MLB Trade Rumors: Favorites to Land Top Trade Targets

Mark MillerCorrespondent INovember 5, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Favorites to Land Top Trade Targets

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    The MLB rumor mill always seems to be running on all cylinders, and with all teams actively seeking out valuable pieces to solve their team's playoff puzzle for 2013 the winter promises to be active once again.

    We've seen some very big names change organizations this summer, and we will likely continue to see that trend occur in the next few months as 2012 winds down.

    All parties involved inevitably get something in return when a deal is done, and though sometimes, a team's hand can be forced, that doesn't mean it can't benefit.

    Here are some players who could be moved this offseason, bringing new hope to a franchise in need of that one last piece.

Shin Soo Choo

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    The Cleveland Indians may have looked good early on in 2012, though they would ultimately fall back to the pack towards the end, and with plenty of decisions to make on their future, Shin-Soo Choo could end up being a casualty.

    Choo was in the picture as a potential deadline pickup for the Pirates earlier this season (according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), and if the Indians determine that they won't be able to re-sign Choo, they may look to cut their losses and take on valued prospects.

    His inability to hit left-handed pitching could cause concern for any team looking to take on Choo, but the spark that he could bring to a Pittsburgh lineup could very well offset any detriment.

James Shields

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    The biggest name of this offseason's market for starting pitching came off the board before free agency even hit when Cole Hamels signed his mega extension, leaving teams in need of pitching with one less option.

    Zack Greinke will likely set the market, and though the Texas Rangers will likely kick the tires on him, they will also want to throw some feelers out on James Shields.

    Shields will be a free agent after this coming season, and with the Rays continually facing payroll issues, it's unlikely he'd be a candidate to sign for the long haul.

    The Rangers have a stable of viable candidates in their farm system that would put the Rays in good position moving forward; it's just a matter of understanding how high the bar is set.

Chris Perez

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    With ninth-inning options always at a premium in this league, Chris Perez will likely garner plenty of interest this offseason as teams weigh their bullpen options.

    He enjoyed a very strong 2012 season, saving a career-high 39 games while striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings.

    He's mentioned that he still hopes to remain an Indian even after publicly criticizing the lack of fan support, but at just 27 years old, his upside is higher than most other closers on the free agent market.

    The Giants had shown interest in Perez earlier this season (h/t Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports), and while they were able to take home a World Series title without his help, an addition of an arm that dominating could go a long ways in making a repeat bid.

Jacoby Ellsbury

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    After getting unbelievably active during the month of August and ridding themselves of the contracts of Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto, there's not a whole lot left in the way of tradeable players for the Boston Red Sox.

    Jacoby Ellsbury, however, might still be an option for the Red Sox as they look to continue retooling their roster.

    He's heading into his final year of arbitration and will enter free agency next season. While he's put up a number of strong stat lines since his 2007 debut, he's also seen his share of injury issues, something that could keep the Sox from wanting to extend his contract.

    An option thrown out by Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald is sending Ellsbury over to Texas in exchange for Derek Holland, a move that would have positives for both sides.

Josh Johnson

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    As one of the most active teams last offseason, the Miami Marlins headed into 2012 with a very different look and high expectations to go along with it.

    They had a disappointing season on many accounts, however, and a number of stars, including Heath Bell, Hanley Ramirez and manager Ozzie Guillen, are now gone.

    It's hard to say whether or not there will be more moves made in the near future, but if there are, Josh Johnson has to be in the mix.

    Ridding themselves of a pitcher that they likely wouldn't be willing to re-sign when free agency comes around after 2013 would net prospects that a franchise can build around, and the Minnesota Twins just might have some pieces they'd be interested in.

    The Twins have one of the worst starting rotations in baseball, and the notion of acquiring Johnson, a Minnesota native, was brought up by Phil Mackey of ESPN1500 earlier this summer.

Justin Upton

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks may have placed star Justin Upton on waivers earlier this season, and while it's not clear whether or not any serious suitors emerged, the Pittsburgh Pirates did come up at times.

    Acquiring a player like Upton would give the Pirates a great compliment for Andrew McCutchen in the outfield and would solidify the offensive core of the franchise for years to come.

    The Diamondbacks pitching staff performed admirably at times in 2012, but was average at best. Pittsburgh has some of the best pitching prospects in minor league baseball, and while it's not certain that it'd be willing to part with any of them, it never hurts to listen.

Denard Span

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    Starting pitching was inevitably the ultimate downfall of the Minnesota Twins in 2012, as the staff was pieced together with less-than-stellar prospects who would hardly crack a major league roster anywhere else.

    Denard Span was a bright spot for the team, though his name came up in trade rumors this season, much like it did in 2011 when the Nationals discussed a potential deal (reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports).

    The Nationals have enough pitching prospects to pique the interest of the Twins, and with a plethora of infield prospects in the farm system, Span may indeed be expendable.

Matt Garza

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    Throughout much of last year's offseason, it seemed like there were relatively constant murmurs about Matt Garza being shipped out of Chicago prior to the start of this season.

    Speculation went back and forth more than once since then, with the Reds showing up as just one team interested this summer.

    They weren't the only one, as it was reported that the Blue Jays wanted to add Garza for a second-half run (reported by Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star), and while that obviously didn't come to fruition, Toronto will need to improve its rotation if it hopes to contend in 2013.

Ike Davis

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    Pulling off one of the most surprising August trades we've ever seen, the Boston Red Sox ridded themselves of a massive amount of payroll in trading Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    In doing so, they left themselves a few holes to fill, and with a new manager in town for the 2013 season, they'll turn their attention this offseason towards filling those gaps.

    One possible candidate may be closer than they think, as Ike Davis has the makings of a star first baseman.

    He batted just .227 this season, but hit 32 home runs and drove in 90 runs to pace the Mets offense. Davis will be under team control until 2017, so New York could likely cash in on a deal that would build its farm system for the long haul.

Elvis Andrus

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    After a disappointing finish to the 2012 season, the Texas Rangers head back to the drawing board in an effort to make sure they get back to postseason contention once again.

    Josh Hamilton's contract situation will no doubt get the bulk of the attention this offseason when it comes to the Rangers, and while starting pitching will also get plenty of press, the infield situation could also evolve into something to look at.

    Elvis Andrus played well this season, posting a career-high .286 batting average and notching 180 hits.

    He won't enter free agency for a couple years, but with highly heralded prospect Jurickson Profar seemingly ready for action, the traffic jam at shortstop could force the Rangers' hand.

    Should Justin Upton not make a move to a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates (as mentioned earlier), Andrus could potentially be moved to the D-Backs in exchange for Upton (h/t Nick Pecoro, Arizona Republic), shoring up an outfield that could very well be without Josh Hamilton in 2013.