MLB Trade Deadline: 5 Outfielders Who Could Bolster Contending Teams

Howard BurnsCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2011

MLB Trade Deadline: 5 Outfielders Who Could Bolster Contending Teams

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    Outfielders are a red-hot commodity as the July 31 interleague trading deadline nears.

    Contending teams are looking to add speed to the top of their lineups, power to the middle and strengthen their defenses, and there is plenty of available name talent at the position to accomplish these goals.

    Here we look at five that could substantially influence which teams make it to the postseason and help determine how far they can go.

B.J. Upton

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    It's been a long season for the Rays' B.J. Upton, but a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for this dynamic talent.

    A number of contending teams are in the market for the free-agent center fielder, and the speed dimension he brings immediately upgrades any lineup.

    Upton hasn't been able to get going at the plate in 2011; he was hitting below .230 coming into play Tuesday. But with Evan Longoria injured for much of the season and Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena gone, Upton has had to shoulder more of the offensive burden. That won't be the case on a contender.

    Teams said to be eyeing Upton are the Indians, Braves, Nationals and Pirates.

Carlos Beltran

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    The Carlos Beltran Farewell Tour continued Tuesday night in Cincinnati with three runs scored and another driven in as the Mets beat the Reds 8-6. For someone who knows he's about to be traded, Beltran appears unfazed.

    It's been a grand season for the 34-year-old outfielder, whose already been in more games in 2011 than in each of the past two campaigns. The Mets couldn't have asked for more from the 14-year veteran and they are poised to cash in at the trade deadline.

    Beltran is a difference maker. He's looked good in his transition to right field and could probably play center for a team in need at that position. But it's at the plate where Beltran can put a team over the top.

    On pace to have around 100 RBI if he stays healthy, Beltran won't come cheap. The Mets won't trade Jose Reyes so Beltran is their best bet to yield the prospects the team so urgently needs.

    Reports that he wants to stay in the National League are apparently inaccurate. His agent, Scott Boras, told Beltran is open to going to an AL contender. He is coveted by several teams, including the Rangers, Red Sox, Giants, Braves, Phillies and Brewers.

    Update: The New York Mets and San Francisco Giants have agreed to terms, sending Beltran to the Giants.

Carlos Quentin

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    White Sox general manager Kenny Williams says he's prepared to blow up his roster and if he does, Carlos Quentin will be one of his most attractive bargaining chips.

    Chicago's pitching has been erratic all season and they will be on the prowl for arms at the deadline. To get the arms, they will have to part with at least one of their big bats. Quentin would add considerable power to any lineup—he's now hit at least 20 home runs in four consecutive seasons.

    Quentin is under contract through the end of next season and the White Sox need to find a place in the outfield for prospect Dayan Viciedo, so a blockbuster deal involving the 28-year-old seems like a good bet. A move to the Phillies or Braves could be in the offing.

Hunter Pence

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    The Houston Astros are a unmitigated disaster and general manager Ed Wade may be gone at the end of the season, so he must decide in the coming days whether to dangle Hunter Pence for prospects or go the more conservative route by offering speedster Michael Bourn.

    Pence, 28, has been solid if not spectacular for the Astros since coming into the league full time in 2008. The Astros have little star power on their roster, so trading Pence may not sit well with the fan base or the incoming ownership group.

    The flip side says the Astros are going nowhere anytime soon unless they commit to going out and acquiring prospects. They may elect to part with pitchers like Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers and keep Pence in the fold.

    Then again, if a team like the Braves comes in with an offer they can't refuse, the Astros might be forced to pull the trigger.

Colby Rasmus

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    Two things the Cardinals' Colby Rasmus isn't lacking are raw talent and attitude. It's the latter that may get him shipped out of St. Louis.

    The Cardinals deny they're shopping the 24-year-old, and manager Tony LaRussa's comments Tuesday that Rasmus "doesn't listen" to Cardinal coaches isn't going to make him any more attractive to other teams.

    Still, Rasmus has already requested a trade once in his young career with St. Louis and his relationship with his manager isn't the best. With his stats having tailed off this season after a solid start, now may be the time to send him elsewhere if the Cards can get a big haul in return.

    Rasmus has been linked to the Giants, White Sox, Rays and Mariners.

    Update: St. Louis has traded Rasmus, along with P.J. Walters, Trever Miller and Brian Tallet to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, outfielder Corey Patterson and three players to be named or cash.