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Jon Lester has emerged as perhaps the most sought after name on the trade market, and there will be plenty of buzz about him in the next three days. We’ll track all of today’s Lester updates in this post…
- The Red Sox are open to trading both Lester and Lackey for the right returns, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Multiple major league sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that it looks as though the Red Sox’s decision to trade Lester will most likely be made close to the 3pm CT deadline on July 31st, with the likelihood of a deal gaining steam. One source says the Red Sox are unlikely to re-engage in talks with Lester’s representatives prior to the deadline.
- The Red Sox, major league sources tell Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe, have been informed what kind of contract Lester is seeking and that has coincided with the team putting its ace on the trade market.
- The Red Sox are getting “hit hard” on both Lester and John Lackey, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), and teams within the AL East are among those showing interest. Lackey’s contract contains a club option for the league minimum in 2015 that triggered after he missed a year of his current contract due to Tommy John surgery.
- Indeed, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi tweets that the Orioles have reached out to Boston to express interest in Lester. Baltimore certainly has the pitching depth to make a push for Lester, although they’ve shown a past reluctance to part with any of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey or Eduardo Rodriguez.
- Rosenthal also tweets that the Mariners have inquired on Lester, who is a native of Tacoma. The M’s have been connected to David Price since the offseason, but Lester would come with a slightly lower cost of acquisition given his proximity to free agency. Seattle has plenty of minor league talent as well, though top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton have both dealt with injuries in 2014.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has exasperated many trade partners with his negotiating style, executives tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Those execs say the M’s frequently inquire on a number of players, only to shift direction when a deal appears within reach. That’s not unusual for teams to do, but rival officials say Jack Z has become one of the most difficult GMs in the sport with whom to do business. In a lengthy email to FOX Sports, the Mariners GM responded by saying that the in-and-out nature of his trade conversations are typical of those that occur throughout the industry. Meanwhile, other teams are confused by the club’s recent acquisition of Kendrys Morales given the way Zduriencik has intimated that the club has limited financial breathing room. Here’s more out of the AL and NL West..
- If the Angels do add a starting pitcher, a rental probably makes more sense for them, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The Mike Trout extension counts towards their competitive balance tax payroll next season, so they won’t have much wiggle room. Meanwhile, one industry source sees the Angels as more of a player for a starter in August when they take take advantage of available money without dealing prospects (link). The Angels have $15MM in breathing room before they surpass the tax threshold, but they are hesitant to deal more prospects after dealing six to land Joe Thatcher and Huston Street (link).
- Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego looks at Padres GM candidates A.J. Preller and Billy Eppler. Preller, an assistant GM with the Rangers, isn’t afraid to go against the grain with one exec referring to him as “eccentric.” Preller also has a rep as a grinder though his aggressiveness in signing talent from Latin America has rankled some competitors.
- The Dodgers shouldn’t trade for David Price or Jon Lester, argues Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. The Dodgers already have a strong mathematical likelihood of making the postseason and it doesn’t appear that the cost to land either of the star pitchers would be worth it for them, in Cameron’s view.
- The Giants‘ interest in Ben Zobrist of the Rays could be deepening, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. The Giants’ pickup of Dan Uggla hasn’t moved the needle so far and Marco Scutaro is unable to play everyday due to his lingering back issues.
After a glance at the Mets earlier this evening, here’s a look at other items out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are eyeing controllable pitchers and they’re thought to be considering A’s lefty Tommy Milone, D’Backs’ lefty Wade Miley, and Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Of course, if their three-game set against the Nationals doesn’t go well, they could wind up going the other way and selling.
- Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is no longer an option for the Royals and talks have stalled with the Mariners, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Byrd will only waive his no-trade clause if his 2016 option is exercised.
- The Phillies are talking with multiple clubs about Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo and there’s a lot of action on both, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
JULY 2nd: The Mariners have agreed to terms with top international prospect Brayan Hernandez, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Hernandez, a 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela, will receive a $1.85MM bonus, per Sanchez.
A switch-hitter, Hernandez ranked No. 8 on MLB.com’s list of top international amateurs and third on Baseball America’s version of the same list. Sanchez, BA’s Ben Badler and Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel have all connected the Mariners to Hernandez in the past, with McDaniel making the link all the way back in February.
Badler called Hernandez one of the most well-rounded players and best athletes in this year’s class. He has the potential to hit 15 to 20 homers with slightly above-average speed but a below-average throwing arm, per Badler. Sanchez calls him a contact hitter with a balanced setup that could improve quickly upon getting into regular games, due to a natural swing and strong hand-eye coordination.
4:11pm: The Mariners and Braves are the two teams pursuing Denorfia most heavily right now, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
11:04am: The Padres have received a lot of interest in outfielder Chris Denorfia and a trade is likely to happen “sooner rather than later,” sources tell Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. The Giants, Mariners and Blue Jays are all interested, and the Royals have also talked to the Padres about a possible move, and could get in on Denorfia if they can’t acquire Alex Rios or Marlon Byrd.
San Francisco and Seattle are new names connected to the Denorfia sweepstakes, and like the Jays and Royals, both teams would be helped by a right-handed hitting outfield bat. Denorfia could form a platoon with Gregor Blanco in center for the Giants, as Angel Pagan‘s injury status is still up in the air, or Denorfia could potentially platoon in left field with Tyler Colvin with Michael Morse seeing more time at first (if Brandon Belt‘s concussion continues to linger). The Mariners have also been linked to Byrd, though since the M’s are one of the four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list, Denorfia could be easier to obtain.
Denorfia is a free agent this winter, and the 34-year-old hasn’t helped his value by hitting only .244/.295/.321 over 266 PA this season. That total includes a .644 OPS against left-handed pitching, though Denorfia has an .810 career OPS against southpaws.
With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
- Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
- The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
- Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
- While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
- The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
- Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
- The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
- While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
- The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
- The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.
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- Jonathan Papelbon has told the Phillies that he won’t waive his no-trade clause to go to a team that will use him as anything less than a full-time closer. Between the lack of teams looking for closing help and Papelbon’s large remaining salary, this is yet another obstacle that would hamper the Phils’ ability to trade their stopper, though they’re reportedly willing to eat at least some of Papelbon’s salary in a trade.
- The Rays were one of several teams who tried to obtain Lucas Duda from the Mets over the years, yet the Mets held onto the young slugger and are reaping the benefits of Duda’s breakout season. Playing largely against right-handed pitching, Duda has 18 homers and a .259/.356/.500 slash line over 365 PA.
- The Mets and Yankees both sorely need to add some power, Sherman opines.
- The Rays had talent evaluators specifically watching Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker‘s start against the Mets last week.
- The Mariners have been linked to David Price, though one scout doesn’t know why Seattle is looking to add pitching and not hitting. “Their rotation can do damage in the playoffs, but I don’t know if that offense can get to the playoffs,” the scout told Sherman. “If you are going to trade a prospect as good as Walker, don’t you have to get the bat you so desperately need?” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, however, says it’s all about the caliber of talent available to be added to a team. “If you consider David Price a [grade] A and the only thing available to you as a hitter is a C-plus hitter, you are better off with the A pitcher. It really all depends what opportunity presents itself. What are you giving up to what are you getting back?“, Zduriencik says.
- Speaking of Price, the Rays‘ recent hot streak has convinced one rival executive that the club will hold onto its star left-hander though the deadline. Tampa can always re-open trade talks about Price in the offseason and in the meantime keep their ace and keep gunning for the top of the weakened AL East, the executive tells Sherman.
At least four teams have asked about Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report (all Twitter links). Those teams include the Mariners, Giants, Reds and Yankees. Rosenthal also notes the Blue Jays’ interest was only temporary, and that the Yankees might not be the best match as a trade partner for Rios, since they are one of six teams on his no-trade list.
It is not surprising that the Mariners or Giants would have interest in Rios. The Mariners have been seeking right-handed power and might want more even after their trade for Kendrys Morales. They’ve recently been connected to outfielders like Matt Kemp and Drew Stubbs. The Giants have been connected to a variety of players at different positions, including righty corner outfielder Dayan Viciedo. (They have, however, gotten good work out of regular corner outfielders Michael Morse and Hunter Pence.) The Reds, meanwhile, reportedly want a hitter they can control beyond 2014, and could be buyers even though they’ve fallen to six games back in the NL Central. Rios has a reasonable club option for 2015.
Troy Tulowitzki, one day after his name was misspelled on a Rockies’ T-shirt giveaway, was at Yankee Stadium watching New York play Toronto. Tulowitzki flew to Philadelphia yesterday for a second opinion on his left hip flexor strain, which landed him on the disabled list, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The doctor’s visit (Harding tweets it’s for a dry needling procedure to promote healing) is in of itself routine, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes Tulowitzki being at Yankees Stadium is no accident after the spelling snafu adding the Rockies cannot be happy he is attending another team’s game while on the DL and this sort of thing can lead to an eventual trade (Twitter links). Last Sunday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post theorized a trade would only be possible if Tulowitzki was willing to wear the label of a disloyal, bad guy. The All-Star shortstop defended his decision to go to the Yankees’ game telling the Denver Post, “I’m with my family. I wanted to see (Derek) Jeter play one more time.“
Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:
- Though he constitutes a “backup plan” for the club, the Mariners have real interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, tweets Passan. Seattle envisions shifting Kemp to the DH role eventually.
