Top 50 Players to Acquire at the MLB Trade Deadline to Fill Every Team's Needs
With just six weeks remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline, teams across Major League Baseball will soon be identifying themselves as buyers and sellers.
With the extra wild-card playoff slot in each league, the picture isn't quite clear as to each team's distinction this year. As such, more teams will be in play for postseason hopes, and the talent pool of available players could be limited as well.
Nonetheless, there are players who have been mentioned in various publications by a number of different sources already, and these players will be wondering whether or not they should keep their bags packed as the month of July approaches.
We will attempt our own list of players who could be moving, but in a bit of a different way. We will identify players in a variety of different categories, rather than just some mundane top-50 list. We will also attempt to identify potential suitors for each player.
Best Front-End Pitcher, Part 1: Matt Garza
It remains to be seen whether or not Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza will be made available at this point, but he's ready to pitch wherever needed, including the moon:
I just want to keep playing. It doesn’t matter where. I’ll pitch on the freaking moon. I love the city. My kids love the city. It would be a great place for them to grow up. But like I said, it’s out of my control.
With Garza's experience in the battle-tested AL East, he will absolutely be a sought-after commodity should the Cubs decide not to extend his contract.
Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays
Best Front-End Pitcher, Part 2: Ryan Dempster
At 35 years old, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster is showing signs of aging like a fine wine.
With a 2.11 ERA and just 61 hits given up in 81 innings, Dempster is pitching like he's 25, and he is at the top of many teams' lists in terms of a capable front-end rotation option.
Dempster is making $14 million this season in the final year of his contract, and it appears doubtful that the Cubs would be willing to extend his contract at this point.
ESPN's Buster Olney recently said that the Cubs would be willing to kick in a portion of Dempster's remaining salary for a team interested in his services.
Potential Suitors: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees. Essentially all of the same teams linked to Garza are also linked to Dempster. If Garza agrees to an extension with the Cubs, each team will absolutely set its sights on Dempster.
Stud Pitcher(s) Teams Can't Afford to Keep, Part 1: Zack Greinke
With the recent six-year, $127.5 million contract extension signed by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain, it almost stands to reason that Milwaukee Brewers starter Zack Greinke could get the same in the open market.
For one, Greinke is a former Cy Young Award winner, which is something that has eluded Cain thus far—though that could very well happen for him in the future.
Greinke is also just 28 years old, so teams won't be scared off by advancing age.
The Brewers thus far have remained mum about an extension, tabling contract talks back in April.
Potential Suitors: Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers
Stud Pitcher(s) Teams Can't Afford to Keep, Part 2: Jake Peavy
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy certainly appears to be over the shoulder woes that plagued him for the better part of two seasons, posting a 6-2 record and 2.91 ERA thus far in 2012.
Peavy is signed for $17 million this season, with the White Sox holding a team option for 2013 in the amount of $22 million.
However, the White Sox are currently leading the AL Central division, so speculation about Peavy's status for this season has diminished significantly. If things are drastically different in six weeks, Peavy could be in play at that point.
Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees
Best Bargain Pitcher, Part 1: Edinson Volquez
San Diego Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez was not the key figure in the trade between the Padres and Cincinnati Reds this past offseason, but he could prove to be a figure in trade talks in the coming weeks.
Volquez has posted a respectable 3.70 ERA in 14 starts despite just a 3-6 record. His $2.24 million salary this season is more than affordable for any team looking for rotation help, and he would be under team control next season as well.
Potential Suitors: The Washington Nationals could be in play, especially if Chien-Ming Wang struggles down the road. Ross Detwiler struggled as well before his move to the bullpen.
Best Bargain Pitcher, Part 2: Erik Bedard
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard to a one-year, $4.5 million contract this offseason, as his injury history likely prevented him from making more.
The Pirates are once again above .500 and in contention in the NL Central, much like last year at this time. However, if the Pirates swoon prior to the trade deadline, Bedard is a pitcher who will garner looks from several contending teams.
Bedard has slumped a bit of late, failing to get past the fourth inning in two of his last three starts.
Potential Suitors: Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox
Best Pitcher to Acquire for the Future, Part 1: Cole Hamels
There has certainly been a high measure of uncertainty regarding the future of Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels.
