Five players most likely to be traded
Latos, Aramis, Harang, Papelbon, Lohse could be on new teams by Trade Deadline
Baseball fans risk a lot by blinking around this time of year -- it's one of the season's most exciting and interesting stretches.
That's right, folks. It's trade-rumor season. Most clubs are in the thick of postseason contention, as the second Wild Cards have created near-unprecedented parity.
Many player-movement rumors will come and go in the next few weeks, and if I had to pick five players who I think are most likely to be wearing a new uniform before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, these would be them.
Mat Latos, RHP, Marlins: An impending free agent, the Miami hurler has had moments of solid performance along with some struggles. With Jose Fernandez now back in the fold following an injury, the Marlins will work hard to recoup the type of good, young talent that they lost to land Latos during the offseason.
Whoever acquires Latos will be buying upside at a reasonable cost and hoping for sustained health.
Potential acquiring clubs: Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Cubs, Dodgers
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Brewers: A veteran righty with a powerful swing, A-Ram is the perfect complement to a lineup dominated by lefties.
A handful of clubs will seriously consider Ramirez, hoping he benefits from a move to a winning situation.
Potential acquiring clubs: Indians, Mets, Angels
Aaron Harang, RHP, Phillies: After kicking off the year in strong fashion (2.02 ERA, 1.00 WHIP during April and May), the veteran right-hander has struggled since the start of June (8.31 ERA, 1.73 WHIP).
But recent lull aside, no one can question Harang's ability to provide experience and quality innings to a contender at a reasonable cost.
Potential acquiring clubs: Blue Jays, Yankees, Royals, Tigers, Astros, Cardinals
Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Phillies: Every good team recognizes the importance of a strong bullpen during a pennant race. So, on talent alone, Papelbon would be an attractive buy for almost every contender.
The chief concern, however, is the salary Papelbon would be owed for the remainder of the season and in 2016, for which he has a likely attainable vesting option. To make a trade more palatable, the Phillies could eat some of the top-tier closer's salary.
Potential acquiring clubs: Blue Jays, Rangers, Mariners, Cubs
Kyle Lohse, RHP, Brewers: You'll notice two Phillies and two Brewers on this list, as those are two of the few true rebuilding clubs in the league right now.
Lohse, a veteran right-hander, could be asked to play a complementary rotation role for a new team this summer. The 36-year-old has certainly struggled so far this season (6.24 ERA, 1.38 WHIP in 17 starts), but he unquestionably possesses two valuable intangibles: pennant-race experience and a positive clubhouse presence on days he isn't on the mound.
Potential acquiring clubs: Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers