I realize that the 2016 Major League Baseball season is still very young, but it's never too early to stir the pot a little bit.
Usually, the non-waiver Trade Deadline for Major League Baseball is on July 31, but seeing as that date falls on a Sunday this year, the league decided a few months ago to push it back a day to Monday, August 1. I suppose that gives 30 different general managers...and all baseball fans for that matter...an extra day to sweat.
The MLB Trade Deadline tends to be a little trickier than most other sports. Since baseball has no salary cap, it's not uncommon for small-market teams to unload some of their best players, especially in contract years, if they think there's no chance that that player will re-sign with the club in the offseason. They might as well get something in return, right?
High-priced veterans often get put on the trading block as well if perhaps they haven't performed up to a certain level of expectation. This can sometimes get tough as the trading team often has to agree to pay a certain percentage of the remaining money left on the player's contract. For some reason, Pablo Sandoval's name just popped into my head.
Sandoval isn't on this particular list, but here's a list of 15 players, in alphabetical order, that could possibly be moved before August 1. Let the arguments begin.
15 Erick Aybar
It's quite obvious that the Atlanta Braves are going through a rebuilding process. They've unloaded a ton of payroll over the past few years and won only 67 games a season ago. By the looks of the early standings, 2016 isn't shaping up to be much better. Two of their top three prospects, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson, play the shortstop position, which makes Aybar expendable if they're looking to add some more young prospects to the organization.
At 32, he's got plenty of big league experience and a lifetime average over .270. He's not gotten off to a particularly good start in 2016, but if he can pick it up, he may be wanted by someone like the Cardinals or Mariners at the deadline.
14 Javier Baez
At this particular point in time, it's hard to imagine the Chicago Cubs wanting to move anybody. They've started the year on quite a tear and Javier Baez has played brilliantly after starting the season on the disabled list. However, if the Cubs attempt to make a move to get another starting pitcher, Javier Baez will likely be near the top of the list for any team that deals with Chicago.
There were reports of talks with Tampa Bay during the offseason to move Baez for Alex Cobb. However, there may be another Cub that could be dealt in a situation such as this, which I'll get to in just a few minutes.
13 Jay Bruce
With the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates all considered to be contenders in the National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds may end up being big players as the trade deadline draws closer. If they drop out of contention, expect teams to be lining up for a solid corner outfielder such as Jay Bruce. Much like last year, he's gotten off to a solid start. Bruce hit 26 home runs in 2015 and could be an option for the Chicago White Sox or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
12 Andrew Cashner
This won't be the last pitcher for the San Diego Padres that you'll see on this list. Cashner is a big right-hander with a big fastball and could be a good addition to a club looking to add some starting pitching for a run at the postseason. It's highly unlikely that the Padres themselves will be in that position, so look for them to deal at least one starter before August. Expect a number of teams to inquire about Andrew Cashner.
11 Alex Cobb
Last year, the American League East was one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball. For months and months, teams would go up and down in the standings and stayed within a few games of each other for much of the year until the Blue Jays finally ran away with the division the last couple of months. The Rays would finish two games under .500 and if they find the division slipping away, expect Alex Cobb to be dealt. As I've already mentioned, the Cubs have shown interest, but don't expect them to be the only ones.
10 Carlos Gonzalez
The National League West is going to be fun to watch. The Dodgers and Giants are expected to battle for the division title and Arizona made things even more interesting with some big free agent signings in the offseason. The Rockies are going to have to play some good baseball to keep up. If they can't, expect a ton of teams to come calling for veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who hit a career-high 40 home runs last year and is off to a blazing start in 2016. The Indians, White Sox and a number of other teams will likely be in the mix.
9 Jason Grilli
There's likely to be a number of relief options available this summer, but few will have the experience of 39-year-old Jason Grilli. There's a reason that he's been in the big leagues for 15 years and the Braves will likely pick up a decent prospect from a team looking to add a veteran relief pitcher to their roster for a playoff push. If Washington and Arizona are still in the mix, I'd put them at the top of the list.
8 Jake McGee
The Rockies only just acquired Jake McGee from Tampa Bay this past offseason, but they could be inclined to move him if the offer is right. Late-inning pitchers can be a hot commodity at the trade deadline and the Yankees and Red Sox could be in play for McGee, who has a sub-3.00 ERA over his six-year career. The Rockies will find it tough to stay in the mix later in the season, so expect them to sell off what they can.
7 Trevor Plouffe
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe has played his entire six-year career with the Minnesota Twins. However, the organization is very high on youngster Miguel Sano, who's struggled a bit in his transition to the outfield. If the Twins continue to struggle as they have in the first month of this 2016 season, they could decide to move Plouffe in order to put Sano back at his natural position. If they go that route, expect the Angels or Tigers to be two of the first teams on the phone.
6 Brandon Phillips
Things can often be difficult when Brandon Phillips is involved and trade involving the veteran infielder would be no different. The 34-year-old has no-trade protection in his contract that limits the Reds on which teams they could possibly move him to. The Washington Nationals or Arizona Diamondbacks are options, but as the trade deadline gets closer, Phillips could always open up his options if he feels he could go to a contender.
5 Tyson Ross
At the time of this writing, Ross is currently on the 15-day disabled list due to inflammation in his pitching shoulder, which was discovered after his April 4 start against the Dodgers when he gave up seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. However, when he's healthy, he's widely regarded as one of the most talented pitchers in baseball. If he can bounce back and perform well, expect the phone to start ringing off the hook in San Diego.
4 James Shields
Okay, I promise that this is the last Padres pitcher on the list. After signing James Shields to a four-year, $75 million deal just a little over a year ago, San Diego made attempts to move the veteran right-hander this past offseason with obviously no success. If Shields can manage to put together a decent first half, the Red Sox may look to reunite him with his former teammate David Price in Boston.
3 Jorge Soler
Remember what I said when discussing Javier Baez a little earlier? Well, pretty much the same scenario could play out for Jorge Soler. The Cubs have one of the deepest rosters in all of baseball, even with the injury to Kyle Schwarber. In the early going, Soler has jumped back and forth between right and left field and while he has a good upside, he has struggled a bit at the plate to start the 2016 season. I certainly wouldn't expect the Cubs to move both Baez and Soler, but one of them really could be in play if they go looking for a big-name pitcher.
2 Stephen Strasburg
Speaking of a big-name pitcher, Stephen Strasburg certainly fits that bill. The Washington Nationals have gotten off to a fast start in 2016 and are certainly thought by many to be contenders in the National League East. However, the same thing could be said last year and things didn't quite work out. If August 1 gets close and the Nationals have slipped a bit, don't be surprised if you start hearing Strasburg's name thrown around in a lot of trade rumors. Remember when nobody expected Detroit to trade David Price last season? Crazy things can happen in a contract year and Strasburg becomes a free agent at the end of this season. The Nationals just may end up looking to get something if they feel he won't be coming back.
1 Mark Trumbo
The Baltimore Orioles got off to their best start in franchise history and Mark Trumbo is one of the reasons why. He's gotten off to an impressive start in 2016 and if the Orioles' pitching staff can't hold up (they may be in play for just about every pitcher I've mentioned on this list), then Trumbo is going to be one of the hottest players on the market. He's averaged just over 26 home runs per season over the last five years and that includes the 2014 season in which he played in only 88 games.
There you have it. Would you want any of these guys on your favorite team? Feel free to sound off in the comments section.