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Top 20 MLB Trade Candidates

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20 MLB Trade Candidates For The 2012 Off-Season

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Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

With the MLB off-season well underway, it's not surprising that there's been much attention paid to the free agent market, with big names like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke still available as weapons for hire.

It's a quick and easy way to immediately improve the roster, no doubt; the problem? Well, it's costly; bidding wars between teams for the top free agents tend to result in bad deals, and that's just not a game for every general manager in the league.

The frugal GMs know by now that the most efficient way to impact a major league club comes via the trade market. Sure, it's a more difficult road because they're playing with a different type of currency (players and prospects vs dollars); but the market is wider, and the ebb and flow of various teams' road maps to contention often means that there's bound to be someone selling – even if finding a dance partner for a trade can take some time.

Just look at the Toronto Blue Jays' Alex Anthopoulos, who filled several holes on his team with one fell swoop by taking advantage of the Miami Marlins' fire sale, acquiring several pieces of key talent without locking the team to monster contracts.

Meanwhile, someone else is getting ready to pony up some $90 million over 6 years of Anibal Sanchez. Not exactly thrifty, is it?

So for the GMs who isn't ready to spend that kind of cash, what options are left out there?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

From Cy Young winners to role players, there are certainly enough options out there on the trade market being floated around by various teams.

With that said, here are 20 players who are top trade candidates for this off-season:

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John Buck

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

John Buck just made his return to Toronto, but while he's currently expected to be the backup to JP Arencibia for the 2013 season, the looming shadow of one Travis D'Arnaud means that the Blue Jays are likely to try to move one of the three catchers to clear up the logjam at the position.

The younger Arencibia may be the more attractive trade chip, but with just a year left in his current contract, Buck, the former All-Star, seems like the natural choice - even if the team decides that D'Arnaud isn't quite ready for the bigs. There's a reason why Bobby Wilson is still on the 40-man roster, yes?

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Alex Rodriguez

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The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

It's going to take a whole lot of looking for the New York Yankees to move Alex Rodriguez's contract that'll pay the man until he's 42, but they're sure going to try.

Yes, Brian Cashman has vehemently denied that the team is looking to move A-Rod, but with rapidly diminishing returns from the 3rd baseman (there are talks of him being a full-time DH going forward), and a mandate to cut the team's operating payroll, it's difficult to imagine that we've heard the last of the trade rumors around Rodriguez this off-season.

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James Shields

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Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Tampa Bay Rays have never been afraid to trade from their bountiful pool of quality starting pitchers, and with the likes of Alex Cobb and Chris Archer both chomping at the bits to fill the back-end of the rotation, 30-year old James Shields and his increasing salary ($10.25 million in 2013, $12 million club option in 2014) could be the next starter moved – especially if the rumors of the Kansas City Royals dangling top prospect Wil Myers are to be believed.

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Chris Tillman

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Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Baltimore Orioles don't have a pitching staff with same prowess as the Rays', but with Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Brian Matusz all potentially ready to compete for the starting rotation next season, the team finds themselves with an excess of young, high-upside pitchers, and could very well deal one (or more) of them for an upgrade elsewhere.

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Chris Perez

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David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Perez has had his run-ins with his bosses when it comes to the direction of the Cleveland Indians, but that won't be the biggest reason why the team will be looking to move the arbitration-eligible closer. No, they'll look to move him because the team already has a better option waiting in the wings in the form of Vinnie Pestano, who has been the better pitcher over the last couple of seasons and is poised to take over the 9th inning in the near future.

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Shin-Soo Choo

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David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

One of the most underrated players in baseball, 30-year old Shin-Soo Choo is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, giving the Indians some onus to move arguably their most attractive trade chip for some much-needed starting pitching sooner rather than later, when the veteran outfielder may become too expensive for the team to retain.

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Elvis Andrus

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Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE

With Jurickson Profar squarely in the Texas Rangers' future plans, the team finds themselves in a very favourable situation: they can afford to move a star shortstop without taking too much of a hit. With Ian Kinsler potentially shifting to the outfield next season, the Rangers aren't desperate to move Elvis Andrus; that said, with two years remaining on his contract at a very team-friendly salary, Andrus' trade value may never be higher than it is now.

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Michael Morse

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Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Morse's future with the Washington Nationals is essentially tied to the decision of free agent Adam Laroche. With Tyler Moore, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth set to patrol the outfield for the Nats next season, Morse, an injury risk with a salary that balloons to $6.75 million in '13, could quickly find himself the odd man out on the roster - especially if the team is able to re-sign Laroche to play first base.

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Yunel Escobar

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John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

This one is easy. That reports of the Marlins shopping Yunel Escobar to other teams surfaced, before the trade was even approved, should tell you exactly how much the team thinks of their newly-acquired shortstop. Escobar and his personality issues isn't exactly a perfect fit with the Marlins, and his stay in Miami could be a very short one. Will the team find a band of misfits to take him on?

