MLB Trade Rumors: Updating the 20 Hottest Names on the Market
Timex Social Club was famous for being front runners in a new music genre that swept through the industry in the late 1980s—new jack swing. However, they were also famous for these words:
I can't go no place without somebody pointin' a finger,
I can't show my face 'cause when it comes to rumors I'm a dead ringer;
It seems from rumors I just can't get away,
I bet there'll even be rumors floatin' around on Judgment Day;
I'll think I'll write my congressman and tell him to pass a bill,
For the next time they catch somebody startin' rumors, shoot to kill.
"Rumors" was the only big single the group would record, but its lyrics certainly summed up the word's definition quite succinctly.
In Major League Baseball, there is rarely a day that goes by without at least one rumor being generated and circulated. Whether it's about a possible player trade or anything else, rumors are a part of the fabric of baseball, plain and simple.
As we move closer and closer to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the rumors increase exponentially, as buyers and sellers are determined and expendable players on selling teams are identified.
Here are the 20 hottest names being rumored about on the MLB rumor mill today. Keep in mind that just because these particular players are being mentioned in trade talks does not mean in any way that it's going to happen.
20. Marco Scutaro: Colorado Rockies
If ESPN's Jayson Stark is really good at fortune-telling, then Colorado Rockies infielder Marco Scutaro may not want to get to comfortable in his new Denver home.
In Stark's latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, he talks about the Detroit Tigers' desperate need for a second baseman. With current Tigers players hitting a combined .178 with two home runs and 12 RBI, it's understandable why "desperate" would be a good choice of words.
Stark suggests that the Tigers might want to wait about a month or so until the Rockies officially hang up their selling shingle. Scutaro is in the last season of a three-year deal that pays him $6 million, so the price certainly won't be prohibitive or owner Mike Ilitch.
Scutaro is currently filling in at shortstop for the injured Troy Tulowitzki and hitting .258 on the season.
19. David DeJesus: Chicago Cubs
After a slow start in his new home with the Chicago Cubs, right fielder David DeJesus has rebounded nicely, posting a .380 OBP to go along with outstanding corner defense. The question now is how much longer DeJesus will be flashing the bat and leather at Wrigley Field.
DeJesus is almost certainly a likely candidate to be moved, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, who reported that the Cubs have told teams that everyone on the roster with the exception of Jeff Samardzija will be considered.
18. Brandon Lyon: Houston Astros
Houston Astros middle reliever Brandon Lyon is finally starting to like a $5 million pitcher.
It only took two-plus years.
Still a lot of money for a middle man, Lyon has vastly improved this season, posting a 2.53 ERA in 22 appearances with an 8.9 K/9 rate. Lyon was given a three-year contract by the Astros before the 2010 season with a $5 million average annual value.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ranks Lyon 22nd on his most recent list of valuable trade candidates, although Houston may be forced to eat much of Lyon's remaining money in order to deal him and get value in return.
17. Jamey Carroll: Minnesota Twins
There is a definite shortage in middle infielders that will likely be made available as the trade deadlines, which makes Minnesota Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll all the more valuable.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted last week that the Brewers are looking to upgrade at short with the long-term injury to incumbent Alex Gonzalez.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo also believes that GM Terry Ryan will look to trade off veterans such as Carroll and get whatever value he can.
Carroll is currently hitting just .225 for the 20-33 Twins, but his career .275 average and veteran presence would certainly be of great value to contending teams down the stretch.
16. Brandon McCarthy: Oakland Athletics
Brandon McCarthy apparently just needed a little rest for his shoulder, because he sparkled in his return from the disabled list on Saturday, holding the Kansas City to just two runs in six innings for his fourth win of the year.
With a 2.95 ERA in 10 starts for the A's, McCarthy certainly offers hope that the latest stint on the DL was just a blip. However, six trips to the DL since 2007 absolutely raises red flags.
McCarthy is making $4.28 this season and is set to become a free agent. Yankees blog Bleeding Yankee Blue suggested that McCarthy might be a good fit for the Yankees, and The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo also believes that McCarthy is not long for Oakland.
