Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence may be the biggest names in MLB trade rumors right now, but not every team needs an outfielder.
Some clubs need an infielder, a reliever or a utility man. Some clubs even need all three. But how do GMs decide between all the options?
Here are the top three players available at each position as we approach the July 31 MLB trade deadline.
Dmitriy Ioselevich is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for all your MLB news and updates.
The Reds have both Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan in the last year of their deals, but it’s Hernandez who is drawing everyone’s attention.
The 35-year-old is having one of the best seasons of his career with a .309/.362/.516 line and 10 home runs. He may not be able to perform at that level full-time, but he’d be an improvement at catcher for most teams.
The future Hall of Famer has given way to 23-year-old Wilson Ramos in Washington, but that doesn’t mean he’s completely done.
Rodriguez, 39, is still a smart player who knows how to handle a pitching staff and brings leadership and experience to the clubhouse.
There’s not much left in the bat (.214/.276/.325), but as a two-month rental, most GMs wouldn’t complain.
The Rangers have made Torrealba available if only because they need to find a way to get 27-year-old Taylor Teagarden more playing time and because they have few other trade chips.
Torrealba, 32, is having a decent season with a .666 OPS and won’t be a free agent until 2013, but he’s certainly expendable in the right trade.
This might be the weakest market for first basemen in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t talent out there.
Davis, 25, is stuck behind Mitch Moreland on the depth chart in Texas and needs to find more regular playing time to fix the holes in his swing (296 strikeouts in 858 at-bats).
He does have a .763 OPS in parts of four seasons, so there’s definitely something there. Plus, he won’t be a free agent until 2015, so he has time.
Alonso’s major league debut last season didn’t go quite as planned, as the 23-year-old managed just six hits in 22 games.
But this is still one of the top prospects in baseball and available in the right deal. He has an .874 OPS with 11 home runs at Triple-A Louisville this season and looks ready for the big show.
He deserves a job as a starting first baseman, which is something he won’t get in Cincinnati as long as Joey Votto is kicking.
The price tag is exorbitant (approximately $3 million for a rental), but the power (20 home runs) is very real, and Pena has always been a plus defender.
He’s never going to hit for a high average (career .239 hitter), but a team in need of a left-handed bat with power could do worse than Pena. The only obstacle is who’s footing the bill?
The Padres don’t have to trade Hudson, who is under contract through at least 2012 and one of the few veterans on a team riddled with youngsters.
However, they’ll certainly listen to offers. Hudson’s never been known for his bat and has all but disappeared in Petco Park (.232/.329/.303), but he’s still one of the best defensive infielders in baseball and a spark plug for any team in need of a jolt.
Cabrera can play either second base or shortstop (he’s played mostly second base this season), and it’s doubtful whether the Indians would even trade him, but he’s still a more than serviceable middle infield solution.
The .244/.276/.325 line isn’t great, but the defense is still solid, and he’s one of the best clubhouse leaders in baseball. Cabrera’s been to the postseason in six of the past seven years.
Infante has been a massive disappointment in Florida after being acquired in the Dan Uggla trade.
He’s only hitting .256/.301/.311 after nearly winning a batting title with Atlanta in 2010, but that won’t stop the Marlins from selling low on the impending free agent.
Infante, 29, can also play shortstop and the outfield.
All signs point to Reyes staying in New York, but until that July 31 trade deadline passes, it’s impossible to ignore the possibility of him being traded.
If Reyes is moved, he will be the best player on the entire trade market. The 28-year-old is having a career year with a league-leading 124 hits and 15 triples on top of a .354/.398/.529 line and 30 steals.
Furcal has missed almost all of the 2011 season with an injury, and he’ll be due another $4 million after July 31. However, if the Dodgers can find a taker, they’ll be able to unload a true difference-maker.
Furcal, 33, is one of the best hitting shortstops in the game (career .756 OPS) and still has plus speed.
The glove is just average, and it’s debatable that Furcal is even healthy, but with Reyes likely off the market, Furcal suddenly becomes a hot commodity.
Bartlett’s a free agent at the end of this season, and he plays for the Padres, which translates into him being trade bait.
