Ranking the 10 MLB Players Who Are Most Likely to Be Dealt Before the Deadline

Karl Buscheck@@KarlBuscheckContributor IIIJune 6, 2015

Ranking the 10 MLB Players Who Are Most Likely to Be Dealt Before the Deadline

0 of 10

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    From Johnny Cueto to Ben Zobrist, certain big leaguers have a big chance of getting dealt before the 2015 MLB trade deadline passes on July 31.

    Simply put, the most likely trade chips are good players on bad teams. The righty ace and the Swiss army knife of baseball both fit that bill. In the process of ranking the 10 MLB players who are most likely to be shipped out this summer, three primary factors were taken into consideration:

    1. The player's contract situation
    2. The player's 2015 stats
    3. The likelihood that the player's current employer falls out of the race and becomes a seller

    The rankings start at No. 10 and count down to No. 1, starting with the player who has the beest chance of getting moved and ending with the player who has the slimmest chance.

    Cueto and Zobrist aren't the only players from the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics who crack the top 10, but no team is better represented on this list than the Philadelphia Phillies.

10. Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland Athletics

1 of 10

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Scott Kazmir is the ideal rental arm.

    The lefty, who clocks in with a 3.14 ERA in 11 outings, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and rakes in $13 million. Kazmir has been racking up punch-outs for the last-place Oakland Athletics, striking out 61 batters in 63 frames.

    With so many contenders needing to add a starter, general manager Billy Beane should be getting plenty of calls about the vet between now and July 31.

    Potential Landing Spots: Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox

9. Ben Zobrist, UTL, Oakland Athletics

2 of 10

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    It's easy enough to understand why Ben Zobrist makes for an intriguing trade piece. The veteran is a switch-hitter and has the defensive versatility to play all across the diamond.

    Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals have already checked in with the Oakland Athletics about the possibility of swinging a trade for Zobrist. But as Rosenthal points out, the Nats are just "one of many teams" that will be suitors for the 34-year-old.

    Potential Landing Spots: Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals

8. Aaron Harang, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

3 of 10

    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Pitching on a $5 million salary, Aaron Harang is the perfect bargain option for a club that is looking to add some quality innings to its rotation.

    Harang has been flat-out dealing for the Philadelphia Phillies, as the 37-year-old has spun a 2.45 ERA. While that mark impresses, there is some concern that a summer swoon could be around the corner. Per FanGraphs, Harang is outpitching his FIP (3.24) by nearly a run and his xFIP (4.46) by two runs.

    Potential Landings Spots: Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays

7. Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds

4 of 10

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    With the Cincinnati Reds languishing in fourth place in the NL Central and Johnny Cueto set to hit the free-agent block in the offseason, it's time for the club to cash in on its ace.

    George A. King III of the New York Post argues that the New York Yankees should kick the tires on the 29-year-old. Of course, it will be an expensive proposition to win the trade war for Cueto.

    "I would expect Walt [Jocketty, Reds GM] to be looking for multiple good prospects and a player ready to play in the big leagues right now," an official with an NL team told King.

    With the Yankees clinging to the top spot in the wide-open American League East, now would be the perfect time for the squad to make a bold move for a true game-changer like the righty.

    Potential Landing Spots: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers

6. Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds

5 of 10

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    With the Cincinnati Reds wallowing 13 games off the pace in the National League Central, a sell-off could be on tap.

    One of the most valuable assets that the Reds could offer up is electric closer Aroldis Chapman. This season, the Cuban lefty is 10-for-11 in save opportunities with a staggering ratio of 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

    If a closer on a contending club gets injured in the next couple of months, the Reds' brass can ship out Chapman for a ransom.

    Potential Landings Spots: Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners

5. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies

6 of 10

    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Jonathan Papelbon is doing everything he can to make it easier for GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to trade away the closer.

    The right-hander has been rolling along in 2015, posting a 1.17 ERA, ripping off 11 saves and racking up 28 strikeouts in 23 frames. The only real downside when it comes to Papelbon's status as a trade chip is that he's still owed a decent chunk of change.

    He makes $13 million this year and has a vesting option for the same amount in 2016.

    Potential Landing Spots: Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels

4. Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

7 of 10

    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Ryan Howard is the next—but not the lastmember of the Philadelphia Phillies to hit this list.

    The first baseman has rejoined the trade-chip conversation by connecting on 11 jacks and posting a .489 slugging percentage in his first 51 games.

    While those numbers are encouraging, money remains a giant stumbling block in any potential swap. As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes, Howard still has $55 million remaining on his contract. However, he also reported that during the offseason, "word among rivals was that the Phillies may have been willing to pay down about $35 million of the then-$60 million remaining on Howard's much-maligned $125-million deal."

    At that time, the Phillies at least talked with the Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles about the idea of a swap, per Heyman. With Howard playing well to start the season, the Phillies may finally be able to find a trade partner willing to take him on.

    Potential Landing Spots: Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles

3. Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

8 of 10

    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Along with Cueto, Cole Hamels is the most prominent starting pitcher who could be throwing for a new employer before the trade deadline rolls around.

    The primary difference between Hamels and the Dominican is that the Philadelphia Phillies ace is still owed a ton of money.

    Cueto makes $10 million in the final year of his contract, while Hamels is set to earn $23.5 million this year and in each of the next three campaigns. Plus, the lefty has a $20 million team option (with a $24 million vesting option or a $6 million buyout) in 2019.

    Potential Landing Spots: Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox

2. Carlos Gomez, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

9 of 10

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Carlos Gomez is a triple threat.

    The Milwaukee Brewers center fielder is a 2013 Gold Glover, causes plenty of problems on the bases and piles up extra-base hits. However, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports explains, his contract status makes him a "key piece" on the summer market.

    He makes $8 million in 2015 and $9 million next season. With his unique skill set and team-friendly contract, Gomez is one of the most valuable trade chips on the block.

    Potential Landing Spots: New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels

1. Justin Upton, LF, San Diego Padres

10 of 10

    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    With the San Diego Padres just 3.5 games off the pace in the NL West, this might appear to be a strange inclusion for now.

    Then again, the Padres are in a tricky spot. The two teams ahead of them in the standings—the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants—are two of the most well-rounded clubs in the Senior Circuit and look ready to get locked in an epic race for the the division title.

    There's also Upton's contract situation to factor into the equation. The left fielder is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and could potentially walk away for nothing in the winter.

    As Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues, the free-agent to-be could potentially become a trade chip if the Padres tumble out of the race. With power nearly impossible to find on the summer market, Upton would drawn the attention of a slew of teams.

    Potential Landing Spots: New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com unless otherwise noted. All salary information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts on BaseballProspectus.com.

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.