With a 9-3 record and 3.34 ERA, Hamels is on pace to record his first 20-win season. The Phillies have slipped to six games under .500, nine games back of the Washington Nationals. If they continue their play of late, they could very well be sellers at the deadline, and Hamels would certainly be an attractive chip to use to restock the farm system.
Hamels, much like Zack Greinke, will command a hefty price. The Los Angeles Dodgers are at least one team reportedly very interested, and with new ownership now in place, they can likely afford what would appear to be a nine-figure contract.
Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Dodgers. Let's face it—if the Phillies were going to sign Hamels, they would have done so by now. His value continues increasing with each start, and if the Phillies can't snap off a string of victories and hop back in the chase in the NL East, the Dodgers will be all over Hamels.
Best Pitcher to Acquire for the Future, Part 2: Jason Vargas
For the most part, Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Jason Vargas has done his job very well for the past three-plus seasons in the Northwest. However, like most pitchers in Seattle, Vargas has more often than not been the victim of poor run support.
Last season, Doug Fister was 3-12 with a relatively paltry 3.33 ERA before being traded to the Detroit Tigers, where his 8-1 record and 1.79 ERA were supported by an offense scoring runs behind him.
Vargas is 7-6 with a 3.95 ERA in 15 starts thus far and easily could be 11-4 if his Mariners teammates had offered up more than three runs in four of his starts.
Vargas would make an outstanding option as a middle-rotation guy who is young and affordable.
Potential Suitors: Interesting tweet from Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports regarding Vargas:
For those who dismiss Vargas as a trade candidate based on road ERA: Have you forgotten that there are contenders who play in big parks?— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 16, 2012
Hmm, I'm thinking maybe the Detroit Tigers would be a solid fit there.
Best Pitcher to Acquire for the Future, Part 3: Shaun Marcum
Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum will never be confused with the likes of teammate Zack Greinke or Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, but he continually gets the job done.
A classic junkball type, Marcum is not a prototypical front-end rotation guy, but he has shown he can consistently get batters out, posting a 31-18 record and 3.57 ERA in his last two-plus seasons.
Any contending team would gladly take those numbers from a mid-rotation starter.
Potential Suitors: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says that the Yankees likely have no interest (so we know they're not in). Marcum did have a 3.85 ERA in Toronto while pitching quite a bit against division foes, however, so the Boston Red Sox could become interested.
Best Pitching Rental, Part 1: Bartolo Colon
At 39 years of age, Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon is once again proving to be effective and durable.
In 15 starts, Colon has a 6-7 record and 4.22 ERA in 89.2 innings pitched.
With a salary of just $2 million, Colon is a perfect option as a two- to three-month rental for contending teams.
Potential Suitors: Colon is likely headed to the disabled list after leaving Sunday's start with a strained oblique. If he bounces back quickly, however, the Red Sox might consider taking a flyer on the 39-year-old.
Best Pitching Rental, Part 2: Kevin Millwood
After a rough start to the season that saw him with an 0-4 record and 5.88 ERA through six starts, Seattle Mariners pitcher Kevin Millwood has turned things around, posting a 3-1 record and 1.93 ERA since.
With a salary of just $1 million, Millwood would be an even better option as a late-season rental than Bartolo Colon, adding veteran depth to the back end of the starting rotation for several contending teams.
Potential Suitors: Millwood, who has a 3.69 ERA in 13 starts for the Mariners, could be a target of the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets if they're looking for cheap, short-term help.
Best Pitching Rental, Part 3: Joe Saunders
When starting pitcher Joe Saunders signed a one-year, $6 million contract to return to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was largely thought at the time that Saunders was only signed to serve as a bridge to the young core group of pitching prospects currently developing in the Diamondbacks system (Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin).
Saunders is currently 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA, suffering a hard-luck loss on Friday night at the hands of his former team, the Los Angeles Angels.
If the D-Backs are still far behind in the NL West come late July, Saunders will be a highly sought-after player for teams looking to upgrade or add depth to their starting rotation for the postseason push.
Best Pitching Rental, Part 4: Joe Blanton
At 31-37, the Philadelphia Phillies currently find themselves in a position very unfamiliar—pondering whether or not to become sellers at the trade deadline.
If general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. comes to that conclusion, several current members of the roster could be in play, including starting pitcher Joe Blanton.
Blanton is in the final season of a three-year, $24 million contract, and at 31 years of age, it's unlikely the Phillies will tender him a new long-term deal.
Blanton is currently 6-6 with a 4.93 ERA this season and has been up and down, with the upside being a complete-game shutout and the downside being back-to-back outings in which he gave up seven runs each.
Still, a veteran pitcher with plenty of postseason experience will be of great value to contending teams, and the likely $3 million to $3.5 million he'll be owed isn't that much of a gamble.
Potential Suitors: The Boston Red Sox have been the only team linked thus far, in tandem with a possible offer involving Kevin Youkilis. Blanton could also be a solid short-term option for surprise contenders like the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.
Best Pitching Rental, Part 5: Jonathan Sanchez
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez returned from a stint on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, throwing five innings of one-run ball on Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Sanchez's first year in K.C. hasn't been smooth—a 1-2 record and 5.93 ERA in seven starts. He is also yet to pitch into the sixth inning in any of his starts, an indication of the high pitch counts seen throughout his time in San Francisco with the Giants.
Nonetheless, Sanchez could become a target for contending teams as the trade deadline nears, and the Royals will likely become sellers once again.
Sanchez will cost around $2 million, so his price tag won't be a hindrance.
Potential Suitors: The Cincinnati Reds may be interested.
Best Closer, Part 1: Brett Myers
At this point in time, Houston Astros pitcher Brett Myers' transition back to the bullpen in 2012 can only be described as a success.
Myers has posted 16 saves in 17 chances thus far with a 1.99 ERA for the 27-39 Astros, who are likely to be offering up several players at the trade deadline, including Myers.
Myers is owed $11 million this year with a vesting option for the 2013 season that was reworked with his transition to closer. The price tag may be a bit expensive for some teams, but the production provided for that price may be well worth the risk.
Potential Suitors: The Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets could/should be actively looking for closers as the trade deadline approaches.
Best Closer, Part 2: Jonathan Broxton
Jonathan Broxton, who probably thought at the beginning of the season that he was destined to be a setup man all year long, signed a one-year, $4 million contract by the Kansas City Royals to serve as the eighth-inning man for incumbent closer Joakim Soria.
However, after Soria was shelved with a bad elbow requiring Tommy John surgery, Broxton stepped back into the role he originally filled with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the results have been outstanding.
Broxton has 16 saves in 19 chances with a 1.69 ERA, and while the fastball is nowhere near the velocity seen in the late 2000s, the effectiveness is clearly there. Contending teams will likely be calling on Royals GM Dayton Moore sometime in the next few weeks.
Potential Suitors: Broxton's trade value is definitely on the rise. Possibly interested are the New York Yankees, who would love to add a quality arm along with David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.
Best Closer, Part 3: Matt Capps
With some trepidation, the Minnesota Twins re-signed closer Matt Capps this offseason to a one-year, $4.75 million contract with a team option for 2013. Considering Capps' up-and-down season the year before, the signing has paid off thus far.
Capps has 14 saves in 15 chances thus far with a 3.55 ERA. While there have been a few blips, teams may be willing to take a flier, especially considering injuries and performance issues with quite a few closers this year.
Potential Suitors: New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is said to be looking for quality arms, and Capps could be on his radar.
Best Closer, Part 4: Rafael Betancourt
Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt represents the riskiest closer on this list, primarily because of a contract that takes him through the 2013 season with an option for the following year as well.
Betancourt took over as Rockies closer last season, contributing eight saves in the absence of the injured Huston Street. After Street was traded during the offseason, Betancourt was immediately named closer full-time for the 2012 season.
For the 25-40 Rockies, Betancourt hasn't gotten a whole lot of opportunities but has done well with the chances thus far, with 10 saves and a 3.00 ERA. While the Rockies haven't declared their intentions for the trade deadline, Betancourt could be made available if GM Dan O'Dowd decides to rebuild and restock.
Potential Suitors: Some teams have apparently already called O'Dowd. I'm guessing the New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels could be two of those teams.
Best LHP Setup Man, Part 1: Brian Fuentes
Oakland A's reliever Brian Fuentes could probably be plugged in either as a setup man or a closer, considering the recent bullpen-by-committee approach taken by A's manager Bob Melvin.
Fuentes is in the final season of a two-year, $10.5 million contract with an option for the 2013 season. With the A's currently nine games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, they could once again be sellers at the deadline, and Fuentes would certainly be an attractive option as a veteran bullpen guy.
