Johnny Cueto Rumors

Quick Hits: Indians, Correa, Astros, Gee, Reds

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Indians aren’t likely to option Jose Ramirez or call up Francisco Lindor, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. As Hoynes puts it, Ramirez often does something to help the team win despite a .184/.252/.245 slash. The club would like to see more from Lindor before considering a promotion. He’s currently hitting .265/.341/.383 at Triple-A. Mike Aviles is stretched thin covering for both Ramirez and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. The team could promote utility infield Zach Walters, but there’s no guarantee he would be an upgrade. As such, Ramirez will probably continue to play with regularity.
  • Astros top prospect Carlos Correa could be promoted as soon as their upcoming series against the White Sox, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Manager A.J. Hinch spoke with reporters about the importance of being mentally and physically prepared for the majors. With Jed Lowrie sidelined, the club has turned to a combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar. The pair have not performed well. Given Houston’s place atop the AL West, there is some pressure to summon Correa. Since his promotion to Triple-A, he’s hitting a restrained .253/.324/.429 in 102 plate appearances.
  • The Astros have the highest bonus pool for the upcoming draft, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Houston can spend $17,289,200 because they have the second and fifth overall picks. GM Jeff Luhnow aims to have the “best yield” of any club. In the past, the Astros signed Correa to an under-slot contract in order to go over-slot for Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. They attempted to do the same last year with Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix, but Aiken’s failed physical ruined that plan.
  • The Mets have scrapped their six-man rotation, and Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN. Gee is unhappy with the move. He believes he’ll have less value to the team and on the trade market as a reliever. He’s owed $5.3MM in 2015 and is club controlled through 2016. The club was using a six-man rotation to limit the workloads of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. New York may also promote Steven Matz at some point. He has a 1.94 ERA with 9.08 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 in the hitter friendly PCL.
  • The next few weeks will decide if the Reds are deadline sellers, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The team is currently 23-31 and seven games back from the second Wild Card slot. If the club continues to scuffle, players like Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jay Bruce could be shopped. Cueto and Leake are free agents at the end of the season.

Cueto’s Agent Discusses Trade Possibility

The Reds are five games below the .500 mark and currently sit 10.5 games back in the NL Central — a poor start that has many anticipating that the Reds will be sellers come the trade deadline. Bryce Dixon, the agent for Johnny Cueto, tells MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden that while the team hasn’t indicated they’re ready or willing to trade Cueto, that scenario is probably the most reasonable for the team, barring a turnaround. Says Dixon (audio link):

“They’ve made no indications to Johnny that they want to trade him, but reading the tea leaves, if they fall out of contention, it seems to make sense from their end. If they ride the season out with him and don’t make the playoffs, then they’re stuck with a compensation pick. And, from where I sit, I think they can probably get more than that on the trade market.”

Dixon has somewhat of a biased point of view, as a trade would make Cueto ineligible for a qualifying offer and strengthen his upcoming free agent stock to an extent. Cueto, however, is the type of free agent that will be so highly sought after that the qualifying offer has a relatively negligible impact on his stock; a club willing to shell out $150MM+ for a player is not likely to be overly swayed by the potential loss of a draft pick.

Cueto currently sits at No. 3 on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, but as Tim Dierkes noted on that list, there’s an argument to be made that Cueto is actually a better pitcher than David Price, who currently ranks second. While Cueto’s injury-shortened 2013 season — he threw just 60 2/3 innings — is an unquestionable strike against him, he topped 200 innings in 2012 and led the NL with 243 2/3 innings last season. Dating back to 2011, Cueto has an incredible 2.53 ERA, and his K/9 rate has increased from 6.0 in 2011 to 7.1 in 2012, 7.6 in 2013 and 8.9 in 2014. He’s at 8.3 in 2015 and has, to this point, shown the best control of any season in his career. If Cueto finishes the year with 200-plus innings and a fifth-consecutive season of a sub-3.00 ERA, he’ll at least have a claim as the market’s top free agent. Max Scherzer comparisons will be made.

I’d agree with Dixon’s assessment that the team will do better to trade Cueto than to take an extra pick at the end of next year’s first round. While Cueto is a pure rental, he’s an affordable one in terms of salary, making a reasonable $10MM in 2015. He’s also a difference-maker for any club looking to push into Wild Card contention or to bolster a likely playoff rotation. The benefit of giving Cueto the postseason starts that would otherwise go to a club’s current No. 3 or No. 4 starter is enormous, and it also allows a team to upgrade the bullpen by bumping its least effective relief pitcher for said No. 3/4 starter.