He may not be good enough to be a full-time shortstop anymore (.611 OPS), but even in a utility role Bartlett should be able to help some teams with his speed and defense.
Ramirez says he won’t waive his no-trade clause, which means he either really likes playing in Chicago or he’s trying to weed out some of his suitors.
Assuming it’s the latter, Ramirez would be a great fit for multiple teams. The power (17 home runs, .856 OPS) is outstanding.
Betemit, 29, is a popular trade candidate because he’s cheap ($1 million salary) and can play multiple positions.
He also has a pretty decent bat with a .281/.341/.409 line this season and has always had plus power for an infielder.
He’s not a player a team should count on in the middle of a pennant race, but he can certainly be a piece in the puzzle.
Dobbs, 33, is the left-handed version of Betemit. He’s never really been anything more than a part-time player, but this season for the Marlins he has a .303/.347/.407 line in 78 games.
There’s no power or speed to speak of, but in a utility role he’s more than serviceable.
Willingham, 32, is one of the hottest names on the trade market.
The right-handed slugger has a .244/.321/.434 line and 12 home runs playing for an anemic offense and is mercifully in the last year of his deal. Several teams are eager to acquire Willingham for his right-handed bat.
Ludwick has fallen victim to the cavernous confines of Petco Park, as his OPS has dropped to .683 after a career-high .966 in 2008.
However, he still has 11 home runs and is young enough (33) that there should be plenty of power left. He just needs to find a new ballpark.
The Orioles are caught in that awkward position between either blowing up the team or making a few small moves to try to get more competitive.
If GM Andy MacPhail votes for the former, then Scott should be an attractive trade chip.
Scott’s still recovering from a shoulder injury, but he owns a .844 career OPS and three consecutive seasons of at least 23 home runs.
The Rays won’t sell low on Upton, and they may not sell him at all, but his name is out there, and there are teams (Nationals) very, very interested.
The 26-year-old star has just a .236/.317/.412 line but features a rare combination of power and speed.
The Rays likely won’t be able to keep Upton once he hits free agency in 2013, so they may want to get something for him while they still can.
The Astros aren’t any more inclined to trade Bourn than the Rays are to trade Upton, but GM Ed Wade at least has his ear to his phone.
Bourn, 28, is a serious speedster and defensive whiz who is still discovering himself at the plate. He’s having a career year in 2011 (.289/.350/.392), so this might be the perfect time for a trade.
Bourn also hits free agency in 2013.
Center field is probably Cabrera’s weakest position, but in the interest of including as many of the top available players as possible, I have him slated here.
The 26-year-old is having a career year, hitting .294/.332/.451 with 11 home runs and 14 steals. He’s also arbitration eligible for 2012, so he’d be more than just a rental.
The big question with Cabrera is whether this season is a fluke or proof that he’s finally figured it out.
Pence is an absolute stud. The 28-year-old was selected to his second All-Star team this season after hitting .318/.359/.484, and he has plus power and plus speed.
Pence won’t be a free agent until 2014, so it’ll take a blockbuster offer to get him, but if a club can pony up enough prospects, it’ll be getting one of the best all-around talents in baseball.
Beltran’s impending exodus from New York has been the central focus of GMs all over baseball.
The 34-year-old switch hitter has bounced back after two injury-plagued years and is having a monster season with a .287/.381/.893 line and a league-leading 28 doubles.
The $6 million left on his contract is excessive, but Beltran is one of the few game-changers available.
Fukudome, 34, doesn’t get much credit for being a good ballplayer because he’s wildly overpaid and overrated.
Fukudome may not have the power and speed of some of the other names on this list; however, that .369 career on-base percentage is for real.
If the Cubs agree to pick up some of the approximately $4 million left on Fukudome’s contract, then he could be a real asset for a contender.
A .700 OPS would be a career low for the 36-year-old Guerrero, but it’s still above average and good enough to make the veteran at least a power bat off the bench.
The Orioles have no reason to keep Guerrero, so look for Vlad to chase his 500th home run with a different team.
Montero is a catcher in the minors and will likely play first base once he gets to the majors, but there’s no doubting that he’ll spend most of his career as a designated hitter.
