MLB Trade Rumors: Updating the No. 1 Impact Player Available at Each Position
That will no doubt change in the weeks to come, as more fringe teams than ever are looking to buy in hopes of claiming one of the two wild-card spots under the new playoff system.
Before things really get going, here is a quick look at the top impact player at each position, as well as the latest rumors surrounding their potential landing spots.
Player: Kelly Shoppach, Boston Red Sox
Stats: .270/.360/.540, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 14 R
Catcher is always a weak position at the deadline, and this season is no different. However, there are a few options out there for a team in need of a backstop.
A's catcher Kurt Suzuki could be moved and has drawn interest from the Rays (via Jim Bowden, Twitter), while Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez has been made expendable by the emergence of rookie Wilin Rosario but reportedly comes with a high asking price (via Joel Sherman, the New York Post).
As a result, the best catcher on the market appears to be Red Sox backup Kelly Shoppach. He's a .228 career hitter, but he has decent power and is a solid defensive backstop.
With Ryan Lavarnway in Triple-A, the Red Sox can stand to deal him and the Mets are reportedly interested as they look to shore up their catching situation led by Josh Thole (via Joel Sherman, the New York Post).
Player: Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs
Stats: .276/.354/.496, 14 HR, 31 RBI, 33 R
There is not much in the way of impact first basemen on the market his year, especially compared to the offseason when two of the biggest sluggers in the game in Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols changed teams.
One player who could be of use for a contender looking for a bat is Cubs All-Star Bryan LaHair, who has thrived in his first full season in the majors.
Despite his breakout numbers, LaHair is already 29 years old. And with Anthony Rizzo in the fold, he has been bumped to the outfield in Chicago and may not factor into the team's future plans.
The Cubs are reportedly regularly mentioning his name in trade talks (via Jayson Stark, Twitter), and the Dodgers are one team that are known to have scouted him (via Buster Olney, Twitter). However, since he is under team control through 2017 the Cubs don't have to trade him, thereby driving up his asking price considerably, according to Jon Morosi (via Twitter).
Player: Omar Infante, Miami Marlins
Stats: .283/.308/.446, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 41 R
An unlikely All-Star in 2010, Infante joined the Marlins in last season's Dan Uggla trade and has made the move from super-utility player to everyday second baseman.
He's put up decent numbers this season with a .283 BA, eight HR, 33 RBI, 10 SB line, although his .308 on-base percentage keeps him from being anything more than an average offensive contributor.
Nonetheless, he has trade value, as there is virtually no on else on the market at second base outside of Rockies infielder Marco Scutaro.
The Tigers have needed a second baseman since Placido Polanco left in 2009, and Infante would be an upgrade without question. So it's no surprise that Detroit has shown interest in the 30-year-old (via Bob Nightengale, Twitter).
Infante began his career in Detroit, spending the first six seasons of his career there. And now, he could be headed back.
Player: Yunel Escobar, Toronto Blue Jays
Stats: .249/.294/.335, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 44 R
Acquired from the Braves at the deadline back in 2010, Escobar put up solid numbers in his first full season with the Blue Jays last year, hitting .290 BA, 11 HR and 48 RBI with a 4.4 WAR.
He's hit just .249 BA, six HR, 34 RBI so far this season, and the Blue Jays are looking to trade him, as they have a replacement in the minors in Adeiny Hechavarria (via Jon Heyman, CBS Sports).
The 23-year-old has hit .317 BA, six HR, 60 RBI at Triple-A this season and could step in immediately as a much cheaper option than Escobar, who signed a two-year, $10 million extension in the offseason as $5 million options for 2014 and 2015.
The A's are one team that has shown interest, while the Pirates and Giants are two other contenders with glaring holes at shortstop who could view Escobar as an upgrade (via Danny Knobler, CBS Sports).
Player: Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
Stats: .268/.366/.425, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 45 R
He may not have prototypical third baseman power, but Headley does a little bit of everything as he has terrific on-base skills (.371 OBP the last two years) and steals bases (10 SB this season), all while playing solid defense at third.
