Thursday, June 28, 2012

Who's Buying, Who's Selling, and Who Fits Where

    With the addition of the 5th wildcard team in each league it’s getting harder to determine who will be a buyer and who’ll be selling at the deadline, but lets see what we can come up with. There are a few circumstances that surround each team and being either a buyer or seller, and how much activity they will potentially show at the trade deadline.

To be a buyer a team will need some combination of 3 things:
  • They need to be willing to trade either from a point of strength, or from organizational depth
  • They need to be in contention for a playoff spot
  • Ownership needs to be willing to absorb some amount of payroll

To be a seller a team needs a combination of:
  • They need to be out of contention
  • They need to have players worth trading despite their position in the standings
  • They need to be out of contention for reasons beyond injuries to key players
  • They need to be willing to temporarily take a step back to grow as a team

So of the 30 teams we’ve got some clear buyers and some clear sellers but we’ve got a lot of teams on the fringes making them more or less toss ups. Our clear sellers will be teams like the Mariners, Twins, Padres, Rockies, Cubs, and the Astros. They are all teams who either have expiring contracts and are out of contention, have needs that far outweigh the roster they have developed, or are looking to shed some payroll commitments quickly.

I’d  expect to see Denard Span, Justin Morneau, Francisco Liriano, and Matt Capps all floated as possible trade candidates over the next few weeks for the Twins.

The Mariners may look to move players like Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Franklin Gutierrez, and of course there will be the annual Felix Hernandez rumors.

The Padres will probably look to move Carlos Quentin, Mark Kotsay, Huston Street, and possibly a starting pitcher not named Cory Luebke.

The Rox may have to decide on what they can get in return for Carlos Gonzalez, and may want to explore trading Jason Giambi, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie’s trade value is at an all time low, but he’s got an extra year of team control, so if he’s able to make a rebound he can be a low risk acquisition for a fringe contender or a team looking more to next year than this.

The Cubbies have stated that they are shopping essentially everyone not named Starlin Castro, and even then he’s probably available at the right price. More likely they will be aiming to move Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol (if anyone wants him), David DeJesus, and Alfonso Soriano (though they’ll need to eat a lot of salary to move him).

Houston is probably a bit more selective in who they’ll part with than Chicago but only so much so, Carlos Lee is obviously on the trading block, as are Wandy Rodriguez,  Brandon Lyon, and Brett Myers.

There are some fringe sellers as well, Oakland, Milwaukee, Arizona, Kansas City, and Philly all come to mind, none of them is so far out of contention that they should really be looking to ship off ½ of their roster but they are the middling teams that may either decide to shed a few expiring contracts to become more competitive going forward, or they may see that they need another year or two to really become competitive and move a few of their older pieces to open up spots for younger players and help stock up their farm systems.

Oakland is kind of an “all bets are off” team, year in and year out. If they’re not going to make the postseason the whole 25 man roster is on the block, and this year is no different. I wouldn’t expect Josh Reddick or Yoenis Cespedes to be going anywhere given their production and controllable years, but Billy Beane will most certainly listen to offers if they’re made. One year acquisitions like Bartolo Colon, Brian Fuentes, and Grant Balfour are certainly available. Brandon McCarthy is nearing free agency and may also be another movable piece in Oakland.

Milwaukee probably has a shorter list of movable pieces, Francisco Rodriguez may be interesting to a team in need of bullpen help if the Brew Crew will absorb some cash, Zack Greinke is on several contenders wish lists, Shaun Marcum could net a healthy package as well, but otherwise I wouldn’t expect them to move many players, and really are more likely to try to flip Greinke than anyone else.

The Phillies are in a situation to move Juan Pierre to a team in need of speed or outfield depth, Shane Victorino can be a game changer and he is certainly a candidate to price himself out of the Phillies plans going forward. Ty Wigginton may provide about the same value as someone like Kevin Youkilis while being a cheaper option. Cole Hamels will certainly be part of trade talks if the Phils don’t go on a crazy tear over the next two weeks and pull themselves back into contention.

Arizona certainly were surprise contenders last season and that makes it hard for them to jump into the trade arena as sellers, but with Joe Saunders walking after this season, there’s not much reason to hold onto the pitcher if there’s interest, there will surely be interest in Justin Upton if anyone feels they can pry him away from the D-Backs but otherwise they don’t seem to be sitting on a particular stock of highly coveted talent.

The Royals miscalculated in trading Melky Cabrera to the Giants and have paid the price for such so far, but they may be able to trade someone like Billy Butler who, though primarily a DH has been a solid, quite producer so far. They are however otherwise only really capable of trading Jonathan Broxton or holding onto their roster for the year.

