Deal or no Deal: Potential Trade Thoughts from the AL Central

With the MLB trade deadline quickly approaching I asked each of our site leads to give me their thoughts on what the team they cover should do. Should they buy, sell, or stand pat?  Who should they target or look to move?  As always, our writers were free to answer in whatever fashion they felt appropriate.

The responses that follow (after the jump) are from our Lead Writers in the AL Central.

Chicago White Sox: Southside Showdown Lead Writer Rob Sesso

There are a few areas which could be potentially improved for the Chicago White Sox. They could use a bat, a starting pitcher, and a lefty bullpen arm. I will address all three of these scenarios.

It is no question that the White Sox offense has been inconsistent all season long. To bring some stability, GM Kenny Williams should pursue either Lance Berkman or a cheaper alternative in Adam LaRoche.

Berkman hits from both sides of the plate, and in my opinion would welcome a trade like this. He is a veteran bat who would probably find some added motivation on a contender. Berkman’s ability to switch hit helps him match up against both righties and lefties and makes him more attractive to interested clubs. Although his numbers (.247, 12 HR, 44 RBI) aren’t all that impressive, his average should gravitate towards .300 by the end of the season.

LaRoche seems like a younger, more realistic option because the Sox’ minor league system is essentially bare. LaRoche will give the team some power numbers from the left side of the plate. He has hit 13 HR and driven in 58 runs thus far in the season.

Both of these players have experience at first base should Ozzie want to give Paul Konerko a day off here and there. Kotsay could be relegated to a role as a bench player should a trade like this occur.

The starting pitching on the market does not look that attractive to an American League team. There are players like Roy Oswalt, whose contract is a big barrier to overcome, and there is Dan Haren who will command a package full of major league ready talent. However, the most feasible option seems like it would be to acquire Ted Lilly from the cross-town rival Cubs.

After two rough outings, Lilly impressed scouts in his most recent start, but there are concerns about his diminished velocity. The reason I like Ted Lilly is because he is an inning eater, and he has pitched in the AL before. Up until the All-Star break he received terrible run support, and he may relish an opportunity on the south side down the stretch. Another plus is that his contract is up this year.

The lefty spot in the bullpen is pretty much comprised of only Matt Thornton. This need is a position that gets overlooked because of how good Thornton has been, but Ozzie will need someone to help Thornton and give him rest.

For this particular need, I would go hard after Javier Lopez of the Pirates. He is posting quality numbers this season and it’s almost unreasonable to think that he’s not available given the Pirates fire-sale history. Lopez has a 2.73 ERA this season, and he has had success in the AL with Boston.

In a perfect world, all three of these necessities would be met, however, the most pressing need would seem to be a starting pitcher. Jake Peavy’s injury has put the team in a tough situation. The first notion is to see how Daniel Hudson pitches in his next start before a concrete assessment can be made.

In all of these potential moves, certain prospects would have to be involved. They could come from a group that includes Daniel Hudson, Dayan Viciedo, Brent Morel, Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks. I would not part with Viciedo in a trade unless Prince Fielder could be had. All the other ones would be fair game depending on the trade. Someone like Javier Lopez might cost someone else besides the aforementioned prospects and cash considerations.

Cleveland Indians: Deep Left Field Lead Writer Ed Carroll

As the trade deadline fast approaches, the Indians are running out of time to rid themselves of the flotsam and jetsam that is clogging up their major league roster. Unfortunately for the Indians, the guy teams seem to have the most interest in, Indians All-Star Fausto Carmona, is also the guy the Tribe probably shouldn’t trade unless they get their socks knocked off with an offer. For a guy like Carmona, who is still under team control for at least another two years, the Indians should ask for at least one ML-ready player and a couple high ceiling prospects. It’s a high asking price, but Carmona is still valuable to this team.

Regardless of what the Indians do with Carmona, the Tribe still should see what they can get for guys like Jake Westbrook and Austin Kearns. Outside of Carmona, these are probably the most attractive players the Indians have available for a trade. No matter where Westbrook and Kearns go, the only thing the Indians should be bringing back is young players. The whole reason of trading these guys is to get more playing time for the kids, so why should they trade veterans for more veterans? But if outgoing GM Mark Shapiro wants a swan song, he needs to land something of value for closer Kerry Wood (currently on the DL with a blister on his right index finger) and/or 3B Jhonny Peralta (who’s in the midst of yet another mediocre season and whose option will most definitely not be picked up). It will be extremely hard to find takers for Wood and Peralta, but if Shapiro is able to do so, he needs to make the deal.

