- The trade is likely to represent the Red Sox’ biggest trade of the offseason, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says (via Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal on Twitter).
- The Red Sox still need a front-of-the-rotation pitcher, but they’re likely to pursue that kind of player via the free agent market, Dombrowski tells reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “My thought process is most likely any acquisition we’d make in the starting pitching would first happen as far as the free-agent field is concerned,” Dombrowski. “You never know, but that would be my guess.” Lauber does note that the team has spoken with executives from other teams about potential trade acquisitions, but the Athletics don’t seem inclined to trade Sonny Gray, and ditto with the White Sox and Chris Sale. That could mean the Red Sox sign David Price, Johnny Cueto or Zack Greinke.
- The Red Sox’ decision to deal four good prospects for Kimbrel suggests a change in the team’s approach, John Tomase of WEEI.com writes. Former GM Ben Cherington built up talent in the Sox’ farm system but would probably have been reluctant to make such an aggressive trade. The Red Sox pursuing top free agent pitchers like Price, too, would have been unlikely under Cherington.
- Trading so many prospects so early in his tenure represents a risk for Dombrowski, MacPherson writes. MacPherson cites Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, who was new in town a few years back when his team sent a package that included DJ LeMahieu to Colorado for infielder Ian Stewart. “Those kind of mistakes happen when a regime comes in and they don’t know the guys as well,” says Hoyer. “They’re relying more on internal evaluations and scouting reports, third-hand information. Anytime you go to a new organization, those are your risks — and there are risks of being inactive because you’re worried about making mistakes, too.”
- The Kimbrel deal was exactly the kind of trade Dombrowski was hired to make, writes Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Abraham notes that many commentators (like FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron and ESPN Insider’s Keith Law, for example) disliked the trade from the Red Sox’ perspective, but after two straight losing seasons, the Sox have tickets to sell, and Kimbrel will help sell them. For the Red Sox, prospects like Margot and Guerra were best viewed as trade chips.
NOV. 10: “We don’t intend to trade Sonny Gray,” Athletics GM David Forst told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford today. “Not for a lack of interest, and not because he’s not a great pitcher that a lot of teams want. But we really feel like he’s part of our future, as well. As soon as you trade a young, healthy really good pitcher, you’re looking for another one.”
NOV. 4: While many fans whose teams are seeking top-tier pitching this winter have dreamed of prying right-hander Sonny Gray away from the Athletics, Oakland president of baseball operations Billy Beane tells Peter Gammons that he “just cannot see us trading Gray or [Josh] Reddick.”
The A’s have earned the reputation of being willing to trade anyone, and nothing exemplifies that more than last winter’s Josh Donaldson swap with the Blue Jays. Skeptics will point to quotes last year which indicated that Donaldson wouldn’t be dealt, but those came from an unnamed source as opposed to on-record comments from the club’s top decision-maker.
“Trading Gray is not something I think we could do,” Beane explained to Gammons. “We have to put a representative product on the field, and continue to dream we get a ballpark. We should have good pitching, with Gray, Jarrod Parker, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, maybe Sean Manaea during the season.” While those comments don’t 100 percent eliminate the possibility of moving Gray or Reddick, they should serve to temper some rumors surrounding their names.
Gray, who turns 26 on Saturday, would command a king’s ransom in a trade anyhow. With two years and 61 days of big league service, Gray isn’t yet arbitration eligible and won’t be a free agent until the completion of the 2019 season. Four years of team control, the first of which would come near the league minimum, for a pitcher that has worked to a 2.88 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 54.2 percent ground-ball rate would rank among the most valuable commodities in the game.
Reddick, on the other hand, is more of a conventional trade candidate, as the 28-year-old (29 in February) outfielder will be a free agent following the 2016 campaign. However, this is the second time that Beane has gone on record as saying he doesn’t plan to trade Reddick. Beane, in fact, discussed Reddick as a possible extension candidate when speaking to the Bay Area media following the regular season’s completion.
Reddick is a .251/.315/.439 hitter in four seasons with the A’s, though that includes what now looks to have been outlier season in 2013 when his bat was surprisingly unproductive (91 OPS+). Defensive metrics were somewhat down on Reddick in 2015, though he dealt with an oblique strain early in the season and also battled several knee injuries back in 2014, which could have lingered into the 2015 campaign. He comes with an outstanding defensive reputation, however, ranking ninth in the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved and 10th in Ultimate Zone Rating since being traded to Oakland prior to the 2012 campaign. Reddick has his flaws — namely a weak bat against same-handed pitching — but he’s a highly valuable player that could be in for a significant contract after the 2016 season if the A’s aren’t able to work out a long-term deal prior to that point.
