MLB Trade Rumors: Cole Hamels and Top 20 Players Up for Grabs This July

Mark MillerCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Cole Hamels and Top 20 Players Up for Grabs This July

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    It's clear that many teams will have their hands full this coming MLB offseason with holes always remaining to be filled and many players set to enter free agency.

    As a whole, the upcoming FA market promises to be another strong one, and while a number of proven and up-and-coming players will lead the way to big paydays, some could very well move before then.

    Sellers continue to emerge with the standings changing day by day. Players once thought untouchable this season are now creeping into conversation, meaning that some top names may find themselves in new uniforms by the end of the month.

    Here are the top 20 players that could move by the July 31 trade deadline.

Alfonso Soriano

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    The Chicago Cubs probably would have loved to rid themselves of Alfonso Soriano's inflated contract countless times over the past few seasons, but a move may finally become reality as Soriano continues to inch closer to the end of his deal.

    Soriano has been solid in 2012, batting .280 with 41 runs batted in so far, and Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays appear interested in the possibility.

Brandon League

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    With 2012 being Brandon League's contract year, the Seattle Mariners could work to trade him to a team in need of the late-inning help to inject additional depth into their farm system.

    Good relievers can be hard to come by, and until the Mariners show much more consistency on offense, their pitching staff in the late innings will be that much more important.

    A great arm struggling to be less erratic, teams have definitely put in the calls to Seattle management for League, reports Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe.

Brandon McCarthy

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    In his breakout season in 2011, Brandon McCarthy posted his first sub-4.00 ERA and won a career-high nine games in 25 starts.

    He's off to a strong 6-3 start this season with a spectacular 2.54 ERA in 78 innings and could be moved for some high-value prospects to a team still in the postseason hunt.

    Whether the Oakland A's become buyers or sellers this summer will depend on how things shake up the next few weeks.

Brett Myers

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    The Houston Astros will certainly be one of the bigger sellers this summer, and Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez are two candidates to make their way out of the Lone Star State.

    Coming out of the bullpen this year, Myers is 0-3 with a 3.45 ERA and is striking out six batters while walking only one per nine innings.

    The New York Mets are exploring trade possibilties with Myers, Ken Davidoff and the New York Post reported.

Carlos Quentin

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    Carlos Quentin may be new to his surroundings in San Diego, and while he missed the early part of the season as he recovered from an injury, he's still drawing plenty of interest from potential suitors.

    Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reports via Twitter that a return to the AL Central is not out of the question.

    In 32 games with the Padres this season, Quentin has gone deep seven times and is batting .273, 20 points better than his career average.

Cole Hamels

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    Things definitely haven't gone as planned for the Philadelphia Phillies as the team sits in the basement of the NL East, 14 games back of the Washington Nationals at the break.

    Cole Hamels is poised to become one of the top free-agent targets this upcoming offseason, and if the Phillies don't plan on signing him to a long-term deal, they may opt to get something in return for the star southpaw.

    The Texas Rangers are believed to be the favorites to land Hamels, should Philly acquiesce.

Denard Span

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    The Minnesota Twins have limped into the All-Star break with few signs of life at 11 games back in the AL Central and will likely once again be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

    With a plethora of outfielders in their farm system and center fielder of the future Ben Revere playing very well in right for the Twins, the team could very well look to unload Denard Span these coming weeks.

    John Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the team doesn't appear to be in active talks to move Span as of yet, but if they can get a young starting pitcher in return, don't be surprised if Span's wearing a new uniform in August.

Edwin Encarnacion

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    Edwin Encarnacion is one of many Toronto Blue Jays contributing to the team's ascent toward the top of the tough AL East.

    He's off to an extremely hot start in 2012, with 23 home runs already in 83 games, just three short of his single-season career high.

    Encarnacion has only played over 100 games four times during his career, but he'll certainly be in line for a raise from his current two-year, $6 million deal. He could be a hot commodity in July should the playoffs fall further and further away from Toronto's grasp, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirmed.

Francisco Liriano

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    Francisco Liriano's tenure with the Minnesota Twins has certainly been one filled with ups and downs. He has shown the ability to be a very effective strikeout pitcher, but his inconsistent production has been troubling.

    He got off to a pretty rough start in 2012 and found himself demoted to the bullpen, but has since rebounded and is pitching more consistent innings than he had at any point this spring.

    As the Twins continue to look to their farm system for the future of the rotation, Liriano's days in Minnesota may be numbered. The latest from Ken Rosenthal and Fox Sports says Atlanta is one possible destination, while others just may take a chance on the lefty as a reliever.

