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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The Cubs will soon announce a five-year contract extension for Theo Epstein

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27: Theo Epstein (R), President of Operations for the Chicago Cubs, talks with head football coach Jim Harbaugh of the University of Michigan before the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Carrie Muskat of MLB.com just tweeted that the Cubs will soon announce a five-year contract extension for president Theo Epstein. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that it’s worth in excess of $50 million.

He’s earned it. When he took over the Cubs in October, 2011 the Cubs were a last place team with an aging roster and a front office that was several years behind the state of the art in every conceivable way. Last year the Cubs made the playoffs and this year they are baseball’s best team by a large margin and the franchise looks poised to continue its success for some time.

So, yeah, I’d say locking Theo up is a good idea.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s action

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 21:  Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox will once again attempt to clinch the AL East after failing to do so on Tuesday night. They can seal the division with a win against the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles on Wednesday evening.

Clay Buchholz will take the hill for the BoSox against Yankees right-hander Bryan Mitchell in a 7:05 PM EDT start at Yankee Stadium. Buchholz hasn’t exactly been Mr. Reliable this season, holding a 5.00 ERA with an 87/53 K/BB ratio in 133 1/3 innings. However, he has been in three of four starts since returning to the rotation earlier this month. Over those four starts, he owns a 3.97 ERA and a 15/8 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, at the Rogers Centre, the Jays will send out Francisco Liriano against the Orioles’ Chris Tillman in a 7:07 PM EDT start. Liriano has been much improved since coming to the Jays from the Pirates, so the Orioles will have their hands full.

As for Wild Card action, the Royals can be eliminated if they lose to the Twins or if the Orioles beat the Jays. The Yankees can be eliminated by losing to the Red Sox and the Orioles defeating the Jays. In the National League, the Marlins can be eliminated by losing to the Mets or the Giants beating the Rockies.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Shelby Miller) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez), 7:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ New York Yankees (Bryan Mitchell), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jameson Taillon), 7:05 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Francisco Liriano), 7:07 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Zach McAllister) @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Urena), 7:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana) @ Kansas City Royals (Jason Vargas), 7:15 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Chase Anderson) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Anthony DeSclafani) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Leake), 8:15 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray) @ Los Angeles Angels (Alex Meyer), 10:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Jose De Leon) @ San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo), 10:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ San Francisco Giants (Jeff Samardzija), 10:15 PM EDT