MLB Trade Speculation: 50 Players That Every Contender Will Chase in July

Dmitriy IoselevichSenior Analyst IIIJune 27, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: 50 Players That Every Contender Will Chase in July

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    There's barely a month left before the MLB trade deadline and trade talks are beginning to heat up, with teams zeroing in on their targets.

    Contenders especially will be looking for that final piece or two that vaults them ahead of the competition and hopefully all the way to the World Series. 

    Not all of these 50 players will be moved, but you can bet their names will come up in trade discussions. Here's a preview of who these players are and where they could be moved.

    Players are listed alphabetically.

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David Aardsma, RP, Seattle Mariners

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    Aardsma, 29, has yet to pitch this season as he recovers from a sprain in his right elbow. However, if the righty does recover in time for the trade deadline, he could be a hot commodity as one of the few available relievers with actual closing experience. He saved 69 games over the last two seasons for the Mariners and is a true strikeout pitcher with a career rate of 9.1 SO/9 IP.

Rick Ankiel, OF, Washington Nationals

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    Ankiel has had a tough time getting it going in his first season for the Nationals, batting just .204/.271/.276 in 48 games. But he’s still just 31 years old and owed only $1.5 million this year. Some team may be willing to take a chance on him as a left-handed, power-hitting reserve outfielder.

Erik Bedard, SP, Seattle Mariners

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    Bedard has finally discovered the fountain of youth, ironically at the age of 32. The oft-injured lefty has been terrific for the Mariners with a 2.93 ERA in 14 starts and 80 strikeouts in 83 innings. If he can stay healthy, he could be a No. 2 starter in a championship rotation (Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies?), although he’s historically struggled in the second half.

Heath Bell, RP, San Diego Padres

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    Bell is without a doubt the best reliever on the market and has lived up to his billing with 19 saves and a 2.70 ERA in 30 games this season. There may not be any closing opportunities available for him, but the righty would still be a terrific setup man. The Yankees, Rangers and Phillies could all use someone like Bell. Ditto for the Cardinals if they can stay in the race.

Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets

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    Beltran has come back down to earth a little bit after his scorching start and is now batting .279/.372/.483 with a league-leading 21 doubles. The switch-hitter still has some speed and would be a big improvement in right field for a team like the Red Sox or Phillies. The question is if the Mets even want to let him go? With a $18.5 million price tag, they may not have a choice.

Roger Bernadina, IF, Washington Nationals

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    The Nationals have loads of young talent, and Bernadina doesn’t seem to fit into their long-term plans, even though he’s only 27 and under team control through at least 2014. The speedster is hitting .287 and has some decent pop, so there are plenty of teams that would be happy to have him as a fourth outfielder or as a replacement for an injured player.

Wilson Betemit, IF, Kansas City Royals

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    Betemit, 29, is one of the hottest names on the trade market because he’s cheap ($1 million salary for 2011) and can play multiple positions. He’s also swinging a decent bat (.286/.343/.407), although those 52 strikeouts in 51 games are pretty gruesome to look at. The Giants and Diamondbacks could both bid for his services.

Michael Bourn, OF, Houston Astros

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    It’s an extreme long shot that the new Houston ownership group would deal one of the club’s best young players, but they’d be crazy not to at least listen to offers. Bourn, 28, leads the majors in steals with 32 and seems to be maturing as a hitter as he enters his prime. 

Melky Cabrera, OF, Kansas City Royals

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    It took seven seasons and three teams for Cabrera to have his career year, but amazingly, he’s still just 26. The Royals may like to hold on to Cabrera since he’s cheap and won’t be a free agent until 2013, however his name will definitely come up in trade talks. Would the Yankees take him back?

Orlando Cabrera, 2B, Cleveland Indians

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    The Indians didn’t expect much from Cabrera when they signed the 36-year-old to a one-year, $1 million deal during the offseason. However, the veteran infielder has been surprisingly decent and could be a clubhouse leader for a new team, assuming the Indians decide to sell. The Giants could be a good fit for Cabrera, although he’s not necessarily an upgrade over Miguel Tejada. 

