Rangers To Acquire Cole Hamels In Eight-Player Deal

After months of rumors, Phillies ace Cole Hamels has reportedly been traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal.  The Rangers acquired Hamels, reliever Jake Diekman, and $9.5MM in cash for veteran lefty Matt Harrison, pitching prospects Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, and outfield prospect Nick Williams.

Jul 10, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels is headed to the Lone Star State.

Tonight’s win left the Rangers four games out in the AL Wild Card, but the Hamels deal was likely completed with future seasons in mind as well.  Hamels is signed through the 2018 season and is guaranteed $82.1MM through the end of his contract, plus a 2019 club/vesting option.  Hamels finished his illustrious Phillies career with a flourish, pitching a no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.  The Phillies had drafted Hamels out of high school in the first round in 2002, and he won 114 games for them with a 3.30 ERA, three All-Star Game appearances, and four top-eight Cy Young finishes.  The 31-year-old also sports a 3.09 ERA across 13 postseason starts and was NLCS and World Series MVP when his Phillies won it all in 2008.

Hamels will pair with Yu Darvish, who is presently recovering from Tommy John surgery, atop the Rangers’ rotation, thereby giving Texas a formidable one-two punch to compete in the AL West next year. Joining that pair will be some combination of Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez.

The Giants, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Yankees had also been linked to Hamels in recent days.  According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the lefty wielded his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Astros.  The Phillies did not need Hamels’ consent to trade him to Texas.  With the Royals adding Johnny Cueto on Sunday, teams still seeking an ace in advance of Friday’s trade deadline may turn to the Tigers’ David Price.

Thompson and Alfaro, each top 50 prospects in the game depending on who you ask, are the best pieces coming back to the rebuilding Phillies.  Originally a second-round pick by the Tigers in 2012, Detroit traded Thompson to the Rangers a year ago in the Joakim Soria deal.  Thompson, currently pitching in Double-A, was labeled a “potential No. 2 or 3 starter” by Baseball America prior to the season.  Alfaro, also last seen at Double-A, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law despite a significant ankle injury suffered in June.  Williams is known for an “explosive tool set,” per BA, and he’s currently hitting .300/.357/.480 at Double-A.  The Rangers got quantity in this deal too, as MLB.com says Eickhoff could become a No. 3 starter and BA says Asher profiles as a potential No. 4 starter.

Harrison’s inclusion has a financial element, since the 29-year-old southpaw is owed more than $32MM through 2017.  The Phillies will be on the hook for all of that, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Phillies taking him back may have improved their prospect return, as Harrison has made only nine starts since 2013 due to injuries.  Most recently, he had spinal fusion surgery in his lower back in June of last year and returned to a big league mound this month.

Diekman, a 28-year-old southpaw, has struggled out of the Phillies’ bullpen this year with a 5.15 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.  He has posted strong strikeout rates throughout his career, but this year his walks ballooned and his batting average on balls in play jumped to .381.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first noted that the Rangers and Phillies were moving closer to a Hamels agreement, and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan said the two sides were getting close.  Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Grant, and Sullivan added further details.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the amount of money going to the Rangers.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Medical Concerns Derailed Carlos Gomez-Mets Deal; Brewers Still Plan To Trade Him

11:45pm: Agent Scott Boras adamantly denied that anything is wrong with Gomez from a health standpoint. Via Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Carlos Gomez has never seen a hip doctor and has never had a hip issue in his playing career. Anyone who suggests that is inaccurate and baldly misrepresenting the truth of the player’s condition.”

11:17pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that it was actually the Mets who backed out of the deal due to concerns over Gomez’s hip. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News also hears that Wheeler’s elbow was not the issue (Twitter links).

11:13pm: Tonight’s near-trade of Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores has fallen through, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that Milwaukee’s concerns regarding Wheeler’s medicals caused the deal to collapse. The Brewers, though, are still planning to trade Gomez by Friday’s trade deadline, Nightengale adds.

