MLB Trade Rumors: Updating Top 20 Players Potentially Available This Summer
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a professional baseball player whose name is constantly mentioned in trade rumors?
That has to be unsettling, regardless of what they might say publicly. We always hear the cliches, such as, "I can't control that; Whatever happens, happens," or the old standby, "I'm just thinking about what I can do for my team right now."
As fans, we can't hear the thoughts that are racing through their heads whenever they read another news clipping about their unstable employment situations. Do they keep a bag packed at all times? Do their wives have real-estate agents on speed dial?
Maybe it's just me that thinks these things, but I digress.
Here are 20 names that are already prominent in various trade rumors around the worldwide web.
20. Carl Pavano, Minnesota Twins
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Whenever I hear the name Carl Pavano mentioned in trade talks, the phrase "bag of bones" comes to mind.
As in, that's about what the Twins will get for Pavano on the open market.
Well, that might be a bit harsh—The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo believes that Pavano will be a "sought-after" pitcher at the trade deadline.
Not quite sure I would use those words in describing Pavano.
19. Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics
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A little over 10 days ago, Oakland A's manager Bob Melvin demoted Grant Balfour from his closer's role, anointing Brian Fuentes as his new ninth-inning man.
The move didn't quite sit well with Balfour.
"Do I feel it was kind of a short leash? A little bit," Balfour said. "I had a couple bad games. I feel like I pitched pretty good for the last year and a month, and a couple bad games and there goes that. It's kind of a bummer. But whatever."
Wait a minute, Grant. Didn't you know that you're playing in a "what have you done for me lately" kind of sport?
Jayson Stark of ESPN believes that the Boston Red Sox could be in the market for Balfour.
One exec told Stark:
He's a veteran arm to put in the mix, but his stuff is not that good. He's not your classic slam-dunk power guy. I don't see him as a pure closer. But he'd be a better option than some of the guys they've got.
Stark also mentioned the Angels. In both cases, however, the bullpens have performed considerably better in recent weeks. Regardless, Balfour is a proven setup man with a history of success in that role.
Definitely worth more than a bag of bones.
18. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
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San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley's home/road splits are about as wide as the gap between...well, one look at them, and I'll think you'll get the general idea.
Those numbers are exactly what makes Headley so attractive to teams that don't play home games at Petco Park.
Then again, any position player looks attractive outside of Petco.
It's also telling that the Padres offered contract extensions to Cameron Maybin, Cory Luebke and Nick Hundley and left Headley hanging with a one-year deal.
17. Chien Ming-Wang, Washington Nationals
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After winning 19 games in both 2006 and 2007, Chien-Ming Wang has endured a spate of injuries that only a hypochondriac would love.
Finally healthy once again, Wang was activated on Tuesday from the disabled list and will be working out of the bullpen for the Washington Nationals.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Nats have received inquiries about Wang, but have rebuffed all such advances thus far.
16. Kelly Shoppach, Boston Red Sox
They once coveted him, drafted him and nurtured him. Then they dumped him as baggage in a trade. Then they coveted him again and signed him. Now, he might be shipped out again.
Such is the history between catcher Kelly Shoppach and the Boston Red Sox. Drafted in 2001, Shoppach was sent to the Cleveland Indians in the deal that netted center fielder Coco Crisp in 2006. This past December, Shoppach was brought back into the fold to serve as the backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Now, Shoppach has been mentioned in rumors, most recently by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. At least two teams (Angels, Nationals) are in need of catching depth.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo also stated that Shoppach could be made available, especially with Ryan Lavarnway pining away in Pawtucket.
15. John Lannan, Washington Nationals
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Washington Nationals pitcher John Lannan was awful this spring, losing his rotation slot to Ross Detwiler and being demoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
Lannan has been no better at Syracuse, boasting a 3-4 record, 5.80 ERA and equally disappointing 1.73 WHIP.
Lannan is owed $5 million this year, and even at a pro-rated rate for the rest of the season, the price is likely unpalatable for what amounts to a Triple-A pitcher.
14. Joe Saunders, Arizona Diamondbacks
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To say that Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Joe Saunders has seen unsettling times over the past two years would be a vast understatement.
First, he gets dealt to the D-Backs from the Los Angeles Angels, along with a package of prospects at the trade deadline in 2010 for starting pitcher Dan Haren.
Then, after posting decent numbers in 2011 (12-13, 3.69 ERA), he is non-tendered. Then, the D-Backs change their minds and sign him to a one-year, $6 million contract. Now, he appears to be unwanted yet again.
Make up your minds, people!
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes that it makes sense for D-Backs GM Kevin Towers to test the market and gauge interest in Saunders. With youngsters Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs breezing through the minors, Arizona has top-tier arms ready to step in and contribute.
13. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox
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Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and was in the lineup for the Sox against the Baltimore Orioles, playing first base and batting fifth.
Batting directly behind Youk was his replacement during his stay on the DL, Will Middlebrooks.
While it was thought that Middlebrooks would be sent back down once Youkilis was activated, manager Bobby Valentine opted to keep Middlebrooks with the number of outfielders now on the disabled list (Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross) and have Adrian Gonzalez playing right field.
