Predicting Where The Top MLB Trade Targets Will Land

It is July 25th and we are six days away from the 2012 MLB trading deadline. Over the last week a lot of chatter has grown about which players will be traded, what teams are interested in who, and who will be buyers and sellers this season. With the added extra second wildcard in each league, there will be more buyers over sellers then in past years. For instance, there are about only six clear sellers this year, the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, and Seattle Mariners. Some players that may be traded by these teams that are viewed as top guys are Cubs pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, Padres closer Huston Street, Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano and outfielders Denard Span and Josh Willingham, and Mariners reliever Brandon League.

Some of those guys may be traded, some may not. Maybe even all of them get traded or none get traded. Nobody knows what will happen. It does guarantee to be a hectic and crazy next six days. The trade market does surely have a solid group of big names also. I honestly believe that a blockbuster trade will break any day now.

Over the last couple of weeks a few noticeable trades have happened. The New York Yankees acquired right fielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for two minor league pitchers. The Detroit Tigers got starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from the Miami Marlins in exchange for pitching prospect Jacob Turner, catching prospect Rob Brantley, and pitching prospect Brian Flynn. The Arizona Diamondbacks have traded utility man Ryan Roberts to the Tampa Bay Rays for infield prospect Tyler Bortnick. The Houston Astros traded reliever Brett Myers to the Chicago Whitesox, reliever Brandon Lyon to the Toronto Blue Jays, outfielder Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins, and starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A trade that has been agreed upon by two teams, but can’t be completed without a players permission because he has 10 and 5 rights, is Ryan Dempster going from the Chicago Cubs to the Atlanta Braves. It was reported within the last week that trade talks broke down between the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers on a trade for Dempster. The Dodgers are reportedly Dempster’s first choice, with Atlanta being his second. Yet, there’ a report out yesterday that Dempster doesn’t want to go to Atlanta, or at least doesn’t want to yet. Now it sounds like the Dodgers are back in talks with the Cubs, but don’t want to include top pitching prospect, Zach Lee, for a possible 35-year-old rental player. I guess this trade story is “to be continued…”.

Here’s a list of the biggest named players who are rumored to be on the trade block and possibly be traded by the trading deadline: Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields, Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels and outfielder Shane Victorino, Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson and shortstop / third baseman Hanley Ramirez, Chicago Cubs starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, and outfielder Alfonso Soriano, Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke, and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. Anyway, here are my predictions on where the top 10 trade targets will land. All 20 players are not ranked.

1.Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: This is a tough one to pinpoint. I think if the Phillies don’t have a long-term deal done by July 31st, I think they scramble to get something in return for a player who may be too pricey and won’t return this winter. Teams that I think would be interested or will be interested are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Redsox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Whitesox, Los Angeles Angels, and Texas Rangers.
My Prediction: Cole Hamels RE-SIGNS. UPDATED AT 1:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal of FOX SPORTS is reporting that the Phillies and Hamels are closing in on a six-year deal worth around $137.5 million. The news broke literally seven minutes after I wrote my prediction on Hamels. So it looks like I’m gonna get this one right.

2.Zack Greinke, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: It seems likely that Greinke will not return to Milwaukee next year, but the question is, is Milwaukee going to get a deal done, or will Greinke walk in free agency? Greinke seems like he wants to test the free agent waters, so if he is traded, perhaps his new team would want a contract extension agreed upon. A negotiating window and agreement on a new contract would net the Brewers a better return package but if someone just uses Greinke as a rental, Milwaukee won’t get as much back. That’s why it may turn out to be a bit tough to get a deal done quickly for Greinke. Teams to be interested include the Braves,Dodgers, Redsox, Orioles, Whitesox, Angels, and Rangers.
My Prediction: Zack Greinke is traded to the Texas Rangers.

3.Justin Upton, RF, Arizona Diamondbacks: This seems like an unlikely guy to be traded. There’s an outside chance though. I just don’t see it happening as much as i possibly did a few weeks ago. Teams I think would be interested are the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Orioles, and Oakland A’s.
My Prediction: Justin Upton stays in Arizona.

4.Hanley Ramirez, 3B/SS, Miami Marlins: This guy seems more likely to be traded than Upton, but it’s still a little bit of a long shot because it’ll cost a lot to get him and he’s owed a lot of money. I definitely can see Hanley being traded, and wouldn’t be surprised if he is, seeing that the Marlins are now in full sell mode. I think the Pirates, Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and A’s would be interested.
My Prediction: Hanley Ramirez stays in Miami. UPDATED AT 2:49 AM: The Marlins have traded Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers. At least you guys know what I thought he’d be doing.

5.Josh Johnson, SP, Miami Marlins: A gut that could garner as much interest as Zack Greinke. The problem is, is he’s injury prone. He always has problems with his shoulder, so that could scare people off from giving up two-three big time prospects. Another thing is, is that Johnson is easily one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy, and that’s why he would cost two-three big time prospects from a team. Teams I think would be interested are the Braves, Dodgers, Redsox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Whitesox, Angels, and Rangers.
My Prediction: Josh Johnson is traded to the Los Angeles Angels.

6.James Shields, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are in a tough spot, do they think they can last in the playoff race or should they trade “big game” James Shields for future assets? Although Shields is definitely having a down year from last year, he will still garner a lot of interest from teams. Teams I think would be interested are the Braves, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Whitesox, Angels, and Rangers.
My Prediction: James Shields is traded to the Atlanta Braves.

7.Matt Garza, SP, Chicago Cubs: The Cubs can get a lot of interest in Garza, but also want to keep him. They’re in a tough spot, but you gotta trust Theo Epstein. Teams I think would be interested are the Braves, Dodgers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Whitesox, and Angels.
My Prediction: Matt Garza stays in Chicago.

8.Ryan Dempster, SP, Chicago Cubs: A trade is close to complete with Atlanta but the Dodgers are back in it and still have assets even after the Hanley Ramirez trade. I have Shields going to Atlanta, so you know what that means…
My Prediction: Ryan Dempster is traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

9.Josh Willingham, LF, Minnesota Twins: Willingham signed a three-year, $21 million deal back in the winter with the Twins. So a team who trades for him will have to offer a pretty good package for this power bat who is under control for 2.5 more seasons. Teams I think would be interested are the Reds, Pirates, Orioles, and A’s.
My Prediction: Josh Willingham stays in Minnesota.

10.Alfonso Soriano, LF, Chicago Cubs: Soriano’s ridiculous contract is what’s stopping a lot of teams from getting involved. The Cubs are willing to eat a lot of his contract, so an AL team may be tempted to add his power bat. Teams I think would be interested are the Rays, Orioles, and Indians.
My Prediction: Alfonso Soriano is traded to the Cleveland Indians.

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