Potential Suitors: Teams can never get enough left-handed relievers, especially the way the game has changed over the years in terms of bullpen management. The Mets, Indians, Cardinals and Blue Jays are four teams in particular who could use another arm.
Best LHP Setup Man, Part 2: Matt Thornton
As mentioned before, with the Chicago White Sox currently in first place in the tight AL Central division, it's not likely they would be selling at this point. However, they are dealing from a position of strength in terms of left-handed relievers.
The Sox have a surplus of southpaws in their bullpen, with Will Ohman, Hector Santiago and Matt Thornton. Thornton would be the more obvious choice for GM Kenny Williams to move due to Thornton's salary, which calls for approximately $8.5 million through the 2013 season.
Williams could use Thornton in a deal to acquire another solid bat for the stretch run, and Thornton's 3.38 ERA in a league-leading 34 appearances would also be of great benefit to contending teams down the stretch.
Potential Suitors: Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets
Best RHP Setup Man, Part 1: Grant Balfour
Much like his teammate Brian Fuentes, Oakland A's reliever Grant Balfour could also be considered an option as a closer, but his strength has always been in the more familiar setup role.
Balfour is in the final season of a two-year, $8.1 million contract, with a 2.94 ERA in 33 appearances thus far in 2012.
Balfour has a team option for the 2013 season that could be waived if deemed necessary to facilitate his trade.
Potential Suitors: New York Mets. Sandy Alderson is on the hunt for quality arms.
Best RHP Setup Man, Part 2: Francisco Rodriguez
Milwaukee Brewers setup man Francisco Rodriguez has been playing the part of the good soldier this season, dutifully doing his job as his team falls apart around him.
Rodriguez could very well be one of the first to leave if the Brewers become sellers at the deadline. Considering the rash of injuries incurred by the team and its 30-36 record, it's likely that will happen.
Rodriguez has appeared in 33 games thus far with a 4.15 ERA and would be owed roughly $3.6 million at the trade deadline.
Potential Suitors: I know it sounds crazy, but could a return to the Los Angeles Angels be a possibility?
Best Middle Reliever, Part 1: Brandon Lyon
The Houston Astros certainly have their share of players who could be made available at the trade deadline, and reliever Brandon Lyon is no exception.
In the final season of a three-year, $15 million contract, Lyon will cost contending teams around $2.5 million to $2.7 million, but he'll still likely be of value to contending teams who are looking for veteran help in the bullpen.
Lyon would, in essence, be a late-season rental as well.
Potential Suitors: Have to consider the New York Mets as one right now, with GM Sandy Alderson mentioned numerous times in this piece as looking for upgrades. The Detroit Tigers may also want a little cover in case Jose Valverde never recovers.
Best Pitcher a Team Wants to Dump for Salary Reasons, Part 1: Wandy Rodriguez
At some point, Houston Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez will stop seeing his name surrounded in trade rumors, and that time could be coming shortly.
With a contract that takes him through the 2013 season and a bit over $20 million still owed to him, Rodriguez certainly doesn't figure to be part of the Astros' future at this point, as they appear much more focused on rebuilding the team through the draft and trading players for prospects.
Rodriguez hasn't hurt his value, sporting a 6-4 record and 3.35 ERA through 14 starts.
Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox
Best Pitcher a Team Wants to Dump for Salary Reasons, Part 2: Barry Zito
Yes, he's being mentioned again, but he's at least putting up decent numbers this time around.
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito has often been derided—the Giants as well—for the seven-year, $126 million contract he signed back in 2006. That contract still has roughly $39 million to $40 million left to be paid to Zito, who has just 48 wins to show for it in five-plus years' time.
Zito has been a bit better this year, with a 5-4 record and 3.61 ERA in 13 starts. The Giants would love nothing more than to find a suitable sucker—er, buyer—that needs a veteran arm in the back of its rotation.
However, for that to happen, GM Brian Sabean will likely have to pony up a lot of cash to get Zito out of the Bay Area.
Potential Suitors: Zito will be a tough contract to move, as big-money teams like the Red Sox and Yankees will run miles away from adding a soft-tosser to the AL East. The Dodgers could be tempted if they come up empty on Hamels and Greinke, but it would have to be a financially reasonable settlement.
