The MLB trade deadline is July 31, and as of Tuesday morning, there are 20 teams within 10 games of a playoff spot. The teams that aren't are as follows: Blue Jays, Twins, White Sox, Astros, Giants, Cubs, Mets, Padres, Brewers, Marlins.
Notable July Trades
- Cubs trade starting pitcher Scott Feldman and backup catcher Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Pedro Strop, starter Jake Arrieta and international bonus slots Nos. 3 and 4 (7/2/13).
- Marlins trade starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league pitchers Josh Wall, Steven Ames and Angel Sanchez (7/7/13).
- Cubs trade outfielder Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Ivan Pineyro (7/8/13).
- White Sox trade reliever Matt Thornton to the Boston Red Sox for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs (7/13/13).
- Cubs trade starting pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for minor league infielder Mike Olt, minor league pitcher C.J. Edwards and starter Justin Grimm, along with a player or two to be named later.
All Eyes on Jake Peavy
When White Sox starter Jake Peavy returned to the mound on Saturday after missing a month-and-a-half with a fractured rib, more than a half-dozen scouts were on hand, according to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.
The 32-year-old was impressive despite the long layoff, allowing only two earned runs in six innings with no walks and three strikeouts to give him his eighth quality start on the season in 12 total starts. With at least another year left on his current contract ($14.5 million in 2014, $15 million vesting player option in 2015), Peavy's price tag will likely be higher than the recently dealt Matt Garza.
The Nationals could target the right-hander, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, although general manager Mike Rizzo will likely wait until he's able to get a better idea of Ross Detwiler's health. The lefty is currently on the disabled list with a lower back strain and could be close to returning. If not, Peavy would be a solid fit down the stretch and in 2014 with Dan Haren set to become a free agent.
Thomas Boswell, also of The Washington Post, argues that the Nats shouldn't be buyers at this point as a sub-.500 team eight games back of a playoff spot.
If the prognosis doesn't improve on starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who will continue throwing after specialist Dr. James Andrews ruled out any structural damage on his ailing neck, the Red Sox could pursue Peavy, speculates Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The Sox have several good prospects in the upper minors who are close to major league ready that a team like the White Sox would be interested in. According to Alex Speier and Katie Morrison of WEEI, Double-A right-hander Anthony Ranaudo would be among that group after bouncing back from a rough 2012 to post a 2.87 ERA with 35 walks and 98 strikeouts in 97.1 innings pitched thus far.
There are several veteran relievers who could be available on the trade market, and division leaders like the Braves, Red Sox and Tigers reportedly have bullpen help at the top of their priority lists.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com says the NL East-leading Braves are looking for a left-handed reliever and that James Russell of the Cubs and Mike Gonzalez of the Brewers are top targets.
Luis Avilan (1.35 ERA, 15 holds) has been terrific as the primary lefty in the 'pen since season-ending elbow injuries to Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters. Still, adding a second option with late-inning experience and more of an ability to strike hitters out—Avilan has 16 walks and 21 strikeouts in 40 innings—would strengthen the bullpen.
The Red Sox, already down closer Joel Hanrahan for the season due to elbow surgery, have now lost his replacement, Andrew Bailey, to season-ending shoulder surgery. The acquisition of veteran lefty Matt Thornton earlier this month helps, but the loss of Bailey could intensify their pursuit of Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez, who they have scouted, according to Rosenthal.
Evan Drellich of MassLive.com thinks the asking price could be high, which could be a problem if they need to acquire a starter to replace Buchholz. If not, and the rotation isn't in need of an upgrade, they could be more willing to trade a prospect for one of the better relievers on the market. Rodriguez (1.09 ERA, 24.2 IP, 17 H, 9 BB, 26 K, 10 SV) would certainly qualify for that group, as would White Sox reliever Jesse Crain.
The Tigers appear to be casting a wide net in their search for a late-inning upgrade, scouting the Brewers (Rodriguez, Gonzalez and John Axford are all possibilities) and reportedly inquiring about Padres relievers (Luke Gregerson and Huston Street would be candidates), according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
Street has done a great job shutting down opponents in save opportunities (40-of-42 in 2012-2013), but he's giving up an alarming number of homers in 2013 (10 in 32.1 IP), and he's due $7 million in 2014.
Gregerson would likely be any team's preferred choice. The 29-year-old right-hander has been one of the most consistent setup men in baseball since 2009 (2.92 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 9.1 K/9) and, while he's also under contract for one more season, he's expected to make less than Street—somewhere in the $5 million range in his last season of arbitration.
While the Tigers' hope is that they end up with Rodriguez, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN, there will be several contenders trying to land him, and Detroit's farm system isn't full of talent or depth. There are enough relievers on the market where the Tigers should be able to land one. Just not the one they want unless they give up one of their few good prospects.
Jason Kubel on the Trade Block?
With an abundance of outfielders vying for playing time on the 25-man roster, the Diamondbacks might prefer to trade one of them in order to upgrade their pitching staff as opposed to trading away one of their minor league prospects.
Jason Kubel, who is signed through 2013 with a $7.5 million club option in 2014, has had his playing time cut significantly this season, and the overall results have been mediocre (.671 OPS). Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says the Diamondbacks would deal him if they can get a pitcher back in return. But how good of a pitcher would a contending team be willing to give up in order to land the 31-year-old outfielder?
His past success (30 HR, 90 RBI in 2012) will help, but his value is certainly much lower than what it would've been this past offseason. If the asking price is too high for corner outfielder trade targets Alex Rios and Nate Schierholtz, interest in Kubel could pick up.
With the Yankees looking to deal Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, and designated hitter Travis Hafner struggling (.554 OPS since May 1), there could be a possible match between the two clubs. Chamberlain continues to be inconsistent, however, and the impending return of Brandon McCarthy likely eliminates any chance that Arizona pursues a mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter.
Should Angels Be Sellers?
The disappointing Angels are at 46-51 and 9.5 games back of a playoff spot, putting them on the cusp of being labeled as a team that is "out of contention." Morosi tweets that it appears that they should become a seller at this point. He added that shortstop Erick Aybar and lefty reliever Scott Downs could be shopped.
While Downs (1.27 ERA, 17 holds) would certainly attract interest from a contending team like the Braves, trading Aybar doesn't make a ton of sense for a couple of reasons. His value has dipped because of a poor offensive season (.691 OPS, 4 SB), and he's due $8.5 million per season through 2016. Teams won't be willing to offer very much for the 29-year-old switch-hitter.
The Angels also have little depth behind Aybar, especially with Jean Segura in Milwaukee after they dealt him during last year's trade deadline. Utility types like Andrew Romine, Tommy Field and Chris Nelson could help bridge the gap until they can try to fill the spot in the offseason. But there's no guarantee that they could find an upgrade over Aybar, and it's never a great idea to sell low on a player without a better option ready to step in.
Players with value in the organization include center fielder Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo, although both also fit into the team's plans over the next few seasons. Starting pitcher Jason Vargas is a free agent-to-be who would have plenty of interest on the trade market, but he's on the disabled list recovering from a blood clot in his armpit.
If they wanted to make a big splash before July 31, however, they could look to trade C.J. Wilson, who is still signed for another three years and $54 million after the season. The 32-year-old has a 3.15 ERA with a 3.4 BB/9 and 8.3 K/9 in 20 starts.