Prepare yourselves, for the MLB rumor mill is about to start spinning fast and furiously.
While we haven't reached the point of the season where teams have definitively decided whether they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, most general managers around baseball already have a pretty good idea of which way they are leaning.
Make no mistake about it: Just because we haven't heard about them yet doesn't mean that conversations and negotiations haven't been taking place behind the scenes. Brian Cashman, general manager of the New York Yankees, confirmed as much to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch:
The opportunity for significant upgrade trades obviously don’t usually take place until after the June draft. We’re past that date so I think the atmosphere should be right about there. Activities in terms of conversations have definitely increased where clubs have turned their attention to, "All right, what are you guys looking to do, who do you need, who’s available?"
Every GM is kind of cataloging the available players and team needs. From that, obviously something can transpire over time with a few more conversations.
Every general manager is putting together a plan of attack that will be set in motion over the next week or two, many of which are dependent on how their respective teams perform. They know what they need and who they'd like to get, and in many cases, they have a rough idea of what it would take to pull off a deal.
Here's what we think every front office around baseball will be looking for as the trade deadline nears.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and current through June 18.
Despite having equaled the number of blown saves that he had all of last year (three), Craig Kimbrel remains one of the game's elite closers.
According to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden, bolstering the bullpen is exactly what Braves GM Frank Wren plans on doing between now and the trade deadline.
While Atlanta's bullpen has the second-lowest ERA in baseball at 2.77, the unit has already lost both Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Furthermore, Cristhian Martinez remains sidelined with a sore shoulder, and Luis Ayala is dealing with an anxiety disorder.
All of this has forced skipper Fredi Gonzalez to rely heavily on the arms that he has, with pitchers like Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro either on pace to exceed or already exceeding their previous career-highs for innings pitched at the major league level.
Bolstering the unit is an absolute necessity if Atlanta is going to emerge victorious in the race for the NL East title.
It's all speculation at this point, but relievers like San Diego's Luke Gregerson and Miami's Steve Chisek would be solid additions to Atlanta's bullpen, and there's a better than 50 percent chance that both will become available as the trade deadline approaches.
Trading Giancarlo Stanton would bring a massive package of talent to Miami.
None of the usual trade-bait suspects—Ricky Nolasco, Juan Pierre, Steve Cishek and the like—are going to bring back anything that represents a major improvement over what Miami already has on its roster.
Trading Giancarlo Stanton would.
Yes, Stanton is a special player with MVP potential, and he is the kind of player you don't trade when he's just 23 years old.
That is, unless you're the Marlins.
Miami has multiple holes that it needs to fill, but the one thing the team isn't short on is young, talented outfielders. Marcell Ozuna is already contributing to the effort in Miami. Christian Yelich's arrival is on the horizon, and Jake Marisnick is also not too far behind.
While a case could certainly be made for the Marlins to wait until the offseason to move Stanton, by allowing him to prove that he's healthy—thus maximizing his value—the team runs the risk of Stanton injuring himself yet again, firmly affixing the "injury prone" label to the back of his jersey.
Nothing crushes a player's trade value like an injury.
Despite the injury concerns, every team in baseball would come calling were Stanton to be made available, and the Marlins would have their pick of multiple, multi-player packages to choose from.
Daniel Murphy and David Wright have scored nearly 30 percent of the team's runs in 2013.
What would you do with a player who had a .224/.292/.367 slash line? You would either relegate him to the bench, send him down to the minors or cut ties with him altogether.
What do you do when that's the slash line for an entire team's offense, though?
Such is the sorry state of the New York Mets offense, which ranks among the most inept in all of baseball.
Outside of Daniel Murphy and David Wright, there isn't a position player on the roster who has come even close to being productive.
With the team out of contention this early, the easy approach to the trade deadline would be to sell the handful of veterans who contenders may have an interest in.
Guys like Marlon Byrd, LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon and Shawn Marcum could be attractive to contenders looking to add depth, but nobody that GM Sandy Alderson would seriously consider trading is going to bring back an impact bat.