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Rick Porcello

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Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

At just 24-years old, Rick Porcello should have plenty of upside to left to show in the bigs – something that makes him an attractive trade chip for the Detroit Tigers, who are looking to improve in a couple of areas, including the outfield. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out, Porcello's ground-ball approach doesn't gel well with the Tigers' poor infield defense; that he could be a breakout pitcher in 2013 in a different park (with a different defense behind him) should make Porcello an easy sell, should the Tigers look to move him for a bat.

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Justin Upton

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Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona Diamondbacks have made Justin Upton available no less than three times over the last two seasons. The asking price has been (rightfully) absurdly high each time, but that he's been available doesn't exactly leave too many questions of what the team thinks of its young star, does it?

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Coco Crisp

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Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

With the recent acquisition of Chris Young, the Oakland Athletics officially have a logjam in the outfield, and Coco Crisp and Seth Smith are both looking like pretty good trade chips. Smith could still have a role on the Athletics as a platoon hitter, something that the team could use, given his salary. Crisp, whose salary goes up to $7 million next year, seems more like a natural target for the team to move, especially if they don't plan on using him as a starter.

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Ricky Nolasco

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

You could basically put the entire Marlins team (minus Giancarlo Stanton) in this list, but with a salary that jumps up to $11.5 million (from $9 million in '12) next season, followed by pending free-agency, Ricky Nolasco is as easy a trade target as it gets for a team looking for back-end starting pitching. Sure, David Samson says Nolasco isn't going anywhere, but since when did the words of anyone in the Marlins brass meant anything?

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Gavin Floyd

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David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

With the emergence of Jose Quintana in 2012 and Hector Santiago's conversion to starting pitcher, the Chicago White Sox find themselves with depth in starting pitching, something that they could use to fill a hole on the team elsewhere. Gavin Floyd's name has been passed around in trade rumors in the last couple of seasons; and with free agency looming after 2013, the time for the White Sox to move him may be now.

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Matt Garza

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Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago Cubs were pretty close to moving Matt Garza, before an elbow injury to their top starter derailed those plans. He's since then been given the go-ahead to resume baseball activities, and that likely means that the rebuilding Cubs squad will once again be looking to shop him to teams looking for starting pitching. Garza's trade value is slightly diminished because of the injury, but with a proven track record in both leagues as a workhorse, I'm sure there will be no shortage of teams who will be interested.

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Logan Morrison

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

More Marlins for sale! Frankly, I'm a little surprised that Logan Morrison didn't simply request a trade via Twitter when the Toronto-Miami deal went down - even Stanton didn't hold back in expressing his true feelings. Still, the talented 25-year old has had his differences with his bosses before, and even though his value is less than what it was at this time last year due to an injury-filled season, LoMo could be packaged with either of the other Marlins on this list in a trade.

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Chase Headley

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Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Chase Headley put together a breakout season with the San Diego Padres in 2012, making him one of the most-talked about trade candidates during this past season's trade deadline. He's due for a raise this off-season; and even though the Padres aren't desperate to move him, the returns on Headley (who is under team control for two more years) on the trade market could be too good to pass up, especially if San Diego can land the front-line starter that they covet – and then some.

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Joel Hanrahan

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Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The situation with the Pittsburgh Pirates and their closer, as is the case with most small market teams, comes down to dollars. Joel Hanrahan, who has put together two solid seasons as the closer, will be a free agent after 2013, at which point his $4.1 million salary in '13 will balloon to a rate that will be beyond what the Pirates can offer. MLB teams tend to go nuts over closers, with reports of a team offering a pair of major league-ready bats for Hanrahan as recently as this past season's trade deadline. The Pirates will likely look to cash in on Hanrahan's value at some point - sooner rather than later.

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Jed Lowrie

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Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Talented but oft-injured, Jed Lowrie is arguably the best player besides Jose Altuve on the current Houston Astros roster, and was a prime trade chip (with the Tigers being particularly interested) before an injury derailed his season – and Houston's plans to flip him for a pitcher. The Astros are still hurting in the starting pitching department, and with Tyler Greene ready to fill in at short, Lowrie could easily be moved to a team looking for a good middle-infielder with some pop. Who knows, maybe the Tigers are still interested?

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RA Dickey

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Do the New York Mets extend their Cy Young winner, or do they trade him? It's one of the team's biggest dilemmas going, with good reasons to go either way. I look at the situation in terms of risk/reward: with a salary of just $5 million in 2013, R.A. Dickey would be a bargain if he even comes close to replicating the numbers he had in '12 – which makes his trade value higher than it's ever been. It's something that's atypical of 38-year old pitchers, but Dickey has been an exception to the rule. Do the Mets risk that value potentially plummeting in 2013? With Zach Wheeler waiting for his shot at the bigs? I wouldn't.

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