Wheeler, of course, had Tommy John surgery this spring, so it stands to reason that the Brewers weren’t comfortable with his progress (or perhaps the lack thereof) since the operation in March. By multiple media accounts, the names in the trades were agreed upon, though there was no official announcement of the deal from either club.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said following tonight’s game that a trade “will not transpire,” so it seems that if Gomez is to be traded, it will be to a team other than the Mets — the organization that originally signed him back in 2002.

Gomez should still hold widespread appeal around the league, as he’s earning $8MM in 2015 and has a more-than-reasonable $9MM salary for the 2016 season. Among contending clubs, the Orioles, Astros, Pirates and Giants have all been linked to outfield upgrades over the past few weeks. The Angels, too, have been in the market for an outfield upgrade, though they’ve added three new players this week (Shane Victorino, David Murphy and David DeJesus), so they’re likely out of the mix for outfielders at this time.

And, while the trade ultimately won’t be pushed across the finish line, it does speak to the Mets’ willingness to deal from their current big league roster in order to upgrade the offense. Flores has been a regular contributor to the team in 2015, though they do have internal replacements including Ruben Tejada, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. A report from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan earlier in the night also mentioned that Juan Lagares‘ name had come up as a potential piece for the Brewers t acquire, further demonstrating a willingness on Alderson’s behalf  get creative in order to augment his offense. The Mets have also been prominently connected to names such as Justin Upton, Jay Bruce and Gomez’s Milwaukee teammate, Gerardo Parra.


Pirates Acquire Joe Blanton

The Pirates announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Joe Blanton from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations. Blanton had been designated for assignment by the Royals earlier this week despite generally solid numbers, and he’ll join the Pirates’ roster tomorrow.

Blanton made a nice comeback to the Majors this season after spending the 2014 season away from the game. He’s pitched quite well overall for the Royals, working to a 3.89 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a 48.4 percent ground-ball rate in 41 2/3 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen. Blanton’s 90.8 mph average fastball is the fastest of his career, though one can imagine that’s partly attributable to the fact that 11 of his 15 appearances have come in a relief role.

The veteran Blanton seems likely to be asked to help the Pirates in a relief capacity, but he could also emerge as an option at the back end of their rotation eventually. Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano have all turned in excellent seasons thus far, but each of Jeff Locke, Vance Worley and Charlie Morton has posted an ERA above 4.00.



Astros Designate Roberto Hernandez

The Astros designated righty Roberto Hernandez for assignment to open a roster spot for Jed Lowrie, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  Lowrie will start tomorrow for the Astros at third base, after recovering from May thumb surgery.

The Astros signed Hernandez to a minor league deal in February, and he made the team out of spring training.  His contract was worth $2.65MM.  Hernandez, 35 in August, posted a 4.36 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9, and 51.9% groundball rate in 84 2/3 innings, including 11 starts.


Matt Holliday Re-Injures Right Quadriceps

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday left tonight’s action with a right quadriceps injury, Kevin Modelski of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It remains unclear at present how serious the injury is, though it occurred to the same muscle that Holliday tore. He missed five weeks for the initial tear.

Obviously, a similar absence would increase the Cardinals’ need to add a bat. The team has long been expected to make a move to fill in for first baseman Matt Adams, and recently called up top prospect Stephen Piscotty to add support. St. Louis has been said to be weighing a move for Adam Lind (or someone of his ilk), and that seems all the more likely now.

The 35-year-old Holliday hasn’t posted his usual power numbers in 2015, but he’s still batting an excellent .291/.411/.422 in 253 trips to the plate. An update on his health will be made tomorrow morning, at which time we’ll know more on whether or not the unfortunate news will prompt the Cardinals to jump into what has already been an exceptionally active trade market this week.


Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros Show Initial Interest In David Price

David Price has generated significant early interest since the Tigers declared themselves open to offers earlier today. Several teams have already emerged as early leaders to get the ace lefty.

Per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays, and Yankees are all in contact with Detroit and make up the “four main teams” in the mix. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who was first to note that the Blue Jays had made contact on Price, adds the Astros as a team that is in discussions (Twitter link).

