Shortstop has been a tough position to fill around the league this year, as the average player at the position has averaged just an 83 wRC+. Eight teams have received composite sub-replacement-level production at short, though it’s not clear that any of those clubs — with the possible exception of the Twins (though we’ve not really heard that suggested) — are really in the market at the position. The Dodgers, Nationals, and Cubs have not fared well there, but they all seem likely to stick with their veteran incumbents or turn to other internal options.
All said, then, it’s not clear that there is significant demand at shortstop. The Mets, perhaps, are the clearest buyer, particularly now that they’ve moved Wilmer Flores to second. And the Pirates have at least a short-term need with injuries to Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer. While the Padres certainly have looked at times like they could play in that market, San Diego will (if anything) likely be weighing a long-term option given its place in the standings. Likewise, it’s possible to imagine the Reds as a future-oriented buyer. Other teams that could consider an addition, potentially while shifting their current regulars to other roles, are the Angels and Mariners (if the latter can be considered an acquiring team at this point).
Let’s see where things stand on the supply side:
Alexei Ramirez (White Sox), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies), Elvis Andrus (Rangers), Jean Segura (Brewers), Asdrubal Cabrera (Rays), Jimmy Rollins (Dodgers), Starlin Castro (Cubs), Brad Miller (Mariners), Chris Owings (Diamondbacks), Freddy Galvis (Phillies)
- The veteran Ramirez may be the single shortstop who is most likely to change hands. Now 33, Ramirez has scuffled to a .224/.251/.298 batting line after a strong campaign last year, and he’s playing on a not-insignificant $10MM salary this season. (Plus, his $10MM option for next year comes with a $1MM buyout). Ramirez makes sense for a team in need of a veteran presence, but he doesn’t have the kind of cachet he might have carried last summer.
- Since hip surgery last year, Tulo has not matched his career output — not to mention his huge first half of 2014 — but he’s still been productive and remains a top-end talent. But with nearly 31 years under his belt and $98MM left on his contract (through 2020, plus an option), it’s far from clear that other teams will give up the kind of premium prospect value that Colorado would demand to even consider moving its franchise icon. And he has made clear that he won’t be publicly requesting a deal.
- Andrus’s struggles have been so pronounced that his $120MM extension (which just kicked in this year) now looks like one of the worst obligations in baseball. He’s not without function on a big league roster, and has yet to turn 27, but at this point Texas will almost certainly hang on and hope for a turnaround before even considering an attempt to move him.
- Segura is controllable through 2018, but he’s about to start getting paid and the Brewers don’t have an immediate replacement. He hasn’t been all that productive since his breakout first half in 2013, so it’s hard to see another club doing what would be necessary to pry him loose from Milwaukee.
- Heading into the season, the major question was whether Cabrera could play a productive enough shortstop to match his sturdy (if unspectacular bat). That script has flipped thus far. Regardless, it seems unlikely that the Rays will move him absent a total collapse over the next ten days.
- Rollins is in an analogous position to Ramirez — an aging, expensive veteran who hasn’t matched his 2014 performance — except that he plays for a definite contender. It would take a bold stroke for the Dodgers to move their shortstop and replace him with younger, higher-upside options, but it isn’t entirely out of the question.
- We’ve heard chatter about the possibility of a trade involving Castro for some time, but nothing has gotten done and his value is down after a mediocre first half. While the solid play of Addison Russell makes it plausible for him to take over at short, the team may not be comfortable relying on other young infielders at second. The odds of an offseason deal seem much better.
- Miller has had his ups and downs, particularly with the glove, and may offer more future than present value. He looked more like a trade piece when it seemed that Seattle might be a buyer than he does with the team struggling to gain traction.
- The Diamondbacks continue to surprise, plugging the less-touted Nick Ahmed at shortstop and seemingly branding him as the long-term solution there. Owings, 23, has not matched his promising previous output in the big leagues, but could have more value to another club that wants to us him at short.
- Galvis is cheap, young, versatile defensively, and reasonably useful. And the Phillies are obvious sellers. But the club may see more value in keeping him on board as a flexible stop-gap than in achieving some relatively meager return.
Clint Barmes & Alexi Amarista (Padres), Jonathan Villar & Marwin Gonzalez (Astros), Eduardo Escobar & Eduardo Nunez (Twins), Ruben Tejada (Mets), Andres Blanco (Phillies), Pedro Ciriaco (Braves), Mike Aviles (Indians)
The first three teams listed possess a series of utility types that are probably available and could conceivably provide some function to other clubs in need of a utility option or temporary fill-in at short. The veteran Barmes has paired a solid .284/.324/.440 slash with his typically sturdy defense, while Villar and Gonzalez may have some upside left that another club might take a chance on (with Houston soon to be lacking a need for either with the ascent of Carlos Correa and nearing return of Jed Lowrie). Nunez has put up career-best batting numbers but has done so only in part-time duty. While Aviles might be a useful veteran piece, it’s unclear that he’d be moved with his daughter dealing with serious health questions in Cleveland.
Currently in the Minors
Players like Marrero, Ramirez, Baez, and Alcantara offer some upside and appear blocked (to greater or lesser extent) within their organizations. They could be involved in deals that send back some prospect value for likely sellers (in the case of the first two) or dangled as bait for MLB-level upgrades (in the case of the two Cubbies). The other players listed look more like utility options at this point, but could conceivably change hands.