Nick Cafardo has a new piece up in the Boston Globe, detailing all the moving parts that could go into a busy trade season this year. The economy, big contracts, looming free agency and disappointing results on the field are all conspiring to flood the market with players. He writes:
A fire sale could be in the offing in Cleveland, with attractive players such as last year’s Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee, who will be a free agent after next season; Mark DeRosa, who would bring a top reliever and has been coveted by multiple teams; and the big prize, catcher Victor Martinez, who is said to be available for a blockbuster package. The Indians also would surely move underachieving shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
While the White Sox and Padres are open to deals (the Padres would love to move Brian Giles), a major league evaluator said last week that the A’s and Indians also appear to be “wide open” for business, as could be the Rockies and Mariners.
The A’s could soon field inquiries on outfielder Matt Holliday, who is picking up his hitting, though he simply hasn’t taken to the expanse of McAfee Coliseum. The A’s would also move Jason Giambi and/or Orlando Cabrera after June 15, the date when free agents signed during the offseason can be traded.
The Mariners got off to a decent start, but as their season turns into what we thought it would be – lousy – they’ll make some of their more attractive players available. Guys like the struggling Adrian Beltre, Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard, and Miguel Batista, who are all in the final year of their contracts, could be had. Batista may fit in Tampa, which is looking for another bullpen piece. The Mariners wouldn’t shop him, but they’d listen to offers for first baseman Russell Branyan
The Rockies could be dealing with a new manager soon, but reliever Huston Street, third baseman Garrett Atkins, first baseman Todd Helton (who would have to approve a deal), and outfielder Brad Hawpe could all be available.
The Nationals may move first baseman Nick Johnson, who is in the final year of his three-year deal, and having a very good season. The Orioles could attract suitors for Aubrey Huff and relievers George Sherrill and Danys Baez.
If he’s right, prices could come down for many of the players involved. Too many sellers and not enough buyers. But we all know that trade rumors typically outpace actual deals by a factor of ten. But the big wild card this year is the economy. Bud Selig has already said that attendance is down across Baseball, so teams that appear to be out of the pennant race will have extra motivation to get rid of salary.
The Indians are (typically) being smart, and trying to get out in front of this potentially flooded market by offering up their players now. The Padres attempted to do this as well with the recently nixed Peavy deal. The teams that sell off first will certainly do the best this year. The teams that buy first will look foolish in a month, just as the teams that signed free agent players early (Edgar Rentaria/Kyle Farnsworth/Kerry Wood/and yes, Raul Ibanez) wound up overpaying based on last year’s market. The bargains all came just before Spring Training.
The Yanks would be smart to wait until the last minute, and I think they will. At one game out, they can certainly afford to. Don’t believe the stuff about the Yanks not being able to add payroll, that’s just part of their negotiating strategy. There will be players available for Bobby Abreu-like prices (nothing) from teams desperate to lower their payroll, so wherever the Yanks have a need they will be able to find a match.
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