Potential Sellers Rumors


If The Marlins Become Sellers

The Marlins have lost seven in a row, and they're now 6.5 games out in the wild card.  It's time to think about selling.

Nunez

  • Closer Leo Nunez (pictured) has battled a stiff back lately and endured a few rough outings in the last month or so.  His numbers remain strong overall and he's under team control through 2012, so a quality prospect or two could be extracted.
  • The Marlins don't have impending free agents in their bullpen, but I could picture a few arbitration eligible types being available.  That might mean Clay Hensley if he returns strong in July, or Brian Sanches and Edward Mujica.  Don't expect the Marlins to go overboard dismantling their pen though, as improving it was a major focus of last offseason.
  • Omar Infante, a big part of the Dan Uggla trade, has struggled to a .253/.297/.306 line on the season.  If he picks it up a bit there could be mild interest in the versatile 29-year-old.
  • Bench players Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs could become available.  Dobbs' bat was quite useful in the first two months of the season.
  • I liked the Javier Vazquez signing at the time, but he has a 6.85 ERA to date and hasn't shown much in the way of improvement.  At $7MM, a release is more likely than a trade.
  • Check out other potential sellers posts here.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.



If The Nationals Become Sellers

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo made one significant trade last July, sending closer Matt Capps to the Twins for catcher Wilson Ramos.  After a hot start the 23-year-old Ramos is hitting an acceptable .248/.320/.410 on the season, and he belongs in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion with Danny Espinosa, Darwin Barney, Josh Collmenter, Brandon BeachyFernando Salas, Craig Kimbrel, Dillon Gee, and Mark Melancon.  Let's see who Rizzo might part with this year, with his team ten games out in the NL East and 6.5 out in the wild card.

Marquis

  • Trading Jason Marquis (pictured) at the deadline would enable the Nationals to save about $2.4MM in salary.  Marquis is showing career-best control, and an ERA under 4.50 from here on out would be a reasonable expectation.  Though Marquis would probably be willing to turn down an arbitration offer again to help the team, he's nowhere near Type B statusLivan Hernandez is a free agent after the season as well, but given his ties to the organization he is more likely to stay put.
  • Ivan Rodriguez's value can't be quantified by his .200/.273/.322 batting line, or at least that's probably what Rizzo is telling teams about the catcher.  Rizzo said last month he'd want some kind of long-term piece for Pudge.  Rodriguez is earning $3MM this year.
  • Reliever Todd Coffey, non-tendered by the Brewers last offseason, has a 2.13 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9, and 44.1% groundball rate in 25 1/3 innings this year.  The Rangers appear interested, and Coffey should be popular at the deadline.  He's a free agent after the season and looks like a Type B in the National League.  Coffey is earning $1.35MM this year plus incentives.
  • Laynce Nix is an intriguing platoon bat, as he's hitting .275/.324/.506 with 28 home runs in 613 plate appearances against right-handed pitching since the beginning of the 2009 season. Type B status is a possibility once he reaches free agency after the season.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr., Rick Ankiel, Alex Cora, Matt Stairs are veterans on one-year deals who could be shipped to contenders for bench roles.
  • Click here to read articles about other potential sellers.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.



If The Royals Become Sellers

The Royals sit at 29-37, seven games out and in fourth place in the AL Central.  The offense has been respectable, but the rotation has not.  GM Dayton Moore moved a couple of veterans with expiring contracts at last year's deadline in Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth; let's see who might be on the trade block this summer. 

