I think the Nats are pretty close to ready, but I'm sure there are some parts that they could jettison in the meantime. I still think they're more in the business of upgrading though. They're fairly young and only have a payroll in the $70MM range, so I don't think there's much here. They need to upgrade their own starting pitching if they want to find the playoffs, but they do have guys like Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg if they can stay healthy. They're going to build around these guys, not trade away 1's and 2's.
The Braves have a ton of starting pitching, and a ton of starting pitching prospects right behind them. I don't think they're overly fussy about moving any of their young guys, MLB or AAA, because guys like Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson are getting pretty old and Jair Jurrjens is only good every 3rd season. I'm sure Lowe could be had, since he's not very good anymore and is getting paid $15MM. I'm sure he'd get stomped in the AL East, so let's stay away. Hudson is still effective, and only costs $9MM with a $9MM club option for '13. I think there's at least a partial chance of a Hudson trade, with the intention of getting Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran permanently in to the rotation.
In terms of 2B, I wonder if Martin Prado could be had? He played LF for most of the year after the Dan Uggla signing, and played a lot of 3B over the last two years with Chipper Jones being injured or needing to go eat at 4:30. He's coming off a really bad season in which both his avg. and obp. dropped 50 points from his 2010 numbers, and if Jason Heyward wasn't having the same problem, there might be enough of a logjam that they could consider moving someone to make room.
Atlanta doesn't really need anything at the moment-- they're a pretty good, young team, and are loaded with prospects pretty much all over the board. I assume Prado will just take over at 3B once Chipper Jones' arthritis kicks in and he breaks his hip, but maybe there's another plan (Brandon Hicks, Tyler Pastornicky,...) that would allow Prado to be traded. Because it's not like they don't give up on their good, young players who get on base or anything...
I don't know if the Phils are going to give up anything, even if the dynasty's over (which it probably isn't). If they do happen to tank though, the firesale would happen mid-season. And we're not getting Utley. Best to just move along.
This is almost as much of a mess as the Twins. They seriously payed a combined $27.9MM to 5 players who were no longer on the team by the end of the year. Having said that, their payroll is currently at ~$66MM plus arbitration raises and minimum contracts, so they definitely have room to spend if they want, and don't need to firesale if they don't want to. But they should want to. The obvious problem here is that they don't have anything overly useful. There are a few decent prospects, but that's not what you should be trading obviously.
I guess the Marlins are planning on winning soon? Because they're getting a new stadium? Yeah... They do plan on spending on the free agent market this year apparently, so depending on how that goes, they might not be making any trades. Seeing as they just brought in Ozzie Guillen to manage, and they plan on spending, they probably won't trade any of their more expensive guys.
There are definitely some parts there that they could move for prospects/MLB-ready talent if they decide that this isn't the year to contend though. The Jays would probably be willing to move a pitching prospect (and more, obviously) in return for 2 years of Josh Johnson or Ricky Nolasco if the Marlins wanted to move either. Anibal Sanchez will probably make $5MM+ in arbitration, so he could be moved as well, but I think the Jays are looking for someone better, especially at that price. I think any of these potential deals are more likely to happen mid-season, once the Marlins' delusions of contending come to the forefront.
If the Pirates are willing to let Paul Maholm walk, as it appears they are, it's probably because they believe they can contend with what they've got at the moment. Politely, they're fucking crazy. They won't be trading any pitching our way. They're more in the business of acquiring goodness. That whole team is just a bunch of kids and I don't think they're moving any of them.
Technically, these guys are going to be in the AL next year (I think?), but whatever. Ummm, Wandy Rodriguez? He's not a legit #1 or 2, but he could probably be had for some prospects. Other than that, I don't really see anything. They moved it all at the deadline last year. I wouldn't be surprised if the best baseball player in this organization, in terms of overall skill, is in the minor leagues right now. Further, if that does happen to be the case, he may have been drafted in 2010 or 2011. There's nothing to see here beyond Wandy.
