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Lacking rings, these 5 could help a contender

Beltre, Colon, Granderson, Jones, Mauer could be 2018's baseball Bourque
MLB.com @williamfleitch

One of the happiest stories of the 2017 Major League Baseball season was Carlos Beltran, a near-lock for the Hall of Fame and one of the most purely talented players of his generation, finally getting a World Series ring with the Astros. Beltran might not have been one of the key cogs for that Houston team, but for a guy who had reached the postseason with five teams, the breakthrough was cathartic. Every baseball player dreams of winning a World Series. When a player like Beltran goes his whole career without getting one, it's downright inspiring when he at last does.

It was not a coincidence, it should be noted, that Beltran happened to be playing for the Astros. Houston was considered one of the best teams in baseball coming into the season, and therefore one of Beltran's best shots to get that elusive ring. He was, in a sense, Ring Hunting. Ring Hunting has become a common phenomenon, the act of a grizzled veteran trying to find the right situation -- either through free agency, midseason, or a trade -- to cap off his excellent career with the ultimate culmination: A championship.

One of the happiest stories of the 2017 Major League Baseball season was Carlos Beltran, a near-lock for the Hall of Fame and one of the most purely talented players of his generation, finally getting a World Series ring with the Astros. Beltran might not have been one of the key cogs for that Houston team, but for a guy who had reached the postseason with five teams, the breakthrough was cathartic. Every baseball player dreams of winning a World Series. When a player like Beltran goes his whole career without getting one, it's downright inspiring when he at last does.

It was not a coincidence, it should be noted, that Beltran happened to be playing for the Astros. Houston was considered one of the best teams in baseball coming into the season, and therefore one of Beltran's best shots to get that elusive ring. He was, in a sense, Ring Hunting. Ring Hunting has become a common phenomenon, the act of a grizzled veteran trying to find the right situation -- either through free agency, midseason, or a trade -- to cap off his excellent career with the ultimate culmination: A championship.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Beltran on winning his first World Series

This is highly common in the NBA, where Charles Barkley notoriously hopped from team to team searching for a title that never came, but the most famous example is probably the NHL's Ray Bourque, who played for the Boston Bruins for 21 years before winning a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in his final season. Lifelong Bruins boosters turned into avid Avalanche fans during their 2001 Stanley Cup run, and, if anything, more people were invested in Bourque winning than they were the Avalanche themselves. They would have preferred Bourque to win the Cup with Boston. But if he couldn't do it here, they wanted him to do it there.

There are plenty of "Ring Hunting" candidates in baseball this year as we approach the Trade Deadline. Who might be this year's Bourque? To help find out, I looked at the best active 20 players by lifetime FanGraphs WAR who do not currently have a World Series title. Some of them are on good enough teams that there's no need to trade them to a contender (Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Ryan Braun). Some of them are under too onerous a contract to ever be traded, even if their teams wanted to (Joey Votto, David Wright). And some of them are Mike Trout (Mike Trout). But if you're looking for 2018's baseball Bourque, the veteran who might get traded for a chance at that elusive ring, here are five excellent candidates.

Adrian Beltre  
The obvious pick, Beltre's a slam-dunk Hall of Famer who:

A: Plays for a last-place team;
B: Is having another productive season and would be a legitimate help for any team who trades for him;
C: Has a contract that expires after this season;
D: Is beloved by everyone in the sport.

The Rangers want Beltre back next year, and he does have 10-and-five status -- giving him the right to refuse any trade -- but a high percentage of your baseball rumors over the next month are going to be Beltre-related. The Braves, Indians, Cardinals and Phillies are all possible suitors, but there is considerable momentum building toward a potential reunion with the Red Sox, whom Beltre played for back in 2010. But yes: Beltre is the ultimate Bourque candidate.

Video: Adrian Beltre building on incredible career in 2018

Bartolo Colon 
Don't laugh! Colon has probably been the Rangers' second most effective starter behind Cole Hamels -- who will be traded at the Deadline and, of note, has a World Series MVP on his resume -- and you never know when a team might need some innings eaten in August and September. You wouldn't necessarily want Colon starting a playoff game for you, but remember, he was just in the World Series three years ago. Besides, who wouldn't want a Colon hanging around the bench in October?

Video: Ageless Bartolo Colon continues to amaze in 2018

Curtis Granderson 
Granderson has had quite the rebound season in Toronto at age 37, hitting nine homers and putting up a .361 OBP from the left side in only 219 plate appearances. If a team can ignore his struggles after being a Trade Deadline acquisition last season -- he only hit .161 after the Mets traded him to the Dodgers -- he could be a highly useful left-handed bat off the bench in October. Poor Granderson has played in three World Series for three teams (2006 in Detroit, '15 in New York and '17 in Los Angeles) and lost them all.

Video: TOR@HOU: Granderson lifts a solo home run to right

Adam Jones 
Manny Machado will be the big prize at the Deadline, but don't forget about Jones, who is hitting over .300 the past two months and is basically having the same season he has had for the past 10 years. Jones seems older than he is (32) and while the defense isn't exactly what it once was, he'd be a serious addition for any team looking to make a run. He has 10-and-five rights, but he's a free agent after the season and surely is available for any team seeking a boost. A return to Seattle, where Jones started his career, might be fun.

Video: MIA@BAL: Jones drills a 2-run double to right-center

Joe Mauer 
OK, OK, hear me out here. Mauer is a lifelong Minnesotan, is beloved in the community (if not for his contract), has talked in the past about retiring a Twin and has a contract that expires after this season. It's hard to imagine the Twins actually letting him play in another uniform, particularly considering that Mauer might want to play beyond this year. But Minnesota is falling out of the playoff chase -- FanGraphs has it with only 3.0 percent odds of making the playoffs -- and this, theoretically, if Mauer really is going to retire, could be Mauer's last chance at a title. In a vacuum, it is a Bourque parallel. But in reality: The Twins aren't going to let Mauer ever wear another uniform, and he surely doesn't want to anyway.

Video: TEX@MIN: Mauer hits an RBI double to deep left field

It is also worth noting that if the Giants are teetering on the edge of contention; could a bad losing streak put, say, Evan Longoria or Andrew McCutchen on the block?

Beltre is the most obvious choice here, and it is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that whatever team trades for him immediately becomes a sentimental favorite come October. Who wouldn't want to root for Beltre?

Video: Must C Comical: Beltre's one-of-a-kind tomfoolery

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon, Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, Joe Mauer