The addition of the second wild card logically should reduce the number of sellers at the non-waiver deadline.
This season, though, might be an exception.
So many teams stink, there will be no shortage of sellers. Several of them, including the Astros and Brewers, will display their wares this weekend on MLB on FOX’s “Baseball Night in America” (Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET).
You can’t buy this type of advertising, but FOX is happy to provide, both in television and on this website. Here is my complete list of potential sellers, including some that ultimately might not sell. If any of the teams below care to argue, try winning some games.
Dodgers: Never has a player in the first year of a five-year, $85 million extension looked as expendable as Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier — and not just because of the sudden ascension of Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers also like Joc Pederson, another of their outfielders at Double A. Pederson bats left, Puig right. Manager Don Mattingly could pick his spots with both, aiding in their respective developments — if only the Dodgers could get that darned Ethier out of the way.
I wrote in late March about how the Dodgers could buy their way out of mistakes such as the Ethier contract — and collect prospects — by including big money in trades.
Angels: An underachieving team with a bloated payroll is almost the definition of a seller, but the Angels aren’t likely to give up. Besides, what are they going to trade, eight-plus seasons of Albert Pujols at $24 million per year?
Left-hander Jason Vargas and lefty reliever Scott Downs are the team’s leading potential free agents; Vargas, if he pitches well enough, could merit a qualifying offer, enabling the Angels to receive a draft pick between the first and second rounds in 2014 if he departs.
Blue Jays: Could they really sell after going all-in last offseason? Probably not, considering that virtually all of their players are under contract beyond this season; righty Josh Johnson, a potential free agent, is the notable exception.
As always, general manager Alex Anthopoulos will listen on anyone, and no one on the team has a no-trade clause. But the Jays do not plan to completely change direction. If they move major leaguers, they would want major leaguers in return. And if someone like Cliff Lee became available, they’d be interested.
Phillies: Hold all “For Sale” signs! As one Phillies exec cracked, “Maybe you guys should be talking about the Nationals selling.”
Fair point: The Phillies, who went over .500 on Thursday night, currently are second in the NL East, ahead of the Nats by one game. The returns of catcher Carlos Ruiz and second baseman Chase Utley from injuries will make the club that much stronger. And lefty Cole Hamels might finally be finding his groove.
Do I think the Phils are actual contenders? No. But it doesn’t matter what I think. Team president David Montgomery will be reluctant to break up a team that stands a chance, however slim, of making the playoffs.
Heck, the Phillies might not even entertain trading Lee, who is under club control through 2015. The combination of Lee and Hamels gives the team the best chance of competing over the next several seasons.
Padres: The Chase Headley question might not be such a big question after all.
Headley, the Padres’ third baseman, has batted .170 with a .541 OPS since May 9. If he fails to revive quickly, his 2012 breakthrough might be viewed as an aberration – and his trade value might plummet.
As it stands, a trade doesn’t appear especially likely — the Padres say they want to sign Headley long-term, and new ownership would send the wrong message by trading him in July and breaking up a team that is 23-17 since its 5-15 start.
The Padres, though, could trade a starter such as Jason Marquis, Clayton Richard or Edinson Volquez if they fall out of contention, and a reliever such as Luke Gregerson.
Astros: MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds predicted Thursday night that No. 1 draft pick Mark Appel could be in the majors by July. True, my man Harold was a tad over-excited. But the Astros indeed will have plenty of room in their rotation soon.
Say buh-bye to righty Bud Norris, who has a 3.00 ERA in his last nine starts, a modest $3 million salary and two more years of arbitration remaining before he becomes a free agent. Righty Lucas Harrell also could go, and closer Jose Veras and lefty reliever Wesley Wright could be attractive bullpen pieces.
In short, general manager Jeff Luhnow will trade almost anyone to add to his base of young talent, except perhaps second baseman Jose Altuve, catcher Jason Castro and third baseman Matt Dominguez.
Marlins: I took great amusement Thursday reading that lefty reliever Mike Dunn and righty Steve Cishek are currently unavailable, according to MLB.com. Really? The Marlins are 16-44, and they’re making relievers untouchable?
