WIth the All-Star game now over, we enter the stretch run of the trading season, as teams gear up (or tear down) for what should be an exciting pennant race.
Starting pitching has traditionally been one of the deepest positions come the trade deadline, because, well, there are a lot of them. Of course, there is always a bevy of teams seeking an upgrade in the rotation, and with the rise of arm injuries, this year is no exception.
The market has already taken a bit of a hit thanks to the blockbuster that was the Cub's-A's swap of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for Addison Russell and some other nifty names, as well as the Yankees swindling of Arizona that brought them Twitter expert (and pretty good major league pitcher) Brandon McCarthy. Still, there are quite a few names remaining that will provide a significant impact over the next few months
Teams in need
Los Angeles Angels (Team Preview)
The Angels have been the second best team in baseball this season if you go by both record and run differential, yet they are still playing Robin to Oakland's Batman. The Angels have a bigger need in the bullpen which will likely be addressed first, but they do have question marks in their rotation, as CJ WIlson recently landed on the DL, Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs are uncertainties to hold up for the rest of the year, and Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker probably aren't ideal starters in a playoff-caliber rotation. The Angels have been among the clubs linked to David Price, though they appear to be a longshot to land him considering their relatively barren farm system. It's more likely that they acquire someone along the lines of a Dillon Gee or Ian Kennedy, who they have also been linked to in recent days (though they may not match up).
New York Yankees (Team Preview)
The Yankees' rotation is a mess right now. CC Sabathia is likely out for the rest of the year, Masahiro Tanaka is probably headed towards Tommy John, Ivan Nova has already had Tommy John, and Michael Pineda is out until at least mid-August. Right now, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps, and McCarthy are the only serviceable starters on the Yankees' roster, and none of them are much better than league average.
At .500, the Yankees are still in a position to make a run at the AL East due to the division's mediocrity this year, but they are going to need to add at least one more quality starter to have a real shot at usurping the Orioles and Blue Jays. However, the Yankees lack the pieces to acquire a big name, so their only real shot at acquiring a top-of-the-rotation type arm is by taking on a truckload of money, which makes them a possible landing spot for Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels if the Phillies decide to make them available. Another option could be Jorge De La Rosa, who is having a down year and will be a free agent at year's end, deflating his cost.
Cleveland Indians (Team Preview)
Cleveland's rotation was a strength last year, but has been crippled by free agent losses (Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir), injuries (Justin Masterson), and poor performances (Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister, and Masterson) this year, and is the main reason for their fall from a .568 winning percentage last year to a .500 mark this year. Cleveland still has a shot at a Wild Card spot, and if Masterson can somehow return to last year's form, then they could have a nice top four of Masterson, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin.
The Indians have been mentioned as a suitor for Price, and they seem to match up rather well. If a deal can come together, he could be enough to rocket them into the postseason.
Los Angeles Dodgers (Team Preview)
The Dodgers' rotation is easily one of the best in baseball, as they boast a major league-leading 3.08 staff ERA and second place 3.46 FIP. But, as we all know, the Dodgers never seem to be content with what they have, and with Josh Beckett's recent injury, they may once again be in the hunt for a starter.
Beckett's injury hits hard, as it exposes Los Angeles' lack of depth beyond their top five, and coupled with Dan Haren's recent struggles, that leaves them over-reliant on the three-headed monster of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu staying healthy.
Los Angeles could go any number of ways in its search for pitching, possibly going after a Bartolo Colon third-starter type, or pursuing a David Price or Cole Hamels, who would immediately give them a rotation similar in caliber (and makeup) to the oft-hailed 2011 Phillies and their "four aces". What's more, the Dodgers have both the financial means and farm system to go after one of the headliners, making them a very intriguing team to watch over the next couple weeks.