The Orioles are generally patient in the free agent market under GM Dan Duquette, writes Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. Duquette’s biggest free agent signings came late in the 2013-2014 offseason when he inked Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez. Given that 20 players were extended qualifying offers, Baltimore could once again wait to see if any players fall through the cracks. In my opinion, there are some risks with this strategy. While buying low close to the season has its advantages, it can leave a player under-prepared. Additionally, several clubs appear well positioned to play the waiting game. Duquette could find an unusual amount of competition if he waits to do his shopping until late-January.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Former Orioles Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, and Matt Wieters may take a patient approach to finding a new contract, writes Dubroff. All three Scott Boras clients received a qualifying offer. In the case of Davis, the Orioles would like to re-sign him and plan to make a competitive offer. However, Dubroff wonders how long Baltimore will allow Davis to shop for offers before they move onto alternatives. Meanwhile, the market for Wieters may not be particularly robust with the White Sox, Astros, and Dodgers as possible fits. Reliever Darren O’Day was not given a qualifying offer, and he could be in line for a four-year contract.
- The Rays made an early splash on the trade market, and they’re obviously not done, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The club has narrowed its focus for the offseason but remains open to discussing any player. Topkin notes that free agent activity will wait until later in the offseason “when their currency of playing time can be worth more than money to players still on the market.” Trade talks figure to revolve around first baseman James Loney. He’s owed $8MM next season. Corner infield prospect Richie Shaffer appears ready for a high profile role if Loney is dealt elsewhere.
- The Red Sox currently have the 12th pick in the 2016 amateur draft, and it may influence some of their free agent decisions, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Under the qualifying offer system, the earliest pick ever surrendered to sign a free agent is the 13th (Padres, James Shields). The club would probably be willing to cough up a pick for a top free agent like Zack Greinke, Davis, or Jordan Zimmermann. However, pitchers like Chen, Marco Estrada, and others might not offer enough upside to forego the early pick. Per President Dave Dombrowski, “I think it’s a case-by-case basis and you analyze that based upon the player you have a chance to sign.“
- As a means of retaining their first pick, the Red Sox may attempt to trade for starting pitching, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Trade candidates are harder to predict because it’s unclear which players are really on the table. McAdam believes that A’s starter Sonny Gray, Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, and San Diego’s Tyson Ross are logical targets. The club could also chase a top reliever like Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman.
- Greinke may not be a fit in Boston, opines Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Greinke actually hit similarly to Pablo Sandoval on a rate basis and reportedly enjoys batting regularly. There’s also the matter of home division. The NL West includes some of the most pitcher friendly parks in baseball. As such, the Dodgers and Giants are a good fit. Pitchers in the AL East have to survive Fenway and three homer-happy venues in Toronto, New York, and Baltimore. That could hold back the Red Sox in negotiations for other top pitchers like David Price too. Gammons does see a possible trade match with the White Sox for ace Chris Sale. Blake Swihart could potentially serve as a centerpiece.
Barry Zito will start for the Athletics on Wednesday in what the veteran southpaw hinted would be his last Major League game, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. “So maybe I could pitch next year. But I have a son now, and the travel with a family is pretty nuts. I think about it, but I also know that I was pretty at peace with being done during those nine days,” Zito said, referring to the nine days between the end of the Triple-A season and his callup to Oakland. “There have been so many last starts for me. I would think this would be the last. Anything could happen still. I haven’t come out and said, ‘This is it.’ But that’s something I’ll have to mull over when I’m home-home (that’s Nashville for the next few months) in a week or so.”
Here’s more from around the AL West…
- Joe Smith is “confident” he’ll be able to pitch again before the end of the season, the reliever told reporters, including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. Smith suffered a sprained ankle on September 19 but has taken part in fielding drills and a bullpen session over the last two days, and he’ll throw another bullpen today. Smith’s return would be a boost to the Angels relief corps, which has already lost closer Huston Street for at least the rest of the regular season.