Obviously this list would be a bit different if the MLB hadn’t introduced the 2nd wildcard this season, and that’s a strange thought. Teams like Toronto and Boston who are both floundering around .500 in a very tough division might see a reason to cut ties with a few players who’ve seen their trade value spike of late, and are instead potentially contending to make a splash at the deadline and work their way into the wildcard discussion. Teams like Detroit and Miami who spent heavily on free agents this offseason are likely to make a bigger push than usual this year given their relative proximity to a playoff berth.

Cleveland is in dire need of right handed offense but will likely try to ride out their pitching staff with the return of Ramon Hernandez on the horizon.

The White Sox could be looking to get a shot in the arm for their rotation but their offense has been strong enough to keep them too far out of trouble so far.

The Angels could look to bolster their production at 3B or Catcher but are otherwise doing pretty well as a team, having the best pitching staff in the AL.

I don’t see Texas making a play for anyone significant this season, possibly a starting pitcher if the price is right, but they certainly have a playoff ready rotation.

Tampa Bay could possibly look for an upgrade or two for their lineup, either someone like Wiggy or possibly someone like Morneau as a true DH type.

The Orioles are in need of an effective starting pitcher, they may well make a play for someone like Marcum or Greinke if the price is right.

The Yankees don’t have any particularly strong needs outside of timely hitting. They could look for a younger outfielder like Upton or CarGo as a long and short term option if they have reservations about resigning Nick Swisher or concerns over Brett Gardner’s health, but I have my doubts about Cashman pulling the trigger on a purely “win now” signing unless it comes cheap.

The Nationals could look to add a bat but they may balk at the price of adding someone to their lineup.

The Mets will need to look for pitching help, it doesn’t so much matter what kind of pitching help, just some kind of reliable pitcher to add to their staff. They may target someone like Myers or League to try to sure up their bullpen. They may even look at two or 3 relievers if they’re able to pick them up cheaply.

The Braves also need to look at pitching, while Mike Minor has pitched well against the Yankees in back to back outings, he needs to show up against a few other teams to keep his roster spot. Atlanta also could use a reliable bullpen arm to help get to the 9th where Craig Kimbrel has been money all season.

The Reds could use a bat and an innings eater for their rotation if they plan to stay in contention.

The Pirates need to find a way to score runs, they’re dead last in the National League for runs scored despite their impressive pitching so far. They may be looking for a pair of bats to help Andrew McCutchen. I certainly think they should look at someone like Vladimir Guerrero as a bench bat and could look to upgrade just about every bit of their infield, maybe trying to pry Morneau from the Twins and Jonny Gomes from the A’s.

St Louis could potentially use some help in the pitching department, whether it be a reliable bullpen arm or a starter to help sure up the back end of their rotation is of little consequence. They have a very good offense, though they’re a bit banged up and if the right opportunity presented itself I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pick up a bench bat type to help corner infielders and corner outfielders get a break here or there. Wigginton, League, Myers, Street, and any lower cost starting pitching options are possible.

The Dodgers offense is where their weakness shows, ranking 9th in the NL in runs scored, but there’s only so much that can be done to help there. Their most obvious point for upgrading would be 3rd base or shortstop where Juan Uribe and Dee Gordon have not carried their own weight. A middle infielder will be hard to come by outright, but Scutaro could be a potential upgrade, and there may be some value in acquiring Wiggy if the price is right. I do still maintain that their rotation is holding strong mostly on luck and behind Clayton Kershaw is much weaker than it has appeared, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a move for a 4th-5th starter type (Liriano?) if someone’s selling. With new ownership in place the Dodgers are a hard team to place, they could certainly go out to make a big splash and try to pry Hamels away from the Phils if they are looking to make a deep run in the postseason.

The Giants are pitching pretty well overall, though with Barry Zito starting to look more like the guy we’ve come to expect and Tim Lincecum still not having righted the ship there’s certainly room for one or both of them to lose their rotation spots if the Giants get aggressive at the deadline. Not totally unlike the Dodgers the offense could use a boost, and looking around it’s more or less the middle infield and right field where they’re lacking. Knowing Melky Cabrera has a modified howitzer for an arm, he can be moved to right field full time if need be. The Giants could attempt to acquire an outfield bat, possibly Soriano or Victorino rather than spending to upgrade the infield modestly.

Aside from not exactly being a short post we have seen a few things that are constants, there are several teams that area in contention that need to upgrade their infield offensively, this could make a versatile player like Wiggy a hot commodity this year, both bringing some pop and the ability to play 2 or more infield positions. The market for starting pitching isn’t overwhelming at the deadline, but the need isn’t overwhelming either. The market for outfielders isn’t exactly stacked with buyers either, which may prevent teams from moving overpriced or expiring contracts in the outfield this year or at the very least saddling them with a diminished return from what they may have been hoping for.

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