Norris top pitcher available now?
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks Bud Norris of the Astros is No. 1 on the list of starting pitchers who can be moved now, although there is some concern that he wouldn't perform as well going from a non-competitive situation into a playoff race.
The 28 year-old right-hander has had two really bad starts this season but has held opponents to three earned runs or less in the other 11 starts. He's also completed at least seven innings five times. His asking price will be high, not only because of the very good season he's having but because he's under team control through 2015.
Pitcher Jake Peavy, who Cafardo says the White Sox probably would've used as a trade chip, would've been at the top of that list with his team struggling, but he's out for at least six weeks with a ribcage injury and is unlikely to have enough time to prove to interested teams that he's healthy.
Ethier trade candidate?
Once the Dodgers outfield is back to full health—Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are both on the disabled list—it's quickly becoming apparent that Andre Ethier will be the odd man out with the emergence of rookie Yasiel Puig.
Cafardo says teams are already discussing the possibility of acquiring Ethier, and a couple of them have reportedly contacted the Dodgers. It's not an ideal time with the 31-year-old's value having diminished because of a decline in performance (.664 OPS) and over $75 million due in guaranteed salary through the 2017 season.
If he can show some life, however, in the coming weeks before Crawford and Kemp return, the Dodgers could still find an interested team willing to take on at least half of the guaranteed money and offer a mid-level prospect in return.
Although he struggled against lefties, Ethier was highly productive versus right-handed pitching last season (.944 OPS), so it's not too much of a stretch to think he can turn it around. A couple of weeks back, Buster Olney of ESPN named several teams that could be fits (ESPN Insider required). Among those mentioned are the A's, Mets, Orioles, Pirates, White Sox and Yankees.
Ozuna's emergence could make Stanton trade more likely?
The Marlins are getting healthy with Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup for the first time this season on Monday. Stanton's six-week absence, in particular, has given an opportunity for rookie outfielder Marcell Ozuna to showcase his skills.
At this point, the 22-year-old is in the majors to stay, and he'll even move over to center field to accommodate Stanton despite having just 38 games of minor league experience at the position. He's a natural right fielder, though, and he'll end up back at the position if Stanton is traded away.
In his latest Rumblings and Grumblings column, Jayson Stark of ESPN wonders if Ozuna's emergence will push the Marlins to trade Stanton this winter. Ozuna's .843 OPS over his first 36 big league games is impressive despite just one homer with eight walks and 32 strikeouts. He does have big-time power potential, however, and was described by one scout as "Yasiel Puig, minus the hype," according to Stark.
With top prospect Christian Yelich very likely to be with the team in 2014, if not sooner, and Jake Marisnick not far behind, the Marlins could still fill out the lineup with three talented outfielders in the near future that the team could build around.
If Stanton was traded and a major league-ready outfield prospect wasn't included in what would likely be an impressive return of young talent, the Marlins should be fine with Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano holding down a spot until Marisnick is ready.
Talks of the Phillies' demise premature?
With Roy Halladay out for an extended period of time and an aging Phillies team struggling early in the season, the media focus shifted to which veteran players the team would deal and how soon they would start selling off pieces and looking to the future.
But even after three consecutive losses put the team two games under .500 at 31-33, the Phillies are only 6.5 games back in the playoff race and have gotten some unlikely contributions to help keep them competitive. Domonic Brown (.926 OPS, 19 HR) is emerging as a star while rookies Tyler Cloyd (3.68 ERA in five starts) and Jonathan Pettibone (3.70 ERA in 10 starts) have done a terrific job stabilizing the back of the rotation.
As Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Enquirer notes, the Phillies could decide to make one last run with the core of veterans that have shared so much success with the team. He mentions White Sox outfielder Alex Rios as a potential target, with second basemen Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis a good starting point in trade talks.
Matt Adams staying put?
If you do the math, the 2014 Cardinals will have one very good hitter without a regular job and, at this point, that looks to be first baseman Matt Adams. That doesn't mean they'll try to trade him, though. According to Buster Olney, inquiring teams are being told that the Cardinals have no plans to trade the 24-year-old, who is having a huge rookie season (.324 BA, four HR and 15 RBI in 68 at-bats) despite limited playing time.
With Carlos Beltran eligible for free agency after the season, top prospect Oscar Taveras figures to get the first crack at his spot as the everyday right fielder. The 20-year-old Taveras has played primarily in center field, however, over the last two seasons in Triple-A and Double-A, so don't rule out the possibility of Adams and current center fielder Jon Jay battling it out for playing time next spring.
Jay's having an underwhelming season at the plate (.689 OPS, two SB), so it wouldn't be too surprising to see a scenario take place where Adams plays first base with Taveras in center field and Allen Craig in right field. It's not the ideal defensive alignment but the lineup could be very good.
1 Matt Carpenter, 2B
2 Oscar Taveras, CF
3 Matt Holliday, LF
4 Allen Craig, RF
5 Matt Adams, 1B
6 Yadier Molina, C
7 David Freese, 3B
8 Pete Kozma, SS
Taking this a step further, the Cards could look to move Freese this offseason in order to shift Carpenter to the hot corner and open up second base for prospect Kolten Wong (.832 OPS, nine SB in Triple-A). Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports discusses that possibility in his latest Full Count Video.
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