Trade Deadline Necessities #20-#11

Teams approach the trade deadline in different fashions based on their financial outlook and position in the playoff picture. Based on the varying degrees of needs for both buyers and sellers I ranked all of the major league teams on how important it is for them to act before the July 31 trade deadline. Some teams need to add a significant piece, while others need to extract value from their major league assets. For serious contenders, success in the postseason was considered on top of the likelihood they make the playoffs.

Yesterday, we looked at the ten teams with the least pressing need to make a move. From #30-#21, the order went: Red Sox, Phillies, Rockies, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Marlins, Yankees, Nationals, Braves. Today’s group starts with teams that may benefit from a move but who don’t absolutely need to be active this week, to those who should be on the phone rather frequently.

#20 – Minnesota Twins
Though they have rebounded quite a bit from a dreadful start, making up seven games in the AL Central over two months will be difficult. Their biggest trade chips are Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Denard Span and Scott Baker, but only Span has been mentioned in recent rumors.

He is also probably considered the bronze trophy to teams that miss out on Michael Bourn and BJ Upton. Kubel will be a free agent at the end of the year and the Twins could probably get a better return on compensatory picks. The Twins would have to pay virtually all of Cuddyer’s remaining money to get anything of value in return, and despite a losing season, Jim Thome’s quest for 600 HR will likely keep him in Minneapolis until the waiver wire period. They have some interesting pieces that may have been valued more in trades earlier in the season, but not so much right now.

Then again, given the thin nature of the starting pitchers on the market, Scott Baker would vault toward the top of that list if made available.

#19 – Chicago White Sox
The Sox are currently starting some of the worst everyday regulars in Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Mark Teahen and Juan Pierre and are still just 3.5 games out of the AL Central lead. Even replacing Pierre with Melky Cabrera would make a big difference. They aren’t as strong as the Tigers but could certainly pose a threat down the stretch. Or, the Sox could consider trading John Danks or Edwin Jackson given the overall quality of the rotation. Moving one of those two would almost certainly result in a big improvement without sacrificing too much in the pitching department.

Then again, they could also turn over their entire roster if Kenny Williams isn’t satisfied with where the team is headed.

#18 – Chicago Cubs
Moving Alfonso Soriano would be fantastic, especially since Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano each have 10 and 5 rights and, at least in the case of Ramirez, a desire to remain in Chicago. Assuming they pay most of Sori’s remaining ~$60 million, he could be a decent right-handed bat off the bench or platoon outfielder in the right situation. Reed Johnson could also solve a lot of problems for teams seeking a lefty-crusher with the ability to play center field, who also don’t want to commit to the potential financial ramifications that would accompany Upton or Bourn.

#17 – San Francisco Giants
Despite a four-game lead in the NL West, the Giants could do well to bolster their offense. Carlos Beltran would be a dynamite fit, and it’s clear the Giants are going to be active this week. The injury to Buster Posey created a void at catcher that cannot be filled internally. It can’t be filled externally, either, but they could stand to do better than Eli Whiteside. Pursuing Chris Iannetta would be an interesting move given that the Rockies have never seemed enamored of him and are out of the race. Ryan Hanigan might fit as well, as the Reds have some issues in need of fixing and don’t necessarily need him with Ramon Hernandez on the roster.

In the end, the Giants are most likely going to make the playoffs, but whether it’s a splash like Beltran or replacing Whiteside with Hanigan, they need to make a move somewhere to aid their chances at succeeding in the playoffs.

#16 – Texas Rangers
Their lead isn’t large and, despite an upper echelon offense, the pitching staff on the whole needs to improve if they want to increase their odds of making, and succeeding in, the playoffs. Much like the Giants, it’s likely they will win the division, but there is nothing wrong with a non-dominant team proactively improving those odds by improving a true deficiency. Either of those two White Sox starters would make a ton of sense for the Rangers, as would Matt Thornton to improve the ‘pen.

#15 – Oakland Athletics
They have Coco Crisp, Conor Jackson, Michael Wuertz, Brian Fuentes and Josh Willingham all attracting attention, and it’s likely at least two of them are moved by the deadline. None of those five have futures in Oakland and could certainly help a fringe or legitimate contender.

