ANAHEIM, Calif. — The next 10 days figure to be filled with rumors, possibilities and overreaction.
No, this has nothing to do with Taylor Swift’s dating life or the Kardashians’ new TV show. Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is on July 31, meaning the teams that still have postseason aspirations — the second wild card does count — will be trying to better themselves for the final two months of the season. Meanwhile, the handful of teams that have packed it in for 2014 and are in straight sell mode will try to maximize value and help their future.
In the last month, we’ve seen the A’s add Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs, the Royals acquire reliever Jason Frasor from the Rangers and most recently the Angels trade for Padres closer Huston Street.
So who are some of the players most likely to be moved? Here’s a quick list of players that could be putting on different uniforms in the next week.
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David Price, Rays: It seems that the former Cy Young winner will be dealt. He’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. Any team knows they will be getting him for one and a half seasons. He’ll become a free agent after that and test the market.
Cliff Lee, Phillies: The veteran lefty is coming off the disabled list and will likely make two starts before the trade deadline. If he looks healthy, there’s a good chance he’ll be dealt. This would be the second time the Phillies have traded Lee to get prospects.
Joakim Soria, Rangers: The reliever has closing experience, and the need for proven veteran arms for the bullpen always grows near the deadline. Soria has shown he can be effective as a setup man.
AJ Burnett, Phillies: He signed a one-year deal in the offseason and is the perfect rent-a-pitcher. Burnett has talent. His numbers — 6-9, 4.08 ERA — aren’t great, but scouts believe a playoff race will motivate him.
Joaquin Benoit, Padres: San Diego is looking to deal the setup man. Some scouts believe he actually has better stuff than Street. The Padres got four prospects for Street. They won’t get quite that much for Benoit.
Marlon Byrd, Phillies: At 36, he’s shown he can still hit with some pop, blasting 18 homers this season. He has a limited no trade clause and is apparently thwarting a deal with the Mariners by demanding they pick up his $8 million option for 2016.
Martin Prado, Diamondbacks: He might be more valuable than any player on the market. He can play four positions at a solid level and is an above-average hitter. His contract of $11 million for 2015 and 2016 might make teams wary.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: The two-time All-Star will be a free agent after the season, and the organization is preparing for phenom prospect Francisco Lindor to take over. Cabrera’s hitting .250 with a .709 OPS, and his defense has been an issue this season.
Ben Zobrist, Rays: The ultra-versatile utility fielder is the switch-hitting version of Prado. He isn’t a power hitter or a high-average hitter, but a solid player. A $7.5 million option for next season makes him a cheap addition.
Alex Rios, Rangers: The veteran outfielder is hitting a shade over .300 with a .765 OPS. His contract is up after this season, meaning a team will only have to pay about $5.5 million of his remaining contract and a $1 million buyout of his option clause.
Chase Headley, Padres: He’ll be a free agent after this season. The switch-hitting third baseman turned down sizable extension offers from San Diego after hitting 31 homers in 2012. Injuries have hampered him the past two seasons. He’s hitting just .226 with a .643 OPS this season.
Ugh for Uggla
The Dan Uggla era in Atlanta came to an end when the team announced they were releasing the one-time power-hitting second baseman.
This move was coming for the Braves. Uggla’s production had fallen off a cliff the last few seasons. He was hitting .162 with a .472 OPS and two homers and three doubles in 46 games.
In recent weeks, he’d been benched for lack of production and later suspended for showing up late.
To make matter worse for the Braves, they owe him $19 million for the remaining 1½ seasons left on his contract. And they are obligated to pay every cent unless a team was to claim him off of waivers. And no team would make such a mistake. “We came out of the break and we are in first place and when we looked at our club this was a difficult decision for everyone,” general manager Frank Wren told reporters. “It was difficult not only because the quality of the person involved in Dan and the way he went about his business and how hard he works.”
Uggla joins Alfonso Soriano of the Yankees as a highly paid player to be released. Soriano cleared waivers as expected and is now a free agent. Teams can now sign him to the major league minimum. Uggla will have to go through the same process to sign with another team.