- Jim Bowden, ESPN Insider
Baseball is witnessing the most competitive balance in more than two decades. As a result, general managers of contending teams already are preparing and targeting potential trade partners for the July 31 trade deadline. All the same, non-contenders are scouting the top prospects in the contenders’ farm system and noting their own trade targets.
For that reason, even 120 days out from the July 31 trade deadline, it isn’t at all too early to be thinking about possible trades.
Thus, here are 10 players I think will most likely be traded by July 31. Early on, GMs have identified the Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins as the four teams most likely to be quickly out of the race, which is why this list has eight players from those teams.
1. Chase Headley | 3B
After Headley’s breakout 2012 season, the Padres and Headley engaged in a few conversations about a long-term contract. However, when Headley’s representatives compared him to Ryan Zimmerman, Evan Longoria and David Wright, the conversation quickly died. The Padres felt Headley needed to show the same production for a longer period of time than just a single season to be paid in the range of Zimmerman, Wright and Longoria. And they were right. However, Headley fractured his left thumb in spring training and is out until at least mid-April. If Padres are in the pennant race in July, they’ll keep Headley and try to sign him in the offseason. However, if they’re out of it by the end of July, then a deal is a real possibility.