July 25, 2011
The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching and with several teams out of contention, expect some key players to be dealt to contending teams. One trade target, the New York Mets’ Jose Reyes, is apparently staying put according to reports. But there are plenty of others on struggling teams that may be traded at the deadline.
Carlos Beltran: Beltran is the biggest name out there expected to be traded. He’s primarily seen as a rental player since his contract is expiring, but at 34, still has a few seasons of productivity left. Often, the sticking point in high-salary players being dealt is the remaining money left on their current contracts. However, the Mets are so desperate to acquire some quality prospects in exchange for the aging outfielder that they are willing to pay most of the remaining money owed on his deal this year. Add it all up and it looks like Beltran could be in a different uniform very soon. The only thing that may keep this deal from getting done is the unwillingness of teams to part with top prospects in return.
Heath Bell: The Padres’ Bell is one of the top relievers in the game this season and his 28 saves and 2.45 ERA would look good in any team’s bullpen. The thing that makes him so desirable is that even clubs with established closers could use him as a setup man. San Diego is going nowhere this season and has little use for Bell, so I expect him to be traded. Bell has never appeared in the playoffs, but at 33, has plenty of experience in the majors and shouldn’t be easily rattled in the postseason.
Carlos Pena: Buried in the NL Central standings, the Chicago Cubs appear to be sellers this season. Carlos Pena is a chip they could use to bring in a few prospects to help them rebuild. The first baseman is batting well below .250, but his 20 home runs would be valuable for a team looking for some extra power in the playoffs. He’s also sound defensively and previously won a Gold Glove in the field. Pena is 33 and unlike Beltran, probably wouldn’t command a top tier prospect.
Chris Iannetta: It’s not often that a player batting under .225 is on the radar of teams at the trade deadline, but Iannetta finds himself in that rare situation. He’s one of the few catchers reportedly on the market and teams in need of a receiver for the stretch run can ignore his low average. He’s solid at his position defensively and with ten home runs this season, has a little pop in his bat. Iannetta is, however, under contract for the next few seasons at a very reasonable cost so the Rockies are in no rush to move him.
Koji Uehara: The Orioles’ Uehara is a setup man, but like Bell, could be used as a closer as well. He’s having the best year of his career with an ERA under 2.00 and is one of bullpen arms being most watched by teams. An attractive aspect to adding Uehara is that he is only in his second year of major league service time, meaning he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2015. At 36, there’s a good possibility that he’ll be retired by then, but teams can have him at a reasonable rate for potentially several more seasons.