- Jon Singleton signed a five-year, $10MM extension with the Astros before ever playing a Major League game, a deal that at the time was criticized by some current and retired players (including Bud Norris and Mark Mulder) for being far too team-friendly. Two years into the contract, however, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes that the deal is looking more like a mistake on the Astros’ end as Singleton has both struggled and not even collected all that much service time. Drellich reports from one source that the Astros wouldn’t have made the deal in hindsight if they’d known how Singleton’s 2015 would unfold.
- The Astros‘ strategy of offering multi-year deals to players early (or even before) their MLB careers have begun may have backfired in Singleton’s case, though Drellich notes that Houston avoided more commitments when Robbie Grossman and Matt Dominguez both rejected similar extensions. The Astros may have already ultimately gotten a good return on this strategy since Jose Altuve‘s deal is looking like a bargain, which makes up for other mistakes.
- The decision to accept or reject such an early-career extension is a fascinating one for any player, as they’re facing possible peer (and union) pressure to “bet on themselves” in hopes of making more in the future, or to accept what’s already a life-changing sum of money and cash in on pure potential. Drellich speaks to former A’s outfielder Bobby Crosby, who signed a five-year, $12.75MM extension after his Rookie Of The Year season and doesn’t regret signing the deal since his career was hampered by injuries.
- During an appearance on the MLB Network (video link included), Peter Gammons said he doubts the Athletics will trade Sonny Gray this winter. This isn’t to say that a deal won’t eventually happen, however, perhaps as soon as the 2016-17 offseason when Gray becomes arbitration-eligible for the first time. Until then, Gray is one of the game’s biggest bargains, posting top-of-the-rotation numbers at just over a minimum salary.
Athletics ace Sonny Gray will not pitch again this year, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets. Gray left his start on Friday with tightness in his hip. Gray has been a huge standout in what’s otherwise been a frustrating season in Oakland — he’s pitched 208 innings with a 2.73 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 52.7% ground ball rate, posting ace-caliber numbers for a 65-91 team. Starting in Gray’s place on Wednesday will be veteran Barry Zito, who will be making his third start of the season in his comeback with the A’s. Here are more notes from throughout the game.
- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says the team will eventually work on an extension for president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, but that will wait until after the season, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Theo and I have a great relationship. Obviously, the results are great,” says Ricketts. “Everyone in the baseball organization, we’re on a mission. And we want to keep that mission going forward.” Epstein is currently signed through next season to a five-year, $18.5MM contract. Given the Cubs’ strong season and the escalation in executive salaries since his deal was struck in late 2011 (Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Dodgers is worth $35MM), Epstein’s next deal will likely be significantly more lucrative.
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon had what he describes as a “great” conversation with new GM Jerry Dipoto on Monday, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. It isn’t yet clear whether Dipoto will retain McClendon next season, however. “I’m under contract to manage next year, and hopefully I’ll manage the club,” says McClendon. “So beyond that, if you’re looking for security in this game, you’re in the wrong business. That’s me and every other manager.”
- Impending free agent shortstop Ian Desmond has fans in the Padres organization, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. The Padres, of course, have a need at shortstop, and Desmond’s struggles with the Nationals this year (during which he’s batted .236/.289/.389) should make him available more cheaply, and on a shorter deal, than he previously figured to get.
- Rockies 2015 first-round picks Brendan Rodgers (No. 3 overall) and especially Mike Nikorak (No. 27) had uneven pro debuts, but the team isn’t worried, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes. Rodgers hit well (.273/.340/.420) at rookie-level Grand Junction, especially given his age, but suffered through hamstring troubles. Nikorak walked 32 batters in 17 2/3 innings, also for Grand Junction. The Rockies believe that Rodgers’ injury issues were due to a long break between the end of his high school season and the start of his pro career, and they’re going to help him work on his conditioning. Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson says he isn’t concerned about Nikorak’s debut. “Quite frankly, this season is going to be the best thing that ever happened to Mike Nikorak,” says Wilson. “He’s got the mentality to learn from this and make adjustments.”
