By Andrew Pregler
Tim Kurkjian said the MLB Trade Deadline should not be a huge deal this year because the best player dealt will probably be a number three starter and teams aren’t going to give up three or four big time prospects for a veteran for a variety of reasons. That all being said, with the deadline about 12 days away, there’s still a ton of hype over potential moves and probable moves. However, some teams have a fundamentally different approach at the deadline and this year is no different. There are a small amount of definite sellers that have the rest of the mediocre or playoff bound teams eating out of their hands. Who of these teams is trapped by the deadline this year?
This team is poised to win a World Series NOW. As in based off the lack of depth in the system, the large amount of money invested and continued success of the last few years, the Tigers should come out of this era with a ring. They have the best rotation in baseball, they have the best overall hitter in baseball with a strong lineup around him of guys who don’t have too many years of their prime left and they have a manager who won’t stick around if they start losing. By and large, this is their year. However, their bullpen is trying to end all of these hopes every day. No lead feels safe and aside from Benoit, no Tigers’ arm has been consistent. Should Leyland probably trust Rondon? Yeah. Should Leyland probably throw Smyley back there just because? Yeah, that too. But Jim Leyland is a crusty old baseball man and wants a Mariano Rivera type closer. Dave Dombrowski pretty much has to oblige. The problem is: every team knows this. They smell the desperation of Detroit and know they can squeeze either Castellanos or Avisail Garcia and another high upside prospect for their best bullpen arm. Who runs off with the prize? I’m not sure but we know it will happen and if Detroit wins it all, it had better make up for the fact that their system would definitively be the worst in Major League Baseball after the move.
Unlike the Tigers, the Phillies have no idea where they stand. This is a team stuck in a mediocre National League in a division with underachieving teams. By now, Philadelphia’s inability to put away easy games should signify that this time is just barely above average. Just barely above average teams with skyrocketing payrolls for aging players usually try to dump the worst contracts as a retooling instead of rebuilding. (IE Red Sox last year/this year.) However, not every average team is also working on a potential billion dollar television contract to ensure they join the ranks of Dodgers and Yankees. Billion dollar contracts aren’t given out to rebuilding teams, they’re given out to teams with star power. So here’s the issue the Phillies have: there is no way they will win. However, they can’t sell their pieces off without severely hurting their future financials. The best case scenario is that the above team (Detroit) overpays for a closer and throws Castellanos and Lennerton in for Papelbon. Otherwise, Philadelphia is stuck.
New York Yankees
The Yankees are the hybrid of the two teams above. Like Detroit, they have absolutely no depth in their farm system that looks ready to carry on a winning tradition in the majors. Like the Phillies, they have tons of huge contracts that no one wants to take off their hands. Like Detroit, the Yankees are still pretty much in the thick of their divisional race. Like the Phillies, they are probably on the outside looking in, thanks to that whole hyper competitive AL East. The Yankees are aggressively shopping Phil Hughes around but no one really wants him for the asking price. Moral: the Yankees have to get young. They aren’t going to anytime soon. If they want to start the process now, they will probably have to sell low which is a white flag and slice of humble pie all rolled into a sucker punch. This is the beginning of the end and it’s not going to be pretty.