As the 2012 MLB season progresses, inevitably it will become apparent as to which teams will separate themselves from the pack and stand out as contenders. And invariably, other teams will eventually falter and become also-rans as well.
For the teams that will already be looking ahead to next season and beyond, they will start making moves to shape their rosters for the future. Several players on these particular teams will become trade candidates as a result, some with expiring contracts, and some who just don’t fit into the overall scheme of things.
Here are our five picks for players who could already be targeted as trade deadline candidates.
5. John Lannan: Washington Nationals
For the past four-plus seasons, starting pitcher John Lannan seemed settled with the Washington Nationals, posting four straight 25-plus start seasons during that time. However, that all changed this past spring.
Lannan was supplanted in the starting rotation after the acquisitions of both Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson, and losing the fifth starter role to Ross Detwiler. Lannan is now plying his trade in Triple-A, and demanded a trade after his demotion as well.
General manager Mike Rizzo has been reticent to cave to Lannan’s demand. However, if the Nationals are well-positioned in early July, Lannan would be a very attractive trade chip.
4. Carlos Lee: Houston Astros
The Houston Astros are clearly a team in flux right now—new ownership, a change of leagues coming next season, and payroll seemingly bloated by the presence of several players, including 14-year veteran Carlos Lee.
Lee is in the final season of a six-year, $100 million contract, and a perfect candidate for any team looking for a rent-a-player for the final months of the season. At 35 years of age, Lee still has pop in his bat, and while he may a liability defensively at this point in his career, his bat still carries value for teams looking to contend for the playoffs in the final third of the season.
3. Bobby Abreu: Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels are loaded in the outfield with veterans Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter and youngsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout. They’re also stacked at designated hitter, with both Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo vying for at-bats.
That leaves 17-year veteran Bobby Abreu hanging in the lurch. Much like John Lannan, Abreu also demanded a trade during spring training, and GM Jerry DiPoto nearly engineered a deal with the Cleveland Indians before talks fell apart.
2. Huston Street: San Diego Padres
Closer Huston Street has only been with the San Diego Padres for less than a month, however, there’s already talk that Street won’t be staying around long.
Street holds a $7.5 million contract for this season with a $9 million option for the 2013 season that can be bought out for $500K, which will be paid for by the Colorado Rockies as part of the agreement that sent Street to the Padres.
With so many closers already on the shelf with injuries, Street’s value will indeed be high for contending teams.
1. Wandy Rodriguez: Houston Astros
Another member of the Houston Astros, Wandy Rodriguez, could also be made available before too long. Rodriguez was the subject of numerous trade rumors last season, but somehow remained in Houston.
General manager Jeff Luhnow would no doubt love to get Rodriguez and his remaining $34 million off the books, so look for Houston to find a willing trade partner before mid-July.
This is a guest post submitted by Mike Wright. Mike played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats, such as their premier fungo bats, for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Mike loves writing on different sports topics and is honored to contribute here.