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Lee, Holliday among hot trade market commodities

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Dayn Perry

Dayn Perry is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com. His second book, "Reggie Jackson: The Life and Thunderous Career of Baseball's Mr. October," is available from HarperCollins Publishers. Read more of his work at the NotGraphs blog.

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As the Cardinals' recent acquisition of Mark DeRosa proves, the trading season is upon us. Sure, the non-waiver deadline is still a month away, but already deals are being made and rumors are percolating. So let the wish-casting begin. Trades — even trades of impressive scale — can develop in a hurry and without the media's knowledge. With that said, the rumors are a guide, and those rumors allow us to scrutinize the top guys who might be moved before the calendar flips to August. Subject to change of course, here are five notable trade-deadline candidates and what they might offer their new teams....

Cliff Lee, Indians

Stats of note: 111.0 IP, 2.92 ERA, 3.04 K/BB
ZiPs ROS*: 3.68 ERA
Contract status: $8 million team option for 2010 (* The ZiPs projection system provides "Rest of Season" forecasts for all players. The numbers after "ZiPs ROS" tell you what you can expect from a player over the remainder of the 2009 season. They're available at the most excellent FanGraphs.) As Ken Rosenthal has reported, the Tribe is willing to trade the reigning AL Cy Young winner. Laying aside the wisdom of such a move from Cleveland's standpoint, let's establish that 2008 was no fluke. This season, Lee has enjoyed continued success despite playing in front of a subpar team defense. While his peripheral numbers aren't quite as impressive as they were last season, they're still strong, and his FIP (what his ERA should be once you remove fielding from the calculus) of 3.20 proves it. Quite simply, Lee has been the best pitcher in baseball over the last season-and-a-half, and there's every reason to believe he'll continue performing at a high level (his ZiPs ROS forecast is too pessimistic — to the extent that a projected ERA of 3.68 constitutes pessimism). He's the prize of the deadline, and he'd be a great fit for the Rangers, Phillies or Mets. The price, however, figures to be steep.

Matt Holliday, A's

Stats: .274 AVG/.373 OBP/.432 SLG, 8 HR
ZiPs ROS: .285/.367/.477
Contract status: Pending free agent Holliday's AVG/OBP/SLG by month ... April: .240/.288/.360
May: .291/.416/.456
June: .283/.383/.457 Save for his slow start to the season, Holliday has generally met expectations. He's not going to put up those mile-above-sea-level numbers again, but he's going to produce at an above-average clip by positional standards. He's also going to give you excellent defense in left and run the bases well. Unless Holliday is traded out of Oakland and signs an extension with his new team, he'll be a free agent this winter. However, he could be safely offered salary arbitration, and since he'll be a type-A free agent, his team will receive two compensatory draft picks once he signs elsewhere. So don't view him as a pure rental. Holliday's full complement of skills makes sense for the Cardinals, to whom he's been linked, and the Braves, who still need outfield help even after acquiring Nate McLouth. Expect that ZiPs ROS to look even better if Holliday gets out of the pitcher-friendly ballpark in Oakland and into the weaker National League.

Huston Street, Rockies

Stats: 33.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.70 K/BB
ZiPs ROS: 3.75 ERA
Contract status: Eligible for salary arbitration
Padres GM Kevin Towers tells FOXSports.com that Heath Bell and his 1.39 ERA aren't going anywhere, so Street might be the only true impact reliever on the market. Why he's on the market is another matter. Presently, the Rockies are just a half game out of playoff position, and now's hardly the time to part with a commodity like Street. Yet the rumors suggest they're pondering just that. Street, of course, is putting up those stellar numbers despite pitching his home games in Coors Field. He wasn't up to his usual standards last season because of a hip injury, but in 2009 he's healthy and once again throwing his changeup more often. The results have followed. Oh, and he's still just 25 years of age. The Yankees are reportedly interested, but he makes more sense for the Tigers or Cubs. Ideally, though, the Rockies would keep him and embrace contention.

Jarrod Washburn, Mariners

Stats: 89.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 2.40 K/BB
ZiPs ROS: 4.60 ERA
Contract status: Pending free agent, no-trade clause While the M's are within spitting distance in the AL West, Baseball Prospectus gives them just a 20.3% chance of making the postseason. So while you'd prefer to see the Mariners remain intact and go for the flag, a deadline sell-off is possible. Erik Bedard is terminal trade bait, but he's on the DL with an ailing shoulder. Perhaps, then, it's Washburn who'll be moved. He's enjoying his finest season since 2005, and his new two-seam fastball has at least something to do with that. ZiPs isn't bullish going forward, but it's possible that Washburn's deeper repertoire makes his performance sustainable, at least in the near term. Right now, he's the best starting pitcher on the market not named Cliff Lee. The Dodgers are reportedly interested, and the usual suspects — i.e., the Mets and the Philies — also could use the seasoned lefty.

Doug Davis, Diamondbacks

Stats: 98.2 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.62 K/BB
ZiPs ROS: 4.79 ERA
Contract status: Pending free agent Caveat emptor. Davis' ERA sparkles, but it's out of step with his established norms (his career ERA is about a run higher). His FIP of 4.42 also suggests he's been quite lucky this season. While his ZiPs ROS seems a tad grim, you can expect Davis to regress in the coming weeks. Teams eyeballing Davis as some sort of reconstructed ace will be disappointed. Those who want him for help at the back end will not be. The Brewers have been linked to Davis, and he'd help stabilize the rotation behind Yovani Gallardo. From the Snakes' standpoint, selling high on Davis is the right move.
Tagged: Padres, Rockies, Cliff Lee, Mark DeRosa, Braves, Indians, Tigers, Heath Bell, Nate McLouth, Yovani Gallardo, Brewers, Dodgers, Yankees, Erik Bedard, Mets, Mariners, Cardinals

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