Days until the trade deadline: 17
Teams within 10 games of playoff spot: 23
Teams not within 10 games of playoff spot: Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners
Notable July Trades
Cubs trade starting pitcher Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles (7/2/13)
Marlins trade starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco to Los Angeles Dodgers (7/7/13)
Cubs trade outfielder Scott Hairston to Washington Nationals (7/8/13)
White Sox trade reliever Matt Thornton to Boston Red Sox (7/13/13)
Lincecum boosts trade value while decreasing chances of trade
As the Giants have continued to stumble over the past two months (20-36 since May 12th), the chances of Tim Lincecum being put on the trade block have increased. And with each solid start that Lincecum has put together since early June (3.16 ERA, 51.1 IP, 42 H, 17 BB, 57 K in eight starts), his trade value continues to increase.
But he may have taken it a step too far on Saturday when he tossed a no-hitter against the Padres. Instead of just opening the eyes of contending teams and making the 29-year-old an extremely valuable trade chip—sources for Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports say the Tigers are one of multiple teams that have interest—it's now possible that the Giants could see the inspirational 13-strikeout performance as the spark they've been needing to turn things around.
Not only did Lincecum's performance increase his trade value, making it harder for teams to acquire him, the 148 pitches he threw could make him a bigger risk for a team hoping to get a pitcher who can hold up and pitch well through the second half of the season.
And that's in addition to the risk of a team taking on at least a chunk of his remaining salary—he's due around $11 million for the remainder of the season—and giving up talent for a guy who hasn't been very good since 2011.
At 43-51, the Giants are still only 6.5 games out in the NL West heading into the All-Star break. They're not out of it, by any means. Falling further out, though, could mean general manager Brian Sabean at least listens on offers for the two-time Cy Young winner. But a deal is far from a certainty with less than two weeks of games before the trade deadline.
Pirates interested in right field upgrade?
According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Pirates have interest in Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz (pictured) and White Sox right fielder Alex Rios. Whether talks become serious, however, could depend on Jose Tabata's performance out of the gate in the second half.
The 24-year-old Tabata has gotten the opportunity to play every day in right field since coming off of the disabled list earlier this month and he's responded with 14 hits in 42 at-bats, including four doubles, a triple, three walks and two stolen bases. An upgrade isn't necessary if that were to continue. His inconsistent performance over the past couple of seasons, though, does make it a good idea to look for alternatives just in case.
Acquiring Rios or Schierholtz could mean that the Pirates are giving up on Tabata, who was signed to a six-year, $15 million contract extension before the 2011 season, as an everyday player. Both Rios and Schierholtz are under team control through 2014 and would slot in as a starting outfielder along with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte until then.
Taking on Rios seems less likely since the cost, in terms of dollars (approximately $6 million remaining in 2013, $12.5 million in 2014) and the trade return, might not be worth it for someone who only might be better than their current option.
Latest on Garza
Holding on to Garza (pictured) until now hasn't backfired on the Cubs as the 29-year-old continues to pitch brilliantly (1.24 ERA, 43.2 IP, 34 H, 10 BB, 34 K in last six starts) while in the trade spotlight. If anything, his trade value increases slightly with each start in which he appears healthy and in top form.
According to David Kaplan of CSN Chicago, Garza will be traded by this weekend. But that's assuming someone meets the Cubs' high asking price. As Kaplan points out, they won't rush to a deal out of fear he'll injure himself.
Despite last week's reports that the two sides had discussed a possible contract extension, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says that Garza has been informed that he'll likely be traded and mentions the Cardinals, Indians, Rangers and Red Sox as just some of the interested teams. Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the Blue Jays and Rangers are the front-runners, with third baseman Mike Olt likely being part of any deal with Texas.
Although Garza says he hasn't been told anything, a trade is very likely on the horizon. I wrote last week on why the Cubs would be foolish to not deal him this month.
Rays interested in adding a hitter?
The Rays are on a roll with 17 wins in their last 21 games to boost their record to 55-41 while entering the break at the top of the wild-card standings. While it's never likely that they're very active at the trade deadline, this recent run makes it even less likely that they'll make a splash on the trade market.
That doesn't mean they won't at least explore the opportunity to improve their ballclub. And they could be looking into the possibility of adding another bat to the middle of the lineup.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Rays have checked in on the Mariners' hitters, which likely includes three veteran middle-of-the-order bats—Raul Ibañez (pictured), Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse—who will become free agents at season's end.
The red-hot Ibañez, who is having his best season at age 41 with an .892 OPS and 24 homers in 73 games, and Morales, who has an .800 OPS and 14 homers in 90 games, don't make a ton of sense for the Rays since designated hitter Luke Scott has been the team's best hitter in July (.405 BA, 3 HR, 2 2B, 6 BB).
Morales wouldn't displace James Loney at first base and while Ibañez might be an upgrade over the slumping Matt Joyce at the plate, it might not be enough to make up for what would likely be a significant downgrade defensively. Both fit better at the designated hitter spot and Scott's recent performance is making it unnecessary for a change.
In the case of Morse, he also fits best as a designated hitter, but his right-handed bat and ability to play multiple positions (first base, left field, right field) could make him a better fit in Tampa Bay. Even if it's only for three or four starts per week, adding the 31-year-old to the lineup against left-handed pitching (.958 OPS vs LHP in 2013) and an occasional right-hander could make the Rays even more dangerous in the second half of the season and into the playoffs.
Morse is on the disabled list, however, and a return prior to the trade deadline remains uncertain. He'll also be due a little over $3 million in remaining salary and while he wouldn't cost a top prospect, it would still require a pretty good minor leaguer or two to get a deal done.
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