Especially with Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels now off the market, Price is undoubtedly the best pitching trade piece remaining. He was dealt at the last minute in 2014 for an interesting package in a three-team deal, and now seems destined again to be one of the most-watched names in the final two days leading up to the deadline.


Dodgers To Acquire Latos, Wood, J. Johnson In 3-Team Deal; Olivera To Braves

8:56pm: The deal still has various obstacles and probably will not be completed tonight, Passan tweets, with medicals being one of them.

8:45pmHector Olivera is in the deal as the main piece coming back to Atlanta, Bowden tweets (as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman first tweeted). Braves reliever Luis Avilan will also go to the Dodgers, Bowden tweets.

Atlanta will also add Dodgers minor league Zach Bird, Passan tweets. The Braves will receive a major league reliever, Sherman tweets. And the Marlins’ competitive balance pick, which had been slated for the Dodgers, will go to the Braves. Sherman adds on Twitter. (This is probably why the original deal had to be held up for the Braves to move in, as comp picks can only be traded once.) Morse will go to Atlanta in this iteration of the pact, Rosenthal tweets.

It’s worth bearing in mind, with regard to Olivera, that a whopping $28MM of his original deal (six years, $62.5MM) has already been paid through a signing bonus. With a $2MM salary this year, that means Atlanta can control him for the next five years for just $32.5MM.

7:53pm: The deal is nearing completion, Morosi tweets. Top prospect Jose Peraza could also be involved, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets, and Sherman says that he will in fact be in the swap (via Twitter).

Wood could end up being flipped as part of a deal for David Price or Cole Hamels, Sherman and Rosenthal both suggest.

7:46pm: Alex Wood is the Braves pitcher who would go to the Dodgers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Reliever Jim Johnson is also part of the deal, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.

7:45pm: The Braves have emerged as another party in what will apparently be a three-team trade upon completion, reports Rosenthal (via Twitter). If the deal gets done, “significant” additional pieces will be involved and a young starter will go from the Braves right into the Dodgers rotation, Sherman reports (Twitter links). A reliever of some kind also factors into things, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets.

6:29pm: The deal is “simply being held up by paperwork,” tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

2:38pm: Righty Jeff Brigham is one piece of the deal going to Miami, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets.

Meanwhile, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com suggests on Twitter that the reason for the hold-up in learning the final transaction’s parameters is that a third club may be involved, creating a “bigger” overall deal.

11:19am: The Dodgers have agreed to acquire starter Mat Latos and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse from the Marlins, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports on Twitter. Three pitching prospects are going to Miami in the deal, in which Los Angeles will take on all of the remaining salary owed to Latos and Morse, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link). Notably, the Dodgers will also get the Marlins’ competitive balance selection in next year’s draft; currently, it’s the 35th overall selection, though that will likely change as teams sign qualifying offer-bound players next winter.

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Los Angeles has long been said to be heavily pursuing starting pitching, and the addition of Latos gives the team a mid-rotation arm with some upside. The Dodgers will still pursue higher-end pitching, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter), with the club still looking to add either David Price or Cole Hamels.

While he’s battled injuries and struggled early in the season, Latos has increased his velocity and upped his results since returning from a DL stint. All told, the 27-year-old Latos owns a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings on the year. But ERA estimators view him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor, and that has shown up in his last seven starts, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 45 2/3 frames with a 43:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Latos is earning $9.4MM this year, his final season of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market. Morse, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $16MM pact ($7MM this season, $8MM next, plus a $1MM signing bonus). That would appear to suggest that Los Angeles will take on around $14.3MM in total salary in the swap, though Nightengale tweets that the deal passes on about $13.5MM in obligations.

Morse seems an odd fit for a Dodgers club that is set at first with Adrian Gonzalez and loaded with outfield bats. (The club also does not have a need for the services of a DH, of course.) But taking on his salary surely offsets the prospect price that was required to bring on Latos, and Los Angeles surely also valued the draft choice it will receive. Miami received the fifth Round A selection in next year’s draft in this year’s competitive balance lottery; the precise pick slot will depend upon the results of next year’s qualifying offer free agents.

