MLB Trade Deadline: Buyers and Sellers
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 7/14/2010
With the acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Texas Rangers got the ace they wanted and got the ball rolling on pre-deadline trades. The deal the Rangers put together to acquire Lee from Seattle may be the biggest trade this season, but it will not be the last.
The Seattle Mariners spurned an offer from the New York Yankees and dealt their ace to the Rangers just days before the all-star break. This made the Rangers an instant threat in the American League on paper, and in bookie’s eyes as well, where the oddsmakers vaulted the Rangers to near the pole position with odds listed at 15/4 on Bodog to win the American League pennant. Those odds are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for second best in the league, behind only the Yankees who are listed at 9/5.
Speaking of the Yankees, the courting of Cliff Lee looked to be simply a move to prevent him from going to another AL East team. New York looks content with what they have and they should not be a buyer come the MLB trade deadline. While the Yankees may not be buyers there are a handful of teams ready to buy and plenty of potential teams ready to barter.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are surprised as anyone they are buyers. At best the NL West-leading Padres are reluctant buyers. This is right around the time of year many expected San Diego to begin listening to offers for All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez. That is not the case this summer as a dominating pitching staff with an MLB best ERA (3.25) has San Diego 15 games over .500 heading into the all-star break and two games up in the NL West.
If San Diego wants to keep this run of success going, it will need to find more offensive weapons to surround Gonzalez. From years of selling at this point San Diego has plenty to barter with including a top prospect, outfielder Donavan Tate, and top pitching prospect Simon Castro. Jose Bautista of Toronto tops a San Diego wish list that also contains Milwaukee’s Corey Hart and free agent Jermaine Dye.
Not willing to rest on their NL-best record at the all-star break, the Braves are looking to add another bat. Florida’s Cody Ross looks like the best candidate to join the Braves, but it could also be former Marlin Josh Willingham or Hart or Bautista.
The Rockies appear dead set on acquiring Dan Uggla from Colorado. The Marlins look ready to deal a number of their veterans for prospects, but have so far been reluctant about Uggla. The Rockies will continue to pursue him, but may have to settle for another bat. Other potential names that have surfaced include Baltimore’s Ty Wigginton and Dye. Colorado says it will be patient and probably wait for an 11th hour deal when Uggla may be available.
The hugely disappointing Cubs and their huge payroll make them a solid candidate to be a big seller at the trade deadline, an unusual position for the North Siders. The problem the Cubs face are the outrageous salaries their coveted players carry with them, including Carlos Zambrano ($45 million remaining) and Alfonso Soriano ($62 million remaining). An all-star last season, pitcher Ted Lilly looks like a highly coveted commodity considering his track record, and the fact that he has only $6 million owed to him. Tom Gorzelanny has also strung together a few decent starts and he is generating interest. The Twins, Tigers, Rays and Mets all have reported interest in Lilly.
As far as offensive weapons, Kosuke Fukudome will draw plenty of interest, but even he has $20 million remaining owed to him. Derek Lee is headed into an offseason of free agency, but the Cubs might try to move him ahead of time and there will be plenty of takers.
Toronto Blue Jays
New Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has made no secret his intentions this month. Even with Toronto playing above average baseball this year it was obvious with the departure of Roy Halladay this offseason that the Blue Jays were building for down the road. There is little chance that major league home run leader Bautista will remain in Canada beyond July 31. He may end up being the most sought after player now that Lee has been dealt. It is known around the league that relievers Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and closer Kevin Gregg are all available.
Sitting at four games under .500 the Marlins are approaching the point where they would get ready to deal some of their bats including Ross, who was being courted by the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins insist they will wait around before unloading veterans for prospects but if history tells us anything it is that Florida will be a seller. Jorge Cantu and Nate Robertson appear most likely to move while Uggla will prove harder to pry away.
As they have been for 17 of the past 18 seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the worst team in the National League, will be sellers once again. The one bright spot on the 30-58 team has been the bullpen, until recently when it blew two saves heading into the All-Star Game. Teams will still inquire about all-Star set-up man Evan Meek and closer Octavio Dotel. The Pirates would be more willing to part with the veteran Dotel and he could be a commodity considering he has 19 saves on a team with only 30 wins.
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