James already did a lovely assessment of the White Sox' current awkward position of "mediocre team that's kind of hanging around, and has non-crazy reasons to think it might hang around, but really should just consolidate and go for it next year." Unless the White Sox do ultimately decide that they're really going for it this year, there is one player that it is pretty much unanimous should be traded: Adam Dunn.
Gordon Beckham is another name who has been bandied about as a candidate to be traded, and there are reasons to think he could be sold and reasons to believe he won't. The White Sox have middle infield depth, to an extent, and Beckham has gotten off to a good start this year, making him potentially expendable and able to bring in a decent return. On the flip side, Beckham is probably still better than a lot of those other infield options, and he's under team control through 2015. If they want to compete next year, he may be their best internal option.
Dunn, however, is gone after this season. If Hahn doesn't think the White Sox have a realistic playoff shot this season there is no reason to let his remaining value expire. Best to cash it in while you still have something - indeed, one has to imagine Dunn would snap up a qualifying offer, so there isn't reason to hope for gaming the system for a draft pick either.
Dunn has been much closer to what the White Sox hoped they were signing when they first acquired him. As of the drafting of this piece, Dunn was hitting .236/.374/.478, good for an OPS+ and wRC+ of 134. That puts him at 3rd for qualified DHs behind the white hot Nelson Cruz and Victor Martinez, and well ahead of guys like David Ortiz and Billy Butler.
We're closing in on 70 games into the season and as such teams have already suffered some injuries, and indeed some have burned through their primary options and fallback options at problem positions. Some teams that weren't sure if they'd be competing have discovered they are in it, and others have been disappointed. As it stands, there are a lot of teams bunched up and in the wild card race - especially in the AL - and the more buyers there are, theoretically the more demand there is, and thus a better price can be commanded by the sellers.
I actually think the Mariners are currently the most promising potential trade partner on a number of levels. I believe Jack Z is trying to save his job, and the Mariners have done their part by starting 34-30 with a +31 run differential despite not having Iwakuma for the month of April. What's more, the Mariners desperately need offense, play in a park where left-handed bats play up relative to their right-handed counterparts, and really don't mind playing defensive liabilities. This is an organization that played Raul Ibanez in the outfield for 100 games in 2013, after all.
On the one hand, the Seattle roster is already cluttered with 1B/DH types, some of which have been forced to play out of position - they tried playing Corey Hart sans knees in the outfield, for example. On the other, most of those players can't hit.
Justin Smoak was just placed on the DL after hitting .208/.282/.361. The former top prospect had once again given Seattle fans some hope last year, finally posting an OPS above league average in 2013. There was always concern about swing and miss in his game, though, and it's looking like he may never post a batting average above .250. His secondary skills aren't quite where you'd want them to be to make him a plus starter at the position, and there is mounting evidence that this is what he is: a guy who will fluctuate between the 20th and 25th best 1B in the majors with a constant potential for collapse.
Corey Hart was once a very good hitter, but after a 2013 season completely lost to significant injuries he hasn't shown that his performance will rebound to pre-injury levels. He managed a .647 OPS before once again coming down with a leg injury. Logan Morrison is next in line, but he's also bad at hitting and can't stay healthy.
Cue Adam Dunn who might actually provide some interesting lineup depth behind Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Michael Saunders, after whom the lineup just falls off a cliff. I mean, if the Mariners were to add Dunn and to pony up for David Price, I would have to say that looks like a playoff team to me.
As far as a return, one prospect I find interesting is Luiz Gohara. He turned 17 last July 31st and still managed ~20 or so very successful innings in Rookie Ball. He throws really hard from the left side, has good size at 6'3'' although he is heavyset (especially for a teenager) and his secondary stuff is a mess as you might imagine. Still, this is a cool lottery ticket to scratch. One can imagine him turning out to be a major leaguer in 6 years and looking back saying, "Oh yeah, we got him for Dunn? Nice." He's far enough from the majors and risky enough that Jack Z would probably be grateful to wind up regretting it if he still has a job by then.
Tyler Marlette, I believe, is a realistic option. He's a catcher in High A at the moment who looks like he has improved enough to maybe stay behind the plate. If he does, he should have enough bat to be a quality backup. If he doesn't then he's probably a first baseman who can't hit enough for the position.
To top it all off, Jack Z's trade history is such that fans should want their team's GM to trade with him.
The Brewers and Pirates are still in the playoff hunt and could use help at first. The Brewers are up 4 games in the NL Central, although the Pirates are in a much more precarious position at 30-34. It's hard to imagine the Pirates being content with slipping back into their losing ways after their first winning season in 20 years.
The Pirates have already tried trading for a first baseman this year in the form of Ike Davis. He got off to a hot start with his new team, but Davis has been slumping of late, and it is worth keeping an eye on whether he begins crashing back to unplayable as he has from time to time in the past.
The Brewers are still scraping by with Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds in a platoon and I still think a Dunn/Reynolds platoon would be much more effective - not to mention extremely entertaining.
What the White Sox do with Dunn is something to keep an eye on over the next 5-6 weeks to be sure.
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