The San Diego Padres are in last place in the National League West http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-andre-dawson-jersey , but they are reportedly looking to acquire a No. 1 starting pitcher as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.According to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, the Padres "checked in" on the availability of New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard. Lin described San Diego's pursuit as a "wide-ranging search for a frontline starter."Syndergaard is on the disabled list with hand, foot and mouth disease, perJames Wagnerof theNew York Times, but he is a dominant force when healthy and pitching at his best. The 2016 All-Star has made 13 starts this season and sports a 2.89 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 74.2 innings.While health problems have plagued him of late and he made just seven starts last year, Syndergaard is 25 years old and figures to have a bright future ahead of him.San Diego doesn't seem like a logical trade partner given last-place teams are typically sellers and not buyers at this time of year, but Syndergaard isn't set for unrestricted free agency until 2022. He could anchor the Padres rotation for years to come if the Friars acquired him and satisfy their search for an ace.San Diego ranks an ugly 24th in MLB with a 4.83 starters' ERA and needs a stabilizing force if it is going to contend for a playoff spot in 2019 and beyond.Syndergaard could represent just that. Harry How/Getty ImagesFresh off their World Series triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox are still popping champagne and planning their championship parade. The rest of the league, meanwhile, is preparing to dethrone the new champions.Teams have spent months Ron Santo Jersey , even years, preparing for this offseason's stellar crop of free agents. Squads seeking lineup reinforcements have plenty of significant options with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and A.J. Pollock headling a stacked class of available position players.Before the market officially opens for business, let's examine MLB's hot stove for rumors regarding potentially available hitters. Dodgers Unlikelyto Retain Manny Machado; Yankees Emerge as FavoritesMachado caused some controversy in the playoffs.Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesGoing to the World Series is usually positive for any upcoming free agent. Not for Machado, whose reputation has been thoroughly dissected and questioned throughout September.During the National League Championship Series, the star infielder drew attention for the wrong reasons when he appeared to intentionally hit Jesus Aguilar's foot. He hasn't helped his cause in the Fall Classic.A similar incident occurred on Saturday when Machado spikedfirst baseman Steve Pearce. He went the entire series without submitting an extra-base hit, a dubious stat the All-Star might have avoided if not for admiring a single in Game 3:FOX Sports: MLB MLBONFOXManny Machado thought he had a home run on this swing...It ended up only being a single. ZF0ijtHdsaAfter gingerly jogging to first on a groundout in the NLCS, the 26-year-old The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal he's "not the type of player that鈥檚 going to be 'Johnny Hustle.'" Per Ken Davidoff the New York Post, he offered more contrition for not busting out of the batter's box on Friday."That was very, very Ernie Banks Jersey , very, very poor baserunning by me," Machado said. "I probably wasn't going to be on second base but very embarrassing."Don't expect those miscues to sink his free-agent value. Even if he doesn't give maximum effort on every play, Machado is a superstar who has hit at least 33 homers in each of the last four seasons. Perhaps his playing style is part of the reason he stayed healthy and partook in every game this year.Someone will ignore these red flags to secure a franchise cornerstone. According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, it likely won't be the Dodgers taking the plunge."The Los Angeles Dodgers have shown no indication they will try to re-sign Machado," Nightengale wrote prior to the World Series' Game 3, "and even if they entertained the notion when they gave up six prospects to acquire him from the Baltimore Orioles at the July 31 trade deadline, it's vanished now. Theyhave seen the warts and blemishes that have been exposed underneath the infielder's worldly talent."Nightengale also identified the New York Yankees as "front-runners" and said the Philadelphia Phillies "also plan to be in the bidding."The Yankees suddenly have a need at shortstop after Didi Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery, so Machado fits their plans better than fellow star free agent Bryce Harper. The Phillies, meanwhile, have considerable spending power and a desire to upgrade at third base and/or shortstop.Perhaps the postseason dissuades a young http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-ryne-sandberg-jersey , long-shot squad like the San Diego Padres or Chicago White Sox from offering him the keys to expedite a rebuild. But all he needs is a bidding war between the Yankees and Phillies to snag a salary north of $200 million.While the Evil Empire鈥攚ho have a stellar young core coming off a 100-win season鈥攈ave spent more carefully in recent years, the Phillies are a big splash away from rising into contention. They'll sacrifice an occasional lack of hustle for MVP-caliber production.Prediction: Phillies sign Machado with no postseason discount.Blue Jays 'Uncertain' To Retain Justin SmoakThe Blue Jays can keep first baseman Justin Smoak by enacting a 2018 club option.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesHe didn't quite live up to a 2017 breakout, but Justin Smoak nevertheless belted 25 homers and a higher weighted on-base average (.349) than Justin Upton, Edwin Encarnacion, Cody Bellinger and George Springer.As a result of injuries and a summer fire sale, the 31-year-old first baseman offered the Toronto Blue Jays stability with a team-high 147 games and 598 plate appearances. Locking down a solid starter for an affordable club option seems like an easy choice.Yet according to Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays remain "uncertain" about keeping him for 2019.Per Cot's Contracts, Smoak's $6 million club option will increase to $8 million鈥攚ith a $250,000 buyout鈥攂ecause he exceeded 1,100 combined plate appearances (1,231) in 2017 and 2018. Even if Smoak replicates this season's 1.7 WAR instead of 2017's career-best 3.6 clip Billy Williams Jersey , that's still a generous price. FanGraphs credited him with producing $13.3 million of value.Then again, the Blue Jays may remember last year's sluggish market and wonder if better bargains await. Yonder Alonso followed a career year by signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the Cleveland Indians. Logan Morrison and Mike Moustakas each settled for $6.5 million despite depositing 38 homers.Letting Smoak go for free would still be a mistake. Even if the Blue Jays want to move on following a 73-89 campaign, they can fetch a reasonable trade return for someone who notched on-base percentages of .355 and .350 in the last two seasons, respectively.There's little risk to locking down Smoak for one more year, so look for Toronto to keep him around, only to shop him this winter or next summer.Prediction: Blue Jays exercise their option and trade him before the end of 2018.Hanley Ramirez Attempting ComebackThe Red Sox parted ways with Hanley Ramirez in May.Adam Glanzman/Getty ImagesIf a slugger of Smoak's ilk is potentially expendable, Hanley Ramirez faces a steep climb to landing another MLB role.Although he batted .330 in April, the designated hitter's slash line dipped to .254/.313/.395 through 44 games. He possessed a negative WAR (-0.2) for the third time in four years when the Red Sox designated him for assignment in May.Ramirez never found a new employer, but Heyman said the former All-Star shortstop will push for another gig this offseason:Jon Heyman JonHeymanex-red sox Hanley Ramirez is working out in the d.r. and plans to play winter ball before trying a comeback next seasonHe, of course http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-jon-lester-jersey , won't land a contract anywhere in the vicinity of the four-year, $88 million pact signed with Boston following two-and-a-half strong seasons with the Dodgers. Set to turn 35 in December with a middling bat and unusable glove, he'll likely have to settle for a minor league deal.While inconsistentand past his prime, Ramirez has traded subpar play with stellar success before. He batted .286/.361/.505 with 30 homers in 2016, so another team鈥攑referably in the AL鈥攃ould give him another shot to handle the light end of a platoon against southpaws.Yet most clubs already have a big bat or two better suited to DH. Assuming he even gets a big league job, Ramirez might have to set expectations even lower to a bench role.Hey, the New York Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista in 2018 while keeping Jose Reyes all year. Maybe they'll keep trying to build a 2009superteam by having him vie for a roster spot.Prediction: Ramirez signs a minor league contract with the New York Mets.All advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.