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by chronicling the efforts of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Perhaps most interesting are some of the items about trades the Jays elected not to make. As Heyman notes, the Reds asked for right-hander Marcus Stroman in exchange for Johnny Cueto, but Stroman was a deal-breaker in all trade talks with Toronto. Dating back to the offseason, the Blue Jays considered signing Craig Breslow, Joba Chamberlain, John Axford and Rafael Soriano, as well as some larger names, including David Robertson, whom they considered “closely.” (Toronto never made a firm offer to Robertson, though, Heyman writes.) The Blue Jays’ willingness to include Daniel Norris in a trade for David Price effectively shut every other team out of the market, per Heyman, as others weren’t willing to discuss their absolute top prospects. The Yankees, for instance, wouldn’t part with Luis Severino, while the Dodgers steadfastly refused to part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias.
More highlights from the article (which is worth checking out in its entirety, as there’s far more than can be recapped here with any form of brevity)…
- Paul Goldschmidt is under team control through 2019, but the D-Backs will attempt to extend him further this offseason, per GM Dave Stewart. “We want to make him a lifetime Diamondback,” Stewart told Heyman. I imagine the price tag there will be extraordinary, as Goldschmidt has gone from rising talent to unequivocal superstardom since signing his initial extension with Arizona. Heyman also reports that the D-Backs will take a shot at extending the arbitration-eligible A.J. Pollock. While not a household name, Pollock probably earns my personal vote as the most underrated player in baseball.
- The Braves have been making an effort to shed contracts that reach beyond the 2016 season, and Heyman writes to “look for them to take offers on Julio Teheran” this offseason. Clearly, Atlanta would be selling low on a talented arm that comes with a very reasonable contract. Teheran signed a six-year, $32.4MM extension prior to the 2014 season, but he’s logged a 4.57 ERA due in part to diminished control in 2015.
- The Orioles will make left-hander Wei-Yin Chen a qualifying offer this winter, Heyman reports. Chen might not seem like a prototypical QO candidate, but he’s a lock to turn it down, in my mind, coming off a very nice season at age 30. He should draw pretty significant interest this winter, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently noted in examining Chen’s free agent stock.
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is up for an extension at an excellent time, as the Cubs’ rebuild looks to be paying tremendous dividends. Epstein has been earning about $4MM per year with the Cubs, but Heyman hears from some in the industry that the expectation is for Epstein to top Andrew Friedman’s reported $7MM annual salary with the Dodgers if and when he signs a new deal.
- Despite a poor season for the Reds, there’s a sense among some that they may keep manager Bryan Price. The second-year Reds skipper has had to deal with the losses of Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart and Homer Bailey, among many injuries to others in 2015.
- There’s been some buzz about the Tigers trimming payroll, but Heyman spoke to multiple sources close to the situation who say that talk might be overstated. One spoke specifically about the Ilitch family’s continued commitment to winning. Heyman speculatively mentions Justin Upton as a player that has previously piqued Detroit’s interest. He also lists the White Sox as a team that may show interest in Upton.
- The Royals are serious about trying to make Alex Gordon a lifetime member of the organization. It’ll be tough for Kansas City to do so if he’s seeking something in the vicinity of Shin-Soo Choo money ($130MM), but the increased revenue they’re receiving from the Kansas City baseball renaissance could allow them to spend more than they would’ve in previous seasons.
- The Dodgers have interest in Johnny Cueto as a free agent, and adding a right-handed arm does intrigue them. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu and Julio Urias (expected to eventually join the L.A. rotation) are all left-handed, as is fellow offseason target David Price, whom Heyman terms a “more obvious target” for Friedman & Co.
- The Brewers are serious about trying to emphasize analytics with a new GM hire, as the Attanasio family (the team’s owners) are big believers in the growing statistical trend. Mark Attanasio’s son, a former basketball player, is an MIT grad with a strong foundation in basketball analytics. John Coppolella, Thad Levine, David Forst, Mike Hazen, Billy Eppler, Michael Girsch and Jerry Dipoto are among the names that Heyman feels could be fits in Milwaukee’s GM seat.
- “Not happening. Not even slightly,” was the response from Athletics general manager Billy Beane when asked by Heyman about the possibility of trading Sonny Gray this winter. That’s a pretty emphatic denial, and while some will recall similar comments made about Josh Donaldson last October, those came from an anonymous executive as opposed to an on-record denial from Oakland’s top decision-maker.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo recaps the trade deadline moves, evaluates which teams fared well or poorly with their transactions (or lack thereof) and also looks ahead to the August trade market in his latest column. Some highlights…
- “Plenty of teams” approached the A’s about a trade for Sonny Gray, though unsurprisingly, Oakland held onto the young ace.
