Now that the June draft is in the rearview mirror and the All-Star break is rapidly approaching, one should expect the level of trade activity to dramatically increase in the upcoming weeks. Outside of Ernesto Frieri being traded to Anaheim and Kevin Youkilis departure to Chicago over the weekend, it has been extremely quiet on the trade front thus far in 2012. This season represents the first with the additional wild card, and the effect a 5th playoff spot in each league has on trade activity this summer is yet another intriguing result of the new collective bargaining agreement.
The calendar now shows late-June and with a little over half a season left to play, only Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, Houston, Chicago Cubs, Colorado, and San Diego can be effectively declared out of the playoff chase, and therefore, sellers. Undoubtedly other players will be made available, but here are a few names that stand an excellent chance of changing teams in the next few weeks.
Jeff Francoeur OF Kansas City Royals – Considering minor league super-prospect Wil Myers is about major league ready, it would make sense that the Royals look to make room in right field by trading Francoeur. A terrific defensive outfielder with some right-handed pop, Francoeur is signed for next season for $7.5 million, which could prove a detriment or motivation to an acquiring team depending on their perspective. The Cincinnati Reds might have some interest in upgrading from Chris Heisey in left field, and Francoeur could help solve their lack of right-handed power hitting in their lineup.
Carlos Quentin OF San Diego Padres – A free agent at the end of the season, San Diego could look to sign him to an extension prior to July 31st, but if they cannot come to terms, there will be an excellent chance this right-handed slugger will be wearing a new uniform before August. An oft-injured outfielder with immense power, Quentin will be one of the best available hitters this summer. Quentin would surely interest San Francisco as he would represent a significant upgrade in right field.
Marco Scutaro SS/2B Colorado Rockies – A 36-year old middle infielder and free agent at the end of the year, multiple teams must be eyeing Scutaro to fill a hole at either second base or shortstop. Scutaro has a .276/.328/.385 batting line with 4 home runs so far in 2012, and would slot nicely at second base for St. Louis or Detroit, among many other teams, making him a solid bet to change uniforms.
Josh Willingham OF Minnesota Twins – In the 1st year of a 3-year contract signed last winter, Minnesota might not be ready to part with Willingham quite yet, nevertheless he is a 33-year old outfielder with a reputation as injury prone, and his incredible start to the season (.275 15 HRs and 49 RBI) might force the Twins to alter course and sell high. I would expect multiple teams to show interest and a potential bidding war could net the Twins a solid prospect or two for Willingham.
Ryan Dempster RHSP Chicago Cubs – Recently placed on the disabled list with an injury, Dempster was experiencing a career year with a 2.11 ERA over 81 innings in his last season before free agency. The 35-year old veteran righty will fetch a solid prospect or two if he can return from his injury and pitch prior to the trade deadline, and the Cubs should be hoping for a speedy return, as they could use the boost to their mediocre farm system.
Zach Greinke RHSP Milwaukee Brewers – Rumors out of Milwaukee recently seem to indicate that if they cannot sign an extension with Greinke prior to the trade deadline, they will look to trade him before he reaches free agency this winter. Greinke is probably pointing toward Matt Cain’s recent contract extension of 5-years $112.5 million as parameters of a deal, which would likely price him out of Milwaukee’s mid-market payroll. The Red Sox and Yankees both desperately need another Ace-Level pitcher and it would be fascinating to see the “king’s ransom” the Brewers could command for Greinke’s services.
Brandon League RHRP Seattle Mariners – A free agent to be, League has struggled at times thus far in 2012 with a 3.69 ERA and gruesome 1.55 WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched) but has turned it around with an outstanding month of June allowing only 3 earned runs in 10.2 innings and 8 strikeouts to boost his trade value. League does not profile as a shutdown closer, but he would be a great asset to any team as a set-up man in the 7th or 8th innings, and I would be surprised if he remained a Mariner through the trade deadline.
Brett Myers RHRP Houston Astros – Shifted from the starting rotation to the closer role this season, Myers has had another excellent season in relief, pitching to a 3.55 ERA, with 16 saves, and 18 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched. Myers has a vesting option in his contract for $10 million next season (not an exorbitant price if reverted back to the starting rotation) and Houston’s farm system desperately needs the prospect that Myers should obtain in a trade from a bullpen deficient team.
Huston Street RHRP San Diego Padres – Another free agent to be (after a $500k buyout) this winter, Huston Street has pitched well in San Diego so far this year, after batting some injuries earlier this spring. A 1.50 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 18.0 innings will appeal to many teams, and as long as Street remains healthy through the July 31st deadline, it would be shocking if the Padres GM Josh Byrnes does not trade him for another prospect to add to their outstanding farm system.
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