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The Giants could pursue Tigers ace David Price if he’s made available, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Per Morosi, substantive talks will await the Tigers decision to compete or sell. Detroit won earlier this afternoon to improve to 48-49. They’re currently 4.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race. The Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Cubs are also interested in Price (tweet).
Here’s more from the West divisions:
- Astros owner Jim Crane is pleased with the acquisition of Scott Kazmir, reports Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston in a series of tweets (1, 2, 3, 4). Crane says the club will absolutely make a run at the postseason, and he seems confident that “there’s some deals to be done.” Houston is open to taking on a pricey contract for the right guy, “if it makes good sense.” Crane also confirmed that a hitter is among the many things GM Jeff Luhnow is seeking to acquire. Luhnow himself said he expects to be involved in at least one more trade, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
- The Padres are “ready to sell,” tweets Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. However, the club will first see how they perform in a four game set against the struggling Marlins. San Diego is currently seven games below .500 and 7.5 games back in the Wild Card race. Four teams stand between the Padres and a Wild Card berth, but the Braves have already started to disassemble. A sweep could put the Friars back in the thick of the race.
- While San Diego waits to see how the upcoming series transpires, they continue to shop starter James Shields, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN. Stark spoke with one executive who said the Padres would have to eat a big portion of the $65MM remaining on Shields’ contract. Shields is owed $21MM over each of the next three seasons with a $16MM option for 2019 ($2MM buyout). While he’s struggled with home runs this season, he’s also posted career bests in strikeout rate (10.13 K/9) and swinging strike rate.
- The Mariners have asked the Orioles about Triple-A catcher Steve Clevenger, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Talks did not advance. The 29-year-old is hitting well in the minors with a .327/.402/.408 line in 246 plate appearances. He also performed well in a brief major league audition earlier this season, going 5-for-11.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters that a big weekend could lead the club to simply buy, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Texas is expected to market short term assets like Yovani Gallardo as they walk the line between contending and building for next season.
The Rangers are exploring a variety of possible routes at the upcoming July trade deadline, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. They will approach the deadline neither as traditional buyers nor as traditional sellers, and will instead focus on players capable of helping both now and next season, GM Jon Daniels tells Wilson.
“Most of the players we’ve talked about acquiring are multi-year fits, most but not all,” says Daniels. “From an acquisition standpoint, it’s almost more of guys that could fit now but also could fit into a likely off-season plan.”
Nonetheless, the Rangers aren’t yet ready to give up on their season. “We’re realistic about where we are, but we still believe in the team. We’ve got a run in us,” Daniels says.
One player who could fit into the Rangers’ current plans is Cole Hamels, who would help the rotation in 2016, when Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis might be gone due to free agency. Wilson suggests, though, that in order for there to be a trade, the Phillies would have to cover a significant chunk of the remainder of Hamels’ contract and would have to accept a return that does not include top young players Joey Gallo or Nomar Mazara. The Rangers could also target Padres starters James Shields and Andrew Cashner as pitchers who could help the team beyond 2015.
Perhaps such moves are unlikely, however. “There’s also a chance we’re boring and don’t do much,” Daniels says. Daniels also notes that the Rangers aren’t close to trading Gallardo despite his impending free agency.
Much remains up in the air, though, and the Rangers’ performance in the coming days could help shape their strategy. The Rangers are 46-49 and well back of both the Angels and Astros in the AL West. They’re 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot. If the Rangers were to lose additional ground in the coming days, that might point them in the direction of trading Gallardo in particular.
Trading Gallardo could be tricky, however, for reasons that go beyond the standings. As FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron wrote yesterday, there’s a high number of starting pitchers potentially available this week. The qualifying also offer creates a potential disincentive to selling. It’s unclear whether the Rangers would extend Gallardo a qualifying offer if they kept him — as Cameron suggests, it’s probably a close call. If they did, though, it could potentially help them patch their rotation for next season.
