The New York Yankees and their fans have long wanted a reliable number two to slide in behind CC Sabathia. They'd prefer to do this without trading away Manny Banuelos.
Banuelos is the Yankees' top pitching prospect and is projected to be an ace sometime in the future. Therefore it makes sense for teams to ask for him. It also makes sense for the Yankees to hold him.
Regardless, the Yankees could use some pitching depth and they're in the market to get some.
By pitching depth, I mean actual reliable starters and cheap fill-ins who may or may not end up being the second coming of the Bartolo Colon/Freddy Garcia 2011 miracle troupe.
Since the Yankees aren't including Banuelos, these pitchers aren't going to be the top-of-the-line starters many fans want. That doesn't mean they'll be terrible; the Yankees just need guys who can consistently get the job done.
So here are the 10 guys the Yankees could feasibly get without giving up Banuelos.
He might not be Felix Hernandez, but Wandy Rodriguez is one of the more reliable options out there.
Over the past four seasons, his ERA hasn't gone over 3.60 and he's pitched in at least 25 games each season.
There's the question of how his numbers will translate in the AL East, but the New York Yankees can do worse when it comes to trading for pitching.
The Houston Astros are in rebuilding mode and will be for the next few years, barring any intervention from the baseball gods. Therefore, they'll be looking to get rid of Rodriguez's $7.5 million contract.
The Yankees can structure a deal around pitching prospects Adam Warren or David Phelps to obtain Wandy Rodriguez.
If the Astros ask for Banuelos, or even Dellin Betances, then they're going to need a GM who knows how to properly value his players.
The White Sox have asked for some combination of Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos. No way that's happening.
Out of the three, Betances would be the one who I'd be most comfortable parting with—and only him. Even then, I'm questioning if Danks would be worth trading Betances.
Danks is a solid starter with a career 4.03 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Those are pretty good numbers for a back-end starter.
However, the White Sox are seeking a front-end starter package for him. The White Sox might as well put on a ski mask and point a gun at Brian Cashman when negotiating a trade.
Like Wandy Rodriguez, the Yankees can structure a package around their other pitching prospects, mainly Adam Warren, to get Danks.
There are roller coasters that have less drops than Francisco Liriano's career.
Once heralded as the next Johan Santana, an injury has caused him to stray far from that prediction.
In the 2011 season, he posted a 5.09 ERA with a 1.49 WHIP, but in the 2010 season, he had a 3.62 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP. It's hard to know which Liriano the New York Yankees would be getting if they trade for him.
Liriano is not worth Manny Banuelos or Jesus Montero. However, the Yankees might have to part with Dellin Betances, considering Liriano's potential.
The trade package here would likely involve Betances and probably David Phelps, along with another mid-level prospect.
If the New York Yankees are looking for a slightly more reliable option, then they could ask the Minnesota Twins about Scott Baker.
Baker has a career ERA of 4.15 with a WHIP of 1.26. He can easily slide in as the number three pitcher in the Yankees rotation.
In 2011, he had an ERA of 3.14 with a WHIP of 1.17, so he might finally be putting things together.
Being older than Francisco Liriano and with less potential, the Twins might be more inclined to move Baker and his $5 million contract first. However, after having a career year, the price for him might have increased.
A trade package for Baker would probably be along the lines of this: Slade Heathcott, Adam Warren/David Phelps (maybe both) and a big-league-ready prospect.
Heathcott is a solid outfielder that can grow into an everyday player. Warren and Phelps are pitchers who figure to be back-end guys but reliable nonetheless. The last guy would likely fill whatever hole the Twins feel needs to be addressed.
Chad Billingsley's name is being floated around as potential trade bait. The Los Angeles Dodgers probably want to get rid of his salary and retool the team for potential buyers.
Billingsley's career ERA of 3.68 and WHIP of 1.37 is better than some of the other options out there. He's started at least 30 games for the past four seasons, which means he's reliable and likely won't go down with an injury.
Should the Yankees obtain him, he can slide in as the number three or four. He'll give the Yankees some depth until they feel Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos will be ready to join the rotation.
