Three more players possibly for trade are John Smoltz, Rafael Furcal, and Eli Marrero. These guys aren’t unburdened for future seasons like the others. Furcal’s probably more valuable for this, the other two less.
Smoltz: His contract would be up after the season, but there’s an option that vests if he finishes a certain number of games. A team that traded for him as a closer would have to worry about that. (And I doubt he could hold up starting, and even if he did there’s no guarantee he’d be effective.) Also, he’s a 10-and-5 man and would have to agree to a trade. (He’s indicated he’d be amenable.) His contract is probably too pricey for most of the teams looking for a closer. Just speculating, but the Cubs seem a likely destination. He’d certainly be among familiar faces. Other possibilities would be the Mets and Rangers. Less likely (because of financial reasons) would be the White Sox (anyone know how he got along with Guillen?) or the Giants. Or a really big-market team like the Red Sox or Yankees might take a gamble on him as a six-inning starter, possibly moving to the pen in October.
Furcal: 2005 will be his last arbitration year. He’s making a reasonable $3.7 million this season and would probably be in the mid-fours next year. And if it doesn’t work out, the team could always non-tender him. The Yankees still need a second baseman, and could amuse themselves by having the 2003 NL All-Star shortstop playing second, the 2003 AL All-Star shortstop playing third, and a guy with the range of Verne Troyer playing short. The Dodgers need a shortstop, as usual. Actually, most of the contenders (except the Rangers and Chisox, and maybe the Red Sox) could use him. (UPDATE: Forgot to mention… The Braves don’t really have a shortstop candidate to replace him, so would be reluctant unless they got an infielder in exchange.)
Marrero: Obviously of a lower stature than the other two, but could be worth a pitching prospect or something. The Braves, bizarrely, gave him an extension before the season. There’s a good chance that the Cardinals, his old team, could want him back in his old part-time catcher/backup outfielder role. He’d be useful, if healthy, for pretty much anyone, and his salary isn’t prohibitive or anything.
(Note: I’ve given this entry a date of tomorrow. There’s a reason for it which I won’t go into, but it’s being written in the afternoon of June 24. Next time, the hard cases.)