Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 19

The big story of the week in the Chicago Cubs organization was the promotion of prized prospect Javier Baez, who appears to be slotted into the everyday second base role for the remainder of the season.

With Kyle Hendricks and Arismendy Alcantara already making a big league impact after opening the season ranked among the team's top prospects, fans are finally starting to see the fruits of the team's rebuilding efforts, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There will no doubt be at least a few more significant call-ups before the season is over, but for now, here's an updated look at the team's current top 10 prospects and how they performed at the minor league level over the past week.

This series will be updated weekly, with a stock "up," "even" or "down" indication given to each prospect based upon the direction in which his performance is trending over the past week.

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MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at the 3-Quarter Mark

After bypassing last week's Monday posting of MLB power rankings following a special edition of them immediately following the trade deadline, we've got some catching up to do.

As a result, this week's rankings will reflect not just last week, but also everything that has happened over the 10 days since the non-waiver deadline passed.

When putting together these rankings on a weekly basis, the following factors are considered:

  • Previous week's record
  • Quality of opponents
  • Key injuries/trades
  • Recent performance beyond the last week

With all of that said, here is an updated look at where all 30 MLB teams stand at the three-quarter mark of the season. Be sure to check back here every Monday morning for the most recent edition of our MLB power rankings.

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9 MLB Stars Whose Injury Returns Could Shake Up 2014 Pennant Races

The talk of the baseball world the past few weeks has been about the trade market, and understandably so, as a number of high-profile players, headlined by David Price and Jon Lester, changed teams at the deadline.

Teams can still explore trades via waivers, but there are also a number of contenders who will be getting notable in-house additions for the stretch run as key players return from injury.

What follows is a ranking of nine players who are currently sidelined who could have the biggest impact on the 2014 pennant races.

Players were ranked strictly based how much they mean to their respective teams' chances of making the playoffs and succeeding beyond that once October rolls around.

It should be noted that players injured in August were not considered for this list, so you won't see the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Anibal Sanchez or Hanley Ramirez, among others. This was strictly a look at players who have been shelved since before the trade deadline but could return to make a significant impact.

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Picking the All-Time MLB Waiver Deal Team

The majority of MLB trades go down prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but there have still been some notable moves made during the August waiver trade period.

Starting in 1986, the non-waiver trade deadline was switched from June 15 to July 31, and the August waiver period as we know it today was born.

There have been some memorable waiver trades in MLB history, including a pair of future starters being acquired as prospects in John Smoltz and Jeff Bagwell.

However, the following list focuses on players who gave their team a boost down the stretch and on into the postseason.

With that in mind, what follows is a look at the best player from each position in the history of August waiver trades, dating back to 1986. To be considered for this list, players had to be acquired by a team that reached the postseason in the year that they were traded for.

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Javier Baez Proves He’s Ready for Big MLB Stage with Game-Winning Debut Homer

There was no shortage of excitement surrounding the debut of the Chicago Cubs' top prospect, Javier Baez, and he did not disappoint, hitting his first career home run in the top of the 12th inning Tuesday night.

The 21-year-old still has a lot of work ahead of him before he becomes the superstar many have predicted he will be. However, he showed poise beyond his years and came through with what proved to be the decisive blow against Colorado Rockies left-hander Boone Logan.

The No. 9 pick in the 2011 draft, Baez is one of the last major ties to the previous front office, but he figures to be a significant piece of the puzzle for Theo Epstein and Co. as they look to put together a team that can consistently contend in the years to come.

After hitting .282/.341/.578 with 34 doubles, 37 home runs and 111 RBI between High-A and Double-A last season, many viewed Baez as one of the top prospects in the game. He was the No. 5 prospect in the game on the Baseball America Top 100, while Baseball Prospectus had him a notch higher at No. 4 overall.

The team gave him an extended look in spring training, and he wrapped up Cactus League action at 14-for-53 with three doubles and five home runs.

