Johnny Cueto Rumors

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.

Rotation Rumors: Royals, Teheran, Price, Padres

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.

Heyman On Cueto, Uribe, Wilson, Brewers, Niese, Pirates, Gallardo

In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”

Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):

  • The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
  • While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
  • Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
  • The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
  • The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
  • While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
  • Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.


Central Notes: Cueto, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Garza, Cubs

At least one executive of a club with interest in Reds starter Johnny Cueto saw significant concern in his latest outing, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Though he only allowed four hits and two runs, Cueto walked six and lasted just four innings, marking his second consecutive start of five innings or less. He also generated a season-low three groundball outs. Given Cueto’s status as one of the premium rental trade pieces on the market, and some pre-existing injury questions, his next appearance could be one to watch.

Here’s more from the game’s central divisions:

  • We heard yesterday that the Tigers were gearing up to sell, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes on Twitter that multiple GMs tell him they have yet to be informed that Detroit will sell. Per Rosenthal, it’s still up in the air whether the Tigers will move quality veteran assets such as David Price and Yoenis Cespedes.
  • The Pirates are not only looking at possible shortstop acquisitions but continue to seek an addition at first base, Stark tweets. Pedro Alvarez has provided only average offensive production while struggling mightily with the glove. Of course, the first base trade market is not exactly overflowing with obvious upgrade candidates.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti says his team plans to be an “opportunistic” and “open-minded” participant on the trade market, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. One thing the team likely won’t do, however, is deal from its array of quality, controllable starting pitchers. “We are not motivated at all to do that,” said Antonetti.
  • The Brewers will welcome back righty Matt Garza from the DL tonight, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. That means he ought to have two starts to show his health and regain some trade value, though Garza’s big contract makes him a viable August trade piece as well (since he’d very likely clear waivers).
  • The Cubs got promising news on the injury front, as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports (Twitter links). Backstop Miguel Montero has only a sprained left thumb, rather than something more serious, though he is still set to rest for two weeks before being evaluated again. And minor league infielder Javier Baez may appear in game action this week. That makes the high-upside prospect a more viable trade piece if the Cubs decide to pursue a significant upgrade.

NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Bruce, Cardinals, Pirates

It’s more accurate to characterize the Reds as “listening” than in gathering up kindling for a fire sale, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets. Other teams indicate that Cincinnati does not seem to be in a hurry to deal potential rental pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. It still seems reasonable to expect that both of those soon-to-be free agents will be moved, though the team does have a number of other assets that pose more difficult strategic questions.

Here’s more on the Reds and the rest of the NL Central:

  • Reds reliever Manny Parra has a strained left elbow, leading MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon to suggest on Twitter that the southpaw is unlikely to be dealt this month. The 32-year-old free-agent-to-be has not performed as hoped for since signing a two-year pact with Cincinnati, though he does carry peripherals that suggest he’s been better in 2015 than his current 4.00 ERA. With a $3.5MM salary this season, Parra certainly could be an August trade piece if he’s able to return to health.
  • Some rival executives have speculated that there could be a potential match between the Reds and Royals on outfielder Jay Bruce, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. He adds that Cincinnati scouts have been taking a look at K.C.’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates. With Alex Gordon out and Alex Rios having struggled (though he has picked things up of late), it’s easy to see why there might be some interest from the Royals in the fairly affordable and talented 28-year-old.
  • While the Cardinals‘ need for a left-handed bat is fairly straightforward to assess, the club’s preferred route on the pitching side is somewhat harder to peg, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team certainly has rotation options, Strauss explains, and GM John Mozeliak said recently that the quality work of the staff makes it unfair to say the club is “out on the market looking for starting pitching.” But with some cause for trepidation over the number of innings being shouldered by key starters and relievers, says Strauss, it appears likely that St. Louis will look to make some kind of pitching addition (as it has in each of the last four seasons). “I still think we have internal resources to handle the pitching, but I’m not going to ignore the market or not remain opportunistic if something comes up that makes sense for us,” said Mozeliak.
  • The Pirates have at least some interest in Padres outfielder Justin Upton, but will likely look first at infield additions if the team feels it necessary to fill in for the injured Jordy Mercer, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. We just learned that Mercer is expected to miss at least six weeks of action, which certainly suggests the possibility of an acquisition — particularly given that Josh Harrison is also out. Of course, it is entirely unclear whether Pittsburgh will be looking more for a major contributor or a competent fill-in. The latter may be more likely given that both Mercer and Harrison figure to return this year, at least so far as has been reported publicly.

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.