Detroit Tigers: Motor City Bengals Lead Writer John Parent

There is no question in my mind that the Detroit Tigers should be SELLING at this year’s trade deadline. I know the Tigers stand just 3.5 games out of first (as of 7/21/10), but the recent injury to 3B Brandon Inge only adds to the list of glaring holes this club would need to fill to have any realistic shot at winning a division title. Detroit made trades in the offseason to build for 2011 and beyond and should not turn away from that plan.

Detroit has a ton of money coming off the books after this year and can use that money (plus an increasingly stable farm system) to add the missing parts over the winter. They cannot expect to see similar production from rookies Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch that they saw in the first half, but cannot afford a drop-off if they are to compete with the Twins and White Sox this year.

As it stands now, Detroit would need to add a quality starting pitcher, a reliable veteran reliever (to take over for injured Joel Zumaya), and a solid hitter at shortstop. In addition to those needs, Inge’s injury will force the Tigers to carry another weak hitter at third base, while also suffering defensively for the next month or so. The cost is simply too high in terms of what kind of prospects would be needed to fill all of those holes.

It’s true that the Tigers could try to make smaller upgrades instead of going after the big fish, but there is no reason to sabotage future success for a very small chance to make the playoffs this year. But they also should not stand by and do nothing. If you’re not moving forward in this game, you’re moving backward, so the Tigers should jump in with both feet and see what kind of talent they can get for a Johnny Damon or a Jeremy Bonderman.

Detroit Tigers: Motor City Bengals Contributing Writer Zac Snyder

If I’m Dave Dombrowski, what would I do at the trade deadline? Nothing.

The Tigers recent losing streak has shown that his ship has too many holes to float this season so acting like a deadline buyer doesn’t make sense. The natural reaction is to then declare yourself a seller. One problem, sell what?

The Tigers could make Jeremy Bonderman, a two-pitch pitcher that has given up at least one home run in nine straight games, available. How many contenders could use something like that?

Carlos Guillen, a positionless 34-year old with a knack for finding the disabled list, could probably be had for the right offer. Which buyer would he excite?

The most useful asset might be Johnny Damon; would he be willing to waive his no-trade clause?

Then there’s Armando Galarraga and a laundry list of other marginal Major Leaguers that might as well hit the trading block. Is the bag of baseball and bags of chip that would come back in return really going to help build this team for the future. No way.

I’m not suggesting that I would sit completely idle as the deadline approaches, but I believe that any player of value on the Tigers roster is someone that needs to stick around for next year. The Tigers aren’t the Indians and in the midst of a complete shakedown and roster overhaul, they have a core of players to build around but that process simply can’t be completed in 2010.

If a possible deal shows itself to be beneficial, then I would of course take it. I just don’t expect any possible deal to have a dramatic impact on this season, or the future.

Kansas City Royals: Kings of Kauffman Lead Writer Michael Engel

Despite the silly talk that the Royals could contend in 2010 (as manager Ned Yost suggested before the All-Star Break), the Royals are still a couple of years off. With an increasingly rich minor league system and a still feeble major league roster, they’re clearly sellers and for the first time in a while, they have a few pieces that could complete a playoff puzzle for other teams.

With Kila Ka’aihue and Alex Gordon dominating Triple A pitching (both have an OPS north of 1.000), room needs to be made to get them back in Kansas City. Thankfully, both players are in positions that are currently staffed by aging players who are unlikely for the 2011 roster: Scott Podsednik and Jose Guillen. Podsednik has hovered around .300 all year leading off for the Royals, but let’s face it, he’s on the wrong side of 30 and while he has great speed, his base-stealing and defense aren’t what you’d expect. The Royals have an option for 2011 but shouldn’t worry about it. Podsednik could be a platoon outfielder, a leadoff hitter, or a number nine hitter for a contender. He’s the typical speedy fourth outfielder who could play left field or center field. Plus, trading him allows Gordon, who’s been in the outfield in Omaha this year, to move into his spot in Kansas City.

