MLB Trade Rumors: Challenging the Validity of Baseball's 40 Hottest Rumors
We all know how the MLB trade rumor market is. With a couple weeks to go, we will hear all about the big names and where they might go, on top of what teams in the hunt will decide to do.
Some of it is entirely valid and makes sense, while some of it is just padding. Everyone thought Heath Bell would be traded last year, yet he remained a San Diego Padre. There will be those types of non-deals this year as well, just like they are every year.
Here are 40 of the hottest trade rumors. The title will be the rumor itself, and I'll note whether I find it to be fact or fiction that the event will occur or, for that matter, will have a chance to occur.
The Trade Market Will Be Quiet
First and foremost, with under two weeks until the trade deadline ends, increasing speculation states that the trade market will be quiet. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, because of the extra wild-card spot, teams don't feel they have to make that extra move to get into the playoffs.
It makes sense on the surface, given that there are five out of 14 teams in the AL that will be in the playoffs, but I have to call fiction on this one. The extra spot simply means that teams are going to wait closer to the deadline to see where they will stack up.
Yes, there will be few trades this week, but once we hit the 29th and get into the final couple days, the trade market will be just as volatile as ever.
Bartolo Colon Will Be Traded
Bartolo Colon is a 39-year-old pitcher with a .500 record who is playing on a team that could realistically either be buyers or sellers. In both cases Colon makes sense in a trade, since the A's don't have a need for a veteran arm.
Ken Rosenthal says Colon isn't going anywhere, and I agree; any trade involving him is fiction. He isn't good enough right now to get the type of prospects the A's want, and if last year is any indication, then he'll slow down over the next couple months, making acquiring him fruitless.
Cubs Will Perform a Fire Sale
If there's one team that everyone seems sure of being the big seller at the deadline, it's the Cubs. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair are all trade possibilities, with the first two being a given to be traded.
I'm in that same camp and consider this a fact. The Cubs have a lot of young guns and want to add more around them. Garza, in particular, will give them a nice return, so why not trade these guys and further build up the team?
Angels Will Grab Hamels or Greinke
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are third in the AL in ERA, and it's mostly thanks to the lights-out play of Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson as the first two starters. Would they actually add a third to make a top-tier playoff rotation?
Jon Heyman has noted the possibility of the Angels acquiring Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke, but remember that both the Phillies and Brewers would want top-tier prospects, and the Angels don't have much there besides Jean Segura and Kaleb Cowart.
I'd consider this fiction, since both teams know they could get more for their buck elsewhere, and if Dan Haren and Ervin Santana bounce back, they won't need to make a trade anyway. Besides, trading both those prospects seems outside of the Angels' goals.
Carlos Quentin Will Be Traded
There's no question that there is interest in Carlos Quentin, given that he's in a contract year and can be had at a bargain. The Reds, Indians, Pirates and others are interested in acquiring him, and for them he would be a big boost.
The question is whether or not the Padres can get enough for him. I think that they can, and I call the trade a fact.
The Padres know they'll just get a couple nice prospects rather than anyone top-tier, and having players who can make the majors soon may be more important than a supplemental draft pick.
Rays Will Be Sellers
This is one I was not expecting to write a month back, but given that the Rays are mired in third place in a tough division and don't have much in the lineup right now, it's possible. The fact that Evan Longoria may be out for longer yet, makes this a possibility.
B.J. Upton is always the subject of trade rumors, and James Shields is a possibility as well. Rays fans won't like it, but I'm calling fact on the possibility. The Rays can sell and still be competitive, but if they know that their lineup isn't up to snuff, then buying would not be the best route anyway.
Besides, the Rays rotation won't suffer with Shields gone, as they have more than enough starters, including current bullpen leader Wade Davis.
Ryan Dempster Will Be Traded Before the Deadline
The odds of Ryan Dempster being traded is almost 100 percent. He's a veteran arm having a great season, so every contender is going to want to pick him up, especially the up-and-coming teams. The question is simply when he will be dealt.
According to Jayson Stark, the Cubs are looking to move Dempster by week's end. It is a fact, because it makes sense to do so now. Dempster will be a prime target now, and with him dealt, the team can focus its full attention on Matt Garza trade ideas.
Justin Upton Could Go to Team with No-Trade Clause
Justin Upton has four teams that he has a no-trade clause with: the Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees and Indians. The Cubs are rebuilding, but the other three are legitimate possibilities if it weren't for the trade clause.