He's shown double-digit power playing in Petco Park, but could see those numbers improve with a change of scenery, as he has hit eight of his 10 home runs this season on the road, while posting an .875 OPS on the road versus just .711 at home.
The Dodgers, Pirates, Indians, Orioles, Diamondbacks and at least two other teams have shown interest in the 28-year-old, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Under team control through 2014, he won't come cheap, but with so many contenders in need of an upgrade at the hot corner, someone may very well be willing to meet the Padres' asking price.
Player: Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres
Stats: .268/.394/.512, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 18 R
As intriguing a trade chip as Headley is, he may not be the Padres' most valuable trade piece, as slugger Carlos Quentin ranks as one of the few impact sluggers on the market.
After missing much of the early part of the season, he has looked strong since returning with eight home runs and 21 RBI in just 37 games.
The Indians, Reds, Pirates and Marlins have reportedly shown interest, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports, but the Marlins may be out of the running as they now look as though they will be sellers.
Don't count out the possibility that the Padres come to terms on an extension with the outfielder, though, as they were reportedly preparing offers for both Quentin and closer Huston Street in an effort to either lock them up or officially decide to deal them in the days ahead.
Player: Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies
Stats: .254/.317/.392, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 37 R
It's been a disappointing year for the Phillies to say the least, as the team has dealt with injuries to more than one superstar player and have struggled to a 41-52 record as a result.
A free-agent-to-be, Victorino had emerged as one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball over the past four seasons with an average line of .281 BA, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 96 R, 28 SB, but his numbers are down this season.
Still, a .254 BA, eight HR, 38 RBI, 21 SB line is respectable, and Victorino was no doubt pressing a bit in the absence of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, trying to pick up the slack.
The Reds are in serious need of a productive top-of-the-order player to get on base ahead of their sluggers, and were named as a potential fit by CBSSports' Danny Knobler, who also listed the Dodgers and Yankees as teams who made sense.
Jon Heyman also reported that the Dodgers have shown interest, and that the Indians, Pirates and Tigers as other possibilities.
Player: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
Stats: .273/.354/.395, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 55 R
The Diamondbacks shocked baseball when they made 24-year-old right fielder Justin Upton available, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today believes that he will be traded one way or another, it is just a matter of whether the Diamondbacks do it now or wait until the offseason.
His numbers are down this season, but he's coming off of a .289 BA, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB season last year, and is signed through 2015 for $38.5 million over the next three seasons, so he represents a solid building block for whoever acquires him.
The Pirates have been viewed as front-runners, but, to this point, are unwilling to part with their top prospects in the deal (via Jon Morosi, FOX Sports).
The Rangers could look to pick him up as a replacement for Josh Hamilton, the Blue Jays have shown interest, and the Braves have been named as a potential good fit. The Dodgers, White Sox and A's have also been listed as teams that could make sense (via ESPN Insider).
Player: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Stats: 18 GS, 11-4, 3.07 ERA, 125 Ks, 126
It's not everyday that a 28-year-old pitcher who ranks among the best in all of baseball hits the trade block, but that is exactly where Hamels finds himself this season.
To clarify, the Phillies are still in the process of attempting to re-sign him, as they are reportedly preparing to offer him a six-year, $130 million extension (via Jon Heyman and CBS Sports).
If that does not come to fruition, though, teams have literally been lining up to see Hamels. There were scouts from at least seven teams on hand for his last start this past Sunday (via CSN Philly).
The Rangers, Pirates, Tigers, Marlins, Giants, Dodgers and Angels all took in his last outing in person.
The biggest issue for potential suitors is the fact that he is a free agent at season's end may amount to nothing more than an expensive rental. Despite that, his asking price will undoubtedly be incredibly high, and there will likely be someone willing to pay it if he is available.
Player: Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
Stats: 20 GS, 9-3, 3.57 ERA, 117 Ks, 116 IP
The Brewers went all-in last season when they traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in an effort to make one last run with Prince Fielder on the roster.
