Discussion

Surveying the MLB trade landscape

Updated: July 24, 2011, 12:21 PM ET
By Buster Olney

At a time when the Mets want a star prospect for Carlos Beltran and the Astros are looking for an enormous package of young players for Hunter Pence, someone like Reed Johnson is the Chevy amid the luxury lot. He's pounded left-handed pitchers this year, posting an on-base percentage of .407 and an OPS of nearly 1.000. On top of that, Johnson is making just $900,000 in salary.

But while that sounds nice, and many teams have called the Cubs about Johnson's availability, nobody would probably give up anything decent for a 34-year-old outfielder who will be eligible for free agency this fall. "You might get an organizational guy," said one highly ranked executive, mentioning the kind of minor leaguer who is needed by every team to help stabilize a team of young players. "Or maybe you'd get a guy who would be in the big leagues very briefly. Does that really help you?"

The Dodgers may well keep Jamey Carroll for the same reason -- they wouldn't get much in return, given his RBI production -- and the Royals are well aware that while other teams like Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, neither is going to generate a solid Grade B prospect in return. Oakland has a bunch of relievers who could be had in trades, including Michael Wuertz. "But they're just not going to give them away," said one high-ranking executive.

There is interest in Rafael Furcal, who got a big hit for the Dodgers on Saturday. But again, it's unclear what Los Angeles could get in return beyond some salary relief.

• The Mets continue to talk with the Giants and Phillies about Beltran, and they want a top pitching prospect from the Braves. Atlanta certainly has them, including Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado, who are all considered high-end prospects by other teams.

I asked a rival evaluator -- whose team is not involved in the Beltran trade talks, and isn't in the same division as the Braves -- to rank the four prospects in his eyes. His feeling:
1. Teheran
2. Vizcaino
3. Minor
4. Delgado

"To me," the evaluator said, "you could flip-flop the top two" -- Teheran and Vizcaino -- "or the bottom two." Minor and Delgado, the evaluator said, are "third-starter type of guys."

I asked the evaluator if he thought that the price tag of one of those four pitchers was too high for a two-month rental, and he paused. "Yes, probably," he said. "I don't know what [the Braves'] other options are, but I can't see Frank [Wren] trading one of them."

The Braves could try to offer the Mets a package of less-touted prospects. But that's not the Mets' intention: They believe that they'll get a good prospect, eventually, as they walk down the line in trade talks with all the interested teams.

• The Indians are among the teams which have talked with the Rays about B.J. Upton, sources say, and Upton is trying to not let the trade rumors affect him, Marc Topkin writes. The guess here is that he will be dealt.

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