The MLB trade deadline is less than two months away, so we know many GMs around the league are thinking about whether they'll be buying or selling.
There are surprises every year leading up to the trade deadline—often players everyone assumes are safe end up getting moved for any number of reasons.
Some teams need pitching, while others are in need of some power bats. Either way, there will be a move made that no one expects.
Here are five surprising players who could be moved before the 2011 MLB trade deadline.
Torii Hunter is not playing well this season. At 35 years old and in the twilight of his career, Hunter still has enough left in the tank to help a contender down the stretch.
The Los Angeles Angels would surely have to eat a large portion of the $18 million Hunter is due this year and in 2012, but how much they have to pay will depend on whether he gets moved or not.
Hunter is still an above-average defender (+0.3 dWAR through 61 games) who has a knack for making spectacular plays. Even though he has lost a step or two in the outfield, he can still cover a lot of ground and he has a solid arm.
There are a few teams who might show interest in Hunter should he become available—most notably the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Angels best bet may be to go for quantity over quality in terms of players in return—hoping to strike it rich with a a few mid-level prospects.
Although there have been reports that GM Ned Colletti has discussed contract extensions with both Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, it seems unlikely that they will be able to lock up both players given their difficult financial situation.
Kemp is set to become a free agent after the 2012 season. With the team struggling on the field so far in 2011, the Dodgers may choose to trade away one of their young superstars to load up on some young talent for when the club is under new ownership.
It really could be Ethier or Kemp who is sent packing—although I would put my money on Kemp, seeing as Ethier is the face of the franchise at this point.
Kemp is finally realizing some of the potential we've been hearing about for years, and the Dodgers would be able to get a boatload in return for the five-tool outfielder.
The Chicago White Sox are struggling—which doesn't bode well for slugger Carlos Quentin.
The White Sox re-signed franchise cornerstone Paul Konerko this past off-season while also bringing in Adam Dunn. If you include the hefty contracts of Alex Rios and Gavin Floyd, along with the arbitration raise John Danks will earn, it appears Quentin may be the odd man out.
It would be next to impossible to trade Dunn or Rios, and probably even Danks—who are all in the midst of utterly disappointing seasons—unless they sell on them low.
Quentin, on the other hand, is having a career resurgence this season and is a great sell-high candidate. He is only 28 years old and has a couple of arbitration years left until he hits free agency.
Quentin turned down a low-ball contact extension two winters ago—a move that at this point seems to have paid off.
One team Quentin has been linked to recently is the Philadelphia Phillies—who have endured a long lasting power outage so far in 2011.
The defending NL Central champs are off to a disappointing start to the 2011 season—currently sitting at 30-30 and 5.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Reds are full of young talent—most of which they are going to have to open the checkbook for in the near future.
Phillips is in the last year of his deal—which includes an option in 2012 that the Reds undoubtedly will not be picking up.
Moving Phillips now would net them a nice return of top-level prospects and maybe some MLB-ready talent.
Phillips—one of the best defensive second baseman in baseball, with a powerful bat—would attract many suitors if he ends up on the open market.
Matt Cain's name was seen floating around in trade rumors for two years prior to 2011—at one point being linked to a Prince Fielder swap with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rumors involving Cain have gotten quieter this season, but don't be surprised if GM Brian Sabean surprises the baseball world by shipping away their young pitcher to get a big bat in the lineup.
With the breakout performance of Ryan Vogelsong—paired with two other young studs in Jonathon Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner—Cain may actually be the most likely to get sent packing out of San Francisco.
Cain is only signed through the 2012 season—where he will make $15 million. Having the other three (along with Tim Lincecum) under team control further into the future puts the Giants in great position to start a bidding war for Cain's services.