That included this towering blast off veteran left-hander Randy Wolf:

That performance had many calling for him to break camp with the big league club, but the team opted to send him to Triple-A to open the season, and it proved to be a necessary step in his development. Through his first 56 games, Baez hit just .217/.275/.415 with 10 doubles, nine home runs and 33 RBI while posting a 15/80 BB/K ratio in 207 at-bats.

Even with his terrific numbers in 2013, he still had a 40/147 BB/K ratio, and it was clear he needed to improve his plate discipline and contact rate before he could succeed at the big league level.

A 2-for-4 game June 15 (which included a home run) broke an 0-for-19 slump, and that proved to be a turning point in his season, as he went on an offensive tear at Triple-A after that. From that day on, Baez hit .309/.376/.619 with 14 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBI in 48 games prior to earning the call-up to Chicago.

"I've never seen anybody like Javy," said former big league star and current Iowa player/coach Manny Ramirez following Baez's call-up, via CSN Chicago. "He's a special kid. He works hard, he loves the game and I think the Cubs fans are going to love him."

There are no doubt going to be some ups and downs, and the game-winning home run helped hide what was an 0-for-5 game with three strikeouts leading up to that point. However, Baez has the tools to be an offensive force in the very near future. His top-flight bat speed has earned comparisons to Gary Sheffield:

Both players debuted around the same age and spent roughly the same amount of time in the minors, so let's see how their numbers stack up prior to being called up:

The obvious difference here is the strikeout rate of Baez, as Sheffield actually drew more walks than strikeouts during his time in the minors. He would go on to win a batting title in 1992 and regularly hit over .300 in his career.

Baez is never going to contend for a batting title, and there's a good chance he whiffs north of a 33 percent clip here early on in his big league career. But the power potential is there for him to be a consistent 30-35 home run guy in the middle of the Cubs order, and there's no reason he can't develop into a solid .270-.280 hitter in his prime.

For now, it's just a matter of him getting comfortable at the big league level over these next couple months in preparation for what will almost certainly be an everyday job in 2015.

If nothing else, Baez should help pump some life into a team that is headed for another last-place finish and give Cubs fans something to cheer about the rest of the way. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Position-by-Position Player Power Rankings, August Edition

Position-by-position MLB power rankings will once again be a staple this year, and now that we're in the month of August, it's time for another update.

My preseason rankings came out March 7, with subsequent updates coming April 17June 3July 4 and July 11.

What follows is a look at the best players at each position based on their performance this season. Past reputation and future projections mean nothing here; it's all about what these guys have done in 2014.

I have taken into account players' all-around offensive abilities, their defensive contributions and what they have meant to the success of their respective teams.

Included in my statistics is each player's Baseball-Reference wins above replacement or WAR. While WAR is a useful stat in gauging a player's value, it is not the be-all, end-all stat that some view it as. As such, do not expect this to simply be a list of the top 10 in WAR at each position.

With that said, here is a look at the best players each position has to offer here in August. Following a number of requests in the past few rankings, this time around there is a separate list for each of the three outfield positions, instead of just one bulk outfield slide.

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The 1 Waiver Trade Every MLB Contender Should Make This August

The nonwaiver trade deadline is behind us, but that doesn't mean teams can't still upgrade their roster via trade. Clubs now have until the end of August to add players via waivers and still include them on the postseason roster.

Generally the moves made at this time are small scale, but there have been some notable waiver deals over the years, most memorably the blockbuster between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox in 2012.

This year's crop of waiver trade candidates is led by the likes of Alex Rios, Adam Dunn, Aaron Hill, Bartolo Colon, John Danks and whoever the Philadelphia Phillies decide to try to move.

What follows is a look at the one player each contender should look to acquire this August, as they look to shore up their rosters for the stretch run.

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Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 18

The focus of Chicago Cubs fans in 2014 continues to be as much on cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, and Des Moines, Iowa, as it is on the city of Chicago.

That's where the team's Double-A and Triple-A affiliates reside and where a number of the team's promising young prospects are currently playing on the path to the big leagues.

