One of the most exciting parts of every baseball season is the trade deadline, and this season will be no different.
There are many peaks and valleys for each team throughout the season. As July approaches and the good teams establish their positions in the playoff race, trade talks ramp up and general managers try to balance their teams for 2012 and their teams of the future.
With big names such as David Wright and Zack Greinke potentially available, this summer is going to be packed with rumors as teams try to add pieces to their championship puzzle.
Every season when the trading deadline rolls around, there are teams in contention that need to solidify their bullpen.
Enter Brandon League.
After 37 saves last season pitching on a Mariners team that will not be in contention, League will get a lot of attention as the league's best available relief pitcher.
Another great reliever that will be available at the deadline, Matt Thornton, despite a larger contract (still owed at least $12 million), will garner a lot of attention at this year's trade deadline.
The Boston Globe reports other teams have already checked in on Thornton, and with an ERA of 3.49 for his career, not to mention a K/9 of 9.7 over nine seasons, he will certainly be one of the top relievers available this season.
Kevin Gregg is already being shopped by the Orioles.
While he is not as good as the relievers listed ahead of him on this list, he will still be sought after come July.
Kevin Gregg has a 3.89 ERA from 2007 to 2011, has pitched at least 59 innings each of the last eight years and has proven to be an effective closer for brief stretches with 20-plus saves for five consecutive years heading into 2012.
It may surprise you that Myers is listed after Kevin Gregg, but because Myers has bounced back and forth between being a starter and reliever four times now, who knows how his arm will hold up?
However, if he pitches well from April through July, he will most definitely be a target for teams looking for bullpen help.
Jayson Stark reported the Astros are willing to pay $7 million of the $11 million owed to Myers, so while that may increase the cost in prospects, with a limited budget, it could make him an even bigger target.
Early this spring, Mets GM Sandy Alderson had an interesting quote regarding David Wright's future in an interview with the New York Post:
"He is not trade bait. Is he part of the future? I hope the answer is yes. Let’s see how he bounces back this season."
With the season under way and Wright hitting out of the gate but breaking his pinky, who knows what will happen by July?
There is one thing we know for sure: If Wright is made available, he will be the most sought-after player on the market by far, and the Mets will do everything they can to improve themselves for the future.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Padres were listening to offers on Bartlett all winter, but nothing came to pass.
If a contending team like the Boston Red Sox looks to add a defensive-minded shortstop that is a better hitter than people think, Bartlett will be one of the best ones available this summer.
Carlos Lee has been in a steady decline since 2007, but he can still be a very useful player.
Even with an unusual trade provision in his contract, his 18 homers and 94 RBI from last season would be a welcome addition to any AL team as a DH or power hitter off the bench.
In the final year of his contract, Lee is owed $18.5 million this year, so while it will be a tough contract to trade, as the injuries and holes start to pile up on contenders, it will become less of an obstruction.
Akin to Carlos Lee before him, Abreu has been in a steady decline.
Since 2008, his runs scored, batting average and slugging percentage have all declined, but if Abreu can prove his 2011 season was the aberration, he would still be a welcome addition to any contending team.
Earlier this spring, the Indians were reportedly very close to acquiring him but reneged because his salary was too much.
At some point this summer, Mike Trout will be called up, and he needs to play every day.
When that happens, the Angels will find a new home for Abreu.
The Boston Globe reported, "A National League scout indicated that Byrd’s name is being mentioned more and more as we reach the end of spring training."
By the time July rolls around, Byrd's pro-rated $6.5 million salary will not be too much for a contending team to add to its roster as it looks for a solid right-handed bat to patrol its outfield.
The Nationals were interested in acquiring Byrd this past week, so if Byrd continues to hit around .280-.290 with a .400 slugging percentage, there will be even more interest in him this summer.
For a team looking for a solid DH to add some pop in its lineup, Reynolds is already available.
Since the Orioles are looking to trade him, he will continue to receive at-bats in some capacity, and with those at-bats will come home runs. In spite of his propensity to strike out, Reynolds still had a .483 slugging percentage last season, good for 37th in all of baseball.
With a good first half of the season, Reynolds could become one of the top trade deadline targets of 2012.
Being the ace on a team that is going nowhere has some value, especially for other teams around the trading deadline.
Rodriguez has been extremely consistent over the past four seasons with a 3.40 ERA over 729 innings and would be a very good No. 3 or No. 4 starter on just about any playoff team.
The Red Sox, Marlins and Rockies have all been keeping tabs on Rodriguez over the past year, and although those talks never ended with a trade, when Houston falls out of the race this season, expect the talks to pick back up.
Gavin Floyd is yet another name who has already circulated through the rumor mill.
CBSSports.com reported that Floyd was not only available throughout the winter but was also made available this spring, and the Red Sox and Orioles were among the teams that showed interest.
In spring training, the Blue Jays and White Sox reportedly discussed a deal involving Floyd, but again, nothing came to fruition.
The White Sox appear to be a couple of years away from competing for another World Series. With that in mind, in addition to Floyd's pending free agency, it looks like he will be one of the top available arms this July.
The Brewers are going to do everything they can to re-sign Zack Greinke to a long-term deal.
That we know.
This time, however, I do not believe they will leave the negotiations empty-handed, like when they watched CC Sabathia walk away after just 17 starts to sign a mega-deal with the Yankees.
With contract talks suspended, it appears Greinke is headed towards the same fate.
If nothing changes by the All-Star break, it would not surprise me to see the Brewers look to deal him, especially if they are not in contention.