MLB Trade Speculation: 30 Prospects Who Could Be Moved at the Deadline

Zachary Ball@MLBDraftCntdwnAnalyst IJune 15, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: 30 Prospects Who Could Be Moved at the Deadline

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    Fans always crave the knowledge of what players will be changing addresses at the MLB trade deadline, and you've absolutely come to the right place if you're likewise curious. Baseball's next Albert Pujols or Tim Lincecum may soon be a prospect in your team's organization, and this list will help enlighten you on who these players might be.

    More than 50 prospects were shipped off to new teams over the course of the 2010 season, most of whom were dealt (or dealt for) in the days leading up to the trade deadline.

    Needless to say, at least that many prospects will be on the move this year. Making the numbers even more impressive is the fact that 14 of baseball's 30 teams are at, or over, the .500 mark. Another five are within three games of that mark.

    As a result, the competition near the trade deadline will be fierce, with teams competing for the same impact players using the only currency they have...prospects.

    When trying to determine the prospects who are most likely to be moved, you have to consider who are the players who are going to be targeted, and who are the teams going to be doing the targeting. From there you can get a pretty good idea of which players it will take to complete a swap.

    Taking those factors into consideration, here are the top 30 prospects who could be on the move at, or before, the deadline.

Jesus Montero, C, New York Yankees

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    With Russell Martin having a pretty solid year (nine HR, 34 percent caught stealing), it could finally be the time for Montero to find himself another organization.

    Montero himself is having a strong year, hitting .293 with five home runs and 25 RBI in 51 games. He has struggled mightily since the calendar flipped to June, hitting only .185. Behind the plate, Montero is still the same mixed bag, showing some decent ability, but lacking the overall athleticism to stick behind the plate for any team other than the Yankees or Red Sox.

    Examining the Yankees weaknesses heading into the dog days of summer, Brian Cashman could be on the hunt for some starting pitching.

    Francisco Liriano's name came up in connection with the Yankees early this season, and since the Twins have fallen out of contention very quickly, he could be a decent find, and definitely a player who would be worthy of a prospect of Montero's caliber.

Randall Delgado, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Atlanta is only three-and-a-half games out of first place in the National League East, and in order to hang with the vaunted Phillies for the duration of the season, they're going to need some help in the outfield.

    Jason Heyward is on the shelf again, and the duo of Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth has combined to hit in the .235 range. 

    One of the appealing names being tossed around is Oakland's Josh Willingham, who is capable of playing multiple outfield positions. He also has ten home runs, which is more than any other player on the Braves roster. 

    With Oakland out of contention and in-line to get some much needed reinforcements from their minor league system, now might be the time to start dealing. They probably won't be able to swing a deal for stud pitcher Julio Teheran, but Delgado (3.54 ERA, 64:26 K:BB in 73.2 IP) might be a nice piece.

    And better yet, with so much pitching talent, he's a guy that Atlanta can afford to move to fill an even greater need.

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    See previous slide.

    Vizcaino might be an even more tantalizing option at the deadline, thanks to his superior stat-line, including a 3.09 ERA and a 55:17 K:BB ratio. 

Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees

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    If it seems like every year that just about every Yankees prospect is on the hot seat that's because it is...and they most certainly are.

    The Yankees have very few needs, but with the season-ending injury to Rafael Soriano, and some recent concerns with Bartolo Colon, the team could be looking for some pitching aid, and don't be surprised if they turn their eye to the National League, where guys like Ted Lilly and Brett Myers, not to mention dead-man-walking Joe Blanton could be intriguing options.

    Banuelos is a borderline elite prospect and has pitched like one so far this season (2.88 ERA, 53 K in 56.1 IP), but like most other New York farmhands he is expendable, especially if they can get a guy who can contribute right away to a division race with Boston.

Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees

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    Betances is another guy who could be on the move, potentially in a deal with Minnesota.

    He would make a nice centerpiece for a deal that would bring Francisco Liriano to the Big Apple, and would definitely be a target of the Twins if they were looking to farm out Liriano to the highest bidder.

    Betances is a huge guy (6'8", 260 lbs.) with very good command and has no problem throwing strikes, something that appeals to Minnesota as an organization.

    In a limited number of starts, the right-hander has shined, posting a 1.75 ERA and 58 strikeouts in just 51.1 innings. He's been especially good of late, striking out eight batters in a six-inning performance in which he gave up only three hits and didn't allow a run. He also posted a ten-strikeout game in late May.

