The 2014 MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, as teams have just over a week to make deals without placing players on waivers. While last year’s deadline was unusually quiet, this season could see a few of the league’s biggest names traded.
A lot of teams remain in contention to make the playoffs because of the second wild card. However, the few teams that appear to be out of the race have some big names that could be available.
Cy Young winners and MVP candidates from the last few years have been linked to the most recent hot stove trade rumors.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a logjam in the outfield, and trading Kemp could end up being the team’s best solution. While the 29-year-old hasn’t asked to be dealt, his agent told FOX Sports that he would be open to playing elsewhere. Kemp wants to play centerfield every day again, but the prospect of that happening with L.A. anytime soon doesn’t seem likely. He’s only missed one game since May 26, but most of those starts have come in left field.
A few years ago, Kemp was one of the most valued commodities in MLB, finishing second in the 2011 NL MVP voting. In the last two and a half years he’s battled injuries and watched his production slip, hitting a total of just 37 home runs since the start of the 2012 season.
Kemp has also had his share of problems in the field. Both Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke have proven to be better defensive centerfielders in 2014, and manager Don Mattingly has insisted on playing Kemp at one of the corner outfield positions.
It won't be easy to move Kemp, who’s owed $107 million from 2015 to 2019. A team like the Seattle Mariners or Cincinnati Reds might be looking for help in the outfield by the deadline, but Kemp’s price is likely too high for either club.
Trading Ethier or Carl Crawford would also be a difficult task given their respective salaries. Yasiel Puig is a mainstay in right field when healthy.
Price has arguably been the American League’s most consistent pitcher since he debuted in 2008, pitching to a 3.17 earned-run average and winning 81 of 127 decisions. Despite his success, the Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly exploring move their ace. Price has one year of arbitration before he becomes a free agent in 2016, when he’ll command a deal that could be worth between $150 million and $200 million. The Rays have the fourth-lowest payroll in all of baseball and considering they currently sit in five games below .500, it’s not likely they’d be able to re-sign him.
A few teams that are looking to make the playoffs could have a chance to add Price. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Seattle and Tampa Bay have discussed a deal that could center on pitching prospect Taijuan Walker. The Cleveland Indians have also talked about acquiring Price, though a report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer in December claimed the asking price was too high.
The St. Louis Cardinals might be the most logical landing spot for Price. A high-ranking American League team executive tells USA Today that St. Louis is the favorite to get Price, if Tampa Bay decides to pull the trigger on a deal. The Cardinals have reached the World Series in five of the last eight seasons, and they’d have a very good chance of re-signing the left-hander.
The Dodgers might also be in the hunt for Price.
The Philadelphia Phillies sit in last place in the NL East through 100 games, and there’s a good chance they’ll be sellers at the July 31 deadline. Considering his age and the impressive numbers he continues to put up, Lee would be near the top of the list of players the team might deal. In his first three years with Philadelphia, Lee pitched to a 2.80 ERA, allowing opposing hitters to bat just .238. The 35-year-old just came off a two-month stint on the disabled list, but he had a 3.18 ERA before suffering the injury.
The biggest obstacle in trading Lee would be his contract. After making $25 million this season, he’s guaranteed to make the same amount next year. Even if his team doesn’t want to pay the $27.5 million he’s signed for in 2016, Lee’s buyout is worth $12.5 million.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Lee’s contract allows nine teams to acquire him without his consent, including the Indians, Rays, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. The New York Daily News reports that the Yankees have interest in Lee, though the feeling might not be mutual. The team is on Lee’s no-trade list, and he turned down New York's offer as a free agent in 2010.