Dixon’s comments are also interesting in that they seem to indicate that he expects his client to sign with a new club this offseason. The notion that Cincinnati won’t be able to afford re-signing Cueto isn’t a new one, but it’s telling to hear Dixon eventually say that while Cueto would love to remain with the Reds, “…he’s pitched so well, that he’s going to command such a high price, that he might have priced himself out a market like Cincinnati.”

The one thing that could submarine both Cueto’s trade stock and free agent stock would be if a seemingly minor elbow ailment turns out to be more significant. Cueto missed his most recent start due to some stiffness in his right elbow, but an MRI revealed no structural damage. Via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Cueto tossed a bullpen session yesterday and said that “every single pitch was good.” He’s slated to pitch tomorrow for the Reds, so the status of that elbow should become clear sooner rather than later.


Cafardo’s Latest: Yankees, Leake, Craig, BoSox

While all five AL East teams have clear roster needs, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe observes that the division is so closely-packed (and overall mediocre) through two months that one team could break away from the pack simply by getting healthy and playing up to expectations, rather than by making a big trade or two.  Here are some hot stove items from Cafardo’s latest Sunday Notes column…

  • I don’t see us making a major acquisition for a pitcher [at this time] but I’m not going to say I wouldn’t do it,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.  As Cafardo notes, the returns of Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova could bolster the rotation, and prospect Luis Severino could also provide some late-season help.
  • Reds right-hander Mike Leake is considered by one AL scout to be able to “pitch in either league with no problem” and at the trade deadline, “there might be more action on him than any pitcher out there.”  The Reds could be looking to deal the free agent-to-be since they didn’t discuss an extension with him during the offseason.
  • Leake’s trade value may be improved by the fact that teammate Johnny Cueto and the AthleticsScott Kazmir (two more pending free agents) have recently been dealing with elbow and shoulder problems, respectively.  Teams will need to see a few healthy outings from both pitchers before their trade interest can be rejuvenated.
  • The Dodgers were scouting the Red Sox during their series with the Twins last week.  Cafardo notes that L.A. is looking for relief help.
  • With Matt Adams gone for possibly the entire season and the Cardinals in need of first base help, Cafardo opines that Allen Craig could be a possible trade fit.  Craig’s contract, of course, is a major obstacle, not to mention the fact that St. Louis felt comfortable dealing Craig away last summer.  Craig is hitting well at Triple-A but Cafardo writes that it might take “another two weeks of good hitting” for Craig to earn a call-up back to the Red Sox.
  • With Trevor Plouffe playing well as the Twins‘ regular third baseman, Cafardo wonders if Minnesota would consider a position change for star prospect Miguel Sano.  There has already been a lot of speculation that Sano might be not be able to handle playing third over the long term, though Plouffe is also not a great defensive option.  Of greater concern for the Twins right now is Sano’s recovery from Tommy John surgery, and the early results are pretty good, as Sano is hitting .247/.346/.488 over 191 Double-A plate appearances.


Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

NL Central Notes: Cueto, Gonzales, Schwarber, Baez

After missing his start on Sunday, Reds ace Johnny Cueto underwent an MRI on the injured joint today (as FOX’s Jon Morosi tweeted he would earlier this morning), but agent Bryce Dixon said after the fact that the test revealed no tears or structural damage (Twitter link via C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer). The news is a sigh of relief for all parties involved, as a serious arm injury for Cueto would hurt his standing as one of the top free agents on the upcoming open market, whereas an injury would hurt the Reds’ chance of righting the ship and potentially eliminate their best trade chip should they sell off veteran pieces this summer.

