We're just six days from the trade deadline, and many of the interesting names are no longer on the market. Cole Hamels? Extended! Justin Upton? Pulled until the winter! Wandy Rodriguez? Off to Pittsburgh! Hanley Ramirez? Going to Hanleywood! You get the point. Despite the surge of activity a week before the deadline, there are still plenty of great players available for trade on the market. Here are the top ten players left out there.
1. Zack Greinke, Brewers
A sweep at the hands of the Phillies this week opened the Brewers for business, and Greinke is chief among their assets. The extension that Cole Hamels received from the Phillies helped set a market for Greinke's contract this winter, and the Anibal Sanchez trade to the Tigers helped set a market for his trade value this summer. So, to pick up Greinke from the Brewers, you're going to need (at least) a top 30 overall prospect, and to extend him, you're probably going to need $120 million at the absolute minimum. Got it? Good.
2. Chase Headley, Padres
Think about it. Is there a better hitter on the market right now than Headley? I don't think so. The 28-year old is going to be dealt, and with two more years of control left after this season, he'll fetch a great return for the Padres. You might look at his .787 OPS and 12 homers this year and shrug, until you remember that Headley plays his home games in Petco Park. Remember what that stadium did to Adrian Gonzalez? Yeah. Away from Petco, Headley has an .871 OPS and nine homers. Even with the Petco factor, Headley is a top five third baseman in baseball. Get him into a hitters (or at least neutral) park, and he could be the best in the game.
3. Josh Johnson, Marlins
As the Marlins continue their fire sale, Johnson is the best piece that they have left. He might actually command more on the market than Greinke, due to being signed through next year. However, one thing separates Johnson from Greinke in the ace tier: injuries. Johnson only made nine starts last year, missed a handful in 2010, and had to exit his last start on Monday against the Braves with a cut on his finger. When healthy, Johnson is one of the best pitchers in baseball. It hasn't happened all that much, though. I don't doubt that Miami can get a better prospect than Turner for Johnson, which would make them a very scary team in the future.
4. Josh Willingham, Twins
Rumblings around Willingham have actually been very quiet, indicating that the Twins really aren't looking to deal him. But man, trading him would really help replenish a farm system lacking high-end talent. Willingham is signed through 2014 at the bargain rate of only $7 million per year, and his 25 homers are approaching a career high. Willingham's on the older end of the speectrum at 33, but he would make a lot of sense for an AL team, where he could DH as well as play left and first.
5. Cliff Lee, Phillies
Is Lee on the market? Well....who in the hell knows? But after the Hamels extension, the Phillies have a payroll disaster looming in their future, and the primary logic is to trade Lee, under contract until 2015 (with an option for 2016) for $25 million a year. Lee's numbers have dipped this year from his amazing four year run from 2008 to 2011, and he'll be 34 at the end of August. It makes sense for the Phillies, with a really unexciting farm system, to try to move one of their aces, but at the same time, wouldn't trading Lee be counterintuitive to the march towards a championship in 2013?
6. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
Ramirez falls into the same boat as Willingham, the free agent signed before the year to a multiple year deal, only to see his team fall out of contention. Ramirez is nowhere near as desirable as Headley, but he's the second best third baseman on the market, signed through 2014. But unlike Willingham, Ramirez's contract isn't a bargain (due $26 million in 2013-2014), and he's also 34-years old. If a team falls short on San Diego's demands for Headley, they could look at Ramirez and probably end up paying a lot less...albeit for a lower ceiling.
7. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Let me get this out of the way: his contract is awful, terrible, *and* horrible, paying Soriano $19 million in each 2013 and 2014. But Soriano is actually having a pretty good year. He's homered 19 times (after not cracking 30 each of the last four seasons in Chicago), and while he still has awful plate discipline, his BABIP difficulties have passed this year, and his numbers are solid across the board. The good side about Soriano is that if you're willing to pick up a good bit of his contract, the Cubs probably won't require much of any return package for him. And if you want the Cubs to pick up his deal, you're going to have to give up something decent...but you're going to have a two or three win player for a bargain basement contract.
8. Hunter Pence, Phililes
Speaking of the Phillies looking to deal assets to clear some payroll, they could be looking to deal their starting right fielder, just a year after acquiring him from the Astros. They won't get nearly as much in return as they gave up, due to Pence's overall decline from last year to this year, one less year of control, and the monster salary he'll command in arbitration. He's making $10.4 million this year, and in his final arb year next year, that number could surpass $13 million. That's a little much for my tastes, but Pence will probably bring some interest in the market. The Phillies shouldn't hold out hope of getting a Jarred Cosart & Jonathan Singleton package in return, though.
9. James Shields, Rays
With the Rays ticking around the .500 level this year behind the dominant Yankees in the AL East, there are actually rumors floating around that they're looking to deal the workhorse Shields. Shields has club options for $9 million next year and $12 million in 2014, and considering the going rate of starters, that's extremely reasonable, especially for a guy who has five straight 200 inning seasons and has kept his FIP roughly around the 4.00 mark. The Rays apparently turned down an offer from the Angels for studly defensive-minded center fielder Peter Bourjos, and if that's not to their liking, it's making me wonder if they're really just gauging the market and not really seriously shopping Shields.
10. Shane Victorino, Phillies
The 31-year old Victorino will be a free agent this winter, and with his production dropping and his temper rising, the Phillies could look to move him to a team desperate for outfield help. At his peak, Victorino is a 20/20 type player, but with his power completely falling off a cliff this year, he doesn't look like that guy anymore. At any rate, a solid center fielder is a desirable piece for any team, and the Phillies will definitely get some calls for Victorino.
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