With Albert Almora and Jorge Soler recently promoted and C.J. Edwards finally healthy and back pitching, each of the team's top six prospects are now playing in either Double-A or Triple-A, as the big league club is headed for an influx of high-end young talent.

So here's an updated look at the team's current top 10 prospects and how they performed at the minor league level over the past week.

This series will be updated weekly, with a stock "up," "even" or "down" indication given to each prospect based upon the direction in which his performance is trending over the past week.

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Adjusting Every MLB Team’s Offseason Goals Post-Trade Deadline

This year's MLB trade deadline not only changed the MLB landscape for the remainder of the 2014 season, but it also will have an impact on the upcoming offseason.

The biggest impact will obviously be with the Detroit Tigers and the impending free agency of Max Scherzer, who could now be headed elsewhere, with the team turning its attention to signing newly acquired David Price long term instead.

Other teams were affected by the July wheelings and dealings as well, but each team still has at least one area of focus once the offseason rolls around.

So here is a look at every MLB team's offseason goals following one of the most eventful trade deadlines in recent memory.

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How the 2014 MLB Playoff Races Have Been Reshaped Heading into August

With the trade deadline now passed and the calendar switching over to August, we have officially reached the stretch run of the 2014 MLB season.

The entire MLB landscape has been wide open this season, and after one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory, the final two months of the year should be awfully exciting.

No division lead is bigger than four games entering play Saturday, and a grand total of 21 teams are within six games of a playoff spot, as parity has certainly reigned in both leagues here in 2014.

What follows is a quick division-by-division rundown of how each division race is shaping up heading into August.

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Everything MLB Fans Need to Know About the MLB Waiver Trade Deadline

A thrilling MLB trade deadline that saw aces David Price and Jon Lester find new homes is now behind us, but that doesn't necessarily mean trade season is over.

Teams will still be able to add players through the waiver process between now and the end of the season, and there are a number of impact players who could still be moved.

Let's start by diving into the specifics of what goes into an August waiver trade, then take a look at who could potentially be dealt.

 

The Rules

  • Once the non-waiver deadline passes on July 31, no player currently on a team's 40-man roster can be traded unless they first pass through revocable waivers.
  • If a player is put on waivers and goes unclaimed for 48 hours, he is free to be traded to any team for the remainder of the season.
  • A good portion of the league will be put on waivers during this time, with the majority of them being pulled back or "revoked" once a claim is made.
  • Claim priority goes to the team in the same league as the player with the worst record. If no team claims the player from the same league, they're awarded to the team with the worst record in the other league.
  • If a player is claimed and the team is genuinely interested in trading them, the two sides then have 48 hours to come to terms on a deal. If they cannot come to terms, the player is simply pulled back off of waivers.
  • Teams can allow a waiver claim to be made with no trade involved, simply giving the player to the claiming team, often in what amounts to a salary dump. A perfect example of this being the Chicago White Sox's claim of Alex Rios from the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2009.
  • Trades can be made this way for the remainder of the regular season. However, no player acquired after Aug. 31 will be eligible to play in the postseason.

 

Notable Waiver Trades in MLB History

  • Aug. 12, 1987: Detroit Tigers acquire SP Doyle Alexander from Atlanta Braves for SP John Smoltz

Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch to help lead the Detroit Tigers to the postseason. Smoltz went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Atlanta Braves and was one of the best pitchers of his generation.

  • Aug. 30, 1990: Boston Red Sox acquire RP Larry Andersen from Houston Astros for minor league prospect 1B Jeff Bagwell

Andersen had a 1.23 ERA and 0.955 WHIP in 15 appearances with the Red Sox, helping them secure the AL East title. Bagwell finished his 15-year career with 449 home runs, 1,529 RBI and a .948 OPS that ranks 21st all-time.

  • Aug. 27, 1992: Toronto Blue Jays acquire SP David Cone from New York Mets for 2B Jeff Kent and OF Ryan Thompson

Cone was just a rental for the Blue Jays, but he made his mark, going 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA in seven starts down the stretch. He had a 3.22 ERA in four playoff starts, helping lead Toronto to a World Series title. Kent was later flipped for Carlos Baerga before putting up big numbers later on in his career.