15. Chien-Ming Wang: Washington Nationals
It was certainly a surprise to see Washington Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang replacing Ross Detwiler in the starting rotation, making his first start against the Miami Marlins last Wednesday.
However, Detwiler was 0-2 with a 7.08 ERA in his last four starts after starting the season 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA. But with a record of 3-3 and a 3.73 ERA, Detwiler wasn't being given the chance to turn things around.
Seems like maybe the Nats are showcasing Wang?
Wang endured a foot injury in 2008, had arthroscopic surgery to repair the capsule in his right shoulder in 2009, causing him to miss the entire 2010 season, and then a hamstring injury during spring training this year delayed his progress.
Just how much he has left in the tank at this point remains to be seen, but teams could take the risk anyway.
14. Josh Willingham: Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins at 20-33 are largely expected to be sellers at the trade deadline, with several names being mentioned as possible trade targets for other other teams.
At the top of that list is left fielder Josh Willingham, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract over the offseason.
However, as Jayson Stark of ESPN pointed out, the Twins will be very reluctant to deal Willingham:
We hear a surprising amount of speculation about the Twins trading Josh Willingham. But teams that have kicked the tires on him say they've been told that Willingham just started a three-year, $21 million contract, that he's exactly the kind of right-handed masher they envisioned placing between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and that they expect to keep all three of those guys. So unless that stance changes, it doesn't appear that Willingham is relocating anywhere.
It all depends on who you believe, apparently.
13. Grant Balfour: Oakland Athletics
The Oakland A's actually resembled a team capable of competing over the first 40 games of the season, but a nine-game losing streak quickly ended that fallacy.
Now sitting in the cellar of the AL West at 23-31, it would appear that the A's will once again be sellers, with several players in play for contending teams.
Reliever Grant Balfour could be highly sought after. Balfour lost his closer's role to Brian Fuentes, but he still represents a quality bullpen arm.
Aside from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeting early last month about the Angels interested in upgrading their bullpen, no mention has been made of Balfour specifically recently. But it's the A's—they're bound to be offering Balfour up to someone eventually.
12. Matt Capps: Minnesota Twins
Ah, once again, the Twins and another player who could be a hot commodity over the next month or two.
Closer Matt Capps, with his 11 saves, 3.60 ERA and 1.050 ERA, would appear to be one of the favorites on the Twins roster to land somewhere else come late July.
Capps is owed $4.5 million this year, with the Twins holding a $6 million option for next season. Considering the volatile nature of the closer role this year among several teams, Capps very well could be an attractive two-month rental.
11. Francisco Rodriguez: Milwaukee Brewers
It almost seems inevitable that mercurial reliever Francisco Rodriguez would make this list.
While not exactly lighting things up this year (4.30 ERA, 8.2 K/9 rate in 25 appearances), K-Rod could prove to be an option at the closer position for several different teams. Rodriguez will be owed somewhere in the vicinity of $3.5 million at the deadline, so the Milwaukee Brewers may be forced to pony up some of his salary in the process.
In a recent poll conducted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 82 percent of respondents as of Sunday night believe that the Brewers should trade Rodriguez for a position player.
10. Jeremy Guthrie: Colorado Rockies
At 3-3 with a 5.48 ERA through eight starts, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie hasn't exactly lit the world on fire in his first year in Denver.
The Rockies haven't exactly played inspiring baseball either, with a 23-30 record. While the Rockies have traditionally been a hot team in the second half in recent years, their pitching staff is among the worst in baseball, and if out of contention come late July, Guthrie could be in high demand.
9. Edinson Volquez: San Diego Padres
Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez found himself playing for a new team in mid-December after being one of the players shipped by the Cincinnati Reds to the San Diego Padres in the deal that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati. Now, Volquez could find himself with another team in less than two months.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Volquez represents a pitcher with "good value," according to an American League executive who spoke with Heyman.
However, Volquez's home/road splits have to be of some concern. At Petco Park, Volquez has a 3.23 ERA and 1.282 WHIP in seven starts. But in five road starts, Volquez has a 6.08 ERA and 1.859 WHIP.