Unfortunately for the Mets, unless the team suddenly decides that Matt Harvey and/or Zack Wheeler is no longer untouchable (which it never would), then the best the Mets can hope to acquire is minor league depth and perhaps a decent utility player off of the bench.
But in moving excess pieces like Byrd, it potentially opens a spot for Cesar Puello, who owns a .330/.403/.604 slash line, 13 home runs, 46 RBI and 17 stolen bases with Double-A Binghamton. The Mets have nothing to lose by seeing whether the 22-year-old right fielder is ready to contribute.
Cliff Lee is more valuable to the Phillies as a trade chip than he is as a starter.
As presently constituted, the Philadelphia Phillies are pretenders, not contenders.
Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley aren't getting any younger, and the team doesn't have the impact prospects in its farm system to step in and bolster an aging core with declining skills.
Despite GM Ruben Amaro Jr.'s insistence that the Phillies must be contenders every year and that blowing things up is not an option—sentiments he echoed again recently to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News—the time has come for a bomb to be dropped.
In a game where pitching is always in demand, Philadelphia holds two valuable trade chips in starter Cliff Lee and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Even though both are still owed considerable money through the 2016 season—more than $100 million combined if both have their attainable vesting options for 2016 kick in—both veterans would be in demand were they to be made available.
Nick Cafardo of the The Boston Globe says Philadelphia believes Detroit, St. Louis and even Boston would come calling were they to put Papelbon on the market.
Lee is the team's biggest trade chip, and I can understand wanting to hold onto him. He remains one of the premier left-handed starters in baseball and is having a tremendous season for the Phillies.
But already 34 years old, the clock is ticking on how much longer he'll be able to perform at such a high level.
Moving him now—while he remains near the top of his game—would net the Phillies a multi-player package that could fill multiple holes while also infusing youth and athleticism into an aging roster that desperately needs both.
Anthony Rendon has all but pushed Danny Espinosa out of a job with the Nationals.
It's tough to get a read on Washington this season, as the team has only had its full lineup in place for a handful of games.
Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper have all missed significant chunks of time already, leaving the team's offense in disarray as it tries to manufacture runs to support what remains one of the premier starting rotations in baseball.
With top prospect Anthony Rendon looking like the team's future at second base, Espinosa has become expendable and could be used to land a back-end starter to replace Dan Haren, who has been terrible for the Nationals this season.
While Espinosa will need to prove that he's healthy and swing the bat far better than he did before being injured (a .158/.193/.272 slash line in 44 games), his age (26), ability to hit for power and field the position makes him an intriguing addition for a team in need of an upgrade at second base.
At the very least, the Nationals should be able to land a back-end starter and an additional piece in exchange for the four-year veteran.
Not having top prospect Dylan Bundy to call on has made things difficult in Baltimore.
I can't help but think that were Dylan Bundy and Wei-Yin Chen healthy, things would be significantly different in Baltimore.
But they aren't healthy, and a team with one of the most potent offenses in baseball has been unable to grab the lead in the AL East. They have also not been able to put any significant distance between themselves and the rest of the field in the race for one of the two AL wild-card spots. This has all been due to a lack of quality starting pitching.
Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez have been solid, going a combined 12-4 in 26 starts (17 quality starts) with a 3.68 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Unfortunately, the rest of the starters Baltimore has trotted out—including Kevin Gausman, one of the team's top pitching prospects—have been unable to consistently give the team a chance to win when they have taken the mound.
While acquiring a front-line starter would be ideal, the Orioles aren't going to sell the farm to get one, nor should they.
But the team has the pieces in the minor league system to acquire a veteran mid-rotation arm—someone like Chicago's Matt Garza or Miami's Ricky Nolasco.
Garza, specifically, with his experience in the AL East and in the postseason, would be a perfect fit in Baltimore.
