- The last-place Rays are discussing their starting pitchers with at least 10 teams and will likely wait until right before the deadline to make any decisions, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore have been particularly popular in the rumor mill lately. Other Rays who could switch homes include hot-hitting infielder Steve Pearce and right-handed swingman Erasmo Ramirez, per Topkin.
The most prominent pitcher the Rangers have pursued as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline nears is White Sox ace Chris Sale, who’s currently embroiled in a strange controversy, but the sides haven’t made much progress, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. With that in mind, Texas’ focus is on the Rays’ starters at the moment, writes Grant. Tampa Bay’s asking price is high for Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi, though, as it wants powerful corner infielder/outfielder Joey Gallo – Baseball America’s 11th-ranked prospect. The Rangers would only give up Gallo for the Rays’ top starter, Chris Archer, per Grant.
The Rays believe there are roughly eight teams with strong enough farm systems to put together a package for right-hander Chris Archer in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). One of those clubs, the Pirates, would have to move both righty Tyler Glasnow and outfield prospect Austin Meadows to acquire Archer. Glasnow, who’s currently in the midst of his second major league start, is sixth on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100, while Meadows is 10th. Tampa Bay’s asking price is quite high, then, but Rosenthal notes that Archer has an eminently team-friendly contract through 2021. The soon-to-be 28-year-old has struggled to prevent runs this season and has seen both his walk and home run rates increase significantly, but he was a top-of-the-rotation option over 535 1/3 innings from 2013-15.
Here’s the latest on some names who may or may not be on the move by the August 1 trade deadline…
- The White Sox are reportedly asking for “five top prospects” for Chris Sale, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. It’s an incredibly high asking price but one that at least one rival executive thinks will be met, though others believe Chicago may not actually be serious about dealing its ace. The Marlins are among the teams who have inquired about Sale but with such a thin farm system, Miami doesn’t seem close to meeting Chicago’s demand. The Red Sox and Rangers do have deep systems and have asked about Sale, though Heyman reports that the Rangers/White Sox talks haven’t led to much progress.
- The Rangers are known to be widely scouring the starting pitching market, and if Sale can’t be obtained, Texas will turn to the Padres’ Andrew Cashner or the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi or Matt Moore, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- The Rays continue to ask for Jurickson Profar from the Rangers in exchange for a starting pitcher and Texas is still refusing, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (Twitter links). Several other Rangers prospects have been mentioned in talks between the two teams, including lefty Yohander Mendez and first baseman Ronald Guzman.
- The Twins are seen as something of a “backup plan” for multiple contending teams in case other deadline plans ball through, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link). Ervin Santana, Eduardo Nunez, Fernando Abad and Kurt Suzuki are a few of the Twins mentioned as possible trade chips, though since none of these players are top-tier upgrades, it makes sense that contenders would explore other options first.
- Barring a knockout offer, it doesn’t look like the Braves will move Ender Inciarte at the deadline, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes. Inciarte received some trade interest even after Atlanta acquired him from the D’Backs last offseason, though a hamstring injury sidelined him for a month and he hasn’t delivered much at the plate. Still, Inciarte has so much defensive value in center field that the Braves consider him to be a strong piece for the future.
- Though trading Evan Longoria makes some sense for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times believes the club won’t and shouldn’t entertain the thought of dealing its longtime star. Longoria has too much value as Tampa’s franchise player on and off the field, and moving him would only fit if the Rays were pursuing a total rebuild, which doesn’t appear to be the case. There has been whispers that former Rays boss Andrew Friedman could be exploring a reunion with Longoria with the Dodgers, though the Rays are reportedly uninterested in Longoria trades now and perhaps whatsoever.
The Rangers aren’t optimistic that they’ll land one of the Rays’ controllable starting pitchers, writes FOX’s Ken Rosenthal in his latest notes column. The Rays continue to focus on Jurickson Profar, who could fill a void at shortstop, but the Rangers like the idea of Profar playing all four infield positions and seeing time for them in the outfield next year as well. The Rangers may be willing to budge on Profar if it meant Chris Archer, but Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore are seemingly held in lesser regard.
A few more highlights from the piece…
- The Rays are also receiving interest in their starters from non-contending clubs that are aiming to contend within the next couple of seasons. That gives Tampa Bay further leverage in talks, as they’re not limited to restocking their farms with only prospects from clubs that are currently in contention. The Astros, too, are eyeing the limited number of controllable arms that are available, and the division rivalry aspect could play into Tampa Bay’s favor if both Texas and Houston set their sights on the same Rays arm. Alternatively, each of their starters has so much club control remaining that the Rays could just wait until the offseason and market their starters as teams miss out on the few quality free agents that are available.
- The Cubs are still seeking a top-tier left-handed reliever even after landing Mike Montgomery, but they’re also eyeing Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick, as previously reported by Jon Morosi. Rosenthal writes that some teams may eventually concede that the pitching help they covet isn’t going to be available at a price they like and could simply upgrade the offense, thinking that adding value is adding value regardless of position. Reddick, he notes, would be an upgrade for the Cubs over Chris Coghlan, and deepening a roster in any fashion bodes well for the playoffs.