The team’s big prize is right-hander Ricky Nolasco, a potential free agent who has a 2.17 ERA in his last four starts and already is drawing an increased scouting presence when he pitches. The Orioles are among the teams that have Nolasco on their hit list.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, currently on a rehabilitation assignment, is more likely to be traded in the offseason.
Cubs: A slam-dunk seller.
Righty Matt Garza has pitched fairly well in four starts since coming off the DL with a strained left lat. Righty Scott Feldman is less attractive despite his 2.84 ERA; his low opponents’ batting average on balls in play indicates that part of his success is due to luck. And then there is left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who finally might waive his no-trade clause.
Soriano is earning $19 million annually through next season, and the Cubs again are willing to include the cash necessary to facilitate a deal. Garza, though, will be a trickier decision. The Cubs will move him if they get appropriate value, but also could make him a qualifying offer and accept a draft pick if they lose him.
Brewers: The big names are right-hander Yovani Gallardo and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but the Crew likely will draw the heaviest action on its relievers — lefty Mike Gonzalez, righty Francisco Rodriguez and possibly righty John Axford, who has worked 11 consecutive scoreless innings but figures to be a non-tender candidate after earning $5 million this season.
The problem with Ramirez is his back-loaded contract — he will earn $16 million next season, plus a $4 million buyout on a mutual option for ’15. The problem with Gallardo is that he has a 5.25 ERA after 13 starts, so the fact that he is under control through ’15 isn’t necessarily a good thing.
First baseman Corey Hart, a potential free agent, could be another trade candidate, but he has yet to make his 2013 debut after undergoing surgery on his right knee. Second baseman Rickie Weeks, earning a combined $23 million in ’14-’15, likely will be difficult to move unless the Brewers trade one bad contract for another.
Left fielder Ryan Braun?
Signed through 2020. And radioactive.
White Sox: They’re in last place in the AL Central, though only seven games back. Their AL-worst offense is painful to watch, and now they’ve lost right-hander Jake Peavy — one of their best pitchers and leading trade candidates — with a broken rib for 4 to 6 weeks.
The White Sox are yet another team with enticing relievers — and righty Jesse Crain and lefty Matt Thornton are both potential free agents. First baseman Paul Konerko, who also is in the final year of his contract, has 10 years of service, five with the Sox, giving him the right to veto any trade.
Outfielder Alex Rios, under club control through ’15, likely would fetch the biggest return. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez, under control through ’16, is another possibility.
Twins: They did their selling last offseason, trading Denard Span to the Nationals and Ben Revere to the Phillies. Now they’re a mere five games back in the AL Central, and with manager Ron Gardenhire in the last year of his contract, they do not figure to deconstruct.
Most of the prominent Twins are under club control through at least 2014. First baseman Justin Morneau, the team’s most attractive potential free agent, eventually could become available. Lefty closer Glen Perkins, signed to a club-friendly deal through ’15, isn’t going anywhere.
Royals: They don’t exactly look like buyers, do they?
No, but it’s difficult to imagine the Royals selling. They might be near the bottom of the AL Central, but they want to salvage a season that began with great promise. That’s why they hired George Brett as hitting coach, and why they ultimately might fire Ned Yost as manager.
Right-hander Ervin Santana, in the final year of his contract, is pitching quite well. At this point, the Royals probably would prefer to make him a qualifying offer than trade him.
Mariners: The team is going nowhere, and the roster includes a large number of veterans in the final years of contracts.
Still, most of the Mariners’ veterans would command little in trades, and the team only should move first baseman Kendrys Morales and outfielder Michael Morse if the returns exceed the values of the draft picks the club would receive if it made those players qualifying offers.
Mets: Move along, little to see here.
Actually, that’s unfair. The Mets do have a few veteran parts that contenders might find attractive — catcher John Buck, outfielder Marlon Byrd, right-hander Shaun Marcum, righty relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Brandon Lyon.
But none of those players would bring back significant quality, and the Mets might prefer to keep Buck, in particular, as they prepare to promote righty Zach Wheeler and eventually catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who is recovering from a broken bone in his left foot.
The Mets are talking about buying if the right player becomes available. Could happen. But I’ll believe it when I see it.