The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark…
- The Rangers and Phillies are the favorites for Padres closer Heath Bell, with the Cardinals, Angels, Braves, and Reds also in the mix.
- One executive Stark spoke to wouldn't be surprised to see a dark horse like the Reds or Brewers make a late run at Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran.
- An official who spoke with the Rays over the weekend said that while they're not trading James Shields, they'll decide later this week on players like Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth. B.J. Upton could be dealt even if the team closes its 6.5 game wild card deficit.
- The Rays and Blue Jays have been scouting each other's farm systems recently. One scout speculated that the Jays could join a three-team Upton trade somehow.
- One team says Brian Sabean's off-limits prospects are Zack Wheeler, Heath Hembree, and Gary Brown, along with Brandon Belt. That'd leave the team without any top 50 prospects to move, with Francisco Peguero and Ehire Adrianza in the next tier based on Baseball America's preseason rankings. There's also Double-A lefty Eric Surkamp, who brought his ERA down to 2.00 yesterday.
- The Phillies are steering teams to their High-A Clearwater club, as they don't want to trade big leaguers and not to add much more than a million bucks in payroll. Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Sebastian Valle, and Jiwan James are names to watch there assuming Jarred Cosart is untouchable. Stark says the Phillies have cooled on Beltran and Hunter Pence is a long shot, so the focus is now the back end of the bullpen. Heath Bell is the top target, with Brandon League also on the radar.