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MLB Skinny: Trade market snapshot

There's three weeks left until the MLB trade deadline. It's the fantasy baseball equivalent of happy hour. Rumors are cheap and easy to consume during this window of the season, and most of us (myself included) can't get enough of it.

Over the next 20-plus days, names are going to fly in from all directions in regards to trade rumors. And I figured, since the Skinny will be taking a mid-summer break next week in line with the All-Star game hiatus, I'd offer up an unofficial trade market snapshot of the names that you can expect to figure most prominently in swap talk the next few weeks.

Of course, as you probably know, Cliff Lee(notes) is the big ticket item on this year's market, and the deal that ultimately gets brokered for his services will surely start a domino effect of deals as contenders scramble to keep pace. And I'd be surprised if Lee is still on the Mariners by the time the Skinny returns on July 19.

Instead of the usual bullets for each position listed below save the soul-sucking catcher spot, I'm offering up five guys that could be dealt in the coming weeks. They are ranked based on a combination of the likelihood they'll be dealt and how much of an impact a potential move would have in fantasy leagues.

Alright, let the speculation begin.

MIDDLE INFIELD

Here's my top 5 names that could be dealt among the MI-eligible crowd:
1. Stephen Drew(notes) (DET rumored to be seriously interested, but not clear if ARI fire-sale is still moving forward after GM firing)
2. Kelly Johnson(notes) (Some contenders have a 2B need, but they may be scared off by Johnson's extreme hot/cold nature)
3. Jose Lopez(notes) (Doesn't fit the defensive/OBP-minded movement in SEA; wouldn't take a top prospect to land him)
4. Yunel Escobar(notes) (There's high interest in him and ATL could play Omar Infante(notes) at SS regularly, but would have to be very attractive offer)
5. Miguel Tejada(notes) (Any BAL veteran can be had, and PHI and MIN have a big need)

Others to watch: Dan Uggla(notes), Jhonny Peralta(notes), Ryan Theriot(notes), Cristian Guzman(notes), Reid Brignac(notes)

Here's my top 5 of the 15-percent (and under) crowd:
1. Carlos Guillen(notes) (Hitting directly behind three players with OBPs currently greater than .385)
5. Neil Walker(notes) (Back between Tabata and McCutchen in the order after sitting a week with a concussion)
2. Cliff Pennington(notes) (No. 69 player in Y! for the past month)
3. Jason Donald(notes) (.324 BA for past month; 11 doubles since May 24 ranks in top 20 for that span)
4. Jonathan Herrera(notes) (One of many MI stopgaps in play at the moment, but he gets nod for regular (and productive) play atop Rockies order)

CORNER INFIELD

Here's my top 5 names that could be dealt among the CI-eligible crowd:
1. Adam Dunn(notes) (Soon-to-be free agent is reportedly atop the Angels' wish list)
2. Lance Berkman(notes) (Yankees, Rays, Angels are realistic suitors)
3. Adam LaRoche(notes) (He's very available, and .909 second-half OPS mark makes him very attractive)
4. Derrek Lee(notes) (Sounds like he's available, but not sure who Cubs would replace him with)
5. Prince Fielder(notes) (Brewers will want a king's ransom, which makes a deal a long shot)

Others to watch: Jorge Cantu(notes), Aramis Ramirez(notes), Ty Wigginton(notes), Russell Branyan(notes), Lyle Overbay(notes), Chris Davis(notes)

Here's my top 5 of the 15-percent (and under) crowd:
1. Justin Smoak(notes) (Has some hits stored up coming off 0-for-25 slump)
2. Russell Branyan (34 HR, 85 RBIs in past 123 games with SEA)
3. Pedro Alvarez(notes) (After brutal start, riding seven-game hitting streak, including two home runs)
4. Brandon Inge(notes) (Red hot to open July and ranks No. 18 in MLB with 21 doubles)
5. Chris Johnson(notes) (.355 in first 19 games, but strictly a short-leash pickup)

OUTFIELD

Here's my top 5 names that could be dealt among the OF-eligible crowd:
1. David DeJesus(notes) (Proven ability to make consistently solid contact and play all OF spots competently is highly coveted)
2. Cody Ross(notes) (Versatile OF like DeJesus, but with more power and less OBP skill)
3. Jose Guillen(notes) (KC would love to unload him and Guillen showing that he has plenty left to offer)
4. Josh Willingham(notes) (Seems like a good chance that at least Dunn or Willingham will be moved, if not both)
5. Jayson Werth(notes) (Poor showing vs. ATL, CIN and STL in 10 of next 14 could turn PHI from buyers to sellers)

Others to watch: B.J. Upton(notes), Corey Hart(notes), Austin Kearns(notes), Luke Scott(notes), Alfonso Soriano(notes), Kosuke Fukudome(notes)

Here's my top 5 of the 15-percent (and under) crowd:
1. Dexter Fowler(notes) (Adjustments made at Triple-A are paying being dividends for COL since recall)
2. Carlos Guillen (See above)
3. Pat Burrell(notes)(Back in NL where he hit 29-plus home runs five times – .943 OPS in first 27 games with SF)
5. Corey Patterson(notes) (.341 BA and MLB-leading 11 SB in past month)
4. Tyler Colvin(notes) (Cubs reportedly looking to deal Fukudome and Soriano, so playing time could be non-issue in second half)

STARTING PITCHER

Here's my top 5 names that could be dealt among the SP crowd:
1. Cliff Lee (MIN, CIN, TEX, NYM among current favorites, but no contender should be ruled out)
2. Roy Oswalt(notes) (Once Lee moves, count on the Oswalt market to heat up quickly)
3. Dan Haren(notes) (Very attractive given a few years left on a reasonable contract)
4. Ted Lilly(notes) (NYM rumored to be very interested; Cubs may deal Lilly then try to re-sign him in offseason)
5. Fausto Carmona(notes) (He could be a consolation prize for teams like MIN and NYM)

Others to watch: Ricky Nolasco(notes), Brett Myers(notes), Jake Westbrook(notes), Edwin Jackson(notes)

Here's my top 5 of the 50-percent (and under) crowd:
1. Max Scherzer(notes) (Since being recalled: 4-2, 2.62 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 56 K, 44.2 IP)
2. Brandon Morrow(notes) (Quality start in six of past seven, 42/13 K-to-BB ratio in that span)
3. Kris Medlen(notes) (WHIP under 1.00 over the past month)
4. Jonathon Niese(notes) (Six-plus innings, one earned run or less in four of past six starts)
5. Jason Hammel(notes) (Top 15 fantasy starter since May 27)

CATCHER

I was quick to jump on Jake Fox(notes) in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League after he hit two home runs for Baltimore this past weekend. Because of his versatility and Baltimore's expected veteran purge in the coming weeks, Fox should find his way into the lineup often in the second half. I cut loose A.J. Pierzynski(notes) for Fox, who posted a 1.034 OPS in 99 Triple-A games and has 15 home runs in 345 at bats in the majors.

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