A way, way too early look at possible trade deadline targets

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

We are now less than three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting for duty in Tampa, meaning it’s looking less and less likely that Brian Cashman & Co. will pull a major move out of their sleeve this offseason. The Yankees still need a starting catcher (not happening), a DH (will probably happen), bench help (almost certainly will happen), and various depth pieces (will happen) before the start of the season, so the shopping list isn’t small. Since it’s unlikely each of those holes will be filled before the season, let’s look ahead at some players who might be available at the trade deadline.

Now, looking ahead seven months and trying to figure which teams will be in it and who be available is very, very tricky business. At this time last year I was touting Andre Ethier as a potential deadline DH target, yet by time late-July rolled around he had signed a new extension and the Dodgers were suddenly owned by free-spending billionaires. There are surprise contenders and surprise extensions every summer, which throws a wrench into the trade market. Since we like talking about possible trades though, here are a few players in their walk years — I’m assuming the Yankees won’t want to take on any multi-year contracts given the 2014 payroll plan — on projected non/maybe-contenders who might be available at midseason.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Grant Balfour
The Athletics surprised everyone last season with their late surge to the AL West crown, but you don’t have to try real hard to envision a scenario in which they’re out of the race and far behind the Angels and Rangers come the deadline. Oakland had a ton of walk-off wins and nearly all of their rookie arms worked out last year, neither of which I would count on happening again. The Yankees have had some interest in Balfour before, and the 35-year-old right-hander would be an obvious target if things go wrong in the bullpen and another late-game arm is needed.

Matt Garza & Ricky Nolasco
The Yankees have plenty of pitching depth at the moment, but we know how this stuff goes. It has a way of disappearing quickly. CC Sabathia is coming off elbow surgery, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are up their in age, Phil Hughes seems to perpetually walk the tightrope, and no one really knows what to expect out of Ivan Nova and David Phelps. Since Adam Warren and Brett Marshall are the next-in-line guys in Triple-A, a veteran starter could easily be on the trade deadline agenda. The Cubs and Marlins aren’t going anywhere and they’ve already been shopping Garza and Nolasco, respectively, so it’s a safe bet both guys will be moved at some point before the end of July. Garza, 29, has AL East experience while the 30-year-old Nolasco is more of a break glass in case of emergency option. The Yankees have had interest in both in the not-too-distant past.

Corey Hart
Hart, 30, was supposed to have knee surgery yesterday, but he pushed the procedure back so he could get a second opinion. He was expected to miss three or four months once he had the operation. Hart is basically another Mike Morse, except he hits for a slightly lower average and makes up the on-base numbers with walks. He hits for power from the right side and can play either corner outfield spot in addition to first base. DH is always an option as well. The Brewers overhauled their league-worst bullpen from a year ago but didn’t add any starting pitching, so contending in the tough (but winnable!) NL Central will be a chore. For what it’s worth, Brewers GM Doug Melvin was non-committal when asked about signing Hart to an extension a few weeks ago.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Todd Helton
This one might be coming out of left field, but I think there’s potential here. Helton, 39, fits the Ichiro Suzuki/Lance Berkman mold of a former great who has been toiling on a non-contender for years and could request a trade in hopes of one last shot at a World Championship. He’s battled knee, hip, and back injuries in recent years but still provides value at the plate because he’s very disciplined (13.8 BB% in 2012, 14.4% career) and he doesn’t strike out much (15.5 K% in 2012, 12.1% career). Yes, the guy has been in the big leagues since 1997 and he still has more unintentional walks (1,111) than strikeouts (1,088) to his name. His power (.164 ISO last two years) is mostly the product of Coors Field — Yankee Stadium is a pretty good place to hit as well — and he will need a platoon partner. Helton has already hinted at retiring after the season, and if the Yankees need a left-handed hitter for their DH spot come July, and I bet his name pops up in rumors. He fits the good clubhouse presence, veteran change of scenery guy mold perfectly.

Carlos Ruiz
Ruiz, 34, has to serve a 25-game amphetamines-related suspension to open the season, but he’ll still have about three months before the deadline to prove last season’s 151 wRC+ wasn’t a fluke. I don’t expect him to ever hit like that again, but he’s been an above-average hitter over the last four seasons because he takes walks (career 10.4 BB%) and doesn’t strike out (career 11.1 K%). He’ll probably go back to hitting single-digit homers again, but that’s fine given his batting average and on-base ability. Chooch has consistently ranked in the top-six of the various catcher defense rankings (2010, 2011, 2012) and he’s thrown out base-stealers at a league average rate or better throughout his career. If the Phillies skid to the finish and make Ruiz available at the deadline, he’d be the perfect rental for New York even if he doesn’t repeat 2012 and reverts back to his 2008-2010 form.

Categories : Trade Deadline


  1. Bill says:

    They are not going to spend any more money to improve the team.

    I will be shock if Hal lets cashman pick up any more salary.

  2. Preston says:

    Trading Helton would make sense for the Rockies, so of course they won’t do it.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Helton could be interesting, but yeah. What you said. He is their Derek Jeter.

