Dave Cameron of Fangraphs opines that we may be headed for the “most extreme sellers’ market in years” given the unprecedented parity in the American League and a lack of sellers in the National League. Only 8.5 games separate the best team in the AL and the second-worst, Cameron notes, and the worst club (the Athletics) can be reasonably expected to turn things around if one believes in the estimation of a context-neutral system like BaseRuns (of course, Oakland’s hole may be too deep to escape even if their luck turns). In the NL, only the Phillies and Brewers are clear sellers, and even potential sellers like the Diamondbacks and Marlins are loaded with young, controllable players as opposed to appealing veteran assets. The Reds and Rockies may eventually sell also, but they’re close enough to .500 at this time that they may wait until late in trade season to market their players. Cameron adds that if the Rox “really won’t trade Tulowitzki in this market, where there might not be another significant power hitter available, then they should just never trade him.” I’m inclined to agree that it’s difficult to imagine a better market for Colorado to move Tulowitzki, particularly if he continues a torrid hot streak that is silencing any previous concerns about his health.
A few more trade-related notes as we begin to get the time of year when teams will shift their focus to improving the 25-man roster…
- It’s no secret that the Dodgers could use a quality starter, and Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that the club is looking at the very top of the market. The top Dodgers target is Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann. Other preferred names include Johnny Cueto of the Reds and David Price of the Tigers. Of course, it’s far from clear what kind of deal would interest contenders like Washington and Detroit, and Saxon notes that Los Angeles has no reason to believe at this point that Zimmermann could be had via trade. While Cueto is obviously expected to be available, it’s hard to imagine the other two arms being dealt barring some significant change (e.g., loss of a major player to injury or a rather dramatic slide in the standings) or serious creativity in structuring a deal.
- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has seen his name in the news today, and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark adds to the reports indicating that Philadelphia is increasingly interested in moving the veteran. Rivals think that the Phils may be looking to deal Papelbon sooner rather than later in order to get out ahead of other clubs that might sell off late-inning arms — namely, the Athletics (Tyler Clippard) and Reds (Aroldis Chapman).
- It remains to be seen what kind of return the Phillies can achieve on Papelbon, but the club’s apparent willingness to keep some of the salary obligations will obviously help on the prospect side of the equation. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com attempts to gauge Papelbon’s value by looking at recent deals involving late-inning arms, indicating that the club might be interested in bolstering its organization depth with multiple prospects if it can’t pry loose a single player that it really likes.
- The Blue Jays undeniably have a need at the back of the pen, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, but the club does not seem any closer to reaching agreement on Papelbon. While the teams have indeed chatted recently, Davidi says that Philly is still not willing to take on enough of Papelbon’s salary to make an agreement palatable. And Toronto is not looking to part with its better minor league talent, perhaps buoyed by the fact that there is not a ton of demand for Papelbon. The Jays are definitely constrained by financial limitations, says Davidi, who sums it up thusly: “in all likelihood they have one, maybe two moves in them, so they can ill-afford a costly roll of the dice.”
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says that the failure of last year’s mid-season Kendrys Morales signing will not cause the team to pause in pursuing an upgrade this summer, as Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com writes. “I would do it again if I had an opportunity,” Ryan said of the Morales move. “It just didn’t work.” He went on to say that the club is looking to see what it can do to take advantage of its nice start: “We’re doing pretty good and we certainly have to have our eyes open,” Ryan said. “We’re in contention, there’s no secret here. We have an opportunity to do some things and hopefully we’ll be able to.”