St. Louis Cardinals (Team Preview)
Often praised for their depth and ability to develop pitching, the Cardinals have been hit hard by injuries to Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha. Add in the struggles of Shelby Miller and the enigma that is Carlos Martinez, and the Cardinals find themselves with somewhat of a question mark in their rotation.
The Cardinals were reportedly nearing a deal for Peavy last week, but nothing ever came to fruition, though something could still get done. St. Louis is also another team to watch in the David Price sweepstakes, as they possess an abundance of young talent, and match up quite well with the Rays.
Baltimore Orioles (Team Preview)
The Orioles are four games up in the AL East standings, but they have struggled with their rotation this year, as the staff ranks in the bottom five of most statistical categories, including 29th in FIP and 28th in WAR. Ubaldo Jimenez has been at the crux of Baltimore's pitching troubles. After handing him a four-year deal earlier this year, the Orioles have seen Jimenez implode (4.52 ERA, 4.70 FIP) before recently landing on the DL.
The main problem with the Orioles' rotation is they lack an ace, which Jimenez was supposed to be. Baltimore's rotation is about as consistent as possible, as they have only used seven starters this year (one was a spot start from TJ McFarland), and their five primary starters all have an ERA+ between 88 and 100, but as a whole, it's a well below-average cast. Kevin Gausman is the lone exception, but he has made just seven big league starts this year, so it's probably a little too early to anoint the 23-year-old as a surefire ace.
Baltimore probably won't be addressing their need for a number one (or even a two) starter, but they appear to be looking at adding more depth, having already scouted the likes of Jorge De La Rosa and Ian Kennedy.
Toronto Blue Jays (Team Preview)
Injuries have probably pushed the Blue Jays into prioritizing their lineup over the rotation this month, but they tried to land Samardzija and Hammel, and should be in contention for Price.
2014 MLB Trade Deadline Tracker
The moves will be coming fast and furious until 4 PM on July 31, so here's a place where you can find the details on every move.
Bartolo Colon, Mets
Colon is only in the first year of a two-year deal signed over the offseason, but New York appears ready to deal him now, as the 41-year-old won't be this good for much longer. The right-hander is 8-8 with a 3.99 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 5.24 K/BB, and 0.8 WAR in 121.2 innings this season, after earning an All-Star nod and placing sixth in AL Cy Young voting last year. He has about $15 million remaining on his contract.
David Price, Rays
Price is among the biggest stars to hit the trade market over the past few years, and there is no shortage of suitors looking to acquire him. Part of his ultra-high trade value comes from the ability for any acquiring team to flip him this winter or at next year's trade deadline (as Dave Cameron points out), which makes it possible for low-payroll clubs, such as the Indians, to afford him.
Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies
De La Rosa has regressed significantly after posting a nice injury rebound 2013 campaign that saw him post a 126 ERA+ in nearly 170 innings. This year, he has just a 93 ERA+ and 0.6 WAR in 102.2 innings, which combined with his impending free agency and long injury history, has greatly decreased his trade value.
Cliff Lee, Phillies
Lee's market is limited due to his price tag, and his recent injury will likely hinder some trade talks. Still, Philadelphia is likely to listen on offers for the veteran southpaw. The Dodgers, Angels, and Yankees make sense based on need and payroll flexibility.
Ian Kennedy, Padres
Kennedy is among the more interesting starting pitchers available this summer, as he is relatively young (29) and carries 1.5 more years of team control. Kennedy has been excellent this season, posting a 3.47 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 3.91 K/BB, and 2.3 WAR in 124.1 innings, without missing a start. He should bring back a nice return for San Diego, with nearly every team with a need for starting pitching in on him.
Jake Peavy, Red Sox
Peavy was already nearly dealt once, and with the Red Sox 9.5 games back, it appears likely that he is moved soon. Peavy has had a disappointing year (4.59 ERA, 4.72 FIP) after performing well last season, and would only be a rental, as his vesting option for next season is highly unlikely to be activated. The Braves and Cardinals are among the teams that have expressed interest in him.