The Major League Baseball trade deadline is July 31 and several teams have been repeatedly linked to intense trade discussion. Below are some of the most notable player trade rumors to date.
The Cleveland Indians have agreed to to trade starting pitcher Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Triple-A outfielder James Ramsey. Masterson is in the midst of a severly disappointing season in Cleveland; posting a 5.51 ERA and 4-6 record. Last season, the right-hander was viewed as a potential staff ace, compiling a 3.45 earned run average and 14 wins. This past off-season, Masterson rejected a four-year $64 million contract offer from the Indians. Given his performance in 2014, the former Red Sox farmhand may be regretting that decision.
In St. Louis, there will lowered expectations for Masterson as he arrives in town. Coming off the disabled list, he will likely be a third or fourth starter on the World Series contender.
The Indians have been fielding offers for shortstop Esdrubal Cabrera; who is entering the final year of his contract. With hot prospect Francisco Lindor ready to assume the shortstop duties in 2015 and beyond, moving the .250 switch-hitter would make sense.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are presently out of playoff contention and sliding fast. There has been much interest from contending teams for the services of Jon Lester, John Lacker, Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller and Mike Carp to name a few. The interest in Lester is of paramount importance, as his departure would officially signal the end of the Sox title defense. Lackey and Uehara also present a lot of intrigue; as both could be valuable additions for other teams during a pennant race. One team that would likely be in the market for Uehara would be the Tigers, whose bullpen ERA is among the worst in the league.
One player who has made his desire robe moved clear is Felix Doubront, who has expressed his displeasure with a reserve role in 2014. For his troubles, Doubront will go from a World Series winner to one of the bottom-dwellers; going to the Chicago Cubs for the infamous “player to be names later”.
Tampa Bay Rays
Despite playing their best baseball all season; propelling them back into the playoff hunt, there is little denying the Rays will be financially incapable of retaining ace left-hander David Price beyond this season. The Dodgers, Pirates and Mariners remain the leaders for his services; but there are many others that would covet the talent that Price possesses.
Left-handed 35-year old starter Cliff Lee is the prominent name among players who is drawing the most trade interest. As a last place team with many high-priced veteran components, Lee is the most logical to trade based on his ability to perform in the postseason. Unfortunately, with a unfavorable contract that will pay a pro-rated amount of $25 million annual salary for 2014 and another $25 million for 2015, a trade for Lee would also have to include the Phillies sending cash considerations to whichever interested team wants to acquire his services.
If Lee’s contract is considered prohibitive, A.J. Burnett would be a viable option. At 37, Burnett has the experience to be a strong middle of the rotation starter for many contending teams.
For those that may be staggered by Lee’s contract, consider another player who may draw some American League interest; Ryan Howard. His annual salary is comparable to Lee’s, but has another season (2016) that would have to be paid. If the price is right, the Seattle Mariners could use a bat of his caliber to protect perennial MVP candidate Robinson Cano in the lineup.
Being out of the playoff race basically since opening day, the Cubs have explored many trade options. With the deadline fast approaching and several contenders looking for bullpen help, the Cubs have actively shopped closer Emilio Bonafacio; with the Orioles and Royals among the leading teams pursuing his services.
New York Mets
Strange that a 40-year old PED violator would be a coveted asset; but Bartolo Colon has drawn interest from teams like the Pirates, Royals, Indians to name a few. Given the Mets current standing, Colon is not in the teams plans long-term; making his movement a likelihood.
Chicago White Sox
Like the Tampa Bay Rays, the White Sox are clinging to a slimmer of playoff hopes. If the Sox feel that they are realistically not in the hunt, John Danks could be dealt. Presently the Yankees and Orioles have been identified as potential suitors.
Less than 24 hours remain in the non waiver wire trade period and several prominent players and teams are looking to strike deals. What will ultimately happen is anyone’s guess. In the end several or few major deals will be struck. What makes this time of the year exciting is that anything is possible. Even with more potential names likely to be thrown into themes what will happen is anyone’s guess.