MLB Trade Rumors: 15 Relievers Who Could Be Moved Before the Deadline

Mark MillerCorrespondent IApril 19, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: 15 Relievers Who Could Be Moved Before the Deadline

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    PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 03:  Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Digital Domain Park on March 3, 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Starting pitchers are clearly an important part of a Major League team's success throughout a season. Just as important is the assembly of relievers that a team keeps in their bullpen.

    As the summer turns to fall and starting pitchers run into a proverbial wall, it's important that every team's bullpen is able to step in to hold leads and convert saves.

    By summer a number of teams have inevitably played themselves out of contention, yet it seems that even with the worst of teams there is a reliable reliever doing everything he can to hold his team together in the late innings.

    Putting together a complete bullpen isn't an exact science and the majority of the time a bullpen cannot be compiled solely of internal pieces. This is where the trade deadline comes in.

    Despite being some of the most important members on a baseball team, relievers can sometimes be the most expendable players.

    Teams throughout the league will be paying close attention as teams fall out of contention, watching for the right opportunity to bring in an arm that will help as fall nears.

Heath Bell

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 5:  Closer Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on from the mound in the 9th inning against the San Francisco Giants during their MLB Game at Petco Park on April 5, 2011 in San Diego, California. Bell got the save with the Pa
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    In an impressive 2011 season, Heath Bell went 6-1 with 1.93 ERA in 67 appearances. As a result the team may be forced to deal the effective reliever unless he's willing to stick around for less money.

    With the talent level that he possesses he'll likely be able to demand a relatively high salary when he enters free agency after this season.

    If the Padres don't want to pay up they'll likely look to deal Bell rather than let him go for free.

Jose Valverde

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    DETROIT - APRIL 13:  Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after getting caled for a balk during the ninth inning of the game at Comerica Park on April 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Rangers 3-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Gett
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    With a career 3.11 ERA in nine seasons of relief appearances, Jose Valverde is a consistent enough reliever that he would be a strong asset for many teams.

    The ability to close games when needed or come in as a setup man only increase his potential value.

    The Tigers won't likely part ways with Valverde unless their bad start snowballs and they truly do concede the AL Central to their division mates, but in a division that appears to be flipped from what most everyone expected anything is seemingly possible.

Francisco Rodriguez

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 14:  Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 14, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Phillies d
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Francisco Rodriguez is a pitcher that the Mets would like to get rid of for a multitude of reasons. After bringing him in with the hopes of being one of baseball's best relievers and a key to their plans of baseball dominance, things haven't gone exactly as planned.

    K-Rod did go 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA last season, but off the field issues put his future with the Mets into question. He has made six appearances with the team in 2011 going 1-0 in those chances.

    Still, the Mets will look to move Rodriguez out before the break in order to avoid being forced into picking up his 2012 option.

Jonathan Broxton

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Ge
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Since his best statistical season in 2009, Jonathan Broxton appears to have declined slightly.

    After saving 36 games and posting a 2.64 ERA in '09, Broxton converted only 22 saves while seeing his ERA balloon over 4.00 last season.

    Broxton has looked decent enough in 2011 to warrant consideration from contenders and if the Dodgers appear to be in a selling mood as July approaches, he could be calling a new city home when the second half of the season gets underway.

Michael Wuertz

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 23:  Michael Wuertz #48 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the San Francisco Giants at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 23, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Having appeared in relief on nearly 400 occasions throughout his eight-year career, Michael Wuertz is certainly a consistent arm out of the bullpen.

    His career ERA is a solid 3.44 and the right-hander has averaged better than one strikeout per inning during that span.

    Wuertz is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring issue, but is scheduled to return to action soon and with a solid first half of the season could be targeted by competitors planning on making a run in October.

Joakim Soria

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    DETROIT, MI - APRIL 10:  Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws a ninth inning pitch while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Kansas City won the game 9-5. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Kansas City Royals are shocking the baseball world with their remarkable start to the 2011 season.

    Most analysts concede that the team has a very deep farm system but had indicated that they'd still be a few years from being competitive.

    If they do drop back down to the bottom of the AL Central like many expect them to, Joakim Soria could potentially be a target of some big-market clubs.

    Even though he's had a rough start to the 2011 season, he did post a sub-2.00 ERA in 66 appearances last season and has been coveted for quite a while.

Joe Nathan

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 05:  Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates the win with Joe Mauer #7 against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 5, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Despite what they may have indicated, the Minnesota Twins more than likely didn't know what to expect from Joe Nathan this season.

    Just a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery the All-Star closer was back on the mound in spring training. While his velocity was down from his pre-surgery numbers, he still looked to have good enough mechanics and earned the opportunity to close games in 2011.

    Things most certainly haven't gone as hoped for Nathan. After seeing his velocity drop slightly from his spring training performances, Nathan blew multiple saves in the Twins' opening weeks and has since asked to be removed from closer responsibility in favor of 'less high pressure' situations.

    With Matt Capps appearing to be a solid option as a closer, they might just look to move Nathan if they can find a taker, although he'll need to display significant improvement for the team to get any reasonable compensation.