Francis

  • Jeff Francis (pictured) is the team's nominal ace; he owns a 4.40 ERA in 14 starts, and his peripheral stats mostly support that ERA despite a low strikeout rate.  With a $2MM salary and $2MM in incentives, Francis would fit into any team's budget.  However, the Royals may not be inclined to subtract him from what is already the league's worst rotation.  If you're wondering about draft pick compensation, Francis is nowhere near Type B.
  • Kyle Davies and Bruce Chen are both on the DL currently, though they could return within a week.  Neither pitcher would really bolster a contender's rotation except perhaps at the fifth spot.  At best, the Royals could try to dump their salaries at the deadline to save about $1.7MM.
  • Jason Kendall is currently on the 60-day DL recovering from September shoulder surgery, so the Royals would need to clear a 40-man roster spot to activate him.  He could be back in mid-July.  Like Davies and Chen, the only reason to trade him is to save a little money.  Backup catcher Matt Treanor could be expendable, though he won't bring much in return.
  • Jeff Francoeur has some power, hitting .275/.316/.462 on the season.  As an affordable player who hits lefties, Francoeur would make sense for the Phillies.  The trade return would be minimal, I'd imagine, but maybe Moore could package him with Francis for some club in the vein of last year's deadline deal.
  • Melky Cabrera comes with the mild incentive of being arbitration eligible after the season.  He's showing good pop with a .453 slugging percentage, and makes just $1.25MM.  He's also capable of playing center field.
  • Wilson Betemit is useful as well, as he can play all around the infield and is hitting .289/.348/.411 on the season.  He's cheap, too.  The Marlins were said to be tracking him last month.
  • We've covered the AthleticsCubs, Padres, Pirates, Twins, and Astros as potential sellers previously.



If The Athletics Become Sellers

Having lost 12 of their last 13 games, the A's are eight games back in the AL West.  It's time to discuss their potential trade offerings.

  • David DeJesus has been playing right field in recent years, but he has plenty of experience at the other outfield positions.  At .239/.319/.373 in 236 plate appearances, his contract year has not gone as hoped.  He did hit well in May.  DeJesus is affordable at $6MM, and will appeal to any contender seeking a top of the order outfielder who bats left-handed.  Our latest Elias rankings have DeJesus on the cusp of Type A status in the AL, but I'm not sure the A's would offer him arbitration.
  • Second baseman Mark Ellis is on the DL with a strained right hamstring.  His $6MM salary will be prohibitive unless he starts raking upon his return.  With Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore joining Oakland's second base mix, shopping Ellis makes sense if he gets healthy.
  • Left fielder Josh Willingham is another $6MM Athletic.  At .235/.315/.423, he's having the worst year of his career as he heads toward free agency.  Willingham is more firmly a Type A free agent than DeJesus, and given how the free agent market values power an arbitration offer seems more feasible for him.  Willingham should be one of the better available right-handed bats.
  • The A's could break up their entire starting outfield, as Coco Crisp ($5.75MM salary) is also an impending free agent.  Like Willingham, Crisp is helping some fantasy teams offensively but is not getting on base thus far.  Crisp's ability to play center field sets him apart.  The Braves are often mentioned as a potential fit.
  • Hideki Matsui might be tough to move, as a DH hitting .216/.268/.332.  If he doesn't show signs of life over the next six weeks, a release is more likely than a trade.
  • First baseman/outfielder Conor Jackson could be a complementary piece for someone if the A's assume part of his $3.2MM salary.  Jackson can still get on base a little bit but his modest early-career power seems gone.
  • Relievers are always a trade deadline hot commodity, and Oakland's pen has a 3.25 ERA despite their leading innings guy, Brian Fuentes, checking in at 4.71.  The A's might have a chance to bail on Fuentes' contract, which pays $5MM next year.  Their other big relief signing, Grant Balfour, has produced better results despite shaky control; he earns $4MM in 2012.  Both relievers have club options for '13.  Michael Wuertz, who has been excellent, has a club option for '12 and a more modest salary.  The A's could also consider moving a pair of arbitration eligible relievers in Craig Breslow and Brad Ziegler.
  • We've covered the Cubs, Padres, Pirates, Twins, and Astros as potential sellers previously.



