One of those is Cliff Lee(notes), among the best - and most coveted - pitchers in baseball, who looks to help the Mariners win their sixth straight when they take on the visiting Cubs on Wednesday night.
The Mariners (29-41) are finally starting to play up to expectations, yielding two runs during an impressive season-best five-game winning streak. Seattle, though, is 13 games behind AL West-leading Texas, and could decide to trade Lee if it can’t get into the race.
Lee (5-3, 2.55 ERA) has been one of the few bright spots for the Mariners, striking out 67 and walking four in 77 2-3 innings. The ace left-hander is coming off his best outing of the year, pitching a six-hitter and striking out seven in a 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Friday.
“I’ve been traded before. It’s part of the game,” Lee said. “I’m a Mariner now. I’m helping this team win. If they tell me I’m going to another team, I’ll try to help that team win, too. Whatever.”
Lee made two starts against the Cubs last season, going 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA.
While Lee is perhaps the biggest name that could be available, Chicago first baseman Derrek Lee(notes), left-hander Ted Lilly(notes) and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome(notes) have also been mentioned as possible trade targets.
The three have played important roles for the Cubs (31-39) in the past few seasons, but with club eight games out of first in the NL Central, their future in Chicago is uncertain. The Cubs are on the verge of dropping nine games below .500 for the first time since they were 22-31 on June 2, 2007.
Inconsistent offense has been the biggest reason for their struggles, as the club sandwiched two shutout losses around a 12-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. Chicago fell 2-0 in the opener of this series Tuesday.
After allowing five runs in five innings of a 10-5 loss to the White Sox on June 11 - the third time in four starts he yielded at least five runs - Wells worked with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on his mechanics. In the first outing of his self-proclaimed new season Thursday against Oakland, Wells allowed two runs while striking out six in seven innings of a 3-2 win, but didn’t get a decision.
“It’s a little unfortunate it took this long to get the problem fixed,” he said. “I was pretty pleased with the way I calmed my emotions, didn’t let the negative things bother me and just focused on executing.”