With the calendar set to turn to August in less than two weeks, the Pirates continue to shock the baseball world with their sights on winning the National League Central. Winners of seven of its last ten, Pittsburgh owns the best record in baseball since June 16 thanks to the strong play of Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. McCutchen, one of the frontrunners for league MVP, boasts a batting average of .470 during that time frame with Alvarez leading the Major Leagues with home runs over the last five weeks (h/t Jon Heyman).
Let's catch up on the latest news and headlines from around the league…
- Rangers manager Ron Washington told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com that Texas is willing to consider trading any of its prospects except for Jurickson Profar if the team looks to acquire a piece for another World Series run (Twitter link).
- Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto spoke with Bowden about the team's plans for the non-waiver trade deadline and said that he's working incredibly hard to improve his roster but that the trade market has proven to be difficult (via Twitter).
- With the Dodgers cooling on Ryan Dempster, the Braves have emerged as the favorites to land the right-hander, report Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. Potential suitors, including the Cardinals and Nationals, are wary of parting with better prospects for what could prove to be a rental given Dempster's status as a free agent at the end of the season.
- After signing Carlos Quentin to a multiyear deal earlier on Sunday, the Padres are in preliminary talks with Huston Street with hopes of retaining his services well into the future, writes Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.