Even though the 2012 Major League Baseball season hasn't even officially started yet, general managers are surely thinking about the future. Some of them have probably realized that they will have some holes to fill at the trade deadline, and some will find themselves with extra talent at certain positions.
Even though we are not anywhere near July and there's a lot of baseball to play, it is never too early to make some predictions. Here are 20 players that could be on the move at the deadline.
Third base is a very thin position in general. However, David Wright is one of the better options out there. 2011 was one of the more difficult seasons in his career, but he should be able to bounce back.
Not only that, but the New York Mets should probably be selling by the middle of the season. Honestly, in such a competitive division, 2012 will not be a great year. The Mets do have some young talent, so they might as well trade David Wright and add to that nucleus.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have too much depth in the outfield. Obviously, Justin Upton will return in right field along with Chris Young in center field. The newly-signed Jason Kubel will probably take over in left field.
That leaves Gerardo Parra, a 2011 Gold glove winner, as the odd man out. By the middle of the season, he should probably be on the move to a place where he will be able to play every day.
The Atlanta Braves will be locked in a vicious battle at the top of the National League East. They have an incredible amount of young pitching depth, highlighted by Julio Teheran. If some of this talent is able to come to maturity and excel in 2012, Jair Jurrjens could definitely be on the move.
His name was floated around all winter, but he never left Atlanta. The Braves were probably keeping Jurrjens as a stable arm, but if their prospects work out, he very well could become available.
With the addition of Albert Pujols, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim effectively have three first basemen capable of starting. Pujols will definitely become the everyday first baseman, so that will leave Mark Trumbo and Kendry Morales to compete over the designated hitter spot.
Trumbo is working on his play at third base so that competition might not materialize, but I still believe that it would be better for the Angels to trade him from an area of strength to reinforce a weakness. They could create a more well-rounded team this way.
James Shields has recently had tremendous success as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. However, if Matt Moore is able to emerge and pitch half as well as everybody expects him to, the Rays might be in a position to trade a top-tier pitcher for an elite hitter to pair with Evan Longoria.
Teams are willing to pay quite a bit for starting pitchers at the trade deadline, so if the Tampa Bay Rays fall behind in the American League East, this one could be on the radar.
Wandy Rodriguez was supposed to be on the move this past winter. His name kept popping up as a solid middle-of-the-rotation option worth trading for. Though he ended up staying put in Houston, it is definitely possible that he will be on the move in July.
The Astros definitely realize that they are not positioned to succeed in 2012. Trading Rodriguez would allow them to get younger, and there is bound to be some team that will be looking for the final piece of their rotation in July. Rodriguez is definitely a respectable option.
Alfonso Soriano is definitely an interesting baseball player. He has always hit for a lot of power and still has some speed, but his batting average has continued to plunge. On top of that, his fielding has been suspect throughout his career.
However, given his power potential, it would not be surprising for the Chicago Cubs to try very hard to move him out and prepare for a new era.
Andre Ethier is in his final season before he hits free agency. This, of course, makes him a prime candidate for a midseason trade.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Ethier were unable to come to a long-term agreement over the winter, so his future in Los Angeles beyond the 2012 season is up in the air.
If the Dodgers want more compensation than just a draft pick and don't think they will be able to re-sign him in the winter, they very well could be looking to trade him and maximize their return.
I know that this one is a bit out there, but if the San Francisco Giants are not able to agree with Matt Cain on a long-term extension, he would become a free agent next winter.
Again, like Andre Ethier, this could make him a very probable trade candidate. Not only that, but if the Giants are able to trade him to a team who had the money to lock him up, everybody wins. The Giants would get several great prospects while their trading partner would be able to have exclusive negotiations with Cain and hopefully sign him long-term before other teams can approach him.
Aubrey Huff had a very difficult 2011 as he saw his batting average and home run total plummet. Since those are his best two attributes, this is obviously concerning.
If Brandon Belt is able to develop at first base like he is expected to, it would not be surprising to see him pass Huff by.
