Trade deadline preview: Sellers, buyers & top players on market

(L-R) The Rays' David Price, the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and the Padres' Chase Headley might be moving soon. 

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The trade deadline is July 31, so expect the winds of trade rumors to pick up.

The buyers far outnumber those interested in moving the present for the future. These four teams seem like the most likely to make moves. (All team win-loss record through Saturday, June 28).

No one can say whether Towers or Tony La Russa will make the decisions for the D-backs. This makes Arizona the biggest wild card among the sellers. The D-backs should anticipate calls on impending free agents Brandon McCarthy and Joe Thatcher. Should Towers and/or La Russa get creative, they could also test the waters on infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado; those two have multi-year deals, however, which could cause more complications for the D-backs.

While the Cubs roster continues to turn over, Hoyer has authored a predictable trend: he’s traded multiple starting pitchers in each of his first two seasons in charge. Bet on that streak continuing, with both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel finding new homes before the deadline passes. Beyond those two, expect Hoyer to peddle Nate Schierholtz, Emilio Bonifacio and Darwin Barney; the first two of whom are on expiring contracts.

The Padres looked like sellers before Josh Byrnes was fired, and there’s no telling whether the change at GM will cause them to be more or less aggressive in stripping down. Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit appear to be the top relief arms available, while soon-to-be free agents Chase Headley and Chris Denorfia ought to draw interest. If the Padres get super-aggressive, they could move Ian Kennedy and Carlos Quentin.

The deadline’s most surprising seller, Tampa Bay entered 2014 favored by many to win the World Series. Injuries and underperformance have instead relegated the Rays to the cellar, where they haven’t spent much time since 2007. They appear ready to move David Price, the market’s top player, but Friedman’s willingness to shed Ben Zobrist (or others) is unclear. Because the Rays are neither rebuilding nor tanking, Friedman could hold onto the rest of his roster and try again in 2015. One aspect to consider: Juan Carlos Oviedo is the only Rays player scheduled to become a free agent.

More than half the 30 major-league clubs are in playoff contenders, so limiting the scope to four teams isn’t going to cover every team likely to add parts. Still, these four seem like the most likely to do something.

The Yankees are guaranteed a place in trade rumors whenever they’re in the playoff hunt. Realistically, though, Cashman’s problems will be solved with better internal play — particularly from offseason additions like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Derek Jeter isn’t getting benched or replaced, so the two spots in the lineup where the Yankees could shop for external upgrades are second base and right field. Cashman figures to troll the starting pitcher market as well.

Sabean has never been a stranger to making a bold move, and the Giants’ slight lead over the Dodgers is as good of a reason as any to go for it. The Giants have Marco Scutaro on the way back, so they might pass on second-base solutions. Sabean seems more likely to pursue an upgrade in the rotation. It’s not clear that the Giants have the prospect ammunition to net the big dogs, however.

The expectation is the Mariners, who might or might not have chased David Price during the winter, will look for help in the lineup and rotation. Zduriencik should have his sights set on an outfielder, at minimum, given the M’s lackluster production. Nick Franklin’s name is going to come up, though there’s no telling anymore what his value is around the league or within the Seattle front office.

After missing on Ervin Santana (and the rest of the free-agent pitching class) during the offseason, expect Anthopoulos to find an arm at the deadline. Toronto could also look to upgrade at the keystone, where they’ve dealt with injuries and poor performance. The question then is how Anthopoulos will acquire these upgrades. His farm system’s strength is in the lower minors, which means Aaron Sanchez is the club’s top trade chip in more than one way.

The nine players most likely to pop up in rumors, along with Randy the Random Number Generator’s predictions (limited to teams with better than 15 percent playoff odds).

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