Drake Britton, LHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Don't expect the Red Sox to sit pat while the Yankees maneuver around looking for someone to give them an extra edge.

    I fully expect them to go after a few pieces of their own, mostly role players.

    Their catching situation is pretty dire, so they could be on the market for a guy like Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan, a guy who has always played well when he's had the opportunity. The Reds have a productive catcher in Ramon Hernandez, and another two capable guys in the pipeline, leaving Hanigan as the odd man out.

    A straight-up deal for Drake Britton might be enough to get a deal done, especially with Britton pitching as poorly as he is. The left-hander has an ERA over 7.00 for the season in 12 starts and has only two more strikeouts (33) than walks (31). 

Robbie Erlin, LHP, Texas Rangers

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    Texas looked like the runaway winner of the American League West early in the season, but with the Mariners gaining ground on them fast, they're likely to make a move to shore up a few holes.

    Like the Yankees, they could use some extra arms in the bullpen, and would also do well to add some extra outfield talent. God only knows how long Josh Hamilton will stay healthy this time, and while Nelson Cruz has 15 home runs, he's taking the Mark Reynolds approach (59 K in 51 G) to get there.

    The Rangers greatest strength is their minor league pitching depth. They have a wealth of talented starters, and an incredibly impressive one in Erlin, who posted a 2.12 ERA last season and is right on track this year, posting a 2.43 number with an eye-popping 78:7 K:BB rate.

    As good as Erlin has looked in the minors, he's still considered more of a middle-rotation starter, making him a perfect guy to entice other teams with.

Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

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    Speaking of the Reds catching depth, they seem to have quite a log-jam with Hernandez, Hanigan, Mesoraco and last year's first-round pick Yasmani Grandal, who is inked to a big-league deal mind you.

    One, or more of them, is likely to be on the move, and considering they are in such a great position, it might make sense to deal one of them before or at the deadline to ensure another N.L. Central crown.

    Mesoraco might make the most sense just because they could likely get the biggest haul for him. He has put up great numbers this season at Triple-A, including a .329 average and eight home runs and 41 RBI in 57 games. During June he has been especially hot, hitting an even .500 with three home runs and 16 RBI in just 13 contests.

    Defensively, both Hanigan and Grandal out-pace Mesoraco.

Derek Norris, C, Washington Nationals

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    With the solid campaign rookie Wilson Ramos is having (.248, five HR), it might be time to start looking for some buyers for Norris, arguably the team's best offensive catcher. Not only does Ramos have better defensive skills behind the plate, he also has a more consistent approach at the plate.

    The Nats also have Jesus Flores, who was in the midst of a break-out season in 2009 when he was lost for the year.

    That leaves Norris as the odd man out. He hasn't helped his cause too much this season, hitting .220 with more than his fair share of strikeouts (49 in 41 G), but considering his power potential (23 HR in 2009), he could be a guy that some team targets.

Yonder Alonso, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

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    Alonso has been "unofficially" on the market for a couple of years now.

    He figured to be the Reds long-term answer at first base before Joey Votto exploded for an MVP and cemented his status as the guy at first. Now Alonso has been stuck switching back and forth between the outfield and first, biding his time in Triple-A until Votto goes down with an injury, or Alonso himself gets dealt.

    The Reds have some needs, pitching primarily, and Alonso could be one of the top trade chips on the market. He's hitting .316 for the Reds' Triple-A squad and has 18 doubles, 39 RBI and a decent number of walks.

    If the Reds could find the perfect piece to fit in their rotation, somebody who could give them an answer to Zack Grienke, they could potentially build the deal around Alonso.

Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Homegrown pitching prospects don't last long in Boston.

    Not once they work their way up to Double- and Triple-A. And especially not when they post ERA's that hover around the 10.00 mark.

    Pimentel was a dark-horse for a big-league call-up late this season, potentially as a reliever out of a bullpen that should be taxed by a year competing against a brutal American League East, but instead, he has struggled to find any sort of consistency. 

    He went 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA during April, dropped four of his five starts in May and has gone winless in June, leaving him with an 0-8 record and a .343 average against him. He's also served up eight long balls.

    Pimentel by himself won't be an enticing enough prospect to get a deal done, but packaged with someone else, he could net the Sox somebody useful.

Lars Anderson, 1B, Boston Red Sox

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    Anderson became expendable the day the the Red Sox went all in for Adrian Gonzalez. 

