MLB Trade Deadline: 10 Predictions for All the Wild Deadline Action

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline: 10 Predictions for All the Wild Deadline Action

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    With former All-Star Hanley Ramirez being traded earlier this week, the frenzy that comes along in the days leading up to the trade deadline on July 31 has officially begun, with teams trying to outmaneuver one another to land the pieces they believe can put them into the playoffs.

    The closer we get to this coming Tuesday, the more intense things are going to get. Big names and blockbuster trades will be bandied about on the rumor mill, but how many of those eventually wind up as deals is anyone's guess.

    One thing is for sure: By this time next week, a number of players will find themselves wearing different uniforms and in an unfamiliar clubhouse, though there are most definitely a handful that won't wind up switching teams at all.

    Here's how I see things going down in the days to come.

Josh Johnson Will Be Traded to the Rangers

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    While the focus has been on Zack Greinke—and rightfully so, given that he is the best starting pitcher available before the deadline—the Rangers have other options that could prove to be more enticing than renting the former AL Cy Young award winner for two months.

    There is no guarantee that the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who is signed through the 2013 season, but that doesn't mean that they won't.

    With their trade of Hanley Ramirez, Miami finds itself without a true third baseman—remember, prospect Matt Dominguez was shipped off to Houston as part of the Carlos Lee trade—so they have a gaping hole on the left side of their infield.

    The Rangers have one of the most sought-after third base prospects around in Mike Olt, and USA Today's Bob Nightengale says that they would be willing to include Olt in a deal for Greinke. It would stand to reason that they'd be willing to do the same for Johnson.

    Olt would give the Marlins their third baseman of the future, and Johnson would bolster a solid Rangers rotation not only for the rest of this season, but in 2013 as well.

Zack Greinke Will Be Traded to the Braves

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    If Ryan Dempster doesn't want to be a member of the Braves, then the Braves don't want Ryan Dempster, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:

    With #braves moving on from dempster, greinke will be a big focus for them

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 25, 2012

    Heyman also notes that the Brewers offered Greinke a contract extension for more than $100 million a few weeks ago, but the free-agent-to-be has yet to sign on the dotted line.

    The Braves have a number of young pitchers who could be of interest to the Brewers, including Randall Delgado and Mike Minor.

    While the Braves likely have little chance of re-signing Greinke after the season, the team is clearly making a hard charge towards the playoffs in 2012. Adding Greinke to the top of their rotation will go a long way towards them reaching that goal.

Ryan Dempster Will Not Be Traded

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    Ryan Dempster really stuck it to the Cubs by exercising his 10-and-5 rights to veto the deal that would have sent him to the Braves in exchange for Randall Delgado.

    He wants to pitch for the Dodgers, which is fine, but he robbed the Cubs of any leverage that they may have had in trade negotiations with L.A., something ESPN's Buster Olney alluded to:

    The Dodgers are feelingly increasingly confident they can work out a deal for Dempster, because CHC don't have many alternatives. We'll see.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 25, 2012

    The Cubs are trying to dictate terms anyway, and have told LA who they'd like as part of the deal:

    Source: #Cubs have asked #Dodgers for Allen Webster as primary piece in Ryan Dempster talks.

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 25, 2012

    Of course, the Dodgers aren't offering what the Cubs want, so the Cubs aren't going to play ball:

    As of now, Cubs' plan is to keep Dempster and make qualifying offer to get a draft pick -- unless offers improve. Not close to LAD deal yet.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 25, 2012

    The Cubs are not only rebuilding the team on the field, but they're revamping the entire organization—and that includes the culture. While Dempster is well within his rights to block a trade, he's put Jed Hoyer in a pretty miserable position—as a GM with a valuable trade chip that has zero leverage in any negotiation. 

    I wouldn't do Dempster any favors either. A draft pick that takes a couple of years to develop is just as good as adding Randall Delgado to the mix right now—there's going to be a considerable wait before the Cubs are contenders once again.

Matt Garza Will Be Traded to the Blue Jays

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    It's been assumed for some time that if the Blue Jays were going to trade for a starting pitcher, their preference was to acquire someone who was more than a two-month rental—especially if their best prospects were going to be involved.

    Even as the Yankees have started to run away with the division, the Blue Jays are not interested in becoming sellers and looking completely towards next season:

    #BlueJays remain in buy mode, believing they can finish second in AL East this year. And I agree with them. (Fixed.)

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 24, 2012

    Garza, who is under contract through the 2013 season, does both—immediately upgrading the Blue Jays' rotation, giving them a young, experienced arm to pair with Ricky Romero at the front end of their rotation not only for the rest of 2012, but next year as well.

    With the deepest farm system in baseball, the Blue Jays have a plethora of prospects which they can mix and match to work out a deal with the Cubs.

Carlos Lee Will Be Traded to the Orioles

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    Orioles GM Dan Duquette is confident in his team, and rightfully so—did anyone outside of Baltimore expect much of anything from the Orioles in 2012?

