MLB Trade Rumors: Updating All the Biggest News A Week Before the Deadline
The MLB July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will be here in no time.
And with the date drawing closer, the rumors surrounding players that are known to be available and those who may be on the trade block for the right price are beginning to fly.
So what’s going on with some of the higher-profile players, such as David Price or Cliff Lee? There has been so much written about them that it is hard to keep track of the latest news coming out of various MLB sources.
What about teams that have multiple players in the final year of their contracts or are in the midst of a rebuilding process? Isn't it conceivable that they would be willing to part with pieces under club control for another year or two?
That’s what we’re here to find out.
Before we get started, there is a format note. Some of the following slides will be team specific, while others will focus on an individual player. That is to say, if a club has more than one player drawing significant interest, they will be discussed concurrently.
So here are some updates on the biggest MLB trade news a week before the deadline.
Philadelphia Phillies Awash in Possibilities
One has to wonder what Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is waiting for.
In the last week alone, Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, Marlon Byrd and Lee were all the subject of trade speculation. Heck, even first baseman Ryan Howard’s name was floated by Randy Miller of NJ.com.
With so many assets, it would make sense for Amaro Jr. to begin an overhaul of his roster, considering that the current core has proven unable to get back to the World Series. Unfortunately, the rumors regarding those players being moved are either refuted or, at best, improbable.
Take Hamels, for example. On July 17, The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote: "It makes perfect sense for the [Boston] Red Sox to pursue the Phillies left-hander. They have been scouting him. Why? His contract is precisely the contract the Sox want for a No. 1 pitcher. It has four years remaining at about $90 million."
Cafardo went on to add that adding Hamels would be a move “geared mostly for next season,” and that “the issue for the [Red] Sox would be giving up prospects.” It’s not like the Carmines are wont for talent in the minor leagues, however, and could easily put together a package for Hamels.
Alas, the speculation was quickly followed up by word from WEEI’s Rob Bradford that “the Phillies are currently showing no inclination to trade” their ace. He went on to note that “there hasn’t been any recent discussions between the [Red] Sox and the Phillies regarding the starter.”
Byrd is another story altogether. Ten days ago, he seemed willing to waive his no-trade clause to the Seattle Mariners if it helped the Phillies get better, according to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury. Then, word came from SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo that “multiple reports” state that the right fielder will only acquiesce to a trade “if the Mariners are willing to guarantee his $8 million option for 2016.”
So much for that rumor.
Now, the word “preliminary” should be emphasized, but if Amaro Jr. wants badly enough to make something happen with Burnett, he can find a way to make it work.
And it sounds like Papelbon just wants out of town as long as it’s to a contending team that plans to use him as the closer, as per a separate article from Salisbury. There are salary obstacles, of course, but Papelbon is having a fine season and has a lot of trade value.
As it stands, Amaro Jr. has a wealth of options. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to begin the process. To be sure, it’s probable that he makes one or two moves in the next 10 days, but the Phillies will go into next season with a roster that looks quite similar to the one that opened this season.
That will leave many fans scratching their heads. Then again, what’s new?
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
When the Chicago Cubs acquired shortstop Addison Russell from the Oakland A’s in the trade for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, one reaction was to wonder how much longer Starlin Castro would be on the team.
After all, Russell—who was ranked as MLB’s No. 5 prospect by Bleacher Report’s Mike Rosenbaum—joined Javier Baez (No. 6) at the position in the minor leagues, potentially giving Chicago too much of a good thing. And since they are likely two years away from contention, it would make sense for general manager Jed Hoyer to get as much as he can for Castro. In particular, the Cubs are in dire need of quality arms in the rotation.
Such thoughts are misguided. Per Newsday's David Lennon, Castro isn't likely to be traded at the deadline and could play third base in 2015. This makes the whole situation even muddier.
Don’t forget that the Cubs have third baseman Kris Bryant unstitching baseballs one swing at a time at Triple-A, and moving him could have serious repercussions. That whole idea is a topic for another column, however.
As things are currently constructed, Castro is going to finish this season as the shortstop for the Cubs. And if Lennon’s assessment is accurate, he will be around for a while.
Joakim Soria, CL, Texas Rangers
Right around 10 days ago, multiple sources noted that the Los Angles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers were interested in Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria, as noted by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
Since then, the Angels traded for Huston Street, and the Blue Jays moved Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen at Triple-A in what could be a prelude to his MLB debut, as per Jamie Ross and Chris Toman from MLB.com.
That leaves the Tigers, who are having talks with the Rangers about acquiring Soria, per Morosi.
There is something adding a bit of juice to this rather conventional rumor. See, as Brian Manzullo from the Detroit Free Press noted last Friday, the Tigers don’t “want a reliever who views himself as a pure closer.” Since Soria is clearly a closer, that puts a damper on the enthusiasm, right?
Not so fast. Later that night, Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning News tweeted that a Royals scout was present for the Rangers' game against the Blue Jays:
Of course, the Royals already traded with the Rangers for Jason Frasor, and them grabbing Soria seems unlikely, but it is curious that the same day Manzullo noted that the Tigers want a multidimensional reliever, Soria was brought in during a non-save situation.
We shall see what happens over the next 10 days, but this rumor could have life.
The New York Yankees and the Starting Rotation
The New York Yankees rotation is in disarray.
Masahiro Tanaka is on the shelf for the foreseeable future. CC Sabathia is done for the season and will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. And while general manager Brian Cashman noted that Michael Pineda could rejoin the rotation “sometime in August,” the club is “aggressively looking for pitching help in the trade market,” per George A King III of the New York Post.
