Happy MLB Trade Deadline day! Every year I look forward to this. With just one move, a fringe contender can become a legitimate World Series ready team. The Seattle Mariners acquired SP Randy Johnson in 1989 on the trade deadline, the New York Yankees got SP David Cone in 1995, 1B Mark Teixeira went to the Atlanta Braves in 2007, and in 2008 the Los Angeles Dodgers nabbed OF Manny Ramirez in a trade from the Boston Red Sox. Of course, one of, if not the biggest trade deadline deals that occured was in 1964 when the Chicago Cubs traded OF Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was a key piece in the Cardinals World Series run that year. The unpredictability of a day like this is a thrill for fans, players, and executives. You never know what's going to happen.
I have compiled a list of moves I think should happen over the next several hours. They're not exactly moves I THINK are going to happen, just trades that would benefit all of those involved. They make the most sense to me. A slew of trades have already happened so far in the past week or so, but I don't think teams are done just yet. With the addition of the second Wild Card spot in each league, you have even more teams who think they have a chance to make the playoffs. Buyers are at an all-time high. The Los Angeles Angels have made the biggest splash so far this season with the acquisition of SP Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers. 3B Chris Johnson was moved from the Houston Astros to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a move that has already paid dividends with Johnson getting his first hit for Arizona last night - a grand slam. The Astros also sent SP Wandy Rodriguez to an already impressive Pittsburgh Pirates rotation. The Chicago White Sox agreed to acquire SP Francisco Liriano from the Minnesota Twins earlier this week in a rare Twins/White Sox deal and the Los Angeles Dodgers made a bold move by getting 3B Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins - a move that has already been discussed by fellow TJR columnist, Pete Sooklall here. Miami also sent SP Anibal Sanchez and 2B Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers. A flurry of trades occured last night as the Chicago Cubs sent SP Paul Maholm (one of the hottest pitchers in baseball) and OF Reed Johnson to the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs also swung C Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers brought in a coveted bullpen piece in RP Brandon League from the Seattle Mariners, while Seattle also got OF Eric Thames from the Toronto Blue Jays for RP Steve Delabar. Toronto also sent OF Travis Snider to the Pirates for RP Brad Lincoln - as you can tell, teams are ready and willing to make moves this season. We're not done yet as the busiest trade day of the year is upon us and we could see even more moves. Here's what I think should go down...
RP Francisco Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox -
The Boston Red Sox have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball thus far and yet, they're still above .500 and in the thick of things for the two American League Wild Card spots. The Boston bullpen has been suspect, at best, and an addition of a fresh arm to try and stabilize the back-end could really help. Mark Melancon has been a disaster in his first year for Boston and Alfredo Aceves (closer) and Vicente Padilla (set-up man) have been adventures on the mound, to put it nicely. The Milwaukee Brewers are floundering while their bullpen has turned into garbage. They fired their bullpen coach yesterday and it's safe to say a guy like K-Rod is on the block. A smaller prospect could feasibly get this deal done. Milwaukee won't be asking for much in a deal with Rodriguez and Boston would most likely part ways with a guys like 1B Mauro Gomez or OF Che-Hsuan Lin to get this done.
OF Nate Schierholtz to the Pittsburgh Pirates -
The Pirates have already added an OF to their roster via trade with Travis Snider last night, but that doesn't mean they're done. The Pirates are in contention for the Wild Card and up until a spectacular Cincinnati Reds winning streak, they were right there in the race for the Central Division as well. Pittsburgh proved last year that they are willing to make positive moves to try and win when the team was in contention. They brought in 1B Derrek Lee and OF Ryan Ludwick and even though they fell out of the race, it showed their fans they're serious about winning. I think they go for it again this year. Their bench is lacking with fringe MLB players playing back-up and adding a guy like Schierholtz, someone who has fallen out of favor in San Francisco, could provide some pop off the pine. Top prospect OF Starling Marte has done well in his first week in the majors, but a player like him can be unpredictable with stretches of both good and bad. Garrett Jones isn't as consistent a RF as you would hope for in a contending team, so a corner OF like Schierholtz could prove to be very valuable for a young team looking to make a splash. I imagine the Giants wouldn't ask for too much in return in this type of deal considering Schierholtz requested a trade after losing playing time this year. These two teams could solve each other's problems with this trade, considering SP Kevin Correia has requested a trade from the Pirates. The Giants would get an MLB level SP in return for Schierholtz.