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Another NL Central hurler got somewhat worse news than Cueto, as Cardinals left-hander Marco Gonzales has been diagnosed with a shoulder impingement that will sideline him for three weeks, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Gonzales will receive an anti-inflammatory injection in the coming days and has otherwise been prescribed rest to allow the injury to heal. Gonzales will need to alter his workouts and preparation tactics, Goold notes, as they may have had a part in the injury. Gonzales and the training staff will look for areas of weakness in the shoulder that can be improved — a similar endeavor to the one undertaken by Michael Wacha last summer (though the two have different shoulder injuries).
  • Kyle Schwarber‘s name doesn’t get bandied about as much as other promising young Cubs bats such as Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez, but VP of scouting and player development Jason McLeod feels that Schwarber has a chance to impact the team in 2015, if necessary (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat). Selected fourth overall in last year’s draft, Schwarber entered the year as a consensus Top 100 prospect (Baseball America ranked him as highly as 19th), and he’s demolished Double-A pitching this year, batting .305/.440/.595 with 10 homers in 166 plate appearances. Said McLeod of the catcher/outfielder: “If there was a need for [Schwarber] to come up here and help this team win later this year, I think he could do it.” Of course, I should note that while I listed Schwarber as a catcher (in at least a part-time capacity), the belief of many scouts is that the lefty slugger will have to move off the position for defensive purposes. The Cubs have continued to give him reps behind the plate in an attempt to maximize the value of his bat.
  • Also within Muskat’s piece, McLeod notes that the team feels that Baez is athletic enough to play in the outfield, though there are no plans to move him there in the works. He also likens righty Yoervis Medina, acquired in the Welington Castillo trade, to Pedro Strop before Strop gained the consistency he’s shown with the Cubs over the past two seasons.

Reds Notes: Cueto, Marshall, Mesoraco

The Reds are suffering through an eight-game losing streak and, as you’ll read here, dealing with a number of key injuries as well.  Here’s the latest from Cincinnati…

  • Johnny Cueto will have his right elbow examined today, Joe Kay of the Associated Press tweets.  Cueto missed his scheduled start on Sunday due to what manager Bryan Price described to reporters yesterday (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) as “more than his usual elbow stiffness,” which prompted the Reds to be cautious with their ace, though Price felt Cueto probably could have pitched if absolutely necessary.  “I don’t think it’s anything anybody is concerned with….If he needs a little extra time, he’s certainly earned it,” Price said.  It should be noted that an elbow exam is a pretty routine step whenever a pitcher is experiencing any discomfort, so the fact that Cueto is undergoing an examination is not necessarily a bad sign.  Still, Price said today that Cueto “hasn’t had total relief. I’d have thought by now, he would.”  Any type of health issue for Cueto is worth monitoring given his status as both one of the top free agents of the 2015-16 offseason and potentially a big deadline trade chip for the struggling Reds.
  • In a welcome turn of events for Reds reliever Sean Marshall, the left-hander could be back pitching this season, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.  Last week, Marshall went in for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder, which was expected to end his season and potentially threaten his career.  Instead, doctors discovered that full surgery wasn’t needed and instead just removed some scar tissue, so Marshall could be back on the mound this year if all goes well in his recovery.  The southpaw has thrown just 25 1/3 innings over the last two seasons due to a variety of injury problems, including rotator cuff surgery last June.
  • Devin Mesoraco has been placed on the 15-day DL (retroactive to last Thursday) with a left hip injury, the team announced via Twitter.  Mesoraco has been limited to 51 plate appearances this season due to his hip impingement, and he’s appeared as a catcher in only six of his 23 games; the Reds have been trying to keep him healthy by using him as a pinch-hitter and interleague DH.  Both the player and team were looking to exhaust all possibilities before turning to surgery, though a season-ending hip operation may now be the only option.
  • The Reds are looking more and more like trade deadline sellers, and though Jay Bruce is only hitting .211/.311/.408 in 164 PA, he could be a trade chip, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.  “I’d take a flyer on him and see if our on-the-field people could fix him,” an AL scout told Fay.  “He looks healthy. His home runs and walks still grade out at 60 to 65 (on the 80-point scale). It’s just that his hit-ability is at 25 right now.”

