Scott Kazmir Rumors

Astros, Dallas Keuchel Have Discussed Long-Term Deal

Dallas Keuchel will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and is under team control through at least the 2018 season, but the lefty tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that his agent, Darek Braunecker of Frontline Athlete Management, has discussed a multi-year deal with Houston. For his part, Keuchel is very open to remaining in Houston long-term. As he tells Drellich:

“[Houston] is all I’ve known, and it’s where I want to be. I know we’re in a great position for the next probably five, 10 years… it’s all about winning. Me personally, it’s not about the dollar amount. … With that being said, it’s got to be something that’s fair and that’s right for both parties. I’m not trying to break the bank. I’m just out here to have fun and pitch and do the best I can.”

The 27-year-old Keuchel had a breakout season in 2014 and has emerged as one of the American League’s top pitchers with an elite 2015 season that features a 2.37 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 63.1 percent ground-ball rate in 178 2/3 innings. As Drellich notes, comparable pitchers (at least, in terms of service time) such as Wade Miley and Lance Lynn signed away their three arbitration seasons last winter for $19.25MM and $22MM, respectively. Keuchel, however, has a much stronger two-year platform heading into arbitration and could surpass both of those figures for his arb years.

It stands to reason that the Astros would want to secure at least one, if not two or three free agent years for Keuchel, which, in my mind, would need to be valued in the $15-17MM range. However, from the player’s point of view, signing away precious free agent years isn’t as desirable, even if it’s for a relatively sizable sum. Keuchel’s best chance at a $100MM+ contract would be to hit the open market heading into his age-31 season, as he’s currently projected to do. He also has a strong arb case this winter based on his excellent 2014-15 work, so he can reasonably bank on a pair of life-changing paydays in the next two offseasons even if his 2016 campaign doesn’t go as well as 2014-15. Keuchel’s comments about not breaking the bank do offer some hope, however, that he could look to set some kind of precedent for extensions for players with three to four years of service time, as opposed to maximizing his arb salaries and signing a nine-figure contract in the 2018-19 offseason.

There’s also some logic behind the scenario in which Keuchel signs a three-year deal that locks in only his arb seasons. Keuchel would secure his first fortune and still be positioned to hit the free agent heading into his age-31 season. The Astros, in turn, would gain cost certainty over a pitcher whose arb prices could escalate at an abnormally high rate due to his status as one of the American League’s best arms and a potential Cy Young candidate.

Drellich also spoke to right-hander Collin McHugh, who said that he, too, is interested in signing a long-term deal with Houston, although no talks have taken place between the Astros and McHugh’s agents at Moye Sports Associates. McHugh, however, has one less year of service time and won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter. McHugh, another somewhat surprising breakout pitcher in the Astros’ rotation, has pitched to a 3.36 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 313 2/3 innings since being claimed off waivers in the 2013-14 offseason.

Also of note, Drellich reports that the Astros plan to make a run at re-signing Houston native and July trade acquisition Scott Kazmir this winter, though there have unsurprisingly been no talks at this point, as Kazmir is intent on testing the market.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Mets, Hamels, Jays, Astros

An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.

Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied –€“ and should not be satisfied –€“ until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.
  • Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
  • The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
  • The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.

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.


Red Sox Notes: Buchholz, Cherington, Rotation

A second opinion for Clay Buchholz from Dr. James Andrews confirmed that the right-hander does not need surgery, but he’ll received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t throw for five to six weeks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. As Mastrodonato points out, the Red Sox have a $13MM club option on Buchholz, so avoiding a serious injury is key for the right-hander. Buchholz hopes the option will be exercised — “I’ve definitely been here my whole career,” he said. “I don’t really want to go anywhere.” — and barring a significant injury, that seems like a foregone conclusion, Mastrodonato writes. Buchholz’s injury is a flexor strain, and the right-hander pointed to Royals lefty Jason Vargas as a reason to exercise caution: “I think it’s the exact same thing that [Royals starter Jason Vargas] got hurt the other day. That’s what he went on the DL for was flexor. Seeing that, that’s definitely not what I want to do. I’m going to take the time I need to take off for it to be better.” Vargas, of course, did originally hit the DL with a flexor strain, and he returned quickly, only he end up re-injuring his arm and requiring Tommy John surgery.

