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MLB Trade Rumors: 15 Players Who Could Be Traded Before Spring Training

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterJanuary 5, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: 15 Players Who Could Be Traded Before Spring Training

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    MLB trade rumors never go away, even when things on the baseball front quiet down around the holidays, as is usually the case.

    We've seen some pretty big free agent signings this offseason, chief among them being Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee. There have also been some big trades, such as the Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Greinke deals.

    But spring training is still many moons away and there is still plenty of time for GMs around baseball to work out some last-minute deals.

    With that in mind, here are 15 players who could be dealt before spring training starts.

15. Jeff Keppinger

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported a couple weeks ago that the Yankees inquired about Jeff Keppinger as a backup middle infielder.

    Those talks broke down, but you have to think that the Yanks still may have given clubs an idea by just talking about him. Keppinger hit a respectable .288 in 137 games in 2010 and he is expendable, thanks to Houston's acquisition of Bill Hall.

14. Jack Wilson

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    New acquisition Brendan Ryan is reportedly going to compete for the starting second baseman gig in spring training.

    But isn't that where Chone Figgins plays?

    Indeed, the Mariners have three players to two spots. And because Ryan just inked a two-year deal, Wilson could very well be the odd man out.

    If the Mariners are willing to deal him, they could probably get a decent chip or two from a team looking for a defensive specialist to put on their bench.

13. Brandon League

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Put simply, the Mariners know they suck and the only players on their roster that are safe are Felix Hernandez and Ichiro.

    The rest are a crappy movie...er, expendable.

    In addition to Wilson, you might see League on the move. David Aardsma was previously the marquee trade name in Seattle bullpen, but his hip surgery means he isn't going anywhere in the immediate future.

    So clubs needing relief help (i.e. the Yanks) will inquire about League instead.

12. Joe Blanton

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Immediately after Cliff Lee was signed, a lot of media outlets reported that Joe Blanton was on his way out of town. In fact, some people had him in a Boston uniform.

    Utter nonsense, as it turned out. All the Blanton talk has dwindled down to dull speculation.

    Nevertheless, it still makes sense for Ruben Amaro to trade him, as it would get rid of his heavy contract and would open the door for Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley.

    Keep an eye on the Yankees, which still need pitching depth. They might figure they could do worse than a consistent strike-thrower who could be had relatively cheap. And the Phillies might be able to take advantage of what must be growing desperation.

11. James Loney

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Early in December, there was a report from ESPN Los Angeles that the Dodgers were on the verge of sending out Loney and Jonathan Broxton in exchange for Prince Fielder.

    That obviously didn't happen. But you still get the sense that the Dodgers are tired of waiting for Loney to live up to his abilities and that they would rather not deal with him at all.

    They're not going to get a talent like Fielder for him (Fielder, by the way, would appear to be off the market), and the list of suitors has shrunk to nothing, but he is still a good trade candidate.

10. Kenshin Kawakami

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Braves have Kawakami signed for about $7 million for 2011, and there's no room for him in the rotation.

    The Pirates have shown interest in Kawakami recently, which makes sense (quick, name a starter on the Pirates). However, they might not be interested for very long if the Braves refuse to pick up the bulk of Kawakami's salary.

    Other teams that have apparently shown interest are the Padres, Mariners and Twins.

9. Mike Napoli

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Despite the fact they've missed out on all the big-name free agents, the one thing the Angels still have is a surplus of catchers, a problem most other clubs would love to have.

    Among the trio of Mike Napoli, Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson, Napoli still has the most trade value.

    Corey Brock of MLB.com tweeted the Padres are seeking backup help, but it's debatable whether or not Napoli is the right fit for the job.

    Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted, way back in November, that the Rockies were interested in Napoli and they still haven't added a catcher this offseason. But, of course, that was a while ago.

    So really all we know is that Napoli is still on the market, at least until further notice. Aside from that, it's been pretty quiet.

8. Geovany Soto

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    You've probably heard the same Geovany Soto rumor as the one I heard.

    Basically, he's due for salary arbitration and the Cubs may look to deal him rather than pay him. And the one club that everybody has mentioned as a potential suitor is the Red Sox, since they missed out on Russell Martin, of course.