- The Yankees, meanwhile, are currently “not in” on Kemp, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. We heard earlier today the club is seeking a bat, including several potential options that profile similarly to Kemp (right-handed, power bats). Of course, those players do not come with Kemp’s $107MM in future commitments.
- The Padres have announced right-hander Ian Kennedy, a popular name on the MLBTR pages of late, will not make his start tomorrow because of left oblique soreness, but will throw a side session either Tuesday or Wednesday, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow reiterated he is not going to trade closer Chad Qualls, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. But, Luhnow said the team would consider dealing a starter from its MLB or Triple-A roster.
- Last year’s number one overall draft pick, Mark Appel of the Astros, has been moved up to Double-A, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The righty struggled mightily at the High-A level, throwing in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment, but had perhaps his best outing on Thursday. “All along the plan has been to get him to Corpus Christi and have him pitch there this summer,” said Luhnow. “And we wanted to build off of some positive momentum to make that happen. We have a lot of pitchers at High-A that are deserving of opportunities higher up. I think there were things that we wanted him to accomplish at Lancaster.”
- Appel’s promotion, as well as being rewarded with a bullpen session earlier today at Minute Maid Park, has been met with displeasure within the Astros‘ clubhouse. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle tweets players have approached several reporters to vent and the comments have been laced with expletives (Twitter links).
- Astros manager Bo Porter addressed the Appel uproar by telling reporters, including Ortiz, “Any time something affects your clubhouse, I think as the manager you have to handle it. I will handle it internally. It’s unfortunate that they have been put in that position.“
- Ortiz opines, via Twitter, Appel’s promotion and bullpen session add fuel to the clubhouse perception the 23-year-old is being babied. Baseball America’s Ben Badler agrees the Astros are sending the wrong message to their players, but their discontent should be over the promotion to Double-A, not the bullpen session (Twitter links).
- The Pirates are believed to have interest in Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
While the Cubs are among the most clear-cut sellers at this year’s deadline, the team may hang onto Justin Ruggiano and Luis Valbuena, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Both are enjoying solid seasons and both are controlled through 2016. While the team wants to get as much young talent in the door as possible, each provides a veteran presence to help with the club’s impending influx of young talent.
Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that it was difficult to designate Matt Guerrier for assignment, given the right-hander’s history with the club. “That’s not the way you like to see things go,” said Ryan. “He’s a class guy. He’s been a great member of this organization for about a decade.” The GM added that it’s too soon to tell if Guerrier will accept an outright assignment, but Berardino gets the impression that Guerrier’s time with the Twins organization is done.
- Berardino also asked Ryan if he expected more moves for the Twins in the coming week after trading Kendrys Morales to Seattle for righty Stephen Pryor yesterday (Tout link). Ryan replied: “It’s always active, Mike, at this time of year. You’re going to have activity, especially if you’re in a situation that the Twins are in right now. We’re going to have active calls, whether you place them or field them, it’s going to be a little busy. … We’ve got some people here that there will be interest in.”
- One more from Berardino, who spoke with Twins backstop Kurt Suzuki about the possibility of being traded. Suzuki says he’s not focusing on rumors circulating his name because it’s out of his control but admitted that it’s not always easy to do and can be tough for families. Berardino wonders if the Minnesota would reignite its interest in former Twin A.J. Pierzynski, should Suzuki be dealt. Minnesota made a two-year offer to Pierzynski in the offseason.
- The Pirates sit atop Jim Callis of MLB.com’s list of five contenders that are best-positioned to make trades due to young talent. He lists Josh Bell, Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson and Reese McGuire as appealing chips, noting that, “No contender can match the Bucs’ combination of prospect quality and quantity.” The Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners and Royals round out Callis’ list.
- Jim Margalus of SB Nation’s South Side Sox wonders why the White Sox (and teams around the league in general) have been so hesitant to trade within their own division and opines that this stigma shouldn’t prevent a deal sending Dayan Viciedo to the Royals, who reportedly have interest. Margalus runs down the list of previous intra-division trades and sees no catastrophes to speak of.