The run fell short, and they have struggled this season without Fielder in the lineup and, more importantly, with perhaps the worst bullpen in baseball. That has left them looking to sell, and their best chip by far is Greinke, who is a bona fide staff ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Jon Heyman broke down the potential field for top arms Cole Hamels and Greinke, listing 10 teams who have some degree of interest in at least one of them.
Of the 10, the Braves and Orioles appear to be the two teams who favor Greinke over Hamels. The Yankees and Red Sox likely aren't a fit due to their large market pressures, while the Blue Jays are more concentrated on controllable arms.
That leaves the White Sox, Angels, Tigers, Dodgers and Rangers as the other teams with some degree of interest in Greinke, and with little in the way of extension talks taking place, he seems likely to be moved (via Jon Morosi, Yardbarker).
Player: Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
Stats: 17 GS, 5-7, 4.02 ERA, 93 Ks, 100.2 IP
The Cubs traded five players, including three of their top prospects, to acquire Garza prior to last season, and they don't need to trade him.
However, they are no doubt open to the idea as they continue along what will likely be a long rebuilding process in Chicago.
A few weeks ago, Jon Heyman of CBSSports reported that Garza is viewed as a more valuable trade chip than even Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke thanks to the fact that he is under contract through 2013.
There is certainly no shortage of teams in on the right-hander, as the Red Sox (Twitter, Jayson Stark), Rangers and Tigers (Nightengale, USA TODAY), Royals (Danny Knobler, CBSSports.com), Blue Jays, Dodgers, Pirates (Bruce Levine, ESPN.com) and Yankees (David Kaplan, Twitter) have all shown interest in the Cub.
Player: James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays
Stats: 19 GS, 8-6, 4.44 ERA, 114 Ks, 123.2 IP
A complete lack of offense has left the Rays on the outskirts of contention this season, and they have a decision to make on whether or not they will sell at the deadline.
Regardless of what they decide, they are willing to listen to offers for veteran James Shields, according to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler.
Shields has gone 66-55 with a 3.86 ERA over the past five seasons, and enjoyed the best season of his career last year when he went 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 Ks to finish third in AL Cy Young voting.
He's not been quite as sharp this season with an 8-6 record and 4.44 ERA, but he remains a proven veteran innings eater and should draw plenty of interest.
Player: Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs
Stats: 14 GS, 5-3, 1.86 ERA, 75 Ks, 92 IP
There may be no player more certain to be moved than Dempster, and by the time you read this he may have already been moved, as the Cubs scratched Triple-A starter Casey Coleman (via Paul Sullivan, Twitter) from his Thursday start in case Dempster is traded before his scheduled Friday start against the Cardinals (via Ken Rosenthal, Twitter).
The 35-year-old free-agent-to-be is having a terrific season even though his 5-3 record does not reflect it. He leads all of baseball with a 1.86 ERA.
The Dodgers have long been viewed as the favorites to land him, and they have reportedly made an official offer (via Bruce Levine, ESPN.com).
Dempster, who has full 10-and-5 veto rights, prefers the Dodgers to any other team, with the Braves second on that list, according to Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports.
Player: Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals
Stats: 33 G, 22 Sv, 2.14 ERA, 6.1 K/9
An argument can certainly be made that Huston Street is the top reliever on the market, but it is looking more and more like the Padres will hold onto him, as they are prepared to offer him an extension.
Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Betancourt, Brett Myers and Matt Capps are also available, but I think Jonathan Broxton is the most attractive option of any of them.
After a injury-shortened and ineffective 2011 season, Broxton signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Royals to set up Joakim Soria, but when Soria went down before season's start, he moved into the closer's role and has done a terrific job.
The Mets are in need of a bullpen overhaul and have interest in the burly right-hander (via Danny Knobler, Twitter). And with the Giants scouting the Royals farm system, they too could be eyeing him (via Andrew Baggarly, CSN BayArea).
There is a chance the Royals could hold onto Broxton and look to re-sign him. They apparently badly want to win games in the second half and aren't simply looking to give him away (via Danny Knobler).