As the first-year player draft has now come and gone, the front offices throughout the major leagues are decking the halls and beefing up telephone bills, in preparation of shopping for Christmas in July. On Friday, June 6th, the Dodgers acquired Angel Berroa to signify the unofficial start of trade season. The non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching at 4:00PM on July 31st and I have started to take a look at players that should be available for one of the most exciting times of the year. The following is a list of players that should be prepared to start searching for a new home:
Chris Carter, 1B (Boston Red Sox) - Carter got his first taste of the bigs this past week and went 2-3 before being sent back down to Pawtucket (AAA - BOS). This is a guy that is 25 years old and has Kevin Youkilis and Sean Casey in front of him. Carter has the promise to be a pretty decent hitter and reminds me of David Murphy with lots of contact and gap power but not a whole lot of home run power. He is ready and if I am a team who needs to fill a hole at first, I am looking at Carter for a cheap two-month audition. (KC? TOR? TEX? WAS? NYM? SF?)
AJ Burnett, RHP (Toronto Blue Jays) - Burnett will most likely become a free agent at the end of the season, terminating his contract in search of another big deal and a way out of Toronto. With that, I fully expect Burnett's name to come up in July if the Jays remain a .500 team. Burnett has great stuff but many have always questioned the makeup. He should fetch some top prospects despite an ERA currently just below 5.00.
Lyle Overbay, 1B (Toronto Blue Jays) - Overbay has had a tough stretch in Toronto, if he is traded it will be to be as a bat off the bench for someone. He is a gap hitter who has made less contact since moving to Toronto. There may be some interest from Texas or the Mets. He will get on base so he could make a great bat from the bench for many NL contenders. If the Marlins feel like adding salary, he would be a great compliment to Mike Jacobs power and would give them an OBP guy.
Chad Bradford, RHP/Jamie Walker, LHP (Baltimore Orioles) - These are a couple of veteran relievers that would help many clubs in their stretch run. The Orioles would be smart to drop one or both of these guys and continue to get value for some of their talent.
Brian Roberts, 2B (Baltimore Orioles) - After all of the conversations with the Chicago Cubs earlier in the year about Roberts he did not go anywhere because Baltimore was not going to settle for a package that did not make sense for them. He would be a big impact player at the top of the lineup for any team with contact and speed. If he goes, Andy MacPhail will get the O's top value.
Paul Byrd, RHP (Cleveland Indians) - The alleged HGH user is in his last year of a three year contract with the Indians and has reinvented himself with his unique retro delivery. Byrd makes sense in the National League for his veteran presence and he has postseason experience. If Mark Shapiro doesn't see the Indians making a run back to the playoffs, Byrd makes a lot of sense in Atlanta.
Carlos Guillen, UTL (Detroit Tigers) - This is one of my favorite players in the majors, this guy really has learned how to hit the baseball since leaving Seattle. If the Tigers were to remain stagnant, it would make sense for them to move some of their big contracts and get younger. Guillen is probably their most marketable player that they can make available assuming Verlander and Cabrera are not going anywhere. If Dave Dombrowski decides to trade Guillen he should be able to receive a king's ransom in return for a player that can be put all around the diamond.
Gil Meche, RHP (Kansas City Royals) - The Royals would be smart to move Meche if they can find someone to take on his contract. Meche had a great 2007 season, but 2008 has been more realistic for him. GM Dayton Moore may be able to find someone that is interested in his stuff. If they keep him around, it would be because the Royals feel that they are in position to make a meteoric rise in 2009, much like the Rays of this season (I believe this to be very possible).
Livan Hernandez, RHP (Minnesota Twins) - Hernandez is always available at the trading deadline because he has a rubber arm and has big game experience. I am skeptical of his age, listed at 33, but he is certainly still a serviceable pitcher and will be a coveted pitcher if made available.
Angels Outfielders (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - This is a team with a ton of depth in the outfield. Much like with Chris Carter, there is no place for either Juan Rivera or Reggie Willits on this team because the talent is so deep. Depending on a teams needs, Rivera has power and Willits has great speed and contact ability. Without consistent at-bats, neither has been able to do much this year. Either player would be a great option as a third outfielder.
Miguel Batista, RHP (Seattle Mariners) - This is a pitcher that can perform in either the bullpen or in the rotation. He should absolutely be available with Seattle's terrible start to the year. Batista has a pretty big contract, Seattle would most likely have to put some cash in with many deals.
Richie Sexson, 1B (Seattle Mariners) - Unless there is another Bill Bavasi out there, someone dumb enough to think Sexson is a talented player, there will be no market for the one-dimensional slugger. He is very available.
Adrian Beltre, 3B (Seattle Mariners) - Beltre is still only 29 years old and really has been showing some good power this season with the Mariners. I personally believe if Beltre was in a lineup with good protection behind him, he has .280/35/110 potential. He did hit 48 homers in 2004 with Los Angeles, but Seattle's spacious stadium has really hurt his production numbers. He would make a lot of sense for Philadelphia, his presence would make that lineup the toast of the National League.
Vincente Padilla, RHP (Texas Rangers) - Padilla is having a very good season and has always been hit or miss. The Rangers should be aggressively trying to get rid of his contract. GM Jon Daniels may be tempted to keep him around though if the Rangers remain competitive.
These players are all big contract players, but none are really big impact players. Adrian Beltre, Carlos Guillen and AJ Burnett could be relatively large additions if they are made available. Unfortunately, the last two years have had very mild trade deadlines with few impact trades. This trade season promises to be similar, with so few teams listed as "sellers," those that are sellers will be reaching for the stars on their trade demands.