The MLB trade deadline may still be just under two months away, but a number of names have already started to generate quite a bit of buzz around the league, especially a few starting pitchers.
While some names are currently starting to generate buzz, other players have already been traded. According to Clark Spencer from the Miami Herald, the Miami Marlins recently acquired reliever Bryan Morris from the Pittsburgh Pirates for the No. 39 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft.
Morris won't be the only player traded before the deadline, so let's take a look at a few pitchers that are currently starting to draw some interest from other teams.
James Shields, Kansas City Royals
Even though he's only been with the Kansas City Royals since 2013, it looks like the 32-year-old James Shields could be on the move once again before the deadline.
Jon Heyman from CBS Sports wrote that the Toronto Blue Jays are looking for another starting pitcher to help them win now, but they are apparently more focused on getting a short-term option rather than a pitcher that would force them to give up prospects in their farm system.
The move for Shields would make sense for the Blue Jays. According to Spotrac, Shields is set to make $13.5 million this season, but will be a free agent in 2015. However, according to Andy McCullough from the Kansas City Star, Shields doesn't appear to focused on the trade rumors.
James Shields on James Shields Trade Rumors: "I thought those started next month?"— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) June 3, 2014
It's been a very surprising season for the Blue Jays, who are currently 37-24 with a five-game lead in the AL East. While they've had some terrific offense, they could use another strong pitcher in their starting rotation. Shields has posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with a 6-3 record this season, so it's safe to say that he'd be a welcome upgrade in Toronto.
Jim Johnson, Oakland Athletics
After such a successful career with the Baltimore Orioles, relief pitcher Jim Johnson has yet to prove himself with the Oakland Athletics, and that may mean that the 30-year-old will be on his way out in the near future.
Apparently, Johnson was nearly traded away recently. Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports reported that the A's nearly traded Johnson to the Marlins for the No. 39 pick and another player. Oakland was reportedly willing to make the deal, but talks ended after the Marlins traded the same pick to the Pirates for Morris.
Rosenthal also added that the Athletics are reportedly willing to pick up the rest of Johnson's salary if he's moved.
Rival exec: #Athletics willing to pick up rest of Jim Johnson's salary, offering him around to multiple teams.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 4, 2014
During his last two seasons in Baltimore, Johnson was one of the most successful closers in the majors, racking up 101 total saves with an ERA of just 2.72 with 97 strikeouts in 139 innings.
Those numbers have looked much different while in Oakland, and the team has moved Johnson away from the closer role. In 22 innings of work, he's posted an ERA of 6.55 while already allowing 43 baserunners. For some reason, he's especially struggled at home, as Jane Lee from MLB.com tweeted out his numbers when away and at home.
Jim Johnson's ERA in 8 1/3 IP at home: 14.04; in 13 2/3 IP on the road: 1.98— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) May 29, 2014
Teams may still believe that Johnson can return to form, but, if anyone does end up trading for the veteran reliever, they could be taking a big risk.
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
As teams try to separate themselves and gain an edge in their respective divisions, many of them are interested in bringing in another strong starting pitcher. For a couple of teams, Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija appears to be the go-to guy.
Which of these pitchers is most likely to be traded?
According to Bruce Levine from CBS Chicago, the leading team in talks for the 29-year-old pitcher is the Orioles, and the two sides are reportedly mutually interested in working on a deal.
For the Orioles, this would give them a chance to add another strong pitcher to their rotation. While he's only 1-5 in 12 starts this season, Samardzija has an ERA of just 2.54 with a 1.15 WHIP and 67 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. The Orioles are currently 30-27, but they're hoping that adding another pitcher can help them put some pressure on the Blue Jays at the top of the division.
The move would make sense for the Cubs as well. They have a ton of exciting talent in their farm system in terms of positional players, but they lack young pitching talent. The Orioles have plenty of young pitchers they could be willing to give up, including Eduardo Rodriguez, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
With the Orioles focused on winning, and the Cubs looking to add talent for the future, a trade could be mutually beneficial for both teams.