MLB Trade Rumors: Re-Ranking Top 10 Impact Arms on the Market

Zachary PeterselFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Re-Ranking Top 10 Impact Arms on the Market

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    As we near the July 31 MLB trade deadline, there are pitchers on the market who are going to have a tremendous impact on the playoff races this season. 

    Rumors already surround some of the game's best players, ranging from front-of-the-rotation starters Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke to closers Huston Street and Jonathan Broxton.

    The buzz coming from contenders trying to improve their teams is only going to get louder moving forward.

10. Oakland Athletics: Brandon McCarthy

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    After posting the American League's best FIP last season, 2012 was going to be a big season for Brandon McCarthy and his value going forward.

    He has not disappointed. 

    The former White Sox top prospect had multiple injury-plagued seasons with Chicago and the Texas Rangers, but the last two years with the Athletics have turned his career around.

    In 248 innings with the A's, McCarthy has a 3.08 ERA and a strong 1.15 WHIP. 

    McCarthy has been placed on the DL twice this season with shoulder issues, so the risk is there, but as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports points out, the A's are willing to move him, which could be a bold move for a contender. 

9. Kansas City Royals: Jonathan Broxton

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    Once upon a time, Jonathan Broxton was one of the most feared relievers in all of baseball.

    He made the All-Star game in 2009 and 2010 to go along with a K/9 of 11.7 through the first six seasons of his career.

    After 2010, however, he has not been the same power pitcher. Broxton threw just 12.2 innings last season due to an elbow injury, and this year, he has a career-worst 6.5 K/9.  

    Having said all of that, Broxton's 1.99 ERA is the best mark of his career. With 21 saves, he has the ability and the mental fortitude to close games. There are a ton of teams, such as the New York Mets, who are looking for help in the bullpen.

    Broxton will be at or near the top of the list.

8. Houston Astros: Brett Myers

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    Much like the interest that will surround the aforementioned Jonathan Broxton, Brett Myers will have a lot of suitors as the trade deadline approaches.

    After a surprising start to the year, the Astros have fallen out of the race, thanks in large part to a 9-31 record on the road. They have made their veterans available.

    Houston already unloaded Carlos Lee and his contract to the Marlins for a couple of prospects. Myers and his 3.58 ERA to go along with 17 saves will be a great addition to a contender's bullpen. 

7. Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano

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    According to ESPN, there were multiple teams scouting Francisco Liriano during his start Monday against the Royals. 

    Heading into that start, Liriano had a 2.43 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 40 Ks against just 12 walks in his last 37.1 innings since returning to the Twins' rotation. Fox Sports reported there will be "robust interest" interest in the left-hander with the Braves already showing serious interest.

    The mercurial lefty has had periods of dominance before, and if he can prove Monday's performance against Kansas City was the aberration rather than the new trend, he will bring back quite a package for the Twins.

6. San Diego Padres: Huston Street

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    Despite a recent sweep of the Diamondbacks in the middle of a five-game winning streak for the Padres, it is virtually assured that Huston Street will be dealt by the deadline as the Padres look to unload his salary.

    The brilliant yet injury-prone closer has lived up to every part of his reputation so far this season. Street is a perfect 13-for-13 in save chances and has given up just eight hits in 22 innings with a 1.23 ERA and 28 strikeouts. 

    The Mets reportedly called the Padres regarding the veteran closer, but even if the Mets do not pull the trigger, with San Diego already 12 games out of the wild-card race, Street will be one of the top relief arms on the market.

5. Chicago Cubs: Ryan Dempster

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    Ryan Dempster is second in all of baseball with a 2.11 ERA. The Cubs have the worst record in all of baseball sitting at 31-51. 

    Add those two things together and you will find a selling team with a great asset to put on the market. ESPN reported that at least 10 teams have inquired about Dempster, and Jon Heyman recently said that the Cubs are willing to eat a part of his $14 million salary.

    While Dempster has missed time on the DL with a lat issue, he wants to return this weekend. If he can prove he is fully healthy, his value will only get stronger as July 31 approaches. 

4. Houston Astros: Wandy Rodriguez

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    Wandy Rodriguez has been on the market since the season began. Nothing has changed since.

    Fox Sports is reporting that the Astros are making their left-handed ace available and his 3.54 ERA will be in high demand, as teams like the Blue Jays have already sent scouts to see him pitch.

    The only thing that would prevent a possible deal is that Rodriguez is owed $13 million for next season with another $13 million option for 2014 with a $2.5 million buy-out.

    However, as we saw with the Carlos Lee deal, the Astros were able to unload a big contract for some prospects. Since Rodriguez will have a lot more value, another deal should not be a problem.

3. Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza

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    Matt Garza had the look of an ace in April, and his trade value was through the roof. 

    However, after posting a 2.67 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in the season's first month, he has a 5.25 ERA and 1.37 WHIP since May began, including Thursday night's shelling against the Braves. 

    Despite his recent struggles, his interest on the trade market has not suffered. Fox Sports reports the Yankees like him, and ESPN wrote that the Braves' top talent evaluator Jim Fregosi has already scouted him. 

    In five postseason starts with the Rays, Garza went 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings.

    His performance did not suffer on the biggest stage, and that is something contending teams will be able to count on.

2. Milwaukee Brewers: Zack Greinke

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    While Zack Greinke does not have the postseason success that Matt Garza has (6.48 ERA in three starts), he has been baseball's second-best pitcher this season according to Fangraphs.com' FIP statistic.

    The Brewers are not prepared to let what happened with CC Sabathia happen again, so they are readying themselves for a Greinke trade if no extension is in place.

    Even though Greinke appears to be a rental player, Cliff Lee has shown the type of impact an ace can have on a playoff race, so contending teams have already started showing interest.

    MLB.com reported the Braves' wish list starts with Greinke, and Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Brewers ace would welcome a trade to St. Louis with the chance to sign with them long-term. The Rangers have also shown interest in both Greinke and Cole Hamels, and with their loaded farm system, they could get a deal done.

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Cole Hamels

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    If Cole Hamels is indeed made available, there will be a tremendously long line of teams waiting to make a deal.

    There is an understandably hefty asking price. If the Rangers (with their outstanding farm system) or even the Giants or the Yankees made a deal, the entire playoff picture would shift. 

    Not only has Hamels been one of the top regular-season pitchers of the past five years, but during the Phillies' 2008 World Series, Hamels and his 4-0 postseason record won the World Series MVP. His playoff pedigree is yet another reason teams will try to acquire him.

    Despite their public denial, CBSSports has reported that the Phillies' front office told teams they could sell "soon" and have started gauging interest in Hamels on the trade market.

    If the Phillies' struggles continue—currently 13 games back in the NL East—a trade could be on the horizon.