Well, they have pitching. I doubt they're giving it up though. Even without Prince Fielder (presumably), they should still be pretty good. They've got $58MM locked up in guarantees, but that goes up fast with arbitration raises and minimum contracts, so they miiiight ultimately decide to move something from the rotation to free up cash (especially if they happen to resign Prince), but I don't think that's overly likely. If that were to somehow happen, Shaun Marcum might get run out of town thanks to his performance in the playoffs, but I can't see them trading him back to Toronto. They're also really unlikely to move Rickie Weeks. Skip.
I honestly don't think I'd trade Joey Votto if I were Walt Jocketty. Cincinnati won the division two seasons ago, and they have pretty much the same team as they did then. I don't understand why they were so bad this year when they should have actually improved by all rights. But whatever. I think it's more likely they move Yonder Alonso, which would be a great fit at 1B for Toronto. AA could probably trade-rape for Alonso a lot easier than he could for Votto, naturally. Votto would cost a fuck-ton, but Alonso could probably be had for Thames and a pitching prospect, which lets them put Thames in to LF (where Alonso is now, despite being a natural 1B) right away.
As for starting pitching, they don't have anybody mind-bogglingly awesome, but they did have 7 guys who made 13 or more starts last year, and will probably be moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation next season as well. I don't think Bronson Arroyo will be tradeable, since he gave up like 94 homers this year, and has a funny clause in his contract where $15MM is deferred until 2021, but that deferred money gets paid immediately if he gets traded. I figure he'll get moved to the bullpen (if not immediately, then by midseason), but even then, there are definitely a lot of arms there that could fetch something. I wouldn't calll any of those guys a bona fide #1 or #2 starter at this point, but if the Jays think that Homer Bailey or Mike Leake have the potential to be impact starters, we could see a deal. The Jays might need to find a third team if Cincinatti wants MLB ready players, because Cincy would want infield help.
I really think Theo Epstein is just going to shatter this team, much like AA did when he took over, and try to get rid of some bad contracts in order to try and build a sustainable winning product a few years down the road. This team is in a giant fucking mess, but they have enough money that they don't necessarily have to rebuild. I mean, they're candidates to sign either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols if such a scenario presents itself. I suppose the advantage to having a great big budget is that, if done correctly, you never really need to rebuild because you can always get good players to sign with you. Anyway, if they plan on contending this season, they're probably not going to make any trades that we're overly interested in. If they do opt to tear roster up...
Ryan Dempster is coming off a pretty poor year. I'd hate to just look at his babip (.331) and call it a blip that he'll recover from, because he's 35 and has a $14MM player option that he'd be retarded not to exercise. Dempster's bad season this year was somewhat surprising, given his two good seasons before that. I honestly do feel like he could/should recover, and you could probably expect the Cubs to eat a hefty chunk of salary to get a prospect or two back in a trade. Did I mention that he's Canadian?!?! Yeah, I don't care either. He'll only be under contract for one more season, assuming he exercises the option, so there's not a ton of risk associated with it, but that's not exactly the kind of thing AA is looking for.
Matt Garza provides an equally interesting option. The Cubs gave up a lot of good prospects to get Garza, and probably regret making such a trade now (well, Theo probably regrets it for them). He's still got two years of team control (arbitration eligible in '12 and '13), plus he's a pretty good pitcher, so they could expect a decent haul in return if they decide to move him. He's kind of a douche though.
Finally, there's Carlos Zambrano-- $19MM, and completely insane. When he's not flipping his shit, he's still a halfway effective pitcher. The contract is obviously fucking insane, but I bet the Cubs would eat 90+% of the contract in exchange for Chris Woodward. AA always waxes on about having "good people" on his team, and I dunno if Z really fits that description. He's only got 1 year left on his contract, and the Cubs would be eating a lot of it, so I wonder if that could happen.
Hey remember that time the Cardinals gave up a 5-tool 25 year old CF for 2 relievers and an average starter? Same. And honestly, the way that trade worked out for the Cards, we might be looking at a best case scenario for the Jays. If that trade worked out as terribly for the Cards as it should have, John Mozeliak might be gunshy to work with AA again.