Mike Cameron, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    The Red Sox are obviously a contending team, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t unload some baggage at the deadline. Cameron, 38, has been next to useless for Boston and has just 14 hits this season in 90 at-bats. However, he could still contribute some pop and defense if given a more full-time role. The Phillies, desperate for a right-handed bat, are a potential destination. 

Shawn Camp, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Camp, 35, is a middle reliever who has pitched the last six seasons in the AL East and held his own with an ERA close to 4.00. He won’t be able to carry a bullpen by himself, but he’s a cheap and serviceable option for a team in need of an extra arm. 

Matt Capps, RP, Minnesota Twins

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    Capps, on the other hand, could be an eight-inning set up man for the right team. He’s struggled this season with a 4.06 ERA and 11 saves in 28 games, however he excelled as the Twins closer last season after Joe Nathan went down with a season-ending injury. The righty will be a free agent after this season.

Fausto Carmona, SP, Cleveland Indians

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    Carmona, 27, was a breakthrough star in 2010 when he made his first All-Star team, but he’s been a massive disappointment this year. The righty has a 5.98 ERA in 16 starts and can’t seem to keep the ball in the park with 15 home runs surrendered already.

    The Indians will be tempted to unload Carmona now before he starts getting expensive ($7 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013, $11 million in 2014), although they may have a tough time finding a team willing to take the big righty on.

Bruce Chen, SP, Kansas City Royals

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    Chen has played for 10 different teams in his 13-year major league career, but his longest tenure with any single team is the one he’s on right now. Unfortunately, it looks like his time in Kansas City is just about up. Chen, 34, is in the final year of his deal, and the Royals need to make room for prospects Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery. With a 3.88 ERA in eight starts, it shouldn’t be too hard to find Chen a new team.

Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics

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    Coco Crisp, 31, is another one of the most sought after players. He’s a switch-hitter with terrific speed and defense and a decent amount of pop. The A’s, desperate as they are for offense, are unlikely to bring him back next season so a trade seems like the only option. Crisp is hitting a respectable .260 at the plate and already has 23 steals under his belt.

Michael Cuddyer, 3B, Minnesota Twins

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    Cuddyer has played relatively well in his final year of arbitration, but unless the Twins make an incredible turnaround over the next four weeks, it won’t matter. The 32-year-old can play all over the field, and even with a $10.5 million price tag, he’d be an asset for pretty much any team. Could the Phillies find enough cash to pick him up?

John Danks, SP, Chicago White Sox

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    Danks, 26, looks like the odd man out in a rotation that is six deep. He has a 4.21 ERA in 15 starts and has kept his walks down, so he’ll be an attractive trade chip for a team looking for some starting depth (Yankees, Reds). He’s also a lefty and won’t be a free agent until 2013.

Kyle Davies, SP, Kansas City Royals

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    Davies has gone from decent to bad to worse in five seasons in Kansas City. His ERA this season has ballooned to a gaudy 7.46 ERA in nine starts, and he’s been out of the rotation for over a month already. The 27-year-old has always struggled with his control and might not be anything more than a spot-starter at this point.

David DeJesus, OF, Oakland Athletics

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    The A’s acquired DeJesus in the offseason to add a strong bat to the lineup. That plan hasn’t really worked out with the outfielder batting just .226. Still, DeJesus has been a productive player for a long time and may just need a change of scenery to get his bat going. His lefty bat will play somewhere.

Octavio Dotel, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Dotel, 37, is another journeyman who has played for 11 different teams in both leagues. He couldn’t win the closer’s job in his latest stop in Toronto, and the Blue Jays have little reason to hold on to him, even if he is pitching reasonably well (4.43 ERA in 24 games). Dotel is due $2.75 million this season with a $3.5 million team option for next season, so whichever team acquires him will have to be able to pay the bill.

Mark Ellis, IF, Oakland Athletics

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    Ellis has spent his entire career in Oakland, and despite a few impressive seasons, he’s never blossomed into the all-around player everyone expected him to be. At this point in his career, the 34-year-old is little more than a utility player with some pop and speed. That sounds like exactly what the Giants need.

Kyle Farnsworth, RP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    The Rays brought in the enigmatic Farnsworth to be the centerpiece of their bullpen after losing almost the entire staff to free agency. The 35-year-old right-hander has responded becoming a dominant closer for Tampa Bay, with a 2.05 ERA and 16 saves in 34 appearances.

    He hasn’t pitched this well since 2005, and the Rays may be tempted to sell the impending free agent while his value is still high. The Rangers, Cardinals and Brewers should all show some interest.

Jeff Francis, SP, Kansas City Royals

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    The Royals signed Francis to a one-year deal to add some depth to the rotation, and they’ll try to reap the rewards by trading the tall lefty. Francis, 30, has been respectable in 16 starts with a 4.76 ERA and 1.403 WHIP (both below his career averages) and could be a No. 5 starter for a team like the Yankees or Giants.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, Kansas City Royals

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    The Braves thought Francoeur was a lost cause when they traded the former top prospect in 2009, but the outfielder may have finally found his stroke in Kansas City. He’s already popped 10 home runs and, more impressively, only struck out 55 times.

    The Royals could keep him for next season when he’ll be due only $4 million, but they may get a good offer for him on the trade market. Would the Phillies welcome his right-handed bat back to the NL East?

Frank Francisco, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Francisco, 31, emerged as the Blue Jays closer early in the season and has pitched reasonably well with a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings. He’s always been a power-pitcher and, even if he’s not closing, he’s more than capable of handling a set-up role. All of the teams after Capps and Farnsworth will do their due diligence on Francisco first because he’s the most consistent of the three.

Jason Frasor, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Speaking of Blue Jays, Frasor waited patiently for several years to get his chance to be the team’s closer, and he just keeps getting pass over. It’s hard to see why, especially since he’s been Toronto’s best reliever this season with a 2.64 ERA in 33 games. He’s Toronto’s most valuable trade chip since he is in the last year of his deal and pitching better than any of his teammates.

Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    The Cubs may have to swallow a sizeable chunk of $4-plus million still owed to Fukudome, but if they do make him available, they’ll have no shortage of potential suitors. Fukudome, 34, has been a disappointment since coming over from Japan, but he’s still a productive hitter who excels at getting on base (.394 on-base percentage) and has decent power and speed. The Braves may be a good fit if one of Jordan Schaeffer or Nate McClouth can’t figute it out soon.

Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City Royals

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    Gordon, 27, failed to live up to his vast potential early in his career, but he’s starting to come around. He leads the Royals in RBI (43) and doubles (22), and he’s second in OPS (.838). Unfortunately, he’s due to hit arbitration for the second time, and he’s about to get expensive.

    The Royals may not be able to afford Gordon if they want to sign Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and others to a long-term deal, so a trade is definitely possible. The Royals may also not want to risk Gordon going back to his free-swinging days or suffering an injury, either of which would deflate his value. 

Mike Gonzalez, RP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Gonzalez is one of the most attractive lefties on the market because he’s relatively cheap ($6 million in 2011) and throws hard. He’s been a disaster this season for the Orioles with a 5.81 ERA in 27 games, and he lost his closer’s job to Kevin Gregg, but there are still some evaluators who think he’s capable of being a late inning reliever. 

Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Baltimore Orioles

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    Father time has finally caught up with Guerrero, who at 36, is having the worst season of his career. That said, he’s still one of the best bats in baseball and would be an asset for any team looking for a little thump from the right side. The only caveat is that he can’t play the field, so he’d probably have to stay in the AL. The Tigers and White Sox are potential fits.

John Grabow, RP, Chicago Cubs

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    Capable left-handed relievers are a rare commodity, and Grabow might be the best of the bunch. He’s held his own as a middle reliever for the Cubs with a 4.88 ERA in 32 appearances, and at only 32, he should have plenty left on his arm. He’ll also be a free agent in 2012 so trading for him involves minimal risk. The Red Sox and Yankees are at the top of his potential destinations.

Orlando Hudson, 2B, San Diego Padres

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    O-Dog is one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball, yet he’s never been much of a threat with the bat. This year has been more of the same for the veteran in the cavernous confines of Petco Park as he sports just a .665 OPS. The Padres signed him to a three-year deal worth $17.5 million and are quickly realizing how much they overpaid. There aren’t too many teams that need a long-term answer at second base, but the Padres will certainly make him available.

Edwin Jackson, SP, Chicago White Sox

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    Jackson, 27, has had a hard time sticking with an organization despite a fairly impressive major league career. He has a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts this season and is on pace for his fifth consecutive year of at least 30 starts. Problem is there’s not really a place for Jackson in Chicago and GM Kenny Williams will need to use him a trade chip to upgrade other parts of the team. The righty is poised for a return to the NL where he could pitch for the Cardinals or Reds.

Reed Johnson, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    Johnson, 34, has been on an unreal tear this season. He has a 1.026 OPS and has 15 extra-base hits in just 90 at-bats. Unfortunately, he’s little more than a reserve outfielder and only signed on a one-year deal. The Cubs will put Johnson out there to see if they can get a team to bite on his hot streak. The Braves and Phillies could both use his right-handed bat.

Austin Kearns, OF, Cleveland Indians

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    Kearns is the protoypical fourth outfielder, and that’s a big reason why he’s played for four different teams in such a short career. He’s been a complete failure in Cleveland (.194/.286/.269) and desperately needs a chance of scenery to get his act together. However, with Shin-Soo Choo, the Indians may have no choice but to play Kearns more regularly.

Jeff Keppinger, IF, Houston Astros

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    Keppinger, 31, is another utility player who’s had a very productive season. He’s currently hitting .318 as the Astros part-time second baseman and has experience all over the infield. There isn’t one team that stands out as a probable destination right now, but injuries over the next month to other infielders should boost Keppinger’s value.

Jason Kubel, DH, Minnesota Twins

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    Kubel, 29, is a good hitter with a .310/.355/.465 line and plus power. However, he’s not really suited to play the field, and there won’t be a place for him in Minnesota much longer. He’s a bargain at $5.25 million for a left-handed bat.

Ryan Ludwick, OF, San Diego Padres

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    Ludwick is another power-hitting outfielder who probably doesn’t belong on the field. He’s one of the few bright spots in the Padres offense even though his .712 OPS is the lowest it's been since 2004 when he barely played. Ludwick, 32, comes with a higher price tag than Kubel ($6.775 million), but he’ll be in higher demand because he hits from the right side.

Jason Marquis, SP, Washington Nationals

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    Marquis doesn’t get much credit for being a superb starting pitcher, but when he’s healthy, he’s as good as any No. 3 starter in baseball (disregarding the Phillies). Last season was a lost cause, but this year, the 32-year-old righty has a 3.53 ERA in 15 starts and has thrown 94.1 innings already. This is a guy who can eat a lot of innings and as a two-month rental Marquis should generate a ton of interest.

Hideki Matsui, DH, Oakland Athletics

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    Matsui, like Kubel and Ludwick, wouldn’t be a full-time player if it wasn’t for his bat. The veteran has really struggled in his first season with the A’s (.226/.302/.357), but some of that could be attributed to playing in a pitcher’s park. He’ll have to stay in the AL, but there will still be some demand. Could he return to the Yankees if Jorge Posada doesn’t pick it up?

Brett Myers, SP, Houston Astros

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    Myers, 30, was one of the hottest names on the market early in the season coming off a stupendous 2010 season in which he finished 10th in Cy Young voting. This season hasn’t been nearly as kind to him as he has a 4.65 ERA in 16 starts, but the stuff is still there.