Boston doesn't want Alfredo Aceves starting a must-win game down the stretch.
Clay Buchholz is dealing with a strained neck on the disabled list, while Ryan Dempster, Jon Lester and Felix Doubront have been inconsistent.
Yet the Red Sox hold a slim lead in the AL East and would be wise to bolster the team's starting rotation for the stretch run, as the team hopes to return to the playoffs after a forgettable 2012 campaign.
Boston has a number of players—both on the major league roster and in the minors—who could be used to facilitate a deal for one of the starting pitchers likely to be on the market. Matt Garza, with his experience in both the postseason and an AL East pennant race, seems like a logical fit.
Kevin Youkilis' first year in pinstripes has been frustrating to say the least.
Brian Cashman has done a remarkable job of piecing together a roster that has been able to remain competitive and near the top of the AL East while dealing with injuries to more than half of the team's expected starting lineup. But, as he explained to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, he remains open for business:
Listen, because of the injuries that have hit us from the winter and March, we’ve been active and open to try to do something that would make sense for us. I think we’ve done a lot and we’re going to continue to try to do a lot. We’ll see where it takes us.
Where it takes him should involve acquiring another corner infielder—or two.
Mark Teixeira could be facing season-ending wrist surgery, Kevin Youkilis is out for the next two-to-three months after having back surgery to repair a herniated disc, and Alex Rodriguez may or may not play this season due to injury and MLB's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.
That leaves Jayson Nix and Lyle Overbay as the default starters at third base and first base, respectively. The team's bench is also incredibly thin.
While adding a third baseman would be ideal, bolstering either side of the team's infield would be a plus.
Tampa Bay's pitching depth has made Roberto Hernandez expendable.
Despite the rotation's mediocre performance this season, the organization remains rich in pitching depth.
Prospects like Alex Colome, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer, who is currently filling in for the injured Alex Cobb, are patiently waiting for a permanent spot to open up in the rotation. Moving Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, would be a way to achieve that goal.
Speaking of prospects, right fielder Wil Myers' arrival in Tampa Bay has pushed Ben Zobrist back to second base, who in turn pushed Kelly Johnson back to the bench.
Now, neither Hernandez nor Johnson is going to bring back anything of significant value to the Rays, but the value lies in creating the roster space for one of the team's top pitching prospects.
Between veterans like Ryan Roberts and Mike Fontenot sitting in the minors, the Rays could easily replace Johnson on the bench.
Josh Johnson has been fantastic since returning from injury.
After a brutal start to the season things have started to look up, with the Blue Jays sitting only two games below .500 and within five games of one of the two wild-card spots in the American League.
Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle have rebounded from poor starts and thrown the ball incredibly well recently. Johnson has posted a 1.86 ERA in three June starts, and Buehrle has an even better 1.80 mark.
While Esmil Rogers has been terrific in his three starts, he doesn't have a lengthy track record of success. R.A. Dickey and Brandon Morrow continue to mix solid outings with terrible ones, leaving the Blue Jays with three pitchers who they may or may not be able to count on down the stretch.
Adding another starter to the mix is going to be a necessity if the team is truly going to make a run at a playoff spot.
There won't be a shortage of arms available, with veterans like Chicago's Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, Miami's Ricky Nolasco, and Houston's Bud Norris all expected to be some of the names on the trade block in the next few weeks.
While the Blue Jays traded away many of their best prospects to acquire players like Buehrle, Dickey and Johnson, there's still plenty of talent on the farm Toronto could use to go out and bolster the starting rotation with.
Of course, should the team's fortunes change drastically over the next month, Johnson, a free agent after the season, would be an attractive addition for multiple contenders and could bring back a decent package of talent.
Matt Garza's trade value isn't what it used to be, but he remains a premium trade chip.
It's all about continuing to add pieces to the puzzle that GM Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein are trying to put together in Chicago, where the process of rebuilding the Cubs continues.
