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Big East in the Big Leagues: Trade Bait

After an extended All-Star break hangover, Big East in the Big Leagues is back, baby.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In the 16 days since the MLB All-Star game, there has been no shortage of trade rumors. During the last week, there has been no shortage of actual trades. Scott Kazmir switched from green and yellow to orange and blue. Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist both packed their bags for Kansas City. The Blue Jays pulled off a bombshell of a deal, sending Jose Reyes to the Rockies in exchange for Troy Tulowitzski. (Did that make sense for either side? Not really, but who cares.) Cole Hamels was able to escape the sinking ship of the Philadelphia Phillies. Scratch that. Hamels was able to escape the already been at the bottom of the ocean floor Philies. The Dodgers shot off deals faster than an automated turret and the Blue Jays made another coup in acquiring David Price from Detroit.

Big East in the Big Leagues is all set to get in on the trading frenzy, so this week, we'll be ranking our favorite former Big Easters by how likely it is that they will be dealt before tomorrow's deadline. (Not likely at all, but where's the fun in that?)

1. Matt Szczur (Villanova)

To be honest, Szczur would make sense as a trade piece. The Cubs have a ton of outfielders, or at least a ton of outfielders they would rather play at the big league level. Szczur hasn't exactly blown the doors off in his first two seasons in the Bigs, which have admittedly been filled with a bunch of trips between Iowa and Chi-town, but he is a solid outfielder with pop, speed and, most importantly, youth on his side. He has been a productive bat (.301/.365/.469) in the minors for the Iowa Cubs, hitting seven home runs and stealing 17 bases as well. The Cubs are right in the thick of the playoff race and were suitors for Price and Hamels. If they want to go grab a pitcher, a package with Szczur included could get them what they want.

2. Danny Burawa (St. John's)

As long as the Yankees can hide all video evidence of Burawa's first and only big league appearance from earlier this season (2/3 IP, 4 ER), Burawa could be a live arm they could use to get another bat. Or perhaps he could be used in a package to get a starter to replace the bloated corpse of C.C. Sabathia. Burawa has been an exceptional arm out of the pen in Triple-A, posting a 2.56 ERA in 56 1/3 innings, while striking out 50 batters.

3. Pat Venditte (Creighton)

There is excellent news on the Venditte front. As reported by CBS Sports, Venditte will pitch from Triple-A Nashville this weekend as part of his recovery from a right shoulder injury. He already threw two innings for Single-A Stockton on Tuesday, striking out three batters and allowing a home run. While trading for an injured player, especially one with so little MLB experience, would be strange, if he comes back healthy and pitches like he did in the beginning of June (0.00 ERA over 5 2/3 IP), Venditte would be a welcome addition to any bullpen. And that's without even mentioning the fact that he can pitch with both arms.

4. Pat Neshek (Butler)

You may think trading a top of the line bullpen arm wouldn't make any sense, especially for a team like Houston, right in the middle of the pennant chase. You'd be right, but hear me out. Neshek has been exceptionally consistent all year for the up and at 'ém Astros, sporting a 2.58 ERA and 23 holds through 38 1/3 innings of work. However, the Astsos have the third best bullpen in baseball by ERA (2.69), led by Luke Gregerson (3.38 ERA), Will Harris (1.37 ERA) and Tony Sipp (2.75 ERA), not to mention Joe Thatcher (3.79 ERA) and Josh Fields (2.70 ERA). They just traded for Scott Kazmir, so a guy from the rotation could slide into the pen as well. With such a wealth of arms, Houston wouldn't be that crazy to flip Neshek for a more pressing need, like a batter who can hit for average.

5. Darin Ruf (Creighton)

At this point, other than Maikel Franco and maybe Ken Giles, the Phillies should be shipping out everyone and anything that isn't nailed down to the floor. Ruf is included in that. While he is far from an overwhelmingly exciting player, he does have some upside. Ruf has been a solid everyday player and a miserable pinch hitter. His career numbers as a starter are actually relatively good. He has a slash line of. 263/.346/.475 with 23 home runs and 58 RBI in 135 starts during his four-year career. Getting a player like that wouldn't be all too bad, even if its just for a platoon type situation.

6. Amir Garrett (St. John's)

The Reds are clearly sellers right now, so moving one of their prized pitching prospects wouldn't make much sense at all. The long lefty is 7-6 with a 2.74 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 102 innings pitched this season with the Daytona Tortugas. He's the type of player that would be the centerpiece of a deal to get Cueto not the centerpiece for a deal by the team that traded Cueto away.

7. Joe Panik (St. John's)

Why would the Giants trade away a homegrown 24-year-old All-Star second baseman with playoff experience, who happens to be hitting .309 this season? They wouldn't.

Speaking of Panik's All-Star nod, the former Red Storm infielder didn't do much in the Midsummer Classic, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

8. Jason Grilli (Seton Hall)

Grilli would have been very high on this list a month ago. He was a stellar closer for a losing team in Atlanta, with a 2.94 ERA and 24 saves on the season, making him an ideal candidate to be shipped off as a three-month rental for a playoff contender in need of bullpen depth. Unfortunately, his season was cut short in mid-July when he tore his Achillies tendon. While Panik is untouchable for his talent, age and contract, Grilli is even more so because of the injury and his age (38).