Trade Market: Starting Pitching
1. Roy Oswalt: It remains to be seen if the Astros will part with one of their favorite players, but it is probably in the best interest to the team. Houston is in a rebuilding phase, and they have one of the weakest farm systems in the league (particularly in the high minors). Oswalt is also owed $16 million next year and has a $2 million team buyout for 2012 (or $16 team option). Add in the $7 million owed to him this year still, and the Astros have plenty of reasons to look to move their ace. It is a hefty contract, which will take some teams out of the running, but Houston has said they are willing to take on salary to get a better prospect return. As for his value I would peg it in the range as to what the Phillies gave up for Cliff Lee last year, and maybe slightly less. Oswalt has a no trade clause in his contract so it could get a bit dicey, but he is still the best pitcher on the market.
2. Dan Haren: It wasn’t long ago that Haren was supposed to be the major piece acquired by the Diamondbacks to take them to the next level, now it looks like Haren may be on the move again. He still has two years ($12.75 per) left on his deal after this year, and an option year in 2013. Haren at 29 years of age is very affordable at this price and is by no means a salary dump. He is struggling a bit this season, but not horribly so. The real question remains is if the Diamondbacks will put him on the market, and what their asking price will be. Given their struggles, I’m sure they will listen on him. But since they just gave up some very talented prospects, it will probably take quite a bit to acquire Haren.
3. Ted Lilly: Lilly will actually attract more teams, given his cost (free agent after this season, and a Type-A at that) and the fact that he is left handed, but he isn’t nearly the upgrade Oswalt or Haren are. Lilly is still getting it done, and the Cubs look to be sellers this month. His price tag won’t be exorbitant (which also should interest some teams) but he should net the Cubs two solid players.
4. Ricky Nolasco: The Marlins look to move into sell mode over the next month and Nolasco will likely be one of the top players dealt. He is having another good year, and could slot into most rotations as a quality 3. He still has two arbitration years remaining after the season making him very cheap and valuable compared to a number of the other pitchers. The Marlins will want a pretty good return, but will likely move him to get the maximum value.
5. Paul Maholm: The list drops off a bit after Nolasco, but Maholm can still help a contender down the stretch. He is a middle of the rotation lefty, who gives solid innings. He won’t ever be a frontline starter, but can be a solid 4 on a contender. He still has $6.5 (2011 season and a buyout in 2012) remaining after this year, which is pretty affordable. He won’t cost a ton in a return package, which helps increase his value. The Pirates are definitely entering a sell mode and Maholm will be one of their top chips.