Could the Yankees ship off Nick Swisher to get Upton, or could the Red Sox or Indians ship off prospects? The short answer is no. Even if they are good fits, which is questionable, there's a reason Upton put those teams on his no-trade list, and if he's struggling with Arizona, it won't improve with them.
Royals Will Be Buyers
The Royals are under .500 and have a very slim chance at best of making the playoffs. Despite this, they are in the market for starting pitching, namely those who are under contract past this year.
As crazy as this sounds, I'm buying them at least making a strong effort. They would likely be outbid on pitchers in the offseason, so grabbing them during the deadline when no one expects them to make a move could solidify the team in 2013, even if this year is lost.
Marlins Will Be Sellers
The Marlins are down to nine games back in the NL East hunt, and they will be a distant fourth if they don't turn it around quick. As a result, they are projected to be sellers, despite paying big money for Jose Reyes and others this past offseason.
There's no chance they go the fire sale route. Yes, the Marlins is a team that goes that route more so than others, but with all the money it spent, the team is going to want to keep the players who are performing well—nuking the team isn't the answer.
Chase Headley Will Be Traded
When the San Diego Padres are mentioned in trade rumors, the first name that pops up is Carlos Quentin. However, third baseman Chase Headley is on the trade market as well, with multiple teams showing interest.
This is an easy confirmation, given that third base is a premium position, Headley will hit better outside of PetCo Park, and any team that wants him would not have to give up too much. The fact that he's under contract beyond this season helps as well.
Nationals Will Rest Stephen Strasburg
Moving away from trade rumors, I'm sure we all know of the Nationals' plan to limit Strasburg's innings. Even if they make the World Series, if he hits his cap, he hits his cap.
Unfortunately, they seem so set on it that I feel like it will actually happen. I'd love to see him gain some playoff experience, but their rotation is dominant enough that they could feasibly win without him.
Nationals Will Acquire Pitching
Let's say the previous slide is true and the Nationals have Strasburg rest for the season soon. Should they do so, it seems evident that they would explore bringing in a veteran to take his spot in the rotation.
I see this being entirely valid. Pitchers like Ryan Dempster and Francisco Liriano are only under contract through the year, and since the Nats are likely to make the playoffs, they could use the playoff starts as auditions for free agency.
Tigers Will Add a Starter
The Detroit Tigers need starting pitching, that's a no-brainer. After Justin Verlander, it's just a giant question mark on what you'll get. As a result, they are looking for a starter, particularly Wandy Rodriguez.
I'm not sure if Rodriguez will be the guy, but I absolutely buy this trade. The Tigers did this last year to add Doug Fister, and now that they have a more talented lineup, they'll want to push themselves back to the top of the division.
Jason Vargas Will Be Traded
Doug Fister was shipped to the Tigers last year, and for the Mariners, it looks like Vargas will be next. He's pitching decently enough that he could garner some interest but, more importantly, a team could have him at a bargain.
For as much as people think he'll be traded, I consider this fiction. Vargas has had much better years than this season, and since he'll be a free agent in 2014, the Mariners could easily just wait one more year and hope he's suddenly pitching great.
Indians Will Not Make a Trade
The Cleveland Indians remain in good shape, as they are only a few games behind the Chicago White Sox despite having major needs in both the rotation and lineup. Despite where they are, consensus seems to be that they won't be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
I lean towards fiction on that for one reason. With the Ubaldo Jimenez trade last year, it shows that the team is not afraid to make a risky move, and they could surprise everyone again. Then again, that says that they plan to do that two years in a row.
Mets Will Acquire Jonathan Broxton
The New York Mets bullpen went from terrible in 2011 to just OK in 2012. It could certainly use improvement, especially if the Mets plan a playoff run. As a result, the team is looking closely at Royals reliever Jonathan Broxton.
I see this as fact, since Broxton's having a good year—but at 300 pounds, he's not a long-term type of player. The stopgap with a career year is what the Mets need to move forward, and if they weren't looking at the playoffs, this discussion would not exist in the first place.
Justin Upton Will Be Traded
I already dispelled the notion that Upton will go to one of the four teams he doesn't want to go to, but that doesn't mean he won't be traded. Despite a contract through 2015 and a down year, the Diamondbacks seem ready to part with him now. Heck, Upton has his own daily article at MLBTradeRumors.
Teams are interested enough in him that I see this deal happening. Despite the fact that it's not at a good time when everything's factored in, the lack of sellers this year means that the Diamondbacks will likely get a premium return on him.