Chad Durbin

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 20:  Pitcher Chad Durbin #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Four of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 20, 2010 in San Francisco, Californ
    Harry How/Getty Images

    In another shocking twist early this season, the Cleveland Indians are a competitive ballclub. It's safe to say that nobody expected the team to compete for the division, and most, in all reality, probably still don't.

    If the team does fall from their current standing, Chad Durbin could be one of the team's first players unloaded.

    Durbin went 4-1 with 3.80 ERA in 67 appearances last season, and the right-hander (who will be entering free agency after the season) could be of value to many contending ballclubs in the second half.

Sergio Mitre

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 19:  Sergio Mitre #45 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Four of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 19, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Rangers won 10-3.  (P
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Since debuting in the Major Leagues in 2003, Sergio Mitre had his share of ups and downs. The seventh-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2001 he failed to live up to expectations, appearing in only 32 games during his three year stint which saw his ERA consistently north of 6.00.

    Mitre floundered with the Marlins for a couple of seasons before resurfacing with the New York Yankees in 2009.

    After spending two decent seasons in the Bronx, Mitre has made his way to Milwaukee where he's appeared in five games thus far.

    If the Brewers fail to contend in the NL Central while Mitre builds on his solid start, the Brewers may look to swap him for future gains.

Shawn Camp

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    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22: Shawn Camp #57 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch on September 22, 2010 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Matthew Manor/Getty Images)
    Matthew Manor/Getty Images

    2010 was perhaps Shawn Camp's best season as a professional. After six seasons in the league, last year was his first sub-3.00 ERA season.

    The right-hander made 70 appearances and while he gave up a slightly high 3.5 walks per nine innings during the season he still proved himself to be a reliable arm out of the bullpen.

    Currently playing on a one year $2.25 million deal, Camp may prove to be too costly for the Blue Jays and may be moved somewhere during the summer if he shows enough value and the Blue Jays prove to be non-contenders in the AL East.

Rafael Betancourt

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 17:  Pitcher Rafael Betancourt #63 of the Colorado Rockies works in relief against the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field on April 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Betancourt pitched 2/3rds of the eighth inning and earned the win as the Rockies d
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    With a year left on his contract, Rafael Betancourt may still be moved by the Colorado Rockies if they fail to contend for a division crown.

    The right-handed reliever has compiled a 3.28 ERA in nine seasons and has posted sub-3.00 ERAs in five different seasons.

    His high strikeout count and low walk ratio will only add value in a market that may call for reliable arms.

Scott Linebrink

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    LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Scott Linebrink #19 of the Atlanta Braves during Photo Day at  Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on February 21, 2011 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Scott Linebrink's production has been in a gradual decline since 2003-05 when he posted a combined 17-5 record with an ERA below 3.00.

    Currently on his third team since 2007, when he was dealt to the Brewers, he finds himself with the Atlanta Braves where he receives consistent action.

    Playing in the final year of his four-year, $19 million deal, the Braves could look to unload the 34-year-old reliever in favor of youth while giving Linebrink the opportunity to move to yet another organization that is in need of a reliable veteran arm.

Ryan Franklin

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    JUPITER, FL - MARCH 06:  Pitcher Ryan Franklin #31  of the St. Louis Cardinals throws against the Florida Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on March 6, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Having earned an All-Star berth in 2009, most teams know that Ryan Franklin has what it takes to be an effective reliever in this league.

    When he was at his best during that season he appeared at times to be unhittable en route to pitching better than six strikeouts per nine innings.

    After earning a hefty contract for a reliever after that performance, his 2010 campaign produced a solid 3.47 ERA with a 6-2 record. In the final year of his deal, he could be a target of a team looking to rent an arm for a final postseason push.

Kevin Slowey

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 30: Kevin Slowey #59 of the Minnesota Twins pitches in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers during their game on June 30, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Twins won 5-1. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Kevin Slowey's fall from favor with the Minnesota Twins was magnified last season when he was demoted to the bullpen during the regular season. Adding fuel to the fire, Slowey was left off of the team's playoff roster in favor of Scott Baker.

    The relationship took another blow this spring when Slowey was left out of the starting rotation once again in favor of a spot in the bullpen as former reliever Brian Duensing took his place.

    There have been many rumblings about Slowey's possible departure, and he is young enough and talented enough to have success with a fresh start in a new organization.

Mike Gonzalez

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 10:  Pitcher Mike Gonzalez #51 of the Baltimore Orioles delivers to a Texas Rangers batter at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 10, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Mike Gonzalez certainly hasn't lived up to the expectations that the Baltimore Orioles set forth upon signing him to a two-year, $12 million contract before the 2010 season.

    In 34 appearances with the O's, Gonzalez has an ERA approaching 5.00—a far cry from the 2.37 and 2.81 ERAs he amassed in Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

    The Orioles may not look to retain Gonzalez after the year, so if he can improve on the current 10.38 ERA he has to his name he may end up getting a chance to return to form with a contender before season's end.