RP Jonathan Broxton to the Texas Rangers -
The Kansas City Royals are, well, the Kansas City Royals. They have some young and promising players making a little noise here and there, but they're still in the cellar of the American League. A rare bright spot for this team has been their closer Jonathan Broxton. His strikeout numbers are down, but his ERA is very good and his value could rise if he was inserted into an already good bullpen in Texas as a set-up man for Joe Nathan. The Rangers need to make a move to answer the Angels acquisition of Greinke and try to separate themselves from LA. Playoff games tend to become pretty typical when it comes to winning. Your starter goes six or seven innings and your bullpen closes the door with a dominating set-up man and closer. A one-two-three combination of Broxton, Mike Adams, and Nathan could be very valuable come October. This type of deal would be, not necessarily a big splash, but a smart one for Texas. No need to give up top prospects like SP Martin Perez, 3B Mike Olt or SS Jurickson Profar. The Royals want young players in return so they can continue to rebuild and OF Engel Beltre or 2B Leury Garcia could make them pull the trigger.
SP Jason Vargas to the Chicago White Sox -
The White Sox already acquired a LHP in Francisco Liriano, but if you know their GM Kenny Williams, then you know you can't count them out for even more possible deals. Vargas has been solid for Seattle this year and his value has continued to rise over the past two months. The White Sox rotation is a bit crowded, at this point, but hardly a sure thing. Chris Sale has a "dead arm" right now, according to the team, and will miss his next scheduled start. Jake Peavy has a history of injuries while rookie Jose Quintana has showed some dents in his armor as of late. Phil Humber has been atrocious this year, despite throwing a perfect game and Francisco Liriano is far from a sure thing when it comes to quality starts. Another guy that has seemingly regressed in Chicago is Gavin Floyd. This could be a very simple move for both teams. The White Sox could upgrade their rotation by replacing Gavin Floyd with Jason Vargas and Seattle could get an MLB ready pitcher in Floyd. The White Sox have shocked the baseball world, so far, this year by manhandling the first place spot in the AL Central for most of the season. The addition of Vargas could be a good answer to Detroit getting SP Anibal Sanchez and 2B Omar Infante from the Marlins.
RP Chris Perez to the San Francisco Giants -
The National League West is going to come down to the wire between the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Today could be a huge determining factor in who is able to ultimately capture the Division crown. The Dodgers have already made some big moves by bringing in 3B Hanley Ramirez and RP Brandon League, it's time for the Giants to answer. Their closer Brian Wilson has been gone all year long and former set-up man Santiago Casilla has filled in admirably. Unfortunately, his effectiveness has waned and it's time for the Giants to prove they're serious about winning this year. The addition of Cleveland's closer Chris Perez could give them one of the better bullpens in the league. Casilla could go back to being a top-notch set-up man and join RP Sergio Romo in creating a bridge for Chris Perez. It all depends on how high an asking price Cleveland has for their all-star closer. I wouldn't be surprised if 1B Brandon Belt was headed to Cleveland should this deal go through.
OF Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants -
Say hello to your 2012 Philadelphia Phillies - sellers at the trade deadline. This time last year, Hunter Pence was considered the final piece to the Philadelphia World Series puzzle. Now he could be on his way out. I wasn't exaggerating when I said that San Francisco is going to be itching to make some moves today. The Giants are desperate to add some offense to their line-up and Hunter Pence could be a heck of an addition. He's got solid power and would fit in very nicely next to C Buster Posey in the middle of the lineup. The Phillies would likely want some players of note in return for Pence and if Belt is still on the team, you gotta believe Philly would ask about him. Minor league players like 1B Brett Pill and/or OF Francisco Peguero could entice the Phillies to finalize this trade.
SS Stephen Drew to the Oakland Athletics -
Here's a move that I would be honestly surprised if it didn't go down. Drew started off the season on the DL and has since fought for playing time on a team where he used to be a center piece. Drew and Arizona are no longer working and it seems like him going to Oakland makes the most sense. The A's are in the playoff hunt this year and definitely need to solidify the SS position. Stephen Drew has playoff experience and provides a veteran bat in a young and exciting lineup. This is the type of move that could keep the Athletics in the Wild Card hunt until the very end, instead of fading out like so many young and surprising teams do. It wouldn't take a ton for the Athletics to swing Drew their way. Their current SS Eric Sogard may do the trick with a prospect in their minor league system such as SP Graham Godfrey.
