Trade Market For Lefty Relievers

Having lost veterans Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to elbow injuries, the Braves are expected to be in the hunt for a lefty reliever, confirmed Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Rosenthal notes that Miami's Mike Dunn would be ideal; Atlanta traded him to the Marlins in the Dan Uggla deal several years ago.  Dunn, who turns 28 on Thursday, has pushed his walk rate down a bit and is getting more groundballs, which partially explains his 1.74 ERA.  He's under team control through 2016, and the Marlins should be able to command a strong return on the trade market.  Which other lefty relievers might become available this summer?

  • Darren Oliver and Brett Cecil, Blue Jays.  Oliver, 42, hasn't been effective against left-handed hitters this year, allowing 14 hits out of 36 batters faced.  Cecil has dominated same-side batters, but he is under team control through 2016 and would be much harder to acquire.
  • J.P. Howell, Dodgers.  Howell and his 87 mile-an-hour heater have been extremely effective against lefty hitters.  He has a $2.85MM base salary plus incentives.
  • Wesley Wright and Travis Blackley, Astros.  Erik Bedard is another name to watch here, though he's currently in the Astros' rotation and might be needed there.  Wright has been ineffective against lefties, while Blackley has been OK.
  • Brian Duensing, Twins.  Glen Perkins could be very popular on the trade market, but he's signed potentially through 2016 and I'm not sure the Twins would be willing to trade their closer.  Duensing has been very good against left-handed hitters and is under team control through 2015.
  • James Russell, Cubs.  Russell may be the prize among left-handed relievers.  His numbers have moved in the right direction this year.  He's dominated lefty hitters and is usable against right-handed ones.  He's under team control through 2015, so the Cubs will be in no rush to move him.
  • Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez, Brewers.  Gorzelanny has a 2.30 ERA on the season, a deceptive number given his low strikeout rate, high walk rate, and proclivity toward the longball.  Signed through 2014, the Brewers would do well to clear his contract.  Gonzalez, also signed as a free agent during the offseason, needs to be kept far away from right-handed hitters.  His 4.5 K/BB ratio against left-handed batters is promising, but he has been hittable.
  • Charlie Furbush and Oliver Perez, Mariners.  Walks have been a problem for Furbush, who is under team control through 2017.  Perez has at least limited free passes against lefty batters, whom the impending free agent has dominated.
  • Antonio Bastardo, Phillies.  Bastardo has allowed a pair of home runs among his 25 left-handed hitters faced, which continues to be a problem for him given his inability to get groundballs.  He's under team control through 2015.
  • Scott Downs, Angels.  The L.A. teams certainly aren't ready to punt on the season, but one or both may be in two months.  Downs, 37, is earning $5MM in the last year of his contract.  He's got one of the best groundball rates you'll find, and remains tough on left-handed hitters.
  • Matt Thornton, White Sox.  Unlike most left-handed relievers, Thornton sits around 94 miles per hour with his fastball.  The 36-year-old earns $5.5MM this year and has a $6MM club option for 2014.  He battled elbow inflammation in February and strikeouts have eluded him so far, depressing his trade value.
  • Joe Thatcher, Padres.  Thatcher has been hittable against lefties, but otherwise effective.  He's under team control through 2014.
  • Marc Rzepczynski, Cardinals.  Rzepczynski had his fire questioned by GM John Mozeliak, and despite a $1.1MM salary he and his 7.88 ERA were demoted to Triple-A in late April.  Lefties have hit him well at that level too, so the Cardinals would be selling low to move him this summer.

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