    Not so sure I buy the idea of the Sox making any more moves, but I've heard dumber theories than the one that has the Cubs looking to move Soto (who has had two down years in a row).

7. Kosuke Fukodome

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Yup, another Cub.

    There were reports in mid-December that the Cubs and Giants had discussed a Fukodome for Aaron Rowand deal, but nothing materialized. Hard to see how that would have made sense anyway.

    The Cubs do have some outfield prospects waiting in the wings and Fukudome is the most expendable member of their outfield, so it would make sense that they would look to deal him.

    The trade talks have obviously gone cold for the moment, but it still wouldn't be at all shocking if Fukudome's name popped up on the wire again.

6. Aramis Ramirez

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Yet another Cubs player with "meh" prospects for 2011.

    Among all the random speculation I've come across in the last couple hours in researching this piece is the notion that Aramis Ramirez could become a consolation prize for any team that missed out on Adrian Beltre.

    In other words, he would be an intriguing option for the Angels.

    The Angels do have Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Wood at the hot corner and would likely have to get the Cubs to take one of them. After that, it's hard to see how this trade might develop.

    After all, you don't exactly see the Cubs waiving a white flag quite yet and they're going to have to pay Ramirez one way or another, so why wouldn't they just keep him?

5. James Shields

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    After winning the AL East in 2010, the Rays are officially in rebuilding mode. Carl Crawford is gone, as are Carlos Pena and Jason Bartlett.

    Next up for dismantling is the rotation and the Rays know that they have plenty of value in theirs.

    The American League has apparently figured out James Shields and there hasn't been much noise concerning his name lately. But there has to be at least one National League GM out there that thinks Shields might be good in the Senior Circuit.

    For instance, the Cubs still need pitching depth at last check. But that's just me speculating.

4. Matt Garza

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Yup, in addition to Shields, Matt Garza may also be on the block.

    David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reported earlier today that the Rays have discussed Garza with the Chicago Cubs (so I guess they do need pitching depth after all).

    If Garza is also on the block, then the Rays are indeed in rebuilding mode and the Cubs dearly need some rotation depth. The two sides match pretty well.

    However, the price for Garza is justifiably steep and the Cubs might not have enough young talent to fork over. Thus, if Garza is to be traded, it could be in the middle of the season.

    But if that is indeed the case, the Rays run the risk of not trading Garza when his value is at its peak. He was much better after the break in 2010 than he was before, so it is entirely conceivable that his stock would drop. We shall see.

    UPDATE: Matt Garza was the centerpiece of an eight-player trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs on 1/7/2011. 

3. Joakim Soria

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    When it comes to Joakim Soria, the trade talk consists mostly of idle speculation on the part of the national sporting press, most of which suggests that it's possible simply because Dayton Moore has dealt Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt.

    So allow me to throw my name into the hat by saying it's certain possible. Just not likely.

    Soria recently said that he wouldn't block a trade to the Yankees if they came calling (here's a link, but you have to habla a little Espanol), but that doesn't appear to mean anything of any significance at this point.

    But if the Yankees or any other team comes calling with an intriguing prospect or two, don't be surprised at all if Soria is on the move.

2. Heath Bell

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    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    If the Padres are going to trade Heath Bell, which seems likely given the fact that he's arbitration eligible and will likely demand more than the $4 million he made in 2010, it probably won't happen until after Rafael Soriano finally signs.

    As for when that will be, who knows?

    Rest assured that there will be plenty of teams interested in Bell, as is usually the case when a closer who had 47 saves in a season becomes available. And Padres fans can rest easy as long as Jed Hoyer is running things. He may not have the luxury of a big pocketbook, but he's a clever devil.

1. Michael Young

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    With the signing of Adrian Beltre, Michael Young is no longer going to be the every day third baseman for the Texas Rangers.

    He can't go back to short because of Elvis Andrus. He can't go back to second because of Ian Kinsler, so it looks like he'll have to buy himself a first baseman's mitt. Of course, he's never played first base before and figures to spend a lot of time at DH with Vladimir Guerrero apparently out of the picture.

    The Rangers have also apparently told Young he won't be traded before the season, so he would appear to have nothing to fear.

    In the words of Indiana Jones, that's what scares me. All it takes is one team to come calling and then things have the potential to snowball. There may be no trade rumblings now, but stay tuned.

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