MLB Trade Scenarios: The One Player That Every Team Secretly Covets

Chris SbalcioCorrespondent IMay 3, 2011

MLB Trade Scenarios: The One Player That Every Team Secretly Covets

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    SEATTLE - APRIL 08:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners waves to the crowd after receiving his American League Cy Young Award trophy prior to the Mariners' home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 201
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Every MLB team, or more specifically every general manager, has one player on their minds that they would do anything short of liquidating their farm system to acquire.  

    For a good three years, we saw this with the Boston Red Sox and GM Theo Epstein.  Epstein desperately wanted Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and for years the dream was merely talk.  Most people thought that with Kevin Youkilis entrenched at first, Gonzalez would never put on a Red Sox uniform.

    However, last offseason, despite the re-emergence of former All-Star Adrian Beltre at third in Boston as well as the surprising relevance of the Padres, Epstein pulled off the trade, sending the system's top prospects to San Diego for the slugging first baseman, subsequently moving Youkilis to third base.  

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is that even if it looks like that dream trade can't happen, there is always a possibility, because none of us really know what those general managers are thinking.  

    So what I have done is composed a list of the players that I believe each team is keeping an eye on, just like Epstein did with Gonzalez.

    I've based this on the areas each team needs help in, not so much which players are considered "on the market."

    After the Gonzalez trade, there are very few players who I can actually see as completely unavailable, as I never thought that after last year the Padres would trade their best hitter.  

    There may be some repeats, as I'm sure we all know that there are 30 teams and only so many high-quality trade options.

Arizona Diamondbacks: 1B Paul Konerko (CHW)

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 21:  Infielder Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 21, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo b
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Diamondbacks already showed their interest in Konerko this offseason, when they tried to sign the free agent White Sox captain to man first base at Chase Field.  

    However, as expected, Konerko re-signed with Chicago, leaving the Diamondbacks with Juan Miranda at first base.  If the White Sox fall far enough behind by the trade deadline, don't be surprised if the D-Backs try to acquire Konerko to bolster their offense.  

    It would likely take a package of talented minor league prospects to pry Konerko from the Sox, as his contract is very affordable for a player of his caliber, but Adam Dunn's presence and ability to man first may lessen the blow of losing him.

    Probability: 20 percent

Atlanta Braves: OF Nelson Cruz (TEX)

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch on March 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Braves are a deep club that doesn't have many holes.  However, Chipper Jones' career is coming to a close, with injury woes becoming more and more of an issue.  

    That would mean that left fielder Martin Prado will eventually have to move to third base to replace Jones, leaving a hole in the outfield.  The Braves also do not have a lot of power in their lineup, with Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward doing most of the home run hitting for the Braves.

    Nelson Cruz would be a fine addition to this team, especially considering he is in his prime at the age of 30.  However, the Rangers are also a deep club and only need top starting pitching, which the Braves really don't have to spare.

    Probability: less than 10 percent

Baltimore Orioles: RHP Matt Garza (CHC)

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 20: Starting pitcher Matt Garza #17 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on April 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Padres 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Orioles need someone to step up and lead the pitching staff in Baltimore.  Their rotation is filled with young pitchers, and their attempt to sign veteran Justin Duchscherer to anchor the staff failed, as he has yet to make a start with lingering injury issues.

    Matt Garza is still very young at 27 years old, but he pitches like a veteran and has the mindset to be a leader in Baltimore.  Garza, having previously pitched for the Rays, also has had a good history at Camden Yards, which is stereotypically thought of as a hitter's ballpark.  

    However, with the Cubs having only recently acquired Garza, it's probably unlikely that they would trade him, unless they are modeling their tactics after the Mariners' trading of Cliff Lee.

    Probability: 30 percent

Boston Red Sox: OF Andre Ethier (LAD)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17:  Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at bat against the St Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Things certainly have not gone as planned thus far for the Red Sox.  Their offense has not been clicking, their pitching is starting to get better but started out the year absolutely awful, and they are just not winning like many people believe they should be.  

