MLB Trade Rumors: Ranking the Top 10 Available Pitchers in July
With each day that passes in the month of July the rumor mill is getting hotter and hotter.
At this stage in the game, teams typically have a good idea as to whether or not they'll be contenders or pretenders for the duration of the season. Alas, this season is proving to be quite different.
With the addition of a second wild-card team for the 2012 playoffs, Major League Baseball is witnessing several more teams finding themselves in contention for a playoff spot. In the American League, eight teams are within two games of a wild card.
In the National League five teams are within 3.5 games of a wild-card spot.
That means 19 of 30 ball clubs could potentially make the playoffs this season.
With that in mind, those teams that are trying to make it to October will likely be making moves in the coming days and the most valuable commodity in the playoffs is pitching.
With that in mind, here is a look at the 10 best pitchers available heading into the non-waiver trade deadline.
10. Grant Balfour: Oakland A's
The 6'2" righty, Grant Balfour, owns just seven saves on the season with a 2-2 record in large part to him being utilized as the setup man.
However, his 3.12 ERA in 43 games is impressive while his WHIP is only 1.038 with a 6.6 K/9 ratio.
Teams who are in need of a closer will want to take a strong look at Balfour. This season in his saves he has just a 1.29 ERA. The downside to that is that in save situations he has a 4.19 ERA in 20 games.
The New York Mets are a team that might be willing to roll the dice on Balfour, who may find the NL a more comfortable environment to pitch in.
9. Jason Vargas: Seattle Mariners
Once again it appears as though the Seattle Mariners will not be going anywhere near the playoffs.
That said, they have been building a good young crop of players which can make them contenders down the road. There's no reason why they shouldn't try to deal off starting pitcher Jason Vargas for more of these chips.
Vargas is 9-7 on the season with a 4.09 ERA and 1.174 WHIP in 20 starts. The biggest red flag for Vargas is the fact he has allowed a league-leading 25 home runs, which isn't exactly what you want to see in a playoff pitcher.
Teams that are not looking to spend a lot of money while adding pieces may want to take a look at Vargas, such as the Baltimore Orioles or Tampa Bay Rays (should they decide to be buyers) with perhaps the New York Mets or the Pittsburgh Pirates chiming in.
8. Huston Street: San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres closer Huston Street has been awesome this season. He is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA and .720 WHIP with 14 saves in 25 innings pitched.
While the Mets have been aggressively looking for a closer, I wouldn't be shocked to see a team like the Boston Red Sox quietly kicking the tires on Street.
His 11.9 K/9 ratio is exactly what buyers want to see right now.
7. Francisco Liriano: Minnesota Twins
While just 3-8 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.412 WHIP for the Minnesota Twins this season, Francisco Liriano's name is being thrown around quite a bit among some major players.
The Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, Mets and Blue Jays all have been rumored to have interest in Liriano.
There is little doubt he'll be dealt, the question is, who will win the bidding war for his services?
6. Wandy Rodriguez: Houston Astros
The 7-7 Wandy Rodriguez may finally get dealt this season.
Currently he owns a 3.51 ERA and a 1.243 ERA for the Astros with a 5.9 K/9.
While the feeling is that he'll be dealt, only two teams seem to have publicly acknowledged interest at this point, the Orioles and the Blue Jays. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see a dark-horse suitor like the Dodgers emerge late in the game.
5. Matt Garza: Chicago Cubs
Finally the Matt Garza trade talk should come to an end. It feels as though that's all we've heard about him this season—where he'll be traded.
Currently owning a 5-7 record with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.172 WHIP for the Chicago Cubs, Garza has garnered interest for as many as seven clubs already.
The Yankees, Rangers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Tigers and Dodgers have all scouted him, with the Red Sox having veiled interest as well.
While it feels like he could end up a Yankee, the addition of Garza to the Pirates would make them an extremely strong club moving forward.
4. Jonathan Broxton: Kansas City Royals
Jonathan Broxton, the big right-handed closer for the Kansas City Royals, has not officially been made "available" but there are certainly enough rumors swirling to inspire one's imagination.
Broxton has 22 saves this season for the Royals with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.366 WHIP.
On the right team, he could be dominant.
A return to Los Angeles could be imminent for Broxton, and I don't mean the Dodgers. If he wound up in Anaheim, the Angels would have made a significant upgrade to their bullpen.
3. Zack Greinke: Milwaukee Brewers
Zack Greinke currently owns a 9-3 record with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP for the Milwaukee Brewers.
While the Brewers would like to extend Greinke, they aren't going anywhere this season. Should they decide to move him, the Chicago White Sox have been rumored to have interest in the righty.
Greinke is being given 10 days of rest by the Brewers...which suggests that he could already be on his way to a new town fully rested.
2. Ryan Dempster: Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster seems to be the hottest name on the trade market right now.
Rightfully so, the 35-year-old Dempster is 5-3 with a league leading 1.86 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP for the Chicago Cubs.
Several teams such as the Braves, Red Sox, White Sox, Dodgers, Tigers and Indians have interest in acquiring his talents.
With Theo Epstein having the inside track to Boston, Dempster could be wearing a Red Sox uniform before the week is out.
1. Cole Hamels: Philadelphia Phillies
Cole Hamels is exactly what every contender wants: a southpaw ace.
He is 11-4 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.087 WHIP for the Phillies this season. The question is, will he be traded or will he get the big, long-term deal he's looking for with Philly?
Should he get shipped out, you can bet both LA teams will be interested, as will the Rangers, possibly the Pirates, Giants and Tigers.