Mark Hale of the New York Post mentions some available relievers in today's column. The Mets, like many teams, may be looking to acquire bullpen help. Here are Hale's trade candidates:
Hale's source believes the Rangers would only trade one of Otsuka/Gagne, and not both. Some other "name" relievers who may be available leading up to the July 31st deadline, in my estimation:
The Royals, Devil Rays, Rangers, Nationals, and Reds are shaping up as the clear sellers in the market so far. The White Sox may be approaching that point. The NL Central is so shaky that a lot of lousy under-.500 clubs will not be packing it in. Hence the lack of Brad Lidge on this list.
The complaining in Philadelphia is going to reach a fever pitch if GM Pat Gillick doesn't shore up the bullpen soon. Charlie Manuel put it bluntly: "We've got to fix our 'pen."
So which relievers might be available, aside from the aforementioned Brad Lidge?
- There's Byung-Hyun Kim, but he'd probably be a nightmare in Philadelphia. The Rockies can't seem to pawn him off on anyone.
- The Phils would love to get Scott Linebrink, but the Padres don't have any reason to give him up and in fact might yet work out a contract extension.
- Salomon Torres should be available, but the Pirates appear to fancy themselves contenders and already weakened their pen with the Mike Gonzalez trade. Still, if they want to sell high, they should deal him before he blows a few more saves.
- The White Sox, with a deep bullpen, seemingly have a surplus. And Kenny Williams gets along with Pat Gillick. But with Bobby Jenks's status still in question, I don't see them moving anyone.
- Chad Cordero, while not a dominant closer, is certainly better than anyone the Phillies have. Top prospect Carlos Carrasco would get Jim Bowden's ear, and Michael Bourn would fit nicely at the top of Washington's lineup. Those are the two I think Bowden would want for Cordero. Jon Rauch or Luis Ayala would be nice additions as well.
- Akinori Otsuka could become available, and I'm sure he'll be a tad disgruntled from losing his job based on Eric Gagne's long-ago success. But I don't think Jon Daniels will use Gagne without a safety net.
- If I'm Dan O'Dowd, I'm shopping Brian Fuentes while he's at his peak and still affordable. The lefty saved 61 games over the last two seasons but turns 32 this year.
- Derrick Turnbow is off to a great start with four scoreless innings, six strikeouts, and most importantly, no walks. He'll make $5.5MM for 2007-08. It would be an ideal time for Doug Melvin to trade him, but I'm not sure what the Phillies could offer that the Brewers need. A smaller deal for Jose Capellan could make sense, if the Phils really think he's a back of the bullpen guy even though he couldn't crack Milwaukee's pen at all.
- The Cubs don't seem to think too highly of Mike Wuertz, but the 28 year-old quietly had a very solid season last year.
- Dustin Hermanson is out there, but he's not going to solidify this bullpen. And forget about Ugueth Urbina...he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempted murder. I'm all out of ideas as far as guys who would make the 'pen better in Philly. Did I miss anyone?
Is there anyone useful left among the free agent relievers? At this point, it's a mixed bag. Take a look at the available free agents.
Mike DeJean - He had shoulder surgery in June and barely pitched in 2006. He was useful in 2005 so someone will bring him aboard.
Dustin Hermanson - The White Sox declined their $3.65MM option on him after his back limited him to less than seven innings with the big club this year. The Yankees took a look at his medical records earlier this month.
Dan Kolb - Despite two full seasons of lousy pitching, the Cardinals, Marlins, and Rockies have been on his tail this winter.
Brian Meadows - Another guy who fell into some save opps when no one else was left. He could be decent in the NL for a million bucks.
Arthur Rhodes - To his credit, Rhodes was used in high leverage situations this year. He had a poor season in Philly, which ended with a strained elbow in September. If he can come back healthy he might be worth a look.
Scott Schoeneweis - He's left-handed, and he did good work in 15 inning stint with the Reds. Maybe the Tigers will bring him aboard.
Rudy Seanez - Seanez had a rough year with the Red Sox and Padres, but his strikeout rate remained strong. He's approaching 40 but may have a little bit left.
Jorge Sosa - Under 30, won 13 games in 2005? Why hasn't Jim Hendry thrown $10 million at this man? He doesn't really have any skills to speak of.
Ron Villone - He didn't accept the Yankees' offer of arbitration. The lefty's stats look ugly but he was excellent in the first half.
A laundry list of projects. I left Kent Mercker and Eddie Guardado off the list, as the Reds plan to invite them to spring training.
Sometimes trade deadlines come and go without any phenomenal blockbuster; such was the case last year when July's biggest deal may have been the Randy Winn trade. However, one type of player is sure to change hands - contenders will add relievers this month. Let's break down the best available.
The reliever who could make the biggest difference this year is probably Tom Gordon. Trading him now could free the Phillies from the worrisome agreement to pay him $5-7 mil per season as he nears 40 years old. Gordon has been excellent this year. A return to the Yankees has been mentioned, and the Brewers or Dodgers could certainly use him.
Joe Borowski has been quite solid in Florida, and he makes less than $400,000. JoBo's actually been a lot better than his 3.71 ERA indicates. He seems a lock to be dealt this month.
Adding a Salomon Torres or Roberto Hernandez from the Pirates doesn't seem like it could possibly improve a team's playoff chances significantly. Still, there's no reason for Dave Littlefield to keep these guys around given their salaries.
Bob Wickman, an impending free agent, has been connected to the Dodgers in rumors. LaTroy Hawkins seems like a good candidate to move. Other possibilities include Brian Meadows, Scott Williamson, Guillermo Mota, Arthur Rhodes, and Gary Majewski.