    They spent $142 million on left fielder Carl Crawford this offseason, and so far he has done nothing but disappoint.  With J.D. Drew in his walk year, the Red Sox may look to acquire another star outfielder in an attempt to bolster their lineup.  

    The best player to do this right now is Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier.  Etheir is currently crushing the ball and is almost certain to receive a significant pay raise in 2012, which the Dodgers may not be able to afford in their current situation.  

    The best option may be to cash in on Ethier's possible career year while it's still going on.  The Red Sox depleted their farm system in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, but they still might have what it takes to get the deal done.

    Probability: 50 percent

Chicago White Sox: 3B Kevin Youkilis (BOS)

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The White Sox have a problem with third base.  They have multiple players to play the position, but none of them are doing a great job.  

    With the rest of their offense having high potential despite recent struggles, you know the White Sox would love the idea of adding a player like Kevin Youkilis.  The Red Sox third baseman can hit for average and power, as well as play some good defense at the hot corner, but I don't see a scenario in which they would feel inclined to trade him.  

    He is one of the best players on their team, and right now, they can't afford to lose him.  Too bad for the White Sox.

    Probability: less than 5 percent

Chicago Cubs: IF/OF Ben Zobrist (TB)

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Ben Zobrist #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays takes a swing against the Chicago White Sox during the home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rays 5-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Cubs have a lack of good hitting at both the second base and outfield positions.  Darwin Barney looks good so far, but I have my doubts about his ability to maintain his success.  

    Regardless, Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin don't look like everyday players in the outfield, and that is exactly where Ben Zobrist could fit in.  The Rays' "super utility" player can play every position but pitcher and catcher, and can also hit very well, making him a perfect fit for a Cubs team with some uncertainty.

    The Cubs would need to compensate the Rays with a package of young players with the way Zobrist is playing right now, but he might just be worth it.

    Probability: 35 percent

Cincinnati Reds: LHP Francisco Liriano (MIN)

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 13:  Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of their game on April 13, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The Reds are a team with very few holes, with the only thing they really need being an ace pitcher.  I don't see the Reds wanting to give up a lot for a pitcher however, so I think a good risk for them would be to trade for the Twins' struggling ace, Francisco Liriano.

    Liriano is a guy who I think needs a change of scenery, and Cincinnati might be the perfect place for him to reinvent himself as one of the game's best.

    The Twins likely won't be able to ask for a lot in return with the way he is pitching, so if the Reds can get a deal in place, Liriano could wind up being a steal for them.

    Probability: 70 percent

Cleveland Indians: 3B Aramis Ramirez (CHC)

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 20: Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs takes a swing against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on April 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Padres 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Indians have been 2011's most surprising team so far, but really, most of us should have seen it coming.  They actually have great positional depth, especially with the return of Grady Sizemore.  Their young players are all coming through, and their pitching has been excellent even though it was once viewed as the Indians' biggest weakness.  

    Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Matt LaPorta are carrying Cleveland's offense, but another big bat could do wonders for their chances at a AL Central title.  One guy that may become available and fit perfectly on the Indians is the Cubs' third baseman, Aramis Ramirez.  

    Ramirez is in the last guaranteed season of his deal with the Cubs, which also contains a club option for the 2012 season.  The Indians have a good farm system and could probably convince Chicago to deal Ramirez, especially if they are well out of contention by the trade deadline.

    Probability: more than 70 percent

Colorado Rockies: 3B Mark Reynolds (BAL)

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    SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 07:  Infielder Mark Reynolds #12 of the Baltimore Orioles doubles against the New York Yankees during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Ed Smith Stadium on March 7, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Colorado Rockies are in the discussion right now as one of baseball's best teams.  They are firing on all cylinders, even without dominant pitching from their ace Ubaldo Jimenez, thus far.  

    The Rockies took a chance this year with Jose Lopez at third base, and so far it doesn't seem like it's working out too well.  That being said, there is a third baseman who would fit in perfectly at Coors Field, and his name is Mark Reynolds.  

    Although currently with the Baltimore Orioles, Reynolds spent his entire career until this season with the Rockies' division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks, so he is quite familiar with Coors Field.  

