We're a little over seven weeks away from the trade deadline, and something alarming is becoming apparent: we really don't know which teams are going to be sellers next month. Last year, the A's made the playoffs after being 6.5 games out of the wild card race on June 15th and five games under .500. If you use that as the barometer, two-thirds of the teams in the league are playoff contenders.
The lone teams that are outside of that threshold are the Twins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners, Astros, Dodgers, Cubs, Brewers, Mets, and Marlins. You can pretty much immediately discount the possibilities of the Blue Jays, Angels, and Dodgers doing any significant selling at the deadline due to their big splashes this offseason. I could see the Dodgers attempting to trade Andre Ethier, but the Blue Jays and Angels are probably in things for the long haul thanks to their offseason spending sprees.
That leaves eight teams are seem to be firmly in the "sellers" camp thusfar. I'd almost be hesitant in calling the Twins and White Sox sellers because of how tight the AL Central is, but I'd lean towards the Twins being sellers more than the White Sox due to Chicago's struggling offense that has to get better eventually (right?).
We're down to six teams that are definitely sellers right now: Seattle, Houston, New York, Miami, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Four of those teams are in full-blown rebuilding mode, and will obviously look to sell off any old, expensive assets they might. The Brewers and Mariners are in a state of flux right now, but I'd much rather be in Milwaukee's shoes going forth than Seattle's.
Anyway, looking at those six teams, some have more viable trade options than others. Take a look.
Chicago: Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus, Edwin Jackson
Houston: Bud Norris, Jose Veras, Carlos Pena, Erik Bedard, Wesley Wright
Miami: Ricky Nolasco, Placido Polanco, Greg Dobbs, Juan Pierre, Chad Qualls, Ryan Webb, Jeff Mathis, Giancarlo Stanton
Milwaukee: Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse, John Axford, Yovani Gallardo, Mike Gonzalez
New York: John Buck, Shaun Marcum, Ike Davis, LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon
Seattle: Aaron Harang, Michael Morse, Joe Saunders, Kendrys Morales, Brendan Ryan, Oliver Perez
As of right now, there are some gems on the trade market. Stanton is clearly the marquee name, but he hasn't played in over a month. Soriano, Ramirez, and Morse could be really good backup plans if teams can't pry Stanton from the grasp of the Marlins. Garza or Gallardo could be the final piece of the puzzle for a team that needs a starting pitcher to push them over the edge. Nolasco, Norris, Harang, and Saunders could eat innings for teams that have gotten subpar performances from the rotation. There's plenty of bench and bullpen help as well.
And just think: these are just the six teams that look like lead pipe locks to make deals next month. If the bottom falls out for the Twins and White Sox, Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham, Paul Konerko, and Alex Rios could be great options for teams looking for offense. If the Phillies or Padres fall into the abyss, the lines for Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Headley, Huston Street, and Luke Gregerson could stretch around the proverbial block.
We don't know much yet, but in the next few weeks, things are going to become more clear. But even if no teams join the trade brigade, there's a pretty solid crop of players on the market right now.
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I would say Toronto and Anaheim are on the brink, as well.... They have so grossly overpaid for their talent, and they are so far behind, that they're going to need some sort of relief for their abysmal teams. I could see those teams trying to shed salary rather than pick up talent - give us a bag of balls and we'll give you this guy ... if you take the rest of their deal, too. Similar to what Boston pulled with LA last year....