Baseball Trades: Sellers and Buyers
by Trevor Whenham - 06/26/2007
The baseball trading frenzy is never as big or as exciting as we want it to be, but that doesn't mean that it isn't fun to speculate. As is the case every year at this time, there are contenders or perceived contenders that have some gaping holes that need filling, and teams that are looking to dump their expensive talent. If those two sides can come together, then magic can happen. Here's a look at four teams that are lining up to be major sellers and the potential destinations of their most valuable assets.
Chicago White Sox - I can't decide if watching a team that won the World series just two years ago self destruct right in front of our eyes is funny or sad. Either way, it certainly is ugly. The prime asset they are dangling is ace Mark Buehrle. Fresh off a no-hitter this year, Buehrle is perhaps the only bright spot on an incredibly disappointing team. All the usual suspects have expressed their interest - Atlanta, the Mets, the Yankees and Boston. The Red Sox seem to be the clear leader at this point, and the addition of Buehrle to an already solid roster would likely sew up the AL East. Probably as importantly to Boston, landing Buehrle would ensure that they wouldn't have to face him down the stretch pitching for a rival. Though the trade could make sense, it may take a while. Buehrle wants a five-year extension from a new team or he will leave at the end of the year, and that won't be cheap. The White Sox are also determined to get a top prospect back in the deal, and that could be a problem if Buehrle has no intention of staying in place. Either Buehrle or the White Sox will have to soften their position a bit, or they will have to be patient and wait until their trading partners get desperate in order to get a deal done.
Though Buehrle is the most valuable player, he is far from the only one that is available at the right price. Jermaine Dye is an impending free agent in the midst of a terrible year, but he can be had. So can Tad Iguchi, though it's unclear why a team would want him. The bullpen is probably available except for closer Bobby Jenks, and there are a ton of teams, including the Yankees and Tigers, who could use a relief arm or two. Also interesting, and less expensive than Buehrle, would be Javier Vazquez and Jon Garland. Both guys have pretty lousy records this year, but they have both been better than the numbers show, and would instantly improve if they had run support. If a team is really adventurous, or stupid, they could also have Jose Contreras. The Mets are said to be interested in the Cuban, enticed by the fact that he is signed through 2009.
Texas Rangers - Here's another team that is looking to dismantle and start again. Mark Teixera is the most talked about player, though the first baseman likely won't move until he returns from his quad injury and proves that he's healthy. Teixera swings a pretty powerful bat, so he's attractive to a lot of teams. The Yankees have been drooling over him because they are desperate for something that will change their fortunes, and Teixera would give them more flexibility to rid themselves of the Jason Giambi mess. Detroit would likely also be interested at the right price, because Sean Casey is really the only hole in their potent lineup.
Another team that is talked about as a partner, surprisingly, is Baltimore. Neither the O's or the Rangers stand a chance of seeing any action past September, but Baltimore is apparently very interested in making Teixera someone to build around, and they may be willing to give up a pitcher like Erik Bedard or Daniel Cabrera to get him. Teixera is from Maryland, so he would be a popular acquisition for a team that desperately needs some positive PR. The Rangers need for quality starters has been a story for, well, eternity. The Dodgers, Angels and Braves have also expressed interest in Teixera. All three teams in Southern California, especially the offensively pathetic Dodgers, would love to add some extra power down the stretch.
The Rangers also have a coveted asset in Eric Gagne. The former killer closer has been looking pretty solid, especially if you ignore his one inning outing on Sunday against Houston, and he would look good in a lot of uniforms. The Yankees would probably love to package Gagne and Teixera together, and most other contenders would probably take him at the right price. Gagne still has the stuff to close, but he'd be especially dangerous as a setup man. Maybe Mariano Rivera wouldn't look so average if he had that kind of help. If Gagne is too expensive for teams then Akinori Otsuka may be a more palatable relief choice.
Baltimore Orioles - You know you are truly awful team when guys won't return your calls when you are looking for a new manager. Their talent is questionable, their ownership is terrible and the prospects are dim. This year is a complete write-off even if they do eventually land a decent manager (and bring Tom Kelly out of retirement doesn't fit my definition of a good manager). The Orioles have been talking trades, and it would logically seem that anyone would be available. Steve Trachsel could likely be the first to go. Trachsel is getting older, but he showed last year with the Mets that he could be valuable when playing for a solid contender, and he is being wasted on the Orioles roster. He doesn't have great numbers, but they are pretty good given the circus he has to perform in. Anyone who needs a starter will have to give him a look. That means you, Yankees. Jay Gibbons has had an awful year, but he's a solid player that could probably use a change of scenery. The Mets need another outfielder, and the fact that they were considering Milton Bradley shows that they think the need is fairly urgent. The biggest benefit is that Gibbons wouldn't cost a lot to get. If Miguel Tejada comes back quickly from his wrist injury then the Orioles could probably be convinced to part with him and his contract to give them room to rebuild.
Cincinnati Reds - The terrible Reds have lots of players available, including Adam Dunn. The most exciting possibility, though, and one I can't resist mentioning, is Ken Griffey, Jr. Griffey returned to Seattle over the weekend, looked very comfortable at the plate in Safeco, and then teased that he would love to come back to Seattle to end his career. As a Mariners fan, I can say with absolute certainty that I would love to see that, too. The Mariners are better than expected, and could use another bat to keep the pressure of their pitching staff. Griffey could provide that, and he'd provide a tremendous boost for the franchise and the city.