    Reynolds is a pure power hitter who essentially hits long balls or strikes out, but at Coors, he is likely to do more of the former.  Reynolds could potentially hit 50-plus home runs for the Rockies, and it might not be out of the question to say he would hit 60 in a good year.

    If the Rockies see the opportunity to pry him away from Baltimore, they should go all out to get him.

    Probability: 50 percent

Detroit Tigers: LHP Gio Gonzalez (OAK)

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 9: Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics throws while athletic trainer Nick Paparesta looks on during the fifth inning of their game on April 9, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Athletics defeate
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The Detroit Tigers' pitching staff is and has been their biggest weakness for a while.  After Justin Verlander, it's Max Scherzer and question marks.  

    Rick Porcello is doing okay, and he's still young and has time to right his ship, but Brad Penny has not had a good start apart from his performance against the scuffling offense of the White Sox.  Phil Coke is a good fifth starter and should remain just that, a fifth starter.  

    What Detroit really needs is a legitimate No. 2 or 3 starter, and they can find that in Oakland's Gio Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is a strikeout pitcher who can consistently keep his team in the game a good 90 percent of the time.

    At 25 years of age, acquiring Gio Gonzalez would be a great move by the Tigers.  However, the A's are right on the cusp of becoming a real contender in a fairly weak AL West division and might be against the idea of dismantling their talented young pitching staff.

    Probability: less than 20 percent

Florida Marlins: 3B Placido Polanco (PHI)

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 27:  Infielder Placido Polanco #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Phillies defeated the Diamondba
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Marlins are a team on the rise with a plethora of talented young players.  Players like Hanley Ramirez, Gabi Sanchez, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Josh Johnson have the future looking bright in Florida.  

    One position that the Marlins need some help at however, is third base.  While all signs have to point against any kind of trade for him occurring, you can bet that the Marlins would love to add Placido Polanco to their lineup.  

    A member of the division rival Phillies, Polanco is a stereotypical 2-hole hitter who is always on base and scores a bunch of runs in front of the No. 3 and 4 hitters.  Apart from that, his defense is superb and saves games on its own.  

    The Phillies would probably not want to trade their third baseman to their biggest competition in the NL East however, so the Marlins will have to keep dreaming.

    Probability: less than 5 percent

Houston Astros: C Yadier Molina (STL)

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 12:  Catcher Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Cardinals 13
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Houston Astros have a team of talented young players at almost every position.  Not counting left field, now vacant with Carlos Lee injured, the only position the Astros need help at is catcher.  

    Humberto Quintero is not a viable option, both offensively and defensively, so the Astros should look into acquiring a catcher that can at least hold his own defensively and handle the pitching staff.  The best catcher to do those jobs is Yadier Molina of the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals.  

    Molina is in the final year of his contract and will be a free agent this offseason, so if the Cardinals are not in contention or if they have a reliable option down in their farm system, they might try to trade Molina for prospects.  

    The Astros would have a harder time pulling this off since they are in the same division and would only bother if they were to sign him to an extension at the same time, but having Molina catch in Houston would be beneficial in the long run.

    Probability: less than 30 percent

Kansas City Royals: RHP Dan Haren (LAA)

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    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 22:  Dan haren #24 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Royals are a young team that is not likely to be in contention for a long time.  However, if you take for granted their hot start and assume that they will quickly fall into last place like I am, then you will see that they need to find a way to at least attempt to become the caliber team that everyone thinks they are right now as they sit in second place in the AL Central.  

    Trading Zack Greinke had its benefits, but it also took away the only player who had still brought interest to the fans.  Everyone wanted to see Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award Winner, when it was his turn in the rotation.  

    Dan Haren could bring back the excitement that was lost with Greinke's departure.  However, with Haren pitching the way he has been recently, acquiring him may require the Royals to undo all of the work that trading Greinke accomplished.

    Probability: less than 10 percent

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: RHP Joakim Soria (KC)

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    DETROIT, MI - APRIL 10:  Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws a ninth inning pitch while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Kansas City won the game 9-5. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Angels are a very good team and will only get better when first baseman Kendry Morales returns from the DL.  However, their bullpen needs someone who can step up and pitch that one inning that matters the most, the ninth.  

