While the MLB non-waiver trade deadline seems like a tiny dot in the distant future, it might be too early for some teams to pull the trigger on a big move to try and improve. For others, it might already be too late. Keeping in mind that not all deals come with the stipulation that the team must improve immediately, a GM in search of help would do well to consider just about anything and everything at this juncture. As a “buyer” teams will not necessarily be subjected to inflation that often accompanies the deadline. As a “seller”, teams may be presented with an opportunity to accomplish something that becomes more difficult after the All-Star break.
Consider the potential buyers in this market:
- Philadelphia Phillies – Being 6.0 games behind the division leader does not point to the end of all things. Being stuck behind 4 teams in their division with winning records does add a certain element of difficulty, though. The return of Cliff Lee should help quite a bit, especially with that pesky -9 run differential. Even so, this team struggles to score runs and has not adequately replaced the production lost due to Ryan Howard‘s absence. Given the lack of production from Freddy Galvis, Jimmy Rollins, John Mayberry, and Jim Thome, it appears that the Phillies are quickly nearing a point of no return for 2012. If they need another bat, can they put together a package around Joe Blanton that will fetch what they need? If not, do they risk floating Cole Hamels on the market to a team in hopes of obtaining big returns? While it might be difficult to find a suitable trading partner, the Rangers would be an interesting fit. Maybe something involving Michael Young or Mitch Moreland and Matt Harrison could happen.
- Milwaukee Brewers – With Rickie Weeks struggling and Alex Gonzalez out for the season, the Brewers could use someone who can play SS and spell Weeks a bit at 2B. Aaron Miles, anyone? The switch-hitter represents a potentially inexpensive option who can play several positions and has some mileage left on him. A team that stands 5 games out at 15-19 could do worse. Too bad word has it that Miles has struck a deal with the Dodgers.
- Boston Red Sox – Jon Lester‘s ERA sits at 4.29, and he has the LOWEST ERA among the starting pitchers. Considering the 6.5 game deficit, the Sox could be buyers, but I doubt that they can buy enough pitching to do it.
- Los Angeles Angels – This team trails Oakland by 3.0 games for 2nd in the division. The Angels have 5 players with 100+ at-bats this season, and 3 are hitting below .240. The combination of big contracts and older players may limit their options greatly, but there certainly must be teams out there that covet Peter Bourjos and……..well, Peter Bourjos.
- Minnesota Twins – When 1/3 of your hitters are below the Mendoza line, you might want to consider throwing in the towel. If Morneau can raise his numbers just slightly, he might be attractive to a team that needs offense and can handle a good portion of his $14M for 2013 and the balance of his $14M for this season. Moving Morneau would clear the way for Mauer to get more at-bats at DH, but it might cost the Twins some cash in the deal. Still, this is not a team headed for the playoffs anytime soon in its current form, so it might be a good idea to implement that 3 year plan now.
- San Diego Padres – Maybe now is the time for the Padres to also look at their 3 year plan. If they can work on getting Andrew Cashner-type players in return, I don’t think fans would be too upset about a salary dump that would return talent to prepare the Friars for the 2014 playoff run they seem destined to make. Since it seems unlikely that too many general managers are going to hand over guys like Cashner, they may simply want to divest themselves of some salary and bring along some minor league guys while wheelin’ and dealin’ anybody who projects to be irrelevant to their plans a few years from now.
Maybe it does seem a bit early for this, but consider the potential impact to the standing (and more importantly fantasy baseball), if 1 or more of these teams takes action.