Scuffling trade bait

With July 31 a little more than a month away , the list of possible sellers and buyers is slowly emerging, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark wrote Tuesday in his Trade Deadline Preview.

For clubs on the outside of the playoff picture, it is a chance to unload impending free agents or higher-priced players. But it isn’t always easy. Here’s a look at whether non-contenders will find these position players a new home:

John Buck, C, New York Mets

Buck hit nine homers in April and everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for the Mets, who would deal the catcher to a contender once they called up top prospect Travis d’Arnaud. But Buck, in the final year, of a three-year, $18 million deal, has hit just three homers since and has one RBI in June.

Placido Polanco, 3B, Miami Marlins

Following the offseason fire sale, the Fish signed Polanco to a one-year, $2.75 million deal to provide some veteran leadership and possibly land a young player in late July. But Father Time has caught up to the 37-year-old in a hurry. He is hitting .235 – about 60 points less than his career average.

Carlos Pena, DH/1B, Houston Astros

We know the rebuilding Astros will be dealing in July, and Pena, who was expected to primarily be a DH but is also getting time at first base, would seem to be a fit for a team looking for power. A .381 slugging percentage, about 100 points below his career average, doesn’t help things. Pena did hit 28 homers as recently as two seasons ago, so there is some value.

Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins

A 35-homer, 110-RBI season in 2012, coupled with a very-team friendly, three-year, $21 million contract makes Willingham a very attractive candidate. A .217 BA this season might keep teams from overpaying, but he still has power (10 homers), which will keep the cellphone of Twins GM Terry Ryan ringing.

Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers used a second-half surge to put themselves into playoff contention last season, thanks in part to a strong finish by Weeks. Weeks may be at it again, hitting .429 with five homers in June following a .183 BA in April and May, but a four-year, $38.5 million deal that runs through 2014 makes him very difficult to deal.