Changes to baseball's playoff format -- two additional wild cards -- and draft-pick compensation for acquiring teams could limit sellers and curtail the anticipated July trade market. But there still should be several viable players, especially pitchers, moved before the trade deadline in two months.
Without further ado, here's an early look at 45 who could go somewhere else by July 31:
1. Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers: The ultra-talented right-hander who's due for free agency after the year could be a game changer for any rotation, and the losers in the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes all make some sense (Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals, Orioles). Potentially the best starter on the market, he's 5-2 with a 3.66 ERA for the injury-depleted Brewers, and has 62 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 59 innings. Greinke is a great kid but some may wonder whether he will fit certain markets, and a GM of one middle-market team said, "I'd worry about a playoff game at Yankee Stadium." Another big caveat: Milwaukee has the potential to get hot and is no guarantee to sell.
2. Matt Garza, SP, Cubs: Since he isn't a free agent until after 2013, Garza, whose 2-3 record and 4.22 ERA don't reflect his immense talent, might actually bring more than Greinke if he's dealt. The Cubs are said to want to try again to extend him before shopping him, and competing execs are basically split as to whether the Cubs will pull the trade trigger. One big plus: He has succeeded in the AL East.
3. Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs: There have been suggestions lately that the Cubs might try to extend him, but he's 35 and really should be pitching elsewhere. While he has been superb this year, thanks to zero support from the Cubs' offense he has yet to win a game in nine starts (0-3, 2.90 ERA; 1.02 ERA through five starts). The high 2012 salary ($14 million) will limit the take.
4. Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros: The $33 million owed through 2014 if he's traded (the '14 option becomes a player option if dealt) doesn't look too terrible now for this very solid lefthander (4-4, 2.49 ERA) who could help a lot of teams. Rodriguez is the best lefty who could go.
5. Shaun Marcum, SP, Brewers: Marcum, topping out in the mid-to-high 80s, has managed to win in both leagues, but despite very solid numbers again (3-3, 3.63 ERA, 58 strikeouts in 62 innings), one AL GM said he considers him no better than a No. 4 starter in their league.
6. Justin Morneau, DH-1B, Twins: Now that his concussion symptoms have subsided and he's showing power again (.535 slugging percentage), playing some first base and he's a candidate to help an AL contender. Negative: He is owed $23 million through next year.
7. Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres: "He has good value," one AL exec opined. His 2-5 record and 3.46 ERA isn't great pitching in San Diego, but his reasonable $2.2375 million salary helps.
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8. Carlos Quentin, OF, Padres: He was counted on to be a middle-of-the-order presence for the Padres, but he could just do it for someone else now that he's back. Off to an incredibly hot start since his return from the disabled list, he has six extra-base hits and a 2.226 OPS through three games.
9. Kevin Youkilis, IF, Red Sox: His presence is causing first baseman extraordinaire Adrian Gonzalez to play the outfield. "This is only a temporary solution," one Red Sox person said. Could Youk be temporary in Boston?
10. Huston Street, RP, Padres: He's due back from the DL in time to become a serious trade candidate, especially in a year where so many closers have either blown up or blown out. Better than you think, and superb so far in San Diego (0.52 WHIP).
11. Jonathan Broxton, RP, Royals: K.C.'s surprise buy at $4 million could prove to be prescient, as Broxton (11 for 13 in saves with a 1.83 ERA) may bring them back a prospect considering the closer holes opening up all over. Greg Holland could be the Royals' closer.
12. Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Brewers: Maybe he gets his closer job back through trade, though he hasn't quite thrived to date as the Brewers' setup man. He's 0-3 with a 4.30 ERA.
13. Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins: He showed his true talent in six shutout innings vs. the A's on Wednesday, and despite an ERA that's still at 7.20, one competing exec said he's worth a shot in a short-term situation. At his best, he could help many.
14. Brett Myers, RP, Astros: He's a rare closer having an excellent season (12 of 13 saves, 0.92 WHIP), but his contract is still silly: $11 million this year, a $10 million option for next year with a $3 million buyout. Good move by Houston to convert him, though.
15. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: Seven home runs in his past 15 games give the Cubs an outside shot to deal him, but they would still have to pay almost all of his exorbitant $18 million annual salary through 2014. The guess is the Cubs could save 20 cents on the dollar ... if they're very lucky.
16. Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics: He has had some big moments early, but memory of his rebuilt arm and second-half fade last season could limit the value.
17. Matt Capps, RP, Twins: Considering the need for closers, maybe his $4.75 million salary doesn't look too horrible. He has saved 10 of 11, so he could help someone.