Alfonso Soriano will, as always, be available (with the Cubs eating much of his remaining salary), as will inept reliever Carlos Marmol. But the team's two most valuable trade chips are a pair of veteran starting pitchers, Scott Feldman and Matt Garza.
The pair of starters will both be free agents at the end of the season and have experience pitching in pennant races and the postseason—experience that makes them more valuable to contenders than some of the other arms expected to be on the market.
While neither one is likely to command a top prospect in return, nobody expected the Cubs would be able to land Arodys Vizcaino from Atlanta as part of the package Chicago received at last year's deadline for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson.
Whatever the return, Chicago needs to continue adding talent to the system and make moves with an eye toward the future.
Nobody knows what, if anything, Ryan Ludwick will be able to contribute in the second half of the season.
Cincinnati remains one of the few teams in baseball with no glaring needs, which is a testament to the roster that GM Walt Jocketty has put together.
If anything, the team could look to acquire a left fielder capable of playing against both left-handed and right-handed starters, abandoning the platoon of Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson (which has worked out fairly well thus far) as the team waits for Ryan Ludwick to return from shoulder surgery.
Back in May, Ludwick told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he wouldn't be back in action until mid-August at the earliest, noting that he couldn't start throwing a baseball until July. Well, Ludwick seems to be a bit ahead of schedule, as he threw on the field for the first time on June 14.
But there's still no firm date for his return, and there's no guarantee that the 11-year veteran will be able to step in and pick up where he left off last season, when he hit .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI.
Jocketty shouldn't be looking to make a major splash in the trade market—one that could potentially cost the Reds something of significant value—but if a veteran outfielder were to become available at a relatively menial cost, there's no harm in adding a veteran bat just in case Ludwick is limited when he returns.
Yovani Gallardo could be the biggest name to move at the trade deadline.
Yovani Gallardo is the best homegrown pitcher Milwaukee has had in years, but trading him at the deadline may be the quickest way for Milwaukee to rebuild what is a disappointing starting rotation.
In the fourth year of a five-year deal and due $11.25 million in 2014 (while also having a $13 million club option for 2015), Gallardo, 27, is likely to ask for a contract extension from Milwaukee that far exceeds the amount the team is willing—or able—to meet.
If the Brewers were ever going to move Gallardo, now's the time. No longer with full no-trade protection, Gallardo can block trades to 10 teams—many of which, he admitted to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, he doesn't know the identity of.
He also told McCalvy that he is aware of the trade speculation. If this speculation continues throughout the season, it is fair to wonder whether it will become a distraction. "We'll see what happens," Gallardo said. "It's definitely a little bit different. It's the first time I've been in a situation like this—not to say that anything is going to happen."
The package the team would receive for him would be substantial due to the fact that he is essentially under team control for the next two years at a very reasonable $24.5 million.
With Kyle Lohse in the fold and under contract through 2015, trading Gallardo isn't as crazy of a thought as it may appear to be at first glance.
Pedro Alvarez is the only Pirate with more than 10 home runs and 40 RBI this season.
Despite sitting 13 games above .500 and being in the thick of the National League playoff race, the Pirates—as was the case in 2012—are still in need of adding a consistent run producer to the middle of the lineup.
The numbers don't lie: Pittsburgh ranks 24th in baseball in runs scored (262), 22nd in RBI (253) and 23rd in OPS (.686).
With a pitching staff that has been consistent despite a rash of injures to the starting rotation, adding an impact bat is the only way the Pirates will be able to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the National League.
Trevor Rosenthal has been one of the few bright spots in the Cardinals' bullpen.
St. Louis has the best minor league system in baseball, one of the game's most complete lineups and a starting rotation that has been nothing short of phenomenal despite losing Jaime Garcia for the season.
But even with all that talent, the Cardinals need more quality relievers. The team's bullpen ranks 23rd in baseball with a 4.10 ERA, and after Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica, the group lacks a shutdown reliever who can help bridge the gap from the starters to Mujica in the ninth inning.