Best RH Power Bat, Part 1: Carlos Quentin
Outfielder Carlos Quentin has barely made a dent during his time with the San Diego Padres, and he's already being discussed as a possible trade chip.
Quentin has been on fire since coming back off the disabled list following arthroscopic knee surgery, hitting .404 with six HR and 13 RBI in 16 games. Quentin would be owed roughly $2.8 million by a buying team, but a relative dearth of right-handed power bats should be able to provide GM Josh Byrnes with good value in return.
Potential Suitors: according to ESPN's Buster Olney., , , , , , and . All could be a fit,
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports says the Detroit Tigers could be in play as well.
Best RH Power Bat, Part 2: Josh Willingham
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, teams that have contacted the Minnesota Twins about the availability of outfielder Josh Willingham have been rebuffed thus far:
Teams that have checked in on Willingham are being told he's not available. Yet. But the perception of other teams is that might change.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 15, 2012
Considering the Twins occupy last place in the AL Central, that absolutely could change.
Willingham, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract over the offseason, has been one of the lone bright spots for the Twins, hitting .276 with 13 HR and 45 RBI thus far. It's no wonder teams are calling already.
Potential Suitors: The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo believes Willingham to be highly sought after, although he didn't specify by whom. The Nationals, Giants, Rays and Angels could all certainly use a bat with some pop.
Best LH Power Bat: Bryan LaHair
Is he or isn't he available? That's the question.
Sorry to go all Shakespearean on you, but it seemed appropriate given the talk thus far about Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair.
There have been conflicting reports out of Chicago, some indicating that the only untouchable player for the Cubs was starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has since clarified that, kind of.
"I’ve always operated under that philosophy," Epstein said. "I never understood why there would ever be an untouchable. All you’re doing is limiting your opportunity."
With prospect Anthony Rizzo waiting in the wings in Triple-A, does that make current hot-hitting first baseman Bryan LaHair touchable?
According to Theo, that would be a yes, but only for the right price, meaning absolute comparative value in terms of return prospects.
Potential Rumors: The Pittsburgh Pirates apparently made an inquiry, but LaHair played in right field for the Cubs on Monday, meaning that they could be lining up prospect Rizzo to move up shortly.
Best Top-of-the-Order Help: Juan Pierre
There is very little help currently available for teams looking to bolster the top of their batting order.
One of the few options could be Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre, and only if the Phillies deem themselves sellers as the trade deadline draws near.
Pierre is hitting .325 with 14 stolen bases, and while he's not the speed demon he once was, he still presents a fast option for teams looking for a spark. At a salary of just $800,000 this season, he likely won't offer the Phillies much in return, but if Ruben Amaro becomes focused on a restructuring plan, who knows?
Potential Suitors: The Phillies will be selling if their current slide continues. Teams like the Miami Marlins and New York Mets could be very interested in acquiring veteran bench help, but will Amaro help out NL East rivals?
Best Aging Player with One Last Run in Him: Alfonso Soriano
The Chicago Cubs would dearly love to find a suitor for outfielder Alfonso Soriano and have indicated that they will pony up a considerable chunk of his remaining salary in order to seal the deal, per ESPN's Buster Olney:
It's a given Cubs will eat a HUGE portion of Soriano contract if they find a suitor. With Soriano on a power surge: Will there be suitors?
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 9, 2012
Soriano has been on a power surge recently, with all 12 of his home runs coming since May 15. At 36 years of age, Soriano could very well have enough left in the tank to provide a nice production boost for a contending team.
Potential Suitors: The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays recently had scouts watching Cubs games, with talent evaluators looking at Soriano, as well as pitchers.
Best Hitting Rental: Edwin Encarnacion
With only about 40 percent of the 2012 season in the books, Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion has already nearly matched his power numbers of last season with 17 HR and 44 RBI.
Throughout the early weeks of the season, Encarnacion carried the Jays offense while star slugger Jose Bautista was mired in an awful slump.
It's way too early to tell if the Blue Jays will be buyers or sellers at this point, but Encarnacion is in the final season of a two-year, $6 million contract, so if GM Alex Anthopoulos makes the decision to sell, Encarnacion would absolutely be a viable rental candidate for contending teams.
Potential Suitors: Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports recently speculated that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be very interested in adding a bat this summer to support Matt Kemp.
