Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trade Market: Buyers A.L.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are in a tight race for the A.L. Central with the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. Since the wild card will likely come out of the East or West, the division title is the only playoff chance for the Tigers. Detroit's pitching has been a big surprise for them and gives them a good shot in any playoff series. The Tigers may look to add a starter to ease the workload on rookie Rick Porcello down the stretch. They are also in the market for a solid bullpen arm to add to their staff as well. Detriot's biggest need is on offense, where the Tigers are tied for 10th in the A.L. for team OPS, and they are dead last in SB's. The Tigers could use an influx of both speed and power.

Top trade targets: Danny Baez (RP), Josh Willingham (OF), Luke Scott (OF), John Grabow (RP), Freddy Sanchez (2B), Willie Harris (UTL), Matt Holliday (OF)

Analysis: Given the weakness of the Tigers' farm system I think they will have a hard time going after some of the top trade targets. I don't think they have what it takes to pull off a Halladay offer. Baez or Grabow would be good fits to strengthen their bullpen. Neither would cost a top prospect, which will allow the Tigers to get the bat they need. If I'm Detroit, I'd try to put a package together to acquire Willingham and Harris from the Nats. It would fill the Tigers biggest needs as well as give them two players under control for next season. The Tigers have so much money tied up in bad contracts that they won't be able to afford free agents next off season. Getting two players who could start next year for around $7 million dollars would be key for Detroit.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are in the same boat as the Tigers. They need to win the Central to have any shot at the playoffs, and will need to make some moves to get there. Minnesota could use some production from their middle infield. In addition, with Joe Crede's (3B) status up in the air the Twins could use someone who can fill in there as well. Their pitching staff has been really good, with the only concern being when Kevin Slowery (10-3 record) will be back. They could use another arm or two in front of Nathan in the bullpen, but its not a pressing issue.

Top Trade Targets: Freddy Sanchez (2B), Jack Wilson (SS), Matt Capps (RP), Danny Baez (RP), Chad Qualls (RP), John Grabow (RP), Ty Wiggington (2B/3B), Willie Harris (UTL)

Analysis: Freddy Sanchez makes too much sense for it not to happen. While the Twins are likely leery of his price tag, they need a boost at 2B and at the top of their lineup. A bold move would be to try and grab both Sanchez and Wilson from the Pirates, significantly upgrading their middle infield. It would give the Twins the best middle infield defense (an major improvement considering they currently have one of the worst). Also Minnesota is one of the few places that Wilson would be an offensive upgrade. The biggest issue would be the salary obligations for next season. But the Pirates might be willing to eat some salary to increase their prospect return. Outside of that deal I see Twins looking for a reliever like Baez or Qualls (maybe Grabow or Capps with Sanchez). A guy who is solid but not spectacular, and one who wouldn't cost a major prospect.

Other teams looking to buy:

New York Yankees: The Yankees are finally in first place, but will likely need to make a few moves to stay there. I don't see a Halladay or Cliff Lee trade on the horizon for them. Likely, they will make moves for a couple relievers and possibly a back end starter. I think New York should target someone like Qualls and/or Grabow for their pen. They are relying on too many untested arms to bridge the gap to Rivera.

Boston Red Sox: The Sox already got one player they needed in Adam LaRoche. I'd look for them to try and add another reliable starter to go along with Beckett and Lester. I still don't see them making a blockbuster move for Halladay or Lee. Though it wouldn't shock me to see them pull the trigger on a Victor Martinez deal. A shortstop like Jack Wilson is a possibility as well.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have been linked with some big names recently, but I'm not sure how much truth is in those rumors. The Rays could use a catching upgrade and a starter, but the big name guys don't make too much sense. I do think they will add a bullpen arm like Capps or Sherrill. Someone who is under team control and could close for Tampa.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Though the Angels could use a starter or another big bat I don't think their payroll situation will allow them to acquire one. I think they will focus on adding a couple relievers to bolster their bullpen.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers weren't supposed to be this good, but they are in the playoff hunt with August approaching. They don't have the money to go after some of the top names (Halladay, Lee etc.), but should make a few moves to improve their team. Their lineup is set so the focus will be on the rotation and bullpen. An arm like Zach Duke from the Pirates makes sense since he is under team control for another two years. As for the bullpen, any of the multi-year guys (Qualls, Sherrill, Capps) make sense for a Rangers team that's on a budget.

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