As we continue the series of primers for the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, which is July 31, we'll check out a division that is seemingly wide open. The Indians have been near the top the whole season, the Tigers have been there most of the way while the White Sox have lingered and the Twins have recently made a surge to jump into the mix. Do we have four teams as buyers in one division? Let's see.
|MLB Trade Deadline|
Needs: Outfielder, possibly starting pitcher
Notes: With Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore on the disabled list, the major focus will be landing a rental in the outfield. The increased attendance this season could help the budget, but they still won't be able to break the bank. The big name here is Carlos Beltran, especially with the recent news that the Mets would pick up Beltran's salary. He does have a no-trade clause, though, so it's possible he won't want to go to Cleveland. Some other names that could arise: Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Jeff Francoeur, Scott Hairston, Reed Johnson or even Marlon Byrd (if the Indians are OK with his $6.5 million salary for 2012). As far as pitching, maybe David Huff just grabbed the five spot with his brilliant performance Monday and won't let it go. The Indians haven't been connected with any specific starting pitching names on the market. Finally, if you think the Indians need an upgrade at second base, fret not, that's going to be filled from within the roster in the form of hot prospect Jason Kipnis.
Needs: Starting pitcher, third baseman.
Notes: The top priority for the Tigers is to find another starting pitcher. Some names that have surfaced in rumors are Hiroki Kuroda, Aaron Harang and Jeremy Guthrie. Derek Lowe's name has come up, but he's got an awfully big salary compared to his actual production at this point. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports has reported that Kuroda is the Tigers' number one target. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune presented an interesting scenario, one in which the Cubs would ship third baseman Aramis Ramirez, starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano and cash to the Tigers for third baseman Brandon Inge and prospects. This would work pretty well to fit both the Tigers' glaring needs, but I'm not sure how much more than speculation is behind it. And, as we noted yesterday, Ramirez has stated he'll use his no-trade clause at least through July 31. The Tigers have also been connected to Carlos Beltran, but outfield isn't near as much a need as starting pitching or third base.
Chicago White Sox
Status: Buyers and Sellers?
Notes: The White Sox are in a weird spot when it comes to starting pitching. They've been using a six-man rotation when all six starters are healthy. This means they could deal one of them for something of value in return and still have a full rotation. Being only 4-1/2 games out means the team should be buying, but instead they could do so by selling. Edwin Jackson's name has surfaced, as he's a free agent after the season. The Red Sox, Cardinals and Brewers reportedly had scouts at Jackson's first start after the All-Star break -- in which he threw a shutout. Mark Buehrle is also a free agent after the season, but he has a $15 million option that would vest if he were traded. Another name that seems unlikely to come up in trade talks for a team in the race is Carlos Quentin. Yet the Chicago Tribune floated the idea that Quentin could be moved in order to make room for slugging prospect Dayan Viciedo, especially if the White Sox don't want to pay Quentin's likely hefty arbitration figure in the offseason. The Phillies and Braves were listed as possibilities for Quentin. Meanwhile, the White Sox are certainly in the race and could use upgrades in several areas. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have been awful, but it's likely the White Sox just hope they come around. That still leaves third base as a position that could use an upgrade. The bullpen has been much better since the dreadful start to the season, but there's always room for improvement there as well. This is one of the most unpredictable teams heading down to the deadline, and general manager Kenny Williams is already quite unpredictable himself, so there's no telling what they'll do. The smart money is on mostly staying pat and hoping the players in-house get things going, but you never know with Williams.
Status: Hold, for now.
Notes: A double-header loss to the Indians Monday dropped the Twins to seven back. Had they won both, they'd only be three back. You can see what kind of swings can happen in a short period of time in this division, which leads us to believe the Twins will either buy or hold. A lot is going to be determined in the next week. If the Twins have started a losing streak and fall down to 10 games back, they might sell a few pieces -- though they are going to hold onto Michael Cuddyer -- but if they start winning again and stick around, it's conceivable to see the Twins as buyers. Former starter turned reliever Kevin Slowey could be dealt either way, otherwise no names have really surfaced in rumors, because of no one knowing where the Twins will be in a week. Let's keep in mind, the Twins should be getting reinforcements in Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau at some point. Team that with the recent return to form from Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan and it's like the Twins have upgraded in July anyway.
Kansas City Royals
Players Available: Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur, Wilson Betemit, Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen
Possible Matches: Pretty much anyone.
Notes: The Royals will be pretty aggressive sellers, but they aren't offloading marquee names. Most of their best players are part of the young nucleus that's expected to contend in 2013, if not next season. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the Royals are pushing Cabrera more than Francoeur. Morosi reports the Angels and Phillies are interested in Cabrera while the Giants have "light interest." According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Royals want a "near-ready starter" in return for either Cabrera or Francoeur, but 25-year-old outfielder Lorenzo Cain (who is hitting .324 with a .922 OPS in Triple-A) could easily be summoned, so not getting a starter in return may not prove to be a deal-breaker. There have been reports that the Brewers and Pirates have kicked the tires on Betemit. Francis and Chen are the types of starters that could be dealt in the last hour or two on deadline day, as teams who lost out on other starters scramble.
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