What the hell has happened to the MLB trade deadline? It used to be one of the most exciting times of the year but this year the excitement is clearly lacking. There appear to be no top of the rotation starters available and the only two impact position players are Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.
This is due to a number of factors, the first of which is that teams currently over value their own prospects. Clubs are much more reluctant to part with them in blockbuster deals during the season. This would be fine if the club accurately projects their prospects. If a team views a kid as a top of the rotation starter or above average every day player the team should hold onto him. It’s when teams hold onto the Brandon Woods of the world for five years that they miss out on the chance to improve without giving up much. The first rule of running an organization is to know thy own.
Looking at this year more specifically the buyers and the sellers don’t match up particularily well. The Yankees and depending on the health of Clay Buchholz the Red Sox are desperate for a #2-#3 starter. At the moment it appears that that guy is just not available. The only way Ubaldo Jiminez is moved is if the Rockies are blown away, or if they are still concerned about his velocity and want to move him while they can like the Rays did with Scott Kazmir in 2009. The Pirates, Phillies, Braves, and Cleveland could all use an impact bat like Beltran but it does not appear that either have the chips to make the move
There are also very few teams that are clearly out of the race at the moment. Out of the clubs that are out of the mix none of them have any blue chips that would excite the fan base of a team in contention.
- Do the Orioles have anything worth selling? Jeremy Guthrie could be a #4 or maybe a #3 for one of the NL Central clubs.
- The Blue Jays aren’t that far from competing so they aren’t going to move Jose Bautista or Ricky Romero.
- The Astros should move Brett Myers and Hunter Pence but that organization is gripped by a sort of collective dementia. They could be the Orioles of the National League the way things are going.
- MLB would be afraid of a backlash if they sanctioned a move of Andre Ethier or Chad Billingsley from the Dodgers.
- Carlos Zambrano could probably use a change of scenery but it’s hard to see the Cubs eating enough of that contract. Anything on the Cubs anybody might want is similarly overpaid.
- The Nationals have Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis. Tyler Clippard’s are is still attached for now at least.
- Does anybody expect the Royals to be able to identify who to move and what to ask for?
- Oakland won’t move any of their young pitchers and their hitters are all awful.
None of this bodes well for an interesting trade deadline. Perhaps as more clubs fall out of the race in August the waiver period will be active. Since most of the clubs in contention are at or near their budgets players should be able to clear waivers easily. There are always surprises, but I can’t see July 31 living up to what it was in year’s past.