Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Trade Deadline Preview

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In advance of the trade deadline, here are some quick thoughts on what all 30 teams are looking at this week. I'll post the August rankings next week.


American League (Rotoworld MLB news - Rotoworld on twitter - Matthew Pouliot on twitter)


Baltimore: The Orioles got a jump on the market by acquiring Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez to bolster the pitching staff, and they've also called up Henry Urrutia and now L.J. Hoes to see if they can aid the lineup. They haven't been ruled out as a possibility for a big starter (Jake Peavy?) or a complimentary bat (Michael Young? Michael Morse?), but my guess is that they'll be quiet from here on in. Urrutia has been starting regularly against righties, and he's 9-for-28 with a triple so far. I'm not much of a fan; he doesn't have a lot of power and he doesn't walk, but he's not necessarily a worse bet than the veterans they could acquire in his place. Hoes will likely start against some lefties, and he's a long shot to have much AL-only value.


Boston: The problem for the Red Sox is that they may need another starter to help them make the playoffs, but it doesn't make sense to pay a big price for someone who may not help them if they get there. If everything goes according to plan, they already have their pick of either Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront to follow Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey in the postseason rotation. Is Peavy enough of an upgrade over those two to warrant parting with a couple of quality prospects? I think they'll address the pen instead and possibly bring in a closer to bump Koji Uehara back into a setup role. Not that Uehara isn't fine in the ninth, but it would allow them to manage his workload more carefully. A bat is also a possibility, but it's more likely that they'll fill from within with Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks and maybe even Xander Bogaerts.


Chicago: It remains to be seen how far the White Sox will go in their role as sellers. Peavy, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Matt Lindstrom and the injured Jesse Crain are the best bets to go, but GM Rick Hahn may decline to completely blow things up if he feels the White Sox can contend next year. When the White Sox do make their moves, we could see Andre Rienzo up to join the rotation and Jordan Danks get a look in the outfield. Rienzo has a 4.06 ERA in Triple-A, but he's fanned 113 in 113 innings, making him sort of interesting. The 27-year-old Danks probably isn't going to make it, but the White Sox need to figure out whether he's going to be worth carrying again this winter. One problem with trading Ramirez: the White Sox have no one to replace him. Carlos Sanchez has a .600 OPS while splitting time between short and second in Triple-A. Steven Tolleson would be the better stopgap, though his range at shortstop leaves something to be desired. Ideally, the White Sox would get a young shortstop back in a trade.


Cleveland: The Indians are in a tough spot; they're in the thick of the race at 56-48 and they'd certainly love to give their fanbase something to be excited about. However, they don't have any obvious holes in clear need of an upgrade. Zach McAllister, the guy who would be replaced if a starter is acquired, has a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts this year. They could give up on Mark Reynolds and get themselves a different DH, but Reynolds still figures to be good for another hot streak this season. Maybe the most obvious move would be to get an outfielder and turn Drew Stubbs into a reserve. Even then, though, they have Ryan Raburn capable of playing right field and pounding the ball every time he gets a start. A Hunter Pence rental would be nice, but it's unlikely they'll aim that high.


Detroit: Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque have failed to step up, so the Tigers probably need to add two relievers to their pen. With Joaquin Benoit sporting a 1.50 ERA, they don't necessarily need a closer. It couldn't hurt to get one, though. Apart from the pen, they could consider a left fielder or a second baseman to fill in for the ailing Omar Infante (ankle). My choice would be to stick with Andy Dirks in left, with the possibility that top prospect Nick Castellanos could overtake him in late August or September. While I don't expect it to happen, just imagine Chase Utley hitting second in the Tigers lineup. It's just hard to imagine them getting Utley without using Castellanos in the deal.


Houston: With Lucas Harrell and Wesley Wright pitching so poorly, the Astros would seem to have just Bud Norris and closer Jose Veras to sell. A Norris trade could put either Brad Peacock or Asher Wojciechowski in the rotation. Both have ERAs in the 2.80s in Triple-A. Peacock had his opportunity earlier this year, so it might be Wojciechowski's turn now. Neither would be a great bet in AL-only leagues. Veras's departure would make Jose Cisnero the favorite for saves in Houston. Hector Ambriz has been awful, so he isn't an option right now. No one in Triple-A Oklahoma City's bullpen figures to come up and make much of an impact.


Kansas City: Although they have the ninth-best record in the AL, the Royals have been stubbornly refusing to admit they need to sell. Of course, it's hard to blame Dayton Moore for that; after going all in on James Shields over the winter, his job is on the line. The right move would be for the Royals to cash in both free agent-to-be Ervin Santana and closer Greg Holland. Not that they need to move Holland, but he'd bring back a very nice return and they'd still have a fine bullpen without him (maybe even with Wade Davis sliding from the rotation into the closer's role). Alas, the Royals might choose to buy instead or even do a little of both. A second baseman to replace Chris Getz is an urgent need, and an outfielder wouldn't hurt. The Royals could have both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino back from Tommy John surgery next month to fill any rotation gaps.


