Jeff Samardzija Rumors

AL Central Notes: Twins, Polanco, Tigers, White Sox

The Twins announced the call-up of highly-regarded shortstop prospect Jorge Polanco, who will take the roster spot of Trevor Plouffe as he heads to the paternity list. It’s unclear as yet whether Polanco — currently rated the 89th overall prospect in the game by MLB.com — will stick around for a lengthier stretch. He has already seen two brief cameos, and Minnesota probably hopes he’s the future at the position. But the team is struggling to find consistency at shortstop now, as it continues to remain in contention. GM Terry Ryan said yesterday that he isn’t ruling out the possibility of adding a shortstop in the next three days, as MLB.com’s Betsy Helfand reports“If you’ve got a chance to get better, then you look at it,” Ryan said. “If you’ve got a chance to just do something to make a move, that wouldn’t be very smart, either. We’ve got three of them here.” Polanco now joins that group, which also includes Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, and Eduardo Nunez. As I noted in breaking down the shortstop trade market, Minnesota figures as a possible participant, and could find some veteran options available at reasonable prices.

Here’s more from the AL Central:

  • As they approach the deadline, the Twins should exercise caution in making deals for their short-term impact, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN writes. He advocates for a bullpen addition or two, at a relatively low cost, as the best way to balance the team’s solid position in the Wild Card hunt with its long-term interests.
  • Indeed, even with the Royals making big moves to bolster their already high-performing roster, the Twins do not seem inclined to respond to keep up with their division rivals. As MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports on Twitter, Ryan indicated that his moves won’t be dictated by what Kansas City has done: “You still have to do what’s right for your own club,” he said. “You’re not going to be reactionary.”
  • The Twins have steadily enhanced their reliance on analytics, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press writes“It’s probably not at the level the Pirates were at and are at,” says Twins manager of major league administration and baseball research Jack Goin, “but it’s significantly better (than it was). This is just kind of a natural evolution.” You’ll want to give the full piece a read for an interesting look at Minnesota’s changing philosophies.
  • After another rough loss yesterday, the Tigers should be deadline sellers, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press opines. While Detroit is still on the periphery of the Wild Card race, four and a half out, the club has now dipped 13.5 games back of the division-leading Royals. For George Sipple of MLive.com, given the club’s veteran core, there’s a case to be made in either direction — adding pieces or selling off expiring veteran contracts — but no real argument for standing pat.
  • With the White Sox now climbing past the Tigers in the standings, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that he believes there’s a better chance of Detroit moving David Price than there is of Chicago parting with Jeff Samardzija. Both will hit the open market after the year, of course. It’s worth bearing in mind that the latter has far less trade value, making it somewhat easier for the White Sox to keep him and plan to recoup prospect value by extending a qualifying offer after the season (with expectations that it will be declined).

White Sox Waiting To Decide On Dealing Samardzija

9:44pm: Chicago is waiting to see where they stand after their current series to decide whether to move Samardzija, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

6:28pm: The Blue Jays are showing the strongest interest in Jeff Samardzija of any interested team, reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). The Giants, too, have recently checked in on Samardzija, according to Hayes.

[RELATED: Blue Jays Show Interest In Craig Kimbrel]

Toronto’s focus is said to be on the rotation, and they’ve been connected to Samardzija a number of times over the past week. Of course, the Jays are also said to be casting quite a wide net.

As for San Francisco, it’s still unclear whether the club is more than an opportunistic buyer for starters. Recent reports have indicated that the team would like to add a major arm, but may not be willing to extend itself to do so.

On the White Sox side of things, Hayes reported last week that the team is becoming “increasingly willing” to trade Samardzija, who is earning $9.8MM this season and is a free agent at year’s end. That being said, Chicago has still not given a “definitive signal” to other clubs that it will move Samardzija, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets.

With the Wild Card race still not completely out of reach, it seems that the White Sox may be taking things down to the wire. Then, there’s the fact that other, bigger chips may need to move (or be declared off-limits) before Samardzija can be marketed to his maximum value.


Blue Jays, Brewers Still Discussing Mike Fiers

The Blue Jays and Brewers are still discussing Mike Fiers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.  Rosenthal reported last week that the two sides were talking about a swap involving the right-hander, though he added that the Brewers weren’t terribly interested in moving him.

Rosenthal adds that the Blue Jays still have numerous irons in the fire as the deadline approaches.  Toronto continues to show interest in frontline starters like Jeff Samardzija, and Johnny Cueto and also David Price, if he becomes available.