If The Cubs Become Sellers

At 23-30, the Cubs are 8.5 games back in the NL Central and eight back in the wild card.  Their chance of making the playoffs is 1.1%, according to Baseball Prospectus.  The team's front office has to start thinking about a potentially huge offseason and how they can improve and free up even more cash for 2012.  Which Cubs might be available this summer?

  • Alfonso Soriano, currently on the DL with a strained left quad, always has to be presumed available.  The 35-year-old left fielder is showing good pop, but with a walk rate down to 3.2% he's a one-trick pony.  He earns $18MM per year through 2014, a contract I'd probably deem immovable if the Blue Jays hadn't managed to send Vernon Wells packing.  Soriano has a full no-trade clause.
  • Also close to immovable is righty Carlos Zambrano, who earns about $18MM this year and next.  He's pitched OK, with a reduced strikeout rate but the best control of his career.  Pitching is always coveted at the trade deadline, but the Cubs would need Zambrano's consent to make a deal.
  • Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been healthy this season but his power has been missing.  He earns $14.6MM this year and his $16MM option for 2012 vests upon a trade.  He also has full no-trade rights.  A trade could be worked out if Ramirez displays power over the next six weeks or so, consents to a trade, and waives the '12 option.  Stranger things have happened.
  • Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome has trade protection as well.  At .432 he has the fourth-best OBP in the National League, though he has only six extra-base hits.  He could help a lot of teams, but is known for his fast starts and has a troublesome $13.5MM salary.
  • Starter Ryan Dempster saw his ERA top out at 9.58 on April 28th.  He then turned in a 3.08 mark in May.  Dempster has a $14MM player option for 2012 with no buyout.  This is a tricky one - he could get more total dollars and years on the open market, but he has a strong relationship with the Cubs and he wouldn't find a $14MM salary.  Dempster must approve any trade.
  • First baseman Carlos Pena had an awful April, but smacked seven home runs in May.  He's earning $10MM on a one-year deal and could be one of the better bats available.
  • Southpaw John Grabow is earning $4.8MM this year.  He hasn't been anything special against lefties and hasn't been used as a specialist.  He'd be hard to move.
  • Reliever Kerry Wood has been decent this year and would be a popular trade deadline target.  However, he took a big discount to come back to Chicago at $1.5MM, so he'll probably only be dealt if that's his preference.
  • Extra outfielder Reed Johnson is having a strong year in a limited sample, but he's on the DL due to back spasms.  If healthy, the Cubs figure to be open to moving him.
  • The Cubs have a lot of overpaid, somewhat useful players.  Guys like Dempster and Pena could generate a lot of interest, but in general GM Jim Hendry would have to assume salary to have another active trade deadline.  The Cubs were willing to eat $4.2MM in salary to move Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, and Ryan Theriot last year.  Would Hendry resist another fire sale, knowing that those moves could be his last as Cubs GM?  Would the Cubs install someone else to conduct the proceedings, as the Diamondbacks did last year?
  • We've covered the Padres, Pirates, Twins, and Astros as potential sellers as well.



If The Padres Become Sellers

Having lost their last three games, the Padres are 19-28, in last place and 8.5 games out in the NL West.  They're second to last in the league with 3.51 runs scored per game, though at 4.40 the offense has been much better in May.  The Padres' starters carry an unspectacular 4.16 ERA, while their bullpen remains on top at 2.30.

Padres GM Jed Hoyer tried for the best of both worlds during the offseason, trading his best player in Adrian Gonzalez while also importing a bunch of bounceback candidate veterans in hopes of remaining competitive.  Perhaps 2010 was just an anomaly in the Padres' rebuilding process, and Hoyer will continue thinking long-term when the trade deadline approaches in a couple of months.  In that case, who might be available?

