The MLB trade deadline is nearing, and speculation is heating up across baseball. Here is what our writers are hearing:
July 31 deadline buzz
Who leads the chase for Yu Darvish? The Dodgers are still the Rangers’ top target for a Yu Darvish deal, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, but the Astros and Indians are still in the picture. The Yankees’ interest, meanwhile, depends on whether they can make a deal with Oakland for right-hander Sonny Gray.
Will Sonny Gray wear pinstripes? As the New York Yankees‘ pursuit of Oakland Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray heads into trade deadline day, the teams are “close enough to get over the hump,” a source tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. That being said, Oakland Executive Vice President Billy Beane has indicated that he’s prepared keep Gray, who isn’t eligible for free agency until 2019, in the Bay if a deal doesn’t come together.
The trade deadline is just six hours away. The Yankees and A’s have been unable to reach a deal for starter Sonny Gray, as of yet, making it very possible this will go down to the wire. Sources said the Yankees have been hesitant to give up 19-year-old Haitian OF Estevan Florial. Florial is hitting .297 with an .855 OPS for Single-A Charleston. Neither Yankees GM Brian Cashman nor his counterpart Billy Beane have to make a deal so it is uncertain if either of them will blink.
July 30 deadline buzz
Don’t dismiss the Astros in the Sonny Gray/Yu Darvish/Lance Lynn rumors. Lance McCullers had his fourth straight poor outing and has a 9.64 ERA in July as his strikeout rate has plummeted from 29 percent through June to 15 percent. Dallas Keuchel also just returned from the DL and lasted just three innings in his first start back. Do the Astros need a starter?
Dodgers in pursuit of the best on the block: The Dodgers are talking to the Rangers about Yu Darvish, Jerry Crasnick reports, but he notes that they’re also in the mix for the three big lefty relievers still on the market: Zach Britton of the Orioles, Justin Wilson of the Tigers and the Padres’ Brad Hand. If they acquire any of them, it would represent a reinforcement of their bid to win not just the division, but the World Series.
The Royals have been winning despite getting no offense from left field or shortstop, and not much at DH. They pick up Melky Cabrera from the White Sox and he’s been about a league average hitter, making him an upgrade over Alex Gordon, who is hitting .201 without any power. Cabrera, however, is a subpar outfielder while Gordon remains an elite defender, so the overall upgrade is minimal. Cabrera could also DH, so it’s at least a decent depth pickup without giving up much.
Joe Maddon said he talked with Theo Epstein this morning regarding potential trades: “There’s nothing yet. No white smoke. By the time we get back tonight (from Milwaukee) there might be more to talk about.” Maddon would love a neutral reliever who can face any part of an opposing team’s order. Right now he has a lot of “match up” guys in front of Wade Davis. Another team’s closer would fit that description.
Parting with premium prospects a Dodgers dilemma: An American League scout speaking with Crasnick commented on some of the Dodgers’ top prospects, starting with pitcher Walker Buehler. “It’s electric stuff. It’s flat-out electric,” he said. He also said of Yadier Alvarez: “It’s as pretty as it comes. He’ll probably throw 100 [mph] someday like he’s sitting in a rocking chair. … With pitching at such a premium, I wouldn’t want to trade either one of those guys.” The comments illustrate Dodgers honcho Andrew Friedman’s dilemma at the deadline: Can he make an impact deal without including Buehler, Alvarez or outfielder Alex Verdugo?
The Padres “haven’t moved an inch” in their asking price for Brad Hand, according to executives with multiple teams that have discussed the breakout lefty reliever. Hand is making only $ 1.35 million this year and has two more years of team control, so general manager A.J. Preller is pricing him aggressively. Owner Ron Fowler said earlier this week that the team is prepared to walk away and hang onto Hand at the deadline.
The Yankees always seemed destined to acquire at least one starter before the deadline because they are the Yankees and the division title is within reach, but they may be going for two. The Yankees are still very much in on the A’s Sonny Gray, though the Yankees won’t give up their top prospects. The Yankees may make it a double and pick up lefty starter Jaime Garcia from the Twins, according to Yahoo Sports. If the Yankees got both, then Caleb Smith would be out of the rotation, while Jordan Montgomery’s starting role might be lessened. Montgomery, a rookie, is thought to be on an innings limit, but the Yankees have declined to define it.