Fiers isn’t arbitration eligible until after the 2016 season and he’s earning just $513K in 2015.  Thanks to making his big league debut later on in his career, the 30-year-old can be controlled through 2019 via the arb process. That team control is one of the reasons that he’s probably appealing to the Blue Jays, but it probably also makes the Brewers reluctant to move him.

Upon first glance, Fiers would seem to be an imperfect fit for Toronto’s Rogers Centre. He’s a right-hander that averages just 89 mph on his fastball and is considered an extreme fly-ball pitcher. However, Fiers’ former teammate, Marco Estrada, has been outstanding for the Blue Jays in 2015.

According to Rosenthal’s report from last week, the Brewers would want multiple pieces as a return in any trade of Fiers. He’s an atypical trade candidate due to the four remaining seasons of control he brings, but the more traditional trade pieces in Milwaukee’s rotation don’t currently hold much appeal. Kyle Lohse, a free agent at season’s end, has struggled greatly in 2015. So, too, has the now-injured Matt Garza, who comes with two more years of a $12.5MM salary.



Central Notes: Twins, Benoit, Kelley, Fiers, Cubs, Samardzija

Rumors from MLB’s central divisions:

  • The Twins are in the market for a power reliever, writes Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Minnesota has long been known for their reliance on command and control pitchers. Their bullpen has a league worst 6.08 K/9. The Tigers are next worst with 7.30 K/9. Twins GM Terry Ryan acknowledged the advantage strikeouts can provide in big situations. If somebody’s got the out pitch to be able to get a strikeout, that’s great. Unfortunately there are pitchers that don’t have that capability as much as others, so it makes those sac flies or putting the ball in play with the infield back … it just gives the other offense that advantage.
  • Minnesota has spoken with the Padres about relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi lists Joaquin Benoit and Shawn Kelley as possible fits. I would add that Brandon Maurer fits the power pitching profile. However, Benoit and Kelley could both hit free agency after this season. Kelley is unsigned beyond this season, and Benoit has a $8MM club option ($500K buyout). Maurer comes with four more seasons of club control. As such, he’s probably more difficult to acquire.
  • The Brewers are drawing plenty of interest in starter Mike Fiers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of MLB.com. However, the club presently plans to keep Fiers. They are more open to trading veterans Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza. Given the performance of both pitchers this season, they’ll have a hard time finding an interested suitor. Garza has a 5.49 ERA in 100 innings while Lohse has scuffled to a 6.29 ERA in 113 innings.
  • Prior to being no-hit by Cole Hamels, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reiterated a need for pitching and bench depth, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN 1000. Hoyer didn’t elaborate about any specific talks. Rogers opines (via Twitter) that the club could seek to make some smaller moves for veterans to bolster depth and balance a young roster. The offense has struggled recently, but the Cubs are still in the thick of the Wild Card race. They’re just 1.5 games behind the Giants for the second slot.
  • The White Sox are increasingly willing to trade starter Jeff Samardzija, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Samardzija has performed below expectations this season with a 3.91 ERA, 6.93 K/9, and 1.67 BB/9. However, he’s posted a strong 2.55 ERA over his last eight starts due to a low HR/FB ratio. While teams may no longer view him as an ace, he has failed to last seven innings in just four of his 20 starts this season. This is my speculation: he could prove to be a valuable innings eater for a club on the bubble like the Orioles or Astros. Hayes also notes that the White Sox have lined up Erik Johnson‘s starts with Samardzija. Johnson is in the midst of a breakout season with a 2.59 ERA, 10.05 K/9, and 2.87 BB/9.
  • The big story tonight is that the Royals nearly acquired Johnny Cueto from the Reds; read all about that here.

Heyman On Padres, Tigers, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Sox, Reds, Marlins, Yankees

The real question facing the Padres at present is not whether to buy or sell, but how far to go in moving pieces, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. At least one rival GM expects the club to “sell big,” and Heyman says that San Diego is “offering around” closer Craig Kimbrel and starter James Shields, both of whom are under long-term control. While the former would figure to have a wide market, potentially including the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Dodgers, another GM says that he believes the club would have to chip in cash to move Shields. That may indicate that he could become an August trade piece, Heyman suggests, because he could well clear waivers. San Diego is interested in adding a young shortstop, he goes on to note, and has looked at several of the Brewers options (Jean Segura, Luis Sardinas, and top prospect Orlando Arcia).

