More trade candidates were injured than dealt during the past few days but don’t fret. The moves are coming.
The Angels made a big one Sunday afternoon by dealing for Diamondbacks right-hander Dan Haren. As Saturday’s nonwaiver deadline approaches, look for more clubs to get busy. As White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says, "The closer it gets, the more talks there will be, the more intense they will be."
Three players rumored to be available could be off the market after being hurt. Royals outfielder David DeJesus broke his right thumb and is out for the season, A’s starter Ben Sheet reinjured his right elbow and missed his scheduled start (and figures to miss more), and Brewers slugger Corey Hart injured his right wrist running into a wall and did not play over the weekend.
One reason for the slow shopping: The asking price for impact players has remained high. Put another way, by the ever-blunt Guillen: "All those general managers out there are crazy for what they’re asking." Count on that to change, too.
Sizing up possibilities for four potential difference-makers:
Roy Oswalt, RHP, Astros
With Cliff Lee landing in Texas and Haren now in Anaheim, Oswalt is the best starting pitcher available. He says he wants to be traded to a contender. Easier said than done: The 32-year-old’s contract, his no-trade protection and the Astros’ demands are proving to be stumbling blocks. Oswalt has told reporters he wants his $16 million option for 2012 guaranteed if he is traded, but has since softened that stance.
The Astros are looking for a starting pitcher to put in their rotation and a young, right-handed hitting first baseman. Oswalt’s No. 1 choice, the Cardinals, might not be able or willing to meet that price. A trade for Oswalt’s teammate, Brett Myers, makes more sense in many ways because Myers is on a one-year contract and has pitched well.
Prediction: The Phillies, hot on Oswalt’s trail last week, end up getting him. The deal, however, will mean the end of Jayson Werth’s time in Philadelphia.
Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies
A scout says Werth has let his impending payday as a free agent affect his play, which has resulted in an up-and-down season in which he often has pressed. Werth is not sure about his future. "I haven’t heard anything," he said the other day. His hitting, meanwhile, has warmed up. He has 10 hits in his past seven games, putting his season numbers at .286/.379/.506.
The Phillies could move the 31-year-old Werth because they are unlikely to meet his asking price next winter (which figures to be more than the $66 million for four years Jason Bay got from the Mets). Prospect Domonic Brown is hitting in Triple-A and playing like he’s ready to assume Werth’s spot in right field.
Prediction: The Phillies move Werth to the Rays, then send the players they receive from Tampa Bay to the Astros for Oswalt.
Adam Dunn, 1B, Nationals
Dunn, one of the game’s premier sluggers, is in the last year of his contract. The Nationals have said they want to keep him but they have not extended his deal, making him a hot name in trade speculation.
The Nationals’ asking price has remained high — they reportedly want the White Sox to include highly regarded infielder Gordon Beckham in a deal.
Prediction: The Nationals won’t come down enough on their asking price and Dunn stays in Washington, and eventually re-signs.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
He’s a 26-year-old, lefty-hitting slugger who has Scott Boras as his agent and does not figure to be in Milwaukee when he becomes a free agent after the 2011 season. When Boras goes looking for that megadeal for Fielder, the uber-agent can sell his client’s power — Fielder already has seasons of 50, 46 and 34 homers — but will have to convince clubs that Fielder’s size will not hurt his future. Listed at 5-11 and 270 pounds, Fielder probably is closer to 300, and he never has been a good fielding first baseman.
Prediction: The Brewers hang onto Fielder, for now.
Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.