There's a pretty good chance that Monday's Matt Garza trade won't be the last time this week that our Twitter feeds explode with news of a big name changing uniforms.
Who moves where and when is anyone's guess, but these are my 25 predictions for what could transpire between now and the July 31 deadline.
I should point out that I don't have anything resembling insider information. This is purely conjecture based on team needs, contract figures and wild rumors.
That said, these are hardly bold predictions. Maybe no one is talking about Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants, Rajai Davis to the St. Louis Cardinals or Skip Schumaker to the Oakland A's, but that doesn't mean they make anything less than perfect sense for both teams involved.
In case you're looking for a specific player, slides are grouped in the following order: starting pitchers, outfielders, right-handed relievers, infielders and left-handed relievers.
*The 25th prediction has been cut following news of the Milwaukee Brewers trading Francisco Rodriguez to the Baltimore Orioles (h/t ESPN.com).
**All statistics are courtesy of Fangraphs.com and ESPN.com and are accurate through the start of play on Monday, July 22.
Ervin Santana heads to the AL East to bolster Boston's starting rotation.
As of this writing, there hasn't been any sort of news on Clay Buchholz's trip to Dr. James Andrews on Monday, but nothing good ever comes from a visit to Andrews.
I won't go burying him just yet, but if Buchholz is done for the season, the Red Sox are left with a starting rotation of Ryan Dempster, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Felix Doubront and Brandon Workman.
Do any of those guys strike you as belonging in that spot in the rotation? Lackey as a No. 3 is probably the closest to an actual representation of skill level, but do the first four guys in that rotation have any chance whatsoever in a seven-game series against the Tigers?
Now, if you put Santana's name at the front of the list and bump everyone else down a spot, there's a much better chance of that team competing in the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, the Royals were looking pretty good, and the idea of trading away the second-best starting pitcher on the team seemed doubtful, at best.
But then they closed the door on the first half of the season with five consecutive losses to enter the All-Star break eight games out of the playoff picture. There's still a chance they could climb back into contention, but there's a better chance that their current four-game series against the Orioles will derail those dreams and force their hand as sellers in the trading market.
With Matt Garza getting dealt to Texas and Boston presumably in desperate need of one of the other aces available, this trade is just a matter of dollars and common sense.
I doubt Boston would be willing to give up Xander Bogaerts in the trade, but if that were to happen, the Royals would be able to shop Alcides Escobar in a market wanting of shortstops.
Not only does San Francisco hang on to Tim Lincecum, but they make a big splash as buyers by getting Jake Peavy.
One of the biggest hang-ups for most teams looking at Jake Peavy is the fact that he's on the books for $14.5 million in 2014 and has a $15 million player option for 2015.
Trading for two-plus years of a pitcher makes more sense than selling the farm for a two-month rental. If you don't believe me, just ask Angels fans if the two months of Zack Greinke were worth losing Jean Segura, John Hellwig and Ariel Pena.
(Better yet, don't talk to Angels fans about that trade. They might seriously injure you.)
However, committing more than $30 million to an oft-injured, 32-year-old pitcher is going to frighten a lot of teams who are just trying to improve their rotation for the 2013 playoff push.
Aren't the Giants the perfect team to make that sort of commitment, though?
Tim Lincecum will be a free agent after the season, theoretically giving San Francisco an extra $22 million per year to play with. And believe it or not, Barry Zito's horrific contract is finally coming to an end this offseason—unless the Giants exercise the $18 million club option for 2014, which would never happen.
Aside from the finances making sense, the Giants desperately need a pitching upgrade. Even with Lincecum and Matt Cain gradually turning things around, that still leaves Zito and either Ryan Vogelsong or Chad Gaudin at the back end of the rotation.
Doesn't Peavy instantly re-introduce the Giants to the discussion on playoff contenders?
Technically, Baltimore's starting rotation is among the worst in the American League.
The Orioles just recently got Wei-Yen Chen back after two months on the DL. Miguel Gonzalez has been solid all season and is working on an eight-game quality start streak. And while I don't agree with his inclusion on the All-Star roster, one could do worse than Chris Tillman as a third starter.
They aren't quite desperate enough to throw themselves at Jake Peavy, but they also need an upgrade over Jason Hammel. Someone like Joe Saunders or Edinson Volquez wouldn't exactly fit the bill.
Norris seems to make sense, provided they don't have to give up Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy to get him. A pu-pu platter of so-so prospects might be enough to win over the still-rebuilding Astros.
Unwilling to pay top dollar or top prospect for one of the big names available, Cleveland settles for a reunion with "Fausto Carmona."