The 21-year-old top prospect has a .752 OPS at Triple-A this year and could be moved in the right deal.
Kubel, 29, has lost his starting job in Minnesota despite a .310/.355/.465 line and likely won’t be back in Minnesota next season.
The power is still there, but strikeouts have always been a problem for Kubel, and he’s a liability in the outfield.
The Twins have to keep playing Jim Thome until he gets No. 600, so Kubel will probably be moved.
It would take a monster deal to pry Jimenez away from the Rockies, but on the outside chance it happens, Jimenez would be a big boost for any team.
The 27-year-old righty is having an OK season with a 4.00 ERA in 19 starts, but he nearly won the Cy Young Award in 2010 after going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and throwing a no-hitter.
He won’t be a free agent until 2014, so Jimenez could front a rotation through the prime of his career.
Kuroda won’t accept a deal to an East Coast team, but even with that restriction there are still plenty of teams after him.
The 36-year-old has a 3.13 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 19 starts and has been one of baseball’s more consistent pitchers the last four years. He’s owed another $4 million on a one-year deal.
Marquis, 32, missed a huge chunk of the 2010 season, but now that he’s healthy, scouts are realizing why the Nationals gave him a two-year, $15 million deal.
The veteran has a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts and has reduced his walk rate to a career-low 2.7 BB/9. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this a career year.
Rodriguez is by far the best lefty starter on the market, and it’ll take an Ubaldo-sized deal to get GM Ed Wade to give up his ace.
Rodriguez, 32, owns a 3.67 ERA in 17 starts and is signed to a very reasonable contract ($10 million in 2012, $13 million in 2013).
The Dodgers signed Lilly to a three-year, $33 million deal in the offseason, but Frank McCourt’s probably regretting that one.
The 35-year-old veteran has struggled with a 4.83 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 20 starts and has already given up 21 home runs.
Lilly is an innings eater, though, so there’ll be some demand for him from a team with vast financial resources.
Chen, 34, has bounced back after several tough seasons to have his best year since 2005. The lefty has a 3.56 ERA in 11 starts and has managed to keep the ball in the park most of the season.
The Royals will happily trade him for almost any price.
Bell has been the best reliever on the market since the market opened on April 1. The 33-year-old closer has lived up to the hype with a 2.52 ERA and 27 saves in 40 games.
He may not get to close for his new team, but luckily Bell has plenty of setup experience as well.
The Nationals will likely only make Clippard available in a deal if they get a major player like Upton or Pence in return, but it bears mentioning just how good Clippard has been.
The 26-year-old former Yankee earned his first All-Star selection after only giving up 11 runs in 54.1 innings (1.82 ERA) and striking out hitters at a pace of 11.3 SO/9.
He’s under team control through at least 2015, so don’t expect him to come cheap.
Adams, 32, has a 1.69 career ERA in four seasons in San Diego, yet it seems like nobody’s noticed him until now.
The righty has emerged as one of the best setup men in the game and has been virtually unhittable this season (1.23 ERA, 0.73 WHIP).
Adams will also be more expensive than his teammate Bell because he won’t hit free agency until 2013.
The Oakland closer tops the list of a pretty lackluster group of lefties.
Fuentes, 35, hasn’t been particularly good filling in for Andrew Bailey with just a 4.62 ERA in 43 games and 39 innings, but he’s one of the more experienced relievers on the market and is signed through 2012 for a reasonable $5 million a year.
Choate, also 35, is the cheaper, more effective version of Fuentes. Although he doesn’t have much closing experience, Choate is superb as a setup man and has a 1.33 ERA in 45 games for the Marlins.
He’s due just $1.5 million for 2012, a bargain price for his performance.
Marshall ranks third not because he’s worse than Fuentes or Choate (he’s actually probably considerably better), but because of what it’d take for the Cubs to trade him.
Marshall is just 28 and has already thrown nearly 500 career innings. The former starter has reinvented his career as a lefty specialist and has a 3.18 ERA in 45 games this season.
Like Fuentes and Choate, Marshall also has one year left on his deal.