Francisco Rodriguez

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    After spending all of 2009 and 2010 in the Big Apple before being traded to Milwaukee, Francisco Rodriguez might have a return trip to the Mets in his future, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.

    With the Brewers struggling in the NL Central, the team may be looking to sell a number of pieces, and K-Rod will be no exception.

    Davidoff states the move might not be entirely out of the question given the potentially low asking price of the once-dominant K-Rod.

Jed Lowrie

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    With the team out of contention in 2012 (and foreseeable future), it's no surprise to hear many a trade speculation centering on the Houston Astros.

    Jed Lowrie could present a solid option for a contending team in need of infield help, as the shortstop is solid defensively and can hit from both sides of the plate in the batters' box.

    Any team that takes on Lowrie would get a serviceable player for years to come, as he won't enter free agency until 2015.

Jonathan Sanchez

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    In acquiring Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants for their rotation, the Kansas City Royals gave up Melky Cabrera, who represented one of their more consistent offensive pieces in 2011.

    They have a number of talented prospects poised to see significant time in 2012, and while they'll no doubt see their share of growing pains, the future is certainly bright.

    If they don't see a possibility of keeping Sanchez around long term, then it might be best to ship him off now while the selling's good for a quality pitching prospect or two.

Josh Willingham

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    The Minnesota Twins are finding themselves deeper and deeper in the AL Central basement, increasing the odds they'll hold a fire sale and unload a number of their top players shortly.

    Josh Willingham hasn't been in Minnesota long, but he's made an immediate impact at Target Field for the Twins, hitting 19 home runs and driving in 60 runs in 80 games during the first half.

    His contract is reasonable enough that most contenders would probably consider Willingham's services; however, the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the more recent suitors mentioned by ESPN (Insider).

Marco Scutaro

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    The Colorado Rockies haven't lived up to expectations this season and have a number of decisions to make.

    Marco Scutaro has been a solid option for the Rockies infield this season, batting 10 points better than his career average while hitting safely 89 times in the first half.

    As a result, he could be a target for playoff-caliber teams looking to add an infield glove this summer.

Matt Garza

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    For much of the offseason—and season—there seemed to be constant murmurs surrounding Matt Garza being shipped out of Chicago.

    It's gone back and forth more than once since then, as a trade and extension both hold equal possibility. But a trade may be a best-case scenario for Garza to begin anew and set down roots elsewhere.

Ryan Dempster

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    Ryan Dempster's record this season certainly doesn't do justice to his performance. He's sitting at 4-3 but has managed an absolutely extraordinary 1.99 ERA, with consistently strong pitch command in every outing.

    With numbers like that, it's no surprise Dempster's name has been in heavy circulation in trade talk and that a great number of teams are interested in the righty's services.

    Rant Sports reports that the Atlanta Braves are one potential suitor.

Shane Victorino

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    Shane Victorino has been a mainstay in the Philadelphia Phillies lineup for years now, and it's hard to picture him anywhere else.

    At the same time, however, hope is all but gone for Philly's 2012 and the team has a number of payroll commitments in other areas. As they look to explore other long-term deals, the front office will need to make some tough decisions, not the least of which would be moving Victorino.

    Another stumbling point in the Victorino situation that is worth noting is his desire for a five-year contract, as reported by Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, something the Phillies may not be willing to offer.

Shaun Marcum

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    The Milwaukee Brewers will have their hands full this offseason with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum heading into free agency. 

    It's hard to believe the Brewers won't make a very strong push to keep Greinke in a Brewers uniform, but the team has already stated (via beat writer Adam McCalvy), that they're very willing to let Marcum test the open market.

    If that's their plan, it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see them ship him out come the trade deadline so they can build their farm system even further as young pitchers make their way into the big-league roster.

Wandy Rodriguez

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    Having been a part of trade talks since last summer, it's almost surprising that Houston Astros ace Wandy Rodriguez has yet to find a new home.

    With free-agent options getting the most attention this past offseason, Rodriguez's best chance at moving is likely nearing as the trade deadline approaches—something that may be a real possibility, given the Astros' willingness to eat half of the $36 million left on his crushing contract.

Zack Greinke

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    With the Milwaukee Brewers trying to climb back into the NL Central picture, the notion of moving Zack Greinke may not be an option as the summer continues.

    Should the team opt to become sellers at the deadline, however, Zack Greinke will fetch a good return, as he is bound to benefit any contender down the stretch in a contract year.

    The Orioles are pushing hard and the "most aggressive suitors" for the Milwaukee righty, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun recently reported.

    The team may be more likely to pursue the option if they do not like their chances of locking him up to a long-term deal this offseason.