most bench needs.
  • Starting pitching: Weak.  I agree with the idea that the market mostly features fourth starters: Jeff Francis, Jason Marquis, Javier Vazquez, Aaron Harang, and the like.  Chris Capuano, Erik Bedard, and Rich Harden are more interesting when healthy.  The Dodgers and Astros could shake things up by offering Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly, Wandy Rodriguez, and Brett Myers, and the Braves and Rays could also make waves with their depth.  Five wild cards that would change everything: Ubaldo Jimenez, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Jeremy Guthrie, and Francisco Liriano.
  • Right-handed relief: Strong.  I came up with 24 viable right-handed reliever trade candidates, and some of them aren't even members of the Blue Jays or Padres.  This group features closers like Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, and Leo Nunez, plus top setup men such as Koji Uehara, Mike Adams, and Grant Balfour.
  • Left-handed relief: Weak.  For the most part, the market offers overpaid lefties like Brian Fuentes, Mike Gonzalez, and John Grabow.  But there are a few interesting choices such as Randy Choate and Tim Byrdak.
  • In general, this trade market looks especially ugly.  That can change in an instant if certain players become available, but right now middle-of-the-order bats and front-end starters appear scarce.

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