Jose Guillen has been a bogeyman in Kansas City since Dayton Moore signed him at way above market value before the 2008 season. At $12 million a year, you expect a lot more than the 44 homers and .742 OPS he’s put up in Royal blue, but he has shown flashes of incredible power and production from time to time. For a team struggling with their DH production or in need of a powerful right handed bat, Guillen would be a decent fit. The Royals would likely be willing to eat some of his remaining salary, especially if it improved their return. Guillen’s departure would open up a nice, cozy spot for Ka’aihue to step in and DH for the Royals.

As far as the return for Guillen and Podsednik? I can’t realistically expect much more than a young arm with potential or a hitter with a couple tools the Royals think they could develop. The Royals best return in the trade market would come from David DeJesus, a consistent, high-contact, strong defensive outfielder with some pop from time to time. DeJesus is having a career year in 2010 and would attract a strong return from a contender. He has a very affordable $6 million option for 2011. Oh, and he projects to be a Type A free agent at season’s end, so if the Royals held off on trading him, he’d return two picks in the top 50 in 2011 if he turned down arbitration from the Royals and signed elsewhere. Or the Royals could retain him for 2011 since they have few major league ready regulars in the outfield in the minors. All of those factors require that the Royals aim high in a trade. They can afford to be “stuck” with DeJesus for 2011 and aren’t forced to make a move. Contenders will have to pay up to get him, and the Royals should make them pay.

Minnesota Twins: Twinkie Talk Lead Writer Steve Fetch

While the Twins starting pitching has floundered as of late, the area of concern for the club is not to shore up the rotation, but rather attack the true culprit: the outfield defense. The rotation sports ERAs of 3.48, 3.76, 4.87, 4.95 and 6.53, but since ERA can’t account for shoddy defense, these numbers are all misleading.

Instead of focusing on the poor ERAs, note that the outfield has a collective UZR of -10.6 (-4 in left 1.3 in center and 7.9 in right). That’s bad for an entire team, but absolutely putrid for just one section of it. While one year defensive samples are largely unreliable, the Twins should look to trade for a true center fielder.

Because of the Twins offense, they have the luxury of not needing a very good bat in center.  Instead they can acquire a player and let him focus on helping the pitching staff. Tony Gwynn, Jr., who was worth 10 runs above average last year, and is worth 12 above average this year would be my ideal choice.  He’s also not terrible with the bat (97 wRC+ this year), but being young and with the Padres in the race he would be unlikely to move.

Enter Angel Pagan. He has never been a star player, but in the last year and a half he has been worth 13.5 runs with his glove alone. Add in the fact that he is hitting very well (128 wRC+) and the Twins would have the piece that could possibly put them over the top. Pagan is arbitration eligible after this year, so he won’t be expensive from a salary standpoint, but could be from a trade standpoint. Because his real value is much higher than his perceived value, I don’t think Omar Minaya would ask the Twins for a top prospect, but sinkerballer Carlos Gutierrez plus a lower level prospect would probably get it done.

This would stick Pagan in center and put Span in left (hopefully), where he has been excellent. This would then shift Delmon Young to right where he has (in one season’s worth of playing time) been a pretty good defensive outfielder. Taking the Twins from one of the worst outfields in the majors to one of the better ones would not only keep Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey from wanting to jump off a tall building, it would propel them to the AL Central title.

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Topics: Adam LaRoche, Alex Gordon, Angel Pagan, Armando Galarraga, Austin Jackson, Austin Kearns, Brandon Inge, Brennan Boesch, Brent Morel, Carlos Guillen, Carlos Gutierrez, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Dan Haren, Daniel Hudson, David DeJesus, Dayan Viciedo, Delmon Young, Detroit Tigers, Fausto Carmona, Jake Peavy, Jake Westbrook, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Bonderman, Jhonny Peralta, Joel Zumaya, Johnny Damon, Jordan Danks, Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals, Kerry Wood, Kevin Slowey, Kila Ka'aihue, Lance Berkman, Matt Thornton, Minnesota Twins, Paul Konerko, Prince Fielder, Roy Oswalt, Scott Baker, Scott Podsednik, Ted Lilly, Tony Gwynn Jr., Tyler Flowers

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