With the MLB trade deadline nearing (Friday, July 31 at 4 PM EST), we saw our first big deadline deal on Thursday afternoon, when the A’s shipped LHSP Scott Kazmir to the Astros for a pair of prospects. Yup, we’ve lived to see the day the Astros became buyers, but more importantly, it means more trades are on the way.
Here are the guys most likely to be on the move:
Ben Zobrist — The Kazmir deal tells us Oakland is officially a seller, and Zobrist is likely their most attractive bat. His ability to play multiple positions, combined with a batting average of .259, would make him a nice utility addition for any contender. The A’s might be the only seller in the AL.
Johnny Cueto — Everyone knows Cueto is on the trade block, it’s the price we’re waiting to find out. The Reds aren’t winning games, and their ace is in the final year of his contract. Somebody’s going to get a major boost before the deadline in Cueto, the question is who will it be and how much will it cost?
Aroldis Chapman — My favorite part of the All-Star game was watching this guy pitch. He’s an absolute beast — evident by the gas he threw past the best hitters in the game while they stood there and shook their heads. I have a feeling on a contender, Chapman could produce one of those special postseasons where he comes on in relief without giving up a run (or something along those lines). He’s about to land a big paycheck , which is the reasons the Reds might not be able to hang onto the stud.
Carlos Gomez — This kid is going to require a major price tag to pry from the hands of the Brew Crew, but he’s worth it. Milwaukee is going nowhere this season and is in need of some promise for the future. Gomez is a do-it-all center fielder that comes on a team-friendly contract. Someone’s going to pay up for his services.
Justin Upton — It’s been a really disappointing season for the Padres to say the least. They finally loaded up on talent (and salaries), and failed to see result. Since they’re the Padres, this probably means they’re going to have to start selling. Upton has not been as advertised in San Diego. He has 15 homers and 49 RBIs, but is batting just .252 — his lowest since 2008. Because of the power, he is still a valuable piece, though.
James Shields — He hasn’t been elite by any means, but he’s still very valuable. At 8-3 with a 3.77 ERA, Shield is even more attractive because it’s still the first season of his 4-year/$75 million contract with a club option for a fifth year. It’s unfortunate for the Padres to feel they have to move him, but that won’t stop them from doing so.
Cole Hamels — The Phillies are the obvious sellers. That doesn’t mean all the guys list here will be moved (there’s more below), but they will all at least be discussed. Hamels is clearly the most attractive piece Philly has. Like any ace, he’s going to cost a pretty penny, but that won’t stop someone from pulling the trigger. He could propel a team that feels they are on the cusp right up into contention.
Aaron Harang — At 37-years old, he might not have much left in the tank past this season, but Harang can help a team out right now. He’s not a sexy add, but can improve the middle/back end of a rotation significantly. He’s on a horrific squad in Philly, so look past the 4-11 record, and focus on the 4.08 ERA. There’s plenty of teams out there that could use Harang.
Jonathan Papelbon — There’s really only one reason Papelbon is still on the Phillies — nobody wants to pay him $13 million next season. If someone gets desperate enough, then consider him gone. There aren’t many save opportunities right now for him, but his 1.63 ERA suggests Pap still has the touch.
Ryan Howard — Like Papelbon, Howard is in Philadelphia because of his contract. Teams are interested, but if moved, the Phillies would be asked to take on a BIG portion of the money remaining on his deal regrettable $125 million deal. Once Philly makes a decision on how much cash they can eat, Howard’s fate will be decided. Would be nice to see him hitting in the heart of the order for a team that has a real offense.
Yoenis Cespedes — The Tigers are waiting until closer to the deadline to see where they stand before they do anything drastic, things pretty on the fence in Detroit. They’re a .500 team, but Miguel Cabrera will be returning before you know it. Cespedes was moved from the A’s to the Red Sox for Jon Lester at last season’s deadline, and then again last offseason to the Tigers for Rick Porcello (a big win for Detroit so far). But with their fate in doubt, and Cespedes set to become a free agent, it seems like it’s a good time to send him on the move again.
David Price — Price is in the same situation as Cespedes, but would obviously command a much higher return. We’ll have to wait and see which way the Tigers decide to go, but it’s nice to have to luxury of turning right around a year later and getting your return back on Price if they decide to do so.
Koji Uehara — The Red Sox have come out of the All-Star break completely flat. Making a playoff push (even in the unpredictable AL East) would be a miracle at this point, considering the hole they’re in. The Sox have a lot of pieces, though. I don’t think they’re necessarily “sellers,” this could be more of a bridge year that gets turned around next season. But at age 40, Koji might not be of value in a year or two when baseball is more promising in Boston. It might be the right move to flip him now for something that could be of value down the line next season.
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