With the just-concluded 2012 MLB All-Star Game now a distant memory, the business of baseball once again takes center stage.
Over the final two-plus weeks of the month, contending teams will be jockeying for position, hoping to land that key acquisition that can help their playoff aspirations.
Among the many players who will no doubt be discussed by teams are players who took part in the All-Star game last Tuesday.
Here is a list of five 2012 MLB All-Stars and five former All-Stars who could be playing for contending teams in early August.
An All-Star for the third time in 2012, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels has been the subject of numerous rumors for the entire season.
In a post earlier this week, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com said that the Phillies have identified four teams who would be a fit, but that in return they would want prospects who are close to major league-ready.
Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that the Texas Rangers are the favorites to land Hamels, according to officials who spoke with Olney:
Talked to more officials today who believe that if the Phillies trade Cole Hamels, the favorite will be the Rangers.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 9, 2012
But wait, hold on just a second.
On Friday, Jayson Stark of ESPN said that the Phillies are on the verge of making Hamels an offer to remain with the Phillies long-term. The deal is expected to be patterned along the lines of the deal signed by Matt Cain earlier this season for six years and $127.5 million.
If the Phillies match with Hamels what the Giants gave to Cain, it would represent the largest contract in Philadelphia history.
San Diego Padres closer Huston Street participated in his first All-Star game on Tuesday. However, the question remains: Will he be a member of the Padres in late July?
The New York Mets have already inquired about Street’s availability, and the pending ownership of the Padres will also be a factor in determining Street’s future in San Diego.
GM Josh Byrnes has been unable to talk extensions with any of his players because of the ownership situation, but if rumors tying Peter O’Malley and his family to Padres ownership are in fact true, then Street’s availability will likely be resolved sooner rather than later.
On Tuesday, Street said that if he was traded to the Mets, his first order of business would be to clear the air with his former manager and Mets bench coach Bob Geren.
Street once called Geren his least favorite person in sports following a rocky relationship between the two during their time together with the Oakland A's.
In his first full season in Major League Baseball, Jose Altuve has developed into one of the more well-rounded second basemen in baseball.
With a .303 batting average, 15 steals and 29 extra-base hits, Altuve was rewarded for his efforts by being selected as a reserve for the National League All-Star team.
However, speculation continues to swirl about Altuve’s status with the Houston Astros.
Back in June, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Astros were willing to listen to offers on “virtually all of their players.”
Does that mean Altuve is going anywhere? Highly unlikely, given Altuve’s age and the fact that he’s under team control for several seasons. But no doubt teams will call GM Jeff Luhnow and make inquiries regardless.
In his first full season in the majors, Chicago Cubs first baseman/right fielder Bryan LaHair earned his way onto the NL All-Star team based on a solid first half.
LaHair hit .286 with 14 HR and 30 RBI heading into the break while making the switch to right field to facilitate the call-up of heralded prospect Anthony Rizzo.
Last week, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted that the Cubs were willing to listen to offers on LaHair. However, the price tag associated with his possible purchase would be high.
LaHair doesn’t need to be dealt—the Cubs have other chips to use in order to continue the rebuild of their organization. However, LaHair would likely fetch a nice return due to the fact that his service time and salary are both huge pluses for any buying team.
On Thursday, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted that the Cubs are indeed mentioning LaHair's name in talks with other teams:
Execs of 2 teams who spoke to Cubs this week say they're mentioning Bryan LaHair's name regularly in trade talks. Since 5/15: .220/.278/.341
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 12, 2012
LaHair would be extremely affordable for every team in contention, as he isn't even eligible for arbitration until 2015.
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez participated in his third All-Star game on Tuesday. Hernandez is under contract with the Mariners through the 2014 season, yet his name continues to be discussed in various publications as the trade deadline draws near.
Hernandez recently told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that he would love to stay in Seattle, but it’s not his decision to make.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has long believed that Hernandez could fetch Seattle a great package of prospects, and he hasn't backed off that belief, writing about it again in late June.
ESPN’s Buster Olney is not in agreement with Rosenthal, believing that Hernandez isn’t going anywhere.
On Thursday, Rosenthal reported that the Mariners have made a list of players available to other teams, and Hernandez is considered untouchable.