  • Aug. 2, 2001: St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Woody Williams from San Diego Padres for OF Ray Lankford

Williams was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 11 starts after the trade and allowed one run in seven innings during his only playoff start. He was 38-21 with a 3.71 ERA with the team over the next three years, helping them to a World Series appearance in 2004.

  • Aug. 6, 2004: St. Louis Cardinals acquire RF Larry Walker from Colorado Rockies for SP Chris Narveson, SP Luis Martinez and RP Jason Burch

Walker was wrapping up a fantastic career at the age of 37 when the Cardinals acquired him in 2004, but he still had enough left in the tank to hit .280/.393/.560 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 44 games for St. Louis. He was even better in the playoffs, hitting .293 with four doubles, six home runs and 11 RBI to help the team capture the NL pennant.

 

2014 Waiver Trade Candidates

Based on their current contract situations and/or their standing on a non-contending team, the following players look to have a decent chance of being traded during the August waiver window.

Position Players

  • RF Marlon Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies
  • DH Chris Carter, Houston Astros
  • DH Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
  • 2B Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • OF Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds
  • RF Alex Rios, Texas Rangers
  • RF Nate Schierholtz, Chicago Cubs
  • OF Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins

Considering how thin the market for bats was this year, it was surprising to see the guys with the top two bats out there in Marlon Byrd and Alex Rios not find a new home. That being said, both of those guys are under contract through next season, so there is a possibility their respective teams could opt to hold on to them.

The same goes for Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill, who is owed $24 million over the next two years. Astros slugger Chris Carter is under team control through 2018, and while he's hitting just .211 with 112 strikeouts in 317 at-bats, his 21 home runs make him an interesting option.

Perhaps the most likely players to be on the move are a trio of free-agents-to-be in Nate Schierholtz, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. Dunn in particular could really help a contender, as he has an .812 OPS with 17 home runs and 44 RBI on the year.

 

Pitchers

  • SP Brett Anderson, Colorado Rockies
  • RP Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies
  • SP A.J. Burnett, Philadelphia Phillies
  • SP Bartolo Colon, New York Mets
  • SP Kevin Correia, Minnesota Twins
  • RP Neal Cotts, Texas Rangers
  • SP John Danks, Chicago White Sox
  • SP Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies
  • RP Oliver Perez, Arizona Diamondbacks

The most interesting name on the waiver market looked like it would be Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, but he left his latest start on Thursday, re-aggravating a left flexor pronator strain that sidelined him for 57 games earlier this season.

"I don’t think it’s a larger problem, I think it is just the original thing," Lee told Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It was never fully gone. I think it’s the same thing. I think it was almost gone and came back."

When asked if he though his 2014 season could be over, he responded with: "At this point that’s probably the case."

Jed Weisberger of MLB.com provided injury details and his prediction on Lee's immediate future:

Beyond Lee, the market for starters was picked fairly clean prior to the trade deadline, but there are still some options that could be put on waivers.

John Danks (two years, $28.5 million) and Bartolo Colon (one year, $11 million) both have money remaining on their contracts beyond this season, while A.J. Burnett ($15 million mutual, $7.5 million player with escalators to $12.75 million based on starts) and Brett Anderson ($12 million) both have options for next season.

Upcoming free agents Kevin Correia (4.96 ERA/4.44 FIP) and Kyle Kendrick (4.92 ERA/4.49 FIP) would be easier to move, but neither is putting up great numbers this season, so interest in them could be limited at best.

A trio of left-handed relievers top the list of potential waiver candidates among bullpen arms, and all three could provide a boost to a contender's bullpen. Neal Cotts is set to hit free agency at the end of the season, Antonio Bastardo has one year of arbitration remaining, and Oliver Perez is signed for $2.5 million next year.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 MLB Teams Stand Post-Trade Deadline

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is now behind us, and to say that Thursday was an exciting one around the league would be an understatement. 

