MLB Trade Rumors: The Latest on the Best Available Outfielders

Ally Williams@@itsallyduhhCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: The Latest on the Best Available Outfielders

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    The final days before the trade deadline are upon us.

    Carlos Beltran is off the market, but that doesn’t mean there aren't plenty of talented outfielders still available.

    Several teams continue their searches for outfield upgrades. As the deadline draws nearer, each team gets closer to a final decision about its roster.

    These are the top five outfielders currently available as well as the front runner in each trade scenario.

Hunter Pence, Houston Astros

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    Current Front Runner: Philadelphia Phillies

    Jayson Stark says Hunter Pence trade rumors “heated up” once Carlos Beltran was traded to San Francisco.

    The Houston Astros are holding their ground and want two high-end prospects in exchange for the 28-year-old outfielder. Pence is batting .307 with 11 home runs and 62 RBI in 2011.

    Stark also says six teams are known to have contacted the Astros regarding Pence.

    Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi mention that the Phillies have been making progress in a trade, but the two teams must find an agreement by Friday—today—or the Astros will look to other suitors.

    The Phillies’ NL East rival, the Atlanta Braves, are one of these other suitors. Jayson Stark tweeted that the Astros were “mulling over” the Braves’ offer for Pence.

Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox

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    Current Front Runner: Atlanta Braves

    Carlos Quentin has not been a name constantly brought up throughout the month in trade talks. However Joel Sherman tweeted that the Chicago White Sox seem to be likely to deal the 28-year-old.

    Quentin has 20 home runs and 62 RBI on the season and would bring a huge offensive increase to many teams looking to upgrade.

    Sherman mentioned the front runners for Quentin are the Atlanta Braves. Ken Rosenthal tweeted the they were “hot” for the outfielder. The White Sox also love Atlanta’s pitching.

    If the Braves don’t get Quentin, Danny Knobler tweeted that the Red Sox would “almost certainly try” for him.

Ryan Ludwick, San Diego Padres

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    Recent Push by the Indians

    Ryan Ludwick is one of many players the San Diego Padres are looking to trade.

    Ludwick, at 33 years of age, will be a free agent after this season. He’d be a cheaper alternative to the likes of Hunter Pence or Carlos Quentin while still being a difference maker at the plate. He has 11 homers and 62 RBI so far and is hitting .238.

    Jon Heyman tweeted the four teams interested in Ludwick are the Phillies, Reds, Braves, and Indians. Mark Bowman wrote that Ludwick was “atop the Braves’ wish list.”

    Cleveland recently made a “strong push” for Ludwick, according to Ken Rosenthal.

    The Indians recently acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs, but still need more help in the outfield. Both Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo are on the disabled list.

    Once Pence is either traded or officially untouchable, other teams could express more interest in Ludwick. Buster Olney mentioned that trade talks between Philadelphia and San Diego seem to be held up while the Phillies continue to hope that the Astros will move Pence.

B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Current Front Runner: Washington Nationals

    B.J. Upton is only 26 and will be under team control until 2013. His 15 home runs and 53 RBI make him a very attractive grab for many teams.

    Marc Topkin writes that, after the trades of Carlos Beltran and Colby Rasmus, Upton is the only center fielder on the market. Topkin narrows down the options for Upton to six teams.

    Jeff Passan cites a survey that says a number of officials “consider the Nationals a favorite” to land Upton.

    They could certainly use the young outfielder to continue their growth. Upton would fit in well in the outfield, eventually with Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.

    Jim Bowden also tweets that the Nationals are “working hard on trying to acquire” Upton.

    Other teams interested include the Pirates, according to Jon Morosi. Topkin also mentions the Braves, Indians, Pirates, Phillies, and Reds as other possibilities.

Josh Willingham, Oakland Athletics

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    No Front Runner

    The Oakland Athletics have been shopping Josh Willingham for weeks. He’s still available and could be a big help to any team that is struggling offensively. He has 13 home runs and 50 RBI through 79 games.

    Ken Rosenthal says Willingham is another name that is on the Braves’ list of possibilities.

    Willingham has been linked to many teams throughout the past month or so. Other possibilities include the Phillies and Indians.

    There is no clear favorite to grab Willingham, but as other outfielders get picked up, he could be a player a team trades for to ensure some offensive upgrade.