Twins about to flip Garcia: Buster Olney reports that the Twins and the Yankees are about to finish up a Jaime Garcia deal, tweeting that the two teams are “at the 1-yard-line.” For Garcia, it’s a quick turn of events, because he was just traded to the Twins by the Braves on Monday, and made a single start for Minnesota (a quality start and a win). Olney says that the Yankees’ talks will continue with Oakland about Sonny Gray, who was already scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday.
July 29 deadline buzz
OAK has juggled its rotation and now Sonny Gray is scheduled to pitch Monday night, rather Sunday — because of looming trade possibility.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 29, 2017
Will the A’s simply keep Sonny Gray? It appears that Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier are not the hangup in a Sonny Gray deal to the Yankees, a source has told Jerry Crasnick. The Athletics and Yankees are discussing other prospects after the Yankees said “no” on Torres and Frazier. As the A’s move on to alternatives, the teams still haven’t been able to agree on a package. Even as it’s expected that Gray will be held out of his start on Sunday, A’s GM Billy Beane has given indications that he’s ready to keep Gray into the winter if he can’t get a package he wants. Someone will have to blink soon if a deal between the two teams is going to get done.
Tigers in no hurry to deal veteran ace Verlander: Jerry Crasnick notes that he has yet to hear from anybody who expects the Tigers to actually move veteran starter Justin Verlander by the deadline. Crasnick reports that Tigers GM Al Avila isn’t under pressure to move a lot of salary at the trade deadline, and he can wait until the offseason and regroup on Verlander.
A question being asked among executives is: Who, besides the Yankees, is heavily invested in pursuit of Sonny Gray right now?
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 29, 2017
Marlins still fishing: Jerry Crasnick reports that the Marlins are still open to offers on veteran starter Dan Straily, and several teams are keeping in touch. The Marlins are also extremely open to discussing second baseman Dee Gordon, but between his .694 OPS and a contract costing a guaranteed $ 38 million through 2020 after this season, there’s not much traffic there.
Rays mulling some infield tweaks: The Rays have the flexibility to weigh offers for infielders Tim Beckham and Brad Miller, Jerry Crasnick notes. There’s no sense of urgency to move either guy, but they’re keeping an open mind. They also had interest in Howie Kendrick before the Nationals acquired him from the Phillies on Friday night. Tampa Bay’s position on trading for him was contingent on first making other moves.
Yankees not investing in Yonder solution: While the Yankees might take first baseman Yonder Alonso to help facilitate a Sonny Gray deal with the A’s, Jerry Crasnick says that their focus is on pitching and not acquiring help at first base. Chase Headley is slashing .317/.364/.415 in July, so production at the position is not a major issue, while Alonso has hit just .186 (8-for-43) since the All-Star Game. Thus far, the Yankees have balked at A’s GM Billy Beane’s asking price for Gray, and Crasnick suggests that if the price doesn’t come down they’re prepared to go in different direction.
July 28 deadline buzz
Could Sonny Gray stay in California?Sonny Gray‘s name has been prevalent in trade rumors for a while now, but a new — and surprising — team has made an appearance. Buster Olney reports the San Diego Padres could be a landing spot for the Oakland Athletics‘ right-hander. But Gray would hit free agency before the Padres are seriously able to contend. The Padres could acquire Gray and then try flipping him this winter, as he is arbitration eligible in 2018, he will be one year closer to free agency and he is an injury risk.
Cubs in search of a backup backstop: The Chicago Cubs won’t need to pay a big price if they get a backup catcher, as whomever they add won’t see more than 60 at-bats, Buster Olney reports. Some options for the Cubs to sort through are the Marlins’ A.J. Ellis, the Braves’ Kurt Suzuki, the Rangers’ Jonathan Lucroy and the Tigers’ Alex Avila, to name a few.
