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MLB Trade Talk: Predicting Where Top 10 Starting Pitchers on Trade Market Land

Joel ReuterFeatured Columnist IVOctober 15, 2016

MLB Trade Talk: Predicting Where Top 10 Starting Pitchers on Trade Market Land

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    There is no question that pitching is the strength of this year's MLB trade deadline, as aside from the two star pitchers on the market in Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, there are a plethora of viable veteran arms to be had.

    To this point, no chips have fallen, but that won't be the case for long as rumors continue to swirl on where some of the top arms could land.

    With that, here are my predictions on where the top 10 pitchers on the market will be once the July 31 deadline comes and goes.

Jason Vargas

2 of 11

    Stats: 20 GS, 9-7, 4.09 ERA, 86 Ks, 132 IP

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible through 2013

    While rumors always pop up about the perennially unavailable Felix Hernandez, it is Vargas who could be on the move this year.

    The fact that he is under team control through next season adds some appeal, and he should come far cheaper than some of the names to come on this list.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Toronto Blue Jays

    The Blue Jays are said to be focusing on pitchers controllable beyond this season, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, and while they would no doubt prefer Matt Garza or Wandy Rodriguez, I think they wind up settling on Vargas, even with the recent acquisition of J.A. Happ.

Edinson Volquez

3 of 11

    Stats: 20 GS, 6-7, 3.34 ERA, 109 Ks, 121.1 IP

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible through 2013

    Acquired in the Mat Latos deal this past offseason, Volquez is having his best season since his rookie year with the Reds back in 2008, when he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA.

    He one-hit the Astros his last time out, so his stock has certainly been boosted, and with the Padres now looking to extend trade chips Carlos Quentin and Huston Street (via Jon Heyman, CBS Sports), he could be the team's big trade piece.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: St. Louis Cardinals

    The Cardinals are seemingly kicking the tires on every pitcher out there, and Volquez would be a similar pickup to Edwin Jackson last season. His control can be suspect at times, but when he is on he is very good. Relied on as nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation guy, Volquez could be a major asset.

Wandy Rodriguez

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    Stats: 20 GS, 7-8, 3.75 ERA, 83 Ks, 124.2 IP

    Contract Status: 2013: $13 million, 2014: $13 million option ($2.5 million buyout)

    Rodriguez was shopped last season, but the Astros never found the right deal, as their asking price for the controllable left-hander was high.

    He's gone 43-43 with a 3.43 ERA since the beginning of 2009, but he has struggled of late with a 5.65 ERA over his past 10 starts, and that could very well be a result of his name constantly being part of trade talks.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Baltimore Orioles

    According to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, the Orioles have talked to the Astros about Rodriguez, and for a team that has been a surprise competitor this year and is focused on building for the long haul, acquiring someone controllable beyond this season makes sense.

Francisco Liriano

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    Stats: 21 G, 16 GS, 3-9, 4.81 ERA, 107 Ks, 97.1 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    Liriano got off to a rough start to the season and wound up spending some time in the bullpen, but in 10 starts since returning to the rotation he has gone 3-4 with a 2.84 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 63.1 innings, including 25 strikeouts over 14 innings of work in his last two starts.

    His entire career has been a series of ups and downs, but any team acquiring him looks like it would catch him on a major up, as he could be a big contributor down the stretch.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: New York Yankees

    The Yankees' starting rotation has looked much better of late, with Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova finding some consistency alongside CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.

    That could be reason enough for the Yankees to back off on some of the top names, but they'll likely still look to add a starter, as Freddy Garcia (4-3, 5.37 ERA) is a shaky option at best, and it remains to be seen when Andy Pettitte will be back.

Anibal Sanchez

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    Stats: 18 GS, 5-6, 3.95 ERA, 102 Ks, 114 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    After struggling with injuries and starting a total of just 32 games from 2007 to 2009, Sanchez settled in as one of the NL's better starters the past two seasons, going 21-21 with a 3.61 ERA and 8.3 K/9 over 2010-11.

