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The Early Lead
Posted at 04:05 PM ET, 07/21/2011

MLB trade deadline: Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, Heath Bell top wish lists


Carlos Beltran is one of several players who could be on the move before the July 31 trade deadline. (Jim McIsaac - GETTY IMAGES)
With Major League Baseball’s trade deadline a mere 10 days away, the rumor mill is heating up as teams looking to bolster their rosters hone in on their targets.

New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran is drawing interest from a number of postseason contenders including NL East division rivals the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. The Boston Red Sox are also rumored to be chasing the six-time All-Star and Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Thursday that the Texas Rangers may also be in the mix.

After missing a combined a combined 179 games over the last two seasons, Beltran (.293, 15 HRs, 61 RBI) is producing at the plate once again and could provide the bat several teams are lacking.

While a deal is by no means imminent, and Beltran may end up staying put, he’s one of several players who might want to have his bags packed just in case. Here are a few others.

OF Carlos Beltran, New York Mets

Interest from: Braves, Brewers, Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees

Most likely destination: Phillies.

Spin: The Red Sox have beefed up their push for Beltran but until they are willing to deal a top prospect or two. Boston may just be raising the price tags for other teams, however, according to the Post’s Dave Sheinin. As of Thursday morning, it appears the Braves may be backing out of the high-priced sweepstakes and instead looking for a bargain bat like Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Gomes.

RP Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

Interest from: Angels, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Phillies, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Yankees

Most likely destination: Padres

Spin: Bell recently told a radio talk show host he had not received an extension offer from the Padres and wasn’t sure what his value was on the market. The Padres front office should know — they’ve been dangling the hefty hurler around at the deadline for what feels like a decade. With San Diego 13.5 back of San Francisco in the NL West, will this finally be the year they move him? It’s possible, but the Padres would get a pair of draft picks should Bell sign elsewhere after the season, so unless they get a great offer, he might stay put yet again. Set-up man Mike Adams could also be on the move.
Houston may be willing to part with face-of-the-franchise outfielder Hunter Pence — at the right price. (Pat Sullivan - AP)

OF Hunter Pence, Houston Astros

Interest from: Braves, Pirates, Phillies, Red Sox

Most likely destination: Astros

Spin: The Pirates are buyers at the deadline for the first time in _____ (you can fill in the blank), according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Their biggest need is in the outfield where they could use some more pop and production: enter Pence. But the price may be too high for the Buccos (and maybe everyone else). Pence (.361, 11 HR, 61 RBI) is having a career year and remains under contract for two more years. If the Phillies can’t land Beltran, expect them to increase their offers for Pence. Otherwise, he may be stuck on the last-place team in the NL Central. The Pirates are also reportedly looking at Oakland OF Josh Willingham and may make an offer for Chicago Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez.

SP Hiroki Kuroda, Los Angeles Dodgers

Interest from: Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees

Most likely destination: Rangers

Spin: Kuroda’s numbers don’t appear great on the surface — 6-11, 3.13 ERA, 1.20 WHIP — but a closer look reveals a reliable middle-of-the-rotation arm for a playoff contender, making him a prime target for several elite teams in the AL. He would need to waive the no-trade clause in his contract to make a deal happen and according to a Los Angeles Times report, he may be willing to do just that. Although MLB.com’s Peter Gammons reports he may not be keen for a move to the East Coast. A free agent after the season, Kuroda is an appealing rental, but will the Dodgers be able to shift their attention from bankruptcy court to the trade market for long enough to make a deal? Los Angeles needs to shed salary and Kuroda is their best bait, and if the East Coast is out of the question, Texas — which proved you can go from bankrupt to the World Series in one year — could be the right fit.

RP Leo Nunez, Florida Marlins

Interest from: Phillies, teams that miss out on Bell and Adams

Most likely destination: Phillies

Most likely destination: Is there a more incestuous division in all of baseball than the NL East? It seems every player on the trading block within this division is being courted most heavily by a division rival, and Nunez is no exception. The Phillies, who could use a reliable arm at the back end of their bullpen, are the favorites here, tweeted ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. They’re reportedly eyeing a pitcher they’ll still have after this season and they have what the Marlins want in return, young starting pitchers. Expect Nunez be moved at some point, but it might not happen before the deadline.

Other players who may be on the move: Padres OF Ryan Ludwick, Astros OF Michael Bourn, Mariners SP Erik Bedard, Diamondbacks, Mariners IF Chone Figgins, Athletics OF Conor Jackson

By  |  04:05 PM ET, 07/21/2011

 
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