#14 – Kansas City Royals
Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur are available and attracting interest, even though neither is a real difference-maker. Cabrera derives much of his utility from his glove, and Francouer from his ability to hit lefties. Neither serves any purpose to the Royals and could be had for substantially less than some other bats on the market. Both also illustrate the idea of how context defines value. Melky is definitely hitting this year but his WAR benefits from the positional adjustment in center field. If a team like the Phillies acquired him, he would almost certainly play a corner outfield spot, negating one of his biggest benefits. With Francoeur, the overall offensive numbers are poor and well-documented. But strictly as a lefty-crusher, teams could do a lot worse. They would just have to resist the urge to play him everyday.

#13 – Detroit Tigers
They hold a slim lead over the Indians in the AL Central race, but have outfield problems and a rather thin rotation. Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch are performing fine, but the other spot has been a revolving door of Ryan Raburn, Magglio Ordonez, Casper Wells, Andy Dirks and Don Kelly, none of whom is performing well. In his defense, Ordonez hasn’t been that bad since returning from the disabled list — .300/.377/.390 since June 13 — so the Tigers would likely seek more than just a rental.

After Verlander and Scherzer, the rotation leaves much to be desired. If Kuroda were willing to waive his no-trade clause, he would fit well, but color me skeptical that someone so interested in playing on the West Coast would approve a deal to Detroit.

The Tigers have expressed interest in Derek Lowe, and it’s possible a deal could be made to that end, since the Braves don’t need him to still throw out a top-notch rotation. Though the Indians have more significant deficiencies to worry about, the Tigers can’t afford to be reactive here, scrambling to make an improvement after the deadline passes and others are knocking on the divisional door.

#12 – Baltimore Orioles
Though Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero aren’t going to attract much attention, Jeremy Guthrie might be the best available starter on the market, especially given his team control for the 2012 season.Recent trades have shown that teams don’t really part with all that much talent for 1.5 years of a pitcher, but they part with even less for 0.5-1 year. Now is the time to move Guthrie.

#11 – San Diego Padres
Jed Hoyer has been taking calls on Ryan Ludwick, Heath Bell and Mike Adams, but it’s entirely possible none of those three goes anywhere. Interest in Ludwick is limited, as he is a distant Plan B to a team that misses out on Beltran. Adams is under team control next year as well and it would take an awful lot to pry him from the Padres, especially since they’ll likely use him as a closer when Bell signs elsewhere as a free agent.

Bell will be offered arbitration, and any deal to send him packing would have to be more enticing than what could be had with the two compensation picks. While the Padres probably should move at least two of those three players, they don’t have the same pressing need to move their assets as a couple of the sellers that will appear on tomorrow’s list.

Tomorrow we will conclude the three-part series by looking at the ten teams who most need to make moves this week, whether it’s a fringe contender looking to bolster their playoff odds, or a cellar-dweller that needs to trade away major league assets.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

37 Responses to “Trade Deadline Necessities #20-#11”

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  1. prospectslol says:

    the problem with this type of article is it never covers the teams in depth enough to be a worthwhile read.

    for example, the cubs have pieces that will actually be traded that aren’t named Soriano, Zambrano, or Ramirez and it won’t only be Reed Johnson.

    Ramirez refuses to going anywhere, the Cubs won’t get fair value for Z or Soriano so why dedicate your entire section on the cubs trade necessities, minus one sentence, on those 3 guys.

    Guys like Pena, Byrd, & Fukudome are the Cubs best trade pieces, who are getting the most action from other teams, yet you fail at even mentioning them.

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  2. Will says:

    I think teams like the tigers and white sox have a greater need to trade than the padres. Surprised the padres are on this list at all

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    • bob loblaw's law blog says:

      i believe the idea is that this is a window where they will get the best possible value for guys like bell, adams, etc., so it’s as important for them to take advantage of that as it is for a team in contention to shore up a weakness.

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      • PadresFuture says:

        The problem is the Padres don’t want good org 5-20 prospects, they want “impact” 1-5 org type prospects. They have plenty of depth now at most positions other than ss and c in the minors…. plenty of future “average” or “replacement” players, in itself not a bad thing to have if the impact players were also there. The Padres may be better off getting multiple draft choices this year and next with their pending FA’s. These are typically the type of draft picks they can use on “upside” players. Said picks are risky but the more you have the better chance of getting an “impact” player later on.

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      • Ben Hall says:

        My impression is that it is not clear that compensation picks will still be part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

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      • Jason B says:

        “The problem is the Padres don’t want good org 5-20 prospects, they want “impact” 1-5 org type prospects.”