More Red Sox notes…

  • The team’s second-half woes have halted its pursuit of short-term starting pitching acquisitions, sources tell WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Sox had entertained the thought of a run at Johnny Cueto to give themselves an increased chance to sign him and to make a push in 2015, but that thinking has been tabled. Boston wasn’t involved in talks for Scott Kazmir, Bradford hears, although they had previously had some interest in him.
  • In a second piece, Bradford urges Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to send a message to a team that looks to have lost direction by committing to a big-name starting pitcher to front the rotation — even if it means a painful parting of ways with top prospects. The Red Sox in recent years have focused too much on what might be (prospect value) as opposed to what presently is, Bradford opines, and that philosophy has led the team to its current predicament.
  • Cherington met with the Boston media recently, and ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes has a number of highlights from his conversation, including Cherington’s thoughts on the team’s lack of front-line pitching and the possibility of moving Hanley Ramirez out of left field and to a new position. Cherington feels that Ramirez’s defense on the road is beginning to stabilize, though he admits that Ramirez faces challenges playing left field in Boston with the Green Monster. As far as the team’s rotation goes, the quest to add front-line pitching doesn’t end July 31, Cherington says, and the team will explore multiple avenues to try to acquire such an arm. He notes that the front office believes some pitchers currently in the organization could achieve the desired lofty heights. (That quote, in particular, is one that prompted the above-linked column from Bradford.)
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that despite all of the questions surrounding Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez and the team’s pitching staff, the biggest question facing the Sox is whether or not Cherington is the right man to lead Boston to a sustainable run of success. Lauber praises Cherington for being accountable and placing the organization’s struggles on his own shoulders, but he also notes that such accountability is easier when owner John Henry recently gave his GM a large vote of confidence.
  • Shane Victorino hopes to remain with the Red Sox through the end of his current contract, he tells Bradford. As Bradford notes, even if the Red Sox do sell pieces, Victorino could very well remain in Boston, as he’s been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary.

Reactions To The Scott Kazmir Trade

Earlier today, the Astros struck the first significant trade of July, landing left-hander Scott Kazmir from the division-rival Athletics in exchange for a pair of prospects — right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham. The addition of Kazmir gives the Astros a pitcher that could potentially slot into the first or second game of a playoff series — a previously stated goal of GM Jeff Luhnow.

Here are some reactions from around the industry to the first major move of this year’s trade season…

