Five Players To Be Traded By Both Trade Deadlines
The MLB trade deadline is about to get even wilder. For the past month we have been seeing names swirl around the rumor mill. Some rumors became reality, others are just fairy tales. It truly is a fun part of the season. Let’s take a look at who I feel will be moved and I will specify which deadline. These five players will be one’s with the most impact for the team acquiring them. I will also speculate the best trade partner and speculate who could go the other way.
5. Alex Rios– RF Texas Rangers (July 31st deadline)
Rios and the Rangers are suffering one of the worst seasons in Rangers history. What makes it even worse is the fact if they were healthy, they likely would be a potential contender and would 100% be more competitive. The amount of injuries sustained by the Rangers this season is unheard of, making them partial sellers.
Rios’ 2014 is not going as planned. His power is down a ton, hitting only four home runs thus far. He still has a nice batting average at .299 and an OBP above his career average at .328. He is still stealing bases as he has 16 but has been caught 9 times, not such a hot rate. Rios’ wRC+ is 101, meaning he is 1% above league average at creating runs. All in all, Rios hasn’t had a great offensive season to this point and combined with his overrated defense, his fWAR is a measly 0.8.
Despite his down season offensively, there is nothing to say he can’t heat up again. His batting average is good and a change of scenery out of lowly Arlington could ignite him. I believe, as earlier reported on July 27th (today), the Cincinnati Reds could pick up Rios. The Reds could use a bat like Rios in the outfield, especially in left field that is currently occupied by Ryan Ludwick. Rios could flourish in the bandbox that is Great American Ballpark and end 2014 on a high note.
The Reds sit 6.0 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers and 4.5 back of the second Wild Card currently occupied by the Atlanta Braves. The Reds I think are the best fit for Rios.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera– SS Cleveland Indians (July 31st deadline)
Indians fans have been wondering for the past few years when they would finally pull the trigger on a deal sending shortstop Cabrera out of Cleveland. I will say that this is the deadline it finally happens. After making it to the AL Wildcard game in 2013, the Indians currently sit at 52-53 which is 6.5 back of the Detroit Tigers and 3.5 back of the second Wild Card spot, held by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cabrera’s contract expires after this season and with top prospect Francisco Lindor nearly ready to come up to the majors, Cabrera will soon be out as the shortstop. Since his great 2011, Cabrera has not come back to that level power wise and batting average wise. Currently, Cabrera is batting .247 with a .308 OBP. He has hit 9 home runs and has driven in 39. He has also recorded seven steals. His defense isn’t the greatest but it’s not atrocious. His range certainly isn’t what it used to be but his bat is a nice piece for whoever acquires him despite his wRC+ of 97. His 1.2 WAR isn’t horrible either.
The Indians don’t really have the pitching to catch the Tigers but they’re not out of it in the wild card race. I think they can still compete without Cabrera. If they move him, either Mike Aviles takes over at shortstop or Lindor is called up. They wouldn’t lose much at shortstop should they move him. Cabrera has value and it’s a near certainty he won’t be brought back next season with Lindor arriving, so a trade makes a ton of sense.
I can see the Blue Jays swoop in and take Cabrera and I do not think it would cost much. His contract is definitely within the Blue Jays payroll range (though nobody truly knows) and Cabrera can be put at second base, the biggest hole the Blue Jays have. Fox Sports writer, Ken Rosenthal suggested today that Cabrera and the Blue Jays are a fit.
3. Cliff Lee– SP Philadelphia Phillies (August Waiver Deadline)
Lee has been rumored to be available and I am sure the Phillies will unload him to a team that wants to pay the price for him. Lee’s contract is massive and doesn’t expire until 2015 plus an option year for 2016. The Phillies are likely going to be sellers and since they are barely listening on Cole Hamels, Lee would net them the best return.
