New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. (USA TODAY Sports: Robert Deutsch)
The non-waiver trading deadline brought a flurry of moves July 31 that included ace left-handers Jon Lester and David Price changing teams.
However, that wasn’t the end of the wheeling and dealing. Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels was claimed by an unknown team on Wednesday, and more superstars will hit the waiver wire to open the opportunity for a strong second phase of let’s make a deal.
Teams continue to try to improve their chances of making the postseason and having success once they get there. Though it gets trickier now to pull off trades because players have to pass through waivers, it is not impossible.
Here are five players who are likely to be dealt this month:
A.J. Burnett, RHP, Phillies: He is a lackluster 6-11 with a 4.16 ERA in 24 starts but the real holdup is a $15-million mutual option with a $1 million buyout in 2015, when he will be 38. Burnett can also trigger an option for $7 million if the club declines its half of the option. Yet the closer it gets to September, the more desperate teams become for starting pitching.
Bartolo Colon, RHP, Mets: Likewise, teams are balking at paying all of Colon’s $11-million guaranteed salary for next season when he will be 42. However, again, the desperation factor will eventually set in and his 10-9 record and 4.12 ERA in 22 starts will start looking better.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, Padres: This is the best trading chip new San Diego general manager A.J. Preller has because Kennedy is a quality starter under club control through next season. The 29-year-old is 8-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 23 starts.
Alex Rios, OF, Rangers: While he has just four home runs, he leads the American League with eight triples and has a .293 batting average in 110 games. He is an intriguing option for any contender that is short a right-handed bat. Rios has a $13.5-million club option for next season but it can be bought out for $1 million.
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins: Another right-handed bat that could help a contenders’ lineup. He has been limited to 64 games this season because of injuries and has a .214 average but he remains an attractive option because of his 11 home runs and the fact he is free and clear of any contractual obligations beyond 2014.
AROUND THE HORN
The owners hold their quarterly meetings next week in Baltimore and at the top of the agenda is voting on the successor to Commissioner Bud Selig, who plans to retire Jan. 15
It was long thought Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s chief operations officer and Selig’s closest confidant, was a rubberstamp candidate. However, the hawks among the owners believe Manfred has been too soft in negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which is expected him to fall short of the 23 of 30 votes needed from owners to gain election.
The other two finalists are MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan and Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
Werner is the favorite of many large-market owners clubs because of the success of the Red Sox and his background in television. However, small-market owners are wary about how he mismanaged the San Diego Padres when he served as their club president.
Thus, Brosnan is in good position to wind up succeeding Selig as a compromise candidate.
The Seattle Mariners pulled a stunner last December when they signed second baseman Robinson Cano, the top free agent on the market, to a 10-year, $240 million contract. He bolted New York for the Pacific Northwest when the Yankees dropped out of the bidding at seven years and $175 million.
Cano’s power numbers have suffered with the switch in home ballparks from Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field. He has just eight home runs after hitting at least 25 in each of the last five seasons.
However, Cano has a .332 batting average and a .395 on-base percentage in 108 games. More importantly, the Mariners are just one game out in the AL wildcard race as they attempt to get to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
First-year manager Lloyd McClendon believes the Mariners’ big outlay bought them more than a six-time All-Star. Adding Cano gave the franchise a big dose of credibility
“He has lifted the way our entire organization is perceived around the baseball,” McClendon said. “We gained in stature as a franchise when we signed Robby. It made everyone wearing a Seattle Mariners’ uniform stick out their chest a little more.”
A year after losing 100 games, the Miami Marlins are on the fringe of contention with a 55-58 record that puts them 5 1/2 games back in the National League wild card race and 6 ½ games out in the NL East.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is having a monster season as the 24-year-old is leading the NL with 26 home runs and 74 RBIs. He is one of four regulars 25 or younger along with shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, left fielder Christian Yelich and center fielder Marcell Ozuna, who has hit 16 homers.
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, currently on the disabled list, tops the NL with three shutouts and is just 24, as are left-hander Brad Hand and righty Nathan Eovaldi. The Marlins have also been able to withstand the loss of right-hander Jose Fernandez, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, for the season in May when he had Tommy John reconstructive surgery.
“We have an interesting young team,” said veteran first baseman Garrett Jones, who signed a two-year, $7.75-million contract as a free agent in the offseason. “There is a lot of talent here and we have a chance to be competitive for a long time. The future is really bright.”