- The Astros are looking for left-handed relief help and asked the Braves about Hunter Cervenka as a fallback option if their primary, more established targets don’t pan out. Fellow left-hander Ian Krol has gotten some looks for the Braves as well, Rosenthal notes, though I’d personally imagine that Krol would have a higher price tag, as Cervenka has walked nearly six batters per nine innings this season and has limited big league experience.
- Steve Pearce has been the subject of quite a few of the Rays’ trade talks as of late, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Pearce has been one of the best bargain pickups of the offseason, slashing an outstanding .322/.393/.552 with 10 homers in 206 plate appearances. Because he can play first base, corner outfield or second base, Pearce could help a large number of clubs, and the remaining $1.89MM on his $4.75MM salary is a manageable sum for most clubs. Crasnick lists the Giants and Indians as a pair of possible fits for Tampa Bay’s slugging utilityman.
- The Rays are in a powerful position on the trade market, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. With so few options on the market for starting pitching, they’re poised to ask for lofty demands for any of Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore or even Chris Archer, though the common refrain on Archer is that he won’t be moved. The Dodgers and Rangers are both following the Rays’ starters closely, and Topkin lists the Pirates, Astros, Marlins, Nationals and Red Sox as teams with serious interest. Topkin adds Pearce, right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the list of possible trade options for president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and his staff. Notably, the Marlins were recently tied to left-handed relief help, so they could be interested not only in Tampa Bay’s starters but Cedeno as well.
- At least one unnamed executive thinks that Rays righty Chris Archer is a good bet to be traded, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. But an anoynymous general manager tells Heyman that he’s getting quite a different feel. “There’s no belief Chris Archer will be traded,” the GM reportedly said. It’s always tough to know how to interpret the signals on high-level, controllable players, but suffice to say that Archer remains a player to watch — but not one who should be assumed to be on the move.
- The Rays have recalled Alex Cobb from his minor league rehab assignment due to fatigue and mechanical issues, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Cobb, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last May, is now unlikely to return to a big league mound until at least mid-August, though it could be a bit later depending on when he gets back on a minor league mound. Topkin notes that the Rays aren’t concerned about a larger-scale injury, however.
Holding two game-changing trade chips puts the Yankees in an enviable position, and Tyler Kepner of the New York Times argues that the organization should exercise every bit of leverage it possesses. There’s plenty of demand for the southpaw relief duo of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, and New York is perhaps uniquely well-suited to sit back and wait for someone to overwhelm with an offer. (After all, the club is within striking distance of contention, can utilize the qualifying offer or extend Chapman, and still controls Miller for two seasons.)
Here’s more on some major trade deadline storylines:
- We’ve seen rather clear indications that the Cubs won’t be parting with Kyle Schwarber, whether for Miller or anyone else, but that hasn’t stopped the idea from being batted around. Bob Nightengale of USA Today looks at the concept, noting that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein continues to be clear that he has no intentions of moving Schwarber — but also that he is letting teams know that the ballclub is looking for an impact addition. For those interested in all of the dimensions of the Cubs’ decisionmaking on their injured young slugger, this piece is worth a full read.
- With the Cubs looking at any number of possible means of upgrading at the deadline, GM Jed Hoyer says to “expect the unexpected,” as Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. Hoyer noted that “you can’t have untouchables and you have to be willing to explore bold ideas,” but also suggested the organization will be hesitant to part with certain assets. “We really like our core and I think that’s something that we plan to build around,” he said.
- We’ve heard plenty of chatter surrounding the Rays, potentially involving just about any player on their roster. They’ve been tied, in particular, to the Rangers (see here and here). But the two clubs have “nothing brewing at the moment,” per Crasnick (via Twitter).
- One league executive tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link) that the Dodgers are “big-game hunting,” indicating that the organization is primarily interested in the kind of “elite-level players” that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has cited previously. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi says that the Dodgers and Rays have been in trade talks of late, though it’s not clear where the focus lies in those discussions. (Morosi seemingly suggests that Evan Longoria is of interest to Los Angeles, but says there’s no real chance of him changing hands this summer.)
- Though the Indians aren’t generally the type of organization to engineer major deadline swaps, that could change this year. As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti suggested that budget constraints won’t be a problem. “I don’t think economics will have an impact on which players we acquire,” he said. “I think we’ll have the flexibility that we need to acquire a player. I think our difficult decisions are going to come down to what level of talent are we willing to part with to acquire players, and whether or not there’s the right fit out there.” That’s certainly an interesting point to keep in mind as Cleveland works to bolster its roster, as the team might be inclined to take on a somewhat more expensive player than might normally be expected if it helps avoid the loss of significant prospect assets.
- Antonetti also suggested that the Indians aren’t necessarily particularly focused on their bullpen. Instead, he said, the club is open to improving everywhere but the rotation — where a stacked group is hardly in need of change. Though the relief corps still seems the biggest area of concern, the recent news on Michael Brantley could increase the need for a lineup boost, with Antonetti acknowledging that could be a factor in his approach over the next ten days.