MLB Trade Rumors: Predicting the Trade Destination for Top Deadline Targets

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Predicting the Trade Destination for Top Deadline Targets

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    As trade rumors continue to swirl and we are now just five days from the July 31 trade deadline, the trade market should continue to heat up.

    New rumors pop up everyday regarding the top names on the market, and part of the fun of the trade deadline is speculating on where some of those players could land.

    So here are my predictions on where some of the top remaining players on the market will land before the calendar turns over to August.

Ryan Dempster

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    Stats: 14 GS, 5-5, 2.25 ERA, 83 Ks, 104 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    Dempster was all but traded to the Braves on Monday, but things quickly fell apart starting with a tweet from Dempster himself saying that there was no trade.

    It was later revealed that Dempster had invoked his 10-and-5 veto rights when he found out about the trade from the media instead of the Cubs, saying he felt blindsided according to this tweet from Jerry Crasnick.

    Now the Cubs are back to square one as far as moving the right-hander, and according to a tweet from Buster Olney, the Cubs plan as of now is to hold onto Dempster and make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season, so they can receive draft-pick compensation.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Dodgers have had no shortage of players they have been linked to, but my feeling is that the Dodgers will strike out on their pursuit of other starting pitching targets and turn their attention back to Dempster.

    In the end, I think the Dodgers wind up giving the Cubs top pitching-prospect Allen Webster like they wanted, according to NBC Sports, to assure that the deal gets done.

Justin Upton

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    Stats: .272/.365/.407, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 62 R

    Contract Status: Signed through 2015 with $38.5 million remaining on contract

    Upton has been one of the most intriguing names on the trade market since he was first made "available" at the beginning of the month.

    However, nothing has come to pass, and according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick has said that it is a "reasonable assumption" that Upton won't be moved.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Pittsburgh Pirates

    Despite what Kendrick said, I think the Pirates, who showed interest in Upton according to Jon Morosi of, will make them an offer they can't refuse. Their continually impressive play will push them to make a big splash and add the impact bat they need.

    The cost will no doubt be high, but with the Pirates in a position they have not been in for some time (yes, this year's team is in a much better position than last year's), they'll pull the trigger on a megadeal.

Josh Johnson

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    Stats: 20 GS, 6-7, 4.14 ERA, 105 Ks, 119.2 IP

    Contract Status: Signed for 2013, $13.75 million

    The Marlins' transition to selling has been a swift one, as they have already moved Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez in the last few days, and Johnson could be the next to go.

    Joe Frisaro of tweeted that the odds are 50/50 that Johnson will be moved and that it will take a great offer to land him.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Texas Rangers

    According to a tweet from Joel Sherman of The New York Post, baseball people would be "shocked" if the Marlins don't wind up trading Josh Johnson, so perhaps his chances of going are a little better than 50/50.

    Sherman also named the Rangers as the early favorites to land him, and while the Rangers have been in on a number of starting pitchers this July, I think Johnson will in fact be the one that they land when all is said and done.

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)

    It was originally reported some time ago 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.

    According to Tim Kurkjian via, the Rays and Angels have discussed a deal that would ship James Shields to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger and Ervin Santana. While it is a deal that would seemingly benefit both sides, the Rays have not pulled the trigger.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Tampa Bay Rays

    Because he is controlled for the next two years at a relatively low price given his track record, I think the Rays will be looking for more than the Angels are offering.

    The possibility remains that someone could blow the Rays away with an offer, but as of now, my gut tells me that Shields will be with the Rays for the rest of this season and beyond.

Matt Garza

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    Stats: 18 GS, 5-7, 3.91 ERA, 96 Ks, 103.2 IP

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible through 2013

    Questions are abound with Garza right now, as he left his most recent start after just three innings with soreness in his throwing arm.

    On top of that, Garza is now unavailable until Monday because his wife is expecting, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago. That means his next start will come less than a day before the trade deadline and scouts will only get a short time to evaluate his health before deciding whether to pull the trigger on a trade.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Boston Red Sox

    The Tigers looked like favorites (Jon Morosi via Twitter) early on for Garza, but after landing Anibal Sanchez, they are likely out of the running.

    The Red Sox have reportedly (Nick Cafardo via Twitter) fallen behind other teams in their pursuit of Matt Garza, but they remain interested nonetheless. In the end, I think they will make a late push and land the right-hander who is controlled through next season.

Chase Headley

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    Stats: .268/.361/.423, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 47 R

    Contract Status: Arbitration eligible through 2014

    Third base is as thin a position as any in the MLB, and Headley represents the best option on the trade market by far, so it comes as no surprise that market is very strong for the 28-year-old. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, sources have indicated there is a "strong possibility" he is dealt.

    Heyman reported back in early July that at least seven teams had shown legitimate interest in Headley, but now that he is viewed as a more likely candidate to be moved, more teams could step forward.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Baltimore Orioles

    I originally felt that Headley would wind up with the Dodgers, but after their recent acquisition of Hanley Ramirez, that likely won't happen, as Ramirez and Dee Gordon will make up the left side of the Dodgers infield moving forward.

    Among the remaining teams that have shown interest, I think the Orioles make the most sense, as they could use the offensive boost this season but are also a team on the rise without a real option moving forward at third base—with Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds both headed for free agency.

Cliff Lee

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    Stats: 17 GS, 1-6, 3.95 ERA, 112 Ks, 118.1 IP

    Contract Status: Signed through 2015 with $87.5 million remaining on contract

    Following the Cole Hamels extension, the Phillies could now consider moving their other big-name left-hander in Cliff Lee.

    Jayson Stark of ESPN noted that the Phillies have talked to teams about Lee, but that the Hamels signing does not guarantee anything.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Philadelphia Phillies

    As of right now, the Phillies have not gone so far as to say he is not available, but according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the team's plan is to keep their three aces together.

    The re-signing of Hamels could push the team to look to shed some payroll, but I think it is more likely that they move Hunter Pence than Lee at this point.

Zack Greinke

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    Stats: 21 GS, 9-3, 3.44 ERA, 122 Ks, 123 IP

    Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

    After spending the last couple of weeks on the fence regarding whether or not to sell at the deadline, Danny Knobler of CBSSports reported on Wednesday that the Brewers are now ready to sell.

    Their biggest chip, without question, is starter Zack Greinke, and he put to rest any injury concerns when he made his first start in the last 10 days on Monday and went seven innings, allowing just three hits and one run.


    Predicted Landing Spot: Atlanta Braves

    According to a tweet from Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday, the Rangers, Orioles, Braves, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers are all teams currently known to have an interest in the right-hander.

    The Braves were identified by Jon Heyman of CBSSports as a team that has significant interest in Greinke and as a landing spot that could appeal to Greinke long term. They have the prospects to put together a better package than other suitors if they choose to do so.