18. Chien-Ming Wang, SP, Nationals: Washington using Wang to replace the effective Ross Detwiler in its rotation looks like a showcasing from here.
19. Paul Maholm, SP, Cubs: The third veteran Cubs starter gets overlooked. He could be a back-end rotation option for someone.
20. Rafael Betancourt, RP, Rockies: His name seems to come up every July, but it might be of particular interest now that so many teams have back-end bullpen issues. A caveat: The Rockies are historically a strong second-half team and might be reluctant to trade him.
21. David DeJesus, OF, Cubs: He's a solid player who has come back to form with a .379 on-base percentage (but don't let him steal, he's 0 for 4). He may not be a part of the Cubs' future since they will eventually need outfield spots for Brett Jackson and possibly even Bryan LaHair (assuming Anthony Rizzo is called up to play first base, probably around June 23 when his free agency could be delayed a year).
22. Brandon Lyon, RP, Astros: That $5.5 million salary is just as absurd as the day he signed the deal but he's healthy and thriving now. Has 19 strikeouts, only two walks and a 1.03 WHIP.
23. Bruce Chen, SP, Royals: Crafty lefty has improved with age. Was nearly traded before the final day of the regular season last year when the Red Sox agreed to a deal. Although he was better last year and has a two-year deal at $4.5 million per now, he finally seems to be gaining some respect.
24. Matt Belisle, RP, Rockies: He's signed through next year, and the Rockies may want to hold onto this noted strike thrower.
25. John Lannan, SP, Nationals: The $5 million salary has discouraged anyone from taking the contract. He shouldn't be a minor leaguer, though.
26. Carlos Lee, 1B, Astros: The man still can hit, but he has an $18.5 million salary, a no-trade list of 14 teams and an unwillingness to waive it.
27. Kevin Millwood, SP, Mariners: A nice signing by Seattle at $1 million (3-4, 3.56 ERA), Millwood should give the Mariners a shot at a prospect for this solid back-end option.
|Jason Giambi can still provide some pop for the bargain rate of $1 million. (Getty Images)|
29. Reed Johnson, OF, Cubs: Decent backup (.750 OPS) could help a team desperate for outfielders.
30. Jeff Francoeur, OF, Royals: Great personality and arm, with a little power thrown in. But the hunch is nobody likes him quite as much as Royals GM Dayton Moore.
31. Ryan Doumit, C-1B, Twins: Professional hitter would do better away from Target Field.
32. Carl Pavano, SP, Twins: Tough personality, diminishing performance (.302 BAA) and high salary ($8.5 million) limit his market.
33. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves: How the mighty have fallen. The 2011 All-Star is doing OK in the minors but the Braves don't have room.
34. Brandon League, RP, Mariners: Incredible fastball might pique interest, but then folks might remember he couldn't keep the closer job in Seattle after blowing four of 13 save chances.
35. Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Rockies: "He's going to have to get back on the mound and show he can be effective," one competing executive said.
36. Seth Smith, OF, Athletics: Professional hitter (.354 on-base percentage) will be better out of the Oakland Mausoleum.
37. Mark Kotsay, OF, Padres: Solid defender brings veteran leadership and hasn't hit badly (.793 OPS) when healthy. Currently on the DL.
38. Jonny Gomes, DH, Athletics: Brings enthusiasm and a bit of pop (five homers in 100 at-bats).
39. Ramon Hernandez, C, Rockies: Considering the paucity of viable catchers, maybe he's not so overpaid at $3.2 million this year and next (though the .215 batting average for the Rockies won't help). Rox have Wilin Rosario coming.
40. Nyjer Morgan, OF, Brewers: Strictly a July 31 pickup, one exec said. The one total extra-base hit and record zero RBI through 121 at-bats is a bit disconcerting. Can run and play the outfield, however.
41. Marco Scutaro, 2B, Rockies: He's hitting only .254 (with a low-for-him .640 OPS) but value could benefit from a lack of middle infielders on this list. (Yep, he's the only one.)
42. Manny Ramirez, OF, Athletics: Not sure if he got a 40th birthday card Wednesday from Oakland but he didn't get the call-up he hoped for. Needs to come up and show he has something left first, of course.
43. Carlos Marmol, RP, Cubs: That $9.8 million salary for 2013 looks like a misprint. But you know the high walk total (18 in 12 1/3 innings) isn't. Maybe a change of scenery helps.
44. Miguel Olivo, C, Mariners: The .527 OPS and $3 million-plus salary don't help.
45. Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics: A poor man's Marlon Byrd (.430 OPS), who makes $6 million this year and $7 million in '13. Good luck.