A trade for Billingsley shouldn't be high-priced, so the Yankees can offer any one of their other pitching prospects outside of Betances and Banuelos to obtain him from the Dodgers.
The Oakland Athletics have a bunch of good, young starters. Gio Gonzalez is the one with the most buzz and trade rumors surrounding him, but he's likely to fetch a high price which means Manny Banuelos might be needed to get him.
Brandon McCarthy is one of the "older" starters, at age 28. He had a career year last season and is signed for cheap and is arbitration eligible for 2012, meaning he'll be cheap then.
The A's might be more interested in moving one of their other pieces, but McCarthy has the right amount of reliability and affordability for the New York Yankees.
Should the A's trade him, they'll likely ask for young players with little to no big league experience, which is what they've been asking for with Gonzalez.
For McCarthy, the Yankees shouldn't have to part with Manny Banuelos. Dellin Betances might be included, but the Yankees should be able to put together a package without him.
This trade package might go along the lines of Hector Noesi, David Phelps and a position-playing prospect of the A's choice.
Noesi can slide right into the A's rotation while making the team younger. The other two fit the young player requirement.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim recently made a couple of moves to improve their team.
One of them was signing some first baseman named Albert Pujols. The other was signing starter C.J. Wilson giving the Angels even more pitching depth.
The latter signing made Ervin Santana expendable.
In fact, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Angels were drawing interest from Santana with the Wilson signing.
Last season, he posted an ERA of 3.38 and had a WHIP of 1.22. With those numbers, he can be the reliable starter the New York Yankees have been looking for.
A trade for Santana would be more expensive than some other options, but the Yankees shouldn't need to dangle Manny Banuelos to acquire him.
Dellin Betances, the Yankees' second-best pitching prospect, should be enough, along with some other prospects the Angels like.
Jair Jurrjens has been thrown around lately as someone likely to get moved.
With a career ERA of 3.40 and WHIP of 1.28, a lot of teams are interested in him. Jurrjens' stock rose when he had another year with an ERA below 3.00.
The New York Yankees would do well in acquiring him, as long as it's at the right price. A rotation consisting of CC Sabathia, Jair Jurrjens and Ivan Nova can carry the team pretty far.
Of course, Jurrjens is only 25 years old, so the Braves will probably ask for a lot. They seem set with pitching, as they have a good amount of young guys like Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy to fill out the rotation.
Therefore, they might not ask for Manny Banuelos, but Dellin Betances is fair game.
A trade for Jurrjens will likely include Betances and Cito Culver, the Yankees shortstop prospect, along with other mid-level prospects.
But just imagine CC Sabathia and Shields at the top of the rotation. Those two, along with Nova and whatever A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes will give them, can carry the team to the World Series.
The Rays need offense like the Yankees need pitching. Ironically, each team has what the other needs, but they won't trade with each other unless it's a can't-miss offer.
The Rays will probably ask for Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances, as well as some other prospects, some of which might be major league-ready.
However, if the Rays still want to contend in 2012, Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli might fit their needs more.
Swisher will give them power and an everyday starter in right field, instead of Joe Maddon's usual platoon. The same goes for Cervelli, minus the power part.
Swisher can boost the offense if the Rays are willing to take on his $9 million-plus contract. Of course, prospects would have to be included to sweeten the deal. I imagine the Rays asking for Gary Sanchez, the Yankees' 18-year-old catching prospect, who can hit and field.
This trade is the least likely to happen, but if the Rays and Yankees decide to get creative and think outside the box, it just might.
The Chicago Cubs should be focused on rebuilding, despite what those Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder rumors would have you believe.
They aren't going to contend for a playoff spot any time soon and they need to slash their payroll as much as possible. The best way to do that is to trade away their attractive assets.
The Cubs might ask the New York Yankees for Manny Banuelos, but the Yankees might be able to get Garza and keep Banuelos.
This will likely mean the Yankees will have to part with Dellin Betances instead. The Cubs might also ask for Hector Noesi for a cheap big-league-ready replacement for Garza.
The rest of the package will revolve around whatever prospects in the Yankees system the Cubs favor.
Then again, Theo Epstein might give Garza to the Yankees for cheap just to spite the Boston Red Sox.