MLB Trade Speculation: The Best Pitchers Who'll Become Available by the Deadline

Jeff CockeyCorrespondent IMay 20, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: The Best Pitchers Who'll Become Available by the Deadline

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 06:  Justin Masterson #63 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 6, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    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.

Chris Carpenter

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17:  Chris Carpenter #29 of the St Louis Cardinals pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    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.

Jonathan Papelbon

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    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 21:  Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #52 of the Boston Red Sox reacts afte striking out Howie Kendricks #47 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to end the game and earn a save at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 21, 2011 in Anaheim, Califo
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    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.

John Danks

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 10:  John Danks #50 of the Chicago White Sox throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 10, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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.

Edwin Jackson

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 09:  Edwin Jackson #33 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the second inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 9, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Edwin Jackson has been traded around more than Paris Hilton (Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox), and this year will be no different.

    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

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox smiles at fans during player introductions before the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on April 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rays 5-
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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.

Fausto Carmona

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 13:  Fausto Carmona #55 of the Cleveland Indians takes a moment to himself before pitching against the Seattle Mariners during the game on May 13, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    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

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 18:  Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 18, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    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.

Anibal Sanchez

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    JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Pitcher Anibal Sanchez #19 of the Florida Marlins throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    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

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    BOSTON - APRIL 04:  Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game againt the New York Yankees on April 4, 2010 during Opening Night at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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.