The question is simply whether teams will pay enough to bring him in, which shouldn't be a problem given his 2011 season.
Pirates Will Be Major Buyers at the Deadline
With the injury to Joey Votto and the rumors with Zack Greinke, that leaves the NL Central open for the Pirates and Cardinals. The Pirates, in particular, are closer to the playoffs than they've been in a long time.
As a result, they could be in the market for players such as Justin Upton and others. I absolutely think this is a fact that they will make a big trade, but the only thing standing in the way is the front office, which may love the prospects in the farm system a bit too much.
Cardinals Will Make One Solid Move
Last year the Cardinals traded for Rafael Furcal, and that helped them win the World Series. This year, they could look to do the same, particularly on the pitching end now that we know Chris Carpenter's gone for the year.
This is a no-brainer. A decent workhorse like Wandy Rodriguez fits perfectly with what the Cardinals need and could give them their second dream run in a row.
Evan Longoria Will Return
Whether or not the Tampa Bay Rays make any moves will depend on when Evan Longoria returns from a hamstring injury. While he only played in 23 games this season, he was great in them; his return might keep the Rays in the playoff race.
The latest word is that Longoria should return in August, and if he starts a rehab assignment soon, then I can buy this. Until then, it's a lot harder to tell, just because hamstring injuries are such a pain, but the Rays will have to know before month's end.
Grady Sizemore Will Return
Grady Sizemore has been gone all season, and his return continues to be pushed back. He hasn't seen any rehab appearances, but the Indians have still not ruled out Sizemore coming back.
As nice as it would be to have vintage Sizemore back in action, it's not happening. There's been very little progress, and if his recovery had gone smoothly, he would have been much further along. Re-signing him was a gamble that clearly did not pay off.
Braves Will Extend Martin Prado
In last year's offseason, Martin Prado was one of the biggest names that had to deal with trade rumors. Now, it seems that the Braves want to sign him to an extension and make him the next third baseman, according to Buster Olney.
Prado has been playing great baseball, and since the prospects entering the majors have been hit-and-miss so far, I buy this. Prado has a proven track record and should be affordable for the Braves.
Yankees Will Add an Outfielder
The Yankees are running away with the AL East, yet they have trade rumors floating around just like anyone else. The latest one has them potentially grabbing an outfielder due to the poor Raul Ibanez/Andruw Jones platoon in left field.
With Brett Gardner's status questionable, it sounds sensible on the surface—but the rumors are fiction. Any veteran they get won't replace Gardner and would be a minimal improvement over the platoon.
The only outfielder who makes sense, both according to the New York Post in the link and to me, is Shane Victorino, but that would require him or Granderson to move to left, which I don't see happening.
Jonathan Sanchez Will Be Picked Up
It's clear that the Giants got the better of the Melky Cabrera trade. He's having a career year, and Jonathan Sanchez has been designated for assignment after a 7.76 ERA.
Would anyone want to pick him up, considering that he's had good seasons in the past? That's a work of fiction. 2010 is long gone, and no team will pick up a pitcher who has been this bad. A few minor league starts will ideally help him bounce back to form for 2013.
Jacob Turner Will Remain a Tiger
For the past season, it seemed like if the Tigers were to make a trade, Jacob Turner would be involved as the team's top prospect. Does that mean he will be gone at the deadline?
After his July 17 performance, certainly not. He allowed seven runs in two innings, and he has yet to showcase what he can do at the major league level. Until he does, he's not going to be the trade piece the Tigers want.
Aramis Ramirez Will Be Traded
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the playoff hunt and looking for that edge to make it to the World Series. It seems clear that they'll be buyers, but less clear that the Brewers will be sellers.
If they are, the Dodgers are interested in Aramis Ramirez. While it makes a good deal of sense, that's only speculation. Ramirez is under contract through 2014, and I can't see the Brewers moving him that quickly after signing him.
Josh Willingham Will Be Traded
Like Aramis Ramirez in the previous slide, Josh Willingham is someone who is in the first year of a three-year deal. In his case, he's been one of the Twins' most productive players.
Despite the trade rumors surrounding him, there's no chance he's traded. The Twins would have to be completely blown away, which I don't see happening. They want to keep him for those other two years.
Blue Jays Will Be Sellers
The Blue Jays are stuck around .500 in a division where you can't really afford to be. Combine that with the Jose Bautista injury, and there's little chance the Jays become playoff contenders, and they could be sellers as a result.
