MLB Trade Rumors: Closers On The Move??

With the Nate McLouth to the Braves trade last week, many MLB GMs are guaging the trade market for areas of need right now. And as the dog days of summer approach, GMs are looking to strengthen their bullpens. And right now there are plenty of teams that need the bullpen help.

Yesterday, SI.com's Jon Heyman floated some rumors that a few closers could become available soon. They include a few closers we have mentioned here on Faketeams before: Huston Street, Latroy Hawkins, Jose Valverde, and Chad Qualls.

Which teams are in the market for a closer or setup man? Just look at the standing and any team that is leading their division or in the wildcard hunt would love to trade for one of these pitchers. Dodgers? With the Dodgers starters not pitching past the 5th or 6th inning of late, absolutely. Phillies? Yep-they don't know how long Lidge will be out. Mets? Sure-J.J. Putz is out for two months, and Bobby Parnell is not proven yet. Yankees? Yes. Tampa Bay? Toronto? Detroit? Texas? Milwaukee? All a resounding yes.

For roto owners, you might want to start thinking about who will replace these closers should they be traded. Should Dan O'Dowd deal Street, he can turn to former closer Manny Corpas who has pitched very well of late.

And Josh Byrnes knows the value of striking early and trading a solid closer as he traded Jose Valverde to Houston a few years ago for a nice return. Should Byrnes deal Qualls, should he ever get healthy, he can turn to Tony Pena, or 2007 draft pick Daniel Schlereth who could be ready to close in the majors in the next month or two.

As for Houston, I think they may wait till July 31st to decide whether they are buyers or sellers as they are only 6 games out in a tight NL Central division. Houston is known to be a second-half team, but should they not get their act together, GM Ed Wade will have no trouble dealing current closer, and soon to be set up man, LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins has saved 8 games and struck out a hitter per inning while filling in for injured closer Jose Valverde.

Valverde may be more difficult to deal as he commands a heftier salary. But should Wade go crazy and trade both Hawkins and Valverde, he can turn to Felipe Paulino who has struck out 37 batters in 43 innings as a starter and a reliever. Wade could also give prospect Bud Norris a look as his closer, as he has struck out 66 batters in 65 innings at AAA Round Rock as a starter.

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