MLB Trade Rumors: Trades of Heath Bell, Hiroki Kuroda, Hunter Pence

Phil GardnerContributor IIIJuly 29, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 05:  Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after defeating the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 5, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Carlos Beltran may have been dealt, but there is plenty of action remaining on the trade markets for the 2011 season.

Starting pitching has been thin on the market this year, and the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda is one of the better options. He hasn’t won many games, but that’s also indicative of playing for the Dodgers, a team that has been lost in controversy and bankruptcy. His 3.11 ERA is solid, his 1.233 WHIP is quite good and his strikeout ratios are good as well.

According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, this is how the trade suitors match up:

The Yankees have "strong interest," according to one source who spoke with them. The Tigers appear to have made Kuroda the first choice on their starter wish list. The Red Sox were the only contender to scout his start Wednesday. The Indians and Rangers have stayed involved.

Still, that doesn’t mean a move will be made. Kuroda has a full no-trade clause and the 36-year-old has never pitched in the American League. Jon Heyman tweeted the Dodgers were looking for a significant piece in exchange for Kuroda. Newsday’s Ken Davidoff tweeted the Dodgers are not currently fielding any offers for Kuroda.

Now that Beltran is off the market, Hunter Pence becomes the most interesting option in the outfielder. He’s young, athletic and under team control through 2014.

The Houston Chronicle’s Zachary Levine wrote the Astros are in deep talks about Pence and could move him as soon as Friday. He also wrote the Phillies are the leading candidate so far in trade talks for him.

According to Stark, the Braves have made a significant offer that the Astros are still considering. The offer was centered around some highly regarded pitching prospects

Brian McTaggart says the Astros are moving closer towards wanting to trade Pence and speculates that as many as six teams could be involved in trade talks.

Ken Rosenthal tweeted that as many as eight teams were involved.

While Pence would bring a big return for the Astros, he’s a local product who was born, raised and educated in Texas. There’s also no immediate need to trade him at this point.

On the West Coast, Heath Bell of the Padres has been garnering the most interest—reportedly a lot of that interest has come from the Texas Rangers. Jon Heyman reported that baseball people expect a deal to go to the Rangers who have both the prospects required and the immediate need for Bell.

MLB.com’s T.R. Sulliven said the Rangers are pushing hard for Bell, and even Bell himself told CBS Sports’ Scott Miller that he expects a trade to happen.

Still, Scott Miller reported that there have been good discussions but “nothing is imminent.”

Bell remains the landmark relief pitcher on the trade market and the Rangers would be a good fit for him. Neftali Felix hasn’t been his usual dominant self this season and has a higher ERA, along with lower strikeout ratios. There was talk of moving him to the rotation but ultimately he chose to remain in the bullpen.

Bell is in the final year of his contract and the 33-year-old seems ready to test the free agent market after the season.

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