MLB Trade Rumors: 15 Trade Chips Who Won't Be Moved at the Deadline

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: 15 Trade Chips Who Won't Be Moved at the Deadline

0 of 15

    The month of July in baseball means trade deadline month, and with it comes a fresh batch of trade rumors seemingly every day leading up to the July 31 deadline.

    While some rumors are a precursor to a move that eventually gets done, many times they are little more than rumors.

    Some players are more of a sure thing to be traded than others, and there are always players who everyone expected to be traded who wind up staying put. Think Heath Bell with the Padres last season.

    With that in mind, here is a look at 15 trade chips who won't be moved at the deadline, a mix of veterans from selling teams and prospects from buying teams who I don't think will be going anywhere this season.

C Ramon Hernandez, Colorado Rockies

1 of 15

    Looking to bridge the gap to top prospect Wilin Rosario, the Rockies signed the veteran Hernandez to a two-year, $6.4 million contract this offseason.

    However, a hand injury that currently has him on the DL has limited him to just 27 games and a .215 BA, 4 HR, 15 RBI line on the season.

    Rosario, on the other hand, has flashed terrific power as the team's starting catcher, leading all rookies with 14 home runs to go along with 36 RBI.

    That leaves Hernandez on the block, and while the Mets have reportedly shown interest, they are apparently unwilling to offer up the prospects the Rockies are seeking along with taking on Hernandez's salary. 

    In the end, I think he stays in Colorado at least through the season, and the team could explore moving him again this winter.

1B Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs

2 of 15

    Given his first opportunity at everyday at-bats, LaHair has made the most of it with a .286 BA, 14 HR, 30 RBI first half that earned him a spot in the NL All-Star team.

    However, at 29 years old and with the Cubs in the early stages of a rebuilding effort, he may not factor into the team's long-term plans.

    The team will certainly listen to offers for him, as they will with most anyone on the roster, and they could choose to sell high on him while they still can.

    However, because he is controllable through 2017 and is a low-cost run producer at this point, the team won't just trade him for the sake of trading him.

    In the end, I think the Cubs will find a taker for Alfonso Soriano after eating much of his contract, and LaHair will settle in as the everyday left fielder at least for the next few seasons.

2B Marco Scutaro, Colorado Rockies

3 of 15

    The Rockies acquired Scutaro from the Red Sox this past winter for pitcher Clayton Mortensen, as they shored up second base and filled a big hole at the No. 2 spot in the order.

    However, with the team already out of things in the NL West and Scutaro set to hit free agency at season's end, they are understandably open to moving the veteran infielder.

    The team that would seemingly make the most sense would be the Tigers, as they have a glaring hole at second base. However, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports, the Tigers are not "all that enthused about the prospect of trading for him."

    Some other teams could use his defensive versatility, but given his $6 million salary this season, he is not all that attractive an option in a utility role. In the end, I think he stays put and hits the open market next winter at the age of 37.

SS Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers

4 of 15

    Let me preface this by saying I do think the Rangers will pull off a big deal and acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies, I just don't think they will have, nor will they be willing to, include Profar in the deal.

    Profar is arguably the top position prospect in all of baseball, and Baseball America rated him No. 2 overall on their midseason Top 50 prospect list behind Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy and ahead of Royals outfielder Wil Myers.

    In 82 games at Double-A this season, the 19-year-old has hit .291 BA, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 9 SB while playing solid defense at shortstop and seeing some time at second base for the first time in his career.

    With numerous injuries to their pitching staff, the Rangers could look to add an arm, and Buster Olney recently named them as the favorites to land Phillies left-hander Hamels.

    While Hamels is terrific, he is little more than a rental player and that means he likely won't bring as big a return as some people may think.

    A trade package built around Mike Olt and Martin Perez with some other mid-level prospect thrown in could be enough for the Rangers to get their guy and hold onto their prized prospect. If it's not, don't expect them to sweeten the pot with Profar.

UT Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners

5 of 15

    What can $4.5 million buy you? Over the first half of the season, it bought the Mariners a .186 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI stat line from Chone Figgins.

    Still in the middle of the disastrous four-year, $36 million contract the Mariners gave him prior to the 2010 season, Figgins is a shell of the player he was in 2009 when he finished 10th in MVP voting.

    Set to earn $8 million next season, his contract is among the most untradeable in all of baseball. Not to mention he brings little-to-nothing to the table for a contender at this point.

    The Mariners were willing to eat some of his contract in the offseason and likely still would, but really who would want him at this point?

CF Gary Brown, San Francisco Giants

6 of 15

    After shipping pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran at the deadline last season, the Giants farm system is incredibly thin entering this season.

    Their top prospect is outfielder Gary Brown, who was a first-round pick in 2010 and enjoyed a terrific first full pro season last year when he hit .336 BA, 14 HR, 80 RBI, 53 SB at High Single-A.

    That performance earned him the No. 38 on the preseason Baseball America Top 100, and while his numbers are down to .285 BA, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 22 SB at Double-A this season, he remains the team's top young trade chip.

    The Giants are right in the thick of things in the NL, but I don't expect them to pull off any major deals at the deadline, at least none involving moving Brown.

CF B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays

7 of 15

    The B.J. Upton rumor mill has been surprisingly quiet this season, after it looked as though he would almost certainly be moved each of the past two seasons.

    That could be due in large part to the fact that the Rays simply can't afford to lose his offense right now with Evan Longoria on the shelf and little else to speak of in the Rays order.

