Though it's too early for the expected teams to begin their annual fire sale, we're a month away from the All Star break, and it's time for front offices to start considering whether they'll be buyer or sellers next month. While a few teams like the Twins and White Sox have taken surprising leaps this season, and will likely become buyers if the standings hold up, teams like the Diamondbacks and Rays have taken an unanticipated downturn. We'll still see the expected trade market open up around guys like Jeff Samardzija, but there could be some unforeseen names hitting the trade block.
A month of baseball can change a lot of records, but teams like the Rays, Cubs, and Phillies are starting to separate themselves from the rest of baseball as the worst of the worst. I suppose we could see a run from teams like the Padres, Diamondbacks, and the Astros, but these three teams are likely to be sellers at the trade deadline as well. Of course, the Cubs and Astros were expected to be sellers, and we've heard plenty about the rental players that they have to offer this year. There are now more interesting situations like with the Diamondbacks and Phillies, who are now rumbling to shake things up in their front office and on the field. These are two teams that could open up their own fire sale as early as July.
And for teams like the Cubs, Astros, and Padres that have been rebuilding for so long without much to speak of in terms of winning, they can look to the team in Miami for an example of a quick rebuild. Not every team has access to players like Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, but Miami's fire sale at the end of 2012 is no longer an example of greed and lunacy, but now an example of strategy. There's no doubt that team owners are looking at Miami's quick turn-around and asking questions about why their own teams are stuck in perpetual mediocrity. Perhaps this will open up more teams to following in their footsteps, making them more willing to trade their big assets for many smaller ones.
For other teams stuck at .500, like the Yankees, this could mean a very active trade deadline. Players like Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies, David Price, Ben Zobrist, and Jake McGee of the Rays, and Brandon McCarthy, Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill, and Martin Prado of the Diamondbacks could all be available.
With the success of the Marlins following their fire sale and the decline in free agency thanks to an onslaught of extensions, the trade market could become much more important in baseball. I'm beginning to expect a lot of trades by the July 31st deadline, and between all the losing teams rebuilding and all the average tams fighting for a Wild Card spot, there will be no lack of trade partners.