      That being said, Ichiro was Seattle’s Derek Jeter, and that worked out in a certain manner, didn’t it…

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I hate to say something this simplistic, but I actually do think it applies: There are few folks that are comparible to Jeter as far as their connection to a massive market. Maaaaaaaaybe we can say Chipper Jones?

      • Minor Leaguer says:

        The thing is helton makes a large amount of money and to get him we might as well sign Thome. Not saying I want Thome as our DH but they’re at the same point in their careers. I think our DH should be Jack Cust who played for our triple a team and had 25 HR before he was cut at the end of the season. Or even Russell Branyan who holds the longest HR ever hit in Yankee Stadium. Then there’s the proven DH in Travis Hafner, he hit 12 HR in 66 games last year so that would be about 25-30 in a full season. There’s also a possibility of Carlos Lee who hit .340vLHP and .280vRHP last year. Then there’s many trade options like Jason Kubel of dbacks, Switchitter Justin Smoak of Mariners, Morales of mariners, Billy Butler of royals, Juan Uribe of Dodgers. Then there is internal options for DH but the standout to me is LHB Luke Murton, He hit 25 HR in double A last year and would be perfect for DH spot.

    • blake says:

      like the Helton potential too….he can still hit righties (.382 OBP vs RHP in 2012).

    • Gonzo says:

      A buddy of mine is a huge Rockies fan. He said no way Helton would come to NY. They love him and he’s convinced Helton would invoke his no trade rights to a team as far as the NYY.

      • LK says:

        He might very well be right, but I’d imagine Mariners fans would’ve said the same thing about Ichiro. I do think a Helton trade is probably a (very) long shot though.

        • Gonzo says:

          Part of his thinking is that he has a different mindset than Ichiro. Not just in being amenable to a trade but their preferences to where they would go.

  3. blake says:

    I like the Ruiz one the best….but as said the Phillies would have to be out of it (could happen again)and Tommy Joseph would have to be ready to take the reigns I’d guess.

    I hope the Yanks don’t need pitching at the deadline…..cause if they do that’ll mean some things have gone wrong.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Any time you take on pitching at the deadline (any team), that means shit went pear-shaped at some point.

      Every (seriously competing) team thinks they can get to October with their front 5, and those are typically the teams buying in July. The exception to that rule, I suppose, would be Los Doyers of the world who pick the middle of a season to change ownership and go all drunken sailor on the league.

      • blake says:

        Yes but the Yanks rotation and pen is really their strength heading into the season IMO….don’t think their offense as is will be able to overcome key injuries to the staff like they have in the past.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I think what he’s saying is that when you don’t think you need pitching, you need pitching.

          • blake says:

            of course….all I was saying was that if the Yanks need to trade for Matt Garza at the deadline then that won’t be a good sign most likely

            • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

              I agree.
              Pitching is likely going to have to carry this team a lot more than in recent years so if it fails and they’re forced to trade for it, chances are the Yankees aren’t gonna be in great shape.

          • Barry says:

            Especially when a lot of your core pitching is old pitching.

  4. Captain says:

    had no idea Cooch was serving a 25 game suspension. would be a good option but the Phillies seem like a team that is in no position to fully commit to selling with the high money they have tied up to their 3 pitchers and Howard/Utley

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Garza would be ideal, but I probably wouldn’t be willing to meet the prospect price for him.

    Helton for the stretch run is intrigiung, I must admit.

    • MannyGeee says:

      I have a real love/hate with Garza. Love the idea of him on the Yankees, think he’s got the guts to play in the Bronx (cough cough Javy/AJ…. yeah it may be overstated, but imagine him coming in and crapping under the pressure), I think he’s got the stuff to play in NY…

      That said, i hate his price and the general overrated-ness of Garza. He’s not an ace, but gets paid like one and Theo will demand a prospect stack like you’re trading for Felix Hernandez. That scares me, and to boot I think the Yankees have shown a little bit of a crush on him. That’s when things get out of hand quick.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Agreed. I do think that, if there’s a time where this team will resist its man-crushes, it’s now.

        Para Bear did have full out man-love for Ken Phelps.

      • Gonzo says:

        I dunno, I don’t think Garza is overpaid or paid like an ace. Granted, I don’t know what his salary this year would be if not for the injury last year.

      • jjyank says:

        Yeah, I kinda go back and forth with Garza myself. I’d like to have him, but you’re right, the Cubbies are probably going to demand a huge package.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      Isn’t Garza a FA after this season?

      If so, I’ll pass on paying twice for him, in money and prospects. He’d be a nice target after the season to replace Pettitte/Kuroda though.

  6. Greg says:

    even money that we’ll be SELLERS, not BUYERS, this July. Grandy and Cano are the obvious places to start. But if we’re serious about $189M, then there is no reason to think that Andy and Kuroda couldn’t be made available. I suppose the only untradeable in that bunch of older guys with short term deals is Mo.

  7. I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

    Very sorry for OT and if I missed a discussion somewhere but Delmon Young for $750k plus incentives to $3mm whatever feels . . . surprising to me.

