6:10pm: The Brewers’ trade talks surrounding catcher Jonathan Lucroy are picking up, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (links to Twitter). The Indians, Rangers, Mets, Astros and Red Sox have all been mentioned in connection with Lucroy, Crasnick notes, and offers being made by other clubs have become more serious recently. Crasnick adds that the the ever-popular “mystery team” may have entered the mix as well.
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested today that the action is heating up, but that his team isn’t close to striking any major new deals, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter links.) Boston’s chief baseball decisionmaker said that he has fielded five new trade proposals today alone, with other organizations seemingly looking to make off with some of the team’s prime prospect assets. But while ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark cited rivals as suggesting that the Sox were aiming to do “something big,” via Twitter, Dombrowski said that the team doesn’t feel pressure to pull off another move.
- One area that the Red Sox have some obvious room for improvement is the bullpen, particularly with Koji Uehara looking like a major question mark down the stretch and Craig Kimbrel still working his way back. But with Kimbrel seemingly progressing well, Dombrowski suggested that the organization doesn’t feel compelled to add relief help, as Abraham further tweets.
- Meanwhile, though Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz isn’t filling much of a present role, Dombrowski says that he’s still an important part of the team’s rotation depth, as Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com reports. With Dombrowski also saying he is impressed with the way Buchholz is throwing the ball, it doesn’t seem as if there’s any momentum towards a deal involving the veteran.
- The Royals have interest in Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz, who’s currently in their bullpen, but Boston would have to pick up large portion of his remaining $13MM salary for 2016 in a trade. Buchholz’s contract also includes a $13.5MM club option for next season. In 20 appearances (13 starts) and 82 2/3 innings this season, the 31-year-old has compiled a sky-high 6.10 ERA to pair with ugly strikeout and walk rates (5.99 and 4.03, respectively, per nine).
- The Marlins scouted Red Sox southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez and a couple of Twins – right-hander Ricky Nolasco and left-hander Tommy Milone – in Boston earlier this week. It looks as though the 23-year-old Rodriguez is unavailable, per Cafardo. Nolasco, a former Marlin, is on a $12MM salary through next season and has continued a trend of having difficulty preventing runs this year (5.40 ERA) through 116 2/3 innings. Milone has also posted a lofty ERA (4.71 in 49 2/3 frames), though he carries a more modest salary of $4.5MM.
Per the report, the Red Sox are among the teams to have logged a phone call with the Chicago brass. Heyman suggests that Boston could theoretically also have interest in reliever David Robertson, and also notes that the Dodgers will surely check in on Sale and Quintana. No doubt plenty of other teams will also; as the recent chatter surrounding Chris Archer shows, controllable standouts draw wide interest no matter the time of year.
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is recovering well from July 11 left knee surgery and, in a best-case scenario, could return in the first few days of August, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. On the other hand, fellow late-game option Koji Uehara isn’t a lock to pitch again in 2016. The 41-year-old hit the disabled list with a pectoral strain Wednesday and received a platelet-rich plasma injection Thursday, and manager John Farrell said Saturday that the Red Sox are “hopeful” he’ll return this season. Uehara won’t throw again for an undetermined amount of time. It stands to reason that his absence could galvanize the Red Sox to address their bullpen even further around the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. They already picked up Brad Ziegler in a deal with Arizona earlier this month.
- Regardless of what happens with their bullpen, the Red Sox continue to hunt for starting pitchers, per Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. They’ve already checked in on White Sox ace Chris Sale and the Rays’ Chris Archer, though it was merely due diligence in the case of the latter, a source told Drellich. With David Price, Steven Wright, Rick Porcello and the recently acquired Drew Pomeranz in the fold, at least 80 percent of Boston’s rotation appears set, and the Wild Card-leading club has gotten back-to-back strong performances from 23-year-old southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez.
- The White Sox are reportedly asking for “five top prospects” for Chris Sale, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. It’s an incredibly high asking price but one that at least one rival executive thinks will be met, though others believe Chicago may not actually be serious about dealing its ace. The Marlins are among the teams who have inquired about Sale but with such a thin farm system, Miami doesn’t seem close to meeting Chicago’s demand. The Red Sox and Rangers do have deep systems and have asked about Sale, though Heyman reports that the Rangers/White Sox talks haven’t led to much progress.
Clay Buchholz may be in his final days as a member of the Red Sox, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Teams have inquired with the Red Sox about the struggling right-hander, Bradford reports, and his sparse usage as of late has the pitcher himself pondering his future with the club. “…I feel like the guys they’re rolling out there, I don’t have a spot. I’m the odd man out,” said Buchholz in reference to the rotation. “I’m not sure. I don’t know. Not having pitched in a while I felt like something has be going on.” Manager John Farrell offered a rather frank analysis of the situation when asked by Bradford: “He’s in a tough spot, I’ll be candid. I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot. There was the four-day layover over the break. We’ve played very good winning baseball. We’ve gotten starters deeper into ballgames where the bullpen has been rested. That’s where the decisions have come in.” Buchholz’s contract has one more club option at $13.5MM on it, so perhaps an interested party would look to buy low in hopes of revitalizing him over the final two months of the year and making that option look like a reasonable price.
- The Red Sox hoped that adding Brad Ziegler would constitute sufficient pen depth, but now Koji Uehara has joined Craig Kimbrel on the 15-day DL. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes that Boston ought to add at least one more reliever from outside the organization. Though the team isn’t without its internal options, including Joe Kelly, Silverman suggests that it would be wise to have alternatives in place.
- The Rays are in a powerful position on the trade market, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. With so few options on the market for starting pitching, they’re poised to ask for lofty demands for any of Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore or even Chris Archer, though the common refrain on Archer is that he won’t be moved. The Dodgers and Rangers are both following the Rays’ starters closely, and Topkin lists the Pirates, Astros, Marlins, Nationals and Red Sox as teams with serious interest. Topkin adds Pearce, right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the list of possible trade options for president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and his staff. Notably, the Marlins were recently tied to left-handed relief help, so they could be interested not only in Tampa Bay’s starters but Cedeno as well.
The Red Sox placed right-hander Koji Uehara on the 15-day disabled list with a pectoral strain earlier today, and manager John Farrell told reporters tonight that due to the “unique” nature of the injury, it’s difficult to put a timetable on the 41-year-old’s return (link via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable). “At the time of the injury we knew it was significant and we put him on the DL before the MRI,” Farrell explained. “It obviously confirms a strain. To what extent? We’re still getting our arms around that. This is a unique injury for a pitcher. I guess the best thing I can tell you is the MRI does confirm the strain.” With Uehara now joining closer Craig Kimbrel and Junichi Tazawa on the shelf (as shown on their depth chart), Brad Ziegler will step into the ninth inning for the BoSox. However, one can imagine that poor news regarding Uehara could prompt Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to further explore a trade market which he has already frequented.
- The Red Sox have released lefty Wesley Wright, per Eddy. Wright, 31, had carved out a role as a useful pen piece, working to a 3.26 ERA in 173 2/3 frames over 2011 through 2015. But he has battled through some shoulder issues and has seen his velocity and strikeout rate plummet of late. Wright was carrying a 5.31 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket.
- The Twins have engaged in talks with the Red Sox, with Boston keeping an eye on righty Ervin Santana, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. But the teams do not appear to be lining up at the moment. Meanwhile, Minnesota still needs to decide if it wants to keep useful veterans around its talented but not fully realized core, and Berardino wonders whether it will end up making sense to part with the final two years of Santana’s deal now that he’s pitching fairly well.