It's a genuine buyers' market in baseball before the trade deadline
With five days to go before the trading deadline, the Yanks top the buyers market
Roy Oswalt and Prince Fielder are the biggest stars being discussed
Two teams needing an upgrade to their offenses include the Giants and White Sox
[Editor's Note: This column, originally published Sunday afternoon, has been updated to reflect Sunday evening's trade of Dan Haren to the Angels.]
The Texas Rangers made the big score already by acquiring star left-hander Cliff Lee on July 9, but the Angels answered Sunday by getting three-time All-Star Dan Haren from Arizona. Yet with only five days to go before the July 31 trade deadline, plenty of buyers still remain.
The biggest intrigue surrounds a couple stars who still might go, led by Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt. The latest conventional wisdom suggests Oswalt's likely to find a new home with the Phillies, Dodgers or Cardinals. Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder is less likely to go, but he's being discussed, most prominently by the White Sox and possibly also the Angels.
Here is the complete buyer's market:
1. Yankees: They say they want a bat for the bench and bullpen help, and that is true. But they can't resist big-game hunting. They tried hard for Lee and Haren, and made a big proposal for Royals closer Joakim Soria, as well. They also have been in touch with the Nationals about big-time power hitter Adam Dunn but so far found the price prohibitive. With Andy Pettitte on the shelf with a groin issue, the Yankees wouldn't mind upgrading their rotation, but they aren't pursuing lifetime National Leaguer Oswalt, who's always been an Astro. As for the offense, the Yankees are pondering hitters like Baltimore's Ty Wigginton, Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta and Florida's Cody Ross.
2. Dodgers: They seek a front-line starter, something they've needed for a while but haven't been able to afford with the Frank McCourt situation weighing on the budget. They are down to an unseemly $83 million for the marquee franchise (plus deferred monies that bring it to the mid-90s), and they haven't given up hope on a big-time pitcher, including Oswalt. Some speculate that with Manny Ramirez, Hiroki Kuroda and George Sherrill all presumably coming of the books nest year, if they could entice the Astros to pay a significant portion of the $25 million left on Oswalt's deal, they could surprise some folks. GM Ned Colletti has been able to pull of some deadline surprises in the past, starting with getting Manny from Boston in 2008 but not ending there. So you never know. But their financial situation handicaps them.
3. Giants: The pitching-strong team obviously needs some lineup enhancement, and they've looked into a few possibilities, including the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista. Toronto could see Ehire Adrianza or Emmanuel Burriss in such a deal. The Brewers' Corey Hart made a lot of sense (Tony Bennett would love Hart in San Francisco), but the Giants reportedly balked at surrendering young, cost-effective starters Madison Bumgarner or Jonathan Sanchez. Royals' outfielder David DeJesus would have been a nice fit before going down with an injury.
4. White Sox: Their turnaround has been amazing, but they are still looking to upgrade their offense. They like Fielder, and would likely be willing to include Triple-A catcher Tyler Flowers in a package. Pitcher Daniel Hudson is surely someone that could interest the Brewers, as well. It remains uncertain whether Milwaukee will trade Fielder. So Dunn, Arizona's Adam LaRoche and possibly Houston's Lance Berkman are others the White Sox may consider, though don't seem as interested in Berkman. According to the Denver Post, they also have their eye on Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe, as well.
5. Twins: They tried for Lee, and appear willing to dangle top catching prospect Wilson Ramos in the right deal. They still seek a pitcher. One big positive is that the Twins finally find themselves flush with cash, thanks to revenues increasing by an estimated $40-to-$50 million this year.
6. Tigers: They've had a nice year and are looking at both pitching and offense -- though the losses of Magglio Ordonez for 6-8 weeks and Brandon Inge possibly for the season could affect their priorities. They are unenthusiastically pondering a patchwork solution with players nearing the end of their careers, like Baltimore's Miguel Tejada or Boston's Mike Lowell, who has had lingering injury concerns. They've looked at Toronto's Bautista and others for extra offense in a year in which Ordonez and especially Triple Crown threat Miguel Cabrera have carried them. Cabrera has been unbelievable, but it's doubtful he can carry the offense by himself with Ordonez now out.
7. Rays: They looked at Phillies star outfielder Jayson Werth, but someone with Tampa said they don't expect that deal to happen. A bat and the pen are their stated areas of need, but there was a TV report out of Tampa saying they were "kicking the tires'' on Royals ace Zack Greinke. While there are reports Kansas City is willing to listen on anyone, one source said the Royals have told some teams they will keep Greinke, Soria and Billy Butler, which is no surprise. Corey Hart is also someone they'd been considering.
8. Phillies: They have been in on Oswalt, and were trying to swing a deal whereby they'd send Werth to Tampa or elsewhere for prospects, then use those prospects for Oswalt. But there have been complications, beyond the difficulty of three-team deals. For one Werth hasn't been as consistent lately, which may limit his value in a market where there are other outfielders available. They also looked at Haren, but Oswalt appears to be their clear focus and preference, even if he would favor St. Louis.
9. Cardinals: They've shown interest in adding a starter like Oswalt. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals made an offer that included Brendan Ryan, but it appears the Cardinals want a significant portion of Oswalt's contract picked up. Oswalt is said to love the idea of the Cardinals, which has kept this possibility alive. But the sides haven't seemed especially close.
10. Red Sox: They are in a tough spot with a spate of injuries to important players bogging them down while trying to compete in baseball's best division. They are looking at the relief market (Toronto has Scott Downs, Jason Frasor and Kevin Gregg who could be available) but are likely to take a wait-and-see approach. They aren't likely to trade a big-time prospect in what could be shaping up as a difficult year.
11. Angels: They got Haren from the Diamondbacks on Sunday for a package of four players that included lefty starter Joe Saunders. The trade shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as the Angels have always emphasized pitching. The Halos plan to keep Haren, not flip him for offense, even though first base is the obvious area of need. Mike Napoli has done a tremendous job there offensively, lessening the urgency, but Fielder is on their radar, they are monitoring the Cubs' Derrek Lee, and Dunn, LaRoche and Berkman all make some sense. The Angels don't like to surrender their better prospects, so it's tough to see them giving up big-time prospects for a first baseman who's just filling in this year before the injured Kendry Morales returns next year.
12. Rockies: They've been hurt by injuries but have hung in the race in the tight, tough NL West. They are looking around for a reliever, but finding the price for Kevin Gregg high so far. With 22 saves, Gregg has had a decent year as closer in Toronto and his team option for 2011 is fairly reasonable, causing Toronto to ask for a lot.
13. Braves: They've already done a lot of good work to get to first place in the NL East but could still be in the market for an outfielder.
14. Padres: Expected to be a seller, they are a clear contender now and are still leading the NL West. But they probably need to upgrade their offense, which entered Sunday 11th in the NL in runs scored and 12th in batting average, however they can.
15. Mets: They would like a starter and maybe an eighth-inning specialist to bolster the pitching staff. While the offense has been the real problem, there's no obvious way to improve it. So, they are looking at the Astros' Brett Myers and the Cubs' Ted Lilly for the rotation and the Toronto crew (Downs, Gregg and Frasor), among others, for the pen. They seem to prefer Myers to Lilly at the moment, as Lilly's velocity has been hovering around 87 mph.