We don't often see deadline deals between contenders, but this is one of two that seems to make sense.
On Tampa Bay's side of things, Roberto Hernandez has the worst ERA among the starters and will become a free agent after the season. With Alex Cobb going on a rehab assignment on Tuesday and both Alex Colome and Jake Odorizzi as options in case anyone else gets injured, Hernandez is incredibly expendable.
Scott Kazmir has been the third-most valuable starting pitcher on the season for the Indians, which should tell you all you need to know about their rotation.
One would think it wouldn't take much to get Hernandez from Tampa Bay. And given his (checkered) history with Cleveland, the Indians would likely be more interested in acquiring him than someone like Joe Saunders.
Yovani Gallardo stays with the Brewers until next year's trade deadline.
His contract is simply too overbearing for a new team to voluntarily shoulder.
Gallardo is making $8 million this season and $11.5 million in 2014. That's way too much money to pay a guy who has only made 10 quality starts in 21 chances this year—only pitching seven or more innings in three of those 21 starts.
If he can put up better numbers in the first half of the 2014 season, perhaps a fringe contender will be willing to take on his expiring contract, but I don't see it happening this year.
The Blue Jays hang on to Josh Johnson—hoping to re-sign him in the offseason—but sell Rajai Davis to the highest bidder.
The first half is hardly a prediction anymore. Everyone "in the know" seems to be under the impression that Johnson isn't going anywhere.
Davis, on the other hand, is a name that I haven't heard in any trade rumors—and I can't figure out why.
Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus are all under contract at least through the 2014 season and would seem to be the outfield of choice for Toronto. Davis will become a free agent after this year, and one could argue that his value has never been higher.
Davis is averaging a stolen base for every 7.4 plate appearances. The next-best rates among players with at least 100 plate appearances are 11.1 for Everth Cabrera and 11.7 for Jacoby Ellsbury. Both Davis' batting average and on-base percentage are higher than they've been in the past three seasons.
I could definitely see St. Louis at least finding out what it would cost to get him. Jon Jay has been extremely disappointing in center field, and if Davis doesn't pan out in August, there's always Oscar Taveras as a September call-up.
Raul Ibanez gets traded to the American League contender most in need of an upgrade at DH.
If Henry Urrutia doesn't work out, the Orioles are back to a 2B/DH combo of Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty.
The other seven starters on the depth chart are more than capable of helping Baltimore outscore anyone, but wouldn't you rather have Ibanez in there on a daily basis than having to try to hide Flaherty at the bottom of the lineup?
The question, of course, is whether Baltimore is willing and able to give up enough to get Ibanez.
If it's also going to get Bud Norris or a comparable starting pitcher, it's probably already giving up the majority of the trade-worthy prospects that it's actually willing to trade. As such, this might be more of an either/or second half to the Norris prediction. Either the Orioles improve their rotation or improve their lineup to make up for the rotation.
If they're able to do both, they could still win the AL East.
The White Sox deal Alex Rios to the Pirates for a mid-level prospect and some salary relief.
It's been discussed so often for so long that it almost feels like a foregone conclusion. The Pirates need some serious help in right field, and the White Sox seriously want to shed some financial obligations.
The big question is, what do the White Sox want in return, aside from salary relief?
My guess is they would target Pittsburgh's first base prospect, Alex Dickerson. With Paul Konerko possibly retiring and Adam Dunn practically begging us to rename the Mendoza Line after him, first base seems to be one of the most crucial pieces for Chicago to upgrade.
They do have Keon Barnum in the pipeline as a solid prospect, but Dickerson could be the everyday first baseman next season.
Pittsburgh's willingness to give up Dickerson could be directly proportional to how much of Rios' contract the White Sox are willing to eat.
The Mariners trade Michael Morse to a National League contender in need of a right-handed bat.
Selfishly, I want to see Morse back with the Nationals. From a sabermetrics perspective, he's not that good. However, I still contend that the biggest difference between the 2012 and 2013 teams is their attitude.
Denard Span and Rafael Soriano haven't been awful, but the post-game shaving cream pies and phantom grand slams left town with Morse. If the Nationals are going to even flirt with getting back into the playoff picture, they could use his goofiness to lighten things up in the clubhouse. His bat occasionally being in the lineup wouldn't hurt, either.
Realistically, Morse could end up in Cincinnati. Ryan Ludwick should be back soon, says Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports' HardballTalk, so they might not need Morse's bat in left field. However, I can't imagine the asking price would be astronomically high for a free agent who has been on the DL for the past month.
Even if they just want him as a pinch hitter, Morse would immediately contend with Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart as the second-best right-handed bat on the team behind Brandon Phillips.