    He was actually pretty much dead weight before then, with the Sox turning most of their attention to the recently-departed Anthony Rizzo, a better hitter and defender than Anderson. Nowadays, Anderson is puttering around Triple-A, getting the hang of advanced pitching (.266, four HR, 31 RBI), biding his time until the Sox inevitably deal him.

    A few years ago, the Sox could have built a deal around Anderson, but now they'll most likely have to package him with somebody if they want to get anything more than a bullpen piece.

Austin Romine, C, New York Yankees

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    The Yankees have made it pretty clear that they seem to prefer Gary Sanchez as their long-term catcher. Even if he doesn't pan out, they would have J.R. Murphy.

    The long-shot it seems is the guy who is actually closest to the Majors, Double-A's Austin Romine, the team's second-round pick back in 2007.

    Romine has worked his way up to Double-A, where he has been very consistent, hitting .298 with four home runs and 31 RBI. He's also been pretty good on defense, giving the Yanks a good glimpse of what they're missing in Jesus Montero.

    Romine could be in line for a promotion next year, but it's pretty likely the Yanks find a long-term solution by then, maybe even as early as this year's deadline, leaving him a safe bet to end up starting somewhere...just not in New York.

Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Archer was the prized piece in the deal that sent Matt Garza to Chicago this off-season, but if trades have taught us one thing, it's that guys who are traded are much more likely to be dealt again. See Brett Wallace.

    Archer was supposed to slide seamlessly into Tampa's system, where they churn out starting pitchers like nobody else, but unfortunately he hit a bit of a road block on his way to the Majors. In 13 Double-A starts, he's posted a 5.43 ERA and has had some serious issues with his control. A year after issuing only 65 walks, he's already up to nearly 40 in 16 fewer starts.

    When you look at Tampa's system and compare Archer to each of their top arms, I'd take the other guy in most cases, leaving Archer as the odd man out if the Rays need to swing a couple of guys to make a deal.

Travis D'Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Like the Reds, the Jays have a wealth of young catching talent that extends from the big-league club (J.P. Arencibia) down to Low-A (Carlos Perez).

    Somewhere in between is D'Arnaud.

    Arencibia is hitting well enough to justify sticking around for at least another season, and Perez looks to be the most talented of all three, leaving D'Arnaud, who is hitting .316 with six homers and 18 RBI, on the outside looking in.

    He could likely net the best return for the Jays, who almost always seem to be on the hunt for even more prospect talent.

    Nobody does it like Alex Anthropoulos.

Jason Knapp, RHP, Cleveland Indians

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    Knapp also falls into the category of "traded once, much more likely to be dealt again."

    A one-time Phillie, Knapp has as much pure velocity as anyone in the minors, capable of touching the high 90s and he is truly unhittable when he's on his game. The Indians picked him up in the first Cliff Lee trade, and have been frustrated with the lack of progress he's made.

    He's only made 13 starts for the organization, and just underwent shoulder surgery which ended his season before it even began. He now has had almost as many operations (two) as wins (three) since joining the Indians.

    With the Indians fighting to maintain their spot atop the American League Central, they're going to be looking for some pieces to help them, and Knapp could be one of the most appealing targets for a team looking to deal some veterans. 

Brayan Villarreal, RHP, Detroit Tigers

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    After a tough 13-game stint in the Majors, Villarreal is back at Triple-A, showing the same poise and command that got him to Detroit in the first place.

    Unfortunately, once a guy gets to the big-leagues and fails to stick, it makes the odds much worse that he's going to have a long-term future with that club.

    Combine that with the fact that the Tigers are clawing their way back into the A.L. Central race, and it seems like Villarreal could be on the move sometime this season. 

    I know it doesn't necessarily make sense to deal a young, promising reliever for an older, more veteran one, but that's just what the Tigers might do in an effort to shore up their bullpen for the stretch run.

Neil Ramirez, RHP, Texas Rangers

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    Ramirez is another talented arm from Texas who could be packaged and moved around the deadline if the Rangers are looking for some final pieces to complete their squad.

    It seems like a pretty safe bet to assume that the Rangers will be in the playoff picture, meaning they can start building their roster. I doubt Ramirez, who has only 56.2 innings above Double-A, will be a part of their big-league plans, but he could certainly be a part of a package to bring a big-bat or maybe a solid starter to Arlington.

    The Rangers have a ton of talented pitchers in their farm system, so a few guys like Erlin or Ramirez could be expendable.

J.J. Hoover, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Like the Rangers, the Braves are incredibly deep in the starting pitching department.