Ryan Theriot or Skip Schumaker might be available if the Jays need a 2B, though neither are great. The Cards obviously aren't in the market to trade first basemen, since it's Albert Pujols, or starting pitching, since apparently they're desperate enough to give up Colby Rasmus for it. I don't see the Cards as a partner in a major trade, but I dunno, if AA really feels like bringing Ryan Theriot to Ontheriot, it won't be earth-shattering news.
I don't see much here. They don't have any true ace, and they only had a $56MM payroll this year, which should allow them to absorb any bad contracts, if they had any, which they don't. They're contending, in a pretty easy division, and for not much money. Not much to see here.
San Francisco does pretty well with pitching, and not all that well with anything else. Matt Cain is due to become a free agent after 2012, and if they can't extend him, they might want to make a trade. He's an extreme flyball pitcher, who takes advantage of a big field-- two giant warning signs for the AL East, and the small ballparks and powerhitters that come with it. I don't see much chance of the Giants moving Cain, but if they do, it will only be if they're out of it by the trade deadline.
I'll give you Mark Teahen for Matt Kemp? Clayton Kershaw? No? K. Ummm... Ted Lilly? Hiroki Kuroda? Kuroda's actually a free agent who might retire, but neither would be terrible. Not great, but not terrible. Beyond that, anyone we want, we're not getting; anyone they're selling, we don't want.
Uhh, Todd Helton would certainly be an upgrade, but he's old and probably not getting traded anyway. He's not incredibly expensive since his contract was restructured, but he's been in Colorado forever, and there might be a mutiny if he gets moved. I'm not sure what his trade value would be, given the way his contract is set up, and it probably doesn't matter. Ty Wigginton for 2B? Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
None of the pitchers interest me, and I doubt I'm alone.
The only thing I really see here is Orlando Hudson at 2B. San Diego was really bad last season, mostly because they're so young, so they're really just kind of waiting for people to hit their primes. If they had any good veterans, they could trade them for prospects, but they don't really. Hudson and Jason Bartlett are the only older position players, and neither are really worth half a fuck anymore. Hudson's OBP has declined steadily in each of the last 3 years, so I'd be cool if we took a pass on this one. Bartlett had a pretty awful year this year too, so they're looking at trading pitching, or nothing.
Mat Latos is the best pitcher in the rotation, and is only 23, so I doubt that's going to happen, but Tim Stauffer and Aaron Harang could feasibly be moved. I'm not convinced that either is good enough to call a front-end starter, but Stauffer is definitely the closer of the two. If AA can get him for cheap, I might be able to get behind it. One snag I see is that San Diego would probably want middle infield help, which the Jays aren't stacked with.
So there you go kids. As you can see, there aren't a ton of starting pitching options, nor is there much in the 2B market, so AA is going to have to have to get pretty creative. There are pieces available, and we all know that he's a ninja; ninjas are very creative. The Jays have cash to spend, and prospects to deal, so they can make some stuff happen. We don't always know who is available, or when they're available, so we could get surprised at some point in the next few weeks by a deal for someone that I thought was completely unavailable. I simply followed a formula that has been true and tested for the last several years: contending teams will acquire players who are more expensive from teams who feel no need to pay them to help win 75 games. Those teams get prospects in exchange for proven players.
My most likely trade targets from the NL are the Cubs, the Marlins, Padres and the Astros for pitching, and the Reds for other stuff. The Jays do the due diligence all over the place, and have any potential trade target scouted well enough to know if and what they should pay.
Let's not forget that as of 12 months ago, Colby Rasmus was virtually unattainable, and is now a Bluejay in place of 3 relievers and Corey Patterson. GM's talk a whole lot of bullshit, and they also change their minds from week to week about what may be best for their team, so people can become available based on many different factors.
Part 3 will focus on the Jays, and which players are more likely to be moved, focusing both on the major league roster, as well as the farm system. I'll admit, I don't know a ton about a lot of the prospects, but I don't think AA is going to be all that crazy about moving guys who are in A ball, so I don't really care. We also know that he's pretty devoted to his high-ceiling prospects, but will probably move anybody if he thinks he can improve the team longterm.