  8. Travis L. says:

    What are the odds of the Braves being out of it and making McCann available??

    Yes, Helton does seem like somone that we would/should be chasing, if the need arises. He’d rebound like hell in YS3.

  9. Craig says:

    How about one of the Phillies OFers? Nothing to write home about, but I’d have to assume one of Mayberry, Brown, Ruf or Nix would come cheap as a platoon bat.

    • blake says:

      I’d love to take a chance on Brown…the Phillies haven’t ever given him a real shot and he was a top 5 overall prospect only 2 years ago. He can’t play defense and his swing is a bit long…..but long lefty swings seems to be K. Long’s specialty…they couldn’t ask much for him at this point I wouldn’t think.

      • Nice Guy Eddie says:

        I would have loved to take a chance on Brown as well, but that was before Ichiro signed through next year. But, at this point they’re gonna have to get creative to improve the roster so all options should be explored.

        • blake says:

          Yea but Granderson will be gone and Ichiro may not be any good this year let alone in 2014…..they could stash Brown at AAA and see what happened. Just saying I’d like to have him if Philly has given up and will sell him cheap…..

          • Barry says:

            I think Ichiro will end up being a terrible signing. I think the Yankees will pay to keep Cano, and Grandy-man will be gone so Brown could make sense for an option in left field when Gardner slides over. Can we get Brown for cheap enough though, what would you pay for him?

  10. Phil says:

    This team is going to blow as the AL competition has gotten tougher. Fast forward to 2014

  11. Nice Guy Eddie says:

    What about Anthony Rendon? I remember the Nats were presumably shopping him last summer, but I haven’t heard his name at all in the offseason. With Zimmerman signed l-t and LaRoche clogging up 1B through 14 maybe Cash could pull off another prospect for prospect swap ala Pineda-Montero. It may seem like overkill to add another 3b, but I’m concerned about Youk in a myriad of ways and I doubt Arod returns at the same point in the season that he did in 09.

    • blake says:

      would love to have Rendon….and they might trade him because he is blocked at his current position. He is however their best prospect and I’ve heard and read talk of them potentially moving him to 2B in the future to get him in the lineup…..Cash should certainly call about him but I wouldn’t imagine he’d be cheap and the Nats really don’t need anything on the big league roster at the moment.

      • Nice Guy Eddie says:

        They could use some low level, high ceiling talent though

        • blake says:

          they could but you just almost never see prospect for prospect deals like that…..I thought before they got Span that maybe if the Yanks could add a bat then they could maybe trade Granderson or Gardner in a deal including Rendon….but it’s tough to see the fit now. Washington just doesn’t need anything…..

          • Nice Guy Eddie says:

            Idk, if mason/Slade/Sanchez get involved Washington may have to consider

            • blake says:

              their outfield is pretty set though….and I wouldn’t trade Sanchez for Rendon I don’t think. I’d deal Mason or Slade for him probably but not sure the Nats would do that….Laroche is only signed for 2 years…..they could move Zim to 1B after that and let Rendon play 3B or move Rendon to 2B

              • Gonzo says:

                If Goodwin flames out, that might increase their interest in a CFer like Mason or Slade. They’ll know more after this year.

                That said, I think I would do a Sanchez for Rendon for Sanchez swap.

                • Nice Guy Eddie says:

                  Yeah, I’d give up Sanchito in a second in that deal(disclaimer: this has a .000000005 chance in happening). There’s too much of a need for a high-level impact guy in the system.

  12. dasani says:

    Does anybody know if theres been a Brian Cashman sighting lately ?

  13. Dan G says:


    I suggested Helton as a mailbag question a month or 2 ago and never heard back. Did the message not go through?

  14. Robert says:

    When will the Yanks announce the Spring Training roster? I am interested in the non roster invitee’s.

  15. Moose14 says:

    Once Garza proves he’s healthy, and teams realistically start to make offers, what are you giving up to get him ? There will be teams with better prospects that Epstein and Hoyer will be targeting, just like Towers with Upton.

  16. theyankeewarrior says:

    All of the below players are better than having no catcher at all. They’re all FAs in 2014.

    Henry Blanco (42)
    John Buck (33)
    Jesus Flores (29)
    Ramon Hernandez (38)
    Gerald Laird (34)
    Brian McCann (30)
    Jose Molina (38)
    Dioner Navarro (30)
    Wil Nieves (36)
    Brayan Pena (32)
    A.J. Pierzynski (37)
    Humberto Quintero (34)
    Carlos Ruiz (35)
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia (29)
    Geovany Soto (31)
    Kurt Suzuki (30) – $8.5MM club option with a $650K buyout

  17. Jacob The OG (formerly Jacob) says:

    So upon seeing this I decided to just check out Helton’s career numbers etc. on BR, I go to his page and the first thing I notice is his amazing 2000 season only to see that he was absolutely robbed of the MVP that year and was only voted into 5th place? One of the most ridiculous mess ups I have ever seen from the voters

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.