MLB Trade Speculation: The Best Pitchers Who'll Become Available by the Deadline
Here we go again.
It seems that every year as the trade deadline approaches, teams find themselves needing pitchers. This year being no different, here is yet another column presenting some of the best available arms rumored to be on the trading block if the price is right.
There are several teams that have some excellent trading chips, some of whom are not pitchers. We will take a look at how the non-hurlers in these organizations might affect whether or not their teammate pitchers stay or go.
It will be interesting to see how this list changes as the trade deadline approaches.
Will he stay or will he go? I'm not talking about Chris Carpenter, however, but Albert Pujols. The answer to this question, though, very well may rest in the hands of Carpenter.
Pujols ain't gonna be cheap, and Carpenter has a $15 million option coming in 2012. That $15 million would be some nice pocket change to have around in case you have a first baseman on your team whose upcoming contract might very well be the biggest in baseball history.
I'm thinking that unless the St. Louis Cardinals are making a very strong push for the postseason, Carpenter might be Pujols' collateral damage.
The Cards ace confirmed to Fox Sports that he would agree to waive his no-trade leverage if, in fact, St. Louis decided to ship him elsewhere this year, but he doesn't really want to go. With the possibility of $15 million heading my way next year, I wouldn't want to leave either. Carpenter is by far the best pitcher being surrounded by trade speculation this season.
Frankly, I'm surprised Jonathan Papelbon has lasted this long in Boston. If he is not traded by the deadline this year, as I projected in an earlier column, then he will certainly be dancing the jig for some other team next year. I still believe him to be a deadline decision, especially since an urgent need for catcher has arisen in the Fens.
He is certainly the best closer being tossed around in trade speculation. Red Sox fans will attest to the fact that he has slipped the past couple years though. His saves rest between 35 and 41 for his career, slipping the past two years (but just barely).
The problem is his earned runs number, which jumped to 29 last year while giving up seven home runs and 28 walks. He still seems to close a majority of the games, but he definitely makes them a lot more interesting now.
While Papelbon is no longer the lights out closer that allowed Boston fans to turn the game off when he took the mound, knowing for certain that he would get the "W," the Fenway faithful will also tell you that he is still one of the best in the game.
Theo Epstein, however, believes that he has another top closer wearing a two-sox uniform. The only reason that Daniel Bard is not currently one of the best closers in MLB is simply because Papelbon gets the ball in the ninth inning. That will change at the deadline.
I have heard many say that the Chicago White Sox have a very intriguing trade chip to dangle named Carlos Quentin. Quentin, however, doesn't spend much time on his fastball. Their other intriguing trade chip, John Danks, does.
The White Sox have garnered quite a bit of attention as far as possible pitching trades this season, with Danks leading the list.
Danks is up for arbitration, and it is rumored that he will have a $12 million ceiling come 2012. It will be tough to see the White Sox ship Danks away from Chi-town, especially considering the other options that they have, but at 0-6 in 2011, he is definitely making it tough to nix trade speculation.
When he was exploding onto the MLB scene seven years ago, Jackson was the fourth-best prospect in the game according to Baseball America. Since arriving he has yet to completely live up to the hype, but Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance.
In August of 2010, during a three-game stretch Jackson sent 32 batters back to the dugout (strikeouts) while only issuing six free bases in over 23 innings. That ain't bad, folks.
Plus, Scott Boras is Jackson's new agent, and you can be sure Boras will have people believing that his client is a Roy Halladay and not an Edwin Jackson.
Mark Buehrle rounds out the Chicago White Sox trio of trade rumors. Buehrle is a free agent to be and has a very specific request if he is to be traded by this season's deadline.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, some individuals in the know have said that Buehrle will only accept a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals; otherwise he would prefer to stay put. At 32 years old with an expiring contract, Buehrle might not have the final say here.
This one would be a tough one to swallow for Cleveland fans. It would also be a tough one to pull off.
It's a difficult trade to fathom because Cleveland has options on the hurler for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for $7 million, $9 million and $12 million respectively.
These club options present a real hurdle for any other team attempting to acquire Carmona by the deadline. I guess we will have to wait and see how this plays out.
Minnesota Twins Pitching
Francisco Liriano is 3-5 this season with a 6.12 ERA—nothing to write home about, to say the least—but last year he was 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA. He is signed through 2011 with arbitration next year and free agency in 2013. Liriano is a prime candidate for a trade.
There is really no other way to put it except to say that the Twins suck this year. The reasons why do not matter for this column, but what does matter is that they have a very interesting group of pitchers that they could package together or trade individually.
Need an OK starter with potential upside to get you through the back nine this season? You've got Liriano. You've also got Kevin Slowey, who was just removed from the rotation as the fifth starter, losing his spot to Scott Baker.
To make matters even more interesting, the Twins' former closer, Joe Nathan, seems to need a job. Nathan missed all of last year due to injury and hasn't performed well so far this year, causing Ron Gardenhire to replace him in the closer role. This is not to say a change in location and fresh start wouldn't do him good. He still has the stuff and might be able to help a team get over the hump in the second half as the man or an additional setup guy.
The Twins need serious help, so I don't think they will take any options off the table.
The Florida Marlins are famous for blowing up teams and getting rid of decent players, so it comes as a bit of a shock that they signed both pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson to pretty expensive long-term contracts. This does not bode well for Anibal Sanchez, whose tenure with the team is up at the end of the season.
Already shouldering those hefty pitching contracts, Florida might not want to fork out the dough for Sanchez, who is arbitration-eligible come 2012.
He was 13-12 in his first full season last year, but with a 3-1 start to the 2011 season and a 2.90 ERA through eight starts, he will definitely catch the eye of some teams needing back-of-the-rotation help to make a playoff push.
Still Looking for a Home
There are a lot of teams who need help just to get into the playoff picture, and there exist a lot of playoff regulars who this year are struggling to be .500 teams. The Yankees and the Red Sox fall into that category.
Some have speculated that the Bronx Bombers—not a team to waste any time—and the White Sox will be discussing Edwin Jackson's next mailing address.
Rest assured pitching is always looked upon as the main solution to a team making a postseason push, and there will be a good number of decent arms looking to make a move by this season's trade deadline.
Trivia: Who's the pitcher in the opening picture of this column? He has pitched for more than one team in his career.