By: Caleb Luketic
The MLB trade deadline is July 31st, and it is always an exciting and hectic time for management, players, coaches, and fans. The final few days before the trade deadline are probably the most stressful days that players and fans have to go through all season because of the uncertainty of the players’ futures.
There are always trades that are made that are unsuspected or unseen, just like last year. This year, I am going to try to predict a few trades that could potentially happen before the non-wavier July 31st trade deadline. Here is my list of 5 players that I think could potentially find themselves traded before July 31st:
Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies currently hold the second worst record in baseball, behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The Phillies have quite a few big names under contract for a few more years that are worth a ton of money that the team would love to try to get something for. One of those players is first baseman Ryan Howard.
Howard’s production is actually on pace to be his best year since 2011, when Howard hit 33 home runs and knocked in 116 runs. Howard is currently 35 years old and is in his 11th season in the Majors. Howard’s speed and quickness has decreased greatly since he had that terrible achilles injury that sidelined him most of the 2012 season.
Howard has shown this season that he still has something left in the tank that is valuable. The Phillies still owe Howard a whopping $25 million a year for three more years, so it will be tough to find a buyer for him because of that. Howard would fit in best with an American League team because he won’t have to play the field, which could increase his career by an extra year or two.
Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies
As I previously stated, the Phillies have a few big names under big time contracts, and another one of those guys is closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon has proven himself as one of the best closers ever. He is the Red Sox all-time leader in saves with 219, and the Phillies all-time leader in saves with 119.
Papelbon knows how to finish out games because he has done it in the playoffs and the regular season repeatedly. There are a handful of playoff contenders right now who could use a solid closer to solidify their bullpen.
I think that Papelbon could be able to help out teams like the Dodgers and Rangers, who have 10 and 11 blown saves on the season.
Papelbon could take these teams to the next level in their tight division races.
Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
Cole Hamels is currently 5-5 with a 2.96 ERA and he has tallied 106 strikeouts. Hamels has been the Phillies ace for well over 7 years now, and because of that, he signed a massive contract that is still looming over his head. The Phillies tried to move Hamels last year, but no one wanted to take on gigantic contract.
This year, rumors are once again floating around that he will be on the move. Hamels is an experienced left-hander who knows what it takes to win a championship, so he would be a boost to any playoff contender.
I think that a potential landing spot for Hamels would be Pittsburgh, Texas, Houston, or San Francisco. These four teams would be my front-runners to claim Hamels, but I think that any contender could use Hamels’ expertise.
Plus, Hamels is signed for another three seasons after this, so Philadelphia should get a solid return for Hamels.
But I guarantee that Hamels will be traded this season.
Scott Kazmir – Oakland Athletics
Scott Kazmir is another left-handed starting pitcher that could be of assistance to any contender trying to get primed for a postseason run. Kazmir is currently 3-4 with a 2.84 ERA, which isn’t too shabby, but he has had more productive seasons.
Kazmir could land in the same spots as Cole Hamels because whoever loses in the Hamels sweepstakes will try to go after Kazmir. I like Kazmir’s style because he doesn’t try to over-power hitters, but, instead, he fools them and gets outs.
He also plays for a franchise that tends to shop players near the deadline to try to improve their team or get returns for players who they don’t think will return during free agency, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets traded away by deadlines end.
Mike Napoli – Boston Red Sox
This may be a bit farfetched, but when you think about it, it really isn’t. Mike Napoli is having a difficult season as he is batting a measly .204, but he has 10 home runs and 27 RBI. Napoli could provide a team struggling offensively with a little boost to get them going again.
Napoli is currently in his final year of his contract, and with the way things are going in Boston, Napoli will likely sign elsewhere to try to win. Boston would be smart to shop Napoli to try to get something in return before they lose him after the 2015 season.
As for destinations, Napoli could wind up in a few different locations like St. Louis or Pittsburgh, who are struggling with first base production, but he could land in any city where they need some power to jumpstart their offense.
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