|National League Buyers and Sellers||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 09, 2010
We tackled the American League on Monday so today we'll take a quick tour around the senior circuit and try to figure out who's buying, who's selling and just what is likely to be available on the market.
Who'll be Buying: Phillies and Braves, possibly the Mets.
The Phillies should be a little scared at this point. They haven't yet run away with the division and they are looking up at the Braves in the standings and are just a half game better than the semi-woeful Mets at this point. Their offense outscored every team in the NL last season is sputtering and they rank 10th in the NL in terms of runs scored -- behind every team in the division save the Nationals. The most notable difference is the lack of power this team has shown when compared to last year.
And their pitching (3.68) hasn't been that much better than the Braves (3.72) or Mets (3.91) despite the addition of Roy Halladay. The relief corps has struggled and the health of closer Brad Lidge is as always in serious question.
The Braves expected to have a good season, mainly in the belief that their up and coming youngsters could elevate the team to the next level. It's hard to imagine that they thought they'd be playing for the division rather than the Wild Card, but after watching the Phillies struggle and their own play take that step forward, it has to be a real thought of management. They could be players for Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder, despite having Troy Glaus (who could get pushed to third to spell a struggling Chipper Jones), provided they can get rights to talk to him about a contract extension before any deal is laid out. Other interests might be an outfield bat, just in case either Melky Cabrera or Nate McLouth can't rediscover their offensive stroke. Cheaper options might include Lance Berkman or Paul Konerko, but those would be rentals rather than players to build around.
The Mets really shouldn't be buying, but thoughts of a pennant race in New York seem to do strange things to Mets GMs. A dearth of prospects and a possible monetary limitation does seem to make them unlikely players in the buying market and should preclude them from chasing any top players, but the addition of a middling starter or two could be in the works. If they decided to be sellers they could probably get good value for Francisco Rodriguez who'd be a beautiful fit in a half dozen cities including the possibility of a return to Anaheim.
Who'll be Selling: The Nationals and Marlins should both consider themselves to be sellers, but there is no certainty that either team sees themselves that way. That will probably change by mid July and both have some interesting pieces which they could offer up. The Marlins have both closer Leo Nunez and 2B Jorge Cantu in the final year of contract and both should attracts some trade interest. The Nationals on the other hand have gained enough credibility via draft and free agency to become players in the next offseason and could afford to part with Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and closer Matt Capps who'll probably never have a higher trade value than he does right now. The offensive players might be hard to lose for the rest of this year, but the Nats already have a closer in waiting who could step into the 9th inning role.
Who'll be Buying: Reds and Cardinals
Like the Phillies, the Cardinals didn't expect there to be any race, but the Reds who've been rebuilding from the farm finally look ready to challenge the status quo in the Central. That leaves the Cardinals looking for another piece to improve their chances and another top notch starter like Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee might well be the nail they'd need to dash Cincinnati's hopes. Their starting pitching is already statistically the best in the NL and adding another big gun like that would make them formidable in any post season play.
The Reds on the other hand have to decide if this actually constitutes the time to mortgage a bit of the farm system. They've gotten this far with youth and a potent offense which leads the NL in both runs scored and home runs. Their pitching has been mediocre despite the heroics of Mike Leake who's been their only above average starter thus far. The Reds do have some options including rookie Aroldis Chapman and Edinson Volquez who is returning from Tommy John surgery to help right the ship without going the trade route, but they at least have to be considering what it would take to get one of the upper tier starters who seem to be available.
Who'll be Selling: Cubs, Pirates, Astros and possibly the Brewers
Three dismal teams -- the Cubs, Pirates and Astros -- should all be looking to move players. For the Pirates and Astros there isn't really much to move however. The Astros have Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, and closer Matt Lindstrom, but they overpaid for Brandon Lyon and probably couldn't deal him. Wandy Rodriquez or Brett Myers might pique some interest too, but unless Rodriquez rediscovers his stuff before the deadline no one will overpay enough to make the trade work for the Astros.
For the Pirates the cupboard is far more bare. Outside of closer Octavio Dotel they don't really have anyone who'll bring much of a return. They probably should have traded Garrett Jones during the past offseason as his luster has worn a bit thin this year and he looks rather average. Still, it's not inconceivable that someone would gamble on him, it just wouldn't be very smart.
The Cubs are bad and have a huge payroll and it's no sure thing that they'll consider themselves sellers. They have some very bad contracts that will stop them from moving players unless they are willing to eat the majority of the money involved. Recently Derrek Lee's name has been thrown out in connection with the Angels, but it's hard to imagine that the Angels would have any interest in a 34 year old first baseman hitting just .237 when so many good first baseman are going to be available. Unless new ownership decides to have a fire sale the Cubs probably won't make any major deals although Carlos Marmol and a number of their starters might draw some interest.
The Brewers. Will they or won't they? Do they really believe they can sign Prince Fielder or not? He's a candidate to be moved and he'd command a top notch crop of prospects -- probably more than Adrian Gonzalez will. He along with Jim Edmonds, Corey Hart and Carlos Villanueva are probably the only pieces the Brewers might be willing to part with at this point. Actually that's not true -- they'd almost certainly love to get rid of Trevor Hoffman and his $7.5 million in salary, but no one is going to go there.
Who'll be Buying: Dodgers, Giants and maybe the Rockies
If the Dodgers can afford to make any moves they'd love to add Roy Oswalt to their rotation as well as adding a versatile bat which can come off the bench or be plugged into the lineup as needed.
For the Giants it's a matter of adding offense, but just what they'd have to give up in order to add a bat or two will probably be the deciding factor in just what moves they are likely to make. As most of the top bats available play first base and the Giants don't want to push aside the young Buster Posey, just who or what they might be able to get is very up in the air.
The Rockies aren't all that likely to be major players in the trade market, as they tend to grow from within and aren't likely to add a lot of salary. Replacing Todd Helton with his .246 BA might seem like a smart idea but the fan fallout over that type of move could be a PR disaster -- especially if the Rockies didn't at least make the Series. It would make far more sense to make a play for someone like Jorge Cantu and shunt Ian Stewart over to second.
Adding a reliever who could slot into the closing role if needed might be something they'll consider.
Who'll be Selling: Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks do have a handful of intriguing players who they could deal to contending teams. That list would include closer Chad Qualls, 1B Adam LaRoche and C Chris Snyder. Qualls probably would bring the best return.
Up in the Air: Padres
For the Padres it's tough call. Do they play for a division title at the cost of prospects during their rebuilding efforts? Or do they stay the course and just go as far as the young talent and inexpensive veterans talent can take them this year? Only GM Jed Hoyer knows for sure.
If they don't decide to make a deal, they will lose Adrian Gonzalez at the end of the year as well as the potential haul of prospects that such a deal would certainly net. Gonzalez isn't the only player worth dealing. Closer Heath Bell should bring a fair return and net the Padres another piece or two for the future.
The team's play over the next few weeks might well decide just what Jed Hoyer decides to do.