The trade deadline is a few weeks away, so the rumor mill is about to heat up. To prep you for the coming trade season, we're providing a primer on who the top available trade targets could be as get closer to July 31st.
In case you didn't notice, first base has become something of a metaphor for America. There are a handful of tremendous first basemen like Pujols, Fielder and Votto, and then there is a big fall off to a mass of much less talented players. There really isn't much of a middle class at the position. But let's not make this political, let's just talk trades because speculating on deadline deals is something that is proven to always bring people together.
Probably not available, but it couldn't hurt to ask
Corey Hart – With the Brewers expecting to be sellers at the deadline, teams will surely kick the tires on the slugging Hart since he can play first base and the outfield, but with Corey under contract for a mostly palatable $10.3 million next season and the Brew Crew hoping to contend again, it could take an overwhelming offer to pry him loose.
Garrett Jones – Before the season, the Pirates reportedly shopped Jones hard. Even though he is just a platoon player at this point, the Pirates are once again shocking the world by contending for the NL Central division title, so they aren't likely to be trading anyone away.
Take my (overpaid and/or ineffective) first baseman, please!
Adam Lind – Lind struggled so mightily this season that he was passed through waivers unclaimed thanks to his hefty salary. Clearly no team is interested in him if they have to pay him, but one has to imagine that Toronto would have no problem picking up most of his salary if they can get any kind of prospect back in return. To Lind's credit, he has been hitting well since being recalled from the minors, so he could actually develop a real market for his services if he keeps it up for the next three weeks.
Justin Morneau – After showing signs of regaining his MVP form back in May, Morneau has tailed off significantly, barely mustering an OPS over .600 in June. The Twins look like they are years away from being any good again, so they are probably ready to part ways with their former star, or more accurately part ways with the remainder of the $15 million he is owed this season and the $15 million he is set to earn next season. The question is will any team take on all or part of that financial burden in a gamble that the injury-ravaged slugger will finally round back into form? (SPOILER ALERT: probably not)
Something is better than nothing
Ty Wigginton – Wigginton is something of a baseball litmus test. If he is starting for your team, your team probably stinks. If he is a reserve, they are probably good. He is starting for the Phillies right now. The Phillies are going to be sellers and Wigginton is most definitely on the block with Ryan Howard set to return this month.
Gaby Sanchez – This time last year, Gaby Sanchez was being named to the All-Star team. Currently, he is playing in the minors. It is hard to believe that Sanchez has bottomed out so badly after two solid seasons as a pro, so he could make for a nice low-salary pick up for any contender on a tight budget looking to add depth at the corner infield spots.
Bryan LaHair – A great story and a rare trade asset that isn't even eligible for arbitration yet. The Cubs could hold onto him, but the smart money is on Theo Epstein trying to move LaHair while his stock is at an all-time high. LaHair's stock does have a ceiling though since he owns an abysmal .079/.186/.158 slash line against left-handed pitching. Still, you could do a lot worse as part of a platoon at DH.
Jason Giambi – At this point, Giambi is nothing more than a pinch-hitter and potential part-time DH. That is a role Jim Thome has shown as being relatively popular at the trade deadline, so the Giambino could be a poor man's version of Thome this season… assuming the Rockies ever get around to rebuilding.
Mark Kotsay – If you need depth at first and in the outfield plus a little veteran presence, Kotsay is the man for you.
Daric Barton/Brandon Moss/Chris Carter – First base is a wasteland in Oakland, but if you are just looking for a cheap, warm body, they have an ample selection choose from and you know Billy Beane is always ready to pull the trigger on a trade.