With the trade deadline quickly approaching, I thought it would be interesting to look at some players who could/should be “sold high” at the trade deadline. For my definition of selling high, I’ve basically chosen the conventional description of selling an asset when its market value is highest. But we’re mostly limiting this to teams that are either out of the playoff picture or can gain more from a trade of a player than the potential loss of production that player would bring. I understand there are plenty of these types of players, so feel free to use the comments section to throw some other names out there.
SP Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs
2010 xFIP: 4.75
Potential suitors: New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies
Lilly is comimg off of a huge 2009 where he posted a 3.65 FIP and 3.98 xFIP, good for 3.7 WAR. His K and BB rates, however, have been disturbingly poor this season, as his K/BB went from 4.19 last year to 2.71 this year. But for teams that aren’t looking too deeply at those numbers, Lilly’s 4.08 ERA may be appealing. Teams will envision him as a 3-4 starter in a good rotation, when really he’s just not pitching well right now. If the Cubs could pry away outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets, it would be a steal.
2B/SS Cristian Guzman, Washington Nationals
2010 wOBA: .314
Potential suitors: Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers
Guzman’s decent defense at second base and his ability to play shortstop make him an attractive commodity at the trade deadline. His .295 batting average will look especially enticing, and it’s not like the Nats are going to contend this year, and probably not seriously next year. They should look to nab a decent prospect from the Tigers, who have been running Ramon Santiago out at shortstop for most of 2010, or the Phillies, who are without Chase Utley for quite some time and could always use a solid backup shortstop with Jimmy Rollins’ injuries.
OF Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
2010 wOBA: .389
Potential suitors: New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays
Hart is having his best year since his fantastic 2007, and despite his defensive woes, has already produced 2.3 WAR. His 20 homers will make him one of the sluggers available at the deadline, and due to the Padres’ success (which likely means no Adrian Gonzalez), a team looking for a solid bat may pick up Hart as a consolation prize. The Giants outfield is pretty crowded as it stands, but reports say that GM Brian Sabean is interested in Hart. If the Brewers can get Zack Wheeler or Tommy Joseph from San Francisco, or even Mike Minor from the Braves, they could receive some solid value.
1B Russell Branyan, Seattle Mariners
2010 wOBA: .353
Potential suitors: Texas Rangers, LA Angels
Branyan isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but he’s hitting the ball well enough that his value to the Mariners is higher as trade bait than in the field. With the recent acquisition of Justin Smoak, Seattle already has an everyday first baseman they want to see frequently. Michael Saunders is in left field, which means that Branyan could serve as the designated hitter. Milton Bradley, however, is going to be with the team next year and needs to get playing time. If Jon Daniels and Jack Z decide to swap players again, they might want to discuss Branyan. Without Smoak at first, the Rangers are going to lose some offense, and Branyan would be a nice fit in Arlington.
Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat