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Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Trade Deadline Primer

The All-Star game has come and gone meaning that now teams must redefine their goals for the season. Some teams have already nearly locked up a playoff spot (Phillies, Rangers) while others know they'll be sitting on their couch come October (Cubs, Astros).  The rest of the teams will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating their position before defining themselves as contenders or pretenders. During July these teams are also known as "buyers" and "sellers."  Many things determine whether a team will look to make a trade such as injury, salary dumps, or even depth. With the July 31st trade deadline rapidly approaching, here is a list of the ten players most likely to be traded.

1. Josh Willingham LF
Since the A's have disappointed and failed to meet the front office's expectations moves will be made. Willingham is a relatively inexpensive player who's only under contract for 2011. The A's will likely use their left field vacancy as an audition for younger players.
Strengths: Above average right-handed power bat with solid on-base skills
Weaknesses: Only an average defensive player with little speed
Cost to acquire: Small. Cash or medium prospect
Likelihood of being moved: 95%
Possible destinations: Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh

2. Mike Adams RP
San Diego isn't fooling anyone this year and will definitely look for deals to help them in the future.  Mike Adams has been one of the top relievers in baseball since his move to San Diego in 2008 and with him due for a nice raise in the off-season expect the Padres to move him to a team searching for right-handed bullpen help.
Strengths: Excellent control, doesn't allow homers, high strike-out rate
Weaknesses: None really, but you can expect his ERA to rise if he is moved to a hitters park and/or a team with a poor defense.
Cost to acquire: Medium-High. One top prospect or two solid ones should do it though the Pads would prefer the former.
Likelihood of being moved: 85%
Possible destinations: Anywhere, but I've got my eye on Texas.

3. Wilson Betemit 3B
The once former top-prospect was on the verge of becoming a baseball vagabond until last season in Kansas City.  He's always had some pop but his defense became acceptable and he hit for a decent average for the first time since his Atlanta days.
Strengths: Switch hitter, positional versatility
Weaknesses: Often struggles vs. left-handed pitchers and can be overpowered by hard fastballs.
Cost to acquire: Low. The Royals recently called up 3B prospect Mike Moustakas so Betemit is back to being a bench player.
Likelihood of being moved: 80%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee

4. Carlos Beltran OF
Carlos Beltran is likely the best player that's readily available.  He missed large chunks of 2009 and 2010 due to knee injuries but he's back with a vengeance this season as he currently leads the National League in doubles.
Strengths: Good hitter from both sides of the plate, good power, excellent baserunner even though he no longer steals many bases, having a good season defensively as well
Weaknesses: No longer can play center field, potential knee issues
Cost to acquire: High. The Mets will want a grade A prospect and likely some salary relief from the $18.5 million Beltran is earning this season. Good players don't come cheap.
Likelihood of being moved: 70%
Possible destinations: Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland

5. Jamey Carroll INF
The Dodgers are out of it and-- thanks to their owner filing for bankruptcy-- in desperate need of salary relief.
Strengths: Solid utility player who can contribute offensively
Weaknesses: Stretched at shortstop, 12 career HR in over 1000 career games
Cost to acquire: Low. Carroll has appeal to several teams so his value will probably be driven up in the bidding process but salary relief is likely LA's number one demand
Likelihood of being moved: 67%
Possible destinations: Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Chicago Sox, Braves, St. Louis

6. Tyler Clippard RP
Washington has shown real signs of growth this season and is realistically only a couple of seasons away from putting a playoff-caliber team on the field. Trading Clippard will help the team move in this direction.
Strengths: Stretched as a starter, Clippard has proven to be an excellent long man, situational man, or even late inning reliever.
Weaknesses: Can be prone to give up the gopher ball
Cost to acquire: Medium. While the Nats are actively shopping him, they'll likely be overwhelmed by an offer from some team. He's making the league minimum but is due for his first raise in arbitration this offseason.
Likelihood of being moved: 60%
Possible destinations: Atlanta, St. Louis, Yankees, Philadelphia, Arizona, Tampa

7. BJ Upton CF
While Tampa would be considered a contender by many, they're not against reshaping their team to improve themselves for next year as well. Upton's not having his best season and it might be a time for a change of scenery; the Rays may be ready to see him go.
Strengths: Elite speed, very good defensive player, at times has some serious pop
Weaknesses: Attitude and effort are questionable at times, susceptible to prolonged slumps
Cost to acquire: Medium. Tampa already has his replacement ready in AAA but they'll need something worthwhile to move him.
Likelihood of being moved: 50%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Washington, Cincinnati

8. Jeremy Guthrie SP
Guthrie has been Baltimore's #1 starter the last few seasons more by default than by actual performance.  Still, he's durable and can eat up a lot of innings. Teams could do a lot worse.
Strengths: Excellent control, durable
Weaknesses: Gives up a lot of homers, struggles to put hitters away
Cost to acquire: Medium. A major league ready pitcher is a must though he doesn't have to be a future stud.
Likelihood of being moved: 45%
Possible destinations: Detroit, Arizona, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis

9. Ivan Rodriguez C
Rodriguez is no longer the catcher he once was but he can still be an asset to a contender. Washington has been utilizing him in a back-up role all season to give their younger players more experience.
Strengths: Cannon arm, defensive master, experience and leadership
Weaknesses: His offensive skills have eroded greatly
Cost to acquire: Low. Lots of cash or a C+ prospect and cash might do it.
Likelihood of being moved: 40%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Yankees, Boston, Detroit

10. Ty Wigginton UT
Colorado has been ravaged by the injury bug this season to the extent that it's likely ended their playoff aspirations already.  Wigginton has been hitting well but really doesn't have a place to play everyday on this team. Look for him to be moved.
Strengths: Defensive versatility, good power, performs well as a bench player
Weaknesses: Has not had a good season batting average wise and is a crappy second baseman
Cost to acquire: Low. Any B prospect should be enough to pry Wigginton away.
Likelihood of being moved: 40%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit

Surprise Deal: Michael Bourn CF
I haven't heard Bourn's name mentioned in any rumors but this is a move that makes too much sense to me.  Houston is awful, awful, awful, and there are several teams out there who could use a good center fielder.
Strengths: Maybe the best defensive center fielder in baseball, excellent baserunner/stealer
Weaknesses: No power, doesn't hit for high average or have a high walk rate
Cost to acquire: Medium-High. He's not really on the market but a solid offer ought to get him. Two B prospects and a young major leaguer should be more than enough.
Likelihood of being moved: 33%
Possible destinations: Atlanta, Tampa, Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland

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