The asking price on Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is currently said by one American League executive to be “exorbitant,” tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Other clubs doubt that Reds owner Bob Castellini is open to allowing Chapman to be moved in a trade, according to Stark. This isn’t the first time that Castellini’s name has come up as a potential road block in trades. Peter Gammons recently noted that the Castellini remains reluctant to authorize a sale, even in late July, and others have reported similar feelings from Castellini over the course of the summer. Retaining Chapman would make some sense if the Reds felt they have the pieces in place to make a run in 2016, but he’s already earning $8.05MM (and that figures to jump into the $12MM range this offseason) and is only controlled for one more season.
A few more notes from around the league, courtesy of Stark (all Stark links point to Twitter)…
- The Padres are listening to offers on their entire rotation, but they “really want to move” both James Shields and Andrew Cashner, Stark hears from other teams. Shields’ name has surfaced as an unexpected trade candidate in recent weeks, and it sounds like San Diego is very open to moving Shields’ backloaded deal. A team taking on Shields would need to be willing to commit three years and $64MM to him, barring financial help from the Padres, but there’s also the chance that Shields could opt out of the final two years of his contract. With a strong 2016 performance, he may feel that he can do better than the final $45MM he’s guaranteed over the 2017-18 seasons.
- That the club “really wants to move” Cashner is a bit more puzzling. While Shields is an aging veteran that has the potential to handcuff future payroll flexibility with his sizable financial commitment, Cashner’s 28 years old and enjoying a solid season (though his 4.10 ERA is a bit worse than sabermetric marks such as his 3.69 xFIP). Cashner’s earning a very reasonable $4.05MM in 2015 and will receive a raise this offseason before qualifying for free agency after the 2016 campaign. He does have a lengthy injury history, so perhaps the thinking among the new San Diego brass is that his value won’t be higher than it is now, and they don’t want to risk a second half injury.
- The Astros “aren’t done” after acquiring Scott Kazmir yesterday, per Stark. The team is still hunting for bullpen upgrades (GM Jeff Luhnow’s stated preference has been to add a “flamethrower,” if he upgrades the ‘pen at all) as well as corner outfield bats.
- Similarly, the Royals aren’t targeting one specific area of upgrade, says Stark. Rival clubs say that Kansas City GM Dayton Moore appears to be “open to anything,” whether that means a rotation upgrade, an outfield bat or adding both to the mix.
- There’s a sense among some clubs that tomorrow’s Cole Hamels start could have a great influence on his trade market, it seems, as Stark quotes one executive saying, “He’s pitched in the playoffs and World Series. But for that front office, this may be the biggest start he’s ever had.” The Phillies‘ ace has been torched in each of his past two starts.
In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.
- There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
- The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
- Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
- Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
- The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
- Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
- One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
- Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.
Full Story | 53 Comments | Categories: Cincinnati Reds | Cole Hamels | Craig Kimbrel | Dan Haren | David Price | Detroit Tigers | James Shields | Jeff Samardzija | Joaquin Benoit | Johnny Cueto | Justin Upton | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mat Latos | Miami Marlins | Mike Leake | Minnesota Twins | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rajai Davis | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steve Cishek | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Tyson Ross | Will Venable | Yoenis Cespedes | Yovani Gallardo
The starting pitching market appears to be in flux, with numerous buyers reportedly considering an array of options and a variety of potential sellers weighing whether to deal away impact arms. Here are the latest rumors on the rotation front:
- The Royals are interested in both Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers, as well as other arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Both, obviously, would be pure rental pieces, and we’ve mostly heard of Kansas City connected to half-year contracts. The club’s level of need certainly went up with the loss of Jason Vargas, though it’s unclear whether that will prompt any effort to add more than one pitcher.
- Some rival executives believe that the Braves are willing to deal Julio Teheran, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But an Atlanta source indicates that the team sees too much upside in the young righty (and his reasonably-priced extension) to consider such a move. Teheran, 24, has not matched his excellent results over the prior two seasons, but it does seem hard to imagine the club selling low on him unless president of baseball operations John Hart is just not a believer in his future.
