LHP COLE HAMELS
Philadelphia is buried in the NL East and must act accordingly. The team has made noise about re-signing Hamels, a free agent at the end of the season, but doing so would mean paying in the neighborhood of $70 million for three starting pitchers in 2013. It's time to start over, and dealing Hamels for a package centered on the 23-year-old Olt—a righthanded hitter with power and OBP skills—would put the talent-thin organization back on the right track. Even without the ability to claim compensation picks for Hamels if he signs elsewhere this winter, Texas has every reason to upgrade its rotation in an effort to win its first championship.
3B MIKE OLT, LHP CHAD BELL, CF JULIO BORBON
RF HUNTER PENCE
July 23, 2012
Pence isn't a free agent until after 2013, and at age 29 he's what amounts to a youth movement in Philly. Nevertheless, he—along with centerfielder Shane Victorino—should be moved. The surprising Pirates have outscored their opponents and are getting good work from the top of the rotation, where James McDonald and A.J. Burnett are striking out batters and providing innings. Pittsburgh also has an MVP candidate in breakout star Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has carried the offense—the rest of the Pirates have a .284 OBP—and he needs help. Pence isn't having his best season (.278/.344/.477) but would still be a big upgrade over the disaster than has been Pittsburgh's rightfielders (.261/.299/.434 combined).
CF STARLING MARTE
RHP RYAN DEMPSTER
Dempster is having the best season of his career at the best time for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who needs to fill the talent coffers of his new employer. Dempster, who has an MLB-leading 1.86 ERA, is a less-expensive option for teams unwilling to pay in talent for Hamels or Zack Greinke—he's a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. He's an excellent fit in Boston, which has used a patchwork of arms at the back of the rotation. Don't discount the relationship between these two front offices. Epstein took Owens, who's at Class A, as a supplemental first-round pick in 2011, Epstein's last year as Boston's G.M.
LHP HENRY OWENS
OF CARLOS QUENTIN
Teams looking for offensive help have limited options—which puts San Diego, with Quentin and third baseman Chase Headley, in an enviable position. Quentin would be best served by returning to the AL, where the righthanded slugger won't risk injury and embarrassment in the outfield. Tampa Bay, one of the worst teams against lefthanded pitching, would be a good landing spot: Quentin can DH, and the Rays can benefit from his career .458 slugging percentage against southpaws. The Rays have pitching depth to deal, and the Padres, who have a deep minor league system, can help Archer and Torres reestablish themselves as prospects. Both have struggled to throw strikes at Triple A this season.
RHP CHRIS ARCHER, LHP ALEX TORRES
2B-SS MARCO SCUTARO
Detroit's defense is the worst in the AL, the biggest reason why its staff leads the league in strikeouts but is eighth in runs allowed and 11th in hits allowed. Scutaro would be an upgrade over second baseman Ramon Santiago, providing doubles power and some OBP at the plate and a solid glove in the field. He would, in fact, be the only good defender in the team's infield, a welcome sight for struggling starters Rick Porcello (128 hits allowed in 96 2/3 innings) and Doug Fister (76 in 67 2/3). Oliver is a former top prospect, still just 24, who has stalled at Triple A. He'd be a change-of-scenery pickup for Colorado, which has to take some fliers to improve the worst pitching staff in baseball.
LHP ANDREW OLIVER