MLB Trade Deadline 2009

Buzz leading up to July 31 non-waiver deadline

Orioles closer George Sherrill has converted 20 of 23 save
opportunities and owns a 2.35 ERA.
Mark Goldman/Icon SMI

Andy MacPhail, the Orioles president of baseball operations, is not kidding himself about where his team is in the trade market, even if he himself is not sure yet where his team is in the standings. "Clearly, we're in a seller's position," he said by phone Monday from his office in Baltimore. "We're nine games under .500, 14 games out or whatever it is, I'm not really sure. "

MacPhail was right about the team's record and place in the standings, and its place as the trade deadline approaches. But even though he is looking to deal, he cautions, "We're not going to be a farm system for everybody else, though."

Few teams figure to have as many intriguing parts as the Orioles do. One O's person said it should be "an interesting few days" for the franchise as they wait to see which (and how many) players will be sent off. Closer George Sherrill seems like the most likely to go. Other possible departures include first baseman Aubrey Huff, outfielder Luke Scott and perhaps pitcher Danys Baez -- who has asked MacPhail to inform him (rather than his agent) if he's about to be traded -- and infielder Melvin Mora as well.

Already, the team roster posted on the visitor's clubhouse door at Yankee Stadium had one adjustment to it. The typed name of Oscar Salazar had been crossed out and the name Cla Meredith had been written by hand above it (the O's added the sidearming reliever from the Padres in a minor deal on Sunday). That almost certainly won't be the last adjustment to the team's roster before these next two weeks are done.

As for the players whose names have popped up, Sherrill said, "A few guys [on the team] have joked with me, being like, 'What are you still doing here,' " he says. "I definitely don't want to leave, but there are positives and negatives to it. The negatives are I wouldn't be on this club anymore. The positives are I would be going to a contender. It wouldn't be as a closer, so that would be a job change, but it wouldn't be anything that would affect me."

Huff has grown so tired of the constant questions about him being traded that he's threatening to post a sign over his locker with his pat answer of "I don't know" and just point to it and say, "Read this" whenever he's asked about it. "I've been in trade rumors six of the nine years I've been playing," he says. "I don't want to hear about it, I just want to play baseball. [The rumors] are annoying. I don't care. I can't wait until this is over and done with."

Huff will have to hang on a little longer -- MacPhail said teams have mostly "kicked the tires" about his players and that "lots of teams aren't prepared to commit" to a deal since so few know for certain if they should be buying or selling yet. Entering play on Tuesday, nine of the 14 American League teams were within 4 1/2 games of a  playoff berth and 12 of the 16 National League teams were no more than 6 1/2 games out.

Here's a look at what some teams on the fence should do:

Toronto: SELL
46-47, 9 1/2 games back in East, 9 1/2 games back in the wild card.
General manager J.P. Ricciardi said he wanted to hear the best offers before deciding whether or not to deal ace Roy Halladay, but this is certainly the best time to do it. Teams may be a little more desperate now than they would in the offseason, since they are chasing a playoff berth, and would be more interested in having a pitcher like Halladay for two runs at the playoffs rather than just one. As a point of reference, the Twins waited until the winter to trade Johan Santana and didn't get nearly the haul they might have if they had traded him during the 2007 season, a year in which they missed the playoffs anyway. And if they can dump the contracts of Vernon Wells and/or Alex Rios in the process, all the better.

Mets: SELL
44-48, 9 games back in East, 6 1/2 games back in wild card.
The Mets held on as long as they could without Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado, but once Carlos Beltran joined them on the disabled list, their season was lost. Since all three will not be coming back anytime soon, it's highly doubtful the Mets will be able to make a legitimate run at the postseason. There may not be much to sell on this team -- the core is still very impressive -- but dealing prospects or taking on salary with a team going nowhere has burned the Mets before, like in 2005 when they traded stud prospect Scott Kazmir to the Rays for the middling Victor Zambrano.

Mariners: HOLD
49-43, 4 games back in the West, 6 back in wild card.
When MacPhail mentioned several teams that are still uncertain of what they'll do at the deadline, he might well have meant the team with whom he made a big deal before the 2008 season when he landed top-prospect-turned-All-Star Adam Jones in exchange for lefty Erik Bedard. Now Bedard, and fellow lefty Jarrod Washburn, are pitching well for the Mariners, but they have a large roadblock in front of them in the AL West in the form of not one but two quality teams in the Angels and Rangers. The M's would be wise to wait as long as possible to see if they can make a real run before deciding whether to deal. If they're still within four games of first at the deadline, they should stick it out and try to make it to October.

Brewers: BUY
47-46, 3 games out in the NL Central, 4 games out in the wild card.
GM Doug Melvin made the deal of the year last year in getting CC Sabathia, and has already added Felipe Lopez to be his new second baseman. He isn't likely to stop there. Milwaukee is only a game over .500, but the underwhelming NL Central is there for the taking with four teams within three games of first. The Brewers have a terrific core of players that went to the postseason last year and may need just one more big push, like they got with CC a year ago, to get them back there this season.


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