Here are more highlights from the column:

  • Heyman hears that the Tigers are still weighing their options, too, and have not decided to sell. The club could even add an arm, he says, and is likely to see how its next two series play out before reaching a final conclusion.
  • While the Cubs are indeed willing to consider including Starlin Castro or Javier Baez in a deal for Cole Hamels of the Phillies, a source tells Heyman that the team would not be interested in moving both to add the lefty. Philadelphia’s plans for Hamels remain something of a mystery, but per the report the club may be backing down from its previous high-end demands from clubs like the Dodgers (Corey Seager or Julio Urias) and Red Sox (Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart).
  • There is now virtually no chance that Phillies lefty Cliff Lee will try to make it back this year, and he appears likely to retire over the winter.
  • As they approach the deadline and look ahead to free agency, the Cubs have some limitations on their spending capacity but will nevertheless try to add David Price (at least once he hits the open market). Meanwhile, the team has at least some interest in Reds starter Mike Leake as a trade piece but are somewhat hesitant to pursue rental options. While the Giants have plenty of rotation options, they too have considered Leake.
  • While we’ve just heard a suggestion that the Orioles could reverse course, Heyman says that they are still weighing outfield additions. The team has considered rental pieces like Marlon Byrd, Gerardo Parra, and Justin Upton. And he suggests that Carl Crawford or Shane Victorino could make sense as well; presumably, Baltimore would only be interested in either if their current clubs paid down a good bit of salary.
  • The Orioles intend to make qualifying offers after the season not only to Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, but also to lefty Wei-Yin Chen. The 30-year-old never seemed like a qualifying offer-level player, but was strong last year and has put up even better results in 2015 (while significantly outperforming his peripherals, it should be noted).
  • The Red Sox have received no trade interest in struggling first baseman Mike Napoli, says Heyman, but has gotten hits on Victorino as well as bullpen arms Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.
  • The White Sox are looking to add some volume if they deal righty Jeff Samardzija, says Heyman. Chicago would like to pick up four young pieces in any trade.
  • While the Marlins have fielded interest in righty Tom Koehler and super utilityman Martin Prado, the club is not interested in dealing either player at present. Meanwhile, Miami is open to dealing veteran Dan Haren, but has rebuffed at least one club that asked for money to be sent along with him.
  • The Yankees are looking at both second base and top rotation candidates, says Heyman, but don’t feel a pressing need to add in either area. New York has no interest in veteran Diamondbacks infielder Aaron Hill, he adds.
  • Be sure to check out the rest of the piece for more notes on many of the teams around the league.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Samardzija, Soria, Carrasco, Latos

Despite very public statements indicating that the team is all in on 2015, the Orioles are now giving “serious consideration” to selling, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (Twitter links), Baltimore owner Peter Angelos has previously been disinclined to authorize such a move, but that could change (at least in theory) with several of the team’s better players set to reach free agency. Of course, executive vice president Dan Duquette said on Wednesday that his club will be a buyer. But a sweep at the hands of the division-leading Yankees has certainly impacted the team’s chances of making a run at the AL East.

Here’s more from the division:

  • The Blue Jays remain in “active discussions” with the White Sox about right-hander Jeff Samardzija, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Jays have been said to have “strong” interest in adding Samardzija, a potential free agent at the end of the season. Upgrading the pitching staff is the Blue Jays’ top priority in the week leading up to the trade deadline, and Samardzija, whose eight-inning gem on Thursday dropped his ERA to 3.91, would certainly do that. Over his past eight outings, Samardzija has a 2.55 ERA, and he’s lasted at least seven innings in each of those contests. As Peter Gammons pointed out earlier today on Twitter, for a team with bullpen woes in addition to rotation troubles, adding a pitcher that is capable of effectively working deep into games should carry even greater appeal.
  • If the Tigers do end up selling, the Blue Jays will have interest in closer Joakim Soria, tweets Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News. Soria would be a pure rental, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year. He’s earning $7MM and has posted an even 3.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 39 innings this season, though he’s also had an unusually difficult time with home runs, which could make pitching at the Rogers Centre a challenge.
  • The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of Scott Kazmir illustrates that it’s “becoming more clear” that the team is open to a rental acquisition, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi notes that the Kazmir talks were never going to get off the ground based on the asking price — “think Jeff Hoffman or Daniel Norris,” says Davidi — especially considering Kazmir’s injury scares. Health concerns are another reason to wonder if the Blue Jays will seriously pursue Johnny Cueto or not, he adds. While the Blue Jays may be warming to the idea of a rental arm, they can’t afford to have their acquisition miss any time, and Cueto’s had a pair of minor elbow issues in 2015.
  • While the Blue Jays made a “big push” to land Carlos Carrasco from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the trade simply “didn’t get done.” Cleveland isn’t necessarily motivated to trade a starter, though they’re also not entirely ruling out the possibility.
  • The Yankees have shown at least some interest in Marlins righty Mat Latos, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. They join a growing list of clubs that have shown some inclination to take a chance on Latos’s resurgence and past success. New York has given public indication that it is not lining up any major moves, but it would be surprising if it does not at least make a few acquisitions at areas of need, and rotation depth could certainly make sense.

