MLB Trade Rumors: Cliff Lee and 5 Impact Players Your Team Can Still Acquire

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Cliff Lee and 5 Impact Players Your Team Can Still Acquire

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    The 2012 MLB trade deadline has come and gone, but that does not mean that this is the end of this season's trades.

    Players can still be dealt after the deadline, but they must be placed on waivers and cleared in order for their team to trade them wherever they want.

    As a result, the players who are eligible to be traded after the deadline are generally veterans with bloated contracts or who are suffering through down seasons.

    CBSSports Jon Heyman put together a list of 30 players who fall into the above category last Sunday. However, some of those players have been dealt and others are by no means realistic candidates to be moved.

    So here is a look at five impact players who have a legitimate chance to be moved this season, as teams look to make one last move to shore up their rosters heading into the postseason.

Kevin Millwood, Seattle Mariners

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    Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, Millwood has been a pleasant surprise in the Mariners' rotation this season, posting a 3.90 ERA over 115.1 innings in 20 starts.

    The 37-year-old is durable, has postseason experience from his time with the Braves and is making next to nothing this year with a $1 million salary.

    There is a chance someone could put a claim in on him, but if he does pass through waivers he may be the most likely player to be traded in August, especially if a contender suffers an injury to their rotation between now and then.

Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City Royals

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    Francoeur was a deadline addition by the Mets in 2009 and the Rangers in 2010, so he has some experience moving to a contender for the stretch run.

    Despite a solid performance down the stretch for the Rangers in 2010 (.340 BA, 2 HR, 11 RBI in 53 at bats), he received little interest on the market that offseason and wound up signing a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Royals.

    A terrific season (.285 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI, 22 SB) in 2011 earned him a two-year, $13.5 million extension, but he has struggled mightily this year and will likely head to the bench with top prospect Wil Myers likely to earn a call-up in September.

    His .238 batting average, nine home runs and 30 RBI will likely be enough to keep him from getting claimed, but with teams always looking to bolster their bench down the stretch, the Royals could find a taker.

Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers

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    The Brewers dealt their biggest trade chip in Zack Greinke to the Angels, but they were unable to move reliever Francisco Rodriguez after he allowed 10 runs in 2.2 innings of work in his four appearances leading up to the deadline.

    Rodriguez was temporarily moved to the closer's role and used frequently before the deadline as the team looked to move him. His play struggled as a result, but he was pitching well leading up to the month of July.

    In 37 games prior to July, he had 16 holds and a 3.97 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 34 innings of work. While his recent struggles and roughly $3 million remaining salary will likely keep teams from claiming him, he could be of interest to a contender in the right trade.

Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs

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    The Cubs dealt four players at the deadline, but left fielder Alfonso Soriano and the remaining $36 million on his contract was not among them.

    That salary is the reason no team is likely to claim Soriano on waivers, meaning the team will be free to trade him in August once he clears.

    Willing to eat the majority of his contract, the Cubs could find someone interested in picking up Soriano, who is hitting 270 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI on the season and could provide an offensive boost to a contender down the stretch.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Phillies sold aggressively once they opted to deal, moving outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence on deadline day.

    After the re-signing of Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that one AL executive felt that the move meant Pence and Cliff Lee were both available. The Phillies did not discourage teams from inquiring about Lee, but in the end nothing came to pass.

    The left-hander is due at least $87.5 million over the next three seasons, which is likely enough to keep anyone from making a waiver claim on him.

    He has a 21-team no-trade list, which limits where the 33-year-old could end up, but the possibility remains that he could be dealt if the Phillies decide to commit to a full rebuild or  find a suitable return for him.