MLB Rumors: 10 Potential Trade Targets the New York Yankees Will Consider

Sebastian BellittoCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

MLB Rumors: 10 Potential Trade Targets the New York Yankees Will Consider

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    The New York Yankees offseason has not panned out quite like they wished it would have.

    From missing out on every top-notch free agent, to the Derek Jeter saga, to Andy Pettitte retiring, the bright lights of New York have shone quite brightly on Brian Cashman's inability to improve the team leading in to 2011.

    Though the Yanks have missed out on the upper-tier free agents, the team's front office may not be done in its attempt to improve the roster prior to Opening Day.

     

    Here are 10 potential trade targets for the New York Yankees.

10. Gio Gonzalez

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    Gio Gonzalez is one of the most talented young left-handed arms in baseball. The 25-year-old had a breakout year in 2010, going 15-9 with a 3.23 ERA in just over 200 innings. 

    Gonzalez is currently a member of a young A's rotation that finished with the league's third-best earned run average last season. For a team that finished with 81 wins, it is no surprise that A's fans are very excited for a potential playoff run in 2011. 

    While this is a longshot, there have been musings around the league that Gonzalez may be a target of a Yankees organization with no shortage of top prospects at their disposal. Gio Gonzalez would be a welcome addition to a Yankees starting rotation with many gaping holes, especially following the retirement of Andy Pettitte. 

9. Scott Kazmir

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    Just a few short years ago, Scott Kazmir was believed to be on the fast-track to stardom with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Fast forward to 2011, and Kazmir is a rapidly declining 27-year-old, coming off a 9-15 year with a dismal 5.94 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and .271 opponent batting average.

    The window is quickly closing on Kazmir. For a player who earned $8 million in 2010, there will not be many teams willing to pay such a high salary for a below-average, borderline starting pitcher.

    But the Yankees are desperate. Although he has struggled mightily the past two seasons with the Rays and Angels, Kazmir was successful in the American League East just two years ago. With new pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the team may feel that a turnaround is in the balance. If any team is able to eat up his contract, the Yankees can do just that. 

8. Grady Sizemore

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    The time could be now to make a move on Grady Sizemore. The only position player on this list, Sizemore is coming off an injury-plagued 2010, during which he played on 33 games, while hitting a career-low .211 with zero home runs in 128 at-bats. 

    Clearly, Sizemore is a much more talented player than these dismal statistics show. Although he has struggled at the plate the past two seasons, Sizemore was one of the best young players in baseball from 2005-2008. 

    I firmly believe that Sizemore is primed for a comeback season in 2011. If such is the case, and Sizemore can make a full recovery, there is no better time than now to make a move for the 28-year-old.

    The only person standing in the way of a potential deal is Brett Gardner. Gardner is one of the most highly regarded players in the Yankees front office. He played well in 2010, and his speed and range in the outfield is a valuable tool.

    However, I feel that Sizemore has the ability to return to form this season and into the future. While this is another longshot for the Yankees, the window for a potential deal for Sizemore will be quick to close. 

7. Joe Blanton

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    With the Yankees' grave need for another starting pitcher, the Phillies' ridiculously deep rotation, Joe Blanton seems to be a potential move that makes the most sense. 

    The 30-year-old right-hander had a down year in 2010, going 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 175 innings. However, looking at the potential back end of the Yankees' rotation, Blanton would be a welcome addition.

    All things considered, Blanton's "down year" in 2010 could be considered a success compared to the potential output of a Sergio Mitre or Freddy Garcia/Bartolo Colon combination. (2005, anyone?)

    In a best case scenario, if Blanton returns to his form of 2009, the Yankees could put themselves back in contention for the American League pennant, even considering the firepower that was added in Boston this offseason. Simply put, the Yankees' starting rotation, in its current state, is not nearly good enough to contend this season.

    While the Yankees may not want to give up the necessary prospects to land Blanton, it may be pivotal to the Yankees' playoff chances in 2011.

6. Clayton Richard

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    Clayton Richard is yet another up-and-coming left-handed pitcher that could make some noise in 2011.

    With the San Diego Padres in 2010, the 27-year-old finished with a 14-9 record, with a 3.75 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 202 innings. In his first full year as a starter, Richard showed flashes of brilliance that look to carry over into the future.

    The Yankees would love to acquire a young, talented left-hander like Richard. Reports say that Richard's name has been thrown around as a potential trade prospect. This makes sense for both the Yankees and Padres. San Diego, not known as big spenders, are set to pay Richard $4.5 million in 2012. As an alternative, the Padres would love to shop Richard for several top prospects, as the team has been known to do with past big-name players, such as Jake Peavy.

    For the Yankees, this could be a perfect time to make a move for Richard. If the tell-tale signs are correct, Richard seems to be just before his prime. As a result, the asking price for the left-hander will be less now than it will be in a few years. A deal for Clayton Richard could be a potential steal for the New York Yankees.

5. Wandy Rodriguez

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    Wandy Rodriguez is another left-hander that would fit in well with the Yankees in 2011.

    Rodriguez went 11-12 with a 3.60 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 195 innings for the Houston Astros in 2010. But these statistics don't do justice to Rodriguez, who was one of the league's most dominating pitchers following the All-Star break, boasting a 5-1 record with a  2.11 ERA and a minuscule .204 batting average against.

    At 31 years old, Rodriguez seems to finally be coming into his own as a starting pitcher. He has been a solid and consistent starter for most of the past two years—something the Yankees have largely been without in recent years, with the exception of CC Sabathia. 

    Although Rodriguez was recently signed to a contract extension, the Astros may be willing to move Rodriguez if the team is once again a non-contender in 2011. With the abundance of prospects at the Yankees' disposal, dealing Rodriguez instead of paying him a combined $43 million over the next four years seems like a good deal for the Astros. 

4. Mark Buehrle

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    Although it seems like Mark Buehrle has been around forever, the tough left-hander is just 31.

    Buehrle finished 2010 with a 13-13 record and a 4.29 ERA—the second-highest of his career—in 210 innings. However, Buehrle has been a solid starter for most of the past decade. Perhaps more importantly, especially for a Yankees' rotation in desperate need of consistency, Buehrle has thrown 200 innings or more in every year since he became a full-time starter (2001). 

    But it cannot be forgotten that Buehrle still has the ability to be a top-end starting pitcher. At just 31 years old, he could be an invaluable addition in the Yankees'  hopes of shutting down the newly potent, but extremely left-handed heavy, Boston Red Sox lineup. 

    Buehrle is owed $14 million next year by the White Sox. However, if he is traded, his salary becomes $15 million, not to mention a $15 million vesting option for the 2012 season. While this may scare away most teams, it will most assuredly not scare away the Yankees. Mark Buehrle's presence in the Yankees' rotation would create quite a power struggle in the American League East.

3. Chris Carpenter

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    Chris Carpenter is in an interesting position with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 35-year-old has been nothing but dominant since joining the Cards in 2005. However, with a potential record-breaking deal upcoming for one Albert Pujols, the Cardinals may be willing to shop Carpenter and his $15 million dollar/year contract.

    The right-hander is coming off a 16-9 record with a 3.22 ERA in 235 innings with the Cardinals in 2010. Though he is 35 years old, Carpenter has showed no signs of slowing down.

    The biggest concern for me in dealing for Carpenter is the fact that the Yankees would need to give up Jesus Montero, one of the best prospects in baseball. Though Carpenter would undoubtedly make the Yankees a World Series contender for the next few seasons, losing Montero would be a big blow to the Yankees.

    Although I am not convinced that trading away the future for a 35-year-old is the answer, a deal for Carpenter is certainly a possibility for the desperate Yankees' front office. 

2. Joe Saunders

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    Joe Saunders is someone who could find his way to New York at a much lower price than some of the other players on this list.

    The 29-year-old is coming off a dismal 2010 campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, going 9-17 with a 4.47 ERA in 203 innings. While his numbers certainly do not jump off the page, Saunders could figure in to the fifth starter spot for the Yankees.

    To put it in perspective, Saunders' 4.47 ERA was nearly a run better than Yankees' starter A.J. Burnett (5.26). Of course, the pitchers faced a much different talent pool, with Burnett having to deal with the strong American League East. However, for a Diamondbacks squad that finished with 97 losses, much stock cannot be put into Saunders' win-loss record.

    Saunders is owed $5.5 million by the Diamondbacks in 2011. For a pitcher who struggled last season, his contract is definitely expendable. Once again, the Yankees' desperation comes into play. The Yankees will gladly eat up Saunders' contract, but, in this case, will be less likely to offer up a top prospect. If Saunders is able to turn it around, this could be an important move for the Yankees to make.

1. Fausto Carmona

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    Fausto Carmona was once praised as the heir apparent to CC Sabathia for the Cleveland Indians. Following poor seasons in 2008 and 2009, Indians fans were not singing the same tune.

    Carmona did manage to have a turnaround season in 2010, with a 3.77 ERA in 210 innings, despite a 13-14 record, which can be largely attributed to the Indians' futility. Carmona, who is just 27 years old, showed signs that he may be close to his dominant form of 2007, when he and Sabathia took the Indians within one game of the World Series.

    At this stage, the time may be right for both the Indians and Yankees to make a deal for Carmona. The right-hander is owed $7 million in 2011, $9 million in 2012, and $12 million in 2013, with performance options in place. For an Indians team with the playoffs nowhere in sight, it would make sense to deal Carmona and his large contract for several prospects to rebuild the organization.

    For the Yankees, signing Carmona seems like a no-brainer. If Carmona is able to continue his turnaround, he would be a steal for the Bombers. It has already been proven that he has the ability to be very successful at the major league level. At 27, his upside is tremendous. As a pitcher who relies heavily on a power sinker, Carmona would fit perfectly within the confines of Yankee Stadium.