Multiple third base options were traded in the summer months of 2013, including veterans Michael Young, Alberto Callaspo, Juan Francisco and Jamey Carroll. This season’s crop of third base trade candidates includes some more impressive names, though it’s far from a certainty that they’ll all be moved. Here’s a look at some of the names that could be circulating on the rumor mill in the coming weeks…
Chase Headley (Padres), Martin Prado (D’Backs), Juan Uribe (Dodgers), Luis Valbuena (Cubs), Cody Asche (Phillies), Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Trevor Plouffe (Twins), Will Middlebrooks (Red Sox), Casey McGehee (Marlins), Matt Dominguez (Astros), Conor Gillaspie (White Sox)
- Headley’s name has been on the rumor circuit for years, and with three months to go before free agency, he could finally get dealt. Unfortunately for San Diego, he’s hitting a career-worst .226/.296/.350 and is dealing with back issues. He’s hit well since an epidural injection, however, and the Blue Jays are said to have interest.
- The 30-year-old Prado is owed about $27MM through the end of the 2016 season and isn’t hitting much in 2014, but he’s an excellent defender at third base and a Swiss army knife on the field, capable of playing third, short, second and left field.
- Uribe’s a bit of an out-of-the-box suggestion, admittedly, but the Dodgers could prefer to slide Hanley Ramirez over to third and go with a defensively superior option like Erisbel Arruebarrena at short. Uribe is hitting well but has missed time on the DL and is owed $6.5MM next year in his age-36 season.
- Valbuena is playing well, but he’s not a long-term piece for the Cubs which makes him plenty susceptible to a trade. The 28-year-old is controlled through 2016 and earning just $1.7MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the first time last winter. The Cubs’ wealth of infield prospects makes Valbuena expendable.
- Asche’s another unconventional trade candidate, as it stands to reason that the rebuilding Phillies would want to keep their young, controllable assets. However top prospect Maikel Franco is a better hitter and blocked at first base by Ryan Howard’s immovable contract. The Phils could conceivably dangle Asche in an attempt to acquire a young outfield option, then go with Franco at third to make the team younger.
- Beltre is among the best all-around players in the game and would require a king’s ransom to pry away from the Rangers, who hope to contend in 2015 when the club is healthy. GM Jon Daniels has said he hasn’t considered trading the potential Hall of Famer, so a deal seems unlikely. Still, with Joey Gallo’s 75- to 80-grade power looming in the minors, the Rangers do have a fallback option if they’re blown away by a Beltre offer.
- The 28-year-old Plouffe is providing league-average offense with improved defense. A former first-round pick, he’s under control through 2017 as a Super Two player. The Twins’ long-term solution at third is Miguel Sano, so it stands to reason that Plouffe could be had in the right deal now, with one of Eduardo Nunez or Eduardo Escobar playing stopgap while Sano mends from Tommy John surgery.
- Middlebrooks is currently on the shelf with a fractured finger, but he’s on a minor league rehab assignment and should be healthy by month’s end. He’s shown flashes of his high potential but has been inconsistent, and with Garin Cecchini nearly ready for the show as well, Boston could entertain offers on Middlebrooks, though the Sox would admittedly be selling very low.
- As of this writing, it’s not that likely that the highly affordable McGehee ($1.1MM salary) will be on the move. The Marlins are still within striking distance in the NL East, and as such aren’t motivated to deal McGehee. However, an extended skid for the Fish could make McGehee, who is under team control through 2015, an attractive commodity for contenders.
- The Astros have shown a willingness to deal virtually anyone in recent years (with a few notable exceptions), and while spring extension talks with Dominguez suggest they’d like to keep him long-term, the fact that a deal didn’t happen could make them more willing to trade him. They’d be selling low, as Dominguez isn’t hitting much this year. He did have a similarly poor first half in 2013 before finishing strong.
- Gillaspie has four more years of team control remaining and is hitting well in 2014, while offseason acquisition Matt Davidson is floundering in Triple-A. That may make it tough for GM Rick Hahn to deal him, but Gillaspie’s name hasn’t been included among Chicago’s four supposedly unavailable players. The Sox may look at Gillaspie and see unsustainable production (.370 BABIP) coupled with platoon issues and think this is a good time to sell high.
The above players are all capable of playing multiple positions, though some would be tougher to acquire than others. Turner has been an excellent signing for the Dodgers, who are firmly in contention, but they have the infield depth to move him and/or Figgins if it improves another area of the team. Wheeler has plenty of team control remaining, but Nolan Arenado is clearly the long-term mainstay at the hot corner. Both of the Twins’ Eduardos are playing well this season, and I’d imagine Escobar would be the more difficult of the two to acquire, given his superior glove and extra team control.