MLB Trade Rumors: Ranking the Top 10 Strikeout Pitchers on the Market
It's clear that there are many contending teams that will have their hands full this July with a number of strong arms potentially available leading up to the trade deadline.
As a whole, the upcoming offseason promises to be another active one, and while Matt Cain has already locked in with the San Francisco Giants for the foreseeable future, a number of other proven and up-and-coming pitchers will lead the way to big paydays.
But not all of these moves can wait until the final out of the season has been recorded, as a number of these fireballers will find themselves making a move to new teams this summer as the trade deadline rolls around.
10. Brett Myers
Bob Levey/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 5.8 (7.3 Career)
Brett Myers has gotten off to a strong start this season, posting a 3.34 ERA in his 33 appearances with the Houston Astros.
There was plenty of interest regarding the services of Myers this offseason, and with his performance early on in 2012, you'd have to think it'd continue as the second half rolls on.
With Jayson Stark of ESPN reporting that the team is willing to take on part of his salary in order to get a deal done, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Myers with another team in August.
9. Wandy Rodriguez
Bob Levey/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 5.9 (7.5 Career)
It's a surprise in and of itself that Wandy Rodriguez still hasn't been dealt to a team looking to add a solid starting pitcher, but as Rodriguez's contract winds down, you'd think the odds of him moving would increase.
He'll be a free agent after 2013, and with the Astros not in a position to contend anytime soon, the time to move him and look to build depth in the farm system could be now.
The Baltimore Orioles have been noted as a team with interest in Rodriguez of late, as Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com has reported that the two teams have been in contact regarding a potential deal.
8. Francisco Rodriguez
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2012 K/9 innings: 8.2 (11.0 Career)
The Milwaukee Brewers showed a commitment to contending once again in 2012 when they opted to retain Francisco Rodriguez for the 2012 season. While they may not end up as buyers at this summer's trade deadline, they can certainly come out ahead as sellers if they play their cards right.
K-Rod is 2-4 with an ERA around 4.00 this season, but he has still been striking out batters at a high rate and could possibly be headed for a return trip to the New York Mets, as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post points out.
7. Grant Balfour
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2012 K/9 innings: 6.6 (9.5 Career)
Grant Balfour's strong start in 2012 has been a positive for the Oakland Athletics, as he has garnered seven saves in 43 appearances this season with an ERA of 3.12.
He'll likely be one of the more sought-after options this summer for teams considering an addition to their bullpens, with the Los Angeles Angels emerging as a suitor for Balfour (via the Boston Globe).
6. John Axford
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 12.7 (11.4 Career)
With consistent closers always at a high premium in baseball, John Axford could represent a very high-potential option for a team that's looking for a top-end arm to shut the door in late-inning situations.
Axford led the league in saves in 2011 with 46 and has 15 saves in 2012 while posting a 2-5 record and 4.84 ERA.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports claims teams have inquired about Axford.
5. Matt Garza
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 8.3 (7.6 Career)
Having been a part of trade talks for nearly a year now, it's almost a surprise that Chicago Cubs fireballer Matt Garza has yet to find his way out of the Windy City.
With a better than 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 2011, Garza has built on that power and continues to remain an appealing target for potential suitors into the 2012 season, in which he's striking out nearly a batter per inning.
Garza has been involved in trade rumors all season, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports told Jonah Keri in a Grantland podcast that a handful of teams are still interested in the right-hander.
4. Huston Street
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 12.0 (9.2 Career)
In his first season with the San Diego Padres, Huston Street has shown why he's one of the best relievers that could be available at this summer's trade deadline, with a 2-0 record and ERA hovering just north of 1.00.
With a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, Street could represent a valuable late-inning option for a team in need of help in the back end of its bullpen.
In late June, Andy Martino of The New York Daily News reported the Mets had inquired about Street.
3. Cole Hamels
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 9.0 (8.5 Career)
Cole Hamels is set to become one of the top free-agent targets this upcoming offseason, though the Philadelphia Phillies appear poised to do everything in their power to make sure the proceedings don't get that far, as Jayson Stark of ESPN notes.
The 28-year old California native has enjoyed his seven-year stint with the Phillies, making three All-Star appearances, including a trip this season.
With the Phillies sitting well behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East, you had better believe they'll sell him at a high price if their efforts to re-sign him don't pan out.
2. Zack Greinke
Mark Hirsch/Getty Images
2012 K/9 innings: 9.1 (8.1 Career)
Much like the Philadelphia Phillies are doing with Cole Hamels, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to be working on a deal that could keep ace Zack Greinke in Miller Park for the foreseeable future, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The 2009 AL Cy Young winner has been solid once again in 2012, with a 9-3 record and 3.57 ERA.
Should the team find itself unable to work out a deal to keep him around long-term, it could certainly find a buyer that would be willing to part with top prospects in exchange for the ace.
1. Francisco Liriano
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2012 K/9 innings: 9.6 (9.0 career)
The Minnesota Twins have been waiting for what seems like ages to see Francisco Liriano return to the form that he showed prior to Tommy John surgery.
Now that he's showing just how nasty his slider can be, Twins GM Terry Ryan just might be looking to pull the trigger on a deal to move him from Target Field.
A 15-strikeout, one-walk performance on Friday against the Oakland Athletics certainly can't hurt his value.
The latest news from Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports is that the Angels are taking a long look at Liriano.
H/t MLBTradeRumors.com and Rotoworld for some rumors.