Divisional and wild-card races across baseball are extremely tight with the trade deadline approaching, so it comes as no surprise that there has been plenty of wheeling and dealing already.
Even with several top chips falling thus far, many more players could potentially be on the move prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline. There aren't a ton of teams truly out of contention, which means that much of the league consists of buyers.
Some teams have refrained from making deals thus far, but the pressure will mount as the deadline draws closer. With that in mind, here are the latest rumors regarding some of the hottest names currently on the trade market.
One of the most pleasant surprises in baseball this season has been the play of Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki. With Joe Mauer moving over to first base, Suzuki was faced with the unenviable task of replacing him. To say that Suzuki has been satisfactory would be an understatement, as the 30-year-old backstop earned the first All-Star nod of his career.
He is currently hitting .309 with two home runs and 41 RBI while also doing a solid job behind the plate. Suzuki is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, though, and the Twins simply aren't in contention. Because of that, he is definitely a candidate to be traded in the coming days.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, two potential playoff teams have emerged as the main suitors for Suzuki's services:
orioles and cardinals are among teams looking at catcher kurt suzuki. story up on @CBSSports— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 25, 2014
That list may now be whittled down to one, however, as the St. Louis Cardinals have signed A.J. Pierzynski, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Pierzynski joining #STLCards tomorrow. Already in Chicago.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 26, 2014
Minnesota's options may be limited, but the Baltimore Orioles make a lot of sense as a potential trading partner. With Matt Wieters out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, they are in desperate need of a regular starter.
Suzuki fits the bill and would make a lot of sense in a Baltimore lineup that boasts big boppers such as Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Chris Davis. The O's also have a talent-rich farm system, so the Twins should be able to get a decent return for their unlikely All-Star.
It wasn't too long ago that Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was considered one of the best power hitters in the game. He clubbed 45 or more home runs every season from 2006 through 2009, but the former National League MVP resembles a totally different player these days.
Which player is most likely to be traded prior to the deadline?
Although Howard's power production this season has been decent with 15 home runs and 60 RBI, he is hitting just .224 and is a liability in the field as well. The Phils are going nowhere fast, but they are saddled with Howard's massive contract through at least the 2016 season.
In an effort to get Howard out of town and clear the way for younger players to emerge, though, the Phillies are willing to eat the bulk of the $70 million left on his contract, according to Heyman.
The 34-year-old lefty has been losing playing time to Darin Ruf lately, but he remains undeterred, per Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
You know, you try to stay positive. I know people are going to put a lot on either how much money I make, or what I'm doing on the field, this or that or whatever, but at the end of the day, you go out there and try, you try to do what you can. I'm really just trying to get back in the flow of things, trying new things, lowering my hands. Trying to get back into the flow of everything. It is what it is right now. You just try to continue to work. It's all you can do.
It is difficult to say if any teams would be willing to take a chance on Howard, but an American League team might be the most likely suitor since Howard could be a designated hitter. It is nothing more than speculation, but the New York Yankees may be worth keeping an eye on when it comes to Howard.
First baseman Mark Teixeira has dealt with injuries all season long, and Howard could thrive with the short porch in right field. The Yanks have been very active already, and it could be worth taking a chance on a powerful guy like Howard.
Jorge De La Rosa
There appears to be a dearth of quality pitchers available on the market with the likes of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and others having already been traded, but Colorado Rockies righty Jorge De La Rosa is a name worth monitoring.
De La Rosa has had an up-and-down career in terms of production and injuries, but he is currently pitching better than he ever has. De La Rosa had his best Major League season last year, as he went 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA. He is currently 11-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 2014, and there is no question that he is trending upward.
According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the Yankees are very much interested in acquiring the services of the scorching hurler:
The Yanks rotation has been riddled by injuries to the likes of Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka this season. They have managed to hold it together with Hiroki Kuroda, Brandon McCarthy and others stepping up, but New York clearly needs more help in that regard.
De La Rosa may not be a true ace, but he is an innings-eater who has managed to excel despite pitching in Colorado. A move to New York might be refreshing for the 33-year-old veteran, especially with the Yanks in the thick of the playoff race.
As long as New York doesn't have to sell the farm in order to do it, acquiring De La Rosa makes all the sense in the world.
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