Last week, Houston right-hander Roy Oswalt made it known that he is open to a trade. The Astros are among the fortunate. Teams get too caught up in worrying about the message they are going to send their fans so they are reluctant to trade their veteran star-quality players. Do they think fans are stupid? They know a bad product when they see it, and they know that one or two superstars who have reached their peak are not enough to resurrect a franchise and aren’t young enough to be a key factor in rebuilding. There are veterans who deserve to be dealt as a sign of respect for a team that can use multiple reinforcements.
Red Sox should trade 1B/3B Mike Lowell
Lowell won’t bring much in return. And the Red Sox will have to eat most, if not all, of his $12 million salary. But they have the farm system depth and they could benefit from being able to open up a roster spot. Lowell, meanwhile, is a guy who brings a presence to a clubhouse, and a run-producing bat to a lineup. Injuries have slowed him, but they have not diminished the competitiveness or power potential.
Brewers should trade 1B Prince Fielder
Maximum value for the legitimate power-hitter. There are contenders looking for a middle-of-the-lineup bat and Fielder is a perfect fit. The fact he won’t be a free agent until after 2011 adds to his value, particularly if a team gets him now. The Brewers don’t need to dream about being able to sign Fielder long-term. Agent Scott Boras likes to take his clients on the open market to make sure he gets the maximum return. Ties to a team are secondary.
Orioles should trade RHP Kevin Millwood
Just exactly what the Orioles were thinking when they added more than $8 million to their payroll to bring in a 35-year-old free-agent in waiting isn’t clear. He is durable and he does compete, but he’s not a staff leader and the Orioles need more than one or two veterans to get their franchise back on track. They also need help in a hurry, which means they would be better off adding a close-to-ready prospect now rather than take draft choices a year from now, and then have to wait for development. Millwood, meanwhile, could step in the backend of a contending rotation and solidify it.
Padres should trade RHP Heath Bell
How good was former Padres GM Kevin Towers at uncovering arms? He acquired Bell from the Mets after the 2006 season along with Royce Ring for a package of Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson. Not only does Bell have a 2.60 ERA since moving to San Diego (compared with 4.92 with the Mets) but a year ago he stepped in quite nicely to fill the void created by the loss of baseball’s all-time save leader Trevor Hoffman. He had 42 saves last year, and already 11 this year. He also has another year before being free agent eligible. The bulky right-hander won’t ever be worth more.
Mariners should trade LHP Cliff Lee
The surprise of the AL West a year ago, the Mariners thought they could avoid the natural relapse that comes with unexpected success, and Lee was envisioned to be a cornerstone when Philadelphia, after acquiring him last July from Cleveland, opted to move Lee to accommodate adding Roy Halladay in the offseason. The 32-year-old lefty is solid, but he’s not a savior, and the Mariners should cut their losses, move the potential free agent to a pitching-hungry contender, giving him a national stage to audition for pending free agency, and try to restock the farm system that was depleted to lure Lee from the Phillies.
Diamondbacks should trade RHP Dan Haren
The Diamondbacks gambled their future by unloading the farm system to acquire Haren, giving up a six-player package of prospects that included 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Brett Anderson and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Arizona was coming off an NL West title in 2007 and was looking to dominate the division. Haren has been all the Diamondbacks could have expected, but that hasn’t stopped a franchise’s decline. Diamondbacks went into Saturday night 171-196 since adding Haren, even though he has gone 35-21. Again, he has a contract that makes it easier to get a quality return because he is signed to guaranteed deals in 2011 ($14 million) and 2012 ($15 million) with a club option at $16 million for 2013.
Marlins should fire manager Fredi Gonzalez
Fredi doesn’t deserve to be dissed by owner Jeffrey Loria, who would have fired Gonzalez during the offseason except that stepson David Samson, whose mother has the money in the team, calmed Loria down. With the Marlins' struggle, ownership is fidgeting; although in an effort to ease the hard feelings over Loria’s offseason shenanigans, Gonzalez was given a one-year extension through 2012. Gonzalez would benefit if he’s let go. He is, after all, at the top of Atlanta’s wish list. He's the man retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox is considered to favor as his replacement. Getting fired now would let Gonzalez spend the rest of the season around the Braves, getting a head start on next season.
Mets should trade 3B David Wright
He is not only talented, but he’s too nice to be the eye of the Queens Hurricane. He’s a legitimate bat with stellar defense and a contract that pays him well, but also gives any team with interest three years of control. He has guarantees in 2011 ($14 million) and 2012 ($15 million) and the club has a $16 million option on 2013. Mets need a major shakeup of the roster and Wright is one of those veterans who could bring back multiple bodies, like the Matt Holliday deal for Colorado that brought the Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, closer Huston Street and left-hander Greg Smith in return while paring more than $10 million off the payroll.
The Royals should trade RHP Joaquin Soria
A closer is a luxury on a team hoping it can reach .500 and in need of help in multiple areas to try to turn around what has been a quarter century of failure that has morphed into a decade of decadence. In his fourth big-league season, he not only has 99 saves (72 the last two seasons combined), but also a 2.19 earned-run average. He is a contender’s delight because after this season he still has two more seasons before he becomes a free agent. And he has a team-friendly deal with a $4 million guarantee for 2011 plus club options in 2012 ($6 million), 2013 ($8 million) and 2014 ($8.75 million).
Houston should trade RHP Roy Oswalt
Earth to Astros. Earth to Astros. The man has opened the door for a deal. There’s still more than $10 million left on his contract for this year, another $16 million next year and a $2 million buyout for 2012. More than that, that’s a ton of talent to obtain in return. Oswalt is a contender’s delight. Check out what Cliff Lee brought on the open market — twice in the last year. Look at what Roy Halladay brought was worth for Toronto. Oswalt has worked 180-plus innings in eight of the last nine seasons. He’s a postseason vet with a 4-0 record in seven starts. Yes he is 2-6 this year, but the team has scored a total of six runs in his six losses. He has yet to allow more than three runs in a game. He has 60 strikeouts in 61 innings and is averaging only 9.6 hits and walks per nine innings.