It really comes down to who and what you believe.
Kansas City Royals closer Jonathan Broxton was not invited to participate in this year’s All-Star game in Kansas City Royals, but he has two Midsummer Classic appearances under his belt, getting there with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009 and 2010.
Broxton has shown he’s capable of stepping up in the ninth inning once again, registering 21 saves and a 1.99 ERA for the Royals in the first half.
Broxton’s name has come up more than once in trade rumors over the past several weeks. Fox Sports reporter Jon Paul Morosi tweeted last week that the Royals would want a major leaguer sent to them in return for Broxton if he was made available.
Morosi’s colleague at Fox, Ken Rosenthal, agreed, saying that the New York Mets could be a potential suitor.
However, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported that the Royals may be unwilling to move Broxton, citing the fact that the Royals “badly want to win games” in the second half.
Get ready, folks. This is what it’s going to sound like for the next two-plus weeks—contradictions and speculation galore.
For Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, the All-Star game is old hat, having participated in four consecutive Midsummer Classic contests from 2007 to 2010.
Injuries have kept Morneau from representing his team the last two years, and Morneau’s status in the Twin Cities remains in doubt.
While nothing new has come out of Minnesota, interim GM Terry Ryan has stated that no current player should be considered untouchable, per 1500 ESPN Twin Cities:
I never consider anybody untouchable. That's not the way to go about business on a baseball team or organization. If you've got chances to do things that make a lot of sense for your club there shouldn't be any untouchables. Players know that, agents know that, and so does the fan base.
I'd be a fool to sit here and say somebody's untouchable.
Morneau’s contract will likely be a stumbling block—he’s owed roughly $20 million through the 2013 season.
The Philadelphia Phillies are stumbling right now, mired in last place in the NL East. While the right side of their infield is now healthy for the first time all season (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard) and Roy Halladay is expected back from the disabled list possibly by late July, the Phillies still have a huge undertaking in attempting to qualify for the playoffs.
If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. makes the ultimate decision to be a seller, the future of center fielder Shane Victorino could be in doubt.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is one who believes that Victorino’s time in Philly is over. Heyman reports that Victorino will absolutely sign elsewhere if he is not dealt by the trade deadline.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports believes that the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates could be possible landing spots for Victorino.
In addition, with the recent report that the Phillies are on the verge of making a long-term offer to starting pitcher Cole Hamels, there just may not be enough money left in the Phillies' piggy bank to make Victorino an offer.
Over the course of his career, Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster has been selected as an All-Star twice—first with the Florida Marlins in 2000 and then with the Cubs eight years later.
Maybe Dempster can be an All-Star for three different teams.
It’s been widely speculated that Dempster is all but gone in Chicago. The only question is where he's headed.
Apparently, Dempster isn’t concerned about the rumors, telling Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he has no interest in watching TV other than Swamp People.
I didn’t even know there was a show by that name.
Making a successful return from the disabled list just before the All-Star break, Dempster sports a league-leading 1.99 ERA and would be an attractive option for many contending teams.
Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported on Thursday that the Boston Red Sox have made preliminary inquiries on both Dempster and Matt Garza, but that the two sides aren't fully engaged yet.
Up until just a few weeks ago, Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder and former All-Star Justin Upton wasn’t showing up on anyone’s radar in terms of trade talk.
That has certainly changed.
Last week, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported that, according to scouts, the D-Backs are serious about entertaining offers for Upton.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports also reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates have already contacted the Diamondbacks about Upton’s availability.
Ken Rosenthal agreed with his Fox colleague, saying that the Diamondbacks would definitely listen to offers but would have to be “dazzled” in order to give Upton up.
Meanwhile, Buster Olney of ESPN wonders whether or not Upton’s left shoulder could be a chronic condition. Upton suffered a partially torn labrum late in the 2010 season. Olney said that teams could be wary of the D-Backs being so willing to discuss Upton despite his young age and accomplishments thus far if they themselves weren’t worried about his shoulder.
A bevy of rumors circulated on Thursday, and on Friday, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com tweeted that the Texas Rangers could have interest as well but will not part with top prospects Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar.
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.