There won't be a shortage of relievers available around the trade deadline, with players like San Diego's Luke Gregerson and New York's Brandon Lyon, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison all expected to be on the market. As more teams determine that they are not contenders, more options will become available.
Jesse Crain would be one of the most sought-after relievers in baseball if the White Sox made him available.
The White Sox are going nowhere fast, and the time has come for some wholesale changes to be made.
Chris Sale remains untouchable, as should closer Addison Reed, but that's it. GM Rick Hahn should be open to fielding offers on every other member of the major league roster and look to move veteran pieces for packages of major league-ready talent and prospects.
Reliever Jesse Crain (0.57 ERA, 0.98 WHIP), starter Jake Peavy (if he's healthy) and outfielder Alex Rios (.285, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 12 SB) would be the team's three most valuable trade chips—in that order—and each of them would bring back multiple pieces in a trade.
While Ubaldo Jimenez has been better of late, I'm not buying what he's selling.
It's hard to say who the Indians are going to target at the trade deadline, because I don't know who the Indians are.
Sitting with a .500 record—4.5 games behind Detroit in the AL Central and 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the second wild-card spot in the AL—the Indians are technically contenders. On paper, they certainly have the talent to contend.
But after Justin Masterson and the currently injured Zach McAllister, I have no faith in the team's starting rotation—which only last season was one of the worst in baseball. Specifically, I have no faith in Ubaldo Jimenez, who has pitched to a 3.50 ERA and 1.40 WHIP since May 1.
It certainly isn't going to hurt Cleveland's chances of contending if the team brought the likes of Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Bud Norris or Ricky Nolasco into the fold.
Detroit needs to do better than Papa Grande in the ninth inning.
Bruce Rondon proved he wasn't ready for major league hitting, while Jose Valverde has blown 25 percent of his save opportunities in his return to the Motor City, leaving the defending AL champions without a reliable ninth-inning option.
The Tigers have already been linked to Philadelphia's Jonathan Papelbon, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, and with the exception of Chicago's Carlos Marmol, we can expect to see Detroit linked to every other reliever with closing experience who hits the trade market between now and the deadline.
The Tigers have been able to fend off the competition in the AL Central for now, but they haven't been able to put any significant distance between themselves and the rest of the division, where first and last place are separated by less than 10 games.
Elliot Johnson isn't a long-term answer at second base.
Like the Indians, I'm not sure whether the Royals are really contenders. However, regardless of their place in the standings at the trade deadline, finding a long-term solution at second base and a corner outfielder who has some power will remain glaring needs for an improved Kansas City club.
Chris Getz and Elliot Johnson, who both have handled the bulk of the playing time at second base this season, have a combined .243/.297/.344 slash line, three home runs and 20 RBI on the season. Things aren't much better in the corner outfield spots, where the Royals have gotten only 10 HR and 65 RBI.
Should the Royals decide to sell at the deadline, moving someone like Ervin Santana could go a long way toward filling one of those holes.
Minnesota should have traded Willingham last year when his value was at its highest.
Minnesota finds itself in a position where it could conceivably bring back multiple pieces, both on and off of the mound, at the trade deadline.
To do that, the team must be ready, willing and able to trade away veteran pieces, specifically Kevin Correia, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau.
GM Terry Ryan is expecting phone calls on the trio, as he told ESPN's Jim Bowden. According to the tweet, "Terry Ryan Twins GM confirmed that veterans Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Kevin Correia will be the players most asked about."
Correia has been Minnesota's most reliable starting pitcher, going 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 13 starts, seven of them being quality outings.
Willingham's batting average is down (.211), but the rest of his numbers are solid (.358 on-base percentage, 10 HR, 31 RBI). Like last season, multiple contenders would be interested in adding him for the stretch run.
Morneau, a free agent at the end of the season, is no longer the slugger he once was—with only two home runs on the season—but he's hitting (.298 batting average) and driving in runs, leading the Twins with 38 RBI.