Best Pinch-Hitting Support: Jason Giambi
At 41 years of age, Colorado Rockies pinch-hitter Jason Giambi is clearly on the last legs of his career, but for a brief time he could provide a quality bat for a contending team.
Giambi is hitting .235 with one HR and seven RBI in very limited action for the Rockies, who currently sit at 25-40 and appear to be out of contention at his point. Teams could very well be looking at Giambi as an option to provide a spark off the bench in a pinch.
Potential Suitors: With his team-friendly $1 million contract, any contending team can easily afford a quality veteran bat like Giambi. He might prefer a DH role in the AL, but at this point of his career, he is best used as a bench weapon—making him equally as valuable to NL teams.
Best Potential DH Help: Justin Morneau
It would be very hard to imagine that the Minnesota Twins would part with first baseman/designated hitter Justin Morneau, given their history of loyalty to their employees. However, anything is possible at this point.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported last week that a source told him the Toronto Blue Jays were "particularly interested" in Morneau, who is hitting .238 with 10 HR and 33 RBI thus far.
The Twins have given absolutely no indication that they're even remotely interested in entertaining offers for Morneau, so only time will tell at this point.
Potential Suitors: GM Terry Ryan would need to be blown away by an offer to make a deal. Given Morneau's current .238 batting average, it will be tough—but many have speculated that the Blue Jays are a great fit.
Best Infield Bat: Jed Lowrie
During his brief time with the Houston Astros, shortstop Jed Lowrie has certainly shown that he's capable of wielding a big bat, hitting .272 with 13 HR and 30 RBI. Now, that bat could be moving elsewhere.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported in his latest Full Count video that the Astros will be willing to listen to offers on "virtually all of their players."
With Lowrie under team control through the 2014 season, he would likely cost more for buying teams in terms of prospects, but the bat is a definite temptation for contending teams.
Potential Suitors: San Francisco Giants. Given the struggles by current shortstops in the Bay Area, Lowrie makes perfect sense.
Best Outfield Bat, Part 1: Jeff Francoeur
The Kansas City Royals have not made any clear intentions yet regarding being sellers at the trade deadline, but given the fact they're currently in fourth place in the AL Central and six games under .500, it would seem to be a foregone conclusion.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur was mentioned in trade rumors several times last season at the deadline but stayed in K.C. and put up terrific numbers, earning a new two-year, $13.5 million contract extension for his efforts.
Francoeur will likely be brought up again as the trade deadline nears and the Royals ultimately decide to once again go into rebuild mode, a perennial term used for the Royals now for the past 15 years or so.
Potential Suitors: If highly touted prospect Wil Myers keeps raking in the minors, Francoeur will absolutely be expendable. Mets fans might hate the thought, but his laser arm could be a great asset in spacious Citi Field, especially with Jason Bay's latest concussion.
Best Catcher Available: Francisco Cervelli
To say that there isn't a huge selection of quality catchers who will likely be available at the trade deadline is a vast understatement.
One particular catcher, however, could generate interest: Francisco Cervelli of the New York Yankees.
Cervelli was sent to the minors at the end of spring training in favor of career backup catcher Chris Stewart, despite Cervelli's career .272 average when serving as the Yankees' backup for three seasons.
With Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez more likely options for future Yankees backstops, Cervelli could possibly be had in a deal. However, if current starter Russell Martin goes down for any significant time, all bets could be off.
Potential Suitors: If Chris Iannetta can't start hitting after returning from the disabled list, the Los Angeles Angels could have interest.
Best Middle-of-the-Lineup Help, Part 1: Kevin Youkilis
If recent reports are to be believed—and reports should always be taken with a grain of salt, maybe even a grain of whiskey—then Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis could be out of town soon.
According to Fox Sports, the Red Sox have been actively engaged in talks with several teams and are apparently willing to throw in some extra money to sweeten the package in return.
Youkilis' time in Boston was likely shortened by the emergence of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, and manager Bobby Valentine has constantly juggled his lineup to keep his young rookie in the starting lineup as much as possible since Youkilis' return from the disabled list.
Potential Suitors: The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates are all in play, according to Fox Sports.
Best Middle-of-the-Lineup Help, Part 2: Chase Headley
The San Diego Padres are currently 18 games out of first place in the NL West and certainly appear to be in a position to be sellers within a few weeks. One particular player who could generate significant interest is third baseman Chase Headley.