  • Closer Heath Bell sports a 1.13 ERA on the season.  Like Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan, the 33-year-old Bell has traded a bunch of strikeouts for an improved groundball rate this season.  Bell is earning $7.5MM and will be eligible for free agency after the season; there's a good chance his team can offer arbitration and net a pair of draft picks.  The Nationals were able to extract highly-rated catching prospect Wilson Ramos from the Twins for closer Matt Capps last year.  Capps came with an additional year of control but without Bell's pedigree.  Still, even an Octavio Dotel rental netted the Pirates James McDonald and Andrew Lambo.
  • I can picture the Padres dealing Bell or Mike Adams, though moving both would be bold.  There's a case to be made that Adams has more trade value - he owns a 0.87 ERA through 20 2/3 innings, has much stronger peripheral stats than Bell, and is under team control for 2012 at a salary unlikely to reach $5MM.  Chad Qualls sits a level below Bell and Adams and figures to be dealt.  He's not striking batters out, but he is keeping the ball on the ground and it's worked so far.
  • Ryan Ludwick owns a .224/.304/.373 line in 425 Padres plate appearances dating back to last year, work that would get most players designated for assignment.  Silver lining: he's at .289/.331/.526 since April 20th.  If Ludwick maintains that production over the next two months, he'll be one of the better bats available and should net the Padres a decent prospect. 
  • Brad Hawpe has a similar story, in that he's heated up this month.  Hawpe is cheaper, but he also carries more of a platoon bat reputation and has been shielded from lefties this year.  The other half of that platoon, Jorge Cantu, has been terrible and might not make it to the trade deadline.
  • Padres prospect Jedd Gyorko is doing major damage in High-A ball, though they'll probably still want Chase Headley around in the $4MM range next year.  Headley, who ranks fifth in the league with 27 walks, would be worth listening on now though.  He doesn't have the power of a typical third baseman, but there's not much better on the trade market aside from perhaps Wilson Betemit.
  • Aaron Harang has a 4.31 ERA in nine starts on the season, with peripheral stats similar to last year.  Only three of his starts have come away from PETCO, and he pitched well in two of them.  Harang has shown the skills of a 4.50 ERA pitcher, though that was true last year as well.  The difference is that he's earning $4MM this year instead of $14.5MM, so a contender should be willing to take a flier.
  • I've analyzed four other potential sellers so far: the Astros, Twins, Diamondbacks, and Pirates.



If The Pirates Become Sellers

The Pirates haven't finished above .500 since 1992, back when Jose Tabata was a toddler.  They've lost six in a row, so that goal may be slipping out of reach for 2011.  If GM Neal Huntington decides to trade veterans for prospects, as he has many times before, who might be available?

  • Catcher Chris Snyder is earning $5.75MM this year and has a $750K buyout due after the season.  Ryan Doumit is at $5.1MM with a $500K buyout coming.  The D'Backs picked up part of the tab on Snyder, some of which the Pirates might have to send along to another team if they wish to move him again.  I think Doumit will continue to be the catcher they prefer to trade, and he is healthy and hitting currently.  Of course, Doumit hasn't caught 800 innings in a season since '08.
  • Southpaw Paul Maholm has a reasonable $5.75MM salary, plus a $750K buyout after the season if his option is declined.  The groundballer owns a solid 3.67 ERA through nine starts, six of them quality.  If he keeps up the good work it'll take more than salary relief to acquire him, though as ESPN's Buster Olney notes, he's a guy who "might not be suited to go head-to-head with teams in the AL East."
  • First baseman Lyle Overbay might be best-served as a platoon bat.  Another impending free agent, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, has been showing signs of life in May.  The pair make about $7MM this year, and trading them would be about unloading some salary. 
  • Another position player, Garrett Jones, projects to be arbitration eligible after the season as a Super Two.  He has a .281/.363/.496 career line against righties, which would be helpful to teams such as the Dodgers, Athletics, Phillies, and Tigers.  Between his low salary, years of control, and ability to help as a platoon bat, Jones has trade value.
  • Kevin Correia and Matt Diaz were perhaps the headliners in the Pirates' offseason, signing two-year free agent deals.  Correia could be dealt for something useful in theory, though his 4.87 SIERA is more representative than his 3.97 ERA if his peripherals don't improve.
  • The Pirates' bullpen has a solid 3.34 ERA, though that's only good for 10th in the NL.  Potential targets: closer Joel Hanrahan, lefty Joe Beimel, and righties Jose Veras and Chris Resop.  Veras and Resop are tied for fifth in the league in relief strikeouts with 26 each, and Veras' K/9 ranks fourth in the league.  Hanrahan's strikeout rate has oddly dropped, but groundballs are way up, walks are down, he's throwing harder, and he's 11 for 11 in save opportunities.  He's earning $1.4MM this year and is under team control through 2013.  July might be the time to sell high and maximize his value.
  • We've previously tackled the Diamondbacks, Twins, and Astros as potential sellers, so check out those posts.



