Even though the season is just underway, it's never to early to talk trade candidates. We're going to name a few players that could be trade candidates as the July Trade Deadline approaches. First, lets take a look at the American League.
The American League East is a really fun division to watch right now, led by the surprising play of the Orioles who are half a game above the Rays. The Blue Jays are third and in my opinion they could be contenders for one of the Wild Card spots, and then the Yankees and Red Sox close out the standings, but for how long are they going to stay there? My guess is probably not for long. But either way I'm not making judgements about who is going to get last and who they will probably trade, let's just enjoy what the Orioles are doing and hope they remain in contention for the reminder of the season.
The AL Central is different. Even though the Tigers are in second place right now, they remain the clear favorites to take the division. Many writers projected the Royals to finish second and even to contend for a wild card spot. Clearly, their slow start are threatening their aspirations of a second place finish, and I think things are not going to get easier for them. The Twins are on a really bad track and its obvious they're not going to be contenders this year either.
In the AL West the Rangers are leading the way with a 3.5 game cushion on the A's who are off to a good start (15-14). Then the Mariners, who are not on the contender track are 6 back. Then there comes the Angels who are off to an awful start, but will certainly improve as the season continues.
The teams I'm going to “dismantle” here are the Royals, Twins and Mariners, because they are the teams that are already out of contention.
– Kansas City Royals:
The Royals have four players in the final year of their contract, Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt and Humberto Quintero. The club holds options for Joakim Soria, who is recovering from a Tommy John surgery from 2012 to 2014 and Bruce Chen, Brayan Pena and Jeff Francoeur have one more year on their contracts.
Among those players, the only ones I think could generate interest from other teams is Broxton, who is off to a good start (0-1, 2.08 ERA, 0.0 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 8.2 innings) and Francoeur, although he is not off to a hot start (.242/.281/.319 with 4 RBI's in 91 AB's), but is coming off a solid season where he hit .285/.329/.476 with 20 HR's, 87 RBI's and a 119 OPS+.
– Minnesota Twins:
The players on the Twins payroll who are in the last year of their contract are Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Ryan Doumit and Jason Marquis. The club holds options for 2013 on Scott Baker and Matt Capps. Justin Morneau and Alexi Casillas are under team control for one more year and the Twins hold an option for 2014 for Nick Blackburn.
To be honest, all of the players in the last year of their contract are off to a slow start, especially Liriano, but at $3 million Marquis could help at the back end of any rotation. His career record is 106-98 with a 4.57 ERA, 1.1 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 5.2 SO/9 in 1693.0 innings. Another interesting player could be Doumit, who is also making $3 million and is a career .270/.332/.438 hitter with 68 HR's, 278 RBI's and a 105 OPS+ in 2,249 AB's. Doumit could help behind the plate, at first base and as a designated hitter (if he goes to an American League team).
– Seattle Mariners:
Ichiro Suzuki, Brandon League, Hisashi Iwakuma and George Sherrill will all be free agents at the end of the season, although Sherrill is out for the rest of the season due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. To think that the Mariners would trade Suzuki is kind of complicated, he's the face of the franchise and at $18 million is not exactly a bargain for any team, so I don't think he's going anywhere.
League is another story, the 29-year old reliever could be a fit for a lot of teams looking for bullpen depth, including their division rivals the Angels. League's career record is 17-24 with a 3.67 ERA, 0.8 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 6.6 SO/9 and 52 saved games in 355.2 innings. Iwakuma, the other free-agent-to-be is off to a slow start (9.00 ERA, 3.6 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 in 5.0 innings) so its hard to determine his true value on the trade market.
Given the fact that the season is just one month under way, it is hard to say what players are likely to be dealt near the July Trade Deadline, but we could have an idea of what the market is going to be as the season continues. Right now, we could assume that these three teams are going to be sellers at the trade deadline, but things could change as the season continues and more teams will become sellers and maybe one or more of this teams could become buyers.
Image by Keith Allison under the Creative Commons License.