It's never too early to try to predict which players will be traded in July. Here's a look at American League possibilities.
This is not meant as a slight toward the Orioles, Indians, Royals, and Mariners, but their chances of contention in 2011 appear slim. Given their division, the Blue Jays face long odds as well. Anything is possible; I pegged the Padres as deadline sellers before the 2010 season.
- If the Orioles shift into sell mode, veterans on one-year deals or in the last year of their contracts such as Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara, Justin Duchscherer, and Cesar Izturis could be available. Though they're controlled beyond 2011, Luke Scott, Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Gregg, Josh Bell, Nolan Reimold, and Felix Pie might not be off-limits either. Keep in mind that if the Orioles are hovering around .500 at the trade deadline they may decide to keep everyone or even add a piece.
- Grady Sizemore headlines the Indians' list of movable trade chips, if he has a solid, healthy first half. Fausto Carmona would be tougher to pry loose, while recent signees Austin Kearns, Chad Durbin, Orlando Cabrera, and Nick Johnson should be available. Shin-Soo Choo, though under team control through 2013, could command multiple top prospects if the Indians decide to cash him in.
- Joakim Soria could reasonably be part of the next good Royals club, so he probably won't be available. Jason Kendall, Kyle Davies, Jeff Francoeur, Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis, Robinson Tejeda, Melky Cabrera, and Wilson Betemit should be fair game.
- The Mariners recently stated they won't be trading Felix Hernandez. Instead, Chone Figgins, Jack Wilson, David Aardsma, Jack Cust, Brandon League, Chris Ray, Manny Delcarmen, and Erik Bedard could find themselves in the rumor mill.
- The Blue Jays held on to their relievers last summer. If they lessen their demands this year, they could offer Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel, and Shawn Camp. Juan Rivera, Aaron Hill, and Edwin Encarnacion seem like potential trade candidates as well.
- Kelly Shoppach and James Shields of the Rays, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron of the Red Sox, Michael Young of the Rangers, and Edwin Jackson of the White Sox could be trade chips even with these teams in contention. And don't forget the possibility of would-be contenders flopping badly and selling off parts, similar to the '10 Mariners.
- One thing you will not notice in this group of speculative trade candidates for the American League is a frontline starting pitcher. Even identifying a good surprise candidate is tough, unless things go awry for the Twins and they field offers for Francisco Liriano.