- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
The trade market is a long way from evolving, leaving many weeks for the Tampa Bay Rays to determine when they'll begin earnestly marketing David Price, whether it be before the July 31 deadline or in the fall. There's plenty of time for Giancarlo Stanton to convince the Miami Marlins that he isn't interested in staying, if that's how he really feels, and for Miami ownership to determine what the best course of action is with their young outfielder.
The Padres have more time to try to work out a long-term deal with Chase Headley, or decide that it'd be best to trade him.
But beyond the possible marketing of these really good young stars, there could be -- speculation alert -- some interesting names that become part of the trade market, depending on whether their teams begin to drift out of the race and start to consider makeovers. For example:
Chase Utley | 2B, Phillies
He's in the last year of a contract that pays him $15 million annually, which he probably signed with the hope of finishing his career in Philadelphia. But the Phillies are off to a poor start, with a team OPS that ranks 22nd among 30 teams, and Utley has had some moments that probably gnaw on him, such as when he appeared to forget how many outs there were in Sunday night's game against St. Louis, and when he dropped a popup after ranging far to get to it Wednesday.
But generally speaking, Utley looks really good in how he's running, how he's moving, how he's hitting. (He's got a .904 OPS.)
The Phillies likely won't trade him because of his history with the team and because the front office isn't predisposed to start rebuilding in the middle of a season. (Remember the unwillingness to even discuss a possible swap of Cliff Lee after he was claimed on waivers by the Dodgers early last August.)
But if the Phillies ever let other teams know that Utley is available and Utley -- who has limited no-trade protection -- went along with it, he'd be a great fit for a number of teams, such as the Baltimore Orioles, who are currently waiting to see if Brian Roberts can come back from his injuries; in fact, it's hard to imagine a more perfect fit for Utley than the Orioles, or the Kansas City Royals, who have been waiting to see if somebody can jump up and seize their second-base job. Injuries could create needs on other teams, as well.
Travis d'Arnaud is the future catcher of the Mets, and Buck is 32 years old and in the last year of a multiyear deal that pays him $6 million this season; Buck is eligible for free agency in the fall.
At the moment, however, d'Arnaud is hurt and Buck is off to a good start, with seven homers and an .893 OPS, and given how much the Mets have invested in the development of young pitchers such as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, they might prefer to keep Buck around all season. But if they were open to moving him -- well, he'd probably be the best catcher available during the season.
Buster Olney looks at a few players who could be trade candidates as the summer progresses.