- The Mariners believe they can re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma (a pending free agent) for one or two more seasons. For this season, the M’s decided to keep the righty at the deadline, though Iwakuma drew interest from multiple teams.
- Mike Napoli could be an August trade candidate, as one GM called him “a guy teams want to see a little bit more of” to see if Napoli can heat up at the plate. The Red Sox first baseman is only hitting .206/.307/.387 with 13 homers over 362 plate appearances. Boston shopped Napoli prior to the July deadline though the Pirates were the only team known to have any interest.
- There was some deadline day speculation that the Padres could make a run at Pablo Sandoval, though no deal materialized.
- The Red Sox pursued Cole Hamels for 18 months but are still looking for a rotation-topping ace as Hamels ended up dealt to Texas. Cafardo wonders if all this wasted time will hurt Boston, as he feels the Sox could’ve matched or topped the prospect package the Phillies got from the Rangers. Now, the Red Sox will have to spent far more than Hamels’ remaining salary to obtain an ace this winter.
- One team evaluator though the Phillies ultimately fared well in their deadline deals for Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere, though “from where they started in their demands to where they wound up, it’s quite a fall. But if you look around at other deals, nobody was giving up No. 1 or 2 prospects. They settled for quantity in some cases, but they got a fair share of quality, as well.”
- Cafardo was surprised to see the Tigers deal Joakim Soria, “as relievers of this ilk are hard to come by and the Tigers have a history of being unable to identify them. They finally did with Soria and yet they traded him.”
- The fact that the Tigers entrusted GM Dave Dombrowski with trading Soria, Yoenis Cespedes and David Price could be a sign that Dombrowski may remain in Detroit, Cafardo opines. The two sides hadn’t made progress on an extension as of early July, though Dombrowski’s last extension to remain with the Tigers (in 2011) wasn’t settled until August of that year.
- You can add the Nationals to the list of teams that showed some interest in Justin Upton, as Cafardo writes that Washington “considered” a move for the Padres outfielder.
- Speaking of Upton, Cafardo thinks the Padres could move both he and James Shields in August if the team finally decides they’re out of the race. I would think an Upton deal would be extremely difficult, since any number of teams would put in waiver claims to block him from going to a rival and wouldn’t hesitate taking on the roughly $5MM remaining on Upton’s contract. As for Shields, his much longer and pricier contract makes him unlikely to be claimed on waivers, so Cafardo thinks a team like the Yankees could make a move for Shields to upgrade their rotation.
Rumors connecting the Red Sox and Cole Hamels have been circulating for months, with the lack of an ace atop their rotation being a common refrain. However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Hamels and fellow established ace Johnny Cueto are unlikely candidates for the Sox, as their top priority heading into the trade deadline is to target younger arms that are under control beyond the 2015 season. Neither Cueto nor Hamels fits that mold, as Cueto is a free agent at season’s end and Hamels is 31 years of age.
The Red Sox are looking at both starters and relievers in their search for pitching, according to Bradford, which widens the array of possible trade targets even further. There’s little sense in speculating which arms will land on Boston’s wish list, though recent reports have indicated that one pitcher who meets this criteria, Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray, is off limits as the deadline nears. Assistant GM David Forst said point blank in a recent radio appearance (h/t: CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich): “Sonny Gray‘s not going anywhere.”
Boston has employed this approach recently, acquiring young starters Joe Kelly and Wade Miley in separate trades over the past calendar year, though the results have been mixed, at best. Miley got off to a rough start in his tenure as a member of the Red Sox, but he’s been very good since May 1, working to a 3.41 ERA in 68 2/3 innings. The results for Kelly haven’t been as promising; the former Cardinal has a 4.96 ERA in 24 starts with the Sox due to shaky control and a hittable fastball, all of which contributed to the decision to option the hard-throwing righty to Triple-A Pawtucket last month.
