Twenty-five random MLB trade thoughts and predictions

With the MLB trade deadline approaching on Friday, I have zero time to waste writing a creative intro that you’ll either a) take the time to read or b) take the time to read.

So I’ll cut right to the chase: I have got about a million random thoughts and predictions (25, actually) bouncing around in this noggin of mine, so I’ve decided to compile them in one heaping pile of organized chaos below. Feel free to add your own thoughts and predictions in the comments section and then we can play a couple rounds of “I told you so!” after the trade deadline passes on Friday.

1. I was close, but wrong with my prediction early last week that the Blue Jays will trade Roy Halladay to the Phillies. They would have traded him to the Phillies, but Philadelphia didn’t want to give up a promising major league starter in J.A. Happ, their top minor league pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, and a promising minor league outfielder named Dominic Brown in order to complete the deal. And who could blame them? That’s one steep price to pay, even for a player of Halladay’s caliber.

2. Instead, I fully believe that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi was never going to trade Halladay in the first place, unless he was so blown away by an offer that he couldn’t pass it up. Halladay isn’t a free agent until after the 2010 season, so Ricciardi used this past month to gauge what he could potentially get for the ace for next year.

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Pirates to hang onto Freddy Sanchez?

Over the past couple weeks a foregone conclusion around the baseball world was that the Pirates would wind up dealing second baseman Freddy Sanchez at some point before the July 31 trade deadline. Much like many Buc veterans before him, Sanchez was as good as gone.

But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is now reporting that the Pirates aren’t engaged in any active talks regarding a Sanchez trade and that no deal is imminent. According to the report, the Bucs aren’t in any hurry to trade Sanchez and might wind up keeping him in a Pirate uniform for the foreseeable future.

That said, what Pirate isn’t available? This organization has prided itself on losing over the past 15-plus years and seemingly wouldn’t hesitate trading one of its veteran players. Sanchez is also their biggest trade piece and if a contender like the Giants or Rockies puts together a deal involving multiple prospects, it would be hard for the shaky Pittsburgh front office to sit idle.

Chances are, the Bucs are playing coy and Sanchez will still be dealt at some point over the next two weeks. If Colorado put together a trade package that included Eric Young Jr., I highly doubt Pittsburgh would take a pass.

MLB Trade Rumos: Halladay, Sanchez and Betancourt

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney is reporting that no team has made an aggressive offer for Blue Jays’ ace Roy Halladay yet, but adds that the Dodgers have now entered the “Doc” sweepstakes. Olney still thinks the Phillies have the best chance of landing Halladay, although will their pursuit of Pedro Martinez change that notion?

– Freddy Sanchez is quickly becoming the most talked about player on the trade market (not named Roy Halladay, of course). According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Giants would be willing to part with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez in a trade package for Freddy, although the Mariners and Rockies are also heavily pursuing the second baseman. Apparently the Bucs covet Colorado minor league prospect Eric Young Jr.

– The Seattle Times speculates that the M’s might be close to dealing Yuniesky Betancourt, who is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma. To whom and for who Betacourt could be going is uncertain at this point.

– Count the Reds in as a possible suitor for Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, who is also on the Red Sox radar due to Mike Lowell’s injury.

– If you thought Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns were sure bets to be traded by the Nationals, think again. GM Mike Rizzo told ESPN The Magazine that, “We don’t have to move money, and that unites our hands a little bit. That means we’re going to make good solid baseball decisions, based on building this franchise the right way.

– Gil Meche doesn’t want to go anywhere according to the Kansas City Star, and isn’t inclined to give up his no-trade clause so the Royals can deal him.

Report: Pirates pushing hard to deal Freddy Sanchez

One of the more intriguing names on the trade market is Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who is currently batting .316 with six dingers and 33 RBI. And as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting, the Bucs are pushing hard to deal him before the trade deadline.

Two teams that covet the second baseman are the Giants and Rockies, each of whom are battling it out behind the Dodgers in the NL West and are in the thick of things for the NL Wild Card. Sanchez would be a nice catch for either team, although something for both clubs to consider is his salary. The All-Star makes $6.1 million this year and will make $8 million in 2010 if he picks up another 271 plate appearances before the end of the season.

Colorado might hold an edge over San Fran in the Sanchez sweepstakes because Pittsburgh is reportedly gaga over Rockies’ minor leaguer Eric Young. The 24-year-old has 23 extra base hits, 37 walks and a whopping 47 steals so far in the minors and if the Rox are willing to part with him, they could have Sanchez in uniform sooner rather than later.

That said, the Giants always have an abundance of pitching, but whether or not they’re willing to give any of it up remains to be scene. Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson are certainly out of the question, but GM Brian Sabean could still put a decent package together with the likes of Jonathan Sanchez or Kevin Pucetas, coupled with a couple of offensive prospects. (Sabean would probably be willing to throw Fred Lewis into the mix as well, although who knows if the Bucs would even want the struggling 28-year-old outfielder.)

It’ll be interesting to see which team eventually winds up making a move for Sanchez. Either way, it appears that his days in Pittsburgh are numbered.

Firesale to continue? Pirates exploring trades for Sanchez, LaRoche

In recent weeks, the last place Pirates have already traded away popular centerfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves, and speedy outfielder Nyjer Morgan, backup fielder Eric Hinske and reliever Sean Burnett to the Nationals. And despite some Bucs players (ahem, Jack Wilson) being critical of the front office’s shrewd moves, more might be coming.

According to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates and Giants have had trade talks involving second baseman Freddy Sanchez and first baseman Adam LaRoche. Although both players are being discussed, Sanchez appears to be the Giants’ main target of interest because they prefer a right-handed first basemen and LaRoche is a lefty.

San Fran is currently 1.5 games up on Milwaukee for the NL Wild Card lead and desperately needs offense despite recently feasting on Houston pitching over the weekend (the Giants scored 23 runs in three games). They currently have a gaping hole at second base, where Emmanuel Burriss, Matt Downs, Kevin Frandsen and Juan Uribe have all split time this season.

Sanchez, who currently leads the Pirates in average (.316) and on-base percentage (.832), would be an excellent fit for a Giants team that has a postseason berth in their sights but also doesn’t want to give up future prospects in the process. A deal including 26-year old lefty starter Jonathan Sanchez and a prospect or two would probably net Freddy Sanchez, all while allowing San Fran to hang onto top farm players Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson, Angel Villalona and Buster Posey.

While moving either Sanchez or LaRoche (or both) would cause another ripple affect on the Pirates’ clubhouse and their fan base, both players can be free agents next year and obviously aren’t in Pittsburgh’s future plans. Much like their prior deals involving McLouth and Morgan, the Bucs are probably hoping to get young players in return in an attempt (however feeble it may be) to compete down the line.

Jonathan Sanchez has struggled mightily this year, but he was viewed as a potential No. 3 starter as early as this year and he has excellent stuff. He has major control issues that need to be ironed out, but at 26 years old he still has a ton of potential and is a high strikeout pitcher.

We’ll see if the Pirates and Giants eventually pull the trigger on a deal.

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