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10 most likely to be traded – Relievers

Jun 23, 2009, 5:43 PM EDT

Huston Street (Rockies) – Street appeared to be a lock to go a few
weeks ago, and it seemed likely that the Rockies wouldn’t even wait
until the deadline before making a move. However, their recent surge,
combined with the loss of former closer Manny Corpas, is going to make
trading him much more difficult. At the very least, it figures to go
down to the deadline now. Street’s value is sky high at the moment
thanks to 16 saves in 17 opportunities and a 35/9 K/BB ratio in 31
innings. Odds are that it will only drop as time goes on. Even if
Street remains this effective, there won’t be as much demand after the
year, since he’ll probably make $7 million or so next season in what
will be his final year before free agency.

Chad Qualls (Diamondbacks) – While he’s avoided the DL, Qualls has
experienced some forearm issues of late that have taken a toll on his
ERA. He’ll need to get past those if the Diamondbacks are going to
receive the kind of offer that would make it worth moving their closer.
Qualls is under control through 2010, and his modest price tag will
make him quite attractive. If he finishes with 30 saves this year, his
salary could jump to $5 million or so next year, but he’d be in line
for less if he’s relegated to a setup role with a contender.

Danys Baez (Orioles) – It seemed highly unlikely a few months ago,
when Baez tried and failed to crack the Baltimore rotation, but he’s
finally earning his salary in the final season of his three-year, $19
million contract with the Orioles. The league has hit just .183 off the
right-hander, allowing him to amass a 3.22 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. He’s
more of a seventh-inning guy than a true shutdown setup man, but he
figures to come cheaper than most of the other relievers on this list.

George Sherrill (Orioles) – Sherrill has allowed just one run in 18
appearances since sort of losing his job a month into the year (the
Orioles indicated that they were going to a committee, but it never
materialized). He now has a 2.20 ERA, and he’s 15-for-17 in save
chances. It looked like the Orioles blew it last year when they failed
to sell high on Sherrill and then watched him struggle and lose most of
his trade value after a poor second half. They could always do it
again, but they do have more depth now and they should be able to
better cover his loss.

Takashi Saito (Red Sox) – The Red Sox have a surplus of relievers,
and Saito hasn’t pitched as well as his 2.59 ERA in 24 1/3 innings
indicates, though he has improved considerably over the last month.
Making a deal tricky is that his salary is due to keep growing. It’s
currently at $3.5 million, and he could guarantee himself as much as
$7.5 million if he remains healthy all season. Even the Red Sox don’t
want to commit that much to their fourth- or fifth-best reliever.

Rafael Betancourt (Indians) – Kerry Wood figures to stay, but the
Indians should move Betancourt, who had lowered his ERA to 3.71 before
landing on the DL with a groin strain at the beginning of the month.
He’s due to return in early July, giving him a few weeks to rebuild his
value. The Indians probably won’t ask for much in return if it means
shedding the rest of his $3.35 million salary.

LaTroy Hawkins (Astros) – The Astros probably won’t write off the
season — which means fellow free-agent-to-be Jose Valverde is likely
to stay — but if they see the opportunity to trade Hawkins for
immediate help, they could take it. Since joining Houston, Hawkins has
a 1.92 ERA in 51 2/3 innings. American League teams will want to stay
far, far away.

Renyel Pinto (Marlins) – Pinto’s ERA stands at 2.31, but he hasn’t
gotten there by retiring lefties (.308 average against) and Dan Meyer
has supplanted him as the top southpaw in Florida’s pen. That he’ll be
arbitration eligible for the first time this winter only adds to the
chances that he’ll be moved, though at $1 million or so, he’s hardly
set to break the bank.

Cla Meredith (Padres) – The Padres could get a whole lot in return
for Heath Bell, but he’ll be reasonably inexpensive for another year.
Meredith, on the other hand, has just about outlived his usefulness
with arbitration eligibility on the way. He has a 2.89 ERA this season,
but it comes with a 1.57 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 28 innings. The
Padres no longer use him with leads, as evidenced by the fact that he
hasn’t picked up a hold since April 16. His ability to induce grounders
would be of more use in a smaller park.

Ron Villone (Nationals) – The Washington pen, so brutal for two
months, suddenly has Mike MacDougal, Villone, Joe Beimel and Julian
Tavarez all throwing well. Of course, no one from the group can be
counted on for the long haul. Three of the four will be eligible for
free agency at season’s end, and MacDougal, who is making $2.65 million
this year under the terms of his deal with the White Sox, would be
costly to keep in arbitration if he remains effective. The Nationals
should deal one or two of the veterans of the group if decent prospects
are offered, and the two lefties are the most likely to go.

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