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Gray moves to top of Trade Deadline rankings

June 2, 2017

Our first Trade Deadline Power Rankings for June isn't as notable for the names on the list as much as it is for those that are nowhere to be found.For the first time since early April, no member of the Blue Jays appears in our rankings -- a sign that

Our first Trade Deadline Power Rankings for June isn't as notable for the names on the list as much as it is for those that are nowhere to be found.
For the first time since early April, no member of the Blue Jays appears in our rankings -- a sign that Toronto's season has turned around in a major way.
Francisco Liriano, Jose Bautista, Marco Estrada and Josh Donaldson have each appeared here during the first four installments, but the Blue Jays' red-hot month -- Toronto went 20-10 from April 29-May 31 -- has them flirting with the .500 mark after a dreadful 6-17 start.
Even after Thursday night's lopsided loss to the Yankees, the Blue Jays sit only 6 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East. Some industry insiders believe that with their rotation healthy once again and both Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki back in the lineup following their respective stint on the disabled list, it's not crazy to think Toronto will be the biggest threat to New York in the division.
"The Blue Jays are the most complete team in the division," one team executive said. "The fact that they've hung around in that race after the way they started, they're going to be dangerous."
So while teams such as the Royals, Phillies, Marlins, Giants and Padres might be formulating their plans to sell off pieces at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Blue Jays may finally have some other things in mind as the season enters its third month.
Here's our latest look at who could be headed elsewhere in our fifth edition of's Trade Deadline Power Rankings.
1. Sonny Gray, RHP, Athletics
Contract: $3.575 million (2017); arbitration-eligible in '18-19
Last ranking: 9
Gray was obviously inspired by his appearance on the last rankings, posting his best start of the season on May 24, when he allowed one run and fanned 11 in seven innings against the Marlins. The right-hander was roughed up in Cleveland during his latest outing, but he showed enough in his six May starts for teams around the league to be intrigued. With two-plus seasons of team control left, Gray figures to be a very attractive trade candidate -- and the Athletics have a history of unloading players entering their final two years of arbitration eligibility.
2. Pat Neshek, RHP, Phillies
Contract: $6.5 million (2017)
Last ranking: Not ranked
Neshek becomes the first reliever not named Player Page for David Robertson to rank this high, though that's no slight to the White Sox closer. The 36-year-old Neshek is having a phenomenal season, posting a 0.93 ERA in his first 21 outings. That hasn't helped the Phillies in the standings, however. After opening with a surprising 11-9 start, Philadelphia is 6-25 over its past 31 games, leaving the Phils 15 1/2 games out of first place and 14 games out of a Natonal League Wild Card spot. Neshek, who will be a free agent after the season, should help a contender in the bullpen in the near future.

3. Johnny Cueto, RHP, Giants
Contract: $21 million (2017), $21 million ('18), $21 million ('19), $21 million ('20), $21 million ('21), $22 million option ('22); Can opt out of contract at end of '17 season
Last ranking: 1
Cueto bounced back from a pair of mediocre starts by holding the Braves to one run over six innings on Sunday. The talented righty pitched to a 3.83 ERA in six May starts, and with the Giants floundering in the basement of the NL West, San Francisco could begin looking for a trade partner before too long. Cueto's deal, which allows him to opt out at the end of the season, could hinder the package the Giants get back for him -- though they would still get more than the Draft pick they'd receive if he opts out and signs elsewhere.
4. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Phillies
Contract: $17.2 million (2017)
Last ranking: 4
Hellickson remains in the No. 4 spot despite a pair of poor starts to wrap up a bad month. After posting a 1.80 ERA in five April starts, the right-hander went 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six May outings. But as noted above, the Phillies are going nowhere fast, making them one of the most likely teams to start selling off pieces early.
5. Robertson, RHP, White Sox
Contract: $12 million (2017); $13 million ('18)
Last ranking: 3
Robertson has done nothing to hurt his value, allowing just two earned runs in nine May appearances for a 1.80 ERA. He only had three saves to show for his efforts thanks to Chicago's 11-18 record, but any team seeking a late-inning reliever would have to be interested in Robertson. The emergence of Koda Glover as the Nationals' closer could take away a team that seemed to be a natural fit for Robertson, though Washington could still be interested in the 32-year-old right-hander.

6. Clayton Richard, LHP, Padres
Contract: $1.75 million (2017)
Last ranking: Not ranked
The Padres have been battling the Giants for last place in the NL West, but unlike San Francisco, there's no ace for San Diego general manager A.J. Preller to dangle on the market. Richard has been the closest such thing, posting a solid 3.54 ERA in his past four starts, including a seven-inning, one-run win over Texas, and a dominant complete-game victory against Arizona. For a team seeking rotation depth at a reasonable price, Richard fits the bill.
7. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals
Contract: $11 million (2017)
Last ranking: Not ranked
Cain replaces teammate Eric Hosmer on the list, as more teams figure to be on the market for a defensive-minded center fielder who can inflict damage at the plate, too. Cain, Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas could all be on the move before the Deadline, as all will be free agents at the end of the season. Washington, which is without Adam Eaton for the rest of the season, could be a good fit for Cain.

8. Jay Bruce, OF, Mets
Contract: $13 million (2017)
Last ranking: 2
Despite playing about .500 ball over the past two weeks, the Mets continue to trail by a wide margin in both the NL East and Wild Card races. They're unlikely to go into full-on fire-sale mode, but with Michael Conforto emerging as the team's best offensive player and Yoenis Cespedes on his way back from the DL, general manager Sandy Alderson could shop Bruce, who has 12 homers, 35 RBIs and an .818 OPS, to fill one of their pitching holes.
9. Jaime Garcia, LHP, Braves
Contract: $12 million (2017)
Last ranking: Not ranked
The Braves have opened the season with two losing months, putting them in the same huge hole that every NL East team located outside of Washington is already facing. Atlanta has nine players who can be a free agent after the season, so any of them could be shipped out between now and July 31. Garcia has a 3.18 ERA through his first 10 starts, and he has been brilliant of late, allowing only one earned run over 21 2/3 innings (0.42 ERA) in his past three outings.
10. Andrew McCutchen
Contract: $14 million (2017); team option for $14.5 million for '18 with $1 million buyout
Last ranking: Not ranked
McCutchen makes his second appearance on the list this season as the last-place Pirates try to figure out their plan for the summer. With Jungho Kang unlikely to join them any time soon, Starling Marte only halfway through his PED suspension and Jameson Taillon still out following last month's testicular cancer surgery, Pittsburgh's season is headed in the wrong direction. McCutchen finished May with a seven-game hitting streak, batting .391 during that stretch. Perhaps a change of scenery would energize the 30-year-old even further.
Dropped from last week's rankings: Trevor Cahill, Brad Ziegler, Hosmer, Estrada, Jose Quintana

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined as a reporter in 2001.