Lee has been decent in 2014, but the season is only 12 starts deep for Lee due to being on the DL with elbow issues, an injury that surely would scare a few teams. However, his 3.78 ERA is decent and his xFIP of 3.10 suggests he is going to get better and deserves better. Lee doesn’t walk many batters at all but his stuff is on the decline and his K% has gone down over 5.0% since last season. He is aging but does provide an excellent arm to a contending team.
A team would have to be desperate to take Lee off of Philadelphia’s hands but there is one team that comes to mind that is desperate due to the fact they’re only 2.5 back of the Blue Jays for the final Wild Card spot and their GM is on the hot seat. The Kansas City Royals are that team that desperately needs something to give them a boost for the rest of the season and Lee could benefit from moving to spacious Kauffman Stadium and being put in the heat of a race. The Royals are also connected to Marlon Byrd so perhaps a big package to get both pieces could be in order.
Lee’s big salary, age, and arm issues this season make many people think that he could be dealt after the July 31st non-waiver deadline. I think that is 100% true. All those factors would prevent Lee from being moved until then, to a desperate team and the Royals should still be in the hunt by August. It does give them more time to evaluate if the piece is necessary but I think GM Dayton Moore will get desperate.
2. Matt Kemp– OF Los Angeles Dodgers (August Waiver Deadline)
The Matt Kemp days in Los Angeles could soon be coming to an end. The oft-injured, reported locker room poison, expensive outfielder is unhappy with the Dodgers and is a name being swirled around constantly the past few days.
Kemp has a ridiculous contract that takes him to the end of the 2019 season and is still owed over $100 million. Kemp has never been the same since 2011 due to injuries and has actually been below replacement level in 2013 and so far in 2014. Kemp’s defense has dropped considerably, and his bat just isn’t what it used to be. Still, the name Matt Kemp is quite powerful and there may be a general manager who is desperate enough to take a chance on having Kemp reviving himself.
The Dodgers are lucky that they are one of the richest teams in all of baseball so even if they eat the majority of his contract in order to make a trade happen, I am sure it could happen and they would unload him. The big rumor swirling around today was Jon Lester for Kemp, but the money changing hands would be complicated and surely other pieces would be involved. The other rumored teams include the Baltimore Orioles, and Seattle Mariners.
If Kemp is traded, I’m going to say the Mariners would consider picking him up. The Mariners outfield definitely isn’t a strong point and they proved this past off-season that they are willing to spend in order to improve the team. Kemp seems to make a tad bit of sense for the Mariners but do they really want to take on all that money for a guy who has been below the level of a replacement level player? I doubt it but we will see if they get desperate. After all, they are only 1.5 games back of the Blue Jays for the second wild card.
1. Jon Lester– LHP Boston Red Sox
The latest update on Twitter is that the Red Sox are currently in “listen-mode” from MLB teams about Lester. Lester doesn’t want to negotiate contract extensions mid-season and he wants big money, something the Red Sox don’t want to do. Lester is a dominant ace when he is on his game and is one of the best left handers around so it does seem odd they don’t want to pay him.
The Red Sox already traded Peavy away this deadline season to the Giants. Perhaps the Red Sox do not feel confident in their ability to re-sign Lester in the off-season. Whatever the case, the Red Sox would be crazy to move Lester in my mind but I do believe their is a team that would pay the price the Red Sox are looking for.
Lester is currently pitching to the tune of a 2.52 ERA and has a great K% of 25.7%. He has truly been dominant for the Red Sox this season and has a 4.5 fWAR. It is rather interesting hearing this whole conundrum unfold but it seems that it is 50-50 whether or not the Red Sox decide to move Lester.
In my mind, the team that needs a legit ace is a team that hasn’t been mentioned much in trade talks and has the prospects to swoop in and take Lester. That team is the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers rotation has been good, but Yovani Gallardo hasn’t returned to his old dominant self and they need a true ace. The Brewers are a good team and could be a World Series contender if they add an arm like Lester. Imagine: Lester, Gallardo, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta. Now that could possibly compete with the Giants or Dodgers.