An American League club could be very interested in acquiring Huff as a designated hitter in hopes that he will be able to return to his former self. While he isn't quite at the same level as some of these other stars, it would not surprise me to see him on the move.
Scott Rolen has been a great third baseman ever since he began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. However, he is getting older, and the Cincinnati Reds do have a very solid prospect in Juan Francisco ready to take place.
Like I said earlier in this slideshow, third base is a shallow position, so Rolen could garner substantial interest as teams prepare for the final push. He could be traded for substantially more than the Reds could get for him right now.
The Washington Nationals have a very strong bullpen with Drew Storen leading the way as the team's closer. Since this is an area of strength, trading Tyler Clippard might become an attractive option.
The Nationals should be able to compete for a playoff position, and plenty of teams will probably compete over Clippard if the Nationals want to trade him.
He has been very strong in a setup role and could be a valuable piece in any bullpen.
Dallas Braden battled with injuries in 2011, but he is a reliable pitcher who would not have such a high price tag as some of the other names on this list.
The Oakland Athletics are definitely building for the future, and they made trades to bring in some very talented young arms this winter in Jarrod Parker and Brad Peacock.
They will eventually need to open up some rotation slots, and many teams might want Braden to round out their rotations.
Torii Hunter used to make headlines for his acrobatic catches. He is still a very talented fielder, and he definitely can still hit the ball. However, the Angels are very excited about young phenom Mike Trout.
If they want to get Trout into the lineup, they will need to clear one of their outfield spots. It would be very difficult to move Vernon Wells, and the Angels probably will not move Peter Bourjos. That leaves Torii Hunter in a position to be moving before the end of July.
Jack Hannahan has definitely not done anything wrong as the third baseman for the Cleveland Indians. He had a solid season at the hot corner, and he will probably get even better in 2012.
The obvious problem with that involves third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall is already battling with Hannahan for the position, and by midseason, if not sooner, he will probably be ready to take on full-time duties.
If Hannahan becomes available, it is definitely possible that he attracts some interest on the trade market.
The Philadelphia Phillies are mostly known for their top three starting pitchers. Joe Blanton is often times left out of this equation, but he eats a lot of innings and is definitely a serviceable pitcher.
If the Phillies need some offensive support (kind of a weird thought but definitely possible), Blanton could easily be traded. While he won't necessarily lead a rotation, he could be a reliable back-end option somewhere else.
I know that the Florida Marlins say that Hanley Ramirez will play third base. I know that Hanley Ramirez has said that he will play third base.
Still, something keeps telling me that Ramirez will be on the move before the end of this season. Star players like to play their preferred position, and if somebody offers the right price for Ramirez, he could be moving from South Beach.
Everyone seems happy right now, but if Ramirez and the Marlins do not meet the high expectations placed upon them, frustration might build up and lead to a blockbuster trade.
Many people thought that Matt Garza was going to be on the move this winter. That didn't happen, but the motivation might still be there. In fact, once teams begin to realize that they are one piece away from making a serious playoff run, the demand for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher will greatly rise.
The Chicago Cubs are looking to build a winner with new general manager Theo Epstein at the helm. Garza might be able to bring in the type of prospects who will help usher in a new era.
In order for this to happen, Jason Bay would need to have a very solid 2012. If he is able to create some value, the New York Mets might look to trade him off for prospects who will help them compete in the future.
They did this with Carlos Beltran in some sense, although Beltran had a much higher initial trade value. The process is the same though. If Bay is having a good year, it would probably be in their best interests to trade him, even if it hurts them in the short term.
Jake Peavy was one of the best pitchers in baseball not very long ago. He has had some difficulties since then, but it is definitely possible that he could regain some of this stuff that made him so great if he is able to avoid injuries.
The Chicago White Sox also have a nice young core in development. Trading Peavy, who will be 31 years old in May, to a contender for prospects would be a very logical move.
By the time the White Sox develop some of their young talent, Peavy will be likely be nearing the end of his career. They might as well trade him now and hopefully compete in the future.
Whether you think I know everything or nothing about Major League Baseball, you should follow me on Twitter and keep in touch. I love hearing what you all have to say!