A total of 12 trades involving 37 different players went down on the final day before the deadline, with a pair of aces in David Price and Jon Lester among the players that were on the move.

These deals no doubt shake up the MLB landscape heading into the final months of the season, so it's worth updating our MLB power rankings here after the deadline.

Any movement in these rankings is based solely on trades that have gone down since my last rankings were published on Monday and do not reflect the games that have been played since the rankings were last published.

A full update, based on the week's action, will be published in its regular Monday-morning slot.

Think of this as my last chance to reshuffle the rankings based on subjective opinion and future projection, before the stretch run and the final two months of the season.

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MLB Trade Deadline Tracker: Live Analysis and Grades for All Notable Deals

The 2014 MLB non-waiver trade deadline is now less than 36 hours away, as teams will have until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 31 to pull off a trade without having to go through waivers.

We have already seen a handful of contenders upgrade this month.

Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel joined the Oakland A's rotation, while Joe Thatcher and Huston Street solidified the Los Angeles Angels bullpen.

Jake Peavy was brought in as a replacement for the injured Matt Cain in San Francisco, and the New York Yankees added a few more pieces to the puzzle in right-hander Brandon McCarthy and third baseman Chase Headley.

Those are all significant deals, but that may wind up being just the tip of the iceberg, as there are a number of questions still to be answered here in the final days of July.

With that in mind, the following will be a one-stop shop for all of the latest rumors, trades and reaction from both the players and teams involved. I'll also be grading both sides of every deal that actually comes to pass.

 

*This tracker will be updated throughout the day on Wednesday from 9 a.m. ET to 6 p.m ET and then again on Thursday from 9 a.m. ET right up until the deadline at 4 p.m. ET.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects for Week 17

The focus of Chicago Cubs fans in 2014 continues to be as much on cities like Knoxville, Tennessee and Des Moines, Iowa, as it is on the city of Chicago.

That's where the team's Double-A and Triple-A affiliates reside and where a number of the team's promising young prospects are currently playing on the path to the big leagues.

This past week saw a pair of those top prospects take the next step in their development. On Tuesday, the team promoted Jorge Soler to Triple-A and Albert Almora to Double-A, as the two outfielders remain a big piece of the future puzzle.

So here's an updated look at the team's current top 10 prospects and how they performed at the minor league level over the past week.

This series will be updated weekly, with a stock "up," "even" or "down" indication given to each prospect based upon the direction in which his performance is trending over the past week.

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MLB Power Rankings: An Updated Look at Where All 30 Teams Stand

The MLB trade deadline is now a matter of days away, as the non-waiver deadline is officially July 31 at 4 p.m. ET.

The addition of the second wild-card spot has made things much quieter on the trade front over the past couple of years, as more teams are willing to stand pat in an effort to make a run at securing a postseason spot.

That being said, there are still a number of impact pieces on the market this year, and what happens between now and Thursday could certainly shake up the playoff races. Heading into the deadline, things are very close across the league, with as many as 19 teams still in a position to call themselves contenders.

When putting together the rankings on a weekly basis, the following factors are considered:

  • Previous week's record
  • Quality of opponents
  • Key injuries/trades
  • Recent performance beyond the last week

With all of that said, here is an updated look at where all 30 MLB teams stand at the break. Be sure to check back here every Monday morning for the most recent edition of our MLB power rankings.

Also, there will be a special edition of these power rankings this week immediately following the trade deadline passing on Thursday evening, so be sure to check that out as well to see how all of the wheeling and dealing shook up the rankings.

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Where Does the 2014 Hall of Fame Class Rank Among MLB’s Best Ever?

After 2013 saw the BBWAA elect no one to the MLB Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996 and just the third time since 1960, three players earned the nod this year.

A pair of 300-game winners in Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and one of the most feared sluggers of all time in Frank Thomas earned enshrinement in their first year on the ballot.

They will be joined by a trio of managers in Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre, who all rank in the top five all-time in wins.

