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MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Most Intriguing Potential Trades as Deadline Nears

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MLB Trade Speculation: 5 Most Intriguing Potential Trades as Deadline Nears
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One month of regular season baseball remains on the schedule, and nearly every division title is up for grabs. Cincinnati's eight-game lead in the NL Central (seven in the loss column) is perhaps the most comfortable cushion around. 

But, we've seen crazier things happen in September. 

Last minute acquisitions could put some teams over the top. Or sometimes, they turn out to be a costly month-long rental. 

There is no predicting what is going to happen in the last month(s) of the 2012 MLB season, and that's why baseball is so great. 

No lead is safe. No deficit insurmountable. 

Some names rumored to be on the market this year are certainly capable of making the difference in a World Series run. Both experienced starting pitching and middle-of-the-order bats could be available. 

But will they be dealt? 

Let's look at the waiver deadline's most intriguing potential trade subjects:

 

Joe Mauer

When Joe Mauer agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $189 million in March of 2010, the consensus around baseball was that he would likely retire a Twin. Two years later, the former AL MVP and three-time batting champ has been placed on waivers and could be on the way out of the Twin Cities. 

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It remains unlikely that any team will be willing to take on Mauer's enormous contract, especially given his non-existent power numbers in recent years. But the fact that his name is even out there is surprising. 

Links to the Red Sox have been made numerous times, but all the Boston Globe indicates that they are not interested at the current time. Though Mauer hasn't produced numbers typical of his career averages in 2012, his .313 batting average and .408 OPS could certainly find a place in someone's lineup card every night. 

 

Shawn Marcum

Marcum comes as a risk given the fact he just sat for seven weeks with elbow tightness. But any team with $1.5 million laying around might be able to pick up a quality starter for the last month (or more) of the season. 

His numbers in Milwaukee this year have been decent (5-4, 3.43 ERA). And through 15 starts on the year, only once has Marcum surrendered more than three earned runs. 

Teams that could be interested include the Yankees, Dodgers, Orioles and Pirates. 

 

Jacoby Ellsbury

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Due up for free agency after the 2013 season, it is no secret that Jacoby Ellsbury will be seeking a mammoth contract. And given the recent events in Boston, there is no guarantee they are willing to provide it. 

Ellsbury is another player fans couldn't fathom leaving his team—even as recently as six months ago. But the star center fielder was placed on waivers last week, and a team with the right package could acquire his services. 

Of course the question about Ellsbury is his health. His talent and potential warrant the $100 million type deal he will be seeking 13 months from now. But having missed a majority of the season in two of the past three years causes reason for concern for potential trade partners. Especially considering the steep price it will take to land him. 

 

Jon Lester

It looks like the Red Sox are starting from scratch. If only they could hit "reset". 

Boston ace Jon Lester found himself on the waiver wire next to teammate Jacoby Ellsbury this past week. The lefty starter has struggled mightily in 2012, recording an ERA more than a full run above his career average. Command issues plagued Lester early, and he hasn't fully recovered. 

When right, few starters in all of baseball can beat him. And that's why the Red Sox aren't going to let him go easily—even if they are abandoning ship. 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

No teams have been linked to Lester just yet, and there is a good chance that he stays put. But if someone like the Dodgers are going for it all, Jon Lester isn't a bad veteran to have on your staff in October. 

 

Alex Rodriguez

Yes, the one that plays for the New York Yankees. 

The largest contract in all of sports could be on the move if a team is crazy enough to pay his salary. And that is a very big "if". 

Sources surrounding the Yankees maintain that he hasn't been placed on waivers, but it is no secret the organization wouldn't mind dumping the 37-year-old and the $114 million remaining on his contract. 

The New York Post reports discussions with the Dodgers about other massive contracts that have circled, but no mention of A-Rod's name have come up yet. The veteran right-hander is certainly declining, but signs of consistency were apparent before his most recent DL stint.

He's not going hit 50 home runs or drive in 130 runs anymore. He might not even be a cleanup hitter at this age. But when healthy, Alex Rodriguez can bat in the middle of my lineup any day of the week. Even if it does mean spending a little money.  

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