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12:50pm: The Yankees are also interested in Benoit, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears that there aren’t any current discussions between the Yankees and Padres regarding Benoit (Twitter link), though that doesn’t mean New York is interested.
11:37am: The Dodgers are interested in Joaquin Benoit, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter), but the Padres would prefer not to trade him within the division. It doesn’t sound like they’re completely ruling out the idea of moving Benoit, however, as one source told MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo yesterday that there’s a good chance Benoit is traded even after San Diego dealt Huston Street.
Benoit inherited the ninth inning in San Diego following the trade of Street, and he’s been excellent with the Friars all year after inking a two-year, $15.5MM deal in the offseason. The 37-year-old has turned in a 1.88 ERA with 10.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 38.1 percent ground-ball rate in 43 innings this season. He’s owed just over $2MM from now through season’s end, and he’s guaranteed $8MM in 2015. Benoit’s contract contains an $8MM club option for 2016, which comes with a $1.5MM buyout.
It’s a bit curious to see that the Padres don’t want to move Benoit within the division. The Padres would strengthen their own farm system while weakening the minor league system of a division rival, and they’re unlikely to contend next year while Benoit is still under contract at any rate. Then again, Padres ownership may feel that the team’s core of young pitching can help them to contend in 2015 if the offense can be properly augmented.
WEDNESDAY: The Phillies have requested multiple top prospects from the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but officials who have expressed interest get the impression that Philadelphia isn’t serious about trading its ace.
MONDAY, 3:50pm: In today’s Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN’s Jayson Stark touched on Hamels’ availability (highlights from the rest of the piece can be seen here, though it’s worth reading in its entirety).
Officials from other teams tell Stark that the Phillies are asking for each team’s top three or four prospects in any Hamels deal, but they’re only willing to eat about $10MM of the remaining $90MM+ on Hamels’ contract. Stark quotes one unnamed executive, who told him, “Ruben wants his doors blown off in order to trade him. And you don’t get your doors blown off if this kind of money is attached. It doesn’t work that way.”
Meanwhile, Morosi hears that the Dodgers and Cardinals are the two most likely clubs to acquire Hamels (Twitter link).
3:03pm: Though we’ve been hearing for weeks that the Phillies won’t move ace Cole Hamels, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the team has now made the lefty available, and the Dodgers are interested (Twitter link). However, the asking price on Hamels is still said to be very high, per Morosi.
Recently, it was reported that Hamels could block trades to 20 teams. The nine teams to which Hamels cannot block a trade are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Padres, so he wouldn’t have any say should the Dodgers put together a strong enough offer.
Hamels, 30, is enjoying yet another strong season atop Philadelphia’s rotation, having pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 47.5 percent ground-ball rate in 122 1/3 innings. He’s earning $22.5MM in 2014 and is guaranteed $90MM from 2015-18, with a $20MM club option for the 2019 season that can vest at $24MM with 400 innings from 2017-18 or 200 innings in 2018. He has about $7.87MM remaining on this year’s salary, meaning that he’s guaranteed another $97.87MM and could earn as much as $121.87MM before hitting free agency.
The Dodgers appear to be looking to make a big splash on the pitching front, as they’ve been oft-linked to David Price and have recently been heavily connected to Red Sox ace Jon Lester. Los Angeles has reportedly been loath to part with both Corey Seager and Joc Pederson in trades, but it’s worth wondering if they’d part with both hitters in order to acquire someone with so much team control remaining. Left-hander Julio Urias has seen his stock skyrocket in 2014 as well, while other pitching prospects such as Zach Lee, Chris Anderson and Tom Windle have delivered relatively disappointing results this year.
The Dodgers’ interest in Hamels isn’t entirely surprising, as the team could lose Zack Greinke to an opt-out clause following the 2015 season. Hamels would give them a dominant arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw in the event that Greinke signs elsewhere.
Yesterday, reports indicated that the Orioles and Mariners have both inquired on Red Sox ace Jon Lester, but the Sox are likely to take any decision down to the wire. Earlier this morning, we noted that Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com heard there was less than a 50 percent chance Lester is dealt based on current talks, but offers are expected to increase in the coming days.
We’ll keep track of the rest of Tuesday’s Lester-related rumors in this post…
- A source with direct knowledge of the situation says that there are six clubs still in on Lester, per Edes (via Twitter): the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Athletics.
