MLB Trade Rumors: The 10 Juiciest Items in the Trade Winds
The MLB trade deadline may be just over two full months away, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start talking potential trades, right?
As per the norm, several big-name players will be available at the deadline. Whether or not they get traded remains to be seen, but expect them to be the subject of many rumors over the next two months.
Most teams are beginning to earn their identities as buyers or sellers, so predicting which players will go is starting to become a little easier.
While there's never a guarantee, trades that are rumored heavily prior to the deadline often go down.
Before you start making your own predictions about where certain players will land, take into account these rumors that are beginning to pick up some steam.
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We might as well start with the man in the cover photo.
Kevin Youkilis has not exactly been a consistent producer over the past two seasons in Boston, owning just a .254 batting average since the start of the 2011 season.
That being said, there was a four-year stretch where he was one of the top third basemen in the game.
The Boston Red Sox may no longer have a spot for him, though:
One rival scout on Red Sox: They've got to trade Youkilis. Middlebrooks has as much power as Mark Trumbo. Has to stay.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) May 28, 2012
There's no doubt that teams will come calling. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported that both the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies scouted Youkilis; Buster Olney reports that the Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds could all have interest in him; and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be interested.
Whether Youkilis ends up being moved remains to be seen, but there would definitely be a ton of interest in him.
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There were several teams interested in acquiring John Lannan this spring when he was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse by manager Davey Johnson, but his lackluster 6.12 ERA through nine starts may have scared a few teams away.
The Washington Nationals have had some bullpen problems early on this season, so it appears as if they want to try and make a move for an arm—at the expense of Lannan.
The Nationals are actively seeking a veteran relief pitcher, and are dangling demoted starter John Lannan as possible trade bait.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 27, 2012
It's unknown as to what teams are interested this time around, but the Nationals should be able to draw some interest in their once-reliable left-hander.
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The Cubs are a very, very bad baseball teams, and we all know what happens to veteran players in contract years who happen to play for such a team—they become prime trade candidates.
Such is the case with Ryan Dempster, who is 35 years old and about to become a free agent at the end of the 2012 season.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Dempster is well aware of his potential availability, as well as that some of Dempster's statistics are the best they've been in several seasons.
Dempster does have ten-and-five rights, but he seems willing to accept a trade should one be agreed upon (via Axisa).
As is the case with Lannan, there are currently no teams that have come out to say that they have interest in acquiring Dempster.
A veteran starting pitcher will almost always find a job though, so teams will come calling as the deadline looms closer.
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In an effort to solidify a potential playoff roster, Nationals general manager could potentially be looking at acquiring a center fielder.
While Adam Jones was on their radar this offseason, the team may choose to go in a completely different direction at the trade deadline—calling the Braves to check the price tag on Michael Bourn.
BIll Ladson of MLB.com reports that Bourn and the Nationals could be a potential fit as the trade deadline approaches.
Bourn is a free agent at the end of the season, and the Braves may look to receive some sort of return before he has the ability to walk via free agency.
Bourn would instantly become the team's leadoff hitter, primary stolen base threat and likely the team's best defender in the outfield.
It would take a serious package to get a deal done, but it's a deal that the Nationals may be willing to make.
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Twins may be interested in trading the oft-injured Justin Morneau.
Trading Morneau would likely be difficult, as he is owed $14 million each of the next two seasons and has a full no-trade clause.
Morneau, who has nine home runs in 31 games this season, would likely draw the most interest out of the Twins likely crop of available players, a list that may include Denard Span, Carl Pavano and Matt Capps.
Rosenthal suggests that the Phillies could have interest in the slugger with Ryan Howard on the shelf, although Kevin Youkilis may be the safer bet to play in more games in 2012.
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With Cole Hamels' impending free agency coming closer by the day, the Phillies will undoubtedly consider trading their prized left-hander.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that, should the Phillies continue losing by the time the trade deadline comes around, they could become sellers.
Many teams will call about Hamels, although there's absolutely no guarantee that he'll be dealt.
There's also no guarantee that he'll resign with the Phillies if he hits the free-agent market though, as he may be interested in joining the Dodgers.
Hamels has Southern California roots and he would arguably give the Dodgers the top two left-handed starters in the game—Clayton Kershaw being the other pitcher, of course.
The Hamels saga likely won't end until the trade deadline passes.
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The Twins are struggling and Willingham is producing, a sign that the veteran outfielder could soon be on the move.
One general manager reportedly said of Willingham: "Of all the guys out there, he’s one who can significantly impact your offense immediately (via Links)."
Teams in need of a power bat—he has eight home runs and 28 RBI so far this season—could potentially find a nice fit in Willingham.
He may be under contract through 2014, but he's an affordable $7 million a year.
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If Ruben Amaro, Jr. decides to trade Hamels, he may also decide to trade Shane Victorino, as he too is a free agent at the end of the season.
Hamels and Victorino have already drawn interest from the Blue Jays, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, and it goes without saying that there would be even more interest if Amaro definitively says that either player is available.
If the Phillies choose to give Hamels his way during free agency, then they may not have enough money to give Victorino the contract he deserves.
Should that be the case, Victorino will likely become available.
A swap of Victorino and Joe Blanton for Kevin Youkilis has been rumored, but that rumor has picked up no steam since it broke.
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Mark Polishuk of RotoAuthority.com thinks that the Cubs would be foolish not to test the market for first baseman Bryan LaHair.
I'd have to say that I agree.
There's no denying the fact that Anthony Rizzo is the first baseman of the future in Chicago, and the fact that LaHair has taken so long to blossom doesn't bode well for the Cubs in the long haul.
A team in need of a power bat that can play outfield or first base for a season or two may be interested in acquiring him if he can keep up his production, though.
Polishuk goes on to name the Tigers, Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers as teams that could potentially seek a left-handed first baseman or outfielder, so the market for LaHair would certainly be there if the Cubs make him available.
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Brett Myers was a semi-reliable starter for the Astros in 2010 and 2011, but the team decided to move him into the closer's role for 2012.
This move has paid off, as he has recorded 12 saves and a 1.59 ERA.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com thinks that he could be dealt as the deadline approaches, even though the market is littered with available closers.
He does cite the fact that Myers makes starters money compared to other closers like Grant Balfour or Huston Street, so dealing him may prove difficult.
A reliable arm in the back-end of the bullpen will always be coveted though, so expect several teams to call about Myers' availability.