Brandon McCarthy hasn't been as effective as Arizona hoped he would.
Arizona's starting rotation, after Patrick Corbin, has been mediocre at best, mixing quality outings with terrible ones. Yet the Diamondbacks sit atop the NL West, a tenuous lead considering that the injury-depleted, last-place Dodgers are only 7.5 games back.
Brandon McCarthy, currently on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, has been a disappointment, as has Wade Miley and Ian Kennedy. This has left the Diamondbacks with three options: keep rolling with the same group of starters and hope that something clicks; call upon top prospect Archie Bradley (as they already have with Tyler Skaggs, who has delivered mediocrity); or go out and trade for a veteran arm at the trade deadline.
While neither Bradley nor Skaggs would be in play, the Diamondbacks have enough on the farm to pull off a deal for one of the starters expected to be on the market, including Bud Norris, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman.
Colorado cannot afford to keep trotting Jeff Francis out to the mound.
While Colorado's starting rotation is vastly improved from a year ago when it was the worst in baseball, the group's collective 4.52 ERA and 1.39 WHIP don't exactly invoke memories of the '71 Orioles or '98 Braves.
Improvements can be made.
Rafael Betancourt won't be enough to land a quality starting pitcher on his own, but with Rex Brothers clearly being the closer of the future in Colorado, the veteran reliever is expendable. He could be used to put together a package that would land one of the better starters on the trade market.
Plays like this aren't helping Andre Ethier's case to stick around in Los Angeles.
In the span of two weeks, Yasiel Puig has made Andre Ethier expendable. In retrospect, the five-year, $85 million contract extension that the team signed Ethier to last June seems to have been a mistake.
When Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return from injury and join Puig in the outfield, the Dodgers will be stuck with four starters for three positions.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reported last week that the team has already received calls on Ethier's availability. While his numbers are down this year (.249, 5 HR, 20 RBI), Ethier would be a good fit for a number of teams around the league, contenders and non-contenders alike.
His contract extension could be a major obstacle in trade talks, as interested parties are sure to offer lesser talent to compensate for the amount of money left on his deal. But if the new ownership in Los Angeles has shown us anything, it's that money is no issue.
Were the team to put Ethier on the trade block and offer to pick up a significant portion of the remaining money on his deal, the Dodgers could pick up some quality pieces, both for the stretch run and the future.
Luke Gregerson will be one of the most sought-after relievers on the market.
While the Padres have surprised everyone by playing .500 baseball and sitting in the thick of the playoff race, it's hard to believe the team's early success is sustainable for the rest of the season.
After Andrew Cashner and Eric Stults, the starting rotation is suspect, and the team gets little in the way of run production from its corner outfield spots, with those players contributing only 10 home runs and 55 RBI to the cause.
The team's biggest trade chip, third baseman Chase Headley, likely isn't going anywhere at the deadline, though he could be moved during the offseason if the team cannot work out a long-term extension.
That doesn't mean the Padres don't have anything to offer teams, as veteran outfielders Chris Denorfia, Mark Kotsay and Carlos Quentin; starters Edinson Volquez, Jason Marquis and Stults; and relievers Luke Gregerson and Huston Street could all be targets of contenders as the trade deadline nears.
Madison Bumgarner is the only member of San Francisco's Opening Day rotation with an ERA under 4.50.
According to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler, the Giants have already targeted starting pitching as their primary focus at the trade deadline.
It makes sense, as the perceived strength of the defending World Series champions has been anything but that in 2013.
Combined, the team's starters have a 4.65 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, numbers that rank 24th and 21st among all MLB teams. Chad Gaudin (2.83 ERA), forced into action after Ryan Vogelsong fractured his hand, and Madison Bumgarner (3.30) are the only starters on the staff with respectable ERAs.
The team's biggest obstacle in acquiring another starting pitcher will be its poor farm system. After top prospect Kyle Crick, there's a fairly steep drop-off in talent.
