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Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 07, 2010
The trading has already begun.
The move of struggling lefty Dontrelle Willis was the opening salvo of what looks to be an interesting, but perhaps not very vigorous, trading season.Â With roughly 50 days left until the trading deadline it's probably that a handful of deals, including possibly some big ones will occur.Â In the last few years there hasn't been a huge volume of deals but that could actually change this year as new contenders have turned many of the races into tight contests, and could mean that there are some new players on the buying side of the trade market.
But who's buying?Â Who's selling?Â And just what are the possible contenders looking for?
The Rays could be in the market for a DH, or even could end up churning some players if they decide that it makes more financial sense to trade 1B Carlos Pena or OF Carl Crawford, both of who they expect to lose to free agency at the end of the year, even though they lead the AL East pack at the moment.Â Adding another top bullpen arm to work the 7th or 8th inning would make sense too.
The Yankees don't look to need a lot of offensive help, but being the Yankees it isn't impossible that they decide to upgrade somewhere.Â Someone to DH could be the ticket especially with all the big bats available this year and since Nick Johnson's status going forward is doubtful.Â Pitching-wise the next few starts for Javier Vazquez could impact the team's decision to pursue another starter, and they are always on the lookout for more bullpen help.
The Red Sox could make plays on both the offensive and defensive side of coin. Adding another bat for the long term makes sense and they'll likely make a play for the Padres Adrian Gonzalez if San Diego makes him available.Â However their struggles up until now have really been with their pitching.Â They'll watch over the next month or so to see if Josh Beckett and John Lackey can regain their footing and if not they could look to add a starter.Â Their bullpen has been far from rock solid and even closer Jonathan Papelbon has struggled in big game type spots, so they'll be looking for some reinforcements.
Who's Selling:Â The Orioles will be dangling their veterans and trying to get out from under some contracts as the season is already irretrievably lost.Â Ok that was true on opening day -- but being 21 games out on June 6th has pretty much assured that the team will attempt to focus on next year and the one after that.Â On the block pieces of value include Miguel Tejada, Ty Wigginton, Brian Roberts (who might not be tradable due to his injury) and Kevin Millwood.Â Most of their other veterans are probably available too, but it's hard to imagine Julio Lugo, Garrett Atkins, or Jeremy Guthrie commanding much in return.Â They might find some interest in reliever Mark Hendrickson and Japanese import Koji Uehara (if they want to clear his $5 million dollars in salary) but I doubt they'll part with Uehara.
The Rays could decide to sell, but most likely they'll play the cards they have until the end of the season since right now they do look to be the best team in baseball.Â That said, a quick losing streak could persuade management that getting more than just a few draft picks for Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, and replacing them with cheaper talent via trade or their own farm system might make sense.
Who's Buying: The Tigers could use some pitching help and have prospects to trade.Â That makes them ideal partners for many of the teams who'll be looking to unload quality starters around the deadline.Â And it's quality that the Tigers will be looking for, rather than the mediocre arms with upside.Â That means that the Mariners and Cliff Lee and the Astros and Roy Oswalt are definitely on their horizon.Â Another name that could be in the mix is Kevin Millwood.
Who's Selling:Â The Indians and Royals are definitely sellers and the White Sox should be too, but it's hard to judge what the White Sox plan to do at this point.
Neither the Indians or Royals have a lot to offer in the trade market. Â The Indians' most valuable tradable piece at this point is probably closer Kerry Wood.Â After him they have little save for OF Shin-Soo Choo who'd bring a lot in return and considering how little they are paying Choo they'd probably have to be overwhelmed with an offer to trade him away.
The Royals have a few more tradable pieces, but it's unlikely that they'd move cornerstone players Zack Greinke or Joakim Soria without an overwhelming return in prospects.Â Far more available might be guys like David DeJesus, Jose Guillen and Jason Kendall.Â Veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth should definitely attract some suitors.
The White Sox are a bit of an enigma here, but at 8.5 games back and being eight games under .500 should be indicative of what they should be doing.Â That said, this team isn't in a full rebuilding mode like most of the other sellers in the AL.Â They've got a fairly solid core and believe they should be able to compete.Â That being said a fire sale is unlikely but if they've mentally thrown in the towel by mid July they might see what they can get for Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre or Paul Konerko.Â They'll certainly try to move veteran A.J. Pierzynski before the deadline.
Likely Sitting Pat:Â The Twins.Â The Twins tend to build from within and as they once again are sitting atop their division, they are unlikely to make any deals that don't fit with the long term goals of the franchise.Â However if the price was right, upgrading at the infield positions to boost their offensive output would fit nicely as they make a run for the playoffs.
Who's Buying:Â The Angels, A's and Rangers.Â Not surprisingly all the contenders in the West are likely to be looking for help before the deadline.Â The Rangers however are in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings and probably can't take on much in the way of salary.
Still they do have prospects to trade and a club hungry to rebuild its farm system -- like the Astros -- could make some sort of deal with them for Oswalt.Â The Rangers biggest need is starting pitching and if they make a move, that's likely to be where they make it.
The A's on the other hand need offense and they need it badly if they hope to remain in contention the rest of the way.Â They probably can't take on a lot of salary either, but they probably have some leeway there and as always they have a farm system loaded with prospects other teams would love to get their hands on.Â That could make them players for offensive help at almost every position, but especially in the outfield and in the DH slot.
The Angels right now need a replacement for injured 1B Kendry Morales, ideally someone who could slide into either left field, DH or 3B when Morales returns.Â A good fit might well be Boston's Mike Lowell, who'd probably come cheap if the Red Sox were willing to trade him to another contender.Â If not, Houston's Lance Berkman, or even Baltimore's Wigginton could fit the bill.
However the Angels major struggle this season has been with pitching -- both starting and relieving.Â Â More than half of their staff has ERAs over 5 and only a handful of their relievers have shown themselves capable of holding a lead even when handed one.Â Closer Brian Fuentes has been one of the main culprits and the Angels could be in the market for another closer as well as another starter and middle relief help.Who's Selling:Â The Mariners should be selling and the main guy they should be looking to move is left hander Cliff Lee.Â Lee has already indicated he'd like to test free agency after the season and a dreadful Mariners team would like to get more than the draft pick they'd get as compensation.Â Outside of Lee they don't have a lot of hot commodities.Â They could probably trade some bullpen parts, but they wouldn't get a lot in return and Ichiro keeps too many butts in the seat for them to really consider moving him despite his $18 million dollar contract.