Only 63 games into the regular season, and we’re talking about contenders already emerging and MLB trade deadline rumors. If you’re a devout MLB fan, you can see which teams have sunk, which have always stunk, and who’ll play October baseball. Although we’re all devoid of clairvoyance into what September standings will look like, seven key players should be high on your team’s wish list regardless of cost.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia is done. Already. It’s time for a full-blown rebuild mode, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. knows who must go by the trade deadline. Obviously, Ben Revere is revered by many teams for his speed, defense, and clubhouse candor, so that’s a no go. Ryan Howard will be expected to lead the next generation of sluggers, so count him out. That leaves very few choices other than Cole Hamels, who could command (or will command, according to Amaro) someone’s Top 20 prospect. We can rule out the Cubs, because Theo Epstein will be chintzy when discussions of prospects arise.
That leaves several teams with cash to absorb contracts and prospects to throw, such as Texas or Los Angeles. At 31, Hamels would bring a respectable 3.27 career ERA and five consecutive 200 IP, 190K seasons to some lucky team’s rotation. Let’s call the Yankees the underdog team in the running for Hamels’ services come trade deadline time.
Troy Tulowitzski, Colorado Rockies
Tulo, a career.299 hitter with no full season under his belt in 9 years, could make an attractive DH alternative for AL contenders or could become someone’s full-time shortstop. Call me crazy, but I know of several teams who’d benefit from an experienced SS, one of them being the Cubs. Baez is still striking out more times than we can count, but would better served under Tulowitzski’s tutelage as opposed to error prone Starlin Castro.
Move Starlin and absorb Tulo’s contract, maybe toss in a CJ Edwards or AA prospect and two picks next year.
Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
The likelihood Cincinnati misses the playoffs increases with each nagging injury, meaning Cincinnati will want to unload in preparation for next season’s rebuild. What team wouldn’t want the 27-year-old flamethrower Aroldis Chapman closing out the ninth? One such team needing a reliable final punch is the Cubs, who rely on Hector Rondon and whomever Maddon platoons in his spot – none whom are reliable.
Although the media’s concentration is on moving Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati would benefit from his experience should they go into rebuild mode at the trade deadline and should move Chapman since he’d command a much larger payday from Reds execs.
Brandon Moss, Indians
Cleveland may be playing stellar ball and hover only a few games below.500, but let’s not fool ourselves: Detroit and Kansas City control the Central, and both will be purchasing someone if the price is right. Both teams have enough pitching, or can outscore the opposition enough to really not care about shopping for starters. Platooning Brandon Moss all over the outfield, or even at DH to give Kansas City or Detroit some spot relief would be beneficial, and with Moss putting up respectable numbers as always, he’d make an attractive target for some contender at the trade deadline.
He may command high picks, draft compensation or salary payoff, but Moss is definitely a great prospect for someone.
Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox
Boston is probably done, too. Clay Buchholz leads the team with an abysmal 4.07 ERA, money spent on hitting is proving to be money wasted, and Farrell’s day may be numbered. If we’re unloading talent, consider middle reliever slash setup man Junichi Tazawa, currently 8th in the AL in holds. He’s giving up one long ball per 10 innings for his career, averages around 1K/1 IP, and controls the strike zone enough to force ground ball outs. I’d seem him in Los Angeles or Texas where middle relief is spotty.
Trading him for draft picks and a Top 50 prospect would be trade deadline gold, although Boston may want compensation for salary owed.
Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners
After Felix Hernandez was bashed for 8 runs in 1/3 of an inning Friday, it’s obvious there’s something wrong in Seattle. Not much production from Robinson Cano, pitching beyond King Felix is pretty poor with Taijuan Walker still coming of age, so expect Mariners execs to field offers on solid players like Fernando Rodney.
Not your heavy strikeout closer by any means, but Rodney could convert to middle relief behind, say, Greg Holland or Trevor Rosenthal. His 3.73 career ERA spells trouble in often desperate 9th inning situations, so putting him in closer roles in 2015 probably wouldn’t be fruitful for anyone. Anyone willing to eat his $7 million could get someone solid in the seventh or eighth innings.
Brandon Maurer, San Diego Padres
We all know the National League West is the battle of San Francisco and Los Angeles, so San Diego should try and recoup some big money mistakes made last winter and spring. 24-year-old Brandon Maurer, an effective setup man this year with plenty to offer someone in spot starts or long relief situations, could go cheap to the right organization in exchange for drafts or Top 75 prospect talent. A shiny 1.83 ERA in 2015 proves anyone can change their game after leaving Seattle.
Follow the scoop on this year’s trade deadline movements and other analysis of MLB teams and players here at the Inquisitr Sports.
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