If we sell, it will be at very high prices. We can keep Headley and Volquez beyond this year. We want to keep Quentin. And [Huston] Street has a mutual option. So I wouldn't be surprised if the prices are higher than people think.
Headley is affordable at just $3.48 million this season and would be under team control through the 2014 season.
Potential Suitors: The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the hunt for corner infielders.
Best Bargain Bat: Brandon Inge
Can there really be any more of a bargain for a bat right now than Oakland A's infielder Brandon Inge?
Inge has hit .236 since joining the A's, but with six HR and 30 RBI in just 29 games. Add to that the fact he's only being paid at a prorated rate of the minimum contract of $480,000, and you have the perfect recipe for the best bargain bat in the majors.
Potential Suitors: Inge's major league minimum salary puts him in play for every contending team wanting a quality veteran bat off the bench—similar to the Jason Giambi situation.
Best Utility Player: Jamey Carroll
You just have to know at some point in the next few weeks the Minnesota Twins are going to render themselves as sellers.
If and when that happens, utility man Jamey Carroll will likely be made available.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said as much two weeks ago. Carroll has a two-year contract for $6.75 million, which is not an overwhelming deal by today's standards.
Potential Suitors: Carroll has quickly raised his average to .259 with a hot month of June, so you can bet that teams will be interested. The Pittsburgh Pirates could definitely be interested, especially considering that Clint Barmes has been a complete bust.
Best Defensive Outfielder: Gerardo Parra
Fresh off winning a Gold Glove award for his stellar play in left field last year, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra found himself on the bench to start the 2012 season behind Jason Kubel, Chris Young and Justin Upton on the depth chart.
While the Diamondbacks are hanging around the .500 level, much more was expected from the team that surprisingly won the NL West division last season. D-Backs general manager Kevin Towers could listen to offers for Parra if the right deal was presented to him.
There has been no indication that the D-Backs are interested in entertaining any offers concerning Parra, with the Boston Red Sox reportedly being rebuffed when they inquired about the defensively gifted outfielder.
Potential Suitors: Expect the Boston Red Sox to revisit this in the coming weeks, especially if the D-Backs fall out of contention.
Best Defensive Infielder: Marco Scutaro
Traded to the Colorado Rockies during the offseason from the Boston Red Sox, Marco Scutaro has been a reliable and steady performer during his time in Denver.
Brought over to be the everyday second baseman, Scutaro has also filled in at shortstop in the absence of Troy Tulowitzki, currently on the disabled list for a groin strain. Tulowitzki is undergoing further tests to see if a sports hernia is the culprit of his pain. If that's the case, Scutaro isn't going anywhere.
Scutaro is in the final season of a three-year, $17 million deal and would be an attractive infield option on the open market.
Potential Suitors: If Tulowitzki is confirmed to have a sports hernia, Scutaro stays. If Tulo somehow comes back quicker than expected, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates could be in play.
Injured Pitcher Worth Taking a Flyer On: Brandon McCarthy
Technically, he isn't hurt right now, but Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy has already spent time on the disabled list this season.
McCarthy was shelved in mid-May with a sore shoulder and has missed his last two starts with another setback as well. A's manager Bob Melvin expects McCarthy to make his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
McCarthy has shown that when he's healthy he's effective, with a 5-3 record and 2.79 ERA in 11 starts. If the A's are selling sometime in July, McCarthy could absolutely be worth a flyer if no further flare-ups occur.
Potential Suitors: The injuries are a concern, but McCarthy has been a very bright story in an otherwise dark A's season. The Blue Jays have been decimated by the injury bug, and the Indians, Red Sox, Orioles and Tigers could all use another rotation arm.
Overpaid Veteran Who Has No Shot at Being Traded: Vernon Wells
With Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells currently shelved following thumb surgery, the Angels have surged, using an outfield of Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout and Torii Hunter, with the speedy Peter Bourjos backing up Trout.
Wells may not have a starting job when he returns. Owed roughly $50 million or so through the 2014 season, Wells is virtually untradeable, especially given his down performance last season and disappointing start this year as well.
Wells was transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL in early June, and he isn't likely to return until early August.