With Middlebrooks' excellent showing in his first taste of major-league action, Youkilis has been the subject of numerous trade rumors.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently listed six teams who could be interested: the Reds, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels, White Sox and Orioles.
12. Jeremy Guthrie, Colorado Rockies
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Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is literally just getting acclimated to the Mile High City, and he's already talked about as being available.
At least that's what Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes. In his latest Full Count video, Rosenthal said that Guthrie would likely be made available by GM Dan O'Dowd if the Rockies continue their mediocre start.
Guthrie isn't exactly lighting it up—a 2-2 record and 5.55 ERA in six starts—but he is battle-tested after spending years in the uber competitive AL East.
11. Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox
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Reliever Matt Thornton has been a good soldier for the Chicago White Sox—toiling for them for six-plus seasons—but his time on the South Side could be drawing to an end.
The White Sox have three lefties in their 'pen: Thornton, Hector Santiago and Will Ohman. Thornton should draw considerable interest if the Sox fall out of contention within the next two months.
10. Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
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After suffering through a miserable 2011 season, Houston Astros reliever Brandon Lyon is healthy, happy and most likely available.
Lyon is dealing in the Astros 'pen, posting a 1.76 ERA in 16 appearances thus far in 2012. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes that Lyon will draw considerable interest, but the Astros will have to pony up a large portion of Lyon's $5.5 million salary.
9. Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
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With a record of 20-24, the Seattle Mariners are in third place in the AL West, and with the second-worst team batting average (.234) in the league, it's hard to imagine they will be in contention anytime soon.
At least one source believes that the Mariners should jump at the chance of trading one of their best assets sooner rather than later—closer Brandon League.
Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner believes the M's will suffer the longer they hold onto League, as there is currently a market for relievers and the team has plenty of other viable options to take his place.
Former Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden is also believes that the Mariners have a serious trading chip in League.
8. Denard Span, Minnesota Twins
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Not much has gone right in Minnesota, with the Twins off to a 15-27 start, good for dead last in the majors.
However, the play of center fielder Denard Span thus far has been refreshing. Span is hitting .291 through 37 games, and if the season continues heading south for the Twins, the veteran outfielder may be headed elsewhere.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Span, and probably more so now with the injuries to Michael Morse and Jayson Werth.
7. Wandy Rodriguez, Houston Astros
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote earlier this month that several teams are already beating down the door of the Houston Astros, inquiring about several players. One player who was mentioned prominently in trade talks last season is once again a hot topic this season: starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also reported that with Rodriguez's hot start (2.24 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in nine starts), he will absolutely draw considerable interest.
6. Shawn Marcum, Milwaukee Brewers
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Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum is signed for $7.73 million this season, and GM Doug Melvin has previously indicated that the Brewers have no interest in pursuing an extension during the season.
Considering the fact that the Brewers may be looking at a nine-figure deal just to keep Zack Greinke, it stands to reason that Marcum should be considered a viable trade candidate at this point.
With a career 3.78 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, Marcum would provide depth to any contending team.
5. Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates
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With the rash of closers suddenly on the disabled list (Drew Storen, Huston Street, Andrew Bailey) or pitching horribly (Frank Francisco, Heath Bell, J.J. Putz) the need for an effective ninth-inning stopper has become of vital importance for several teams.
Hanrahan is certainly aware of his sudden popularity, but hopes to remain in the Steel City.
"I haven't really thought about it," Hanrahan told Singer. "My goal here is to go out and get through this season, and be here and help this team win.
"I know why you'd ask that question. That's just the history we've had here. But last year kind of changed the history a little bit. We went out and got a couple of guys [outfielder Ryan Ludwick and first baseman Derrek Lee], instead of trading away guys like we had years before.
"Hopefully times have changed here, and that will be again the case this year, because I really enjoy being here."
Hanrahan has delivered thus far for the Pirates with 10 saves, a 2.87 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
4. Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs
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During his nine years as a Chicago Cubs, pitcher Ryan Dempster has done just about everything ever asked of him, from closing to anchoring the starting rotation.
However, will Dempster do one more thing and agree to be traded?
Dempster is a 10-and-5 man (10 years in the league, five of the years with one team) and has the power to veto any trade. But if the Cubs are successful in signing Matt Garza to a long-term contract, Dempster will most likely see the writing on the wall.
3. Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
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Zack Greinke has been everything that the Milwaukee Brewers wanted him to be since bringing him aboard, winning 16 games and helping to lead the Brewers to the NLCS last season, and this year posting a 5-1 record and 2.70 ERA in his first nine starts.
The big question is, will the Brewers pony up with a contract projected to be valued at $100 million or more?
If not, Greinke will attract plenty of interest at the trade deadline.
2. Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza is in a similar situation as the aforementioned Zack Greinke, except with one slight difference.
The Cubs have the dollars to commit to Garza, but it's all a matter of the two sides agreeing to a deal.
If not, Garza, who is off to a 2-2 start with a 3.72 ERA in eight starts, will be highly sought-after at the trade deadline. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes there will be no shortage of suitors.
1. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
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According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels isn't going anywhere.
An unidentified exec told Stark, "They'd have to be really out of it to trade anybody."
With 21-23 record, however, the Phillies clearly need to make a move. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. did allude to the fact that his team could be sellers in July if in fact the Phillies are out of contention.