The trade deadline is a few weeks away, so the rumor mill is about to heat up. To prep you for the coming trade season, we're providing a primer on who the top available trade targets could be as get closer to July 31st.
It's tough trying to gauge the market on second basemen, as some teams who would appear to have a guy available may consider themselves to still be in the race, while others are ready to sell off anybody on the roster. Also, some teams may be looking for a guy to not only play second, but elsewhere on the infield as well. Someone like Kevin Frandsen or Ryan Roberts fits that type of profile. Last year, we saw the San Francisco Giants acquire Marco Scutaro at the deadline, and he made a huge impact down the stretch, taking home the NLCS MVP. Is there anyone out there that could have that same type of impact?
Probably not available, but it couldn't hurt to ask
Chase Utley – We've heard Utley's name floating out there a bit, but this would still be quite the surprise. The Phillies, who are nine games back in both the division and the wild card, may fancy themselves as contenders if they can turn in a strong second half, which could impact what Ruben Amaro will do at the deadline. Even if he decides to sell, moving Utley doesn't seem likely, even if he is a free agent after the season.
Jose Altuve – The Astros have made it pretty clear that they'll listen on anybody on their current roster, but it would still be hard to see them dealing Altuve. As famously undersized as he is, he's a building block for this team, and is in line to make an appearance in the All Star Game this season. He could probably be had, but it would take a ton to get him.
All glove/all inconsistency
Darwin Barney – Barney can't hit worth a lick, but he's one of the best defensive players in the game. That alone has value, as well as the fact that he's under team control until 2017. Despite a .227 average, the Cubs are going to ask plenty for him, and packaged in a deal with someone else on their roster, perhaps a starter, they could get quite a haul.
Gordon Beckham – Like the Astros, the White Sox have said they'll listen on anybody on their roster, with the exception of Chris Sale & Paul Konerko. Beckham hasn't exactly developed into the player the White Sox were hoping after he turned in a strong rookie campaign back in 2009, but after missing time earlier this season, his average is up at .334, far and away a career mark. Of course, that's only 126 plate appearances and a sky high BABIP. Nonetheless, he's under team control through 2015, so there's still plenty of value there.
Rickie Weeks – There may not be a more frustrating player in all of baseball, or at least the National League, than the Milwaukee Brewers' second baseman. He's rebounded a bit after yet another miserable start, getting his average up to .226, but he's also among the more expensive options in terms of dollars over the next two years. The Brewers are going to be obvious sellers, though, and Weeks' bat will intrigue many out on the trade market.
Cliff Pennington – Originally brought in to play short, Pennington lost out when Didi Gregorius burst onto the scene. Injuries to Aaron Hill have led to playing time for Pennington, who has a solid glove, but doesn't bring much to the table with the stick (.221 BA, .287 OBP the last two years).
Well, at least they have a pulse
Ryan Roberts – This is where we start talking about the guys who are versatile, but don't bring much in terms of a bat. Roberts can play all over the infield, specifically second and third. He's currently at Triple-A and likely won't see a callup back to the Rays, which means he could be had on the cheap. He's not an impact player, but his bat has a bit of pop and he's a good guy to have around in the clubhouse.
Kevin Frandsen – Frandsen has hit well in limited action this year, with a .284 average, and has been particularly successful against lefties. The fact that he can play all over the infield is going to attract any team looking for someone to add to the end of their bench, even if he isn't a standout at any position in particular.
Nick Punto – At this point in his career, you know what you're getting in Nick Punto. He can play all over the field, but he can't hit, with his .261 average actually coming in as one of the better marks in his career. He's the type of player a team will bring in as a final bench guy for the stretch run.