- Rosenthal also addresses the possibility of the Tigers dealing David Price, noting that the team is unlikely to retain him beyond this year if it doesn’t. If and when Detroit puts him on the market, some of the most obviously starting pitching buyers — the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Astros — would have interest, per the report.
- The Padres are not only all ears on outfielder Justin Upton, but are “listening … intently” on soon-to-be free agent starter Ian Kennedy, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, rival executives say that San Diego would “love” to find a taker for righty James Shields. Given that we’ve also heard suggestions that the Padres are holding conversations regarding Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, it would appear that the club is considering a variety of possible scenarios involving its staff.
Full Story | 119 Comments | Categories: Andrew Cashner | Atlanta Braves | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Houston Astros | Ian Kennedy | James Shields | Johnny Cueto | Julio Teheran | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | San Diego Padres | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Tyson Ross | Yovani Gallardo
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.
Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…
- The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
- With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
- In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
- Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
- The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
- The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
- The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
- The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
- Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
- Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.
Full Story | 91 Comments | Categories: Aramis Ramirez | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Cameron Maybin | Carlos Gomez | Chicago Cubs | Chris Johnson | Cincinnati Reds | Clayton Kershaw | Cole Hamels | Corey Seager | Craig Kimbrel | David Price | David Wright | Detroit Tigers | Domingo Santana | Houston Astros | Ian Kennedy | James Shields | Jason Grilli | Jean Segura | Jeff Samardzija | Jim Johnson | Joaquin Benoit | John Gibbons | Johnny Cueto | Juan Uribe | Julio Urias | Justin Upton | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Manny Parra | Marlon Byrd | Mike Leake | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | Newsstand | Orlando Arcia | Philadelphia Phillies | Preston Tucker | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Todd Frazier | Toronto Blue Jays | Will Venable | Zack Greinke
The Padres have asked teams about any possible interest in James Shields, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports (Twitter link). The extent of these discussions isn’t known, as the Padres could’ve been simply doing due diligence on trade scenarios rather than seriously gauging the right-hander’s market, though the fact that Shields’ name has been floated at all is a notable step.
Following today’s win over the Rangers, San Diego enters the All-Star break with a 41-49 record that puts them 10 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and 7.5 games back of the Cubs for the second NL wild card spot. It’s a disappointing spot for a Padres team that made several major additions last offseason, and yet GM A.J. Preller hinted that his club’s trade deadline goal was to reload for 2016 rather than rebuild.
Still, Preller also noted that Padres were open to all options and “the biggest thing we preach to our scouts is to just be prepared for all different scenarios.” Dealing Shields would naturally present a far different “scenario” than dealing, say, a player on an expiring contract. As others have noted, trading Shields just months after the veteran and San Diego-area native signed a large multi-year contract would hurt the Padres in the eyes of both the fans and future free agents who might think twice about signing with the club.
Shields has a 4.01 ERA, 3.28 K/BB rate and a career-best 10.1 K/9 over 116 2/3 innings this season. Advanced metrics (3.30 xFIP, 3.25 SIERA) indicate that Shields’ 4.01 ERA is a bit high, as Shields has been hurt by a 17.9% home run rate — this number is not only well above Shields’ career average, it stands out even more as an outlier given that his home games are at one of baseball’s most notoriously pitcher-friendly ballparks.
Shields is guaranteed roughly $4.1MM for the remainder of this season, then $63MM over the 2016-18 seasons and a $16MM club option (with a $2MM buyout) for 2019. That’s a lot of salary for a 33-year-old hurler, yet since Shields can opt out after the 2016 season, a trading team might prefer such a potentially medium-sized commitment rather than deal for a pitcher on a guaranteed long deal (i.e. Cole Hamels) or one who can enter free agency this winter.
