By SAM SPIEGELMAN
Summer is here, meaning pennant races are heating up and contending teams are beginning to look to add the right pieces.
This season, it seems as if there are truly difference-making players who are or could be on the trading block, including front of the rotation type of arms and middle of the lineup bats.
Here are the five players who could be changing uniforms as the MLB trade deadline approaches.
1. Jeff Samardzija
The rumor mill hasn't stopped churning out trade scenarios for the Chicago Cubs ace since he was winless with the league's best ERA. Samardzija has reportedly been offered - and subsequently declined - an extension offered by the Cubs.
The move likely means that Samardzija doesn't believe the organization can turn things around and contend in the near future, and if the Cubs don't think he'll re-sign with the team they should try and deal him to get something in return for him.
The AL East has shown interest in Samardzija, particularly the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. As have the San Francisco Giants. It wouldn't surprise us to see Samardzija pitching in a Game 1 or 2 in the postseason wearing one of those jerseys.
2. David Price
Price's name is seemingly mentioned in trade rumors day in and day out. The Tampa Bay Rays' longtime ace needs to get paid, and the Rays likely won't be the team to pay him.
The Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, Blue Jays and Yankees have all put their name in the hat for Price. The question is which team has the most appealing prospects to offer Tampa.
My gut tells me the Yankees have been waiting for Price to be available for years. He's dominated the Bombers for years, and the Yankees have so many injuries up and down their rotation, they might need to pull the trigger. Plus, they can afford to dish Price a new deal and have the young talent to offer the Rays. It just makes sense.
3. Chase Headley
Like Samardzija, Headley has rejected the San Diego Padres' offer for a new deal, meaning he wants out. And while he isn't the superstar-type prospect he looked to be in the second half of the 2012 season, he could still be a very valuable asset for a contending club.
It's actually a pretty good spot to be in for Headley. If he impressed with his new team, it could land him a new deal as a free agent this winter. It'll be easier to hit when he's out of Petco Park.
Again, consider the Yankees a potential landing spot, and maybe the Seattle Mariners, who could use an offensive boost.
4. Ben Zobrist
The do-it-all infielder has struggled thus far in Tampa, but he will likely have a chance to have a strong second half with another club.
The Giants, Braves and Cincinnati Reds could be in the mix for Zobrist, as well as the Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers and Mariners.
The interesting part of this is how each team views Zobrist - a first baseman, outfielder, shortstop or second baseman. He's not only going to offer an offensive boost, but could fill multiple fielding voids.
5. Chase Utley
It'll be a sad day in Philly when their longtime star is dealt out of town, but it seems as if the Phillies are about to have a fire-sale of sorts.
Utley, along with Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, are all trading chips. Utley has been mentioned as a target for perhaps the Athletics or Giants.
Cubs, Orioles have mutual interest in trade for ace
Rays listening to offers for Price
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