    He's set to hit free agency at season's end and is as likely as anyone on the Marlins roster to be moved at the deadline; the team is willing to listen on anyone, according to Buster Olney.

     

    Predicted Landing Sport: Boston Red Sox

    Sanchez was originally a part of the Red Sox organization, as he joined the Marlins as part of the Hanley Ramirez for Mike Lowell/Josh Beckett trade.

    The Red Sox are on the fringe of contention right now with the returns of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, so someone like Sanchez would be a lower-cost pickup that could help the team but wouldn't represent an all-in move.

Ryan Dempster

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    Stats: 14 GS, 5-3, 1.86 ERA, 75 Ks, 92 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    Dempster is as sure a thing as there is on the market this year to be moved, as the rebuilding Cubs will look to move the free-agent-to-be once they find a deal they like.

    He entered his start on Friday against the Cardinals leading all of baseball in ERA, and chances are that will be his last start in a Cubs uniform.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Dodgers have long been viewed as the favorites to land him, and they have reportedly made an official offer (via Bruce Levine, ESPNChicago.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 of Fox Sports.

James Shields

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    Stats: 19 GS, 8-6, 4.44 ERA, 114 Ks, 123.2 IP

    Contract Status: 2013: $9 million option ($1.5 million buyout), 2014: $12 million option ($1 million buyout)

    The Rays have struggled to come up with enough offense to aid their solid pitching staff this season, and as a result they are on the fringe of contention and could wind up selling.

    Shields has gone 66-55 with a 3.86 ERA over the previous five seasons, and he 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, although he's not been quite as good this season with an 8-6 record and 4.44 ERA.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Nowhere

    It was originally reported that, whether they choose to buy or sell, the Rays would be willing to listen to offers for Shields, according to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler.

    However, on Friday Knobler tweeted that while teams are interested in Shields, they are being told "not yet," and in the end I think he stays put.

Matt Garza

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    Stats: 17 GS, 5-7, 4.02 ERA, 93 Ks, 100.2 IP

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible through 2013

    It cost the Cubs a package of five players, including three top prospects, when they acquired Garza from the Rays prior to last season, so it is understandable that their asking price has been high on the 28-year-old right-hander.

    A few weeks ago, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports 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, so the high price is seemingly justified.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Detroit Tigers

    The Tigers were working towards acquiring Garza this past winter, and while those talks never led to anything, it is no surprise that the team is once again in on Garza.

    Jon Morosi of Fox Sports identified the Tigers as a team with interest a couple weeks ago, and while talks have not progressed since then, there is no reason to think Detroit is not still in on Garza.

Zack Greinke

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    Stats: 20 GS, 9-3, 3.57 ERA, 117 Ks, 116 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    The Brewers went all-in last season and fell short; now they are left with the tough decision of whether to tear things down and rebuild or try for a quick fix.

    Clearly they were interested in keeping Greinke around, as they offered him a reported $100 million-plus, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but it looks like his days in Milwaukee are limited.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Atlanta Braves

    Heyman broke down the field for Greinke and Cole Hamels a little while back, and the Orioles and Braves were identified as teams who specifically were targeting Greinke hard.

    The Braves will likely be able to put together a better trade package than the Orioles, as they are reportedly willing to deal their top prospects to land Greinke, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Cole Hamels

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    Stats: 18 GS, 11-4, 3.07 ERA, 125 Ks, 126 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    The Phillies are still in the process of attempting to re-sign Hamels, as they are reportedly preparing to offer him a six-year, $130 million extension (via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports).

    However, it is not every day that a 28-year-old who ranks among the best pitchers in all of baseball is even remotely available, and at the end of the day the Phillies could deal him for a big prospect package and still re-sign him in the offseason, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.

     

    Predicted Landing Spot: Texas Rangers

    The Rangers were suggested to be the favorites to land Hamels by Buster Olney, and while the Phillies re-signing him remains a serious possibility, I think the Rangers will get the deal done.

    My guess is all it would take is the Rangers agreeing to include prospect Mike Olt in the deal and the Phillies would make the move, banking on re-signing Hamels in the offseason.

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