Contrary to Sandy Alderson's assertions, the Mets will trade Marlon Byrd for significantly less than top dollar.
In a little over a month, Byrd will be a 36-year-old outfielder.
There are a grand total of five outfielders who are 36 or older and have made at least 150 plate appearances this season. It seems like we've all been at least a little surprised at how well they've each played to this point in the year.
If the Mets truly believe he'll be a big contributor in 2014, they're slightly delusional. On the flip side of that coin, if they don't plan on having him next season, there's no point in keeping him around this year and blocking the path for prospects to get their shot at major league at-bats.
Everyone other than Alderson sees this, right?
As far as the market for Byrd is concerned, both St. Louis and Oakland would probably be intrigued by the opportunity to replace Jon Jay and Josh Reddick in their respective everyday lineups.
The Dodgers trade for Jesse Crain.
Who are the Dodgers calling upon when they need to get a right-handed hitter out prior to the ninth inning?
Wouldn't it be great if they could get a pitcher who holds righties to a .171 batting average and strikes out 37 percent of them? Such is the season that Crain is having.
His arm pains might scare away other teams, but the 2013 Dodgers haven't exactly been afraid to throw money at anyone.
In hopes of patching together a bullpen riddled with injuries, the Red Sox trade for Kevin Gregg.
Back on April 8, the Red Sox got seven innings from Clay Buchholz before turning the game over to Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan for the hold and the save.
My, how things have changed.
Koji Uehara has been excellent all season and was perhaps the biggest snub from the All-Star Game. He's one of just five pitchers on the season with at least 30 innings pitched and a K/BB ratio of at least 7.50—and he's done it all while bouncing from a sixth-inning pitcher to a setup pitcher to the closer.
However, the last three innings were supposed to belong to Hanrahan, Bailey and Andrew Miller, and all three of those guys are on the disabled list, with only Miller possibly able to return this year.
Uehara entered the season with 14 saves in his career. Tazawa only had five holds prior to this season. Breslow wasn't even in the majors until May. This bullpen might be working in the doldrums of the summer, but they're going to want a veteran when the going gets tough in September.
Before joining the Cubs, Gregg had spent the previous three seasons pitching in the AL East. Granted, he pitched his way out of the closer role and struggled miserably in 2012, but there's something to be said for a reliever who has "been there, done that."
Trading for Matt Garza was just the first move the Rangers make at the deadline.
The Rangers literally have an entire starting rotation on the disabled list, and all five of those guys are getting close to a return. As it turns out, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Within a month, they could realistically have a healthy Yu Darvish, Matt Garza, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez, Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch.
There's no reason for that. They should pick Garza plus six others to keep and deal the other two to a team that has nothing left to play for in 2013 but could provide a quality bat in return. Perhaps a trade with Milwaukee for Aramis Ramirez, or with the White Sox for Adam Dunn, is in order.
By depleting the farm system to get Garza, they've already essentially said it's all or nothing for 2013, so they might as well take whatever measures they can to improve even further.
Unwilling to wait on Ruben Amaro Jr. to decide whether Chase Utley will be available, the A's deal for Skip Schumaker to play second base.
The Dodgers have absolutely no need for Schumaker. They have a five-man outfield of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke. They already have Mark Ellis and Nick Punto to play second base.
Despite his flexibility, Schumaker entered play on Monday with a grand total of 21 at-bats in the Dodgers' last 16 games. Considering he's a free agent after the season and they barely use him, wouldn't it make sense to flip him to Oakland for whatever the A's are willing to give up?
Granted, Oakland would rather be getting a second baseman who bats right-handed so he can platoon with Eric Sogard, but beggars can't be choosers.
Justin Morneau plays the second half of the season in pinstripes.
Even though they have been identical in production to this point in the season, Morneau gives the Yankees a much better shot at a playoff run than Lyle Overbay.
First base is the one position where the Yankees are struggling and can't use "We'll be OK when Player X gets healthy" as an excuse, as Mark Teixeira had season-ending surgery in early July. Hence, they'll look to improve via the trade market.
Chase Utley is not playing for Philadelphia on August 1.
The Phillies are at least half a dozen games out of both the NL East and the second wild-card spot. They are about to start a six-game road trip against two of the teams that are most likely to meet in the World Series (Detroit and St. Louis).
Long story short, I don't see the Phillies sitting within five games of the playoffs on July 31.
Why is that particularly relevant?
By my count, the 2011 Rays were the only team in the past eight years that were more than five games out of the playoffs on July 31 and still made it. And if you'll recall, the Rays went 35-20 over the final two months and still needed Boston to go 24-32 in order to win the AL Wild Card on the last day of the season.