Pitching Notes: Hamels, Cueto, Kazmir, Haren

While some have speculated that Cole Hamels is pitching with an injury following a disastrous pair of starts (14 runs in 6 2/3 innings), ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that other clubs don’t believe there to be a physical issue with the Phillies‘ ace. One NL exec told Stark that he didn’t buy it. “If he was iffy, they wouldn’t put him out there. He’s too valuable,” Stark was told. Here’s a look at the latest pertaining to Hamels and the rest of the trade market for starting pitchers…

  • The newest column from Joel Sherman of the New York Post follows up on a pair of tweets from last Friday in which he stated that it was surprising how many execs feel that Hamels won’t be traded at all this season. Many feel that Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail will want to hire a more robust analytics department to weigh in on the trade and wouldn’t want a “lame-duck GM” to have final say on such a franchise-altering trade. According to Sherman, if there’s one team that’s considered the in-season front-runner for Hamels, though, it’s the Dodgers. Other clubs are wary of taking on Hamels’ entire deal and parting with prospects, but the deep-pocketed Dodgers don’t have as great a concern. (Hamels’ remaining money following the 2015 season, in fact, is nearly identical to the remaining amount on the contract of Zack Greinke, who is a lock to opt out of his deal.) The Dodgers, however, aren’t willing to part with top prospects Corey Seager or Julio Urias. Sherman also discusses Johnny Cueto in his column, noting that one AL exec told him, “Cueto is getting traded. That’s a fact.”
  • Rob Bradford of WEEI.com hears that despite the Red Sox‘ desire to acquire young arms that are cost-controlled beyond 2015, the team does still have some degree of interest in both Cueto and Hamels. The Sox would likely only be interested in Cueto, a rental, if the Reds were more attracted to the prospects that Boston would offer than the Yankees, says Bradford. They’d have to feel the price was right, and as he notes, that’s unlikely. As for Hamels, Bradford characterizes a deal as a “long shot” but notes that other teams are highly unwilling to part with the type of arms that the Sox presently covet. For what it’s worth, Bradford writes that despite Hamels’ recent struggles, he isn’t injured.
  • Scott Kazmir turned in a dominant effort against the Twins on Saturday, easing a good deal of the worry that stemmed from a previous exit to a start after three innings. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, one AL scout told her: “I saw what I needed to see. He did everything. He worked out of trouble. He worked deep into the game.” Perhaps more interestingly, Slusser hears that the Athletics would prefer to acquire Triple-A prospects in exchange for Kazmir. It would seem that GM Billy Beane, then, is hoping to acquire players that can contribute to his club immediately, or at least in the near-term, as he has so often done in the past. (Jeff Todd and I have previously discussed that very trend in Beane’s trades on the MLBTR Podcast.)
  • Marlins manager Dan Jennings said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today that Dan Haren has been drawing interest (Twitter links). Jenning said he fully expects Haren’s next start to be heavily scouted and added that Haren is “certainly someone teams have been asking about.” A full-scale fire sale seems unlikely in Miami, however, as Jennings also said, “if there are moves to be made, it will not be a total reset.”
  • Earlier today, it was reported that the White Sox are now in “listening mode,” with Jeff Samardzija being the most likely member of the club to depart via trade.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Pitching Market, O’s, Zunino, Inciarte, Astros

In his latest notes post for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal writes that while he opined on Saturday that pitching-hungry GMs should act sooner rather than later, he spoke to one exec yesterday that plans to wait until the trade deadline is nearly at hand, believing prices will drop late in the month. A second exec opined to Rosenthal, though, that the market for pitchers other than Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels will soften in the coming days. Rosenthal gets the sense that the trade market will “erupt” and action will be “frenetic,” but it might take awhile to reach that boiling point.

Some highlights from his column (though I’d recommend checking out the entire column)…

