In the 1994 cinematic masterpiece "Major League II", Cleveland Indians slugger Jack Parkman was the big free agent signing that was supposed to put the Indians over the top. However, halfway through the season, new owner Roger Dorn had a tough time making payroll. So Parkman, who was deemed untouchable by many pundits, was basically sold off to the hated Chicago White Sox, no doubt looking to put Parkman with Frank Thomas in the middle of a potent White Sox order (Stay with me here).
What's always interesting about the trade deadline is that it's more about who nobody talks about more than who everyone talks about. Manny Ramirez getting traded to the Dodgers was a big deal, as was Jake Peavy going to the White Sox when nobody even thought he was available. But nobody thought either player was a lock to get traded. In 2012, there are some players out there who make sense from a trade standpoint, but maybe don't get talked about due to them not being a sexy name…or because other names are just a little bit sexier. Here's five in the box and five on the mound to think about before the July 31 deadline that might not get talked about that much, but make a lot of sense.
1. Anibal Sanchez, RHP, Miami Marlins – Sanchez fits a pretty dang good profile for this time of year. He's doing very well for himself in a contract year, he's a dependable arm who can bolster a starting staff and can be had at a decent price, and much better than that of a Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels. Sanchez hasn't been a part of talks for an extension, but with Miami faltering in the National League East, he could be a great boost to a team that needs some starting help down the stretch. The Yankees might be a good spot considering Brian Cashman doesn't want to give up too much, but teams like the Indians and Cardinals could fit, too.
2. Kevin Milwood, RHP, Seattle Mariners – Milwood continues to chug along at 37 years old, but Milwood should be one of those players that Seattle should try and get rid of quickly to maximize his value. The further along in the season it gets, the more Milwood might seem to falter, which could mean Seattle not getting a good haul from their own rental. He's someone who could really help a team that needs help in a pinch as a long reliever or an emergency starter.
3. Shaun Marcum, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers – Another guy in a walk year, Marcum has been another solid mid-rotation guy who could help a team down the stretch who needs to stretch out an extra win or two. He's an obvious choice to try and move before the deadline with the Brewers hoping to get at least a mid-level prospect in return. That being said, he's also an extension candidate at a rate similar to his $7.75 million salary. It might be worth it to explore keeping him around in Milwaukee. That being said, if Greinke goes, Marcum will most certainly go…that is, if he's healthy at all.
4. Jason Hammel, RHP, Baltimore Orioles – Consider the following: Hammel is having his best year ever pitching in arguably the hardest division in baseball. He's got one more year of arbitration, meaning that if the Orioles continue to falter, they can sell Hammel as someone who could be a help both this year and next. Obviously, that brings on a bit more of a commitment than perhaps a single prospect for whoever is interested, but let's say that in the next couple weeks, the Orioles fall back in the Wild Card race and are closer to .500 than they are to the top of the division. Considering they have the least amount of talent of any of the teams in the AL East, flipping someone like Hammel for a couple of players that could help future Oriole teams might be a better idea for Dan Duquette and company. Then again, the Orioles might look to lock up Hammel beyond this year and possibly next, but it would cost them some money to do so thanks to his career year. He might be the most interesting guy to watch come the end of July if he continues to pitch as well as he does.
5. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners – I have to throw this one up here because to an extent, it makes sense. The Mariners are out of it, but in all honesty, their biggest trade chip is someone who has been lost in the shuffle of a team that just can't get off on the right foot. The amount of prospects someone like Hernandez could bring back is monstrous, and the Mariners aren't exactly strapped for pitchers on the up and up, what with Danny Hultzen being basically Major League ready and Taijuan Walker being a 20-year-old at Double-A that could become an ace at some point. As good as Hernandez? Probably not, but the Mariners are hurting in so many other areas right now that trading Hernandez, his very affordable contract and getting some major pieces to put together a team ready to go in 2014 is probably the only way they can contend in a division that has both Los Angeles and Texas loaded for bear for years to come. If Hernandez gets traded, it would easily trump Greinke or Hamels getting moved and would define Jeff Zduriencik's general manager reign, but in two years, if it pays off, the Mariners might see it as a move that helped the franchise get back on the right track.
1. Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies – As great as Chooch has been, let's face facts: It's an outlier year for a catcher entering his mid 30's and just happens to be in the final year of his contract with a very affordable option for next year. Ruben Amaro might not want to start a full on fire sale, but considering how well Ruiz is doing, there is no better chance to get what you can out of Ruiz than to trade him right now, and to do it much sooner than later. The problem with the move is that it's a PR disaster, mainly because the Phillies fans are so stubborn to want to give up on a team where Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay have all been hurt. This gets on the list simply because the Phillies would get the best possible value for him right now, but next year, the Phillies could have one last run before having to decide what to do with a lot of their core. The chance of this happening is slim to none, but it makes a lot of sense.
2. Martin Prado, UTIL, Atlanta Braves – Speaking of selling high, Prado's having a career year with a year of arbitration left and with the Braves struggling to say the least, Prado is an intriguing trade piece considering Michael Bourn is in a walk year. Both players are about the same when it comes to Fangraphs WAR (3.9 for Bourn, 3.7 for Prado), but Prado can play multiple positions and is above average at all of them. Atlanta won't be able to sign both Prado and Bourn, and while Bourn was had for four prospects due to him having not only last year but this year, Prado could pull in a decent haul himself. It's something the Braves should consider.
3. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays – Encarnacion has been nothing short of amazing this year for the Blue Jays considering many thought he was all but done last year. He had a great end of 2011, but now, he has been able to play the DH role as good as anyone in the American League. He's cheap, he's got some fantastic pop, and knowing Alex Anthopolous, he's already ten steps ahead trying to get a Top 5 prospect for someone who will command a heavy salary at the end of the year as he becomes a free agent. Also, don't underestimate Anthopolous throwing out a contract to appease Encarnacion, as well. It's a win/win situation for the Blue Jays, but if a trade happens, Double A could clean up.
4. Alfonso Soriano, LF, Chicago Cubs – Don't look now, but Soriano is at 2.2 fWAR, playing above average defense in left field, and might actually be worth his contract this year. If Theo Epstein can find a buyer while paying off some of his salary over the last 2+ years of his contract, he might have something here. The trade would be pretty incredible if it happened. And knowing Theo, if he can figure out how to trade someone like Zambrano, he should have a plan for Soriano, as well.
5. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers – My favorite hypothetical of them all: Jurickson Profar is doing incredible things at Double-A Frisco for a 19-year-old shortstop and Elvis Andrus becomes a free agent after 2014. The Rangers could do the following and still be in a great spot: Bring up both Profar and Mike Olt, put Olt at first, trade Andrus for what could be a bevy of prospects, let Profar play short and bat ninth for Texas and still be in a great position to make it to a third straight World Series. Olt coming up to play first would offset Profar's adjustment period offensively, the Rangers would reload an already loaded farm system and perhaps get some pitching help for the stretch run, and because they just keep on firing away from basically all angles, the Rangers will, by trading a pre-prime top level shortstop still under team control, even, STILL come out ahead. Did I also mention that by letting Andrus go that it frees up more money to re-sign Josh Hamilton, too? This team just can do no wrong.