Royals looking for a slugging outfielder: The Kansas City Royals are thinking about acquiring a corner outfield bat for a stretch run. But adding a starting pitcher is their top priority, according to Jerry Crasnick. Melky Cabrera of the Chicago White Sox is one possibility for outfielders. Entering Friday’s play, the 32-year-old Cabrera had a slash line of .289/.331/.430 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs over 96 games. Buster Olney notes the New York Mets‘ Jay Bruce would be a “great fit” in Kansas City.
Cardinals could add a starter to deadline mix: Other teams are waiting for a clear indication from the Cardinals on whether they intend to trade starting pitcher Lance Lynn, Buster Olney reports. Between his 3.21 ERA this season and a career record of 69-45, Lynn would be among the most coveted starters available on the market, should they put him on the block.
The Astros continue to explore the pitching market — starters and relievers — as the trade deadline approaches. But executives from other clubs say Houston GM Jeff Luhnow has been reluctant to discuss any of his top prospects. Luhnow will probably have to bend if the Astros are going to make an impact acquisition at the deadline.
Contenders ogling Orioles relievers: Lots of scouts are expected to be on hand to watch Zach Britton and Brad Brach over the weekend during the Rangers-Orioles series in Texas, Jerry Crasnick reports. Crasnick notes that a late-developing market for Britton is still possible. Several contenders have been monitoring him, including the Cubs, Dodgers and Astros. The Nationals could use Britton, as well, but there are no indications that anything is brewing between them and the Orioles at the moment.
Britton is throwing 96 mph, but teams want to see him pitch in back-to-back games — something he hasn’t done that since his return from the disabled list on July 5. The big question for interested clubs is how well will Britton’s velocity hold up during that second day. If it’s still 96 mph or so, that’s a good sign, but not so much if it dips to 93.
The San Francisco Giants are in a box as the trade deadline approaches. They’re shopping center fielder Denard Span. But he has a career-low five stolen bases and a minus-18 Defensive Runs Saved, and he’s generating minimal interest. Hunter Strickland is another potential Giants trade chip, but the deadline relief glut has suppressed his value. The Giants could decide to keep Strickland as part of their relief corps with Will Smith, Sam Dyson and closer Mark Melancon in 2018.
Steve Cishek‘s travels continue: With the Rays’ trade Friday morning for the veteran reliever in exchange for swingman Erasmo Ramirez, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes the former Marlins closer has moved from Miami to St. Louis (via a July trade), from St. Louis to Seattle as a free agent and now back to Florida in the space of two years. For Ramirez, it’s a return to the organization he originally signed with and later debuted with. Crasnick reports that with Cishek making $ 6 million and Erasmo Ramirez making $ 3.125 million, the Mariners are sending $ 1 million to the Rays to cover the prorated portion of the difference.
July 27 deadline buzz
The Rangers are shopping Jeremy Jeffress, according to other clubs. The right-hander has struggled this season, but was a strong performer for the Brewers and Rangers just a season ago.
Tigers’ Wilson a hot name. Sources tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that six to eight teams remain in the mix for Detroit reliever Justin Wilson, with the Astros, Nationals and Indians among the suitors — and it isn’t just contenders that are pursuing the left-hander, who is under club control for 2018. The chances of a Wilson-Justin Verlander package deal with any club between now and Monday are not good, though.
Rays not done after bullpen upgrade. Even after adding under-the-radar reliever Dan Jennings from the White Sox, the Rays are looking for more bullpen help, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The lineup should get Kevin Kiermaier back soon, so adding a position player is less of a priority.
The Rays are also open to hearing offers on Brad Miller and Tim Beckham, but they are not shopping them, according to Crasnick. The Rays have some depth and flexibility to make another move after adding Lucas Duda and Adeiny Hechavarria.
Boston’s bullpen issue.The Red Sox are still exploring the relief market, but might not necessarily move on to Addison Reed, AJ Ramos and other post-Pat Neshek options, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Boston liked the different look Neshek would have provided with his funky delivery — a change of pace from Matt Barnes and the team’s other right-handed arms.
Can Reed fill a bullpen hole?Mets reliever Addison Reed is a potential fallback option for the Rays, Dodgers, Red Sox and other teams looking for bullpen help as the deadline approaches, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “At the end of the day, he is pretty freaking good and very durable,” one evaluator said of Reed. But the frequency that Reed has been used by manager Terry Collins is also a concern for some interested teams.