Despite a disappointing 39-49 season thus far, the Padres aren’t planning a complete rebuild, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “We think we’re smarter to put all of our energy into competing year after year after year,” says Padres lead investor Peter Seidler. “We think that’s what the fans want, we think that’s what San Diego wants, and we know that’s what we want.” The Padres’ plans also won’t be dictated by the fact that they host next year’s All-Star Game either, however. “I think ultimately, we’re going to make decisions that are for the best of the franchise and not say, ‘Hey, we have to be at this point because we have the All-Star Game in San Diego next year,'” says GM A.J. Preller. The Padres have a few key players set for free agency after the season, including Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy and Will Venable. Many of their other key players, though, including James Shields, Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris, Yonder Alonso, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp, are under control beyond this season, so they could conceivably make another run at contention next year. That could be tricky, however, given the talent they parted with to acquire many of those players. Here’s more out of San Diego.
- Some in the Padres organization believe the team should trade Shields this summer, promoting him as a lower-cost option than Cole Hamels, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription only). There’s also belief within the organization that they should consider trading Kimbrel as well. Olney suggests Shields (who will make $21MM in each of the next three seasons, plus a $2MM buyout or a $16MM option in 2019) could make sense for the Cubs, Blue Jays or Dodgers. If the Padres were to trade players like Shields and Kimbrel, though, the question would be how they would explain such an abrupt change of course to their fan base.
- Catcher Yasmani Grandal feels the Padres didn’t handle him well, Matt Calkins of the Union-Tribune writes. The team had Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy all pitch to Rene Rivera, leaving Grandal without enough playing time to find a rhythm at the plate. Grandal thought Padres pitchers should be throwing inside early in counts, and the pitchers disagreed. Also, his 2013 PED suspension might have led to further distrust in the Padres clubhouse. This season, Grandal has hit .276/.398/.519 and framed pitches well after heading to the Dodgers in the Kemp deal, while Padres pitchers have struggled.
Rockies starter Jordan Lyles has apparently escaped last night’s injury scare with nothing more than a significant bruise on his right hand, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Lyles says he hopes to make his next start, though it is probably too soon to tell whether he’ll miss some action. The 24-year-old was struck on his throwing hand by an Albert Pujols comebacker last night, with the subsequent swelling leading many to fear that he may have suffered a fracture. Lyles and Eddie Butler have arguably been the Rockies’ most consistent starters this season.
More from the NL West…
- Hector Olivera is expected to arrive in Los Angeles tonight, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Cuban infielder will take his physical and, presuming all is well, his agreement with the Dodgers will finally be official.
- James Shields is delivering on the mound and in the clubhouse for the Padres, leading USA Today’s Bob Nightengale to wonder if the several teams who passed on Shields this winter are now second-guessing their decision.
- Wil Myers has tendinitis in his left wrist as the Padres hope that a few days of rest will help the outfielder avoid a DL stint, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Myers underwent surgery on his right wrist last year, though he was dealing with an existing left wrist injury at that time as well.
- Don Mattingly deserves credit for keeping the Dodgers in first place despite several key injuries and some underperforming stars, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. There have been rumors that the team’s new front office could bring in their own manager after the season is over or if the Dodgers struggled, yet Sherman feels Mattingly is staking his claim as a long-term answer in the dugout.
- Despite the growing buzz surrounding Troy Tulowitzki‘s name, a source tells the Record’s Matt Ehalt that the Mets haven’t changed their thoughts on acquiring the longtime star shortstop. Ehalt cites Tulowitzki’s injury history, the money remaining on his contract and a repeated unwillingness from the Mets to part with top-tier pitching prospects. Wilmer Flores, who homered today, has shown good pop but questionable on-base skills and defense in his first extended look at shortstop in the Majors.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed the Rockies in his latest piece, writing that it’s “obvious to everyone” but Rockies owner Dick Monfort that the time to trade Tulowitzki has come. However, rather than look to begin moving pieces in the wake of a 10-game losing streak, the Rockies are still actively searching for starting pitching in hopes of improving the club. Rosenthal notes that the second wild card spot in each league can often act as “fool’s gold,” leading teams without legitimate hopes of contending to delay, or in some cases, refuse to sell off pieces with an eye toward the future.