This year's Home Run Derby squads won't be officially unveiled until Monday, but with the All-Star Game rosters announced Saturday night, the potential participants are beginning to weigh their options.
Robinson Cano and David Wright, captains of the American and National League teams, respectively, have stayed relatively quiet regarding their selections for the Derby, which will take place at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN on Monday, July 15, at Citi Field. Each captain gets to select three teammates, who don't necessarily have to be on the All-Star Game rosters.
When asked Friday if he's considering Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, the Majors' leading home run hitter, Cano responded, "Nice try." Think they're playing their choices close to the vest until Monday?
Davis would certainly fit the bill for Cano's squad, however, as he's crushed 33 homers this season. According to CSNBaltimore.com, Davis said "of course" he would accept the invitation if it's extended his way.
Who else might be on Cano's mind? And who will the AL squad line up against?
Let's start with Davis' NL counterpart, the Senior Circuit's home run leader: Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who's gone deep 23 times this year. Gonzalez and Colorado teammate Michael Cuddyer, who's hit 15 homers in 66 games, are believed to have been invited to participate in this year's Derby. Gonzalez told reporters Saturday night that his involvement will depend on his health, as he's been dealing with a sore upper back.
Among the other possible members of Wright's squad are Phillies slugger Domonic Brown and Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, tied for second in the NL with 22 homers apiece. Brown has said he will take part in the Home Run Derby if he's asked, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn't hold him back.
"Absolutely. Whatever he wants to do," Amaro said. "I think it's great."
Alvarez has certainly slugged his way into the conversation as well.
"The topic can be brought up for discussion. But is it one to beat the drum on? Not for me," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said last week. "I just like where his stroke has gotten to now. I'm not a big fan [of the Derby] one way or another; I don't know whether it would help or hurt."
Wright, tied for the Mets lead with 13 home runs, might also consider D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who has clubbed 20 homers. Goldschmidt said the Derby is "something I would consider" when asked about his interest, but the first-time All-Star added that he hadn't put a whole lot of thought into it.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto was similarly noncommittal about the Derby, saying, "I"d have to be asked first." Among the other names to keep an eye out for leading up to Monday's announcement are Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran (19 homers) and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce (18).
As for the AL, Davis is the most obvious choice for Cano, who's hit 20 homers himself this season. A close second would be the reigning AL MVP, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera. Last year's Triple Crown winner didn't want to discuss his possible participation in the Home Run Derby when asked Saturday night, but his 27 homers this season say enough about why he's such a prime candidate.
Last year's Derby champion, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder, would be an equally worthy choice and likely would be interested in defending his title. And he'd probably get another run for his money from 2012 runner-up, Jose Bautista, seventh in the AL this season with 20 homers. The Blue Jays slugger said he would "definitely entertain" an offer from Cano.
"We'll see," Bautista said. "I know there's some fan voting involved in that as well, so we'll have to see what happens."
But he wouldn't be joined by Toronto teammate Edwin Encarnacion, tied for third in the AL with 23 homers. Encarnacion recently missed three games due to a sore hamstring and said he doesn't feel like he could take part in the Derby given his injury issues.
Rounding out the AL leaders are Chicago's Adam Dunn (23), Texas' Nelson Cruz (22), Seattle's Raul Ibanez (21) and the Angels' Mark Trumbo (19). Cruz finished second in the 2009 Derby and would once again be an obvious candidate, but he was ambivalent about how he'd respond if he received an invitation from Cano.
"I don't know," Cruz said. "It would be nice, but it depends on how my body feels. If they ask me right now, I'd say no. My body feels like it needs the time off. But my body goes up and down. It would be nice to do it, but we've got a pretty good thing going, and I want to keep it that way."
For now, like the potential candidates, we can only wait and speculate. Only when Wright and Cano show their hands Monday will we know for sure who's going to be slugging it out in the Big Apple over the All-Star break.