    The Angels have struggled to find a suitable closer since Francisco Rodriguez departed after his record-setting 2008 season.  The best closer in baseball is Mariano Rivera, but since he isn't going anywhere, the next-best option is the Royals' closer, Joakim Soria.  

    Soria would provide a reliable option for years, as he is just about to turn 27 and has shown the same kind of consistency thus far that has made the aforementioned Rivera so great.  The Angels and Royals could probably come to some kind of an agreement, and if they can, Soria could make the difference for them in a tight AL West division.

    Probability: 70 percent

Los Angeles Dodgers: 2B Robinson Cano (NYY)

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees takes batting practice before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 26, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The Dodgers have some talent, but with ownership issues, it doesn't look too much like they will be buyers this July, but sellers.  However, hypothetically, if they were buyers, they would probably be interested in either a big time hitter to back up Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, or a quality second baseman. 

    If this is true, then why wouldn't they be interested in a guy who fits into both those categories?  Yankees All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano is that guy. 

    He is probably in the top five of anybody's list of the best players in baseball, possessing both defensive and offensive skills that no one else at his position can bring to the table.  His swing is often referred to as the "prettiest" in the game, and it certainly works, especially so far this season, as he has seemingly found the power that everyone always knew he had. 

    However, the likelihood that the Yankees would give up Cano is nonexistent.  It would be counter-productive for the Dodgers to attempt to acquire him, as it would probably take both Kemp and Ethier to pry him from pinstripes.

    Probability: less than 5 percent

Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Brian Wilson (SF)

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants sits in the dugout during their game against the Atlanta Braves at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Yes, I think that the Brewers would welcome the Beard if they thought they could find a way to wrestle him away from the Giants. 

    The Brewers have a young closer in the 28-year-old John Axford, but I think he fits in better as a setup man, having already struggled thus far in the closer role this season.  Brian Wilson would bring two much-needed elements to the Brewers. 

    Most importantly, he represents a lock-down ninth inning, which, coupled with Milwaukee's strong rotation, could spell success for the Crew.  Secondly, Wilson would bring the excitement and the clubhouse presence that any successful team has. 

    He was that presence for the Giants last year, and they won the World Series.  However, the Giants are still a very good team, having only lost Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria from last years' championship team, and it is doubtful they would even field offers for Wilson. 

    The Brewers could also look at Joakim Soria, but I doubt the Royals would want to send yet another of their All-Stars to Milwaukee.

    Probability: less than 5 percent

Minnesota Twins: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 19:  Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies delivers against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on April 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Jimenez collected the loss as the Giants defeated the Rockies 6-3.  (Photo
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Twins have one of the best lineups in baseball, and when healthy, they actually have too many good players to fit in their lineup every day.  Then why, might you ask, are the Twins currently sitting at the bottom of the AL Central standings? 

    The answer is that they lack an ace pitcher, someone to match up against other teams' top starters and who makes them feel like they should win whenever he takes the mound.  That man is Ubaldo Jimenez. 

    After a breakout season for the Rockies last year, Jimenez has stumbled out of the gate, fighting injuries and inconsistency in 2011.  Even a pitcher with the talent of Jimenez cannot last in Coors Field, one of baseball's smallest parks that also has that thin Colorado air, making it a home run haven. 

    Moving to the spacious Target Field in Minnesota would make Jimenez a perennial Cy Young contender, which would benefit both him and his new team.  With Colorado currently possessing the best record in baseball, they probably wouldn't be hard-pressed to trade their ace, even if he isn't pitching like it right now. 

    However, the right package might be able to pry him away, and if the Twins are desperate, there's no telling what they might do to try to get to the playoffs and past the ALDS this season.

    Probability: 60 percent

New York Mets: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 01:  Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies works against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field on May 1, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Jimenez collected the loss as the Pirates defeated the Rockies 8-4.  (Photo by Doug P
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, the first repeat on this list is on back-to-back teams.  If Ubaldo Jimenez would fit anywhere better than he would fit in Minnesota, it would be in New York with the Mets.  