If The Diamondbacks Become Sellers

The Diamondbacks currently sit at 17-22, in fourth place in the NL West and five games back of the Giants.  The deficit doesn't seem insurmountable, but the Baseball Prospectus playoff odds report assigns the team a meager 0.8% chance.  If GM Kevin Towers commits to selling in a couple of months, who might be available?

  • Second baseman Kelly Johnson belongs at the top of the list, given his $5.85MM salary and impending free agency.  However, Johnson is hitting .185/.256/.308 in 162 plate appearances and leads the NL in strikeouts.  Even if he starts hitting, this will probably be a salary dump for Arizona at best.
  • 29-year-old southpaw Joe Saunders is having a rough year, with a well-deserved 5.48 ERA through eight starts.  There's a good chance he's non-tendered after the season.  If he can put up a sub-5.00 ERA over the next two months the Diamondbacks might be able to save a few million on the contract.  Lefty Zach Duke, recovering from a broken hand, may not make his season debut until late May or early June.  If he pitches well in June, he could be a more affordable alternative to Saunders.
  • There's an argument for trading shortstop Stephen Drew this summer.  It'd probably make the team worse in 2012, but Drew's trade value could be higher than Jose Reyes' since the Arizona shortstop is under control for next season.  Towers was willing to listen on Justin Upton during the offseason, and I think he'll field calls on Drew in the coming months.  If Drew can be had, Towers would have to listen on catcher Miguel Montero as well, as Montero is also under team control through '12.
  • Closer J.J. Putz is another solid player the D'Backs have to consider moving even if it hurts in the short-term.  Putz is under contract for '12 and possibly '13.  He's nine for nine in save opportunities in a world where Matt Capps can net a team Wilson Ramos.
  • The Diamondbacks have a slew of additional veterans who wouldn't net more than salary relief in trade, assuming they're even around in July: Melvin Mora, Armando Galarraga, Aaron Heilman, Xavier Nady, Geoff Blum, Henry Blanco, Russell Branyan, and Willie Bloomquist.



If The Twins Become Sellers

Baseball Prospectus' postseason odds report gives the Twins a 7.6% chance of making the playoffs.  They're currently 11 games out in the AL Central; no team is further from first place.  I'm not counting them out - Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Delmon Young, and Jim Thome will come off the DL at some point, and I don't think the Twins truly have the worst rotation in the American League.  Still, this is a club no one considered a possible seller before the season.  What could they offer a few months from now?