There are plenty of rumors floating around to support that notion.
For example, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times posited that right-hander Edwin Jackson could be a fit. In a piece last week, he noted that the Bronx Bombers are “the one team with the financial muscle to take on at least some bad paper,” like Jackson, in order to put together “some semblance of major league starting depth.”
Grabbing a pitcher for the sake of grabbing a pitcher, however, would be ludicrous. To that effect, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News cited sources familiar with the situation when he wrote that the club is “not interested” in trading for Jackson.
With that out of the way, what is Cashman going to do?
Lou DiPietro of the YES Network suggested players like Kevin Correia, Kyle Kendrick, Erik Bedard and Jorge De La Rosa, among others. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News put forward some time ago that Lee would be a nice fit. Then, there is always the pie-in-the-sky idea that Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman will foolishly trade David Price within the AL East.
Objectively, the Yankees were lucky enough to land Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks. If they are going to add another starter, it is going to take quite a bit of magic from Cashman.
As Martino noted, however, “the Yankees are simply not programmed to punt” when faced with trying circumstances.
This is going to be interesting to watch.
Chicago White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn Is Holding the Cards
The question facing Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn isn’t so much when he should start trading, but who should he deal?
Take John Danks, for example. He was pitching to the tune of an 8-6 record with a 3.99 ERA in 19 starts before getting shellacked Sunday afternoon. To be sure, those numbers aren’t going to garner him any Cy Young votes, but he appears to be fully recovered from 2012 Tommy John surgery and is pitching capably. He would certainly bring back at least one prospect with legitimate value in any deal.
The same can be said for Alexei Ramirez. He is one of the best offensive shortstops in the game and has fantastic range in the field. He would also net Hahn a nice return in any trade, and considering that the White Sox have multiple options to take his spot playing in the minor leagues, Ramirez’s departure is certainly an option.
The White Sox are an improving club, though, and Danks is signed for the next two seasons. Ramirez is under contract through next year with an option for 2016. That is a lot of innings and at-bats for Hahn to trade away when the window for contending may open as early as next season.
Danks and Ramirez aren’t the only options, however.
Second baseman Gordon Beckham is available for the right price. According to Morosi, the Sox would move Beckham for the right deal.
Adam Dunn is another guy who the White Sox will try and trade. Of course, he will cost money to move and would likely only net them a box of hand sanitizer and a bag of golf tees, but Hahn would be wise to try to get whatever he can for the left-handed hitter.
Regardless, Hahn is in an enviable position. He has Adam Eaton, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia in place as players to build around and has a vastly improved farm system that is on the verge of bearing fruit. If he can facilitate a couple of well-executed trades, the club’s turnaround could be a quick one.
Ian Kennedy, SP, San Diego Padres
After all, the status of David Price is entirely unknown, and who knows if Burnett, Lee and Hamels are even available. And while Jake Peavy from the Boston Red Sox is pitching better than his record would indicate, Kennedy has more life left in his right arm.
So where will Kennedy land?
Of course, no rumor would be complete without some contradictory information.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote that “you have to give something to gain something, and it remains highly improbable the Padres would receive immediate offense” for Kennedy. In other words, the front office in San Diego isn’t going to move him unless the return can contribute right away.
There are teams out there that could offer that, however, and it remains to be seen who might be available. Kennedy’s name will continue to surface even if he isn’t traded before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. There are still waiver deals to consider.
What Is Tampa Bay Rays General Manager Andrew Friedman Going to Do?
Will he or won’t he?
Given the Rays' poor performance on the field, the argument goes, Friedman should unload them and get as many talented players in return as he can. They do have a depleted farm system, and even if Matt Moore returns next season from Tommy John surgery, he likely won’t be at 100 percent until 2016, so why not move Price and Zobrist and build to contend at that time?
Then again, Friedman could just as soon hold on to each player in the hopes that the Rays will be a better offensive club in 2015. Wil Myers is hurt, after all, and guys like Zobrist and Evan Longoria aren't playing up to their normal levels. They have to be better at the plate next season, right?
And even if next year doesn’t get off to a good start, Friedman could easily move Price and Zobrist at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in 2015. In other words, what’s the rush?
Well, other clubs want Price, and are willing to pay dearly for him.
Look no further than the Oakland A's. When they determined that their No. 1 prospect, Addison Russell, was expendable in order to improve the rotation, they talked with the Rays about acquiring Price, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. That is a franchise-changing prospect the A’s were willing to part with for Price.
Zobrist is also the topic of recent discussions.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times noted that the San Francisco Giants, the Cincinnati Reds and the Seattle Mariners are all interested in the switch-hitter. That many teams interested in one player surely puts the leverage squarely in Friedman’s corner, and he can use said leverage to drive up the price.
Heck, the Mariners may be targeting both of them in a blockbuster deal sure to rewrite the AL West. Fox Sports’ Morosi tweeted late last week that Seattle is discussing the possibility of pulling off this trade.
Of course the likelihood of that happening is slim, but the larger point remains that Friedman would be able to demand a hefty return for the services of either player.
All things being equal, Price and Zobrist should be moved. The Rays don’t have the cash or the farm system to pass up on the opportunity.
That said, Friedman is a cautious GM and will likely play it safe. He will stand pat at the deadline and put each player on waivers. If a deal materializes from there, it will be on his terms. If not, he can always pull them off waivers and wait until next year.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate through Sunday, July 20. Transaction, injury and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was pulled from Cot’s Contracts.