Central Notes: Hamels, Price, Samardzija, ChiSox, Royals, Gonzales

The Cubs have been in discussions with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels and are interested in adding him to their long-term rotation outlook, sources have told CSNChicago.com’s David Kaplan. The Cubs may also add an additional starter as a depth piece, though that acquisition isn’t expected to be significant, he continues. Kaplan also writes that, contrary to previous reports, the Tigers haven’t yet decided to market David Price. A final decision on whether they’ll take a shot at the postseason or sell veteran pieces could come either this weekend or by next Wednesday, Kaplan hears, though I’d imagine that wasting a gem from Price on a 3-2, extra innings loss to the Mariners was a tough pill for the Tigers to swallow as they determine their deadline strategy.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • CSNChicago’s Dan Hayes spoke with Jeff Samardzija following an excellent Thursday start in which he fired eight innings of one-run ball. “It’s been totally silent on my end,” said Samardzija when asked about the possibility that he could be traded. Hayes asked a handful of scouts about Samardzija, with one feeling that he’s overhyped and more of a No. 2/No. 3 starter than a No. 1/No.2 starter. A second said that the White Sox could get a B-level prospect back, to which another replied that if that were the max return, Chicago would be better off holding Samardzija and taking a draft pick for him. Hayes writes that the Sox could potentially keep Samardzija in an attempt to re-sign him in free agency. He’s also since tweeted that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Sox tried to re-sign Samardzija this winter even if they do trade him.
  • The White Sox haven’t yet publicly waved a white flag, but they’re currently active in trade talks, hears ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The Sox reportedly discussed Samardzija with the Astros prior to Houston’s acquisition of Scott Kazmir earlier this afternoon (also via Crasnick).
  • Despite injuries to Alex Gordon and Jason Vargas, Royals GM Dayton Moore tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that he’s not feeling pressure to make a trade. “I don’t know if [losing Vargas] changes our approach,” said Moore. “But it does hurt our depth. He was a big part of our team last year and we expected him to be a big part this year. We haven’t had him much of the year. When we’ve had him, he’s been great.” Moore says adding to the current roster is not a “must,” and any trades would depend on the cost of acquisition.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law reports that Cardinals southpaw Marco Gonzales is now being represented by CAA Sports (Twitter link). Gonzales, a former first-round pick, was previously represented by Rowley Sports Management. The 23-year-old made an appearance in the Majors last season, posting a 4.15 ERA in 34 2/3 innings, but he’s been limited to Triple-A action this season and also missed time due to injury. Gonzales’ change in representation will be reflected in the MLBTR Agency Database. Remember that if you see any errors or notable omissions, you can let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

AL West Notes: Iwakuma, Samardzija, Astros, Angels

With a string of three consecutive strong starts under his belt, Hisashi Iwakuma would make for an interesting trade candidate, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. However, as Sherman reports, the Mariners remain hesitant to undergo any sort of sale of veteran pieces as the trade deadline nears. Iwakuma, who’s earning just $7MM this season ($2.86MM remaining), has now allowed just four runs over his past 20 2/3 innings, striking out 18 hitters against four walks in that time. Iwakuma’s name — and the Mariners’ likely reluctance to sell — are both topics that came up on today’s edition of the MLBTR Podcast.

