It looks like the San Diego Padres, currently at 11 games under and with one of the league's worst offenses (-29 run differential), are ready to throw in the towel. Or nearly so.
Jayson Stark is reporting that the team is "sending signals" that Heath Bell, Ryan Ludwick, and Chad Qualls could all be on the trading block in just a few weeks.
Heath Bell could clearly be a candidate for the Texas Rangers, which has been making noise about looking for a reliever. While Bell has only pitched 19 innings this season, his ERA is a miniscule 1.89. A closer look shows he's been somewhat lucky, with a .241 BABIP, a K/9 almost half of what he was used to the previous two seasons, and a higher GB% than he's maintained since 2007. This should all be taken with a grain of Small Sample Size, though.
In Ben Nicholson-Smith's excellent analysis of Bell's trade value, he notes that contending teams like the Angels, Rangers, Tigers, and Cardinals could all be landing spots for Bell. The key point of interest is Bell's $7.5MM salary, potentially limiting his value, but that could be offset by his potential to be a type-A free agent which could net his team two high draft picks in 2012.
Ryan Ludwick, on the other hand, is not having an extremely good season, hitting just .230/.294/.404 in 200 plate appearances. He's still managed to generate 8 home runs and nearly a full win above replacement, which will lead to teams in need of outfield depth to sniff around.
Everything you need to know about the 32 year-old Chad Qualls is that 26 innings in, he's having the best season of his career. Combine his career-low 2.05 ERA with a career-low BABIP of .250, and he's bound to regress outside of the cavernous Petco. That said, he'll no doubt draw some interest from teams needing a touch of help in the bullpen.