- At present, the Red Sox have not received a trade proposal that the club is satisfied with, tweets Abraham. Multiple reports have indicated that no trade was in place when Lester was scratched from his start. At the moment, the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Pirates are all in the mix for Lester, tweets Rosenthal.
- The Brewers are “not on” Lester, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Lester has been scratched from his start tomorrow, manager John Farrell tells reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (via Twitter). A rival GM tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter link) that it appears a deal will be in place tonight or tomorrow morning.
- The division-rival Jays and Orioles seem out of the running for Lester at this point, per Bradford (Twitter links). A team source rejected the suggestion that the Dodgers would offer top prospect Joc Pederson for Lester, Saxon reports.
- If the Pirates make a deal for Lester, it will have to occur before his start tomorrow so he can take his next turn for Pittsburgh, reports MLB.com’s Tom Singer. The Bucs are not willing to part with prospects Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, or Austin Meadows in a deal. But the team would consider dealing Alen Hanson or JaCoby Jones, and Singer says that outfielder Jose Tabata is a “wild card” in discussions, which could potentially expand to include Mike Carp or one of several Boston relievers.
- The Red Sox were never given a “figure … on what it would have taken to sign” Lester, a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). But while Lester and his representatives never formally made an offer to the Red Sox, both sides exchanged numbers and understood their respective parameters, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports.
- The Red Sox have enhanced leverage regarding Lester because he could tip the balance in the NL Central, if not also the rest of the National League, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Sherman discusses the possibility of the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates, and Brewers making the move for a rotation upgrade. Boston is “at least considering” attempting to deal and later re-sign its staff ace, Sherman adds.
- Sox manager John Farrell says that the club still has Lester penciled in to start, but is prepared to use Brandon Workman in his place if Lester is dealt, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets.
- The Dodgers are not close to any major deals at the moment and adding Lester “appears … unlikely,” tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Nevertheless, Los Angeles appears on top of the list of likeliest suitors for the Boston lefty, as handicapped by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Pirates are emerging as a dark-horse to acquire Lester, report Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. (John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times was first to link the Bucs with a possible move on Lester; subscription link.) One possible centerpiece of such a deal would be well-regarded prospect Josh Bell, the Yahoo writers add. A deal with the Pirates would not necessarily involve Bell, however, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets.
- The Red Sox are actively taking offers and preparing to deal Lester, a National League GM tells Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Abraham says it is difficult to see Lester taking his start tomorrow for Boston.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays, Mariners, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and Marlins are all currently in on Lester. The Marlins are certainly a new addition to the mix, although that would line up with Buster Olney’s report from earlier today pegging them as a potential surprise candidate for some starting pitchers. Miami has a number of high-end prospects, and Lester’s remaining $4.48MM in salary might not be too overwhelming.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears the same as Olney did earlier this morning (Twitter link): There’s “little doubt” in the industry that Boston will move its ace. Rival clubs are expecting a trade.
- Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson of ACES, denied a previous report that his client’s asking price in extension talks motivated the Red Sox to trade him, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Unsurprisingly, Levinson shed no further light on any extension talks with Lester: “The discussions we had with the Red Sox were confidential and will remain that way,” Levinson said to Edes in an email.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com adds some new teams to the Lester mix, as he reports that the Athletics, Blue Jays and Braves have all called to inquire on the BoSox ace. Of those teams, Toronto is being the most aggressive in its pursuit, a source tells McAdam. The Sox are willing to move him to the division-rival Jays or Orioles, according to McAdam’s source. Boston is still seeking multiple prospects in return, specifically one elite prospect — McAdam uses Oscar Taveras, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager as examples — and at least one more lesser prospect. Interestingly, McAdam notes that the Red Sox will not consider trading Lester to the Yankees.
- The Brewers have spoken to the Sox about Lester, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Milwaukee was said to have asked the Rays about David Price as well, but Price might not be dealt now, and Lester would cost less to acquire. Heyman notes that Milwaukee has top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson to offer as a centerpiece and has a deeper farm system than it has in prior years. Nelson ranked 38th on Baseball America’s midseason list of the game’s Top 50 prospects, and MLB.com ranked him 53rd on their midseason Top 100.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
It’s been a busy afternoon, but no deals have gone down; let’s round up some worthwhile recent news and rumors as the market heats up:
- The Cardinals are in need of a starter for Saturday, and manager Mike Matheny says that it could go to an arm that is not currently in the organization, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Philadelphia has sent a scout to watch the Cardinals’ top minor league affiliate, Goold adds. As he indicates, it is easy to see the Cards showing interest in the Phillies‘ Cole Hamels given his high-end talent and extended team control. On the other hand, a recent report suggests that the Phils have yet to go very far down the line in discussing Hamels, and the club is said to be looking for an overwhelming return to part with the lefty.
