Don’t hold your breath about a very exciting MLB trade season as the deadline approaches.
Realistically, I expect 2010 to be one of the more lackluster seasons we have seen in recent history regarding trades. There are plenty of teams in the league right now who are either holding on to slim leads in their division or are within striking distance for a playoff spot. All of them could use some real help to stay in post-season contention.
The problem is that there is an absolute dearth of pitching talent on the market, putting all of the emphasis on offense (and that pool isn’t much deeper).
As far as the pitching talent that IS available, Roy Oswalt COULD make for some interesting trade conversations, but the latest reports of his very high demands may have diminished his appeal somewhat. And when you consider the fact that Cliff Lee was dealt to the Rangers two weeks ago, the depth of available pitching talent is just not what it has been in recent seasons, when guys like C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee (the FIRST time around), and Roy Halladay were sitting on the block.
As for hitters, Prince Fielder is one who could certainly make a team in need of offense happy, but the latest out of Milwaukee seems to be that he is not going anywhere this season.
That really only leaves one viable trade option, and that is Washington Nationals first baseman, Adam Dunn.
The Nationals’ slugger has already notched 23 home runs on the season, tying him for the second most in the National League. Along with those homers Dunn has also knocked in 61 runs (the tenth most in the N.L.) and has a slugging percentage of .565 (the third highest in the N.L.).
While the Nationals have publicly expressed a desire to keep Dunn on the roster, the reality is that he will command far too hefty a salary as a free agent, and I doubt an organization that is five games away from crawling out of the basement WITH him on the payroll would be willing to ante-up as much as $60M, which is reportedly Dunn’s asking price.).
The Nationals are in a classic small-market pickle, and while it may not be an ideal situation, it is the perfect formula for a big-deal trade.
The likelihood of Dunn staying on in Washington after this season is very slim, so the Nationals are going to want to get some value for the slugger, rather than just watch him walk away. There are plenty of potential suitors out there, such as the Giants, Angels, and the White Sox, who would love to see Dunn’s bat added to the lineup. All three teams have expressed an interest in upgrading at the plate, and all three currently are either preserving or chasing very narrow leads within their respective divisions, likely serving as motivation to pull the trigger in order to stay on top.
The question boils down to how much the Nats are going to hold out for before they are willing to make a deal.
Washington’s general manager, Mike Rizzo, understands the value that Adam Dunn brings to the table, and I think he also understands the fact that they currently hold the rights to one of the only viable trade targets of the season. He will do his part to make sure the price tag for Dunn remains as high as possible, but in the end Dunn should wind up as a great mid-season acquisition for a lucky team who was looking for a little post-season insurance.