    That is not to say that a .248 BA, 7 HR, 29 RBI line is amazing, but Upton is clearly one of the few potentially impactful bats that the Rays have right now.

    He is a free agent at season's end, and if the Rays hit a rough patch to open the second half this could all change, but as long as they stay in contention, I think they'll ride out the season with Upton in center field.

RF Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City Royals

8 of 15

    The Royals took a chance on Francoeur with a one-year, $2.5 million deal heading into last season, and he rewarded their faith with a .285 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI, 22 SB season that was his best since his early days with the Braves.

    Praised for his leadership abilities and with a rejuvenated bat, the Royals extended him for two years and $13.5 million, but he has not enjoyed the same success so far this season.

    A .251 BA, 7 HR, 25 RBI line has left him with a -1.9 WAR thus far, and he will likely be pushed for playing time very soon by top prospect Wil Myers (.327 BA, 27 HR, 72 RBI in minors).

    That will make Francoeur a very expensive fourth outfielder, and it is that price tag and the commitment to next season that will keep him in Kansas City.

RF Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

9 of 15

    The Diamondbacks made some noise heading into the All-Star break when they announced that they were willing to listen to offers for right fielder Justin Upton.

    The Pirates were immediately named as a team with serious interest, and there will likely be at least a few other teams who make a serious push for the 24-year-old two-time All-Star.

    It has been a down season for Upton, but he is signed through 2015 and remains the type of player with potential to be a franchise cornerstone for years to come.

    That combination of potential and team control will make the asking price for Upton incredibly high, and while a package built around Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon from the Pirates would be intriguing, the Diamondbacks have indicated that they want big-league talent in return and remain in win mode.

    In the end, the asking price and need for players who can immediately contribute will leave the Diamondbacks without any serious takers on Upton.

RF Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins

10 of 15

    After losing Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel this offseason, the Twins signed Willingham to a three-year, $21 million contract in hopes of replacing some of that lost production.

    The deal has proven to be a wise one, as Willingham slugged his way to a .261 BA, 19 HR, 60 RBI line in the first half.

    Those numbers make him a steal at $7 million per season, and that has led the Twins to tell teams that they intend to hold onto Willingham. 

    Obviously, they could be blown away by a major offer and move him, but as of now it looks like Willingham will be sticking around in Minnesota.

SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

11 of 15

    The month of July means it is time for our yearly speculation that the Mariners could move ace Felix Hernandez.

    I myself am guilty of fueling that media fire as I wrote a piece recently examining who could put together the type of package to land him.

    Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently wrote on how trading Hernandez this season would benefit the Mariners moving forward, but any positives that could come from the deal appear lost on the Mariners.

    The Mariners want to keep Hernandez and he wants to stay in Seattle, so while rumors will continue to swirl, it once again does not look like he is going anywhere.

SP Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins

12 of 15

    After a terrible start to the season saw him demoted to the bullpen, Liriano has been a different pitcher since returning to the rotation with a 3-2 record and 2.74 ERA in eight starts.

    However, a relatively high walk rate has left few, if any, teams interested in the free-agent-to-be at the deadline.

    He could have some value as a left-handed reliever to a contender, but considering what the Twins asking price is likely to be for him, chances are he winds up staying in Minnesota and hitting the free-agent market at season's end.

SP Brandon McCarthy, Oakland Athletics

13 of 15

    Once a top prospect in the White Sox organization and a 2002 draft pick, McCarthy battled injuries throughout his career before finally put it all together last season in his first year with the A's.

    In 29 starts, he went 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA, and after the trades of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, he entered the 2012 season as the Oakland staff ace.

    Injuries have limited him to 12 first-half starts, but he has looked the part of ace when healthy on his way to a 6-3 record and 2.54 ERA.

    Despite a 43-43 first half, the A's have indicated that they view themselves as sellers, and they will no doubt listen to offers for McCarthy.

    However, those injury concerns will likely keep teams from matching the A's asking price, and the possibility remains that Oakland could extend McCarthy, a route that Buster Olney thinks the team could take.

SP James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays

14 of 15

    The Rays are by no means out of the race in the AL East, but their offensive ineptitude has left them a step behind the rest of the AL East, and they could wind up out of things before Evan Longoria returns. 

    They won't push to be sellers, but they could consider listening to offers on James Shields, a guy who many thought would be traded this offseason.

    After a dominant season last year that saw him finish third in AL Cy Young voting, he's fallen off a bit this year with an 8-5 record and a 4.17 ERA, although he remains a proven veteran arm with good stuff.

    He has a $9 million option for next season and a $12 million option for 2014, and for the perennially  cash-strapped Rays moving him could net a solid return and save them some money moving forward.

    However, I don't think they'll fall off enough to consider themselves out of the playoff race by July 31, and they will stick with the staff they have and look to improve their offense.

SP Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates

15 of 15

    The Pirates wrapped up the first half atop the NL Central by a game over the Reds and 2.5 games over the defending champion Cardinals.

    That division lead has left the Pirates to be "all-in buyers" as Buster Olney put it, and that could mean dipping into their deep farm system to pull off a major trade.

    The team has indicated that they would be more open to trading Jameson Taillon over Gerrit Cole, since Cole is closer to big-league ready.

    The only way I could see the Pirates moving Taillon is for Justin Upton, and in the end, I don't think that move will come to pass.