By Kevin Aherne (@kaherne17)
The scents of barbeque and sun tan lotion fill the air, the corn has grown as high as your eye, the weather has been scorching hot, and so has Major League baseball's trade rumor mill.
With less than one week until the baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, the annual tradition of speculation, intrigue, and false leads has officially begun. We will now start to separate the buyers from the sellers, and see who will overpay for an eight week rental. Some moves have already been made, but more are sure to come. With twenty teams within ten games of a playoff berth, It is looking to be an exciting end to July.
While the activity has been fairly quiet thus far, as only two major trades have been executed, the rumors are swirling with all sorts of hearsay, gossip, and guesswork. While most of this conjecture will not play out as predicted, the next week is sure to be a hotbed of activity.
Rangers need an extra arm in order to catapult themselves into the AL West race, Cubs are going nowhere fast, but top-prospect Olt could be a future sparkplug in Chicago.
The Orioles are clearly looking to slingshot themselves past Tampa in the AL East race. They obtain a veteran closer who can give them solid innings from the pen, however, K-Rod hasn't really been relevant since 2008. The Brewers have no chance at contending anytime soon, but with a 2B/3B stud in Nick Delmonico, they have their heir apparent to Aramis Ramirez. The 21 year old prospect is projected to be somewhere between David Wright and Adrian Beltre.
On The Block
The Cubs lead only Milwaukee in the NL Central, and look to be going nowhere fast. They do have a few solid pieces in Jeff Smardjiza, Anthony Rizzo, and Starlin Castro, but Wrigleyville won't see a pennant run until they add more prospects, particularly pitchers. Alfonso Soriano could be a great asset to a contender, as a 10/5 player, has the right to veto any trade. However, if the right team came along (couch, cough the Yankees), Soriano may accept a deal that would shed salary for the Cubs, and bring back a few arms from the Bronx.
Alex Rios and/or Jake Peavy
Sticking with Chicago... The White Sox look pretty terrible right now too. They are way behind the leaders for the Wild Card, and are fifteen games from the lead in baseball's worst division. They are riddled with bad contracts, and should be looking to shed some dead weight, as well as money in the next week:
*Alex Rios is playing fairly well this year. His .278 average, 12 dingers, and 21 steals could draw the attention of a contender in need of an outfield bat. With a fairly manageable contract (owed $4 Million in 2013, $9.5 Million in 2014, and a $10 Million club option in 2015), teams like Boston, Texas or Cincy.
*Jake Peavy is owed $14.5 Million next season; he also has a player option (at $15 Million) for 2015. With mediocre numbers; 18-16 with a 3.82 ERA since 2012, Peavy could be more valuable for a middle of the rotation starter to a contender with injuries.
The Astros are awful. They have 34 wins this season, and are projecting to lose well over 100 games by the end of September. With so many contenders fighting off the injury bug, Bud Norris has been a popular commodity. With two more cost-effective arbitration years ahead of him, Houston can definitely afford to retain his services. However, that also means that Houston could demand more in return from potential suitors.
With Ryan Braun on the shelf, and K-Rod shipped east, the Brewers are clearly in fire sale mode. Gallardo, and his $11.25 Million price tag next year mean that his days in Milwaukee are numbered. Sure, at 8-8 with a 4.58 ERA doesn't sound very impressive, but perhaps a change of scenery and leadership could give him the chance to shine down the stretch.
Pitching very well in a contract year, the Royals are unlikely to re-sign 30 year old flamethrower Ervin Santana. Look for a change in laundry for this pitcher soon.
The Dodgers are still in the thick of the hunt, but with an outfield logjam out in Chavez Ravine, they may be motivated to sell. The 31 year old outfielder does offer a reliable bat and power in the middle of a lineup, but he also comes with a steep price tag. At well over $15 Million for the next five years, any suitor would likely ask Los Angeles to eat some of the contract.
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