Potential Suitors: By far the hardest contract on this list to move, the Angels will be hard pressed to find someone to cover up for their original mistake. If they eat a big chunk of his deal, an AL team with a tiny ballpark would be a good fit.
Slumping Hitter Worth Taking a Flyer On: Coco Crisp
In 2011, Oakland A's outfielder Coco Crisp hit .264 with a league-leading 49 stolen bases, prompting the A's to re-sign him to a two-year, $14 million contract.
This season, however, Crisp has woefully underperformed, hitting just .199 in 42 games thus far.
Crisp would definitely be a risk due to his contract, but there may be a team out there willing to take a flyer on his services regardless. Who knows, maybe the scenery change can shake him out of his doldrums.
Potential Suitors: Crisp is owed close to $10 million through next season and hitting only .199, so he will have to produce a few hot weeks to get back onto teams' radars. Teams with large, spacious outfields will be good fits for a speedster like Crisp, so the Mets and Giants could be a few options.
Slumping Pitcher Worth Taking a Flyer On: Jeremy Guthrie
Let's face it: Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie has been simply awful this season.
A 3-6 record and 7.02 ERA isn't quite what general manager Dan O'Dowd envisioned when he traded Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to the Baltimore Orioles for Guthrie this past offseason. To add salt to the wound, both Hammel and Lindstrom have been huge contributors in Baltimore's resurgence thus far.
O'Dowd at this point would likely love to unload Guthrie, but unless he throws in about all of the money owed to Guthrie plus his first-born son, he isn't going anywhere except to the Rockies bullpen.
Potential Suitors: Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted that the Toronto Blue Jays have discussed Guthrie with the Rockies.
Best Pitching Prospect Who Could Move, Part 1: Garrett Gould
The Los Angeles Dodgers have done an excellent job of drafting and developing young pitching talent in recent years, with youngsters Nathan Eovaldi, Kenley Jansen, Rubby De La Rosa and Javy Guerra all contributing at the major league level.
Other youngsters are flourishing in the minors as well, including Garrett Gould. A second-round pick in 2009, Gould was outstanding last season at Single-A Great Lakes, with a 2.40 ERA in 24 starts.
This season, Gould is finding the going a bit rougher in advanced Single-A, with a 4.90 ERA in 12 starts thus far. Still, with a low to mid 90s fastball and sharp-breaking curve, Gould could be an attractive option to offer selling teams when the Dodgers look to upgrade their roster in a few weeks.
Potential Suitors: Chicago Cubs could be a target if the Dodgers pursue Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. Ditto the Philadelphia Phillies if GM Ned Colletti goes after Cole Hamels.
Best Pitching Prospect Who Could Move, Part 2: Chris Archer
The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the deepest teams in terms of pitching prospects. When starting pitcher Jeff Niemann went down with a broken bone in his leg earlier this season, prospect Alex Cobb stepped up and has filled in admirably thus far.
Ditto with Matt Moore late last season, and he has found his groove after a rough start in 2012.
When the Rays look to bulk up their roster for the postseason push in a few weeks, selling teams will no doubt be asking about some of the Rays' top pitching prospects, including Chris Archer.
Archer is currently 4-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Durham. While the numbers may not look impressive, Archer was the 89th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.
Potential Suitors: Minnesota Twins, if the Rays were so inclined to go after Josh Willingham.
Best Hitting Prospect Who Could Move, Part 1: Lars Anderson
The Boston Red Sox have had prospect Lars Anderson in their system for several years now, but it appears that he has reached a roadblock that can't be moved.
Anderson is a natural first baseman, but with Adrian Gonzalez currently in place, that's obviously not an option. Anderson has worked in the outfield at Triple-A Pawtucket, but the Sox have a bevy of those in tow as well.
Anderson could very well be offered up in a package for selling teams if the Red Sox are inclined to be buyers at the trade deadline.
Potential Suitors: Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox, if Anderson were included in a package deal with Kevin Youkilis.
Best Hitting Prospect Who Could Move, Part 2: Domonic Brown
The Philadelphia Phillies have been patiently waiting for prospect outfielder Domonic Brown to become a more mature presence at the plate—but that patience may soon be wearing thin.
Brown is currently hitting .266 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley with four HR and 22 RBI. If the Phillies decide that Brown isn't worth being patient for, he could be offered up in a package deal if Philly is in a position to buy in the coming weeks.
Potential Suitors: Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres
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.
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