    But the Orioles remain in contention for a playoff spot, and as Duquette told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, they're going for it:

    Our future is now. We’re going to try to do everything we can to get into the playoffs this year. I just think it’s important to the fans that they know we’re trying to put a good team on the field and have a good season.

    The O's would love to bolster their starting rotation, but adding pieces at both corner infield spots has become something of a priority as well, and The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly says that they've kicked the tires on the Cubs' Bryan LaHair, the Padres' Chase Headley and the Phillies' Placido Polanco.

    Baltimore is not going to consider moving their two top prospects, Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, in any deal—something that takes them out of the running for the top pitchers left on the market.

    But Marlins' first baseman Carlos Lee—who is available—wouldn't command a return that included either Bundy or Machado.

    In fact, it's possible that the Orioles could pair one of their lesser prospects (still top 10) and perhaps one of their underachieving arms—Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta or Chris Tillman—to bring Lee into the fold as they chase their first postseason appearance in more than a decade.

James Shields Will Be Traded to the Angels

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    The Angels and the Rays were working on a deal that would have seen James Shields head to Los Angeles and Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger and possibly Ervin Santana to Tampa, but the deal was quite complicated with money changing hands. It fell apart, according to ESPN's Tim Kurkjian.

    Kurkjian does note, however, that the two teams have remained engrossed in deep trade talks, and it's fair to assume that Shields remains the Angels' primary target. The pieces are there on both sides; it's just a matter of figuring out the smaller details.

    It'd be a shock to see James Shields in a uniform other than the Angels' after the trade deadline passes.

Chase Headley Will Be Traded to the Yankees

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    Before you get all "typical Yankees fan" on me, realize that I was not the first person to think of this after Alex Rodriguez broke his hand last night against the Seattle Mariners:

    If the #Yankees are going to get a 3B with A-Rod on disabled list, Chase Headley is the dream candidate. #Padres @MLBONFOX

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 25, 2012

    Eric Chavez isn't exactly known for being able to stay healthy long, so he's a disabled-list stint waiting to happen. Jayson Nix, Brandon Laird and Eduardo Nunez could all see time at the position, but none of them are overly exciting options, and Nunez is a disaster with the glove.

    Sooner or later, the Yankees are going to need to replace A-Rod at the hot corner, and now is as good a time as any.

    The Padres are asking for a ton in exchange for Headley—something Jon Heyman of CBS Sports doesn't think that they'll give up:

    initial word is #yankees are unlikely to trade what it would take for headley. market is said huge for headley.

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 25, 2012

    You simply can't count Brian Cashman out of any scenario until the player in question has been traded somewhere else. Therefore, while it may be unlikely, it's not out of the question.

    The chance to acquire their third baseman for the foreseeable future—allowing them to move A-Rod to the DH spot upon his return—is simply too good of a situation for them to pass up.

Hunter Pence Will Be Traded to the Dodgers

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    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that the Phillies really want to move Hunter Pence, and he notes that they have had extensive talks with a team that we've already touched on once:

    Source: #Dodgers deal for Victorino or Pence possible even if team gets Dempster along with H. Ramirez. LA has been in talks with #Phillies.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2012

    With Andre Ethier in right field and Matt Kemp in center field, Pence would have to slide over to left field in Los Angeles—a position that he's never played in the majors.

    While Bobby Abreu and Jerry Hairston Jr. have done just fine platooning in left field, Pence is a major upgrade.

    Plus, the chance to have a middle-of-the-order that reads Kemp, Ethier, Pence and Ramirez is, well, kind of scary.

Aramis Ramirez Will Be Traded to the A's

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    The A's were in on Hanley Ramirez and have been tied to Jimmy Rollins and Stephen Drew as well, making an obvious point: They want to improve the left side of their infield.

    Aramis Ramirez is available, and the Brewers are seeking major league pitching in exchange for him, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.

    Brown notes that of all contenders, the A's are one of the few who actually have a plethora of major league pitching and could afford to move one to acquire a bat.

The Twins Will Not Trade Anyone

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    The Twins have a number of players who are attractive to a number of teams, namely outfielders Denard Span and Josh Willingham. With a starting rotation that would get shelled in the minor leagues, the Twins should be looking to move pieces and rebuild their pitching staff.

    But apparently that's not in the cards, says Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

    One GM on the availability of #Twins' Josh Willingham: "He's out there if you want to pay, like, forever."

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2012

    Okay, that's Willingham, What about Span?

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman says that executives have told him the Twins are asking for a "ton" to acquire Span, and that the price has been prohibitive enough that nobody has had substantive talks with the Twins on either player.

    I can understand not wanting to sell low on a player, but for a team with as many pitching issues as the Twins have, they need to start getting realistic in what they expect to receive in a trade before they enter 2013 in just as poor shape as they're ending 2012.