    The Mets need an ace, as Johan Santana has been injured for what seems like forever and might not be the same pitcher upon returning.  They really don't have a bad lineup, with bats like David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Betran, Jason Bay and the young Ike Davis capable of mashing the ball all around Citi Field, even if they can't get it past the fences, which brings me to my next point.  

    Citi Field is a pitcher's heaven.  Deep outfield walls all but eliminate the home run threat, so all kinds of pitchers can have success there, whether they are fly ball, ground ball or strikeout pitchers.  Ubaldo Jimenez plus Citi Field could make for a Hall of Fame career for the young righty, especially if that previously mentioned offense can step up and get him some wins.  

    However, as I mentioned when talking about the Minnesota Twins' chances with Jimenez, the Rockies are a good team, and good pitching is hard to come by—but everyone has a price.

    Probability: 50 percent

New York Yankees: RHP Felix Hernandez (SEA)

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 01:  Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates at the end of the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics during an opening day game of Major League Baseball at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 1, 2011 in Oa
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    So by now I'm assuming that everyone knows about the Yankees' starting rotation concerns.  After CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees have two veterans and a rookie who are currently pitching well, but everyone expects at least one of them to break down.  

    With New York looking at possibly losing Phil Hughes indefinitely, they may try to acquire a top-flight starter to back up Sabathia at the top of the rotation.  Many people have brought up the possibility of a trade for the Seattle Mariners' ace, 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.  

    The asking price is said to be extremely high, but with the production the Yankees have been getting from Russell Martin, they might be inclined to trade away top prospect Jesus Montero, along with a package of other top-shelf prospects, to acquire the 25-year-old righty.

    Probability: 50 percent

Oakland Athletics: 1B Prince Fielder (MIL)

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 30:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers and catcher J.R. Towels #46 of the Houston Astros watch the ball leave the park in the ninth inning as he hits a home run to right field to tie the game against the Houston Astros at Minute
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Oakland A's are a young team that is not far from becoming a force in the AL West.  Their talented young pitching rotation has them set up for monstrous success that could begin as early as 2011, but in order for the rotation to be effective, Oakland needs someone to drive in the runs.  

    They essentially need an MVP-caliber hitter to occupy the cleanup spot in their lineup.  When it comes to driving in runs, there is no one better than...Albert Pujols.  However, the A's could not possibly afford the type of contract that Pujols will demand, so the next best guy would be the big man in Milwaukee, Prince Fielder.  

    Fielder can smack home runs and drive in runs with the best of them, so his addition in Oakland would be a welcome one.  The A's likely would have to give up a package of at least three, maybe four high-level prospects, but it would be well worth it to acquire one of the best young hitters in the game, who is just entering his prime and will turn 27 next week.  

    The only question will be if Milwaukee is willing to give up one of their best hitters if they are in the midst of a pennant race.

    Probability: 50 percent

Philadelphia Phillies: RHP Heath Bell (SD)

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 15:  Pitcher Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres throws in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 15, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    With a team as deep as the Philadelphia Phillies, it's hard to believe that there is actually one glaring weakness that actually needs to be addressed—but it's the bullpen.  

    The Philadelphia bullpen is not bad, but it is far from perfect, and the one thing the Phillies desperately need is an elite closer to lock down the wins for their elite starters.  

    I am a huge fan of Roy Halladay, and it kills me to see the guy pitch eight shutout innings and then go out to pitch the ninth having already thrown 110 pitches, and then allow a run or two.  If you can pitch eight, you should have the peace of mind to know that there is a guy waiting that can pitch the ninth.  

    The same can be said for all of Philly's starters.  I don't care how good the "Phab Phour" is. Not even they can pitch complete games every time they take the mound, so what is needed is a good closer to take the place of the injured and quite frankly washed-up Brad Lidge.  

    The perfect candidate would be the Padres' Heath Bell.  Bell has a fiery personality and presence on the mound and has the skills to back up his attitude.  Along with Brian Wilson, Bell is one of the best closers in the NL and would make an excellent fit with Philadelphia, which has the prospects that San Diego would want in return.