There is no question this year's group of Hall of Fame inductees is great, but where does it stack up among the greatest classes of all time?

A few different factors went into making the following list:

  • Number of inductees: The 1982 class featured two of the best hitters to ever play the game in Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson. However, the lack of a third star-caliber inductee kept that class from making the cut. Others missed out for the same reason.
  • Cumulative WAR of inductees: This was not the deciding factor on where classes were ranked, but it did help narrow down the field and put together a preliminary list of the top 10.
  • Number of Top 100 players: A few months back, I put together a list of the Top 100 players in MLB history. The number of players each class had and where they fell on that list also helped play a part in refining the rankings.
  • Subjectivity: Even with stats, this was still a subjective exercise. The above factors helped narrow this list down to 10 classes, but subjectivity certainly played a role in putting the finishing touches on them.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at the 10 best MLB Hall of Fame classes of all time.

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The Best-Case Scenarios for Every MLB Team at the Trade Deadline

The 2014 MLB trade deadline is now just a week away, and while it has already been a busy trade season, there will likely still be more than few deals that go down between now and July 31.

The biggest question on the market is whether the Tampa Bay Rays will decide to sell David Price, or if their recent run of success is enough for them to hold on to their ace and try to make a run at the playoffs.

Beyond the status of Price, the Philadelphia Phillies' position as potentially aggressive sellers is a story to follow, as is the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals' pursuit of a power bat in a market that is incredibly thin on them.

That said, every team has something to do here at the deadline, whether it is a seller trying to unload some impending free agents or a contender looking to add one final piece to the bench or bullpen.

Things rarely go according to plan in July, but here is a look at each team's best-case scenario between now and the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

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The Best and Worst Trade in the History of Every MLB Team

As the 2014 MLB trade deadline draws ever closer, now seems like the perfect time to look back at some of the best and worst trades in the history of the game.

Every team has some truly memorable deals that have been made in its franchise’s history, but while some give hope for a deadline jackpot, others serve as a cautionary tale.

The game itself is so unpredictable; you never know who could turn a corner in his development and break out or fall off significantly and no longer produce as expected. That's what makes things like the trade deadline and the winter meetings such an exciting time, as you never quite know what you're going to get, even after a trade is made.

With that said, what follows is a look at the best and the worst trades in the history of each MLB team. Obviously, we have the luxury of hindsight when assessing these moves, something the respective general managers involved were not afforded.

 

*Note: This list covers each team's franchise history, not just team history, so deals for the Montreal Expos are included with the Washington Nationals, for example.

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Yankees Try to Catch Lightning in a Bottle with Chase Headley

Despite an injury-plagued first half of the season for the New York Yankees, the team is still very much in the American League East race, and it appears they will be buyers at this season's trade deadline.

The team pulled the trigger on a trade for San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley on Tuesday afternoon, sealing the first of what could be a number of upcoming deals.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to break the news, with the terms of the trade coming shortly thereafter:

The two players going the other way in the deal and mentioned only by last name are early-season hero Yangervis Solarte and High-A pitcher Rafael De Paula.

De Paula, a 23-year-old right-hander, was ranked as the Yankees' No. 15 prospect heading into the season, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

With the Padres kicking in $1 million in the deal, the Yankees will only be on the hook to pay Headley $2.97 million for the remainder of the season.

"It's bittersweet," Headley told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. "On one hand, there's not many people in the game who get to play in one organization for as long as I did. I loved every second in San Diego, all positive memories. But on the same token, I'm excited to move on to a team in a race right now."

This is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward deal, as the Yankees are hoping a change of scenery and a chance to play for a contender can awaken the player Headley was during the second half of the 2012 season.

For those unaware of his studly second-half exploits that year, they are worth recapping one more time.

After a so-so first half in which he hit .267/.368/.413 with eight home runs and 42 RBI, Headley exploded for a .308/.386/.592 line that included 23 home runs and 73 RBI in 75 games after the All-Star break.

