June 2010

Orioles open to trades, but not young arms

The Orioles will be sellers and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will listen to all kinds of offers as it inches closer to July 31’s Trade Deadline.

But according to MacPhail, the beleaguered Baltimore squad won’t be holding any kind of clearance for its decently-performing veterans.

“We wouldn’t [make trades] just for the sake of moving payroll,” MacPhail said during the Orioles recent West Coast trip. He added that the fire-sale approach isn’t something he anticipates.

“Right now, people that have interest in our club [for] the guys that are producing and, although we would have to consider that given the circumstances we find ourselves in, you would need to think that you got something back that would be helpful in the future.”
MacPhail said he gets calls from interested opposing general managers regularly. And although he didn’t name specific players, the Orioles’ top trade chip figures to be infielder Ty Wigginton. Playing predominantly at second base in lieu of injured Brian Roberts, Wigginton has already surpassed his home run total from all of last season, and is on several teams’ shopping list given his power bat and ability to fill in at multiple positions.
Third baseman Miguel Tejada, starting pitchers Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie, and left-handed specialist Will Ohman are also candidates to be moved, with designated hitter Luke Scott another possibility.

One group that’s drawn particular interest is the O’s young pitchers, but don’t expect a deal there.

“That’s part of the cornerstone of what we are trying to do,” MacPhail said.

–Brittany Ghiroli


Could Padres be buyers … and sellers?

The surprising San Diego Padres have spent nearly every day atop the National League West Division.

They have designs on remaining there, which means they’re considering adding pieces to their 25-man roster in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Padres owner Jeff Moorad has said the team will consider adding payroll to make a move. And last week, general manager Jed Hoyer, said they team is looking at offensive additions as well as adding a starting pitcher.

“I don’t feel like you’re ever all set,” Hoyer said. “I think we’re looking on both sides [pitching and offense].”

Like any other team, the Padres aren’t especially excited about parting with prospect to make improvements to their current roster. That said, they might be forced to part with some of their pitching depth to do so.

Finding another starting pitcher makes sense for the Padres. Kevin Correia is struggling. Chris Young, expected to be a key piece to the rotation, has pitched once (in April, no less) and might be a long shot to return this season.

Then there’s this: All-Star closer Heath Bell, who makes $4 million and will be arbitration eligible again, could be a piece the team could move. As reluctant as the Padres might be to break up their dynamic 7-8-9 bullpen trio (Luke Adams, Mike Adams and Bell) they could potentially land add a package of prospect/Major League ready players for Bell’s services.

In other words, stay tuned. It could be an interesting month in San Diego.

— Corey Brock

Mets don’t view Mejia’s injury as a trade deterrent

The Mets received an updated diagnosis Monday on injured starter Jenrry Mejia, who has a strained right posterior cuff. Though it’s impossible to say how actively the Mets would have shopped a healthy Mejia, it’s fair to deduce that an injured Mejia — now one with a history of shoulder problems at the age of 20 — will command less value on the trade market.

The Mets, however, publicly aren’t worried about that much. They feel that within their farm system — from Fernando Martinez to Wilmer Flores to others — they have enough to offer teams in return for a top-flight veteran starter. And they still see Mejia as a potential centerpiece in any deal.

“From Mejia to other players, we have some good prospects,” general manager Omar Minaya said Monday. “If you look at our talent, if you look at some of the guys we brought up, we do have some young players that can be attractive for other teams.”

The Mets, of course, are most interested in adding a starting pitcher to their rotation — though it has to be one that the team feels can out-perform either R.A. Dickey or Hisanori Takahashi.

–Anthony DiComo

Bucs willing to listen

Management has promised Pirates fans that this Trade Deadline period will not be like the last two, which featured an exodus of veteran players and an influx of young talent. That talent accumulation period is mostly over, which means the organization doesn’t feel like it has to pull the trigger on any proposed deal. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing will happen.

Pittsburgh will listen to anyone who comes with a proposal, and the likeliest candidates to go are the players under one-year contracts. That’s a group that includes outfielder Ryan Church, infielder Bobby Crosby and relievers Brendan Donnelly and D.J. Carrasco. Octavio Dotel can be added to that list if the Pirates aren’t planning to exercise his $4.5 million option for 2011. With these guys likely to be playing elsewhere next season, Pittsburgh can get something back if they trade them away now.

Catcher Ryan Doumit and left-handers Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have been asked about in the past and again, the Pirates will listen to any offers brought their way. Maholm would be able to net the biggest return at this point, but the Pirates would need to be overwhelmed by an offer to agree to part with the team’s most (and often, only) reliable starter. Maholm is also under the team’s control for two more seasons and at quite a reasonable price tag.

Jenifer Langosch

Dodgers Need Relief, Too

The Dodgers have expanded their starting pitching shopping list to include middle relievers, general manager Ned Colletti confirmed. The back end of the bullpen is solid with closer Jonathan Broxton and set-up lefty Hong-Chih Kuo, but the season-long struggles of George Sherrill and inconsistency of Ramon Troncoso leave the bullpen thin. In addition, because of four surgeries on his elbow, Kuo is not being used in back-to-back games. — Ken Gurnick

Where will Oswalt wind up?

Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt figures to be the center of a lot of trade discussion in the month of July. Oswalt has said publicly and the Astros have acknowledged that he has requested to be traded to a contender, and there should be no shortage of teams calling about his services.

Oswalt has 10 losses this year, but has given the Astros 13 quality starts and has been the victim of poor run support. He has a no-trade clause and would have to approve any trade the Astros make, so essentially he would have his pick of teams if the Astros choose to trade him.

But finding a team willing to take on the remainder of Oswalt’s $15 million salary this year and his $16 million salary next year, a team willing to give up top prospects in return and a team that’s in contention that Oswalt would approve a trade to will be very challenging.

The Astros would be willing to pay a portion of Oswalt’ s remaining salary if they get premier prospects they are seeking. Of course, the club isn’t obligated to trade the three-time All-Star. As general manager Ed Wade said in May: “He has a no-trade clause, not a trade-me clause.”

Oswalt is two wins shy of tying the club record of 144, so the month of July should be very interesting.

Brian McTaggart

Indians open for business

The Indians already fired their first shot of the Trade Deadline season on Saturday, when they dealt Russell Branyan to the Mariners. They’re certainly not done.
The Tribe is open to trading left fielder Austin Kearns, third baseman Jhonny Peralta, closer Kerry Wood and right-hander Jake Westbrook, all veterans in the last year of their contract. Peralta has a $7 million club option for 2011 that likely won’t be exercised.
Interest in the above names has been marginal, at best. Kearns, making just $750,000 and having a resurgent season, is attractive to some contenders as a fourth outfielder type, but the Indians currently value him as an everyday player and have the asking price to match. The Red Sox are one club that has inquired about Kearns.
Westbrook has been inconsistent this season and is making $11 million. He could be a guy who passes through waivers unclaimed because of his salary and is still eligible to be dealt in August. But the Indians will certainly see if there’s a market for him beforehand, as he could be a nice back-end rotation option for a contender.
— Anthony Castrovince