Even though the 2012 baseball season is only three months old, we are already starting to get a good idea of who will be contending for a playoff spot come September.
With just a month to go until the trade deadline, plenty of teams should be in the market for players, especially pitching, in order to stay in the hunt.
Teams stuck in the cellar of their divisions will look to unload some of their veteran pitching in exchange for young prospects or salary relief.
Here are five pitchers who should be on the move come July.
With the Minnesota Twins in the basement of the AL Central, they may look to unload some of their veterans.
Dealing Francisco Liriano by the deadline would make sense for the Twins. He's been rumored in trades in the past, but now seems like the ideal time to finally pull the trigger and deal the southpaw.
Liriano hasn't lived up to the hype since his first full season in the majors when he went 12-3 with 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts. While he's been erratic and wild at times, he still has the ability to strike guys out.
While his ERA is north of five, he has 70 strikeouts through 12 starts, well more than half of his total for last season. A contending team could definitely use Liriano as a fourth or fifth starter, a role he may be better suited for.
Liriano is a free agent at the end of the season and if he's looking for anything more than $7-8 million a year, it probably isn't worth it for the Twins.
Liriano is due to collect $5.5 million this season, so taking on his salary wouldn't be an issue. The Twins could get a few decent or one solid prospect(s) if they trade him to a team that's in the hunt.
While Francisco Rodriguez hasn't looked like the pitcher of year's past, he could definitely still be an asset to a contending team.
There's no doubt K-Rod wants to get back to being a closer, and with the Brewers nearly eight games out of the division lead, there's a good chance that might happen.
Rodriguez is in the final year of his deal, so it would make sense for the Brewers to trade the veteran reliever for cash or a young prospect. It would surprise me if there was any mutual interest between Rodriguez and the Brewers to work on a new deal, considering Rodriguez's age and his desire to close.
He is due to make $8 million this season, and since his numbers haven't been great this year (0-4, 3.97 ERA) the Brewers may have to eat some of his salary if they want a better prospect in return.
Don't be surprised in the Mets give the Brewers a call for their former closer. Their bullpen has been atrocious this year, worst in baseball actually, and if they want to stay in the hunt their best bet is to acquire some relief help.
Huston Street will probably be the best closer available come the deadline, and he's definitely worth taking a flyer on.
At just 28, Street has been very strong in his eighth season in the big leagues, his first with the Padres. He's 11-for-11 in save opportunities and has pitched to a 1.50 ERA. While he isn't an overpowering closer—he has just 23 strikeouts for the season—he consistently gets the job done.
Street has never been a guy to blow saves for his team, and could be great addition to a contending ball club that needs a better closer or even set up man.
Expect the same teams that are going after K-Rod to take a look at Street, however, Street is a bit more of an investment. He is due $16.5 million over the next two years, his contract not due to expire until the end of the 2013 season.
Street could definitely provide stability to bullpen in need of help, and with the Padres going nowhere fast, their best move is to deal the veteran closer for some prospects.
The longtime Cub has been so valuable to their pitching staff over the years, whether in a starting or closing role, but the time has come to deal the veteran righty.
The Cubs are deeply trenched at the bottom of the NL Central with not a lot of young talent on the way. However, Dempster is putting forth one of the best seasons of his career, and by dealing him it could speed up the rebuilding process a bit.
Dempster is 3-3, with a 2.11 ERA and a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He has pitched very well on a terrible Cubs team that has scored the third least amount of runs in the league.
The Cubs would be crazy not to deal Dempster. He is in the final year of his contract and is due a whopping $14 million this season, which could narrow his potential suitors.
But by trading the 35-year-old, they could definitely get a solid prospect or two in return and maybe even some cash back. The veteran has playoff experience and is proving he still has a lot left in the tank.
Greinke will be by far the best pitcher available come the deadline.
During the first half of the season he has been incredible. He's 9-2 with a 2.82 ERA and has already struck out 102 batters. He's pitching on a similar level back when he was the Cy Young in 2009.
It will be a tough call on whether to deal the right hander, but I believe they will pull the trigger. The Brewers have one of the worst farm systems in baseball and it desperately needs to be rebuilt.
By trading Greinke, they could get two or three very good prospects in return which could definitely help them down the road. The Brewers aren't in contention this year and with Greinke in the final year of his contract they should dangle him until they can find the best deal.
Greinke is owed $13.5 million this year, but is well worth every penny. Don't be surprised if the Yankees wind up going hard after him. After putting C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the DL yesterday, the rotation might not hold up so well without them.
Sabathia strained his groin—always a tricky injury—and Pettitte is going to miss up to eight weeks with a fractured fibula. Even when CC returns, they could definitely use a young ace to compliment him.