The trade market is heating up -- the deadline just over two weeks away -- and we've already looked...
The trade market is heating up -- the deadline just over two weeks away -- and we've already looked at the prospects with the highest trade values. But three squads that are enjoying success in the majors -- the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals -- have very little on the farm to help swing a deal. This is obviously a problem for all three teams, as they're locked in competitive races with the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds; if you look at that link above, almost all of those squads have the necessary prospects to help make a trade.
Let's look at the situations in Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis more closely to see why they lack the potential trade chips.
Atlanta Braves: Imbalanced, inflexible
The Braves don't have a particularly bad system, but it's headlined by top-of-the-line pitching prospects who aren't going anywhere. Righty Julio Teheran is in the conversation for the top right-hander in the minors and, before he got hurt, Arodys Vizcaino was close to joining the discussion as well. Along with Randall Delgado, the Braves see the trio as future rotation fixtures; with them off the table, Atlanta has few chips left. Its top position prospect, Triple-A first baseman Freddie Freeman, is lined up to assume the big-league job next year. The drop-off from there is quite deep. Toolsy shortstop Mychal Jones could generate some interest, but not the kind that is going to get anything big in return. Another long shot is once highly rated outfielder Jordan Schafer, who is doing nothing at Triple-A this year except producing ugly scouting reports; he could be an extra player in a deal with a team willing to take a chance.
As disastrous as the Mark Teixeira deal was for Atlanta -- both in terms of how much they gave the Texas Rangers to get him and what little they gained in sending him away -- one player received in the package from Anaheim is starting to create some buzz among scouts. Originally signed in 2005 by the Angels as a draft-and-follow, righty Stephen Marek has been rejuvenated as a reliever and boasts a miniscule 0.69 ERA in 37 appearances split between Double- and Triple-A. His fastball has been up to 96 mph this year and his breaking ball is a plus power pitch. He's close to the big leagues and, if the Braves don't want to bring him up, others teams might.