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette is very serious about wanting to add a bat and has indeed expressed interest in Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez, but as Rosenthal notes, the Orioles may have the thinnest farm system in the game. Baseball America ranked Baltimore’s farm just 29th heading into the season, and that was before recent injuries to top arms Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. The team has some interesting names ready at the Triple-A level, but they also need to replace departing free agents Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Wei-Yin Chen and will need to rely on the farm to fill some of those holes.
  • The Mariners aren’t just looking for a backup to Mike Zunino, Rosenthal hears, but a veteran option who would allow them to send Zunino back to Triple-A. Of course, he points out the fact that Seattle had such a player in the form of Welington Castillo but traded him to the D-Backs in the Mark Trumbo deal, only to watch Castillo out-hit Trumbo.
  • The Padres talked with the Diamondbacks about a trade that would’ve brought both Aaron Hill and Ender Inciarte to San Diego during Spring Training, and they’ve made a much more recent inquiry on Inciarte than that as well. The D-Backs are also receiving interest in David Peralta, Rosenthal writes, but Arizona isn’t motivated to trade either outfielder. Both are controlled through the 2020 season. Inciarte is a logical trade candidate for the Padres, in my mind, as a plus defender in center field and a left-handed bat — two things which the club currently lacks.
  • The Phillies may end up hanging on to Jeff Francoeur rather than trading him, according to Rosenthal. While a last-place team hanging onto a short-term veteran such as Francoeur seems counter-intuitive, he notes that the return on Francoeur would be extremely minimal, so the team may value his leadership over the warm body they’d receive for trading him. I agree that the return on Francoeur, who’s hitting .257/.288/.449 with suspect range in the corner outfield, wouldn’t be all that exciting.
  • The Astros do want to add a bat, but the team’s search for starting pitcher is a significantly greater priority, sources tell Rosenthal. GM Jeff Luhnow did tell MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart on Friday that getting a bat is a growing area of focus, however, and Chris Carter hasn’t played since Friday due to an ankle sprain. (He and other Houston first basemen have struggled at the plate even when healthy, as well.)

NL Notes: Mercer, Morel, Cueto, Bruce, Alvarez, Upton

Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer was injured by a take out slide while turning a double play earlier today. The extent of the injury is unknown. The Pirates may activate utility infielder Brent Morel if Mercer misses more than a few days, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The club is already carrying a short bench, and none of the three healthy players have experience at third base. Morel was pulled from his Triple-A start today. The Pirates 40-man roster is full, so activating Morel will require a roster move.

  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) heard that the Reds did not want to trade Johnny Cueto last month because they feared having to watch him pitch for another team in the All-Star Game.  Of course, Cueto was not named an All-Star and he remains a member of the Reds as of this writing.
  • The Orioles are among the teams scouting the Reds, tweets Morosi. They’re most interested in Cueto and outfielder Jay Bruce. Cueto is a free agent after the season, but Bruce is under contract through 2016 for $12.5MM with a $13MM ($1MM buyout) for 2017.
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the challenges Pedro Alvarez is having in his first season at first base, but he told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he’s not about to lobby GM Neal Huntington to make a move.  “I think our [GM] knows as well as I do what we’re looking to identify as strengths and weaknesses on our club,” Hurdle said. “We will do everything we can to fortify and make our club better. I’m not a fan of saying OK, we need A, B and C when A, B and C are out there [in the clubhouse].
  • Justin Upton was pulled out of today’s game early, but it wasn’t a sign of an impending trade as many speculated.  The Padres simply had a muscle tighten up on him in the middle of today’s contest and he was pulled from the game as a precaution due to weather, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Soriano, Alvarez

The Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Todd Frazier will stay put. Billy Hamilton probably isn’t going anywhere. Most others are probably on the table. Fay expects at least four players to be traded, presumably Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Marlon Byrd as a starting point. Others like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Skip Schumaker are also expected to be shopped. The Reds are seven games below .500 and 15.5 games back in the NL Central. It’s probably too late for a rebound.

Here’s more news out of the NL Central:

  • Gerardo Parra‘s strong play has all but ensured that he’ll be traded by the Brewers, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Parra is in the midst of a career season, hitting .311/.345/.502 with nine home runs and six stolen bases. Known for fantastic defense, he’s actually struggled this year per Ultimate Zone Rating (-9.8 UZR). Still, plenty of playoff teams have need of a high average, left-handed outfielder.
  • Cubs manager Joe Maddon said reliever Rafael Soriano might be “up sooner than planned,” tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Soriano was signed on June 12. He has a career 2.85 ERA and 207 saves in 630 innings. The Cubs have manufactured a pseudo-closer battle. They demoted Hector Rondon from the role earlier in the summer despite solid production. The club also recently called up Neil Ramirez – another candidate for saves.
  • The Pirates would probably like to de-emphasize Pedro Alvarez, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The former third baseman has continued his defensive ineptitude at first base with 15 errors. He’s also offered a .233/.299/.424 slash which is well below average for a first baseman. Unfortunately, the Pirates will have to look outside of the organization to move beyond Alvarez. Adam Lind is probably the most notable first baseman on the trade market. If the Pirates get creative, they could also try a three-team swap for Jon Singleton. Typically, Pittsburgh will look for fringier options like Chris Parmelee. We heard earlier this evening that the Orioles may soon designate Parmelee for assignment.