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MLB Trade Deadline – Get Ready for an Arms Race

We’re less than four weeks away from the MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline and not a single piece has been moved yet. While most MLB teams are still trying to determine if they will be buying or selling, a few cellar-dwellers like the Phillies and Brewers must be thrilled that this month has finally arrived. Philly has probably been fielding offers since early June for their pair of veteran arms – Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels – but as the deadline inches closer after the All-Star game, they should be able to grab some premium value from a team desperate for pitching.

Papelbon and Hamels are just some of the big arms that will likely be switching jerseys this July. The Reds’ Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman will also hear their names on nightly rumor discussions, as should Jeff Samardzija for the second straight year.

More teams could slip in the standings and become sellers, but for now we’ll examine guys who are near locks to be moved and where they might be headed.

Starting Pitchers: Johnny Cueto, CIN; Cole Hamels, PHI; Mike Leake, CIN; Jeff Samardzija, CHW.

Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals.

Anyone looking to deal a pitcher should look no further than the AL East. Four teams are all within one game of the division lead and three of them desperately need starting pitching. Injuries and disappointing performances have led to some terrible starting ERA’s for Toronto (4.50), New York (4.37), and Baltimore (4.23). Acquiring a bona fide ace would help put one of these teams in the driver’s seat for the latter half of the season.

Hamels is the interesting name on this list, since he is the only one who is not a free agent at the end of the year. In fact, the 31-year-old is under contract until 2019 and has a limited no-trade clause. A move to the Yankees would seem most likely, as they have no problem taking on that kind of salary and Hamels has stated he would waive his clause to join the Pinstripes.

Relief Pitchers: Tyler Clippard, OAK; Jonathan Papelbon, PHI; Koji Uehara, BOS; Brad Ziegler, ARZ.

Potential Suitors: Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers.

Basically every team would like to add another strong arm out of the bullpen for a postseason run, but these ones especially could use some help if they want to close out the year strong. The Jays and Dodgers both have 12 blown saves on the year and could use a veteran to lock up wins down the stretch.

Papelbon is the leader of this class, but comes with a large contract and a higher asking price from Philly. Clippard can serve as a closer or a set up man for any contender, while Uehara and Ziegler could also be serviceable in a closing role for desperate teams.

Infielders: Ryan Howard, PHI;  Adam Laroche, CHW; Adam Lind, MIL; Justin Morneau, COL; Mike Napoli, BOS; Chase Utley, PHI; Ben Zobrist, OAK.

Potential Suitors: Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals, New York Mets.

The A’s aren’t one to let a player head into free-agency without getting anything for him. Even if they continue to climb back into the AL West race, they will still want to get something for the versatile Zobrist whose contract is up after this year. The Mets seem like early favorites to acquire his services.

Despite being three of the best teams in the NL, St. Louis, Washington, and Pittsburgh could all use help at first base. There are enough names out there for each team to add to their area of weakness and, of the group rumored to be available, Adam Lind is having the best year.

Outfielders: Jay Bruce, CIN; Carlos Gonzalez, COL; Austin Jackson, SEA; Brandon Moss, CLE.

Potential Suitors: San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins.

Jackson is a free agent and Moss has one more year of arbitration on teams quickly falling out of the picture. They would both bring different, but useful elements to a team looking for help in the outfield.

Bruce and Gonzalez have also proven they can put up good numbers, but they come saddled with huge contracts for the next two years. If a team is going to acquire their help, they will likely send a big contract back Colorado’s or Cinci’s way, or a worse package of prospects.

(Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston (Originally posted on Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)

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