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MLB Rumors: Analyzing All the Latest Whispers, News and Speculation

Joe GiglioContributor IJuly 3, 2014

MLB Rumors: Analyzing All the Latest Whispers, News and Speculation

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    The Major League Baseball trade deadline is officially just four weeks away. By the end of business on July 31, the landscape of the 2014 season will have changed, potentially altering the fate of October in the process. 

    With each passing day, the news cycle will be littered with rumors, speculation and nuggets from the best beat writers and columnists around the game. In reality, much of the conjecture will come to pass, proving to be nothing more than talk between active and smart executives.

    As trade talk flies, Bleacher Report is here to unearth the best rumors, dissect the ramifications and bring perspective to the season thus far.

    Here is what you need to know about the latest banter surrounding the game right now.

Yankees Scouting Chase Headley

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Heading into an afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 2, the New York Yankees owned a team OPS of just .695. Part of the reason for a futile offensive attack in the Bronx: production from the infield.

    Led by a solid rookie season from Yangervis Solarte, Yankee third basemen have posted a .743 OPS, good for 11th in MLB, per ESPN. Second base, however, has been a wasteland. With veteran Brian Roberts commanding most of the playing time, Yankees second basemen have hit just .248.

    Those numbers, combined with the lineup flexibility that switch hitters can provide manager Joe Girardi, has led to speculation around the Yankees and current San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley. According to sources close to Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Yankees have been scouting the impending free agent.

    If a trade commences, the Yankees can add a third baseman looking to improve on a .607 OPS before the offseason. From 2011-2013, Headley owned a 128 OPS+, per Baseball-Reference. If that production arrived in New York, Solarte could shift to second base, potentially filling two holes at once. 

Rays Could Fleece Dodgers for David Price

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Desperation is a recipe for disaster, especially when it comes to trade discussions around the game of baseball. For the Tampa Bay Rays, the upcoming David Price sweepstakes could lead to the fleecing of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team desperate to parlay a high payroll and immense talent into a title.

    On the surface, the idea of the Dodgers trading away top prospects for Price seems strange. Entering play on June 2, Los Angeles' rotation owned an ERA of 3.03, per ESPN. That mark was the best in the sport by a wide margin, signalling the strength of the team.

    With Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke leading the way, starting pitching doesn't seem like a priority for Los Angeles, but adding Price to that staff could create a special trio built for October success. Perhaps that's why the Rays are eyeing Los Angeles' best prospects, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    When asked about the idea of an impact trade, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis summed up the urge to improve, despite the team boasting an immense amount of pitching talent.

    "You're always trying to improve your ballclub," Ellis said, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "Ned Colletti and the front office have always done a good job of improving the ballclub at the deadline. I expect this year will be no different."

    If the Dodgers land Price, they could boast a rotation with three starters with strikeout-to-walk ratios above 5.00, something that's never been done in the history of the game, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required).

    Still, it would come at a steep price if the Dodgers' top prospects are involved.

Quintana Could Be Underrated Trade Gem

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    GAIL BURTON/Associated Press

    In the summer of 2011, the Detroit Tigers traded for a relatively unknown starter in the midst of an above-average season. Despite a losing record, Doug Fister arrived from Seattle, thrived in a winning environment and helped the Tigers reach October.

    According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, current Chicago White Sox starter Jose Quintana could fit that bill this summer for contenders around the big leagues. If a pitching-needy team misses out on big names like Jeff Samardzija or David Price, adding the underrated Quintana could serve in the Fister mold.

    Although they throw from different sides of the mound, the similarities between Fister and Quintana are evident. The following numbers contrast Fister at the end of 2011 to the current version of Quintana, illustrating the merit of Morosi's idea:

    • Career ERA+: Fister 113, Quintana 117
    • Age: Fister 27, Quintana 25
    • Career starts: Fister 69, Quintana 72
    • Years left of team control: Four each

    Since the start of May, Quintana has pitched to a 3.15 ERA across 68.2 IP. While it would behoove the White Sox to pair him with staff ace Chris Sale to form a long-term lefty-lefty tandem, the Mariners once chose to break up a potential young pairing of Felix Hernandez and Fister.

San Diego Relievers Drawing Big Interest

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    Kent Horner/Getty Images

    Amid the turmoil of a failing season and change at general manager, the San Diego Padres must traverse through the trading season. Despite sporting a 37-47 record, the Padres have individual talents that should intrigue contenders. 

    From outfielder Seth Smith to starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, San Diego's patchwork front office could unearth talent for veterans on the 25-man roster. Yet, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, San Diego's relief pitchers are drawing calls, specifically Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit.

    Of course, the interest comes with good reason. Both Street (0.90 ERA) and Benoit (1.30 ERA) have been outstanding and look like potential impact additions for any team inquiring over the next month. Of the two, Street's track record as a closer could make him very attractive.

    Since the start of the 2005 season, Street is one of only seven relievers to toss at least 500 innings and rack up more than 250 saves, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required).

Marlins Looking for Veteran Starting Pitcher

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Miami Marlins deserve an immense amount of credit for staying in the NL East race. Despite losing Jose Fernandez for the season, manager Mike Redmond's club has stayed afloat and is within five games of the NL East leaders.

    If, however, the young, upstart Marlins are going to make a surprise run at relevance this summer, more help will likely be needed. With a rotation filled with 28-or-younger arms, attrition and innings limits could come into play, necessitating the arrival of a veteran arm.

    According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins are currently surveying the market to search for that veteran. Of course, it would take a special veteran to fit the Marlins' short and long-term plans, likely ruling out trading big prospects for a rental.

    If the 2014 Marlins finish around .500, most would deem the year a success. If the team exceeds that and stays in the race due to adding a veteran, even more praise would be in order for the ascending NL East contenders.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com anFanGraphs and are accurate entering play on July 2. All contract figures are courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts at Baseball Prospectus.

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