As the temperature outside starts to heat up, so will the rumors around Major League Baseball's best.
The All-Star break is just a few weeks away, and right after that will be the July 31 trade deadline—the last day to make a deal without a player having to clear waivers beforehand. This year, there are sure to be plenty of big names on the move.
Last year at the deadline, the Phillies traded a pair of stars, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, and the Cubs sent Ryan Dempster to the Rangers, among other deals. We’re sure to see plenty of rumors spiraling soon, involving players with just as impressive career resumes.
There are certainly some teams that will be looking to dump payroll before this winter, while others will be looking to add last-minute talent to make it to the postseason.
So, which players could be with new teams in the coming weeks? Let’s take a look at all of the latest rumors that involve some of the game’s top stars.
Astronomical Price Tag for Papelbon, Lee
Teams are going to be raising Ruben Amaro Jr.’s phone bill in the next two months to see what it’s going to take to trade for Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee. Papelbon and Lee both have large contracts, but have also been good pitchers over the course of their respective careers.
The Phillies, who entered Monday 7.5 games behind in the NL East, aren’t just going to fork over two of the top pitchers in the National League. Amaro recently told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that while he isn’t 100 percent against the idea, “these are guys who are hard to replace.”
Heyman believes that the price tag for either pitcher “would be astronomical”.
But what does astronomical really mean? Well, Jim Bowden of ESPN recently came up with a few trade ideas, and he thinks that Phillies are going to ask for the farm (Insider subscription required).
Bowden named three potential trade partners who would each need to give up their best prospect in order to land either of the two.
Bowden says that Texas would have to give up Jurickson Profar in a deal headlined with Lee. If Boston is going to get the left-hander, they’ll likely need to give up Xander Bogaerts. For the Tigers to get Papelbon, they’ll be getting rid of Nick Castellanos. That, my friends, is what astronomical looks like.
South Side Fire Sale?
We’ve been a witness to a couple of fire sales in the last few months. The most notable one came over the offseason when the Miami Marlins traded nearly every single talented player on the roster in return for mid-level prospects. This summer, Jeffrey Loria may be lending tips to White Sox GM Rick Hahn.
The White Sox have been horrible this season and are currently 11 games under .500. If things don’t turn around quickly, Hahn told Heyman that he’s going to be fielding many more calls than he has been already.
“We are getting phone calls, and they will probably become a little bit more voluminous if we don’t turn it around pretty quickly,” said Hahn.
Heyman believes that the likes of Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom could all be on the move before the deadline. In my eyes, that would certainly fit the definition of a fire sale. By trading even three of those five players, the White Sox would be throwing in the towel for the next few years.
Rios has had the best year of any offensive player on the team. He’s hitting .284/.344/.472 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI. He also has 13 stolen bases and has been great in the outfield as well. Contenders seeking a third outfielder will definitely have some interest in acquiring the 32-year-old.
Three Teams in on Volquez
The Padres are giving it everything they’ve got in order to stay afloat before the All-Star Break. San Diego is right at .500 now and sits only 3.5 games behind the division-leading Diamondbacks. But that doesn’t mean that Edinson Volquez is going to be around for the show.
The Orioles, Phillies and Blue Jays all have interest in acquiring the right-hander, according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Center notes that Volquez’s contract expires at the end of the season, which could be valuable to a club that needs a better-than-average starter down the stretch and in the postseason.
Volquez really hasn’t been very good since 2008, when he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA. He’s only won more than 10 times in a season once since then, and his command has been all over the place. This season, he’s walking an average of 4.53 batters per nine innings, which is very high. His 2013 ERA is at 5.67, which is also poor.
Baltimore is a team that always needs decent pitching and a change of scenery may be what Volquez needs to turn his career around.
Center notes that the Orioles have mentioned Jake Arrieta, who has also had his fair share of issues throughout his career. We’ll know more about whether the Padres will be sellers in the coming weeks, but for now, Volquez looks like he's headed elsewhere.