Royals pitcher Ervin Santana tops the list of free-agents-to-be who have improved their stock this season, says ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required, and recommended). Santana, who has a 3.19 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in a breakout 2013 season, was No. 7 on Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings last month. On the flip side, Olney argues that Josh Johnson and Mike Morse have seen their stock dip further than any other 2013-14 free agents, although he also lists eight more. Here are some of Olney's thoughts on the past week's trades.
- The Pirates' deals for Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau made sense in part because they aren't sure when left fielder Starling Marte will be able to return from his hand injury. The right-handed Byrd and the left-handed Morneau also give the Pirates plenty of platoon options at the corner positions.
- The Twins' decision to trade longtime star Morneau allows them to avoid questions during the offseason about whether they will re-sign him, Olney says. Dealing Morneau with a month left in the season thus helps Morneau to leave Minnesota gracefully.
- The Cardinals will see if they can help new arrival John Axford improve. If he doesn't, the Cards could non-tender him during the offseason, but if he does, he could be a "tremendous weapon" the St. Louis bullpen in 2014.