The A’s, Cubs, Diamondbacks and Yankees got into the spirit of the trading season, as the two pairs made deals over the weekend. With the MLB All-Star Game right around the corner, and the July 31 trade deadline looming just two weeks after that, it’s time to look at some hitters rumored to be trade possibilities.
Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are looking to sell spare parts, and Bonifacio fits that mold. A strained oblique might muddle any possible moves, though. He’s a free agent for 2015.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians: A free agent after this season, the slugging shortstop has been a mild disappointment in his contract year, batting .246 with eight homers and 33 RBI. Fantasy owners should keep an ear out for a Cabrera deal, which would likely mean the promotion of promising SS prospect Francisco Lindor.
Adam Dunn, 1B/DH, Chicago White Sox: The big hitter can do two things well: crush the ball and get on base. What contending team in the American League wouldn’t be excited about renting him for a couple months? You know he’s going to get you one of three things: A walk, a strikeout or a round-tripper.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres: One of the best hitters of 2012 once again looks lost at the plate, struggling with a .217 batting average, which ranks among the worst in fantasy. A change in scenery (to even an average hitter’s park) would be great for his fantasy prospects.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks: ESPN reports that the Blue Jays might want to bring him back to Toronto, where his career started. Returning to the AL might shake the bad swings out of him, as he's currently on pace for career-high strikeouts (110).
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: The oft-injured former fantasy star would likely receive a boost in value if he ends up calling Fenway Park home, and the Dodgers still have a glut of outfielders.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets: Currently leading the Mets in hits (106) and batting average (.294), Murphy ranks as a top-10 second baseman this year. He’s arbitration-eligible next season, and would be a free agent in 2016.
Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: Prado is also getting a look by the Blue Jays, where he could play in a couple different positions. He has actually seen starts at 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and LF since 2012.
Carlos Quentin, OF, San Diego Padres: Struggling through one of the worst seasons of his career, Quentin might waive his no-trade clause for greener (outfield) pastures. He’s a future DH with OF-eligibility. The Padres’ signing of Seth Smith to a two-year extension makes some of their other hitters more likely trade targets.
Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox: The Pale Hose have some good young infielders in their organization, which would make moving the 32-year-old shortstop easier in what started as one of his best seasons ever.
Kurt Suzuki, C, Minnesota Twins: Fantasy owners are always interested when a catcher change teams. Suzuki's actually having one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .306 with a .363 on-base percentage. However an address change may derail his hot season.
Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox: The Mariners reportedly were interested, as well as Boston and San Francisco. Viciedo’s owners would obviously root for his right-handed power bat to get shipped up to Boston.
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers: With Scooter Gennett starting for the Brewers, Weeks gets scraps thrown to him once in a while at the plate. A move for the 31-year-old could resurrect a previously promising bat. The Brewers have an $11.5 million club option on him next season.
Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins: Willingham has plenty of power, and he’s in the final year of his contract. No reason for the Twins to NOT trade him now -- except if they really think they’re contenders.
As you hear these deals go down, try to think about which fantasy players lose (who loses a job?) and which ones win (who gains a job?).
Hitters of the week
Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles -- Stats this week: .333 batting average, 3 home runs, 9 RBI, 8 runs scored, 2 steals
With a two-homer game last Monday and a two-steals game on Thursday, the former Pirates farmhand gets the top spot this week. In his eighth season in the majors, and just two years after playing for three teams in 2012, Pearce is having a career year. He’s on pace for 19 home runs, but will undoubtedly get more at-bats than he had the first three months. Unfortunately, he plays two games at Washington this week, which means the Orioles won’t be able to use him at designated hitter. Even though he’s currently outplaying Chris Davis, “Crush” will get the nod at first base.
Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals -- .450 AVG, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 runs, 0 steals
In both May and June, Werth had one home run in each month, with a total of 19 RBI combined in that time. He has already hit more homers in July than he did in either month, and now he enters a seven-game week, with four games against Baltimore and three at Citizens Bank Park. You’re starting him in all leagues, and hopefully, he has turned a corner here. Last year, he hit .339 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI after the All-Star break. Only Alfonso Soriano (18) and Chris Davis (16) had more homers.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels -- .345 AVG, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 runs, 1 steal
In 14 games against the Astros this season, Pujols is batting .328 with three homers and nine RBI – his best numbers against any AL team. But he doesn’t play them again until September. Luckily, the future Hall-of-Famer is still on pace for his best season since he left St. Louis (35 homers, 107 RBI).
Hitters of the weak
Jon Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros -- .042 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 runs, 0 steals
Interestingly, of Singleton’s five home runs this season, only once did he homer in a game with other base hits. In other words, he’s an all-or-nothing kind of player right now. He has just six hits in his past 17 games (56 at-bats).
Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox -- .125 AVG, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, 1 steal
His bat is doing its best to not get traded, as Ramirez follows up a rough June with another bad week. His numbers in April (.342 AVG, 4 HR, 19 RBI) and May (.305 AVG, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 7 steals) were far and away better than what he posted in June (.230 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI). He made the AL All-Star team as a reserve, but we’ll see if he can regroup for the second half -- with the White Sox or anyone else.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles -- .087 AVG, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 runs, 0 steals
Batting just .201 on the season, Davis got the day off Sunday before a couple interleague games at Washington to start this week. His contact rate is about the same, and he’s drawing more walks than in previous seasons (13.3%), but his ISO (.185) is much lower than 2012 (.231) and 2013 (.348). The magic appears to be gone, but a second-half surge would certainly forgive his past fantasy transgressions.
Buy, sell or hold
Buy: Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets
Currently, Citi Field is the third-stingiest stadium to score in, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors. If Murphy finds a home elsewhere, he’s certainly looking at a better home ballpark -- and likely a better lineup around him. The Mets rank No. 22 in runs scored, and Murphy’s 35 RBI ranks No. 10 among second basemen. His 30-percent line-drive percentage is the second-best number in the majors.
Sell: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
This is completely on speculation, of course, but if the White Sox are looking to move most of their veterans, including Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, then that spells trouble for Abreu’s lineup help. Replace those slugging vets with young players like Marcus Semien, and pitchers are going to have a pretty easy time pitching around the Cuban rookie.
Hold: Aaron Hill, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Hill has been a huge disappointment, as we mentioned, getting drafted as a top-10 second baseman this past March. He’s hitting just .241, but let’s not forget the Diamondbacks lost Mark Trumbo’s bat three weeks into the season, and the offense in general has been disappointing. A possible trade from Arizona back to Toronto would take him from the 18th-best offense in the majors to the fourth-best. Toronto also leads all teams with 114 home runs.
Rookie Hitter Spotlight
Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox: This is the third time we’ve discussed a Red Sox rookie in this space this season (Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt previously made the cut), but it makes sense, considering the defending World Series champs have one of the best minor-league systems in baseball. The 21-year-old Betts isn't expected to be a huge power source at this stage, and he’ll have to find a permanent position before he’s really fantasy worthy -- he'll remain in the Boston outfield as long as Dustin Pedroia remains healthy. The Red Sox will get some players back soon, and Betts will return to the minors, but noting his name now, for a possible September call-up, is a good move.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.