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MLB Trade Deadline: 10 Impact Pitchers Who Could Be on the Move

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2017

MLB Trade Deadline: 10 Impact Pitchers Who Could Be on the Move

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    The Rangers are trying hard to disprove it, but until they finally win it all, the maxim will always ring true: Pitching wins championships.

    With the MLB trade deadline rapidly approaching, GMs across the country are deciding where their team stands on the black-and-white spectrum of "buyers" or "sellers."

    And as that spectrum begins to sharpen into focus, we begin to get an understanding of who will be on the market, and which teams will be bidding for their services.

    Here are 10 impact pitchers who could be on the move this summer.

SP Ryan Dempster

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    2012 Stats: 3-3, 81.0 IP, 2.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 66 K

    Cliff Lee's inexplicable 0-5 start has stolen most of the headlines, but Dempster has actually been the league's most star-crossed pitcher this season.

    Despite a sparkling 2.11 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, Dempster has won only three times, doomed by his team's hapless offense.

    But with the Cubs assured to be sellers at the deadline, Dempster's fortune could turn around with a quick deal. Per CBSsports.com, the Dodgers are the clubhouse favorite to land him, although the Braves have been linked to him as well.

    Both teams would surely provide him with more support than the Cubbies.

SP Matt Garza

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    2012 Stats: 4-6, 89.2 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 80 K

    Garza's numbers aren't quite as impressive as his teammate Dempster's, but he too could use a change of scenery. The 4.01 ERA is a cause for concern, but the 1.16 WHIP and solid K-rate are indications that Garza is actually having a quietly effective year.

    The rest of the MLB certainly agrees, with no fewer than six teams calling to gauge Theo Epstein's interest.

    Dempster may be having the better season, but Garza's age and upside make him the more lucrative trade chip. It will probably take an impressive pitching prospect to persuade Epstein into pulling the trigger.

SP Zack Greinke

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    2012 Stats: 9-2, 102.0 IP, 2.82 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 102 K

    Lauded as the prize of this year's trade deadline, Greinke has reverted back to the dominant form he exhibited in Kansas City.

    With a sub-3.00 ERA and a strikeout every inning, Greinke has proven nearly untouchable, despite playing in a decent hitter's park.

    Still just 28, Greinke holds massive value, which would normally impede his likelihood of being dealt. But with top organizations such as the Red Sox and Yankees dealing with severe rotation crises, he could become even more desperately sought after.

    Milwaukee is only seven games out of first so it isn't exactly time for a fire-sale, but with Greinke set to walk at the end of the season, it's almost certain that the Brewers will try to get something in return for him this summer.

SP Cole Hamels

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    2012 Stats: 10-4, 111.0 IP, 3.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 111 K

    With their playoff hopes becoming more and more implausible by the day, the Phillies could be sellers at this year's trade deadline.

    While diametrically different from their past few summers, this course of action would allow them to augment their already loaded roster for next season and the seasons to come. Doubling down on their current, injury-riddled roster would be a myopic move by GM Pat Gillick, uncharacteristic of his tenure in Philadelphia.

    Hamels has had an incredible season—and career—for the Phillies, prompting them to dangle him as a lucrative trade chip.

    And while it's unlikely any team will pay the enormous price tag the Phillies have placed on him, they should be able to land a few highly-touted pieces for Hamels.

SP Francisco Liriano

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    2012 Stats: 2-7, 76.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 76 K

    The Twins' capricious, injury-plagued lefty is in the midst of a dominant stretch, making him one of the most enticing hurlers on the market.

    Since May 30th, the fiery Dominican has gone 2-2 with a 3.07 ERA and 46 strikeouts. Minnesota knows that his value may never be higher than it is right now, and have subsequently been testing the market to see what they can get from him.

    The Braves, Yankees and Blue Jays have all done their due diligence on Liriano, and all have the firepower to lure him away from Minnesota. And if he stays healthy, he could be the steal of the deadline.

SP Brandon McCarthy

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    2012 Stats: 6-3, 78 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 52 K

    The lanky right-hander was once the punchline of a famously inequitable trade, having been sent to Texas for White Sox ace John Danks. But upon arriving in Oakland, McCarthy has shed the dreaded "bust" label, and become one of the game's best pitchers.

    Few realized how good McCarthy was in 2011 until ESPN ran a feature on him, declaring him the author of Moneyball's next chapter. Since then, he has been showered with effusive praise for pitching to contact and inducing ground balls at a high rate.

    He suffers from nagging shoulder problems, but when he's on the mound, he might be the best pitcher on the market.

    MLB sources tell Ken Rosenthal that the A's are willing to trade him once he's healthy (despite not being under financial pressure to do so), and he could draw major interest from teams with barren starting rotations.

RP Brett Myers

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    2012 Stats: 0-3 (17 SV), 26.2 IP, 3.71 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 19 K

    The Astros have surreptitiously began shopping Myers, trying to take advantage of contenders with problems at the end of their bullpens.

    The burly right-hander isn't dominant, but he's a proven commodity at the end of games. He has a powerful arm and a bulldog mentality, both of which make him an intriguing option to come in an plug a club's closer hole.

    Any and every team who has struggled to close out games will be keeping an eye on Myers.

SP Wandy Rodriguez

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    2012 Stats: 6-6, 109.1 IP, 3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 70 K

    An understated model of consistency, Wandy Rodriguez has invented himself as the NL-version of Mark Buehrle. Although not as durable, Wandy's ERA has been between 3.49 and 3.60 in four of the past five seasons (2012 included). In that span, his WHIP has also never finished lower than 1.23 or higher than 1.31.

    Scouts have been flocking to Houston to watch the Astros' left-hander, with the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Red Sox and Blue Jays all making calls.

    Every team in the league could use consistent, left-handed starting pitching, and Wandy should yield a high return for Houston.

RP Huston Street

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    2012 Stats: 1-0 (12 SV), 21.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 28 K

    Street has been dominant when he's been healthy enough to pitch in 2012, posting a 1.29 ERA and a microscopic .67 WHIP.

    He's recently returned to the Padres' lineup, and surprise contenders like the New York Mets have already begun their pursuit of him.

    Should he stay healthy for the stretch run, any team that acquires his services would be putting their bullpen over the top for the rest of 2012.

SP Jason Vargas

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    2012 Stats: 7-7, 117 IP, 4.31 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 80 K

    Vargas doesn't receive much ink pitching in the isolated expanse of the northwest, but he's actually emerged as one of the game's most underrated southpaws.

    He's been durable in 2012, en route to posting a career-low 1.17 WHIP, and could immediately bolster any rotation he joins.

    According to MLBtraderumors.com, the Braves have scouted Vargas extensively, searching for "an impact starting pitcher."

    Seattle is no stranger to selling at the trade deadline, and should be eager to get some good prospects from a contender.

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