It is assumed Crick would be exempt from any trade talks, but then again, it was only a few years ago that the Giants moved Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran, so you can never say never when it comes to San Francisco and trades.
Bud Norris is already one of the hot names at the rumor mill.
Since being named general manager in December of 2011, Jeff Luhnow has done a pretty impressive job of restocking Houston's minor league system with talent by unloading veteran pieces at the trade deadline.
He'll get a chance to show off his skills again this year, as the Astros have a handful of trade chips for him to move, with none bigger than starter Bud Norris.
Norris (3.64 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) has already attracted interest from the Giants, Orioles and Pirates, according to Nick Cafardo of the The Boston Globe, who quotes an unnamed NL executive who predicts as many as 12 teams will be in on Norris as the trade deadline nears.
Under team control through the 2016 season and making only $3 million in 2013, Luhnow is sure to have a high asking price for the 28-year-old right-hander.
While Norris' salary, age and contract situation are all big selling points, Luhnow needs to be careful and not ask for too much and force potential partners into the arms of other sellers who are offering more established options with shorter contracts and higher salaries.
First baseman Carlos Pena, veteran starter Erik Bedard and relievers Wade LeBlanc and Jose Veras also figure to attract some level of interest from teams looking for inexpensive, veteran depth.
Once a week, Joe Blanton becomes a problem for the Angels.
I don't know how the Angels are going to pull off a trade for anyone, as the team's minor league system lacks impact prospects who a team would be willing to take in a deal for an established starting pitcher.
GM Jerry DiPoto is partially to blame for this, as ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon points out. It was DiPoto who was the interim GM of the Diamondbacks when he insisted that the Angels include both Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs in the deal that eventually landed Dan Haren in Los Angeles.
Unless owner Artie Moreno decides to throw more money at the problem and gives DiPoto the OK to take on significant salary (someone else's bad contract), a deal where the Angels don't surrender much in the way of actual talent and still add a veteran starter to solidify the rotation probably isn't in the cards.
Coco Crisp would be a valuable trade chip for Billy Beane.
Other than the Texas Rangers, who trail Oakland by three games, the A's have a double-digit lead on every other team in the AL West.
There's no reason for the team to make any substantial changes.
But should Billy Beane decide that he wants to shake things up, he has a pair of veteran center fielders in Coco Crisp and Chris Young who would both be attractive to teams at the deadline.
I'm not advocating the team move either one—especially Crisp, who has a very reasonable $7.5 team option for next season—but Oakland does have a big-time prospect in Michael Choice, who is playing well for Triple-A Sacramento and is biding his time until a spot opens for him at the major league level.
Taijuan Walker could help Seattle land the bat it desperately needs.
If I'm Jack Zduriencik, I'm calling Miami and offering the Marlins the same package he offered Arizona for Justin Upton in an attempt to pry Giancarlo Stanton out of South Beach.
When that fails, I'm continuing to negotiate until a deal is reached or I'm insulted by the asking price.
With the exception of Kyle Seager, Seattle's young position players have all regressed in 2013. The team's offense has been carried by veteran bats who will all hit free agency at the end of the season, potentially leaving Seattle with a lineup in 2014 that's even worse than this year's version.
Whether it's Stanton or another slugger who surprisingly becomes available, the Mariners cannot head into the 2014 season without having added someone who is guaranteed to produce with a bat in his hands.
Mike Olt should get ready for the trade rumors to start up again.
While the Rangers have a number of pitchers on the disabled list who project to return either before the All-Star break (Alexi Ogando) or at some point afterward (Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis), the trio can't be counted on to log innings and be big contributors during the team's playoff push.
As was the case during the winter, Mike Olt figures to be the prospect the Rangers dangle in front of teams in an attempt to land a starting pitcher who can join Yu Darvish and Derek Holland atop the team's rotation.
Chances are, Texas will be linked to nearly every "name" starting pitcher that hits the market, whether those rumors are based in fact or fantasy.