  • The addition of Kazmir won’t be the end of the Astros’ attempt to supplement the roster, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters (via Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle). “We were having multiple conversations and those conversations haven’t necessarily stopped because of this,” said Luhnow. “…This was our top priority, was to get a staring pitcher, and we feel like we got one of the top guys on our list and one of the top guys that’s going to be available and we were able to do it in a timely fashion. We’re going to continue to look at ways to improve the club.”
  • Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets that Athletics GM Billy Beane said the Kazmir talks really took off once the Astros became willing to include Nottingham in the deal.
  • Astros players are happy to have Kazmir in the fold, writes the Houston Chronicle’s Stephanie Kuzydym. Jason Castro, Jake Marisnick, Preston Tucker and fellow pitcher Collin McHugh weighed in with their thoughts on not only being spared from facing Kazmir but benefiting from adding his talent to the Houston roster. Said Castro: “The mix of his stuff, his quality off-speed and his fastballs, the way he attacks hitters, I think he’s the kind of pitcher who forces guys to go after his stuff. That’s what makes him so good.”
  • The Astros “paid dearly” for 10 to 12 starts from Kazmir, opines ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required), who pegs Nottingham as a potential star if he can remain a catcher. Law notes that Nottingham has 70-grade raw power and could eventually develop into a 20 to 25 homer bat behind the plate, though his receiving is fringy. Law feels that Mengden has a chance to be a fourth or fifth starter but notes that he was expendable for Houston, as the club has a number of harder-throwing arms with more upside in its ranks. As for the Astros, they’ll swap out a replacement-level starter (probably Roberto Hernandez) for Kazmir, which Law feels will add an upgrade of at least one win.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel writes that the return will look light to many people due to the low ranking of Mengden and Nottingham on most preseason prospect lists, but Nottingham was a lock to land among Houston’s Top 10 on a re-worked Astros prospect list following a 2015 breakout. McDaniel feels Nottingham has above-average power and could hit .260 or better in the Majors, making him a candidate to be an everyday catcher, albeit an offensive-minded one. He feels that Mengden has three solid-average pitches and could be a fourth/fifth starter capable of soaking up 180 innings with average results, if everything clicks.
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo weighed in on the trade (video link), noting that Mengden doesn’t “wow” scouts with pure stuff but features a solid four-pitch mix, with his curve and changeup trailing his fastball and slider. Mengden will jump into the Athletics’ Top 20. Nottingham was primed to make a big leap forward from his No. 22 ranking in the Astros’ system, Mayo notes, praising his ability to hit for power and average as well as his improved plate discipline. If Nottingham doesn’t stick behind the plate, Mayo feels he “might have the power profile to fit just fine at first base.”
  • Evaluators now believe there’s a better-than-average chance that Nottingham will stick behind the plate, writes Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America, who notes that Nottingham is moving from an organization that’s big on catch-and-throw receivers to one that hasn’t had a problem employing bat-first options (Stephen Vogt, Derek Norris). Lara-Cinisomo, too, feels that Mengden’s a back-end starter type whose stuff could play up in the bullpen. Kazmir’s ground-ball tendencies make him a fit for Minute Maid Park, he adds, but he short porch in left field won’t do him any favors.
  • ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Blue Jays tried to make a run at Kazmir but found the Athletics’ asking price — said to be one of the team’s top pitching prospects — to be too steep (All Twitter links). Olney also opines that the trade could be worth millions to Kazmir, as if he’d been hit with a qualifying offer, his injury history plus that draft pick compensation may have created a very difficult market for him in free agency.
  • Chris Perry of SB Nation’s Crawfish Boxes writes that while the price paid to acquire Kazmir was steep, the Astros have better positioned themselves to catch the Angels atop the AL West. Mengden’s loss is more tolerable, and while the loss of Nottingham stings, the Astros’ depth allows them the luxury of moving that type of talent to acquire one of the game’s better lefties. Interestingly, Perry wonders if there are already talks of an extension with Kazmir, a Houston native, which would of course could make the trade more palatable for Astros fans.

Astros Acquire Scott Kazmir

Athletics starter Scott Kazmir is headed to the Astros in the year’s first major trade, Oakland has announced. Returning to the A’s in the deal are righty Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham, per the release.

Jun 27, 2015; Oaklandstyle=Trade talks were said to be “heating up” late yesterday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She tabbed Houston as the likely suitor, and indeed that has come to fruition.

He’ll return to his home town in the deal. The Astros had previously pursued him in free agency, but he decided to join the A’s on a two-year, $22MM pact. Kazmir will finish that contract with the Astros, and will also pick up a $500K assignment bonus in the process. Because he was acquired in the middle of the year, the Astros won’t be able to extend Kazmir a qualifying offer, which should aid his free agent case.

In Kazmir, the Astros get a top-performing starter to slot into the club’s rotation. Though he has long been dogged by injury questions, any such concerns are much less prevalent in a rental scenario. The 31-year-old, who burst back onto the scene after a long layoff, threw 190 1/3 quality innings last year and has been even better in 2015. He owns a 2.38 ERA over 109 2/3 frames, with 8.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 to go with a 45.9% groundball rate.

ERA estimators view Kazmir more as a mid-three earned run per nine talent, but that’s plenty useful for a Houston rotation that was in need of good innings down the stretch. He’ll join Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh atop the rotation, which also features the sturdy Scott Feldman and youngsters Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said that the acquisition gives his club “one of the deepest rotations in the American League,” adding that he hopes the move makes Houston “a viable force,” as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.

By moving for a short-term piece, Luhnow avoided the need to part with the organization’s highest-rated minor league talent. That could keep some powder dry should the club look to add a bat or other piece. While neither of the pieces going to Oakland have received much hype, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that they come from a deep Houston system and have improved their stock with their 2015 performances. And A’s GM Billy Beane obviously preferred to add the pair rather than attempting to pick up a draft pick by offering Kazmir a qualifying offer after the season.

