We're still a few months off from trade rumors gaining any real traction, but that hasn't stopped ESPN's Buster Olney (insider req'd) from speculating about which guys might end up on the block this summer. Olney mentions several names that have been drifting around the rumor mill for a while -- like David Price and Matt Garza -- but also throws two other names into the mix: Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Indians closer Chris Perez.
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Utley, 34, is is the final year of his seven-year contract with the Phillies, and is off to a great start. The veteran is batting .308/.353/.551 with four big flies in 85 plate appearances and has played in all 22 of his team's games, giving a strong indication that he's operating at 100 percent for the first time since 2009.
Olney posits that the Phillies "won't likely trade him" because the team is still in 'win now' mode, but if things get bad enough by the All-Star break then maybe "rebuild" will no longer be a four-letter word to Ruben Amaro and company. Utley holds a limited no-trade clause, but it's not known whether the Orioles or Royals, the two destinations that make the most sense right now, are on that list.
Perez's name surfaced on the rumor mill from time to time over the winter, but nothing came of it. Given the very thin trade market in play for relievers now, however, Olney believes that Perez's name could resurface in the coming months and bring the Tribe a nice return.
The right-hander is also off to a fantastic start this year -- a 1.29 ERA in 7.0 innings -- and the Indians have Vinnie Pestano waiting in the wings to take over as closer, so Cleveland could move Perez with minimal fallout even if they're in the playoff hunt come July.