NL Notes: Cueto, Lester, Nieuwenhuis

Reds ace Johnny Cueto will miss his start Sunday with elbow soreness, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Raisel Iglesias will start in his place. The Reds say Cueto’s soreness is not serious. “He pitched in Kansas City without any trouble,” says Reds manager Bryan Price. “In the days following … his [soreness has] been lingering a little longer. He’s our workhorse. He probably could pitch tomorrow if we had to have him.” An extended absence would, obviously, be a serious blow to the Reds. Cueto came in second in NL Cy Young balloting in 2014 while leading the NL in innings pitched (243 2/3), batters faced (961) and pitches thrown (3,659). Those are very crude measures of a pitcher’s injury risk, but an elbow issue is surely at least worth watching for a pitcher coming off such a high-impact year. Cueto is, of course, a free agent after the season. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • After a poor first month of his $155MM contract with the Cubs, Jon Lester is feeling more comfortable, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. “You definitely don’t want to be one of those guys that at the end of it you look at it as a bust,” Lester says. “You want everything to just fall into place. But sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes you have take a few beatings to get back to doing the things that you’re used to.” After posting a 6.23 ERA in April, Lester now has a 1.85 ERA in May after pitching seven strong innings against the Diamondbacks yesterday.
  • The Mets are still seeking to trade outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets. They designated Nieuwenhuis for assignment earlier this week, and his situation should be resolved by next weekend. Getting anything of value will likely be difficult — Nieuwenhuis had a terrible time in 40 plate appearances this season, hitting .079/.125/.132, and he’s out of options.

Quick Hits: Reds, Meyer, Ryu, Arruebarrena

The game is in need of greater minority representation in its most visible non-playing role, that of manager, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists twenty excellent candidates who ought to receive strong consideration from those clubs that are in need of new dugout leaders after the season.

  • It’s no secret, of course, that Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman would draw intense interest on the trade market if they are made available. Writing for FOX Sports, Jeff Sullivan analyzes just how much they could bring back this summer. In spite of his excellence, Cueto might most realistically be expected to bring back a very good prospect rather than a great one, says Sullivan, while Chapman probably has somewhat more value given his nearly-unmatched dominance and extra year of control. As Sullivan notes, the possibility of jointly marketing the two in search of more premium talent in less player seems interesting, though perhaps something of a long shot.
  • The Twins have decided to move top-100 pitching prospect Alex Meyer into the Triple-A bullpen, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. It appears that the team is doing so more with the idea of getting him back on track than preparing him for MLB bullpen work — Meyer has struggled mightily, especially with his control — but it would not be surprising to see him appear as a late-inning arm if he can turn things around and Minnesota can stay in the hunt.
  • Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who is set to miss the rest of the year with shoulder surgery, told reporters that he has been pitching with a labrum tear at least since he signed with the club, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group tweets. Ryu says that his MRI back in 2013 revealed the slight tear, which has not worsened — but is apparently now a much greater problem — since that time.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers will not attempt to void the contract of infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets. While the club felt justified in suspending Arruebarrena for the entire rest of the year for disciplinary reasons, Saxon says that the still-unreported transgressions were not considered significant enough to warrant yet more drastic action.

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Cafardo On Phillies, Lohse, Royals, Leake, Haren

Here are a few highlights from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe’s latest rumors roundup:

  • The Phillies have scouted the Red Sox‘ Double-A Portland team the past six days, Cafardo writes. The Red Sox have, of course, repeatedly been connected to Cole Hamels, although the Phillies have several other veterans who could also be trade candidates. Portland isn’t a particularly prospect-rich team right now, with many of the Red Sox’ best minor-leaguers at Triple-A Pawtucket or Class A Greenville. So it’s hard to say who the Phillies might be scouting, and it’s likely they aren’t scouting a potential centerpiece for a Hamels deal.
  • The Brewers are already prepared to trade starters Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse. At least one scout tells Cafardo that Lohse (who has allowed ten homers in his first 47 2/3 innings this season, although his strikeout and walk numbers have been fine) is in need of a “change of scenery.”
  • The Royals‘ bullpen this year has been terrific, but their rotation hasn’t. The Royals are looking for cheap starting pitching to help ease the burden on their bullpen caused by short outings from their starters (although any acquisition they might make right now would likely be minor, since they aren’t yet willing to trade for a starter).
  • Teams could see Reds starter Mike Leake as a very viable trade candidate. Leake is having a strong season so far, and it would likely be easier to sign him long-term than to sign his rotation-mate Johnny Cueto, so Leake could attract plenty of interest. Like Cueto, he’s eligible for free agency after the season.
  • If the Marlins‘ season doesn’t improve, they could easily trade Dan Haren to a team on his preferred coast, Cafardo writes. Haren’s desire to play in California is well known. He’s in the midst of a good season (3.70 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9), and any number of teams out west could have interest.