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2013 MLB Trade Deadline Rumors: Yankees, Hughes, Chamberlain

Joba Chamberlain - Phi Hughes
Joba Chamberlain - Phi Hughes

Feb 12, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; From left New York Yankees pitchers Joba Chamberlain , CC Sabathia , pitching coach Larry Rothschild , and pitcher Phil Hughes and Clay Rapada work out during spring training at Steinbrenner Field. John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

With teams preparing to make moves before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, the New York Yankees aren’t selling off their team just yet. At 48-42, the Yanks are in fourth place in the difficult American League East Division. At only six games out heading into Wednesday, the club still believes they can make a run at the playoffs. They may not catch the division leading Red Sox, but are only 2 ½ games out of a Wild Card position.

Even though New York isn’t looking to deal much from their major league club away, two players heavily being shopped are pitchers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Both are only 27 and still perhaps short of reaching their prime. And while the pair have largely disappointed this season, they could still draw some interest.

Hughes is the headliner of the two. He’s only 4-8 with a 4.55 ERA so far this season, but as a starting pitcher, should bring some value. While Hughes has struggled this year, he’s definitely shown the potential to be a solid starting pitcher in recent seasons. He had 16 wins last year and 18 in 2010 with an ERA hovering slightly over 4.00. In 2009, he went 8-3 with a 3.03 ERA and struck out 96 batters in only 86 innings of work. 2011 (5-5 with a 5.79 ERA and his lowest K/9 ratio of his career) was a bust, but Hughes has been a quality starter in three of the past four seasons entering this year.

Chamberlain has been less impressive and his value is also lower since he’s a relief pitcher. He was previously a starter, but hasn’t filled that role since 2009. While Hughes struggled in 2011, that was one of Chamberlain’s better seasons. As a bullpen specialist, he struck out nearly a batter an inning and was 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA. That success was extremely short-lived as his nearly 4.00 career ERA, mostly as a reliever, is below average for a bullpen guy. This season, Joba’s been even worse, seeing his ERA balloon to 5.75 and giving up more than a hit an inning.

As I mentioned, both are young pitchers, but New York doesn’t seem too hesitant to deal them. It should be noted, however, that the Yankees’ stance on both is markedly different. Buster Olney says that one executive told him the price on Hughes is through the roof ($). Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has it on good authority that New York will trade away Chamberlain for nearly anything – maybe even a pine-tar rag.

Despite wanting more for Hughes, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says that New York is ‘aggressively pushing’ both of them. Nothing is all that close yet, apparently, but the Yankees are ready to deal.

One team giving off mixed signals on Chamberlain is Philadelphia. The Phillies, who could be buyers or sellers, have some interest in Chamberlain, according to the New York Daily News. The aforementioned Rosenthal disputes that, however. So for now, count the Phils as a ‘maybe.’

Meanwhile, the New York Post said recently that both the Braves and Giants want to bolster their bullpen and have interest in Joba as well. On the surface, the Giants’ interest seems curious and indicates they’re still playing to win this season despite being in last place in the National League West and nine games under .500 heading into Wednesday. The club is still only 6.5 games behind the Division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, so they’re clearly not ready to call it a season.

Regarding Hughes, the asking price may be too steep as there’s simply not much out there regarding potential teams being interested. One of note, though, is the Minnesota Twins. 11 games out of first place, Minnesota might not be inclined to trade for him at the deadline. ESPN radio personality Darren Wolfson says that the team is expected to pursue him as a free agent after the season. If the Twins want him that badly, they might be willing to inquire about his willingness to re-sign with them. They could make a deal based on that if the response is favorable, could beat other teams to the punch this offseason.

On the speculation front, Rosenthal suggested last month that he could do better in a pitcher-friendly ball park – meaning teams like the Mets, Padres, Mariners, and Tigers would be good fits.

Don’t be surprised if both stay with New York. Chamberlain has drawn interest, but that ERA approaching 6.00 should scare off quite a few teams. Plus, with Hughes entering free agency after the season, his age isn’t much of a factor since his new team would have only him locked up for a few months unless they can work out a deal with him beforehand. If the Yankees’ asking price is as high as rumored, it’s difficult to envision a team paying so much for him.

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