Bold predictions as Trade Deadline nears
The best trades are the ones you simply don't see coming. That megadeal in which the Red Sox sent more than $250 million in salaries to the Dodgers two summers ago was a stunner, as was the swap that sent Prince Fielder to Texas and Ian Kinsler to Detroit last winter.
Maybe another blockbuster will blindside us between now and Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
In the meantime, our MLB.com analysts will attempt to brace you for some big barters by each making one bold prediction for what remains in this segment of the swapping season.
Anthony Castrovince: Jon Lester to the Pirates
Due to valid concerns about the Brewers' staying power, the Cardinals' offense and health and the Reds' injury-aided second-half sputter, the National League Central is there for the taking. This is the Pirates' window, and this is a doable move that would make them a legitimate October threat. With prospects Josh Bell, Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez in the Minors behind Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte (all of whom are under control through at least 2018), the Buccos have depth at the very spot Boston desperately needs to augment -- outfield. And because the Red Sox's extension offers to Lester went nowhere, they have every incentive to get value for him now, whether or not they make another, more earnest, attempt to re-sign him in the winter.
Paul Hagen: Phillies keep chips
The Phillies may have a clearance sale. Almost everybody's available except Cole Hamels and Chase Utley, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would have to listen if the price was right on either. But the guess here is that the team will show up on Aug. 1 with virtually the same team it has now. The problem is that all of their trade chips have serious strings attached. Jimmy Rollins and Utley have full no-trade protection and don't seem inclined to waive it. Closer Jonathan Papelbon makes too much money. A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd have limited no-trade clauses. Cliff Lee hasn't pitched well since coming off the disabled list. It wouldn't be surprising if the biggest move the Phillies make is trading setup reliever Antonio Bastardo.
Richard Justice: Troy Tulowitzki to the Mets
The Rockies are headed toward a fourth straight losing season, so why not see what they can get for their best player? At 29, Tulowitzki may never have higher trade value. The Mets are one of the few teams with the Minor League depth to swing such a deal. Let's say they offer a package of young players that includes right-hander Noah Syndergaard. Suddenly, the Rockies could put him in a projected rotation with Jon Gray and Eddie Butler. It could be one of the best in the game. Tulowitzki would be a huge get for the Mets. He would shore up their weakest position and give them another star-caliber player to go along with David Wright.
Doug Miller: Lester to the Mariners
Seattle, struggling offensively but still in the American League Wild Card race, will pull a slightly unexpected maneuver by trading for Lester, a Washington native, banking on the left-hander to strengthen an already potent starting rotation that includes Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Seattle will hope to get gem after gem from these horses down the stretch, qualify for the AL Wild Card Game and get one of its three aces on the hill for that pivotal start. The Mariners will hope for just enough run support to take their chances with this formidable staff.
Tracy Ringolsby: Hamels to the Dodgers
The Phillies need a quick influx of talent to start rebuilding. Hamels doesn't just give the Dodgers a needed rotation addition for the next two months, but for the next four seasons. He's signed through 2018 for $22.5 million per year. The Dodgers haven't spent as much as they have just to be eliminated from the postseason. Hamels is only 5-5 in 18 starts this year, but he's averaged better than 6 2/3 innings per start and has a 2.72 ERA, indicating he's healthy and doing his job when he takes the mound.
Lyle Spencer: Utley to the Giants
The Giants have a glaring need at second base, and if Utley can be had, he's the best and most logical candidate. Aaron Hill of the D-backs would be easier to land for prospects and would also be a good fit, given his offensive capabilities, solid defense and familiarity with the NL West. Both players would be seamless fits in San Francisco's clubhouse and lineup.
Phil Rogers: Lester, Miller to Jays
Jon Lester and Andrew Miller from the Red Sox to the Blue Jays for Drew Hutchison or Aaron Sanchez and a package of prospects. It used to be considered bad business to trade within your division but those days are going away. The thought now is to get the best deal, period. This trade gives the Blue Jays a better chance to advance to the postseason and the No. 1 starter to help them win a Wild Card Game, if they have to play one. It could be a real coup for the Red Sox if they double-back in December to re-sign Lester.