        And their related problem is they have no tradeable assets that will fetch “impact” 1-5 type prospects. Will some team give one up just so they can get Heath Bell or Mike Adams and slot them into the 8th inning? Or for Ryan Ludwick’s mediocre bat? Nah. (Or not at all likely, anyway.)

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    • jrogers says:

      I’m not surprised the Padres are on the list, given that it’s a top 30 list of MLB teams.

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  3. JBImaknee says:

    I don’t understand the Rangers comment – Texas is 6th in MLB in starting pitcher WAR… all five starters have been effective, even if at times mildly erratic. They need bullpen help, sure. But starting pitching is probably the one facet of the team that doesn’t really need to be addressed at all, particularly for the regular season.

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    • James says:

      I think the underlying issue that is not articulated above is that it’s pretty much a crap shoot when you tack on another 60-80 innings (more depending on how deep they go in the playoffs) on each of their starters and then line them up in the playoffs against the Yankees/Red Sox offenses… From what I can tell, besides Wilson/Lewis, none of them have a track record for that many innings in a season.

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      • JBImaknee says:

        Fair enough point, but can’t you make that argument about every team’s rotation? Few teams outside the Phillies have 3 or 4 guys who have long track records of success and durability. I’d rather rely on any of the Rangers starters to keep doing well than rely on Colon or Garcia in New York or Boston’s rotation (#30 on the list) that can’t stay healthy and will likely have either Wakefield or Lackey in a playoff game.

        Right now, all the rotations of the potential playoff contenders in the AL are probably going to be somewhat overmatched compared to the offenses involved. To suggest Texas’s is particularly weak outside of Wilson is simply a lack of analysis.

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  4. Matt says:

    “the pitching staff needs to improve if they want to increase their odds of making, and succeeding in, the playoffs. Much like the Giants, it’s likely they will win the division, but there is nothing wrong with a non-dominant team proactively improving those odds by improving a true deficiency. Either of those two White Sox starters would make a ton of sense for the Rangers, as would Kuroda were he to approve a deal.”

    Are you making things up? Only five teams have gotten more fWAR from their starters, than the Rangers starters have. If you were saying that the Rangers could sure use some bullpen helf, because they’re right at the bottom in reliever fWAR, then sure. that’s a valid opinion. And sure, John Danks and Edwin Jackson are both pretty good starters and may be an upgrade, but certainly not some shining saviour of a desperately tragic band of misfits.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Nah, I had written something different but it didn’t save for some reason. I’m referring to the staff as a whole. Thornton would make sense for the Rangers if the Sox start to sell.

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  5. Dmtlife says:

    What are the chances Aramis goes to the Rays? You could easily move Longoria to first base I’m sure he’d have no qualms about this. Then the Rays could finally have a complete set of corner infielders which would relegate a guy like Dan Johnson, who is good but not great, to the DH slot where his bat can play but his iron glove does not. On a side note I think the Rays should also spring for Derek Lowe. He has the veteran presence and poise that could anchor a young Rays staff for years to come. I think the Braves would send him over for a guy like Upton maybe.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      You don’t acquire Ramirez and then move Longoria to 1B. Longoria is the Rays 3B for the next 10 years.

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    • ToddM says:

      This is approaching decent trolling, pushing the limits of what people might accept. Any time you can get the author of the article to respond, you get bonus points.

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      • TK says:

        Obvious sarcasm has clearly become the best thing about the Fangraphs comment section. I just wish all the n00bs that are too stupid to understand would go back to ESPN where they belong.

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      • Jason B says:

        Plus, sometimes it’s hard to recognize when it’s not written by Uncle Leo.

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  6. Colin says:

    I don’t see the Reds moving Hanigan, he is signed cheaply. Hernandez is a free agent after the season, and they aren’t bringing him back. Makes more sense to keep Hanigan and his affordable deal in case Mesoraco falls flat.

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  7. DSC says:

    Texas and Boston are the least likely to do anything; why should they unless they can get a true topnotch player? Baltimore should deal as much as possible, the depth of that organization is the worst in baseball. ‘Won’t get much for them’ is irrelevant when the cupboard is bare anyway.

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  8. ecp says:

    “Cabrera derives much of his utility from his glove…Melky has a high WAR primarily because he plays center field quite well.”

    It’s kind of weird to read this on a sabermetricky website. Have you looked at Melky’s defensive metrics at all? They aren’t good. Not this year and not overall for his career. Below average. Sure, he’s got more than the usual number of outfield assists, but that’s it. He’s getting his value from his bat, not his defense.

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    • Franco says:

      Average bats at premium positions inflates your WAR even if you’re a mediocre glove. Relative to other CFers, Melky is an offensive threat.

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      • Jason B says:

        An offensive threat compared to most other centerfielders, perhaps, but that’s not what’s implied by “Melky has a high WAR primarily because he plays center field quite well.” That’s talking solely about his defense’s contribution to WAR, as the previous commenter alluded to.

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    • Ben Hall says:

      This is more a comment on Eric’s line quoted above. It is likely that the value lost from moving to a corner outfield position would be made up for by a gain in his fielding numbers, since corner outfielders are not as good defenders as centerfielders.

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  9. Levi says:

    Any time Jeremy Guthrie’s complete mediocrity is the best available on the market, you know it’a a weak trade season.

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  10. Barkey Walker says:

    I don’t know why the Twins would trade anything with anyone. What do they want? In team mythology, the jobs of closer, starter, setup guy, are all over subscribed, and adding middle relievers is like putting a cherry on top of a burned 2011 cake.

    As for positions, they have more than a player per position. Gardy likes his so-so infielders (Casilla, Valencia, Cuddy, Ploufe).

    For 2012 the Twins have a 1B, C, and closer that are signed to MVP cost contracts and those players are just going to get older. They are all revved up for a (or are at least paying for) NOW to be when they win. If they do anything aiming for some rebuilding year (say Span for some new risky A/AA starting pitchers), it almost has to include moving Nathan or Morenau also to dump some contract costs, and who would buy on that offer?

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  11. GiantHusker says:

    You should have at least mentioned that the Giants’ greatest need is SS, both now and in the future. The catch is that there appears to be nobody available who’s worth having.
    Contrary to what you said, Beltran is not a great fit. The Giants have 5-6 average-minus to average-plus outfielders in Torres, Schierholtz, Rowand, Burrell (currently injured), Ross and (now) Belt. The first 3 have 1 to 1.5 WAR despite playing only about 60% of the time so far.
    If you do the math, you will see that Beltran is probably worth about 1 marginal win for the G’s, maybe 1.5 for the last 2 months of the season, not worth to $6-8M salary plus prospect(s).

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    • Jason B says:

      In Bill Hall, Miggy Tejada, Mike Fontenot, and Eugenio Velez, they also have some average-minus to average-minus-minus-minus infielders!

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      • cs3 says:

        Well that might be true if Velez was even a member of the Giants.
        C’mon at least do a little background if you’re gonna troll

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      • Jason B says:

        No troll effort, I thought he was still there. They still have a stable chocked-full of minus to triple-minus infielders.

        (I guess the new thing is just to assume *everyone* is trolling, just so we don’t accidentally get duped into making an earnest response to a troll comment? Just safer that way, I suppose.)

        If I was trolling I would have posted under Joel Rifkin.

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  12. jrogers says:

    So the top ten has five NL Central teams. Wow!

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    • batpig says:

      well, it’s got 4 teams that are in contention, and 1 team that is absolutely desperate need of rebuilding.

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  13. Jeff says:

    I hate to nitpick a tiny part of a single sentence (especially in such an interesting article), but Casper Wells was playing quite… well *shudder* for the Tigers (1 WAR in just 125 PA and a bunch of defensive replacement appearances across all three OF spots where he’s been above league average). He got sent down, but that’s more a product of Andy Dirks being inexplicably beloved by the organization – maybe for being a generic “gamer” who swings a tepid bat and makes the occasional diving catch.

    At any rate, you should probably check the player’s page before saying they aren’t (or weren’t) playing well.

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  14. Jr05s says:

    Guthrie > Wandy ? Just wondering what your thoughts are on the matter.

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  15. Kevin says:

    All things considered, B.J. Upton is like the bronze trophy to a team that misses out on Denard Span. Michael Bourn alike is 1) worse defensively, 2) worse offensively, and 3) older with a higher salary.

    The Twins would be stupid to trade him, even with their glut of young outfielders.

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  16. ezb230 says:

    i don’t think “the bronze trophy” is a thing.

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