The 33-year-old Morse continues to produce up-and-down results. After a quality 2014 campaign with the Giants, he’s missed significant time for Miami and owns a .214/.277/.314 slash over 173 plate appearances. He could still hold appeal for other teams looking for a bat, assuming that Los Angeles sees no use for him in its current alignment.

For Miami, the deal follows the sale of Steve Cishek as the team looks to save some salary and re-organize its roster in the midst of a disappointing campaign. Latos was brought in from the Reds over the winter in exchange for a more controllable arm in Anthony DeSclafani, while Morse was the team’s biggest free agent acquisition. One other significant move in the offseason was the trade that delivered Martin Prado. He too could still be traded, but Frisaro tweets that clearing Morse’s salary makes that less likely. The club has also continued to sell off its competitive balance picks, sacrificing the ability to add draft talent (though it has obviously managed to shed salary obligations and/or add other pieces in the process).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Astros, Padres “Gaining Steam” In Trade Talks; Houston Focused On Ross

7:30pm: The Astros are more interested in Ross than they are in Cashner, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

6:01pm: The Astros and Padres appear to be making some headway when it comes to a trade involving some of San Diego’s pitching, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One source told Drellich that things are “gaining steam,” though multiple people close to the situation told him that there’s nothing “in the red zone” just yet.

Drellich lists Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner as possible fits for the Astros, and it should also be noted that the Padres have reportedly been pushing to unload the remaining three and a half years on James Shields‘ backloaded four-year, $75MM contract. ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently reported that rival teams expect the Padres to pull off some form of “huge” trade, though there’s nothing yet to indicate the magnitude of a potential swap between Houston and San Diego.

Houston is still interested in Cole Hamels, Drellich hears, but they don’t expect to acquire him. The Rangers are regarded as the favorite, Drellich writes, and all of these moving pieces could align to give us an indication as to what’s to come in the next two days. Not even an hour ago, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that talks between the Padres and Rangers regarding Cashner and Ross had cooled off. As Stark tweets, that may serve as another sign that Texas is the favorite for Hamels. It would make sense, then, to hear that the Rangers’ talks for Cashner and Ross have slowed just as the Astros’ talks with the Padres — perhaps for one of those two pitchers — are beginning to gain traction.


Tigers Preparing To “Reboot,” Listening On Price, Cespedes

The Tigers are lining up for a sale, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the team is telling rivals that they are “rebooting.” GM Dave Dombrowski confirms that he’s ready to listen on all of the team’s pending free agents, as Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets.

That means that Detroit is willing to sell David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and other pieces. “We’re only going to make a trade if we think it makes sense for us,” said Dombrowski (via Beck, on Twitter). “But we think [the reboot] gives us a chance to restock our club.”

Needless to say, adding Detroit’s expiring veteran assets will have a significant trickle-down effect. Price will land atop the market for starters, possibly impacting the Phillies’ efforts to move Cole Hamels as well as the value of other arms. Clubs interested in corner outfielders can now look to Cespedes as well as Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez (among other options).

Those two aren’t the only veteran Tigers that should draw interest. Closer Joakim Soria becomes one of the more appealing rental relief arms, while Rajai Davis could be a nice piece (especially in high-leverage situations down the stretch and in the post-season) for a team that has a need in center field. Catcher Alex Avila can also be had, and Alfredo Simon may make for a useful swingman piece.

Price’s market, of course, is where most of the immediate interest will go. As Stark writes, teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Yankees have been waiting on other pitching moves to see whether Price would be available. Now that he is, expect his market to heat up quickly.

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Angels Sign Wesley Wright To Minor League Deal

The Angels have signed left-hander Wesley Wright to a minor league contract, according to a tweet from Wright’s representatives at Reynolds Sports Management. The veteran reliever will report to Triple-A Salt Lake for the time being.