GM Ben Cherington and his staff will have multiple avenues to explore in an attempt to achieve this goal. As we saw last July, the Sox moved veteran righty John Lackey in order to acquire Kelly along with first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig. In the offseason, Miley was acquired for young righties Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Boston’s been willing to deal from its farm system and its Major League roster in order to pull in this type of pitcher, and the front office should again be able to go either route. The Sox have a rich, if somewhat depleted farm system that includes the likes of Manuel Margot, Henry Owens, Garin Cecchini, Brian Johnson and Rafael Devers, among others. Similarly, however, there are veteran pieces on the team that would figure to fetch a nice return. Clay Buchholz has been outstanding of late, and late-inning righties Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have both performed well in 2015. Perhaps none of those names could fetch a premier young arm on their own, but any could be paired with young talent to facilitate a deal.
Boston also has the type of Major League ready talent that many clubs covet around the diamond. We’ve heard multiple times that Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart are each likely untouchable, but perhaps the Sox would reconsider if a tantalizing enough pitcher were to be dangled from a trade partner. Other MLB-ready pieces that may be easier to acquire could include Jackie Bradley Jr. and Deven Marrero, both of whom are appealing but likely have lower ceilings than the aforementioned young talent.
Boston is currently 36-44, placing them last in the AL East and seven behind the Orioles for the division lead. Of course, the entire AL East is essentially up for grabs, with the Orioles, Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays all separated by only a game and a half in the standings.
Dodgers president Andrew Friedman will entertain offers for any player, even Yasiel Puig, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. The right-handed outfielder is under club control through 2019. He’s paid just $4.5MM this season and $5.5MM in 2016. Puig, 24, provides necessary balance to a lineup that will include left-handers Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager. The Dodgers would like to add a top young starter, but it would take an awful lot for Puig to be included in a deal. My own personal spit balling – it would take a starter like Matt Harvey to open a conversation. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- The Royals rotation ranks 13th in the American League in ERA. Rival executives expect the club to acquire starting pitching at the deadline. Kansas City may have a narrow window for contention. Alex Gordon can opt out of his contract after this season. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are under club control through 2017. The club does have Danny Duffy and Kris Medlen on the rehab trail, but setbacks are always possible. Personally, I wouldn’t expect them to seek a top pitcher like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. However, I could see them targeting a guy like Aaron Harang.
- The Rangers could soon find themselves with a surplus of starting pitchers. The club promoted Chi Chi Gonzalez today. Meanwhile, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez are expected to return at some point this season. As Rosenthal points out, setbacks to that trio would not be surprising. Rather than trading a starter, the club might revisit their previous efforts to acquire Hamels. Texas is just one game below .500 entering this evening.
- The Athletics are unlikely to deal ace Sonny Gray. At the end of the season, he’ll have the same amount of service time as Josh Donaldson did last winter. However, the A’s still hope to build a contender – if not this season then next. Gray is key cog for Oakland.
The recent struggles of Yankees starters C.C. Sabathia (age 33) and Hiroki Kuroda (age 39) weigh on the minds of Red Sox management in regards to a possible Jon Lester extension, Peter Gammons tweets. While the Sox are surely interested in keeping Lester in the fold through 2018, anything beyond that could be problematic given the history of guaranteeing big money to aging pitchers. Lester would be 35 on Opening Day 2019, which could be why Boston’s most recent offer to the southpaw was a four-year extension.
- The Blue Jays could make up their 2.5-game deficit in the AL East by making four changes, Paul Swydan writes in an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com. One of those moves would be an upgrade at second base, and Swydan suggests that Rickie Weeks, Luis Valbuena, Emilio Bonifacio and Danny Espinosa could all be logical trade targets.
- Chuck LaMar, former Rays GM and current Blue Jays special assistant of amateur scouting, recently scouted high schooler Alex Verdugo, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Verdugo, recently ranked as the 41st-best draft prospect by Baseball America, is both a left-handed pitcher and an outfielder “who prefers to hit anyway,” according to BA’s John Manuel. Toronto has the ninth and eleventh overall picks in the 2014 draft, as well as the 50th overall selection.
- Jonathan Schoop is only hitting .231/.278/.374 in 97 PA this season, but MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski believes the Orioles‘ star prospect deserves more time as a Major League regular.
- The Athletics drafted Sonny Gray one pick ahead of the Red Sox in 2011, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier notes that the Sox heavily evaluated the righty in the months leading up to the draft. While Gray has already enjoyed Major League stardom, Boston still has to be pretty satisfied with its actual pick at #19 overall, as Matt Barnes is a well-regarded right-hander pitching at Triple-A this season and possibly in line for a late-season promotion to the bigs.