That isn't going to happen, since the Blue Jays stumbling was the result of a myriad of injuries combined with Ricky Romero's ineffectiveness. If both are fixed next year, they should be fine.
Zack Greinke Will Be Traded
The Milwaukee Brewers were expected to contend this year, coming off a 96-win season. Instead, they are in fourth place, and it quickly looks like, whether or not they will sell, ace Zack Greinke will be traded.
They did not trade Prince Fielder, but they do need to improve their farm system. Unless they have a huge surge, I have to buy this. Greinke will give them top-tier prospects for a rental, and they will be able to keep things going in the majors, since they at least have bats.
Francisco Liriano Will Be Traded
Had I asked this even a month ago, the answer would have been a laughable no. However, his ERA is finally under five, and when he's on he can be great.
Liriano's trade is certainly a fact waiting to happen. Whether it's the Angels, Blue Jays or another team pulling the string, the Twins are not going to let this opportunity slide, now that he's finally decent again.
Diamondbacks Will Acquire a Third Baseman
The Diamondbacks, despite where they are, appear to be buyers at the deadline. They could use a first baseman due to Ryan Roberts' struggles, in particular Chase Headley.
I actually buy this as a possibility. Buster Olney noted that the Padres and D'Backs have strained relations—but if the price is right, then I could see a deal happening between the two.
Ramon Hernandez Will Be Traded
Ramon Hernandez is a catcher who is barely hitting .200 for the Rockies, yet somehow is the subject of trade rumors. In particular, the Mets want to acquire him.
I'm not sure if this is a deal that would help either side, so I'm selling the notion. The Mets have Josh Thole at catcher and the Rockies are using Hernandez as a mentor, so I don't see Hernandez leaving, even though the Rockies could get more than they should for him.
Brett Myers Will Stay in Houston
As the trade deadline approaches, one would expect more and more news to pop up about players. When it comes to Brett Myers, I'm seeing fewer and fewer rumors.
As a result, I think he's going to stay on the team rather than be traded. He's pitching decently as a closer, but it's nothing special, and a team that needs a reliever can find better ones on the market.
David Wright Will Be Re-Signed
David Wright is having a career year, and with how well the Mets are doing, they have to be thinking about how to keep him on the team. Of course, a new contract won't be signed during the season, as both sides have already noted that.
I'm selling the idea of an offseason contract signing just because of his 2013 option. The Mets will obviously pick that up, and in the meantime, ideally, the two sides can come to an agreement.
Shane Victorino Will Be Traded
The Philadelphia Phillies clearly seem to be in sell mode with all the problems they have had, and the best trade chip available who is not Cole Hamels is Shane Victorino. The Dodgers and Pirates, among other teams, have interest.
To me, there's no question that Victorino will be traded. He's a speedster over 30 in a contract year, so if the Phillies are going to get anything for him, now's the time, since whomever signs him in free agency will probably overpay for his services.
Bryan LaHair Will Be Traded
It seemed like Bryan LaHair was a clear trade candidate after earning an All-Star bid out of nowhere this year. He's an available power bat who has hit 14 home runs, and it seems like a given he would be traded.
There's no question in my mind he'll be traded. His value isn't going to be higher than it is this year, and they have Anthony Rizzo at first base now, so there's no reason to keep him.
Rangers Will Acquire Matt Garza
There's no question in my mind that Matt Garza will be traded. The question is simply, to where? One surprising team that has popped up is the Texas Rangers, who have noted interest in him.
It would take a perfect storm for the Rangers to pick him up, though, including selling off their top prospects, and I don't see them doing that. In fact...
Rangers Will Not Make a Trade
Perhaps the best option for the Texas Rangers is to not make any moves. They were a strike away from the World Series last year, and while they lost C.J. Wilson, they added Roy Oswalt and Joe Nathan and are hitting the ball just as well.
I'm actually buying this and selling any trade rumors involving the Rangers. They have gelled so well as a unit, that even though they could use an extra starter, messing up the team is likely to do more harm than good at this point.
Cole Hamels Will Be Traded
Aside from possibly Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels is easily the biggest piece on the trading block. He's an ace who's ready for any team, and it's still unclear if the Phillies can give him a large enough contract.
Will he be traded, however? I actually don't think he will. The Phillies' asking price is extremely high, and any team that feels he's the answer would be more likely to try their luck in free agency rather than sell the farm for a rental.
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