Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Shortstop

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This is the fifth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) – While Drew has largely shaken the injury-prone tag he earned before he even reached the majors, he hasn’t come close to reaching his offensive potential outside of a strong 2008 season. After posting an 836 OPS as a 25-year-old, he dropped to 748 last year and he’s at 738 through 332 at-bats in 2010. He’s a solid defensive shortstop, so he’s an above average regular, and there’s still reason to hope that he has more 820-850 OPS seasons in him. The Diamondbacks, though, may be willing to part with him for a big return. This isn’t a Dan Haren situation — Drew’s likely $5 million salary should fit into their 2011 budget — but he’s only going to get more expensive in 2012 and since he’s a Scott Boras client, a long-term contract seems highly unlikely. Still, a deal is more likely to come in the offseason than now. That’s particularly the case since the Tigers, thought to be Drew’s primary suitor, suddenly have bigger worries than shortstop.
Reid Brignac (Rays) – Supposed to be the Rays’ long-term shortstop, Brignac was quite a disappointment in 2008 and 2009 and he came up in trade rumors quite a bit following Jason Bartlett’s emergence. However, just when it seemed Brignac could fall out of the Rays’ plans, he made the team as a part-time player this spring and he’s done terrific work while playing second base and shortstop, hitting .282/.339/.431 with six homers and 35 RBI in 209 at-bats. The Rays could still decide to part with him if it helps brings in a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat, but it’s more likely that he stays and makes Bartlett expendable this winter.
Miguel Tejada (Orioles) – Tejada hasn’t made an appearance at shortstop all year, but if he’s traded, it could well be to a team that would slide him back to his old position. The Padres are thought to be interested, and he actually makes a lot of sense for the NL West leaders. He’s not much of a home run guy anymore, and Petco’s big alleys should be rather kind to his approach at the plate. Also, while he lacks range at shortstop these days, the singles that get by him would turn into fewer runs at Petco than they would anywhere else. The Tigers are another team that could use Tejada. An August deal is a possibility here.
Cristian Guzman (Nationals) – If the Nationals were thinking clearly, they would have let Guzman go when the Red Sox claimed him off waivers last summer. He’s done an adequate job with the bat these last two years, but he’s no $8 million-per-year player with his 700 OPS and subpar defense. Fortunately, he’s now in the final year of his deal, and the Nationals might be able to get a little something in return for him. Like Tejada, he makes some sense for the Tigers and Padres. He’s also been mentioned in connection with the Rockies, though that window has probably closed with Troy Tulowitzki ready to return.
Brandon Wood (Angels) – The Alberto Callaspo trade seemed to make it official: the Angels have given up on Brandon Wood. They can’t send him down, since there’s still no chance he’d clear waivers, but he’s entirely useless as a bench player. Given 173 at-bats this year, the 25-year-old has hit .168/.185/.225 with three homers and a 52/4 K/BB ratio. The only hope now is that a change of scenery/change in coaches does something for him. No contender is going to want him to come in any play a role, but the Pirates, Astros, Orioles and Indians are among the also-rans that should be open to giving him a shot.
Ryan Theriot (Cubs) – Theriot never projected as a major league regular, but he was a surprisingly capable one in 2008 and 2009. This year, he was pushed off shortstop by Starlin Castro and he’s struggled offensively as the Cubs’ second baseman. While his average is practically the same as last year (.281 vs. .284), his OPS is down 76 points because of a sharp drop in his walk rate and a complete lack of power. Odds are that Theriot will spend most of the rest of his career in a utility role. Still, if some team wants him as a regular for the final two months, the Cubs could oblige. He’s currently earning $2.6 million, which might make him too expensive to bring back as a part-time player next year.
Cesar Izturis (Orioles) – Izturis will subtract from an offense while hitting at the bottom of the order, but he remains a strong defender at age 30 and he only has a bit more than $1 million left on his contract. That makes him a realistic choice for the Padres, Tigers or any other contender that loses a shortstop between now and Aug. 31.
Jack Wilson (Mariners) – Any team that might acquire Wilson knows exactly what it would be getting: he’s one of the game’s most trustworthy defensive shortstops, but he’s also an offensive zero and he’s having more and more difficulty staying healthy now that he’s in his 30s. Since he’s owed another $2 million this year and $5 million in 2011, it’s doubtful the Mariners will be able to move him. They don’t have anyone ready to step in anyway.
Ronny Cedeno (Pirates) – The Pirates are likely open to trading either Cedeno or Bobby Crosby, though they’d want a bit more for Cedeno, who is back starting lately after losing time during his ugly June. He went from hitting .121/.136/.121 in 58 at-bats last month to .400/.441/.673 in 55 at-bats so far in July. Of course, that’s only gotten him to .255/.295/.381 for the year. He’d have to keep it up or risk being non-tendered this winter.
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Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.