When the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero they had intentions of dealing him at the trade deadline. The idea was for him to produce in the first half, keep their offense credible, and then get a big return for him at the deadline. Because of a .278 AVG, only 7 HR, and the injury bug, Vlad isn’t a must have target. His 2010 value would have ranked him amongst the likes of this year’s high value trade deadline hitters such as Carlos Beltran and BJ Upton. But just like Kevin Millwood did last year, Guerrero has killed most of his trade value with poor play. So will Vlad be traded away by this Sunday’s trade deadline? My guess is no. Will he still be traded at all? My guess is yes. Of course after the trade deadline ends players can still be traded. They just have to go through waivers. Because of the large amount on Vlad’s contract he probably will clear waivers. That means there is no rush for the O’s to deal Vlad. Instead they can wait the deadline out and see which contenders failed to acquire a bat. Then they can try to sell Vlad to those teams. Once traded Vlad may not even be a starter on the team he goes to, so he may not get a big return. If there is a decent prospect that is exchanged for him the O’s will probably have to eat a large chunk of his salary. Otherwise dealing him will only be a salary dump. There are still some teams though that may target Vlad by this Sunday’s deadline and may have intentions of him starting. The rumor is that even a few National League teams have called about Guerrero, but rightfully so they are all worried about his defensive liabilities. Vlad couldn’t even play the outfield for the limited number of inter-league games this year. Because of that I don’t think there is any way possible that Vlad would be able to play the field. So in my opinion the only suitors for Vlad are American League teams. There really have not been many rumors floating around as to who is interested in Vlad or what the Orioles are interested in, so I will make educated guesses based on the teams that Vlad would fit with. There are hundreds of prospect in each organization and in a trade like this virtually any of them could be exchanged. Since it is impossible to tell which ones the Orioles like I will mention some more well known players with major league experience. Here is the list of teams that Vlad could be traded to in order from most to least likely.
Texas Rangers- With Vlad being so successful there last year a reunion would work. Texas likes to add excess bats down the stretch as they did last year with Jeff Francoeur, Jorge Cantu, and Cristian Guzman. Guerrero certainly can hit in Texas and there is room for him to play. The Orioles could find interest in struggling utility man David Murphy. He could be a nice backup outfielder for the Orioles with spot starts in left field for a few years. Scott Feldman could be given away by Texas for the price of Vlad. Feldman has struggled the last two seasons, but getting out of that Texas heat could do wonders for him. Maybe a change of scenery could help him rekindle the 17 win magic he had a fews years ago. Taylor Teagarden was left out of the catching mix this year but is a fine backup catcher. He has 16 HR in 113 major league games and is only 27 years old. 15 HR power from a backup catcher would be a great addition on Wieter’s days off. The O’s could also really push for Michael Kirkman who is being auditioned at the major league level right now. He has the upside of a decent #3 starter.
New York Yankees- With Jorge Posada being their primary DH they could use an upgrade. Brandon Laird made his major league debut last night at third base for the Yankees. He is their #10 Baseball America organizational prospect and may have been brought up to use as trade bait. Outfielder Chris Dickerson who comes off the bench for the Yankees could be someone the O’s could have interest in. He is hitting .296 in a limited major league role, but is already 28 years old. With the emergence of Jesus Montero soon maybe Francisco Cervelli would make a great long term backup catch to Matt Wieters. I’m actually in favor of this idea. Cervelli has pop, is only 25 years old, and is a decent starter on Wieters’ off days.
Minnesota Twins- They do have Jim Thome at DH, but he gets days off. The Twins are a kind of a team that could really use a bat like Guerrero’s if they take the chance on him and he excels. It could be a huge addition to the middle of their lineup. Kevin Slowey could be traded in a deal like this. Slowey would be a welcomed experienced big league arm to the O’s struggling rotation. Scott Diamond is a guy that the Twins have brought up for a spot start to show off as trade bait. He could be a guy the O’s look at because he is major league ready. Plus he isn’t a major prospect that would cost too much. He is a nice arm that could try to crack the O’s rotation. Carlos Gutierrez is the Twins #10 ranked prospect on their Baseball America top 10. He has pitched well at AAA and may be major league ready.
Detroit Tigers- They seem to match with the Orioles in almost every trade. Because Vlad has less impact value than both Guthrie and Uehara someone like Andy Oliver would not be traded in a move like this. Charlie Furbush is a stretch, but if the Tigers decide they really need another bat the O’s don’t back down on him, I can see Detroit moving Furbush for Guerrero. With Victor Martinez being able to catch and Alex Avila getting some days off, there are some days that Vlad would be able to get a start in Detroit. He would be a nice bat off their bench as well. Furbush may be too pricy for a reserve player. Guys with major league experience that could be available are second basemen Wil Rhymes and outfielder Casper Wells.
Los Angeles Angels- Maybe a reunion here would work. With Bobby Abreu being flexible enough to play in the outfield the Angels could have the need for a part time DH/reserve hitter. Maybe the Angels finally give up on aging and failing outfielder Reggie Willits. Alberto Callaspo or Cesar’s brother Maicer Izturis could become available if the team acquires another 3B such as Aramis Ramirez. None of those guys have exciting upside, but Callaspo is a high average player who could play a nice utility role in the infield.
Overall it looks like Vlad would only bring decent prospects or a good major league platoon player. I personally like the idea of the solid backup catcher so I would be happy to bring in Cervelli or Teagarden in a deal like this. It would be an upgrade to Craig Tatum and could do wonder’s offensively to fill in for Wieters. Since Wieters’ production will continue to increase it will be more vital to replace his offensive numbers during off days. Hopefully Vlad picks it up over the next few days and McPhail can pull off a deal for some rotation help. Furbush, Slowey, and Feldman would be better options than what we have now. Remember not to think Vlad will finish the 2011 season as an Oriole if he isn’t moved this Sunday. Because there is more of chance of him being traded sometime in August after he clears waivers.