8. Wandy Rodriguez: Houston Astros
Houston Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is currently working on his fifth consecutive season with an ERA under 3.60, and he's well on his way. After 12 starts, Rodriguez is 4-4 with a 3.14 ERA.
Rodriguez's name continues to be mentioned in various trade rumors, with The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo being the latest to offer up his name.
According to Cafardo, the Astros have a long-term plan that includes trading off veterans and building the team through an incoming supply of younger players. Manager Brad Mills confirmed that plan as well, saying:
I think there’s a great belief in the plan we’ve laid out here, and we’re going to execute that plan. There’s no indication that plan has changed. This is an organization that wants to be good for a long time.
They just need to get there first.
7. Carlos Quentin: San Diego Padres
Outfielder Carlos Quentin wasted no time in contributing to the impotent offense of the San Diego Padres, providing three homers and seven RBI in his first 19 at-bats since returning from the disabled list earlier this week.
With a relative dearth of power hitters potentially available at the trade deadline, Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTradeRumors.com believes that Quentin could be the perfect candidate.
Quentin will earn $7 million this season, and considering the Padres are currently working to sell the team, an extension for Quentin may be difficult to obtain.
6. Jonathan Broxton: Kansas City Royals
Jonathan Broxton probably didn't expect to be in the position he's in right now at the start of the season—saving games and being wanted again.
After the season-ending elbow injury to incumbent closer Joakim Soria, Broxton moved into the role he previously occupied with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Broxton isn't the flame-thrower he once was (6.1 K/9 rate), but he has 12 saves in 14 chances, a 1.74 ERA and is throwing the ball effortlessly.
In addition, The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo believes the Royals greatly enhanced Broxton's trade value by removing the restriction prohibiting Broxton from pitching more than two days in a row.
5. Scott Feldman: Texas Rangers
It would stand to reason that with the signing of free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt, someone on the current Texas Rangers pitching staff is going to be a casualty once Oswalt is promoted to the big-league club. That casualty could be Scott Feldman.
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Feldman seems the most likely candidate. Feldman is carrying a 4.50 ERA and 4.1 K/9 rate as a spot starter and reliever thus far this year, and the Rangers are unlikely to exercise his 2013 option year ($9.25 million).
4. Rafael Betancourt: Colorado Rockies
At 37 years of age, Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt has saved nine games with a 2.37 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate. Unfortunately, he's currently with a team that may not give him a host of opportunities.
For that reason, it's believed that Betancourt's name will be mentioned frequently in the days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
ESPN's Jayson Stark stated in his weekly Rumblings & Grumblings column that once the Rockies eventually become sellers, Betancourt is likely gone.
3. Ryan Dempster: Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster is in the final year of his contract that pays him $14 million, and he has veto power on any trade. However, there aren't many who believe that Dempster will be in the North Side after late July.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweeted on Friday that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be very interested in pursuing Dempster.
Knobler also tweeted on Friday that aside from shortstop Starlin Castro, pretty much everyone is on the table.
2. Matt Garza: Chicago Cubs
At just 28 years of age, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza is just entering the prime of his career, and despite the Cubs' claims that they are very interested in signing him long-term, rumors continue to persist to the contrary.
FOX Sports baseball guru Ken Rosenthal, in his most recent Full Count video, said that many baseball execs don't believe that Garza will sign with the Cubs, and that he will be made available.
ESPN's Buster Olney chimed in as well, saying that the Cubs will look at offers for Garza that make sense.
Rosenthal believes the Detroit Tigers could be high on the list of suitors.
1. Kevin Youkilis: Boston Red Sox
The rumor mill has certainly been flying regarding the future of Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweeted on Sunday that the Arizona Diamonbacks and Philadelphia Phillies had scouts in Toronto watching Youkilis during the Red Sox' three-games series against the Blue Jays.
Earlier on Sunday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com identified 10 teams who have expressed interest in Youkilis as well.
It's unlikely that interest will wane anytime soon, unless Youkilis finds his way back to the DL again.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.