  • Relievers Joe Nathan and Matt Capps make more than $20MM combined this year, so trading them at the deadline would save the Twins nearly $7MM.  Problem is, Nathan has been used in mop-up situations lately and he'll need to string together a few good months to have trade value.  Even then, most teams will not be able to take on his entire contract.  It's been an odd year for Capps, who's allowing a lot of flyballs, no walks, few hits, and few strikeouts.  Still, he's five for six in save opportunities and someone might overpay for him again.
  • The Twins exercised a pretty steep $10.5MM option on Michael Cuddyer in November, and so far the decision has not paid off.  He will also need to build up trade value.
  • Carl Pavano's strikeout rate continued to slip this year, but maybe he can right the ship and pitch to a low 4.00s ERA from here on out.  Plenty of teams would like to acquire an innings guy, but would the Twins prefer to keep Pavano at $8.5MM for 2012?
  • Outfielder/DH Jason Kubel won't keep hitting .347, but he's having a great year and is only earning $5.25MM.  Maybe the Twins want to re-sign him, but he could fetch something nice on the trade market.  Assuming his back is OK, plenty of teams will be interested in renting Jim Thome as well.
  • The no-hitter notwithstanding, trading Francisco Liriano anytime soon would be selling low.  When he's right he's what every contender craves: a front-end starter who is more than a rental.  A few months ago trading Liriano seemed crazy, and it's possible the Twins still consider him integral for 2012.
  • Kevin Slowey recently recovered from a shoulder strain, but he's still mired in long relief for the Twins after making 28 starts in 2010.  He's more affordable than Pavano and is under team control through 2013.



If The Astros Become Sellers

Today is April 19th and the Astros are four games out in the NL Central.  It seems rash to count them out entirely, but Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report gives the team a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs.  Let's see who they could offer in trades a few months from now.  The remaining salary figure is calculated as one-third of this year's salary plus any additional salaries and buyouts, so we're assuming players would be dealt around the July 31st trade deadline.

  • Carlos Lee, LF/1B: $24.7MM owed through 2012.  Since September of 2009, Lee is hitting .248/.290/.415 in 839 plate appearances.  He seems more likely to be released than traded.  Contenders might view Lee as nothing more than a bench bat, a role with which he could be unhappy.
  • Wandy Rodriguez, SP: Up to $38.3MM owed through 2014.  Since Wandy is paid only $7MM this year, he'd fit into most contenders' 2011 budgets.  His '13 club option becomes a player option with a trade, the salary of which is reflected in the $38.3MM figure.  If the 32-year-old is in the midst of a disappointing but not terrible season, the Astros could have a way of getting out of the contract.  If he's pitching well, the Astros could get solid players in return.
  • Brett Myers, SP: $16.3MM owed through 2012; could become $23.3MM through 2013 if option vests.  Like Rodriguez, Myers is earning only $7MM this year.  At the least he's an innings eater, and the Astros could extract a decent bounty from a desperate team at the trade deadline.  GM Ed Wade holds a couple of excellent trade chips in Rodriguez and Myers, though it remains to be seen if they'll become available.
  • Hunter Pence, OF: $2.3MM owed through 2011; arbitration eligible for 2012 and '13.  Moving Pence would be unpopular and could decimate an already-questionable offense.  Still, after winning his arbitration case in February, Pence is in line for $10MM+ in '12 and even more in '13.  If the Astros don't see him as part of their long-term plans, the best time to move him is this summer.
  • Brandon Lyon, RP: $7.25MM through 2012.  The Astros would have an inexperienced bullpen without Lyon, but Wade has to be willing to make short-term sacrifices.  If Lyon is pitching decently in July the Astros have a chance to get out of a contract that makes little sense for them.
  • Michael Bourn, CF: $1.5MM through 2011; arbitration eligible for '12.  Credible center fielders are hard to come by, and as a Scott Boras client Bourn probably won't be signing an extension with the Astros.  The Nationals could be a match.
  • Clint Barmes, SS: $1.3MM through 2011.  Barmes would like an extension, and considers himself an everyday player.  He'd need to play well for a few months to establish trade value.
  • Bill Hall, 2B: $1.25MM through 2011.  Hall is only through about a tenth of his season, but he'll need to pick it up to prove he should be a regular.  An acquiring team might want him back in a super-utility role.
  • Jeff Keppinger, IF: $778K through 2011; arbitration eligible for 2012.  Keppinger had foot surgery in January and may make his season debut in May.  He's probably the Astro most likely to be traded this summer.









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