- For the Marlins, the desire to add a top-end starter does not mean that the team will part with any core MLB players, including outfielder Christian Yelich, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Additionally, Miami remains more interested in adding an arm that it can control past this season. The club therefore might be more inclined to pursue John Lackey than Jon Lester from the Red Sox, and would have “heavy interest” if David Price of the Rays were to be made available. Frisaro says the club is working hard to make one or two deals by the trade deadline.
- The Mariners are currently discussing outfielder Josh Willingham with the Twins, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The sides were connected a few weeks back by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Seattle has long been said to be seeking a right-handed bat for the outfield. Also still in the mix on Willingham are the Yankees, among other teams including Seattle, reports Heyman.
- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp interests the Red Sox whether or not he would be involved in a hypothetical deal for Lester, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter links). Boston has scouted him on and off over the last month, says Edes, and would consider adding him over the offseason if nothing comes to pass this summer.
- The Rangers are working to deal outfielder Alex Rios, a source with a team interested in a bat tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Rios, who was off to a hot start, struggled mightily in June and but has improved to a .304/.317/.405 line for the month of July.
- White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom is nearing a rehab stint, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports on Twitter. The 34-year-old owns a 3.32 ERA through 19 innings, and could be a possible August trade chip if he can return healthy. He is playing on a $4MM salary this year before hitting the open market.
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The Phillies have not reached the point of receiving offers or making “specific requests” for packages involving lefty Cole Hamels, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Indeed, the team has had no “meaningful dialogue” regarding Hamels, Rosenthal reports.
That would seem to be in some tension with an early report from Bob Nightengale, which indicated that the Phillies had responded to a Dodger inquiry on the price for Hamels (which was said to be quite steep).
A source tells Rosenthal that a deal involving Hamels is the least likely possibility among the trades that the team is contemplating. That is not a surprising assessment, given that the lefty is currently healthy, productive, relatively young, and under team control for five more years (one via option).
The Dodgers have designated lefty Scott Elbert for assignment, according to the MLB transactions page. Elbert, 28, had been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery (and subsequent toe injury) on the 60-day DL.
Elbert was a major contributor for the Dodgers over 2011-12, throwing 66 innings of 2.32 ERA ball (with 8.6 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9) over that span. But he has thrown only 20 frames over the last two years, all in the minors. He owns a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings this year, striking out 9.2 and walking 5.0 runners per nine.
Here’s the latest from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who provides several interesting trade market updates:
- The Dodgers recently inquired about Phillies starter Cole Hamels, and were asked for a return that included all of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias. Los Angeles indicated it had no interest in a deal with that framework, but Philadelphia has not move yet from that asking price. The Phils are telling clubs that it wants three top-tier youngsters and another mid-level prospect in return for Hamels.
- Nightengale suggests that the Phillies might, however, consider a lesser return in a deal that would include a mix of Hamels along with several of the club’s less-attractive long-term commitments. Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon would figure to be involved in such a scenario, Nightengale notes, which might free the Phillies to be a big player in next year’s free agent market.
- Team sources indicated that the club has not yet had discussions of that kind of trade, however, and Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines (Twitter links) that the team will not accept a more modest return on Hamels simply to move other contracts. The team wants three or four top prospects and would not pay any of Hamels’ future obligations, he adds.
- As for the Dodgers, a deal involving Matt Kemp seems inevitable, given the disagreement between club and player on his role. But it remains to be seen whether he is deal this summer or over the offseason. (It is worth noting, of course, that Kemp would be a hypothetical August trade piece given his huge contract.)
- The Red Sox are asking for two high-end prospects in return for Lester, executives who are involved in talks tell Nightengale. A hypothetical return for him would not rise to the level of what the Rays could get for their top lefty, David Price, the sources say. Price not only has an additional year of control, but would come with a much more promising window for extension talks and could at least allow a new team to recoup some value through a qualifying offer.
- The Rays face a tough decision on Price: they would face serious internal repercussions for moving him at this point, but are tantalized by the possibilities of a return. Nightengales suggests that Tampa has reason to believe it could pry Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, and a 2015 first-round compensation pick from the Cardinals in a swap involving Price.
