10 MLB Players Whose Names Are Already Swirling in Trade Speculation
We sit only a month into MLB's 2014 regular season, and the trade market has already heated up with a number of deals consummated between clubs, the latest of which found Lucas Harrell shipped from Houston to Arizona in exchange for either cash or a player to be named later, per Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com.
Things aren't likely to slow down anytime soon, with trade speculation swirling around a handful of players, some more notable than others, heading into the season's second month.
Here's a look at 10 players who, according to the rumor mill, could be wearing a different uniform in the not so distant future.
RHP Jason Hammel, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: 5 GS, 4-1, 2.08 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 34.2 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
It was about two weeks ago that Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal first mentioned 31-year-old Jason Hammel as a potential trade chip for the rebuilding Chicago Cubs. Now Rosenthal's Fox Sports colleague, Jon Morosi, is doing his part to keep the trade winds swirling.
According to Morosi, Hammel could find himself on the move as early as June, assuming that he stays healthy. But Hammel's production on the mound drops off significantly after the first month of the season. Since 2011, Hammel's ERA has risen from 3.03 in April to 4.93 the rest of the season. His win-loss record has also plummeted, going from 12-4 in April to 12-24 after.
By that logic, if the Cubs want to maximize their return for the veteran, they've got roughly 48 hours to find him a new home.
2B Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: 28 G, .255/.305/.427, 13 XBH (2 HR), 12 RBI, 6/24 BB/K
Things haven't gone according to plan for Arizona this year. The Diamondbacks sit in the basement of the NL West with baseball's worst record (8-21) a month into the regular season, and the veteran roster is showing few signs of life.
That's one of the reasons ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (subscription required) has started to speculate about moves the team could make to shake things up and bring in some new talent, with 32-year-old second baseman Aaron Hill as the first Diamondback to appear on our list.
Hill is due $35 million over the next three years ($11 million in 2014, $12 million in 2015 and 2016), but his contract shouldn't be much of an obstacle for a contender looking to upgrade the middle of its infield.
Bowden names the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays as three possible destinations for the veteran infielder—a career .273 hitter with some pop in his bat and a solid glove.
Should the Diamondbacks decide to move Hill, current shortstop Chris Owings could slide over to replace him. Last year's starting shortstop, Didi Gregorius, could reclaim his former position, which would give the Diamondbacks one of the more intriguing young middle infields in the game.
C Nick Hundley, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats: 16 G, .355/.355/.548, 4 XBH (1 HR), 3 RBI, 0/6 BB/K
Hundley, who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Padres, has become expendable thanks to the emergence of Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera as well as the presence of top prospect Austin Hedges, who is widely considered to be the team's catcher of the future.
To Hundley's credit, he's not letting the trade rumors get to him, as he explained to Lin:
I’ve been around this game too long to speculate on things like that. Those are decisions that are outside of my pay grade. As an employee of the San Diego Padres, it’s my job to prepare and to help us win. That’s my only job. Whether I’m a Padre for my entire career or not, it’s an irrelevant fact. The only important thing is I come prepared to help us win.
A career .239 hitter, Hundley is due $4 million this season in the last year of the three-year, $9 million extension he signed with the club during spring training in 2012.
While the club holds a $5 million team option (no buyout) for 2015, there's no way they'd pick it up with Grandal, Hedges and Rivera in the fold. At this point, it makes sense to try to get something in return for Hundley instead of letting him walk away for nothing after the season.
C Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: 26 G, .273/.376/.398, 7 XBH (2 HR), 15 RBI, 14/9 BB/K
In ESPN.com's Jim Bowden's estimation (subscription required), Miguel Montero is a good player who is too expensive for a team in Arizona's current situation, and that makes him a likely trade candidate.
Montero, 30, has four years and $50 million left on his contract, which expires after the 2017 season—reasonable numbers for a contender that needs an upgrade behind the plate.
Bowden opines that the Texas Rangers would be a perfect fit for the veteran, and it makes some sense, at least from the Rangers' perspective. Neither the currently injured Geovany Soto nor the powerful but erratic J.P. Arencibia are long-term answers behind the plate for the Rangers.
Montero could serve as the placeholder until prospect Jorge Alfaro, the team's catcher of the future, is ready for prime time. Then Montero could serve as the team's designated hitter, where his ability to get on base consistently would make an already dangerous Rangers lineup that much better.
C John Ryan Murphy, New York Yankees
2014 Stats: 6 G, .308/.308/.538, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0/2 BB/K
Ranked as New York's fourth-best prospect heading into the season by Baseball America, 22-year-old John Ryan Murphy finds himself back in the Bronx after getting his first taste of the major leagues last September.
Recalled from Triple-A to serve as Brian McCann's primary backup after Francisco Cervelli wound up on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, per ESPNNewYork.com, Murphy has opened some eyes around the game in the limited playing time he's had.
“Some team might see him as a guy who could start for them. He’s solid with the bat and behind the plate," an unnamed scout recently told John Harper of the New York Daily News, who speculates that Murphy could be used as a trade chip to help the team replace Ivan Nova in the starting rotation.
Nova, 27, is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery this week, a procedure that is likely to keep him sidelined through the early part of the 2015 campaign, per CBS New York.
IF/OF Martin Prado, Arizona and 3B Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
Prado 2014 Stats: 27 G, .234/.268/.280, 5 XBH (0 HR), 8 RBI, 4/19 BB/K
Sandoval 2014 Stats: 24 G, .180/.263/.315, 7 XBH (1 HR), 6 RBI, 10/21 BB/K
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (subscription required) speculates that a swap of struggling NL West third basemen—Arizona's Martin Prado and San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval—would make sense for both clubs, and he may be on to something.
Due $33 million over the next three years ($11 million per year), Prado's contract certainly wouldn't break the bank in San Francisco. It could actually be a cost-saving move for the club, as the Giants recently offered Sandoval a three-year, $40 million extension, which he turned down, according to CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly.
While Sandoval is a free agent after the season, it's not out of the question that he and Arizona could agree on a new deal, especially if he takes to his new surroundings—the hitter-friendly Chase Field—where he owns a career .343/.401/.517 stat line with six home runs and 30 RBI over 47 games.
OF Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres
2014 Stats: Injured, has not yet played
Carlos Quentin has been sidelined since mid-March with a bone bruise on his left knee. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports that the veteran outfielder is expected to begin extended spring training in Arizona shortly and that he's a likely trade candidate if he stays healthy.
Staying healthy has been all but impossible for the 31-year-old, who has appeared in more than 100 games in a season only three times since 2006 and has not been able to pull off the feat since 2011. He has been limited to 86 games and 82 games, respectively, since joining San Diego before the 2012 season.
A career .255 hitter with an .842 OPS and some pop in his bat, Quentin is due $9.5 million in 2014 and $8 million next year. He could be an attractive addition to a contending club that is looking for an upgrade at designated hitter, a right-handed bat to platoon in a corner outfield position or a veteran pinch hitter off the bench.
RHP Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
2014 Stats: 5 GS, 0-2, 1.53 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 35.1 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
The trade talk that first started with Jeff Samardzija last season (h/t Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal) only picked up in intensity during Chicago's recent trip to Milwaukee.
All I can tell him is keep pitching; pitch your way out of it. Keep your eyes focused, your eyes straight ahead and just pitch. There’s nothing else you can do. I told him, 'It doesn’t matter, dude, you play in Chicago. I was there, and I lost 30 wins in three seasons. It’s not your fault. You pitch your way out of there.' I’m hoping the best for him because he’s a young kid who deserves a shot to maybe go win something.
Garza, whom Chicago traded to Texas around the July trade deadline a year ago, wasn't the only former Cub to comment on Samardzija's situation. Current Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez chimed in as well, per Wittenmyer:
It’s huge (getting out of Chicago). We’ve all been around for a while, and the next thing for us is winning. We don’t want to be in a development situation and a rebuilding process. I don’t have 10 years left. I have to try to win now, and same thing for Garza and Sori. I’d take him, for sure. Who wouldn’t take Samardzija? He’s the perfect guy for any ballclub.
Alfonso Soriano, who spent nearly seven years in Chicago, also addressed the situation during the Cubs' recent visit to the Bronx:
I love Samardzija. I hope he comes here. If not here, somewhere he feels comfortable and gets a chance to win. Because that’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, we play to win. We don’t play to have fun and just lose. We play to be a champion.
What does the man of the hour, Samardzija, think about the whole situation?
“Everybody’s here for the present,” he told reporters. “Tomorrow’s not guaranteed to anybody, let alone next year or the year after that.”
While the Cubs have a number of high-profile prospects down on the farm who are expected to play a major role in turning the team's fortunes around, it's looking increasingly likely that Samardzija won't be around to see it.
1B/OF Mark Trumbo, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: 21 G, .210/.264/.506, 10 XBH (7 HR), 19 RBI, 5/22 BB/K
It's no secret that Mark Trumbo is woefully miscast as a major league outfielder. The defensively-limited slugger would be best utilized as a full-time first baseman or designated hitter.
Arizona overpaid to land Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels this winter—surrendering left-handed pitcher Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and outfielder Adam Eaton to the Chicago White Sox in the three-team deal that bought Trumbo's power to Chase Field—and it's unlikely they'd be able to get a similar package in exchange for him now.
But that hasn't stopped ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (subscription required) from speculating about a potential Trumbo trade. He names the Miami Marlins, the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates as teams that desperately need upgrades at first base and would be more than happy to add Trumbo's power to their lineups.
With two years of arbitration left, Trumbo's struggles to get on base consistently—not his contract—would likely serve as the biggest obstacle standing in the way of any potential deal.