MLB Rumors: Buyers and Sellers of the National League
I wrote something similar to this yesterday about the buyers and sellers of the American League. Well, now it is July 19th, and it is one day closer to the non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball. Nothing major has actually happened in the trade market in the last 24 hours, so that makes this second piece still relevant. 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 in the National League.
Washington Nationals – Surprise, the Nationals are the best team in the National League. Washington is being carried by their incredible pitching staff and their 3.16 team ERA. Aside from Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond, there aren’t many nice things to say about the offense. Look for the Nationals to try to bump up their run production by acquiring another bat to stick in the lineup.
Atlanta Braves – The Braves offense has cooled off significantly from the start of the season, and their pitching has been of the middle-of-the-road variety. Atlanta still finds themselves squarely in the hunt for one of two wild card spots, and just four games behind Washington in the division. With a couple of the right moves, they can become serious contenders.
Cincinnati Reds – Cincinnati boasts the best bullpen ERA in the National League at 2.60, and that is after losing offseason acquisition Ryan Madson for the year. Although, when Aroldis Chapman is anchoring your bullpen, it makes things a whole lot easier. At this point, the Reds have to be the favorites to win the AL Central. Adding some more offense would certainly make them a scary matchup in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh is tied with Cincinnati atop the AL Central. At this date last year, the Pirates were leading the NL Central again. From July 19, 2011 until the end of the season, they went 21-46 and sank to finish 24 games back in the division. It seems the Pirates are intent on not repeating history, and they appear to be the favorites to make a huge splash and land Justin Upton, if anyone is going to get him.
San Francisco Giants – The story in San Francisco is the same as it has been for the last five years: they can pitch, but aren’t so great at hitting. Now, with Tim Lincecum showing signs of snapping out of his year-long funk, that disparity may become even more accentuated. The Giants will be in the hunt for any kind of offensive weapon that they can add to the lineup to attempt to find a better balance.
Los Angeles Dodgers – It appears with the new ownership in Los Angeles, the Dodgers can be penciled in as buyers every year from now until the foreseeable future. Magic Johnson and his ownership group have burst onto the scene with wallets blazing, extending Andre Ethier (five years, $85 million) and signing Yasiel Puig (seven years, $42 million). Don’t be surprised if they are involved in some kind of bizarre trade that may be an overpay by the Dodgers, but will make them a better team.
Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers really don’t have that bad of a record in 2012. They are three games below .500, and seven games out of the wild card chase, but it could be worse. However, the way the trade winds are blowing it looks as though Milwaukee is searching for a new home for Zack Greinke, and that would be the biggest indicator that Milwaukee is ready to throw in the towel on 2012. Their fans deserve a tip of the cap, however, for still coming out to Brewers games 35,000 strong on average.
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs have been sellers for the last ten months. New president Theo Epstein and new GM Jed Hoyer have a big task on their hands to make the Cubs competitive again, and they’re not going to do it with the current unit. On the trading block is Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, and Alfonso Soriano. It’s an everything-must-go sale, as the Cubs look to bring back young, valuable pieces to refresh the current stock of expensive veterans.
Houston Astros – One year ago, the Astros may have been the worst franchise in baseball. Now they are making a turn for the better, but that hasn’t translated to success at the big league level yet. Houston has made several moves to re-stock their farm system recently, and they may be able to ship off Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Lee to continue that effort.
San Diego Padres – The future for the Padres is bright, but the present is gloomy. San Diego doesn’t have a shot in 2012. Their most valuable trade chip is Carlos Quentin, who may be the best bat available on the market this year. There are plenty of teams that would love to drop his name into their lineup.
Colorado Rockies – The Rockies are a bit of a lost franchise at the moment. They have Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez signed to long-term deals, but have no support in place around them. The team has already announced that Gonzalez will not be dealt, and neither will Michael Cuddyer. Gonzalez makes sense, as he is young, talented, productive, and relatively inexpensive. Cuddyer is essentially the opposite of all of those things. If there is any kind of market for his services, the Rockies ought to shuttle Cuddyer down to the next town.
No Man’s Land
Some usual suspects are missing from the buyers list, namely the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and St. Louis Cardinals. Of those three, the Cardinals have the best shot of making the playoffs, but any moves to try to contend by the Phillies or Diamondbacks would be too little, too late at this point. Philadelphia certainly should be sellers based on their record, but they have $105 million committed to six players in 2013, and have reportedly offered Cole Hamels a six-year, $130 million deal. Any selling done in Philly will not be for a long-term re-build; they’ll need to win in 2013. The Diamondbacks have obviously made it known that Justin Upton is available, indicating they are looking to steer their franchise in a new direction for the future. Also in no man’s land are the New York Mets and Miami Marlins, neither of which seems to have the right pieces to win or to sell, and so are left to toil fruitlessly in search of a playoff berth.
Join in the conversation with Peter on Twitter by following him @FutureGM