A few more notes from around the AL West…

  • The Astros discussed Jeff Samardzija with the White Sox prior to acquiring Scott Kazmir earlier today, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The lack of a consummated trade was not due to the fact that the White Sox weren’t willing to part ways with Samardzija, a source tells Crasnick (Twitter link), but rather just due to the fact that the Astros deemed Kazmir a better fit.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Astros aren’t ruling anything out when it comes to their next move on the trade market. The team could use another bullpen arm — GM Jeff Luhnow has voiced a preference to add a flamethrower — and another bat would make sense as well. However, the Astros’ priority, as one team official tells Rosenthal, is simply “talent.” It would seem, then, that the Astros are open to making further moves to bolster their rotation rather than limiting themselves to bullpen or lineup additions.
  • The Angels were already looking at potential third base upgrades before losing David Freese for at least three weeks last night, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. They’re continuing to look at the market for third basemen, but an outfield bat remains the Halos’ top priority, according to Fletcher. Freese hit the DL last night after a Mike Pelfrey fastball broke his right index finger.
  • In the meantime, though, it’ll be Kyle Kubitza occupying Freese’s roster spot. The Angels recalled Kubitza, a 25-year-old prospect acquired from the Braves in an offseason swap, prior to today’s game vs. the Twins. Taylor Featherston got the start at third base, though Kubitza did enter the game as a pinch-hitter.

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

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 are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • 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.

Gammons On Red Sox, Padres, Reds, Zobrist, Hamels, Relievers

In his latest column at GammonsDaily.com, legendary journalist Peter Gammons writes that while we often get caught up in the fascination of which big names will be dealt, the best moves oftentimes look incremental at first glance. The Cubs’ acquisition of Jake Arrieta in 2013’s Scott Feldman trade wasn’t one of the most notable moves that year, but it’s been a coup for Chicago. Likewise, the three-team deal that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit, Avisail Garcia/Frankie Montas to the White Sox and Jake Peavy to Boston was notable, but the impact of the deal looks far greater now than it did at the time. The Indians’ acquisition of Corey Kluber from the Padres in a three-team deal that sent Jake Westbrook to St. Louis and Ryan Ludwick to San Diego didn’t look particularly exciting, either, and the Giants have had huge success with additions like Javier Lopez and Marco Scutaro. All are good examples to keep in mind when looking at any trade that occurs over the next 11 days.

Some highlights from the rumors and rumblings that Gammons hears as the trade deadline nears…

  • The Red Sox were optimistic coming out of the break, but their offensive woes through two games have the team wondering about selling pieces of value from the big league roster. At the same time, however, the Sox haven’t ruled out Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels. A Cueto acquisition seems particularly contradictory, given his status as a rental. However, Gammons notes that the Sox have considered the move, thinking that he could help them make a run and that a rental might give them an inside edge on signing him in free agency. Gammons is the second journalist to mention this today, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford offered a similar take earlier.
  • The Padres were taking bids on pending free agents during the All-Star break, but they’re wondering if improved pitching can carry them into relevancy late in the year. The Padres had an ERA over 4.00 as a team each month but are sitting at 2.93 through 113 2/3 July innings. It’s a small sample, of course, but the team’s talented rotation has underperformed for much of the year. (A suspect defensive alignment can’t have helped matters, of course.)
  • The Reds are the “primary seller to watch,” says Gammons, and as one GM points out, it’ll be somewhat unfamiliar territory for the club. “It’s not easy for them,” the GM told Gammons. “Walt Jocketty has been so successful over the years, he hasn’t had much experience with the sell mode. [Owner Bob] Castellini has been reluctant to pack it in.”
  • The Red Sox may have at one point discussed Cueto, but Gammons writes that the Astros are presently willing to rent the Cincinnati ace. The Royals could be in that boat as well, he adds.
  • Jeff Samardzija is another big rental name on the market, and while the White Sox are hesitant to sell, they expect him to test free agency and know that the Astros and Blue Jays are willing to rent. Gammons adds that the Blue Jays, in particular, have also expressed interest in both Ian Kennedy of the Padres and Mike Leake of the Reds.
  • The Dodgers make the most sense for Hamels, and while multiple reports have indicated that they won’t part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Gammons hears that they may be hesitant to move prospects in their next tier. Los Angeles is reluctant to part with either right-hander Jose De Leon or catcher Austin Barnes, per Gammons. An NL GM called Phillies president-in-waiting Andy MacPhail a “cautious, prudent trader” and noted that unlike Samardzija, Cueto, Leake, Kennedy and Scott Kazmir, Hamels doesn’t have to be traded right now.
  • The Royals, Nationals, Cubs, Mets, Yankees and Pirates are all in the mix for Ben Zobrist at this time.
  • Another GM told Gammons that there are “at least 16 teams” that are pursuing bullpen help. The BravesJim Johnson is drawing quite a bit of interest, with the Blue Jays and Red Sox among the teams to reach out to Atlanta for the purpose of inquiry.