In the next couple of weeks, teams will have to commit to a plan going into the 2015 trade deadline. While the field hasn't been completely divided into buyers and sellers yet, there's a general feel for which players could potentially be rumored in trade talks due to their team's struggles. Ranked via fWAR, below are 11 players whose names could arise between now and July 31st.
Player fWAR Team
The top two names on this list are almost a lock to not go anywhere (and will be talked about later), but the rest of the list is mostly plausible, and could be on the move before July is over with.
Who are the most likely to actually get traded?
While everyone on this list can be justified in one way or another, the safest bets to move are Adam Lind, Chris Carter, Adam LaRoche, and Billy Butler. Lind, LaRoche, and Butler are all on losing teams and could bring back more future value than what they're worth now to their current organizations. Lind is experiencing a resurgence in his power numbers, and overall is posting a wRC+ that is 21% better than the MLB average.
On the south side of Chicago, LaRoche started the season off terribly, but since the beginning of May has more or less been what the White Sox expected from him. In 161 plate appearances, he's posted a wOBA of .348, and a wRC+ of 121. LaRoche hasn't hit for as much power as he did with the Nationals, but in 2015, U.S. Cellular Field is suppressing home runs as well as doubles, and has park factors of .941 and .829, respectively.
Butler on the other hand is having the worst season of his career after having just signed a 3 year 30 million dollar contract, and will be harder to move. He's on pace to set career worsts in ISO, wOBA, wRC+ and fWAR, but with his past reputation and offense at a premium, it shouldn't be impossible to convince an American League team to take a chance on Butler. And for Billy Beane, getting salary relief from moving some of his contract might even be more valuable than a prospect package.
It may seem odd to put Carter in this group as he's on a winning team, and is a true home run hitter, but so too is minor leaguer Jon Singleton, who could step in to fill the void. Power hitters are a highly valued commodity in the trade market, especially as the deadline approaches, and it would be surprising if Luhnow didn't at the very least see what he could get for Carter. He hit 37 home runs last year, and is currently on pace for 26 by season's end. Meanwhile in AAA, Singleton has put up an ISO of .260, a wOBA of .399, and a wRC+ of 142. Carter appears expendable due to Singleton's presence, and could very well by in a different uniform come August.
The long shots
Of the 11 hitters on the list, three of them are improbable, but not impossible. This includes Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, and Ryan Howard. Votto is a part of this group because while the Reds could look to unload a massive amount of players before the deadline, his contract makes him attainable to a very small number of teams. The Dodgers could easily afford him, but with Adrian Gonzalez at first base and signed through 2018, that seemingly rules them out. The Red Sox could probably take on his price tag, but unless they dramatically turn their season around, Boston won't be buyers at the deadline.
Freddie Freeman is perhaps the most likely of the long shots who could actually be moved, but he's incredibly valuable, and signed through 2021; far beyond when the Braves are expecting to seriously contend again. John Hart has done an amazing job restocking Atlanta's farm system, and Freeman would bring back a King's ransom, but he's still only 25 years old, and is positioned to become the centerpiece of the Braves' future.
The Phillies have not been silent about wanting to get rid of Howard, with Ruben Amaro going as far as telling the first baseman to his face that the team would be better off without him. They're willing to send money along in any deal, and with Howard's power resurgence, it's not inconceivable that an AL team might take a chance on the former MVP.
The ultimate prospect package
Before delving into Paul Goldschmidt, one thing that should be made abundantly clear is that the Diamondbacks are not going to trade him. He's currently on pace to end 2015 with an fWAR of 10.41, which would rank slightly below the single season record of 11.8, set by Lou Gehrig in 1927. Goldschmidt has what may be the most team friendly contract in baseball right now, as he's set to make $40.35 million from 2016-2019, and could conceivably post a cumulative fWAR of more than 30 during that time.
While Amaro denied the claims that he asked the Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias in exchange for Cole Hamels, it's entertaining to think about what Dave Stewart could realistically ask for in a trade for Goldschmidt. If he were to be dealt before the July 31st deadline, his new team would be getting the league's best first baseman for 4.5 years at an extraordinarily under-market value.
While Seager and Urias are unquestionably some of the league's top prospects, but at the end of the day, they're just prospects, and highly touted prospects fail all the time. Goldschmidt isn't going anywhere, but it's certainly fun to wonder what the Diamondbacks could look like if he were traded.