    Myers is different from most of this year’s trade candidates in that he’s signed through 2012 with a vesting option for 2013. As a result, it’ll take a bigger package to pry the righty from Houston. The Yankees might be the only team with the resources to get a deal done. 

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs

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    Ramirez is one of the great underrated sluggers in the game. The 33-year-old third baseman has 295 career home runs and a .835 career OPS. That kind of production is hard to come by and the Cubs have been extremely fortunate to get Ramirez in his prime, but it might finally be time for him to play for a winning team.

    The only caveat is he’s owed $14.6 million this season with a $1 million bonus if he gets traded, so only a team with some serious cash will be able to get a deal done. Maybe the White Sox or Angels?

Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets

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    As long as the Mets have any chance at a playoff spot, Reyes isn’t going anywhere. Even if they did fall way out of the race, it seems unlikely that the Mets would part ways with their superstar, who is finally playing like a superstar.

    The 28-year-old shortstop leads the league in runs, hits, triples and batting average. Safe to say, it’s a career year for the three-time All-Star, and Reyes couldn’t have picked a better time. He’ll be one of the biggest 2012 free agents at the end of this year.

Francisco Rodriguez, RP, New York Mets

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    K-Rod recently made it known that he’d be willing to accept a setup role if he was traded. None of the contending teams have a major hole at closer (except for maybe the Cardinals), so it looks like that’s what Rodriguez’s future holds.

    However, $11.5 million (with a $3.5 million buyout for 2012) is a lot to pay for a setup man, even if he is pitching well. The 29-year-old righty has a 3.25 ERA and 20 saves in 36 games with his customary high rate of strikeouts.

Pudge Rodriguez, C, Washington Nationals

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    Wilson Ramos is the catcher of the future, and that means Pudge will be the most sought after catcher at the deadline. The veteran hasn’t been an above-average hitter in about four years, but he’s a great clubhouse leader who can mentor a catcher or handle a staff. The Yankees and Red Sox could both make an offer if the price is right, and the Giants are always a popular destination with the injury to Buster Posey.

Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Houston Astros

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    Wandy is the resident veteran of the Astros staff and with the way he’s pitching he’s the ace too. The lefty has a 3.21 ERA in 13 starts and is on pace to equal his numbers from 2009 when he threw over 200 innings and finished with a 3.02 ERA. However, the contract is an issue.

    Rodriguez is owed $30 million from 2011-2013 with a $13 million option for 2014 ($2.5 million buyout). That’s a lot of money for a small-market team that needs to find a way to sign Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and Bud Norris long term. The Yankees, once again, are at the top of the list of potential suitors.

B.J. Upton, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Upton’s potential availability as a trade candidate came as a big surprise to most baseball circles. The five-tool center fielder is cost-controlled through 2012 and is still only 26. The Rays have to be upset that he’s yet to reach his potential and even regressed a bit despite 2011 being his seventh major league season.

    However, he’s still an incredibly rare talent (10 home runs, 20 steals) with room to grow. The thinking behind this one is the Rays could unload Upton while he still has value and rebuild around prospect Desmond Jennings and an army of terrific young pitchers. The Angels may be a good fit.

Josh Willingham, OF, Oakland Athletics

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    Willingham, 32, is the best bat the A’s have with 10 home runs on the season and a .718 OPS. However, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year, and the A’s don’t seem to be going anywhere this season. The Red Sox have tried to acquire Willingham several times in the past so look for them to be active once again in trade discussions for the right-handed bat.

Carlos Zambrano, SP, Chicago Cubs

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    It remains unclear whether the Cubs will make Zambrano available or not or if Big Z will even accept a trade. But scouts definitely have their eyes on the big righty. He hasn’t had his greatest year with a 4.38 ERA in 17 starts, but he’s incredibly durable and eats innings.

    He’s due close to $36 million through 2012 so the price tag is prohibitive, but if the Cubs eat some of the salary and float Zambrano’s name out there, he’ll instantly become the No. 1 target on the trade market. You can never count out the Yankees making a move for the 30-year-old All-Star.