    One guy who doesn't get as much love as the Teheran/Vizcaino/Delgado triumverate is J.J. Hoover, who has put together another very strong season, posting a 3.65 ERA and 63:25 K:BB ratio in 66.2 innings, most of which have come in Double-A.

    Hoover won 14 games and struck out 152 batters last season, earning his way up to Mississippi.

    This year, he earned a promotion to Triple-A, but struggled there in two starts (five innings-pitched, eight hits, seven earned runs), forcing a move back to Double-A.

    If the Braves are still in the hunt and looking for a bat, Hoover could be the guy they're most willing to move.

Joe Kelly, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    St. Louis is currently in a dead heat with Milwaukee atop the N.L. Central, and while the Brewers have bolstered their rotation with the additions of Zack Grienke and Shaun Marcum, the Cardinals have...well, not really done anything, unless you count losing a perennial Cy Young candidate.

    And that isn't something that's going to make them much stronger, which means that the Cards might be on the market for some pitching help as this thing comes down the stretch. 

    With the season undersized Joe Kelly has had, if they wanted to make a move, he could be a very vital piece. He has only allowed 49 hits in 70 innings spanning 10 appearances, and has an ERA of 2.70. He also has 49 strikeouts and has surrendered only one home run all year.

    During a recent two-start stretch he was unhittable, allowing only two in 15 innings.

    With the depth of the Cardinals system, that includes Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, they can afford to deal a few guys like Kelly if it's in their best interest.

Matt Carpenter, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Kelly isn't likely to draw a big name to St. Louis by himself, so if he does get dealt, it will likely be a package deal, and Carpenter is just that kind of package guy.

    For two reasons.

    One, the Cardinals are set at third base, with Zack Cox having a pretty solid season and the contract that demands he be given his shot.

    Second, Carpenter has great potential, and while his ceiling might not be as high as Cox, he could be a very decent player at the big-league level. If the Cards get the chance to deal him to a team that has an opening at third, he could really shine.

Todd Frazier, INF, Cincinnati Reds

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    Once upon a time, Frazier was the Reds top prospect.

    A few years later, he's just another guy trying to break onto a very loaded roster that has proven to be very difficult for young position players to crack.

    You can't fault Frazier's efforts, however, as the 25-year-old has learned to play just about every position except catcher and pitcher while biding his time at Triple-A (for the third season in a row). He seems to have mastered the hitting thing (11 HR in 62 games this year), so now it's just a matter of waiting for a hole to present itself.

    Frazier is most comfortable at third base, so if anything happens to Scott Rolen that keeps him off the field for more than a month, Frazier should be the guy they turn to.

    Still, it's beginning to look like Frazier's best days might be ahead of him with another organization. 

Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies

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    The Rockies are currently four games under .500, but with their history of making late-season runs their six-game deficit in the N.L. West shouldn't seem insurmountable.

    Like every other team that is in contention and is looking to be towards the end of the year, the Rockies have some holes. They could always use more pitching, and their outfield has been hit with some injuries and the inconsistent play of Carlos Gonzalez.

    If they could pick up a premium player, it might be worth it to think about dealing their top catching prospect, Wilin Rosario. The 22-year-old backstop has already worked his way to Double-A, where he has nine home runs in 47 games, making him a pretty appealing target.

    He could be expendable because the Rockies also have Jordan Pacheco (hitting .267 at Triple-A) and one of the newest members of the organization, third-round pick Peter O'Brien, one of the most offensive-minded catchers available in this year's draft.

Francisco Peguero, Of, San Francisco Giants

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    There was a lot of talk earlier this year about the Giants potentially dealing for Jose Reyes.

    Francisco Peguero checked in as the team's No. 4 prospect on Baseball America's preseason top 10. He's a soon-to-be 23-year-old who just cracked Double-A. On the plus side, Peguero does have potential five-tool talent. He hit .329 last year in the Cal League, rapping 19 doubles, racking up 16 triples and bashing 10 homers. He ended the year with 77 RBI and a whopping 40 steals.

    Strikeouts have been a trouble spot with Peguero, which could give the Mets cause for concern. He whiffed 88 times in 2010 and walked only 18 times. Still, his tools are loud, and the Mets can use all the cheap talent they can get.

    But of course a deal for Reyes wouldn't be a one-for-one swap. The Mets are going to want a heck of a lot more than just Peguero.

Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants

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    For starters, how about a replacement for Reyes?