OF Shane Victorino to the Cincinnati Reds -
Here's a potential move that could be a major difference maker. If this were to happen, I'd say it would end up being the most influential trade made on the deadline. The Reds have established themselves atop the National League, sitting 20 games above .500. Their lineup desperately needs an established lead-off hitter and Victorino could be just what the doctor ordered. Victorino has been less than impressive for Philly this year and with them falling out of contention, now could be the time they trade him. His asking price is likely very high and may end up causing this trade to never come to fruition. More than one prospect would have to go to the Phillies for this trade to go through - some pretty decent ones at that. 1B Neftali Soto, 1B/3B Mike Costanzo, SS Didi Gregorius, IF Chris Valaika, 2B Henry Rodriguez, and P J.J. Hoover should have their phones ready today. If this trade happens, one or more of them could be on the move.
RP Rafael Betancourt to the Los Angeles Angels -
The Angels may still be looking to make one last splash. Arguably, the most covered team in the media the past eight months is looking to stay in the spotlight. Rafael Betancourt has done a solid job as closer in Colorado, tossing the ball well for a Rockies team with abysmal pitching. His value is fairly high and these so-called "small" bullpen additions often become invaluable to teams who bring them in on the deadline. These are the type of deals that fall under the radar, but prove to be a difference maker in the end. Colorado needs pitching prospects in return, but a guy like Betancourt won't bring in a top prospect like SP Garrett Richards. The Rockies may set their desires to more mid-level prospects like SP Matt Shoemaker or RP Ryan Brasier while checking in on a guy like RP Kevin Jepsen, someone with major league experience.
SP Matt Garza to the New York Yankees -
Let me preface this by saying I would be very surprised if the Cubs dealt Garza. That's not the say I believe he will be in Chicago for the foreseeable future, I just think a deal is more likely to go down come winter time. That being said, if a deal does happen, look for the Yankees to swoop in and bring him in. The Yankees have established themselves as an elite team, yet again, but their pitching rotation could still use an upgrade. Garza is a competitor, plain and simple. He's got great stuff and he would be under contract for next year as well. He has playoff and World Series experience, not to mention his past in the AL East when he was in Tampa Bay. Garza to the Yankees makes a ton of sense to me, it just comes down to how much the Yankees are willing to give up. The Yankees seem to be a bit more keen on keeping good prospects, rather than sending them away to bring in the biggest name. Theo Epstein is surely looking for multiple good prospects in return for Garza and unless the Yankees are willing to give up guys like SP Dellin Betances or SP Manuel Banuelos then I don't see how this deal gets done.
SP Ryan Dempster and OF Alfonso Soriano to the Los Angeles Dodgers -
We could have a potential blockbuster brewing here. Ryan Dempster was supposed to be going to the Atlanta Braves last week, but after mulling it over, he vetoed the trade. Alfonso Soriano was reportedly on his way to San Francisco last night, but he too vetoed the trade. The Dodgers have expressed interest in both guys and it's no secret Theo Epstein is looking to overhaul this team. Cub fans are aching to see a deal like this get done and if it does, Epstein would be seen as almost angelic. Soriano was considered untradeable and now he's put together a very nice year so far - his value will never be higher. The Cubs would have to eat a lot, if not all, of his remaining huge eight-year $136 million contract. Ryan Dempster has put together a career year for the Cubbies, currently providing a spectacular 2.25 ERA. The Cubs reportedly want SP Allen Webster in return, but the Dodgers are not budging. I imagine a deal of this magnitude would require many moving parts, more so than this small freelance writer could imagine. If not Webster, the Dodgers would have to give up a guy like SP Chris Reed or RP Josh Wall. The Cubs want pitching prospects, which they have already received three of since last night in other trades. This is definitely a rumor to keep your eyes on.
There you have it! 11 moves I think should happen today. I may be way off or I could be dead on. It remains to be seen, but that's all part of the fun on a day like this. All rumors are fair play and it's a lot of fun to see what exactly goes down.
Follow me on Twitter! I imagine I'll be Tweeting a lot about the moves today as they happen - @Michael_Ryne