Last week's trade of Nate McLouth to Atlanta was surprising -- and thought-provoking. If the Pirates were willing to trade a young, relatively inexpensive All-Star, might other teams adopt a similar strategy in these recession-affected times? With fewer teams in a position to add payroll, Jon Paul Morosi says we may see more trades involving lower-salaried players. Here's a list of seven players who, like McLouth, are either signed or under club control through 2010 or beyond.
Brad Ziegler, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Billy Beane is always ready to deal, and he's particularly ready to deal when his team is in last place. Beane also knows that it's best to trade relievers when they seem to be peaking, because their performances can turn south quickly. (See Billy Koch for Keith Foulke.) Come to think of it, we should probably include Andrew Bailey and Michael Wuertz on this list, too. Ziegler hasn't matched his near-perfect 2008 season, but he has closing experience and could be a great right-on-right situational reliever. Contract: $405,000 in 2009, not due for free agency until after 2014.
Jhonny Peralta, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Indians general manager Mark Shapiro seems uncomfortable with the notion of trading catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez or ace Cliff Lee, reasoning that those moves would signal some concession about the 2010 season, as well. But the team appears less adamant about holding on to Peralta. Why? Well, you may have noticed that we're referring to Peralta as a third baseman, not a shortstop. The Indians like the way their infield looks with Asdrubal Cabrera, instead of Peralta, at short. Before Cabrera's recent shoulder injury, Peralta had started eight consecutive games at third. Peralta is still a fair defender at short, but his future is probably elsewhere. He's having a down offensive season, with a .258 average and little power, but he's the type of hitter whose production could pick up with a better-hitting club. Contract: $3.4 million in 2009, $4.6 million in 2010, $7 million club option ($250,000 buyout) in 2011.
Jose Lopez, 2B, Seattle Mariners
Although the Mariners have hovered around .500 for much of the season, it seems inevitable that first-year general manager Jack Zduriencik will look to sell at the deadline. He was aggressive in dealing J.J. Putz, one of the team's most recognizable players, at the winter meetings, and it's hard to imagine that his mindset has changed since then. The Mariners aren't enamored with Lopez's defense at second base -- there was some talk in the offseason that he would move to first -- and he's hitting only .227 this year. But he has a knack for driving in runs, as evidenced by his team-leading 29 RBIs. A very reasonable 2009 salary should help the Mariners move him, and the future obligation is moderate enough that interested clubs wouldn't be scared away. Contract: $1.6 million in 2009, $2.3 million in 2010, $4.5 million club option ($250,000 buyout) in 2011.
Jeremy Hermida, LF/RF, Florida Marlins
If you're a Florida Marlin in your arbitration years, history would suggest that you're available. The Marlins have a flotilla of outfield prospects on the way -- Michael Stanton looks like a future star -- so it's unlikely Hermida will remain with the organization through his arbitration years. The game's current economics make Hermida a very marketable player, since he's a reasonably-priced left-handed hitter with a history of hitting for some power. He's not perfect -- he strikes out a lot and isn't a great defender -- but he would attract widespread interest. There's a good chance that he and/or second baseman Dan Uggla will be playing elsewhere by Aug. 1. Contract: $2.25 million in 2009, not due for free agency until after 2011.
J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers
Hardy is probably the least-available player on this list because the Brewers are in first place and look like long-term contenders in the National League Central. Still, he falls within the realm of speculation, simply because of star shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar. If Escobar demonstrates that he's ready to be an everyday player in the big leagues -- he's hitting .291 at Class AAA -- the logical move for Milwaukee would be to deal Hardy for whatever the team's greatest need happens to be. It seems unlikely that Hardy will be traded, partially because a slow start (.237) will be a drag on his value. And if something happens with him, it probably won't be until much closer to July 31. Contract: $4.65 million in 2009, not due for free agency until after 2010.
Adam Dunn, 1B/OF, Nationals
Yes, he just signed with the Nationals in February and is the team's most marketable player aside from Ryan Zimmerman. But have you looked at Washington's pitching staff lately? This franchise is years away from mounting a serious challenge to the Mets and Phillies in the National League East, and they're going to need more young arms to have any chance at doing that. Dunn, still only 29, isn't a Gold Glove candidate, but he's a career National Leaguer who's used to playing in the field. At the same time, he would have great appeal to an AL club that's looking for a designated hitter. He's never appeared in a postseason game and would probably relish the opportunity to play for a contender. Contract: $8 million in 2009, $12 million in 2010.
Chris Young, RHP, Padres
You may have heard that the Padres have talked about trading Jake Peavy. And you probably know that dealing away hometown star Adrian Gonzalez would prompt a fan mutiny. But what about Young? He's 46-32 in his career with a 3.79 ERA. A mid-May run had prompted general manager Kevin Towers to take a wait-and-see approach to the trade market, but his team had lost six of seven entering Saturday. One possible reason for teams to pause before sending Towers a package of prospects: A 4.46 ERA, while working half the time in a pitcher's haven, is Young's highest since 2004. Contract: $4.5 million in 2009, $6.25 million in 2010, $8.5 million club option in 2011.