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.
Ah, right fielders….the primary arbiters of SMASHY SMASHY! I'm not sure if there's going to be much of an impact player moved at the deadline, though.
Probably not available, but it couldn't hurt to ask
Justin Upton – Yeah, this is THE GUY on the market if you're looking to get a franchise right fielder. Upton is having an awful year, and the fans of Arizona have turned on him. But hell, Jason Heyward struggled last season for the Braves, and he's a 3.5 win player through three months this year. It would be an incredibly short-sighted move for the Diamondbacks to trade Upton, but if they do, the package they'll get in return for him will be otherworldly. If a team really wants to go all-in for 2012 and the future, this is the way to go.
Hunter Pence – I don't think Pence is getting moved at all, but the Phillies should at least explore a deal. He's making eight figures thsi year, and still has a year of arb left for next season. On the field…well, he's Hunter Pence, a free swinger with pop. Pence really isn't a franchise cornerstone, and while the Phillies aren't necessarily going to be in the mood for a complete overhaul, they could get more for Pence and his year plus of control than Shane Victorino, who's a free agent in three months.
Take my (overpaid and/or ineffective) right fielder, please!
Michael Cuddyer – Cuddyer is making a lot of money on a bad team to be a sub-one win player. Cuddyer is relatively versatile, but he's essentially a league average bat. At 33, he's not a long-term answer for the Rockies. Man, Dan O'Dowd made a booboo with this one.
Jeff Francoeur – We could all see this fall from grace coming for Francoeur after Dayton Moore handed him a contract extension, and here we are. The 28 year-old Francoeur has been awful for the Royals this year, and top prospect Wil Myers is revving his engine, ready to be called up to the majors. It would probably pain Moore to trade off one of his favorite fromer Braves, but it's absolutely necessary for Myers's development.
Something is better than nothing
Nate Schierholtz – San Francisco is currently rolling with an outfield currently made up of former NL East players (Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco), and the homegrown Schierholtz has been hung out to dry. The Giants will probably keep him as a fourth outfielder, but some team might throw them a decent prospect. We'll see.
Reed Johnson – Johnson is a really good bench bat that can play all three outfield positions, and be a solid contributor at all three. For the Cubs, who are in full-on rebuilding mode, trading someone like Johnson just makes sense long-term.