Los Angeles: And the Angels have the 11th-best record. Albert Pujols' trip to the DL on Sunday, maybe for the rest of the season, seemed to be the final nail in their coffin. The Angels, though, don't really have much to sell. Left-handed reliever Scott Downs is the obvious option; he's making $5 million and is in the final year of his deal. Atlanta and Boston are a couple of possibilities for him. Jason Vargas and Peter Bourjos would have been trade candidates, but they're on the DL. Vargas might be a possibility for a waiver deal next month. It's unlikely that they'll trade Howie Kendrick or Erick Aybar. Alberto Callaspo should be made available if anyone wants him. Luis Jimenez would be the top candidate to step in at third base, though Tommy Field could share time with him. Kole Calhoun got the call in Pujols' place Sunday and is well worth trying in AL-only leagues.


Minnesota: The Twins' best trade chip is out of play with Josh Willingham on the DL, but Justin Morneau could be of use to the Pirates or Orioles. If the Twins part with Morneau, they could move Chris Colabello to first and give Chris Parmelee his job back in right field. Alternatively, they could move Trevor Plouffe across the diamond and call on Deibinson Romero to play third. Plouffe is eventually going to need to move off third to make room for Miguel Sano anyway. The Twins probably aren't trading Glen Perkins, but if they do, Jared Burton would take over the closer's role for now. Mike Pelfrey could go. With Vance Worley on the minor league DL, Andrew Albers could be a possibility to step into Pelfrey's rotation spot.


New York: The Yankees, having already picked up Alfonso Soriano, are one of the teams that could buy and sell, with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain being the top two candidates to depart. However, it doesn't look like anyone is particularly interested in Hughes and a Chamberlain trade wouldn't bring much in return. The Yankees could still use another bat, preferably one able to play third base. Maybe Alex Rodriguez will return this week, but the Biogenesis suspension is still hanging over his head and he might have to start primarily at DH anyway. Michael Young is a fit and should come cheap.


Oakland: Finally blessed with relative good health for once, the A's must be feeling that their chances are about as strong as anyone's and thus are very much in the mix for Peavy and Utley if he's made available. A Peavy acquisition would send Dan Straily back to Triple-A. Utley would be huge as the second or third hitter in Oakland's lineup, but if the team can't get him, it'll probably stick with Eric Sogard at second base rather than trade for a lesser stopgap.


Seattle: The Mariners have a GM on the hot seat and thus are resistant to the idea of selling. After all, with two top starters and an offense that has suddenly gelled, the Mariners may feel they can make some noise in the postseason, if only they can get there. I suspect that the team will stand pat this week and then maybe sell in August if the standings don't seem favorable. Morse, Raul Ibanez, Joe Saunders and Brendan Ryan would all be candidates for waiver deals. Kendrys Morales and Oliver Perez would turn bigger profits for the team, but Jack Zduriencik would be admitting defeat if he gives either up now.


Tampa Bay: Wil Myers has been outstanding in right field, Chris Archer has locked up a rotation spot and the bullpen has clicked after some early struggles, leaving the Rays with no clear needs right now. It wouldn't hurt to pick up a reliever to replace either Cesar Ramos or Kyle Farnsworth, but the Rays have alternatives in Triple-A, too (Josh Lueke, Alex Colome, Cory Wade, Kirby Yates, Steve Geltz, Jeff Beliveau).


Texas: The Texas rotation is set after the big Matt Garza pickup. Now they need a bat or maybe even two with Lance Berkman making little progress with his hip and Nelson Cruz facing a Biogenesis suspension.'s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Rangers could get really gutsy and trade Joe Nathan, figuring that Joakim Soria would be fine in the ninth and Tanner Scheppers will continue to excel in the eighth. It still seems like a long shot that they'll go that route, though. For one thing, the teams most likely to want Nathan don't have the bat to offer in return, meaning it'd probably have to be a three-team deal. I expect they'll keep Nathan and add an outfielder like Rios by parting with a prospect or two.


Toronto: I wrote about the Blue Jays as sellers at HardballTalk last week, and things haven't gotten any better since. They may well move Casey Janssen, which would likely put Steve Delabar in the closer's role or at least as the head of a committee. Janssen wouldn't necessarily close for his new team, so he might lose most of his fantasy value. Their starting pitchers figure to stay put, mostly because no one is going to want to give up much for any of them.


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
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