July 26 deadline buzz
Could the Cubs go after Justin Verlander? The Tigers’ ace is the only name that appears to be a possibility, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. After packaging top minor league assets in the deal for Jose Quintana, the lure of a Verlander deal is that it would cost the Cubs more in money than in prospects. How much Detroit is willing to pick up of the $ 56 million remaining on the right-hander’s contract after this year, however, is unknown. But Chicago likes the prospect of an American League-to-National League move without giving up any major league players.
The chances of Orioles reliever Zach Britton being traded are growing slimmer by the day. Britton has yet to pitch back-to-back days since returning from a forearm strain three weeks ago — and he has only one save this month — and some potential trade partners aren’t convinced he’s ready to handle the pennant race grind in August and September. The Orioles are seeking a big return for Britton, and several clubs have moved on to Brad Brach, Pat Neshek and other secondary targets.
Lugo a name to watch. The Cubs are among several teams that have shown interest in Mets pitcher Seth Lugo, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Mets aren’t motivated to deal Lugo now, though, as the 27-year-old is one of New York’s few healthy arms and has pitched well lately.
If Texas GM Jon Daniels decides to engage with Houston’s Jeff Luhnow on Yu Darvish, he’ll want to take a significant bite out of the Astros’ farm system. Talks would likely focus on pitchers Franklin Perez and Forrest Whitley and outfielders Kyle Talker and Yordan Alvarez — the four prospects that ESPN’s Keith Law included in his midseason top 50. Rookie pitcher Francis Martes and outfielder Derek Fisher are also highly-regarded young players.
July 25 deadline buzz
Red Sox will send minor-league right-handers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos to the Giants in return for Eduardo Nunez. Anderson is 6-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 18 starts between two Class A levels; Santos, 17, is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in seven rookie-ball starts.
Could Yankees land Sonny Gray?According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Yankees continue to have conversations about acquiring Oakland’s ace in their search for players who can help in 2017 and beyond.
When asked on what team A’s starter Sonny Gray will be on a week from today, an MLB executive said, “Not Oakland.” Will he be in the Bronx? The A’s continue to send top scouts to the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate in Trenton. The way the A’s Billy Beane usually works is he tells teams who he is looking for as the central figure in a trade and then works his way down from there. Since there is not much pitching on the market, Beane is aiming high. Gray has two years of control so he is expected to cost teams prime prospects. The Yankees are very deep at shortstop. At Double-A, Jorge Mateo has played very well recently.
Market for Darvish takes shape. The Rangers are willing to trade Yu Darvish if someone meets their asking price, according to Jerry Crasnick. Sources told ESPN.com that GM Jon Daniels has begun calling potential suitors to tell them Texas would trade the ace — but only in the right deal. The Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Cubs and several other contenders have dispatched scouts to watch Darvish in his recent outings.
Red Sox believed to still be focusing on relievers and third basemen before the trade deadline. They had scouts watching Philadelphia (Pat Neshek) and Detroit (Justin Wilson), among other teams, within the past few days. Although they’re hoping top prospect Rafael Devers gives them the lift that Andrew Benintendi did a year ago, the continued third-base interest is presumably for a fallback option.
July 24 deadline buzz
Astros manager A.J. Hinch isn’t spending a lot of time sweating the trade deadline.
It’s never good when your franchise pitcher goes on the shelf for four-to-six weeks, but if there was ever a team well positioned to withstand the prolonged absence of Clayton Kershaw, it’s this year’s Dodgers. That said, this adds urgency to L.A.’s trade deadline search for a mid- to upper-rotation starter, a need that already existed. The tangible impact could be this: The asking price for Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray probably just went up. Also, while top prospect Walker Buehler remains a possibility for late-season bullpen help, it’s hard to see the Dodgers looking to him as a rotation solution this soon.
Brewers prioritizing pitching. The Milwaukee Brewers are actively exploring both starters and relievers, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reported, Milwaukee has also talked to the Detroit Tigers about Ian Kinsler, but this appears to be a case of the Tigers hoping to pair a veteran salary with coveted reliever Justin Wilson. Kinsler has a $ 10 million club option for 2018 with a $ 5 million buyout.