MLB General Managers Billy Beane and Dave Dombrowski are getting Nate Silver love for the way they maneuvered on their respective teams’ behalf ahead of the trade deadline. Jon Lester and David Price were the spoils, while the cost in prospects and players was reasonable for the A’s and (especially) the Tigers.
What about the front offices where the phone lines seemed to come crashing down, cell towers and all?
Indeed, there were several organizations that appeared content to proceed without a thought of the dark future awaiting their teams. How could the Phillies awake on August 1 without having made a single trade? It seems impossible, but Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels are still Phillies. So are Cliff Lee, Antonio Bastardo, and A.J. Burnett.
They aren’t the only ones who seem stranded on their teams after the trade deadline passed. Here are five trade-worthy MLB players with no business being on their teams for the foresseable future. Stats are current as of the start of play on August 1.
5. Bartolo Colon
He may not look the part of the savior, but Bartolo Colon is putting up yet another quality campaign (10-8, 3.88 ERA) for the Mets after going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA (including 3 shutouts) for Oakland in 2013. There are numerous teams (Kansas City, Baltimore) that are seeking a consistent starter for their rotations, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson apparently didn’t see any trade worth making.
Word is the Mets were willing to eat some of Colon’s contract, but the deadline came and went without a deal. The Mets are still in fourth place with a record of 52-56, Colon is still on the team, and fans at Citi Field have another reason to be discontented.
4. Marlon Byrd
Anyone who thinks the Mets are headed nowhere fast ought to have a look at the Phillies. Stacked with overpaid veterans and sporting a 48-61 record, the Phils have no business doing anything except rebuilding. Rumors they are willing to pay 80 percent of Ryan Howard’s salary ($25 million annually) to anyone interested are believable, while franchise starter Cole Hamels also was fair game.
Marlon Byrd (20 HR, 62 RBI) was in demand by many teams with his salary of $8 million per year through 2015 (plus an option for 2016). Phillies GM Ruben Amaro saw no offer on the table he liked for Byrd. While the #FireRuben movement trended on Twitter, Amaro blamed GMs from around the league, saying he was surprised “there wasn’t more aggressive action from the other end.”
3. Matt Kemp
“Nobody’s heard me say we’re shopping Matt Kemp,” Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told ESPN. “Nobody’s heard me say that. That’s all in another world.”
True, but it was this world where Kemp said he considered himself a center fielder, where his manager said he’d only play him in left, and Kemp’s agent went on the record saying “this might be the time [for Kemp] to change.” Teams with four quality outfielders usually do such things to alleviate the tension and bring in help in other areas (in the Dodger’s case, the back end of the rotation).
Nothing happened with Kemp, who took off on a hot streak in the second week of July and is contributing to the Dodgers’ success at the moment. It may have been the time for change, but the Dodgers will have to continue managing the situation with their outfield logjam.
2. Josh Willingham
Willingham hasn’t torn the cover off the ball (11 HR, 32 RBI in 60 games) but his .789 OPS would be an upgrade for several teams, while his production is likely to improve as he gets back into a rhythm at the plate. After signing then trading Kendrys Morales, the 48-59 Twins were expected to deal Willingham to a contender in need of more pop (e.g. the Yankees or Seattle).
That didn’t happen, which puts the slugging outfielder in purgatory for the coming months unless a waiver wire deal materializes. Willingham is owed just a few million on a contract that expires at the end of this season. Keeping him on the Twins is pointless.
1. Jonathan Papelbon
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon might not win popularity contests, but he does have 25 saves and a 1.79 ERA to offer contenders. Along with every other player Ruben Amaro didn’t trade, this one was a puzzle to Phillies fans and baseball analysts. To be fair to Amaro, Papelbon was making demands that he be the closer on the team where he was traded. It’s likely the Angels or Tigers (who both acquired closers in July) would have agreed to that condition.
Perhaps Amaro waited too long with Papelbon, Burnett, Hamels, Howard, and Byrd. Or maybe he was demanding too much when the Phillies would benefit from any type of organizational change. In any event, he didn’t pull the trigger, and was adamant about his position. Darker days may be ahead for Philly.