Trade candidates to watch out for


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.

The Phillies lost again Wednesday. They need to tread water in April, writes Sam Donnellon.

John Buck | C, New York Mets

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.

Chris Perez | RHP, Cleveland Indians

He's making $7.3 million this season, and the Indians were open to trading him during the winter but got little traction. The 27-year-old Perez is off to a good start, and it's worth remembering that the trade market for relievers appears as if it's going to be absolutely terrible -- an extremely thin group.

Perez does have a lot of experience as a closer for a team looking to fill that spot (St. Louis, for example, knows Perez well, having drafted and developed him). Even if the Indians stay in the AL Central race, they might be open to moving Perez because they have Vinnie Pestano and because Cleveland would seem to be very unlikely to pay Perez the $10 million or so he could get next winter as an arbitration-eligible player.

Matt Garza | RHP, Chicago Cubs

Depending on what the Rays decide to do with Price, Garza may well turn out to be the best available starting pitcher for trade this summer -- if he comes all the way back from injury.

Garza was sent to be re-examined Wednesday after being scratched from his rehab start because of arm soreness, as Carrie Muskat writes.

Around the league

• It was really cool to see the debut of Robbie Grossman, a longtime Houston Astros fan playing for the Astros. Meanwhile, to paraphrase the great Pedro Martinez: The Astros are the Mariners' Daddy this season, and Eric Wedge was really angry after Wednesday's loss. From Ryan Divish's story:

With the loss, Seattle dropped two out of three games to Houston for the second time in two weeks -- the Astros' only series wins this season. Meanwhile, the Mariners have not won a series and also haven't won back-to-back games since the first two games of the season.

It was all enough to force Wedge to have a closed-door meeting with the players postgame, during which he was rather vocal.

"I had a few things to relay to them, but I will keep that between us," he said.

He might have wanted to keep the meeting's message secret, but people outside of the clubhouse could hear it through the walls.

Did the players understand his message?

"I'm pretty sure they did," he said.

Franklin Gutierrez's injury issue is putting a strain on the Mariners.

• The Brewers' winning streak ended on a disputed call.

Todd Frazier hit one of the longest home runs you will see this year. Check out the video.

On Wednesday's podcast, Rockies head groundskeeper Mark Razum -- the hardest-working guy in baseball the past 10 days -- explained exactly how much snow has been removed from his field. A hint: many, many, many tons.

Razum had a nice day Wednesday, when the forecast was for temperatures of 50 degrees -- and the Rockies came back to win.

Casey Janssen's cutter was flat-out nasty in his inning against the Orioles Wednesday in an important win for the slumping Blue Jays. Justin Havens of ESPN Stats and Info dug this out:

Janssen had 2.4 inches of horizontal break on his cutter Wednesday, most in any appearance this season. It's his most in an appearance since Sept. 29, 2012 -- when he threw one cutter. The last time he threw at least nine cutters (as he did Wednesday) and had this sort of break on it was Aug. 9, 2012.

Rajai Davis was The Man for the Blue Jays, throwing out a runner at the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning. This is not the way anyone in the clubhouse would have scripted it, writes Richard Griffin.

Stephen Strasburg is having Strike 1 issues, writes Thomas Boswell. I watched a lot of this start and I thought Strasburg was pretty good after the first inning -- and even in the first inning, it was more a matter of the Cardinals' hitters doing a really good job of taking a plan to the plate and taking the ball to the opposite field.

Strasburg is winless in his past four starts (0-4, 4.07 ERA), the longest losing streak of his career

From Elias: This was the fifth time in Strasburg's past eight starts, dating to August, that he allowed at least two runs in the first inning.

Strasburg now has 341 career strikeouts, eighth-most through first 50 career starts in the divisional era.

Dwight Gooden: 418

Mark Prior: 400

Hideo Nomo: 397

Kerry Wood: 375

Vida Blue: 351

Ron Guidry: 347

Tim Lincecum: 346

Stephen Strasburg: 341

Roger Clemens: 325

Adam LaRoche got a mental break, and more lineup changes may come, writes James Wagner. The Nationals are in need of a shakeup, writes Amanda Comak.

Carl Crawford made a mistake that cost the Dodgers a game and allowed the Mets to dig themselves out. The Mets were impressed by what they saw in Matt Harvey, writes Jorge Arangure.

Before that mistake, Ted Lilly pitched really well.

Jose Valverde was back in the closer's role for the Tigers, as Jeff Seidel writes. The Detroit bullpen finally might be taking shape, writes Lynn Henning.

• There is a great matchup today: Justin Verlander against James Shields.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Joe Kelly may be a closer candidate, writes Derrick Goold.

2. Alfredo Aceves was sent to the minors, and meanwhile, the Red Sox started to talk to other teams about dealing him.

3. Robin Ventura might shake up his lineup.

4. Dale Sveum isn't going to name his closer.

5. The Giants had a surprise starter at catcher.

6. Kirk Gibson is sticking with J.J. Putz.

7. Andrew Cashner is going to get another shot at the Giants.

Dings and dents

1. Shaun Marcum is excited to be back.

2. Dylan Bundy won't see Dr. James Andrews until Monday.

3. Aramis Ramirez is making plans for an early return.

4. Jonny Venters is going to start throwing again soon.

Wednesday's games

1. The Pirates continue to gather momentum, and this time, they got some help from Brandon Inge.

2. The Royals let an early lead slip away, writes Bob Dutton.

3. The Reds closed out their series against the Cubs.

4. Jon Lester battled for a win.

5. Didi Gregorius did in the Giants.

6. The Angels lost a one-sided pitching matchup.

AL East

• From Elias: The Orioles haven't had a starting pitcher go seven or more innings this season (21 games) -- tying major league record for consecutive games to start a season without a starter throwing at least seven innings (Rockies, 1995)

Mike Napoli now has 26 RBIs. Manny Ramirez (31 in 2001) and Mo Vaughn (28 in 1996) are the only Red Sox to have more than that in April.

Andy Pettitte was outpitched by Alex Cobb, as Mark Feinsand writes.

• The Rays had another animal adventure.

AL Central

Eduardo Escobar helps the Twins in many ways.

• The Twins got more for Francisco Liriano in a trade than they did for Johan Santana, writes Patrick Reusse.

Jason Kipnis thinks he's going to start hitting.

AL West

• Yu Darvish's start to this season is unprecedented, writes Evan Grant.

• Oakland really needs Brett Anderson to lead its staff, and on Wednesday, he struggled again, as Susan Slusser writes.

NL East

Tim Hudson was on the precipice of his 200th career victory, but it didn't work out.

• The Marlins' offense is really struggling.

NL Central

• The Cardinals made a statement.

• A Pirates pitcher is looking to throw with more conviction.

• Clint Hurdle is concerned about all of the runners the Pirates are stranding.

Other stuff

• The Marlins are using gimmicks to put fans in the stands, writes Linda Robertson. Hey, they've got to try something; might as well try this.

• Vanderbilt crushed No. 11 Louisville the other day.

And today will be better than yesterday.