Ranking the most impactful players potentially on the trade market
CC Sabathia was a great deal for the Brewers, and a big deal, as well. And Rich Harden looks like a pretty good response from the rival Cubs (although one scout said he's noticed Harden's velocity dipping from 93-97 to 89-91 his last two outings, raising concern about whether he's unsound again).
Sabathia and Ben Sheets give the Brewers a formidable top of the rotation, and at seemingly little cost, too. Only a day later, Harden -- one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy -- was paired with Carlos Zambrano to match Milwaukee's tandem.
The two best teams in the NL Central showed they mean business. But business isn't closed, and there's still 22 days until the non-waiver trading deadline.
It's entirely possible that neither may turn out to be the biggest deal of this trading season. There are still some signs the Rockies haven't ruled out a trade for star left fielder Matt Holliday.
It's not as crazy as it sounds. The Rockies quietly tried to extend Holliday this winter. And their attempts apparently went nowhere, leading Rockies people to believe their chances to keep their franchise player rank somewhere between slim and none. And slim just left town.
It's still possible Holliday could follow.
If the Rockies do decide to do some Holliday shopping -- and the chances are still better than not that they keep him -- some logical landing spots would include the Angels, followed possibly by the Mets and Yankees, depending upon the health of a quartet of hurting corner outfielders (Moises Alou and Ryan Church with the Mets and Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui with the Yankees).
The Angels have the pitching to win it all but would love to upgrade their offense and could offer the type of young players and prospects to entice the Rockies to make a deal, if the Rockies do conclude that's the best way to go.
Here's a look at the most impactful players that could still go in a trade (in order of potential impact):
1. Holliday. While he isn't repeating his MVP-caliber season of a year ago, his availability would still create a feeding frenzy. Odds for a deal: 3-1.
2. Mark Teixeira, Braves first baseman. The Braves are surely evaluating their chances in the tight NL East. Ultimately, they probably think they have a shot in a winnable division. Odds for a deal: 5-2.
3. Huston Street, A's closer. General manager Billy Beane proved once again Tuesday that he's willing to trade anyone at anytime. While the package going to the A's for Harden seems underwhelming in that outfielders Matt Murton and Eric Patterson haven't shown themselves to be stars in the making, consider that Sean Gallagher is a young starter under the team's control and young Josh Donaldson is that rarest of catching commodities. And consider, too, that Harden's spotty health history has made many teams shy away for years. Street has no such issues, and could become a pennant changer for someone. Odds for a deal: 3 to 1.
4. A.J. Burnett, Blue Jays starter. Burnett is injury prone and a bit of a pain, but he's good in small doses. The Cubs have been mentioned prominently since he said he'd welcome a deal there with "open arms." Odds for a deal: 1-2.
5. Erik Bedard, Mariners pitcher. His stock is following the plummeting NYSE. In Baltimore he was simply seen as an ultra-talented left-hander. Now he's just a prickly guy who's suffering from an array of aches and pains. Time to go, though. Philly seems like a possible destination. Maybe a nice cheesesteak would cheer him up. Odds for a deal: 2-1.
6. Garrett Atkins, Rockies third baseman. Chase Utley's UCLA teammate sure can hit, but the Rockies have a natural replacement in Ian Stewart. Odds for a deal: 5-1.
7. Jason Bay, Pirates outfielder. It would take a major package of prospects to pry him away, something teams don't like to surrender anymore. Odds for a deal: 15-1.
8. Adam Dunn, Reds outfielder. It's time to finally change the climate in Cincinnati, and that means the perennially-on-the-block Dunn has to go. His all-or-nothing hitting style and weak performances in the clutch will limit his attractiveness, however. Odds for a deal: 1-2.
9. George Sherrill, Orioles closer. He's proving that he can handle closing duties. A logical choice for the Brewers, who still have prospects to move. Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker are other relievers for Baltimore to dangle. Odds for a deal: 4-1.
10. Brian Fuentes, Rockies closer. The perfect example of a trading chip. Odds for a deal: 1-3.
11. Adrian Beltre, Mariners third baseman. Like a few others, he may just need to get out of Seattle. The Angels could be a possibility. Odds for a deal: 5-1.