The July 31st trade deadline is always one of the most exciting stretches of time for fans.
Whether it's acquiring a front line pitcher like Zack Greinke or a back-up catcher like Kelly Shoppach, fans can't help but hope their home team improves for the playoff push. The 2013 trade deadline, while 2.5 months away, will be no different.
Here are five players who will likely be on the move this year.
David DejesusChicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs signed DeJesus to a two year, $10 million contract in 2012, and while the outfielder was solid during his first season (104 OPS+, 9 HR, 10.4% BB%), the Cubs never expected him to have a career year. The 33 year-old has posted a career-best 137 OPS+, with 5 HR, and a solid 9.4% BB% so far in 2013. Considering GM Theo Epstein is attempting to rebuild the organization, he will undoubtedly dangle DeJesus to the highest bidder.
Ricky Nolasco Miami Marlins
After gutting the team of stars like Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Emilio Bonifacio, the Miami Marlins quickly went from NL East favorites to cellar dwellers. Nolasco has been one of the team's best starting pitchers in 2013, posting a 87 ERA+, 1.21 WHIP, and 3.00 K/BB this season. The 30 year-old is also, by far, the team's high-salaried player with an $11.5 million salary. By comparison, the next highest paid player is Placido Polanco and his $2.75 million price tag. As a to-be free agent, it's highly unlikely the Marlins will hold onto Nolasco--and needless to say, the organization has little interest in re-signing him during the off-season.
Kelly Johnson Tampa Bay Rays
Few teams were interested in Johnson this past off-season--but perhaps, for good reason. Despite posting a superb 127 OPS+ in 2010, KJ owned a combined 88 OPS+ over the next two seasons. The Tampa Bay Rays inked the 31 year-old infielder to a one year, $2.45 million contract, and handed him a starting outfield gig. To-date, the low cost / high reward acquisition has paid off mightily. Johnson has swatted a 118 OPS+ with 5 HR, and a 10.9% BB%. Assuming the infielder / outfielder continues to hit at this torrid pace, he'll be in-line for a multi-year deal--something the Rays simply do not have the funds for.
Roberto Hernandez Tampa Bay Rays
Most critics were perplexed when the usually stingy Tampa Bay Rays handed Hernandez (aka the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona) a major league contract--especially one worth $3.25 million. After all, the 32 year-old pitcher only hurled 14.3 innings in 2012, and posted a mere 75 ERA+ in 2011. Yet, the Rays were right again. The right-handed pitcher has spun a solid 88 ERA+, 1.24 WHIP, and 3.15 K/BB over 42.6 innings. Given the weak pitching free agent class for 2014, Hernandez will surely seek a contract out of the Rays' price range.
Jose Veras Houston Astros
The Houston Astros are in full re-building mode, and as a result, paid little attention to adding a legitimate late-inning reliever. Veras has always had a live arm (career 9.4 K/9 prior to 2013), but never had the control (career 4.9 BB/9 prior to 2013) to be a closer. However, the Astros didn't seem to care. The team inked Veras to a minimal one year, $1.85 million (with a team option for $3.25 million), and quickly tapped him to be their ninth inning man. So far, the experiment has worked out. Even though the right-hander is striking out less batters (9.0 K/9), he's traded some strikeouts for less walks (3.9 BB/9). The Astros would have a hard time selling Veras as a closer to a contending team at the deadline, but the 32 year-old could make a solid 7th or 8th inning option on a playoff-bound team.