Wright, 30, began the season with the Orioles after agreeing to a one-year, $1.7MM free agent contract. He spent the 2014 season with the Cubs and enjoyed good success as a member of the Chicago bullpen, making him a somewhat surprising non-tender. Last year, Wright pitched to a 3.17 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate while holding opposing lefties to a .273/.321/.273 batting line.

In 2015, though, Wright has been plagued by a strain and inflammation in his left shoulder. He spent three months on the disabled list before being activated and promptly designated for assignment. Wright tossed just 1 2/3 innings for the Orioles this year but has been a reasonably effective relief pitcher for much of his career.

Dating back to 2011, Wright has a 3.27 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 168 innings of relief between the Astros, Cubs, Rays and Orioles. He could emerge as a left-handed relief option for the Angels, who currently have lefties Cesar Ramos and Jose Alvarez pitching well in the bullpen.


Rangers Designate Wandy Rodriguez For Assignment

The Rangers announced (via EVP of communications John Blake) that they have designated left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for assignment. Lefty Alex Claudio and righty Jon Edwards were promoted from Triple-A as well, with right-hander Phil Klein being optioned to the minors.

The DFA of Rodriguez is somewhat of a surprise, as the left-hander has been a mostly solid rotation piece for Texas this season and has even been rumored as a potential trade candidate. The DFA, though, certainly doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade. It does allow potentially interested parties, though, to show limited interest with the hope that Rodriguez will eventually become a free agent and be available for the league minimum.

The 36-year-old Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Braves this winter but didn’t make the team’s rotation in Spring Training despite quality numbers. (That spot went to fellow lefty Eric Stults.) Rodriguez worked to a 3.20 ERA with a 50-to-23 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings over his first 11 starts this year, though he’s recently been hit extremely hard in a pair of outings. Rodriguez has a 9.97 ERA over his past 21 2/3 innings, although the vast majority of that damage came in a pair of brutal outings where he combined for 15 runs in five innings. He’s mixed in a pair of very solid five-inning starts in that time as well.

Overall, Rodriguez has a 4.90 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate in 86 1/3 innings this season. He’s never been a hard thrower, but he’s creeping ever closer to the “crafty lefty” territory, as his 2015 heater is averaging just 88.4 mph. Recent meltdowns notwithstanding, Rodriguez has a fairly palatable 4.27 FIP and 4.28 xFIP on the season, so one would think that he could still be a passable back-end starter for a team with a top-heavy rotation.


Pitching Notes: Leake, Astros, Pirates, Angels, Johnson, Royals

The sudden availability of David Price will shake up the starting pitching market, of course, but there are plenty of less significant, but still notable developments to cover. Let’s take a look in at a few notes on the pitching market.

  • Reds starter Mike Leake is among the many pitchers still being considered by the Blue Jays, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Per Rosenthal, the club is looking at a variety of arms at a similar level of ability, with the hope of getting the best value out of a deal.
  • The Astros are “monitoring” the market for bullpen pieces, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. They have given at least some thought to quality arms like Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, and Francisco Rodriguez. Houston is also still involved on Cole Hamels, though it still doesn’t seem that they are terribly likely to get him, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Pirates, meanwhile, seem to be looking more at middle relief options, per MLB.com’s Tom Singer. And the Angels are also looking to add another arm to their pen, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter. Los Angeles is looking for something on the order of last year’s addition of Jason Grilli says Gonzalez. Presumably, the same holds for Pittsburgh, which sent Grilli out west last summer in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.
  • With many teams (including those just noted) looking to add arms, the Braves are “getting lots of play” on righty Jim Johnson, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Johnson isn’t too expensive, has been solid this year, and has obviously spent a lot of time in high-leverage situations, so it stands to reason that he’ll be moved to a contender looking to build out their stable of relief arms.
  • The Royals asked the Tigers about Price before acquiring Johnny Cueto, but moved on to the righty when they learned that Price was not yet being marketed, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets.
  • Wondering who the teams listed above could target? MLBTR recently listed the starters and relievers most likely to be available at this year’s trade deadline.

