MLB Trade Rumors: 5 Fan Favorites Who Could Be on Their Way out of Town

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: 5 Fan Favorites Who Could Be on Their Way out of Town

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    Nothing lasts forever in the MLB, and that is never more evident than at the trade deadline—a time in the season that brings about a great deal of change.

    While trading players comes with the business of baseball, sometimes it is harder to move certain players. Some players are such a big part of the team and the city as fan favorites that it becomes harder to trade them when the time comes.

    Here is a look at five fan favorites who could be on the move before we reach the July 31 deadline, as teams look to do whatever it takes to build a winner.

Jeff Francoeur

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    The Royals took a chance on Francoeur last season, signing him to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, and he rewarded them with a .285 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI, 22 SB line.

    That earned him a two-year, $13.5 million extension, but he has been a disappointment this year in hitting just .240 BA, 9 HR and 30 RBI. He could lose his job to top prospect Wil Myers before too long.

    Francoeur has had an interesting relationship with Royals fans, and it is certainly fair to classify him as a fan favorite even with his recent struggles (via Fox Sports Midwest).

    The Royals have made him available, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, and while interest has been slim to this point, the shortage of bats on the market could result in him being moved.

James Shields

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    Always a solid starter, Shields emerged as a legitimate staff ace in 2011 when he went 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 Ks to finish third in AL Cy Young voting.

    His numbers have not been as good this season, but that is due in part to some bad luck as opponents are hitting .343 on balls in play against him this season. Still, he's a workhorse and a terrific strikeout pitcher.

    He's the Rays' all-time leader in wins (80), strikeouts (1,161), innings (1,364.1) and starts (205), and there is no question he is one of the most well-liked players in Rays franchise history.

    With Zack Greinke now off the market, Shields may be the best pitcher available and according to a tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Rays were hoping Greinke would land with the Angels and Rangers as it could set up the team who lost out on him (the Rangers) to "pay big" for Shields.

    Shields has a $9 million option for 2013 and a $12 million option for 2014, so the Rays certainly don't need to trade him, but it remains fairly likely that they will.

Justin Morneau

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    As the 2006 AL MVP with a .321 BA, 34 HR, 130 RBI line, Morneau once ranked among the best power hitters in all of baseball before injuries set in.

    From 2006-2009, he averaged a line of .292 BA, 30 HR and 118 RBI, but concussion problems—among other things—limited him to just 150 games in 2010 and 2011 combined.

    He's not the player he once was, but he is still a decent hitter with some power—he has a .253 BA, 11 HR, 41 RBI line on the season in 293 at bats.

    The Dodgers have checked in on Morneau, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, but his asking price has been described as "pricey," likely due in part to the fact that he remains a fan favorite in Minnesota despite his recent struggles.

Ryan Dempster

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    Despite the recent unpleasantness between Dempster and the Cubs front office, after he reportedly felt blindsided (CBSSports report) when he found out about a proposed trade from the media, Dempster remains a fan favorite in Chicago.

    From his Harry Caray impression to his charitable work off the field, Dempster has spent the past nine seasons as one of the most well liked and respected players on the Cubs' roster.

    While the Braves trade fell through, the Cubs continue to shop the 35-year-old free-agent-to-be, and a Dempster to the Dodgers trade remains a possibility according to a tweet from Jayson Stark of ESPN.

Jimmy Rollins

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    Rollins has spent his entire 13-year big league career with the Phillies, who drafted him in the second round of the 1996 draft.

    He tested the free agent market this past offseason, but the smart money was on him returning to Philly from the get-go. In the end, he signed a three-year, $33 million contract to stay with the team.

    However, it has been a disappointing season for the Phillies and after signing Cole Hamels to a massive six-year, $144 million extension, the team could be looking to shed some payroll.

    Moving the 33-year-old former MVP Rollins could be one way to do that, and they have been dangling him to teams in the past few weeks, according to a tweet from Buster Olney.