    Probability: 85 percent

Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Chris Carpenter (STL)

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 12:  Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on April 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Car
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Pirates have the youngest team in baseball, with not many players over the age of 30.  Almost all of their young players are talented and look to have bright futures, but for now there really isnt a whole lot Pittsburgh can do to get better.  

    The only thing I would recommend is for them to acquire an ace pitcher to lead the staff and teach them to pitch.  The problem with this is that most teams don't want to trade their ace pitchers, and ace pitchers don't want to be traded to small-market, non-contending teams.  

    One man I could see being a nice fit, however, is Chris Carpenter.  Carpenter is starting to get older at the age of 36 and might welcome a chance to teach some up-and-coming pitchers the ropes while getting to be the star in a lesser market.  

    If the Cardinals are in a pennant race at the deadline, however, they will not trade him after already suffering the loss of Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery early in spring training.

    Probability: less than 20 percent

San Diego Padres: 1B Billy Butler (KC)

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    MESA, AZ - MARCH 09:  Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals on the field before playing against the Chicago Cubs during the spring training baseball game at HoHoKam Stadium on March 9, 2011 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    I may be starting to sound like a broken record here, but the Padres are yet another young and talented team with almost no holes that only time can improve.  

    What the Padres should be focusing on now is finding high-level players who are still young and will still be productive once the other young Padres start to come into their prime.  The perfect player to help them do this is Royals first baseman Billy Butler.

    At 25 years old, Butler has yet to reach his prime but has already established himself as an above-average player.  He would be a nice upgrade over current first baseman Brad Hawpe, but the Royals are in the same mindset as the Padres right now and may be opposed to giving up one of their franchise players right now.

    Probability: less than 10 percent

San Francisco Giants: OF Grady Sizemore (CLE)

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    CLEVELAND - APRIL 17:  Grady Sizemore #24 of the Cleveland Indians trots around third base after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the game on April 17, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Ge
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Giants won the World Series last season and only lost Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria from that club. They replaced them with Miguel Tejada and the re-emergence of Pablo Sandoval (before his injury) though, so those positions do not need any help.  

    The outfield is probably the Giants' biggest weakness, being made up of the inconsistent Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand, the struggling Cody Ross, and the injured Andres Torres.  With Posey and Sandoval providing the majority of the power for the Giants, they may look to bring in a productive outfielder to help the offense.  

    The perfect player for them would be the Indians' Grady Sizemore.  Sizemore is a five-tool player who might become available if the Indians can't hang on to their hot start in 2011.  He is exactly the kind of guy the Giants need to stay competitive for the foreseeable future, but for the type of player he is, his price tag may be too high, especially if the 2011 Indians are like the 2008 Rays.

    Probability: 25 percent

Seattle Mariners: C Jesus Montero (NYY)

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Jesus Montero #83 of the New York Yankees works out during the second day of full teams workouts at Spring Training on February 21, 2011 at the George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Maybe this is just me being a biased Yankee fan, but if I was Jack Zduriencik, I would be extremely interested in top Yankees prospect Jesus Montero.  

    The kid is hitting over .400 at Triple-A, and is major league-ready right now.  He may not be the best defensive catcher in the world, but he is definitely an upgrade overall over Miguel Olivo.  He is only 21 years old and would be a mainstay for years in Seattle alongside Justin Smoak.

    If the Mariners and Yankees could put together a deal focusing on King Felix and Montero, I believe both sides would be happy when all is said and done.

    Probability: 50 percent

St. Louis Cardinals: 3B Adrian Beltre (TEX)

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 30:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers hits a double that scored Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 30, 2011 in Oakland, California.
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    As a team that looks poised to lose the best player in baseball after this season, the St. Louis Cardinals might want to start looking for guys to replace the production next year when Albert Pujols is gone.  The perfect guy for the job would be newly signed Ranger Adrian Beltre.  

    Although he just signed a lucrative five-year deal, the Rangers probably wouldn't rule out cashing him and his salary in for a bunch of young players from the Cardinals.  The Cardinals would have the salary freed up by Pujols to shoulder the heavy load of Beltre's contract, and his production seems like it is here to stay this time, so if a trade can be done, I would say they should go for it.  

