June 02, 2010
On Tuesday, I wrote about the arrival of June and how the calendar flip was focusing the division races into some enticing chases we'd like to watch.
Today we look at how the other half lives, specifically the players on the teams that have fallen outside of the spotlight and probably don't want to make late summer plans in the cities they currently represent.
1. Roy Oswalt(notes), Houston Astros: The rest of this list was written in no particular order, but the Houston Astros pitcher made himself the first tradebait out of the refrigerated case with his plea/demand/request to be traded out of Minute Maid Park. He says he's willing to accept a trade to the Washington Nationals where he'd be the Kenobi to Strasburg's Skywalker, but that's assuming the Nats can put together a package more attractive than the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets or whoever jumps into the fray. It's also assuming that fond Astros owner Drayton McLane can ultimately bring himself to part with the aging vets he likes to consider Astros-for-life.
2. Cliff Lee(notes), Seattle Mariners: The Safeco offense has failed Jack Zduriencik's offseason plan, so it makes little sense to not make Lee one of the most-drooled over additions for a second straight trade deadline. So long as the Mariners don't think they can re-sign the pitcher — and their commitment last offseason to Felix Hernandez(notes) strongly suggests they won't be able to meet Lee's high-salaried demands — it makes little sense to keep him on a team that's occupying the basement of the AL West.
3. Paul Konerko(notes), Chicago White Sox: The first baseman left White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf speechless when he gave up the ball from the final out of the 2005 World Series and he was rewarded with a five-year contract worth over $60 million. Now Konerko is sending his own thank-you note back by building some trade value with 14 homers and 35 RBI at the start of the final year of his contract (when everyone assumed he'd be untradeable). The Los Angeles Angels have always been high on Konerko and now they have an emergency opening at first base, thanks to Kendry Morales' broken leg.
4. Derrek Lee(notes), Chicago Cubs: The veteran first baseman hasn't had a start on par with his crosstown counterpart, but the most interesting race in the Windy City this summer could be seeing which fan favorite is dealt first. Lee would be a valuable addition to any clubhouse and his move would create a Wrigleyville controversy for Lou Piniella once we start to suggest that Alfonso Soriano(notes) should be parked at first to create outfield room for Tyler Colvin(notes).
5. Prince Fielder(notes), Milwaukee Brewers: I don't really see this happening, because the burly Brewer is relatively struggling and he still has one more year left on his contract. In other words, there's still time for the Brewers to wait for his value to be higher.
It would also take a lot of effort for a trading team to acquire him when you consider they'd have to both build a decent package and then try to be certain that Fielder would be open for an extension. Konerko and Lee would both be easier and cheaper options with fewer long-term consequences.
But since Adrian Gonzalez(notes) might not be going anywhere in San Diego, the market is better than it could be and the Brewers are in a position where they'll have to start listening to offers. Like I said, it's a long shot ... but you still can't rule it out.
6. Ty Wigginton(notes), Baltimore Orioles: The O's have been so bad this season, but most of their roster is tied up by still-young players that the team can't give up on just yet. Thankfully they have the versatile Wigginton, who's a free agent after this season and is making just $3.5 million. He already has 13 homers and 32 RBIs this year, so Baltimore will have two pieces to help continue its rebuilding process. The other is ...
7. Miguel Tejada(notes), Baltimore Orioles: The shortstop/third baseman isn't the everyday water-carrier that he was in the past, but he'd provide infield depth and an intriguing bench option for teams searching for a spark down the stretch.
8. Mike Lowell(notes), Boston Red Sox: Adrian Beltre(notes) has made him expendable at Fenway Park's hot corner and his World Series success makes him fit Tejada's description above. The Red Sox would be on the hook for a good chunk of his paycheck, so it's hard to imagine someone won't take a flier on Lowell.
9. A.J. Pierzynski(notes), Chicago White Sox: With the irritating catcher qualifying for the "10-and-5" no-trade clause by mid-June, many of us thought Pierzynski might have already departed the South Side by now. But catcher-in-waiting Tyler Flowers(notes) is struggling in the minors, leading to some speculation his plate performance is keeping Pierzynski put. Keep a close eye on this situation.
10. Joakim Soria(notes), Kansas City Royals: It's been clear that GM Dayton Moore wants to build around the three-headed monster of Soria, Zack Greinke(notes) and Billy Butler(notes). But Soria is one of the most reliable bullpen options in the game and he has a club-friendly contract, being owed only a total of $7 million for the next two years (and three club options after that). That would seem to suggest he's untouchable, but might the right package from a team like the Phillies or Angels pique Moore's interest? And would him pulling the trigger drive even more Royals fans away from the team?
Which tradebait players would you add to this list?