It is July 18th, just under two weeks away from the non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball. There is no two week period with as many MLB rumors flying around as these two weeks. Just like when attending a game, you can’t know the players without a program (actually, you can now, sorry program vendors, people have the internet on their phones. On their phones!). Here is a look at who is going to be a buyer in the trade market, and who is going to be a seller this year.
New York Yankees – Holders of the best record in baseball, they certainly won’t be sellers. However, based on the Yankees’ behavior under the direction of general manager Brian Cashman, don’t expect New York to make a big move this summer. Once C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettite return from injury, this will be a team with few holes, except perhaps some additional bullpen help to offset the loss of the irreplaceable Mariano Rivera.
Tampa Bay Rays – While just three games over .500, Tampa Bay is playing on the edge of playoff contention, and can never be counted out of it as was seen in 2011. The offense could use a shot in the arm, which may come in the form of Evan Longoria’s return. As a unit though, Tampa Bay is hitting .232/.314/.374.
Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox have been a bit of a hot mess in 2012. They have struggled through a terrible start, a new manager, clubhouse issues, cutting Kevin Youkilis, a terrible Adrian Gonzalez, and an injured Jacoby Ellsbury. Yet, they sit just one game back in the wild card race. Boston’s starting pitchers have a 4.71 ERA, good for 11th in the American League. They could probably use help anywhere on their pitching staff, but another reliable starter would likely be the top demand.
Chicago White Sox – The White Sox have over-performed compared to most pre-season expectations, but find themselves with a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central. The addition of Youkilis has already paid off. Now the latest talks have Chicago looking to add starting pitching as well, maybe even a big splash like Zack Greinke.
Detroit Tigers – It’s difficult to explain exactly why the Tigers are 3.5 games back of the White Sox in the AL Central, except that they’re not a very deep team. The top players like Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder have had good years, and Austin Jackson has been an absolute monster. After the core group the production drops off. Look for Detroit to be in on some of the same starting pitching conversations as their division rivals in Chicago.
Texas Rangers – The Rangers are looking to make their third consecutive trip to the World Series. In each of their two previous AL Championship season, Texas made major trades during July to push them over the edge. The 2012 squad is arguably the most complete team of the three years, but don’t count the Rangers out of making a big splash.
Los Angeles Angels – The Angels have the best record in baseball since the call-up of Mike Trout. While they underperformed as a group prior to adding the rookie and were due to improve, there is no denying that Trout is perhaps the favorite for AL MVP at this point of the season. The Angels may still look to trade for another starting pitcher to take the spot of an injury-plagued Dan Haren or a disappointing Ervin Santana.
Kansas City Royals – A young team that is full of promise each year, Kansas City is once again falling short of that potential. While there aren’t any major pieces here that are obvious trade bait for other teams, the Royals certainly will be looking to re-tool for contending in future years.
Minnesota Twins – There isn’t much good news in the land of the lakes, except that the Twins may actually have some items to sell that contenders will be interested in. Francisco Liriano seems the most likely to be moved, and Josh Willingham could be a popular commodity as well. There is less of a chance that the phone rings for Justin Morneau, but Minnesota will certainly listen to any and all callers.
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners have several young players in their core that could make them contenders in 2014, but they have shown again they’re not ready in 2012. No, that still doesn’t mean they’re going to trade Felix Hernandez.
No man’s land
The rest of the teams in the American League are in contention, but if we really took a hard look at their odds of making the playoffs, we’d see they are closer to pretenders than contenders. To bring in talent that might push them to contender status could mortgage the future with no guarantee of a playoff berth, and may actually set the franchise back instead of pushing it forward. However, it doesn’t make sense for these teams to start holding a fire sale of their valuable parts either. Best of luck to the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, and Oakland Athletics in 2012, but excuse me if I don’t hold my breath for your run to the playoffs.
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