    Third base is a weak position for the Cardinals right now, so Beltre could even help them win a World Series this year before Pujols leaves if they trade for him.

    Probability: 25 percent

Tampa Bay Rays: 1B Derrek Lee (BAL)

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Derrick Lee #25 of the Baltimore Orioles prepares to bat against the Chicago Whiute Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 6-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Rays are another young team, with the exception of Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth, and after losing key members of their team last year, they have a hole at first base, as well as in the clubhouse.

    Currently manning first is Dan Johnson, but we all knew that he wasn't an everyday player and hasn't been playing like one either.  He is forever going to be a pinch-hitter type guy, probably eventually for a NL club, and I don't expect him to last the year in Tampa.  

    The Rays should try to trade for a veteran first baseman who can bring some leadership, and there is no one better suited for that role than current Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee.  He has always been a leader for his team throughout his career, even serving as Chicago Cubs captain up until his trade to Atlanta last season.  

    The Orioles would probably be open to trading him for prospects, so this is a deal that I can actually see getting done at the deadline as long as the O's don't start to contend.

    Probability: 85 percent

Texas Rangers: RHP Matt Cain (SF)

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    PITTSBURGH - APRIL 26:  Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on April 26, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Rangers are a really good ballclub.  They have a great mix of young guys and veterans who should help them wrap up the AL West for a second consecutive year, but with the Angels coming back strong after a rough 2010, they may need a little help in the pitching department.  

    The Rangers do not have a veteran in their rotation, and their ace is a guy that is just two seasons removed from being a relief pitcher.  What they need is a true No. 1 starter, and they saw one last year in the World Series serving as the No. 2 for the Giants in the person of Matt Cain.  

    On almost any other team, Cain would be the ace, but on the Giants, he plays second fiddle to Tim Lincecum.  Now, the Giants would really need to be swayed to move a guy as young and talented as Cain, and the Rangers might not have the kind of prospects that they would want in return.  

    Although the Rangers would likely love to add Cain to their rotation, I wouldn't wait around for this one to happen.

    Probability: less than 5 percent

Toronto Blue Jays: 1B Prince Fielder (MIL)

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 14:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits in the ondeck circle during their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 14, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Something tells me Prince Fielder would love Toronto and their "go deep or go home" attitude.  The Blue Jays currently have Adam Lind at first base, but he is not a natural first baseman and would work better in the outfield or as a DH, so adding one of the game's premier home run hitters to protect the game's best power hitter would probably work out well for the Blue Jays.  

    They already have a good young pitching staff, and the rest of their hitters are also young and promising, so adding a young player who already hits like a veteran is the only thing they could really do to improve.

    But there is going to be some competition for Fielder, so if they want him, the Jays better have an impressive offer to put on the table.

    Probability: 35 percent

Washington Nationals: C Russell Martin (NYY)

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23:  Catcher Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees in action against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Washington Nationals were the worst team in baseball two years in a row in 2008 and 2009, but that seems now to have actually helped them, as they were able to acquire two of the best young players in the game with two straight first overall picks in the MLB First-Year Player Drafts.  

    Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper may come together with Ryan Zimmerman and Drew Storen to form a Nationals version of the Yankees' "Core 4."  As we all saw, that group led the Yankees to one of baseball's most storied dynasties, and I believe that the Nationals could wind up doing the same thing.

    But in order to develop the young Strasburg, who I believe will be the key to their success, the Nats need a good catcher.  

    Don't get me wrong, there's no one better than Pudge at calling a game, but his career is reaching its end, so the Nationals need to find someone to take the reins and develop this pitching staff the right way in order for them to attain success.  

    Coincidentally, it is the Yankees who could provide them with that catcher in the person of Russell Martin. Martin is a great defensive catcher with excellent control of his pitching staff that can also produce at the plate.  

    He would be a perfect fit with Strasburg, and with the amount of catchers the Yankees have in their farm system, this deal may have the best chance of coming to fruition if the Nationals can give the Yankees something of value in return.

    Probability: 90 percent