A Look At Top Trade Deadline Targets – Hitters

Jon Heyman of SI.com gives us some food for thought as he puts together a list of this season’s potential hitters that could be moved at the trade deadline.

“The biggest everyday star with a chance to hit the trade market” Heyman says, “is the Mets’ great shortstop Jose Reyes”.

Here is an early look at the potential trade market for the everyday players. These are just the top ten, you could read the full list at SI.com.

1. Jose Reyes, Mets SS. The Giants have been named by several competing execs as a logical suitor, as Reyes would provide the offensive spark and defensive glue needed by the pitching-rich defending World Series winners…  Even if they kept their 25-man unit intact, the Giants could still make a respectable offer that starts with top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. But even if their proposal includes a few others, that may be a tough sell for Mets fans. The Cardinals, Reds and Brewers are among several other teams where Reyes would make a major impact. Reyes would easily be the biggest free agent shortstop in more than a decade, since Alex Rodriguez moved from Seattle to Texas for $252 million, and could be enticing even for unexpected suitors.

2. Carlos Beltran, Mets OF. Mets people have determined they would be willing to eat most or even all of the rest of Beltran’s $18 million 2011 salary if they can get a decent young piece or two back, and that should help grease the skids for a trade after 6 ½ up-and-down years in Queens for the multitalented player. Beltran has looked close to 100 percent this season… The Red Sox have long liked Beltran (top assistant Allard Baird was the GM when Beltran was starring in Kansas City), with the White Sox and Tigers other possibilities. The Yankees were making some sense when DH Jorge Posada was struggling from the right side and rightfielder Nick Swisher from the left, but the Yankees appear very focused on upgrading their pitching staff at the moment. Beltran also has no-trade powers, but he is said to be likely to accept a deal to a contender.

3. Josh Willingham, A’s OF. One A’s exec told me of Willingham, “He’s our best player,” during this spring. He’s also their lone power source, with 10 home runs, and his .231 batting average is surely attributable in part to that pitching palace Oakland Coliseum. Willingham could always hit, and he’s been linked to the Phillies, where he’d be a very good fit (though they’ve made rumblings about being tapped out after their luxury purchase of Cliff Lee this winter). Philly knows Willingham well from his days with the Marlins and Nationals, but he could help a number of teams if the A’s decide to sell. Willingham is a free agent after the year, and as of a week ago, the A’s hadn’t broached the subject of a new deal for him.

4. Michael Bourn, Astros CF. A tremendous defensive centerfielder with as much speed as anyone in the game (he leads the NL with 29 stolen bases), it’s something of a surprise the Astros are listening at all. But word is, they are. Their one concern, apparently, is trouble with lefthanded pitching (his OPS vs. lefties is only .544 this year compared to .737 overall). The Braves could use speed in the outfield, though Jordan Schafer has looked a bit better in recent weeks.

5. Pudge Rodriguez, Nationals C. The Nationals are said to love Wilson Ramos, whom they acquired last year in a smart deadline deal with the Twins for reliever Matt Capps, and are willing to part with Pudge. Word is, Washington spoke briefly to the Giants and Red Sox, but San Francisco didn’t seem very interested and Boston’s faith in Jarrod Saltalamacchia appears to be paying off. Rodriguez’s hitting (.224, two home runs) isn’t what it was in his prime but he’s still a very good defender. The Nationals aren’t anxious to move him but will do so for the right young player. Even though they recently enjoyed an eight-game winning streak, with Stephen Strasburg not due to pitch in the majors again until next year, 2012 is really their target year.

6. Michael Cuddyer, Twins OF. He was off to a slow start, along with the rest of the Twins. But he’s a productive hitter (he has 10 home runs) who’s due to be a free agent. The Twins’ seven-game winning streak means there’s no assurance they will be sellers now, though.

7. Jason Kubel, Twins OF. Another Twin in the final year before he becomes a free agent, he carried them early and still holds a .320 batting average. The Twins will likely try to make a run especially now that superstar catcher Joe Mauer is back with them at a time they’ve gotten hot. But if they eventually decide to sell, they will have several pieces to deal.

8. Luke Scott, Orioles OF. His very right-leaning political views, which he expressed in an interview this winter, got him in trouble with Baltimore management and the sense is they’d like to move on. This is a team with young talent. Scott turns 33 in a few days and his batting average has dropped 41 points from 2010 while his slugging percentage is 100 points lower than it was a year ago.

9. Hunter Pence, Astros OF. The sense is Houston wants to hold onto him even if it isn’t thrilled Pence beat them in arbitration for $6.9 million this winter. Pence is not only having a big year (.321, 51 RBIs) but is seen as someone who provides a great example of how to play the game for a team in transition.

10. Jeff Keppinger, Astros INF. The versatile player has hovered around .300 (he’s at .302 now) and could be a useful man for a contender.

Read the rest of Heyman’s article here.

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.