    The Giants are lucky enough to have two shortstop prospects who are talented enough to rank in their top 10. Ehire Adrianza is arguably the more talented of the two and has the higher ceiling, but Brandon Crawford is the most big-league ready, and considering the Mets don't have another talented shortstop prospect who could be big-league ready before 2013, he makes the most sense.

    Crawford, 24, struggled last year, splitting time between two levels, but had a strong year in 2009, hitting .282 with 10 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals. He reached Double-A by the end of that season and played the majority of the 2010 season there as well.

    He has decent potential as a big leaguer and at his best will be a guy who hits .280 with 10 homers and 50-60 RBI, playing solid defense. A player like that could tide the Mets over until they come up with a long-term solution.

Tommy Joseph, C, San Francisco Giants

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    Before the season began, it seemed like Joseph was going to be the "Buster Posey contingency plan."

    If Posey ever was forced to first base, it was going to be Joseph who replaced him behind the plate. Not only were his defensive skills slightly better, his bat was also plenty good (16 HR in 117 G in 2010).

    This year the plans were somewhat accelerated, causing the Giants to formulate a new game-plan. When Posey was injured in a collision at the plate, that put catcher front of mind for the Giants brass, and they showed their willingness to find a long-term replacement not named Tommy Joseph in the draft.

    In the second-round they found their guy, Oregon State's Andrew Susac, who could have been a first-round pick, but slid due to concerns about an injury that he sustained in the middle of the season.

    Now Joseph is looking around for a new home, either at a new position, or in a new organization.

    If the Giants expect to contend, they're going to need a few more pieces this year, and Joseph could be an intriguing enough piece to entice some teams to offer up some parts.

Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

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    In case you didn't notice, the Rays had close to a million picks in the 2011 MLB Draft, and with four of their first 13 picks, they selected shortstops, including one, Jake Hager, in the first-round.

    The Rays already had an impressive collection of shortstop talent, including the recently traded for Hak-Ju Lee, who joined the system from Chicago, where he established himself as the team's top infield prospect.

    In Tampa, they also have another guy who just so happened to be a No. 1 overall pick a few years ago. And while Tim Beckham hasn't blossomed into the superstar everyone expected, he still might have some value...just not in this system.

    Lee seems to have the inside track on the job in the long-term, leaving Beckham has potential trade bait. He still has some decent talent and he's actually had a very good year, hitting .306 with 14 doubles, two triples and four home runs for Double-A Montgomery.

Josh Reddick, Of, Boston Red Sox

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    As hard as it is for starting pitchers to find footing in the Red Sox system, it's almost harder to establish yourself as an outfielder.

    Just ask Reddick, who has seen action with the big-league club in each of the last three seasons.

    And here he is, still wasting away in Triple-A, where he has clearly become disgruntled, hitting .226 this season. In his five-game big-league call-up, though, he shined, hitting .385 in 13 at-bats and driving in four runs.

    Still, with Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew manning the three outfield spots, it's going to be easier to break into the Majors long-term somewhere else.

    The Sox have shown no hesitation in dealing top outfield prospects, so Reddick could be next in line.

James Darnell, 3B, San Diego Padres

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    The Padres have had one of the top performing farm systems to this point in the 2011 season, and you can thank just about everyone of their third basemen for producing career years.

    Darnell has been arguably the best, hitting .351 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 60 games, coming off of a year in which he struggled to maintain a great average (.271) or sustain any power (11 HR). He has certainly found his stroke in the Texas League.

    Unfortunately, he's also facing stiff competition in the form of Jedd Gyorko (.384, 15 HR, 64 RBI) and Edinson Rincon (.344, seven HR, 46 RBI), meaning not everyone is going to stick around for the long-run.

Alex Colome, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Despite having one of the top farm systems in all of baseball, the Rays have been very hesitant about shelling out minor leaguers in exchange for some veterans.

    This, however, could be the year that that philosophy changes.

    With a farm system that has been overstocked with a massive draft haul, the Rays could be looking to deal a few players to make some room for all that new talent. Dealing some of their most veteran, Major League ready arms could create a lot of space, and also a ton of interest from clubs looking for some franchise pieces.

    Colome isn't in the top-five of Tampa's top starting prospects, but he's certainly close. Especially after an impressive start to the 2011 campaign, that could find him moving on to Double-A before the end of the year.

    If he sticks around in Tampa, he'll likely just end up in the bullpen, so why not see what kind of veteran piece you can get for him?