Mengden, 22, holds the 19th overall spot in MLB.com’s ranking of Astros prospects. A fourth-round pick in 2014, the righty is said to have four pitches with some promise. That could make him a rotation piece down the line, though some view him as a reliever in the long run. Mengden dominated at the Class A level this year, though he’s slowed somewhat since moving up to High-A, with a 5.26 ERA and 8.7 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 over 49 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, in Nottingham, the A’s will add Houston’s 22nd-rated prospect, per MLB.com, which says there are some questions whether he can stick behind the dish. He just earned a call-up to the High-A level, and has put up big numbers as his promising power has turned into production. Over 329 total plate appearances this season, Nottingham owns a .326/.383/.558 slash with 14 home runs. That performance bumped the backstop into the top-ten of Houston’s pre-MLB talent in Baseball America’s mid-season update.

While both acquired players obviously have some real promise, it’s notable that Beane elected for a return of more projectable, far-from-the-majors assets. His offseason moves seemingly focused more on adding talent at or near the major league level. It will certainly be interesting to see whether the club follows suit if (or, more likely, when) it moves some of its other veteran pieces.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Twitter that Kazmir was headed to Houston. Ron Kroichik of the San Francisco Chronicle reported (Twitter links) that a move was afoot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Images.  Post initially published at 12:13pm central time on 7-23-15.


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.

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.

Trade Market Notes: Pitchers, Shields, Hamels, Papelbon, Reds

The much vaunted sellers market could soon favor buyers – at least for starting pitchers, observes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal figures GMs with players like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto should be motivated to act quickly. As he notes (tweet), Hamels and Cueto are already joined by Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, and four Padres hurlers. Closer to the deadline, we could see Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo, and David Price join the trade block among others. If there is any point in the sellers’ favor, it’s that every club feels like it needs more pitching.

  • Agents prefer for their star players to be traded, tweets Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Players with expiring contracts become ineligible for a qualifying offer. As we’ve seen in recent seasons, clubs can be very deliberate about signing a top free agent with a qualifying offer attached. The bonus pool rules instituted in the last collective bargaining agreement ensure that some teams will carefully guard their access to young talent rather than ink an expensive veteran.
  • A “rival evaluator” tells Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider only) that he expects the Padres to trade Shields. The source put the odds anywhere between 75 and 90 percent. Of course, that’s just the opinion of one anonymous source. Shields’ market is liable to be complicated, and I could see it extending into August.
  • In other Shields-related news, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune thinks it could be a mistake to trade the veteran righty. While the Padres may desire to get out from under his back-loaded deal, it would send a confusing signal to the next class of free agents. For what it’s worth, I think this could be overthinking it. The Padres don’t have the same stigma as the Marlins. The Friars could easily market such a trade as comparable to the Red Sox dump of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
  • Per Olney, multiple teams have engaged the Phillies regarding Hamels. Sources have also indicated that Jonathan Papelbon could be dealt very soon. Philadelphia has long been expected to dump pricey veterans at the deadline, but recent rumors have suggested the club could also stand pat until the offseason.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Hamels, Cueto, Kazmir, Gomez

The Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Red Sox are among the clubs still interested in Cole Hamels, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. Boston is expected to scout Hamels’ start tomorrow, and we can assume other clubs will have a heavy presence as well. Talks with the Rangers aren’t dead, but Texas does expect other teams to make a better offer.

Interestingly, we’ve recently seen speculation that the Phillies could opt to keep Hamels past the July deadline. Other clubs wonder if uncertainty in the front office has hampered their ability to finalize a deal. As Rosenthal notes, Jonathan Papelbon should have been traded by now. Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Health will affect the markets of Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. Both hurlers have missed time with various ailments and will be free agents at the end of the season. It can be difficult to justify trading a talented prospect for 12 starts, especially when the player involved is at an increased risk to not make those starts.
  • Short of an impressive streak in the second half, Pat Murphy is unlikely to manage the Padres next season. Rosenthal suggests that the culture change from Bud Black was too great. Murphy could join Craig Counsell‘s staff in Milwaukee if he is relieved of his duties.
  • As we now know, the Astros are open to adding a bat at the trade deadline. One star they’ve scouted is Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. Houston prefers a right-handed hitter, but may target lefty swinging Gerardo Parra due to a lower acquisition price. The Astros are open to trade Jon Singleton.