MLB Trade Rumors: 5 Best Sluggers Who Could Be on the Move
It's May 31, so you know what that means. It's unofficially the beginning of summer, kids are either out or getting out of school...
...and it's only two months until the Major League Baseball trading deadline.
Tons of teams are still in contention—other than the American League Central, every division has at least three teams in or within five games of first place. Many of these teams can also use an upgrade at one or more positions.
But who will those teams be after?
Here are the five biggest bats who could find a new home.
1. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs
You're going to notice a trend with these five players: They all come from teams currently in the bottom half of their division.
Ramirez is having an unusually disappointing season for the usually disappointing Cubs. He's batting a respectable .279, but his run production is down, as he only has two home runs and 18 runs batted in.
Still, with third basemen having so-so years across the league—only one has more than 10 home runs, and only two have more than 30 RBIs—there could be several possible suitors for A-Ram.
He still sports a serviceable glove, and he could provide a steady veteran presence in the clubhouse. And, at 33, there's certainly hope for a resurgence in his once-powerful bat.
The San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves could be possible suitors, considering their third basemen (Pablo Sandoval and Chipper Jones, respectively) are out with an injury and have a significant recent history of injury, respectively.
2. Carlos Beltran, RF, New York Mets
Carlos Beltran is having a surprisingly strong season, with eight home runs and 16 doubles. The most important number this year, however, is 51—the number of games he's played out of 53 total.
Beltran has been ravaged by injuries since coming to the Big Apple, but this season—his walk year—he has been more fortunate so far.
Still, the Mets are 8.5 games out of first place and in the midst of a financial crisis. Those factors suggest that changes will be coming in the near future, and the once-beloved core of this franchise—Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright—could be broken up.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon didn't exactly show his attachment to Beltran (or Reyes, for that matter) recently, when he claimed his once prized free-agent signing is now "65 to 70 percent of what he was."
Beltran has adjusted to his shift at right field, but he would probably be best suited as a designated hitter who occasionally gives outfielders a day off. Would he be a fit for the cross-town rival Yankees, who more or less employ a DH-by-committee?
Perhaps, but that still doesn't seem likely—especially with the Yankees already sporting an aging lineup and trying to remain loyal to relegated DH Jorge Posada.
But Beltran would still be a good fit for other clubs looking to pick up a switch-hitting bat, and it seems probable the Mets will try to move him before the deadline.
3. Jason Kubel, RF, Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins are perhaps baseball's biggest disappointment this season, as the perennial playoff contenders are currently 18 games under .500 and in the cellar in the American League Central.
What's more, their offense has been abysmal—the Twins are dead last in Major League Baseball with 180 runs scored.
Kubel has not been the culprit, however, as the career .274 batter is currently hitting .310 with five home runs and 30 RBIs.
He's in the last year of his contract, and with the rest of the division seemingly catching up all at once, the Twins may decide to make changes in the near future.
Kubel is a burly player who is probably best suited as a designated hitter but can play the outfield. He could provide some pop for a team in need of run production, like perhaps the Florida Marlins.
4. Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets
Reyes, like his teammate Beltran, is in his walk year. Also like Beltran, he's found a way to stay on the field in 2011, playing in all but one game.
But Reyes isn't just having a respectable season. He's having a tremendous one.
Hitting .335 with a .382 on-base percentage and 19 stolen bases, he's been the best leadoff hitter in baseball so far. Reyes is showing flashes of the player he was a few years ago, when he was one of the most dynamic players in the game.
He also happens to play one of the most important positions on the field, and well. A few contending teams would greatly benefit from Reyes' services at shortstop, notably the defending champion Giants and the Cincinnati Reds.
5. Kosuke Fukudome, RF, Chicago Cubs
Fukudome isn't showing any of the already limited pop he demonstrated in his first three years in the big leagues—he only has one home run and four RBIs on the year. But he's hitting for a very respectable .315 batting average and is getting on base at a .440 clip.
Like the aforementioned four players on this list, Fukudome is a free agent after this season. In fact, according to his contract, the Cubs have to either re-sign or release the Japanese import by November 15.
Fukudome doesn't have the strongest glove, but he could fill a reserve role in the outfield for a number of teams. The Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers could all take a flier on him.