Headley led the National League in RBI, won a Silver Slugger award and finished fifth in NL MVP voting, making him one of the most talked-about names of the offseason trade market heading into 2013.

In the end, the Padres opted against moving him or re-signing him, something they could afford to do with Headley under team control for two more seasons at that point.

Not giving him a big-money extension proved to be a brilliant move. The same can't be said for the decision not to sell high, as it may go down as one of the franchise's biggest regrets since they shipped a shortstop by the name of Ozzie Smith to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1981.

After battling injuries during spring training, Headley was never able to get things going at the plate last year. He finished the season with a .250/.347/.400 line with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 520 at-bats. The Padres decided to hold on to him this past offseason in the hopes that he could rebuild some value in a contract year.

Headley hasn't been able to increase his trade value, and the Yankees saw an opportunity to buy low.

With Alex Rodriguez suspended for the year and a thin free-agent market at third base, the team opened the year with the aforementioned Solarte seeing the bulk of playing time at the hot corner. When he inevitably cooled down, the team turned to the versatile Kelly Johnson as their primary third baseman. All told, the cumulative production at the position has not been great.

Those numbers may not seem overly terrible, but when you take away the first two months of the season in which Solarte hit .299/.369/.466 with six home runs, 26 RBI and 22 runs, the production at the position has been minimal in June and July.

On the surface, it may not seem like Headley is much of an upgrade.

The 30-year-old is hitting just .229/.296/.355 with seven home runs and 32 RBI on the year, good for an 88 OPS+. However, he is batting .323 with six extra-base hits in 15 games this month, and the move to Yankee Stadium could certainly help the switch-hitting Headley.

"I think he can deliver the long ball and I think this ballpark is more conducive to that than where he came from, but I think he's a guy who can impact you offensively with his plate discipline and his batting average," GM Brian Cashman said, via Lou DiPietro of YES Network. "Chase is a switch-hitter who can spray the ball all over the place, and that's what he's been doing; I don't see him as a big thumper, but he's an upgrade."

One would think the spacious Petco Park could be to blame for his limited production, as Cashman suggested, but he actually put up a higher OPS at home in 2013 (.763 vs. .731) and has done so again this year (.660 vs. 643).

Still, leaving the worst offense in baseball has to be a welcome move for Headley. The Yankees have not exactly lit the world on fire at the plate this year themselves, but entering play on Tuesday they have still scored 100 more runs this season than the Padres.

Even if Headley continues to be subpar at the plate, he still represents a significant upgrade for the team defensively in an infield that could certainly use the help.

Both Johnson and Solarte came up as second basemen and did an admirable job filling in, but there is little doubt Headley is a better option with the glove.

The Yankees have now acquired both Headley and right-hander Brandon McCarthy in July, and chances are they are not done dealing.

The latest rumor has them attached to Chicago White Sox left-hander, John Danks, according to Heyman. The need for starting pitching is obvious with Hiroki Kuroda the only member of the Opening Day rotation still standing.

Through it all, the Yankees are still just four games back in the AL East standings and 2.5 games back for the second wild-card spot.

If Headley can come in and make an impact anywhere near what Alfonso Soriano did when he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last July, it would go a long way toward making them serious contenders.

One thing is for sure: After spending nearly $500 million to shore up the roster this past offseason, the last thing this Yankees team wants to do is miss the postseason for a second straight season.

 

*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.

 

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10 Underrated MLB Trade Targets Teams Should Look to Acquire

Superstar players generally steal the headlines at the trade deadline, and this year is no different with guys like David Price, Cole Hamels, Ben Zobrist and Alex Rios receiving the bulk of the attention.

That being said, there are always at least a few under-the-radar moves made in July that wind up as notable differences for contenders.

The Detroit Tigers' addition of Jose Veras, the Atlanta Braves' addition of Elliot Johnson and the Tampa Bay Rays' addition of David DeJesus come to mind as significant deals from a year ago.

With this year's deadline just over a week away, here is a look at 10 underrated MLB trade targets that could make a difference down the stretch here in 2014.

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