Red Sox Designate Jemile Weeks For Assignment

The Red Sox have infielder Jemile Weeks for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for Josh Rutledge, tweets Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. Rutledge was acquired in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to the Angels.

Weeks’ stay on Boston’s big league roster was brief, as he was only recalled earlier this week. He picked up nine plate appearances with the Red Sox, collecting three singles in that time and also striking out twice.

The younger brother of Rickie Weeks, Jemile is a former 12th overall draft pick (Oakland, 2008) that hasn’t seen his career pan out after a promising rookie campaign in 2011. That year, he appeared in 97 games with the A’s and batted .303/.340/.421 with 26 doubles, eight triples, a pair of homers and 22 steals. He’s hit just .226/.307/.311 in 574 plate appearances between the A’s, Orioles and Red Sox since that time.


Reactions To The Jonathan Papelbon Trade

The Nationals entered the trade market yesterday to add Jonathan Papelbon from the division-rival Phillies. Before moving on Papelbon, the Nationals looked into both Craig Kimbrel of the Padres and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. But the team moved on when it was quoted an asking price of two top young players (from among Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Joe Ross). It’s no surprise, then, that the team moved on to Papelbon — who was a “backup” trade target, per the report.

Here’s more on the deal:

  • In exchange for Papelbon (and for keeping $4.5MM of his contract), the Phillies will get righty Nick Pivetta. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, the righty has a good arm and frame that bodes well, though he has the upside of a back-of-the-rotation starter. If he can’t reach that level, though he figures to be a middle relief piece down the line. ESPN.com’s Keith Law largely concurs in that assessment, noting that Pivetta lacks significant upside. It’s easy to see, then, how the deal made sense for both clubs: the Phillies could use a mediocre starter at the back of their rotation, while the Nationals have enough current and future options to make that a largely unnecessary luxury.
  • The move generated some controversy, owing to the fact that the club reportedly promised to use Papelbon as its closer despite the presence of high-performing reliever Drew Storen. The thrice-deposed 9th-inning man declined to say much about the move, but did indicate that he and his agent are having ongoing discussions with GM Mike Rizzo. As Svrluga writes in an even-handed take on the matter, it’s clear that Storen did not deserve to be demoted out of the ninth inning. But the club also had a valid desire to bolster its late-inning relief corps, and adding Papelbon was a good piece for the team to add. As he notes, teams have increasingly recognized the value of filling high-leverage innings with quality arms, regardless of who actually takes the closer role.
  • Jonah Keri of Grantland writes that the trade checks plenty of boxes for the Nats at a reasonable cost. In spite of the off-field risk involved with replacing Storen, it seems to Keri like a worthwhile gamble.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that the Nationals have shown a lack of confidence in replacing Storen. He says that the move might be more palatable had the club added a clearly superior pitcher, such as Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, but suggests that bringing in a similarly effective reliever was something of a slap in the face to a player that the Nats drafted and developed.
  • From my perspective, adding Papelbon says less about how the Nationals feel about Storen than it does the club’s desire to maximize the impact of a bullpen addition with a minimal expenditure of resources. As Rosenthal has observed (Twitter link), Washington seemed reluctant to add significant salary obligations to this year’s payroll at the deadline. It likely would have cost more in salary, prospects, or both, to add a different arm that could simply be slotted into a set-up role. And the team may well have ascribed some value to adding a player with Papelbon’s late-inning and big-game experience, whether or not that was tied to Storen’s own spotty track record in very limited postseason innings. It’s true that Storen did not “deserve” to lose his role, of course, and that he’ll sacrifice some earning capacity through arbitration with the lack of save opportunities. But we see such moves happen all of the time from clubs looking to save money, make upgrades, and otherwise improve their short and long-term position. While the clubhouse aspect and Storen’s feelings certainly should factor in the team’s decisionmaking, then, I’m not sure there’s a compelling fairness point to be considered.

Latest On Padres: Baez, Kimbrel, Deadline Strategy

2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.

11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.