Rival executives continue to say that the Marlins are lurking in the trade market, looking to acquire a starting pitcher that can help them beyond the 2014 season, writes Buster Olney in his latest ESPN Insider-only blog post. Marlins president of baseball ops Michael Hill has said the team won’t be sellers — as first noted by Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald on Monday — and Olney calls them “an intriguing candidate to surprise” before the deadline. He points out that Miami is closer to the division lead in the NL East than the Rays are in the AL East.
Here are some more highlights from Olney’s latest efforts…
- Executives who have spoken with the Red Sox expect them to trade Jon Lester and others before Thursday’s deadline, because the team can extract more value from a trade than it could through draft pick compensation. Olney also spoke with a close friend of Lester, who told him that there’s “no chance” Lester will sign with the Sox at this point.
- With less than three days until the trade deadline, the Phillies have made zero trades despite being among the league’s most obvious selling candidates. Officials who have spoken with the Phils have found it difficult to gain traction in trade talks and wonder how committed the team is to moving its veteran pieces. Olney writes that it will take a devotion to change, no matter the cost, for the Phillies to turn their roster over, because they possess so many expensive players.
- Kurt Suzuki of the Twins may be the only starting-caliber catcher available in trades, but with few contenders in need of a starter, there isn’t a huge market for him. However, as Olney notes, he’s not a candidate for a qualifying offer, so the Twins are in a tough spot.
- Though Matt Kemp is a big name on the trade market, his performance hardly lines up with his reputation or to how he is valued by rival clubs. Olney spoke with two rival executives from separate teams what they would pay Kemp as a free agent and received nearly identical answers: a two-year, $15MM deal and a two-year, $16MM deal. Their best chance to move him may be to package him with a top prospect while still eating lots of salary.
- Teams around the league still feel that the Dodgers are the most likely club to pull off a trade for Lester or David Price due to ownership’s “must-win” mantra and the team’s considerable resources.
- Even if the Red Sox don’t move Stephen Drew, he could still be dealt in August. As Olney notes, Drew is similar to Cliff Lee in that the non-waiver trade deadline doesn’t apply to him, as each player is seen as too expensive relative to his remaining salary. Drew should clear waivers and give Boston a chance to deal him if he he starts hitting better, and at that point, he’ll have less money remaining on his contract as well.
The Red Sox are currently weighing offers on Jon Lester and Andrew Miller, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. However, as of late last night, there was a less than 50 percent chance that the Sox trade Lester, and the same holds true for Miller based on current talks. Edes’ source did note that he anticipates offers for each lefty will improve as the deadline draws nearer.
Regarding the club’s reported interest in Matt Kemp, Edes does hear that the Sox would consider Kemp, but a lot of money would need to be heading Boston’s way. At this point, talks with the Dodgers haven’t even gotten to the point where names have been swapped. (Weekend reports indicated that a Lester/Kemp framework would be possible if the Dodgers included other pieces.) The Dodgers have told some teams that they’d prefer to hang onto Kemp, but a source insisted to Edes that Kemp is still in play.
The Dodgers do like Miller as well, and reports last night indicated that they’re in on John Lackey also. Those reports indicated that Boston is “getting hit hard” on both Lackey and Lester, and Edes has another team to add to the Lackey mix: the Royals. Kansas City makes plenty of sense for Lackey, given the fact that he has a club option at the league minimum next year (triggered by an injury clause in his contract). That has to hold great appeal for the Royals, who have noted payroll limitations. The remaining $5.25MM on his 2014 salary, however, could be problematic.
The Dodgers are investigating every top available starter, including Red Sox veteran John Lackey, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Of course, the Dodgers are also looking into the likes of Cole Hamels, David Price, and Lackey’s teammate, Jon Lester.
Lackey’s Tommy John surgery in 2012 triggered a $500K option for the 2015 season due to an injury clause in his contract, so he could provide a boost for the Dodgers beyond this season. In 21 starts this season, Lackey owns a 3.60 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. Meanwhile, Lackey’s xFIP of 3.35 also suggests that he’s throwing the ball well.
Rosenthal reported earlier today that Boston is getting “hit hard” on both Lester and Lackey. Lester would likely require a hefty trade package including a top prospect but Lackey represents a more affordable option for teams chatting with the Red Sox.