Jul 27, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT
This is the sixth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Jayson Werth (Phillies) – It seemed inconceivable two months ago, but the Phillies have been willing to discuss Werth because of their need for pitching and their ability to plug the game’s No. 1 prospect, Domonic Brown, into his spot in right field. A trade, however, did seem a bit more likely a couple of weeks ago than it does now. The Rays, considered one of the top suitors, no longer appear to be in the mix, and the possibility of Roy Oswalt coming to Philly, a move that may have required a Werth trade, has diminished. Besides, teams have to be wondering if Werth is really worth that big of a ransom. He’s a free agent at season’s end, his production has dropped every month this season and he’s been downright ordinary outside of Citizens Bank Park (.259/.365/.414 with three homers in 174 at-bats). He’ll probably finish out the year in Philadelphia.
Corey Hart (Brewers) – Hart was up for grabs over the winter after back-to-back disappointing seasons, but no one bit. After losing playing time to Jim Edmonds initially, he’s come back with what could go down as a career year, as he has 22 homers and 70 RBI through 89 games. Like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, Hart is a free agent after 2011, and the Brewers may well have to part with at least one member of the group with all being due for big raises in arbitration over the winter. Hart, making $4.85 million this year, figures to see his salary jump to $8 million-$10 million if he goes on to have a 35-homer season. The Giants have led the way in trade talks regarding Hart, though those whispers were louder earlier this month than they are now. He could also be an option for the Padres and Rays.
Josh Willingham (Nationals) – The Nats probably can’t risk going long-term with both Adam Dunn and Willingham, so one could be moved this week. Another right-handed slugger, Willingham has less to offer defensively than Werth or Hart, but he’s just as good of a hitter as either. He’s batting .273/.401/.479 in 311 at-bats so far this season. A major cause for concern is his history of back problems, but that’s a bigger worry for the team that eventually signs him to a long-term contract. He’s played in 96 of the Nationals’ 99 games this season, and he hasn’t actually missed time because of his back since 2008. Willingham has the same contract situation as Hart: he’s making $4.6 million now and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next year. Since he doesn’t cover as much ground in the outfield, he should be less attractive to the Giants and Padres than Hart. However, he could really help the AL East powers with his bat.
Luke Scott (Orioles) – One of the game’s most underrated hitters, Scott has quietly batted .295/.364/.583 with 17 homers in 254 at-bats for the Orioles this season. Of course, Camden Yards has played a role there. In fact, Scott’s road OPSs the last three years are completely pedestrian: 753, 727 and 743 so far this season. Then again, he never gets to face Orioles pitching and that’d probably be good for an extra 50 points of OPS if he changed teams. While he’s been used primarily as a DH the last two years, Scott is a solid defender in left field and he’s gaining some experience at first base. He should be an option for NL teams as well as AL squads. Baltimore is willing to move him since he’s 32 and he’s due a nice raise before becoming eligible for free agency after next year. His left-handed bat would look very good in the middle of the heavily right-handed White Sox lineup.
Scott Podsednik (Royals) – The Royals have never been ones to admit defeat, and with David DeJesus down, they might just hold on to Podsednik just so that they don’t have to resort to committing so many at-bats to Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier. Still, they’d be crazy not to part with him if the price is right. Podsednik has been a fine top-of-the-order hitter this year, batting .308/.352/.400 with 30 steals in 42 attempts, but at age 34, it’s not like he’s a big part of the Royals’ future. Other than the injury-prone Coco Crisp, Podsednik is the one true leadoff man available, and that could be worth an extra prospect in trade talks. He’s another possibility for San Diego, and the Dodgers may want him as a fourth outfielder.
Garrett Jones (Pirates) – Jones took the league by surprise as a 28-year-old rookie last year, hitting .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers in 314 at-bats for the Pirates. NL pitchers, though, have had a lot more success against him in year two. His current .270/.333/.422 line is a lot closer to what his minor league numbers suggested he’d hit. Jones won’t even be arbitration eligible next year, so the Pirates may want to keep him around as an extremely cheap regular. Still, if they can get a couple of intriguing prospects for him now, they should go for it and then start looking to find the next Jones. The Angels are believed to have asked about him, and he could also be a fit with the White Sox or with the Rangers as a replacement for Magglio Ordonez.
Jose Guillen (Royals) – Guillen has been on the block for a year and a half, but now that he has just a bit more than $4 million left on his three-year, $36 million contract, a deal is finally realistic. The 34-year-old has 16 homers and 59 RBI this season, though his overall .271/.333/.457 line is less impressive. He’s also a liability in the outfield. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Padres and Giants could be interested in Guillen, and it’s believed the Royals and Mets have discussed various forms of deals involving Guillen and Jeff Francoeur.
Austin Kearns (Indians) – It looked like Kearns might revive his career in Cleveland after he hit .373/.429/.627 in April, but the 30-year-old has done little while playing regularly over the last three months and he’s currently down to .266/.349/.408 on the season. On the plus side, he has hit .288/.366/.449 away from Progressive Field. Kearns also remains a quality defensive outfielder capable of playing part-time in center if necessary. The Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants are among the teams that could use him as a fourth outfielder.
Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) – Just like in his previous seasons, Fukudome opened 2010 in grand fashion and then faded fast. He still has an adequate .253/.356/.410 line for the season, but he’s been a liability since his big April. The Cubs will be willing to eat a portion of the $4 million+ he’s owed over the rest of this year and the $13.5 million he’s due next year, but since he doesn’t seem like a good bet to help a contender right now, an in-season deal remains unlikely. He’ll probably get moved over the winter.
Jeff Francoeur (Mets) – Francoeur hasn’t posted a 700 OPS against righties since 2007, but he still thinks of himself as a full-time outfielder and he’s made it clear he’d welcome a trade away from the Mets if it came with more playing time. If he goes anywhere this week, it will probably be to Kansas City. However, even if the Royals truly want him, they’d be better off signing him after he’s non-tendered this winter.
Ryan Church (Pirates) – Church has had a disastrous season in Pittsburgh, hitting just .187/.242/.319 in 166 at-bats, and at this rate, he could well end up in Japan next year. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but he hasn’t been the same player since suffering multiple concussions in 2008. The Pirates will gladly give him away if anyone comes calling.
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