If the Phillies are eight or nine games out of it within a week, wouldn't it make sense to try to get something—anything—in return for Chase Utley before he becomes a free agent?
Despite being in trade rumors for literally more than a year, Chase Headley isn't going anywhere.
Headley is worth more to San Diego than he is to anyone else. Even though he has struggled mightily this season, he's still the face of the franchise.
If you're San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes, you're not taking anything less than a top-notch prospect and a few other pieces for Headley, unless you want the fanbase and local media to rake you over the coals.
If you're any other GM, you're not giving up much of anything for two months of a third baseman who might hit half a dozen home runs over the rest of the season.
Headley will be one of the biggest names discussed during the winter meetings, but he probably won't be going anywhere this month.
Despite constant rumors of Michael Young being traded, the 36-year-old third baseman remains in Philadelphia while someone strikes a deal for 37-year-old Placido Polanco.
Young provides more power than Polanco, but is that handful of home runs really enough to offset the cost difference between the two options? Polanco plays much better defense and is marginally better on the basepaths.
Cincinnati adds an aging catcher who might actually bat .250 or hit a few home runs.
There's no way around it: Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco have been dreadful. Of the 33 catchers with at least 160 plate appearances, Hanigan and Mesoraco rank 27th and 28th in WAR, respectively.
A lot of the critical focus on Cincinnati has been aimed at the ineffectiveness of batting Zack Cozart second in the order, but Dusty Baker pretty much has to keep him there based on how poorly the catchers have been doing in the eighth spot.
Guys like John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Carlos Ruiz and Kelly Shoppach are the antithesis of long-term solutions, but they will each be free agents after the season and are playing for teams who are at least far enough out of the playoff picture to consider selling.
Neither Arizona nor Colorado makes any noteworthy trades at the deadline.
Relief pitching has been the problem for Arizona all season, but it seemed to have figured something out with Brad Ziegler in the closer role. Once thought to be a possible landing spot for Kevin Gregg or Greg Holland, the Diamondbacks will likely stand pat and hope they've permanently solved their problem internally.
The Rockies could desperately use some starting pitching, but it's hard to see them going after a two-month rental. They're at least two or three starters away from a quality rotation and are more likely to wait until the offseason to make their biggest moves.
Still reeling from losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery, the Braves trade for Scott Downs.
The first of a trio of left-handed relievers who figures to be dealt before the deadline, Downs provides Fredi Gonzalez with a second southpaw to call out of the bullpen.
Poor Luis Avilan was deployed in 29 out of 54 games between May 1 and June 29, a stretch of one-third of the season that put him on pace for 87 appearances. It would have made him just the second pitcher in the last three seasons to appear in more than 80 games—the other being Venters in 2011.
As far as Downs is concerned, the 37-year-old free agent has a 1.32 ERA in just over three full games' worth of innings and has been relatively deadly against left-handers this season.
Left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher joins Manny Parra and Aroldis Chapman as the only lefties on Cincinnati's roster.
Parra has been strong against lefties but terrible against right-handed hitters. However, because Parra is the only left-handed non-closer on the roster, Dusty Baker has had little choice but to keep him in the game any time a right-handed bat falls in between a couple of left-handed ones.
Adding Thatcher allows both lefties to focus more exclusively on lefties while also affording each guy the luxury of a little more rest between appearances.
Even though he'll be a free agent, San Diego might be a little stubborn on Thatcher on account of its entire pitching staff needing to be upgraded, but it should be able to come to some sort of an agreement.
Mike Gonzalez brings some much-needed stability to Detroit's bullpen.
Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit have been fantastic all season, but the Tigers have struggled to find a third reliable reliever. Jose Valverde notably flamed out in the closer role, while Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke have more quietly struggled with their control all season.
Luke Putkonen has emerged slightly in a small sample size, but they would be better suited entering the playoffs with Gonzalez as their seventh-inning man.
Tough to say what Milwaukee would even want in return. Feels like a classic cash or "player to be named later" type of transaction.
By and large, this is the exact same roster that won 98 games in 2012. Unfortunately, they haven't had the same amount of luck or power as last year.
Despite Joe Giglio's five reasons why the Nationals should be buyers, it doesn't make sense to screw up the farm system to acquire a two-month rental and chase after a pennant that just isn't there.
With the exception of Dan Haren leaving town due to free agency—which is unarguably for the best—they'll have just about the entire gang back together again next season for another shot at the NL East. Please leave it at that, Mike Rizzo.
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