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June 19, 2013
The Lineup Card
8 Potential Buyers at the Trade Deadline
1. Giants: A Starter
With so many potential buyers, any one position may be difficult to find in the market, but starting pitching should be available. San Francisco has been linked to Northern California native Bud Norris, and there will be others as July 31 approaches. The Giants are in fourth place, and none of the teams above them are by any means uncatchable, but their rotation needs at least one upgrade to do it. —Zachary Levine
2. Orioles: A Starter
While the O’s may have started the season 20th in our organizational rankings, there’s still plenty of talent (prospects such as Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Delmonico, Mike Wright, Zachary Davies are sure to draw interest around the league) to make a move for a starting pitcher like Bud Norris (1.42 WHIP, .282 BAA, 3.64 ERA), Ricky Nolasco (1.15 WHIP, .244 BAA, 3.61 ERA), or Lucas Harrell (1.57 WHIP, .280 BAA, 4.48 ERA), all of whom almost certainly will be available at the deadline. And if the White Sox realize it’s time to rebuild, a soon-to-be-healthy Jake Peavy (1.16 WHIP, .247 BAA, 4.30 ERA) could very well be dangled on the market. Norris, Nolasco, and Peavy would immediately improve the quality of Baltimore’s starting rotation and are sure to be upgrades over the performances the Orioles have received this season from the likes of Jason Hammell (1.49 WHIP, .288 BAA, 13 HRA, 5.24 ERA) and Kevin Gausman (1.62 WHIP, .333 BAA, 7.66 ERA in six starts).
When you have a legitimate shot to overtake the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays to win an American League East division title, you make the necessary moves. —Joe Hamrahi
3. Colorado Rockies Acquire a Four-Leaf Clover and a Rabbit's Foot
The Rockies need to hope that nothing goes wrong, like a major 4-6 week DL stint for Tulowitzki (oh…) that might sap their ability to turn grounders into gold. Therefore, I recommend that at the deadline, they buy a four-leaf clover and a rabbit's foot. And maybe a closer not named Rafael Betancourt. —Russell A. Carleton
4. Tigers: A(nother) Closer
5. San Diego Padres: Do Something
They may not necessarily be a power player, but they're square in the middle of a wacky NL West filled to the brim with other teams featuring various flaws and voids. There's a lot they need: hitting, pitching, a smaller ballpark, better uniforms, more national attention… but the mere fact that the Padres could make some transactions to compete with the Dodgers and Giants this year is another sign that we should all stop pretending to know about baseball in March. Heck, the only reason I picked the Padres to make the playoffs was because something goofy always happens. Dream big. Maybe San Diego is just one player away from being this year's NL team that sweeps Detroit in the World Series. —Matt Sussman
6. Baltimore Orioles: A Second Baseman
Enter the underperforming Philadelphia Phillies and impending free agent Chase Utley. The oft-injured second baseman just began his rehab assignment last night and will likely return from his oblique injury by the end of the week. When Utley was hurt, he left behind a .272/.339/.475 line with seven homers in just 44 games—which would look fantastic out of either the number three or five spot in the Orioles' lineup. Now, this is predicated on two things that have yet to transpire: 1) the Phillies struggle enough to be sellers at the deadline and 2) Utley needs to stay healthy until at least the All-Star break. But if those two things can happen, this marriage makes almost too much sense. —Bret Sayre
7. Diamondbacks: A Star
Then I decided they needed another home-run hitter to go with Paul Goldschmidt, who has hit more than a quarter of the Diamondbacks’ long balls. A disproportion like that is never a good sign; Arizona is 25th in the majors in home runs. But I can imagine other D-Backs getting hot and going deep more often: Cody Ross, perhaps, or a healthy Aaron Hill or Jason Kubel (yes, I know, “a healthy Jason Kubel”?).
What I ultimately realized is that the Diamondbacks have most of the pieces they need to win their division. What they lack is presence, and what they need is a star. They just don’t have that A-list celebrity who can sell a picture. Yet, as I write this, Goldschmidt, who was recently signed to a lavish extension, hits a walk-off homer to beat the Marlins in the ninth inning, prompting teammate Brad Ziegler to tweet: “There are no more adjectives. Goldy's late-inning heroics are far beyond anything I've ever witnessed before.
8. Reds: An Outfielder
In a perfect world, Billy Hamilton would be tearing up Triple-A and the Reds could call him up to play center, simultaneously filling an offensive hole and sliding Shin-Soo Choo to left. In this world, though, Hamilton is hitting .243/.302/.339 and hasn’t heated up lately, so he’s unlikely to help. Ludwick threw for the first time since his surgery last Friday and won’t return until mid-August at the earliest. Even then, he might not be back to full strength. Heisey should begin a rehab assignment soon, but he’s more of a supporting cast member than a first-division starter. (PECOTA projects a .254 TAv.) Cincinnati’s in-house solutions either aren’t prepared to hit big-league pitching, aren’t close to coming back from injury, or aren’t that great to begin with.
Enter an outfielder from another organization—Alex Rios, for instance. Rios’ successful season has made him one of the only marketable trade chips on the White Sox, and he started in center as recently as 2011, so his glove would probably be better than Choo’s. He’s signed for next season at $12.5 million (plus a $1 million buyout of a $13.5 million option for 2015), a rate that looks more reasonable than it did a few years ago, and his presence would give Cincinnati some insurance in the event that Choo walks away this winter.
The Reds probably don’t have a lot of payroll room to work with—there are a few cheaper options available if Rios won’t work—but they could really benefit from an extra win or two down the stretch. Our Playoff Odds suggest that they’re a near-lock to make the playoffs as it is, but St. Louis is still slightly favored to win the Central. An upgrade in the outfield could help tip the balance toward Cincy. —Ben Lindbergh