The Trade Deadline season has began. With the deadline just 30 days away, teams are going to be moving players and prospects at extremely fast rates, trying to either build for the future or improve their team for the stretch run.
Here are six of the most notable players that could be moved at the deadline and predictions for where they will be headed on July 31.
Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers
Hamels is obviously the biggest name available at the deadline with the highest chance of being moved. Considering the sad state of the Phillies, Hamels has an extremely high chance of being on another team on August 1. The Texas Rangers represent a strong fit for Cole Hamels, as they have showed interest in him. Their rotation this season has been good at run prevention, but the analytic stats show that they're not as good as advertised. They view Hamels as an elite upgrade worth getting, and they seem like the team that would pay GM Ruben Amaro Jr.'s price--or at least close to it--in order to get him.
Other possible fits: Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays
Jonathan Papelbon, Toronto Blue Jays
Papelbon, like Hamels, will be another key part of the Phillies' trade deadline season. His contract is more of an obstacle, though, so his deal will likely take longer to progress while all the details are hammered out. The Blue Jays have had plenty of interest in acquiring Papelbon throughout the season and dating all the way back to the offseason. The contract has been the only thing keeping them from actually pulling the trigger, it seems. As the Phillies become more motivated to move their players, asking prices and the amount of contract to be picked up should become lower. The Blue Jays will get this deal done.
Other possible fits: Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs
Jeff Samardzija, Houston Astros
The Astros are going to make a move for a starting pitcher this deadline season, but it remains unclear as to which pitcher they will most heavily pursue. Samardzija looks like a solid fit in Houston. His run prevention numbers have not been great, but the Astros are a team that would definitely look past that, perhaps even viewing that as a way to get Samardzija on the cheap. Samardzija's analytical stats show that his ERA is about a run inflated (check this!!), due to poor luck and defense on the White Sox' part. With the Astros, Samardzija would be moved for the third time in two years, but would fit their system much better, with what is likely to be improved defense. Samardzija's the type of guy the Astros want.
Other possible fits: Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees
Johnny Cueto, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers seemingly never have enough pitching, and the same goes for this year, as the team has lost starters Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy for the entire year. The Reds are likely going to sell after they host the All-Star Game, and when they do so, Johnny Cueto will be the first to go. Cueto's in the last year of his contract, so he will get an opportunity to contend throughout the rest of the season and then get a huge contact for 2016 and beyond. When the Dodgers get Ryu and McCarthy back next year (check to make sure they're under contract), Cueto will be gone, but in the short term, he's definitely a move worth making and one that they will ultimately make.
Other possible fits: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays
Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs
Zobrist has already been with Cubs' manager Joe Maddon in a clubhouse when the two were with the Tampa Bay Rays together. The Cubs may want to get an upgrade in left field, where Chris Coglan currently resides. Maddon also understands the importance of having a super utility man down the stretch, as that could go a long way if a player gets injured or needs a day off. Zobrist is pretty much a starting-caliber super utility man, which will make him in hot demand at the trade deadline.
Other possible fits: Pretty much any contending team in need of an infielder or outfielder.
Scott Kazmir, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays and Athletics have already had their trade in past year, with the Josh Donaldson deal over the offseason. However, a second deal could be made this July, as the Blue Jays need starting pitching and the Athletics will likely unload Kazmir. While the two sides haven't been mentioned as anything more than a practical fit, as the arms start going off the board, the Blue Jays may be more likely to make a move. Another plus to Kazmir is that he has just this season left on his contract, perhaps making him a cheaper option at the deadline. Also, when Marcus Stroman comes back from injury in 2016, the Blue Jays will be able to make a quick and easy transition from Kazmir.
Other possible fits: Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees