In his latest column at GammonsDaily.com, legendary journalist Peter Gammons writes that while we often get caught up in the fascination of which big names will be dealt, the best moves oftentimes look incremental at first glance. The Cubs’ acquisition of Jake Arrieta in 2013’s Scott Feldman trade wasn’t one of the most notable moves that year, but it’s been a coup for Chicago. Likewise, the three-team deal that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit, Avisail Garcia/Frankie Montas to the White Sox and Jake Peavy to Boston was notable, but the impact of the deal looks far greater now than it did at the time. The Indians’ acquisition of Corey Kluber from the Padres in a three-team deal that sent Jake Westbrook to St. Louis and Ryan Ludwick to San Diego didn’t look particularly exciting, either, and the Giants have had huge success with additions like Javier Lopez and Marco Scutaro. All are good examples to keep in mind when looking at any trade that occurs over the next 11 days.
Some highlights from the rumors and rumblings that Gammons hears as the trade deadline nears…
- The Red Sox were optimistic coming out of the break, but their offensive woes through two games have the team wondering about selling pieces of value from the big league roster. At the same time, however, the Sox haven’t ruled out Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels. A Cueto acquisition seems particularly contradictory, given his status as a rental. However, Gammons notes that the Sox have considered the move, thinking that he could help them make a run and that a rental might give them an inside edge on signing him in free agency. Gammons is the second journalist to mention this today, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford offered a similar take earlier.
- The Padres were taking bids on pending free agents during the All-Star break, but they’re wondering if improved pitching can carry them into relevancy late in the year. The Padres had an ERA over 4.00 as a team each month but are sitting at 2.93 through 113 2/3 July innings. It’s a small sample, of course, but the team’s talented rotation has underperformed for much of the year. (A suspect defensive alignment can’t have helped matters, of course.)
- The Reds are the “primary seller to watch,” says Gammons, and as one GM points out, it’ll be somewhat unfamiliar territory for the club. “It’s not easy for them,” the GM told Gammons. “Walt Jocketty has been so successful over the years, he hasn’t had much experience with the sell mode. [Owner Bob] Castellini has been reluctant to pack it in.”
- The Red Sox may have at one point discussed Cueto, but Gammons writes that the Astros are presently willing to rent the Cincinnati ace. The Royals could be in that boat as well, he adds.
- Jeff Samardzija is another big rental name on the market, and while the White Sox are hesitant to sell, they expect him to test free agency and know that the Astros and Blue Jays are willing to rent. Gammons adds that the Blue Jays, in particular, have also expressed interest in both Ian Kennedy of the Padres and Mike Leake of the Reds.
- The Dodgers make the most sense for Hamels, and while multiple reports have indicated that they won’t part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Gammons hears that they may be hesitant to move prospects in their next tier. Los Angeles is reluctant to part with either right-hander Jose De Leon or catcher Austin Barnes, per Gammons. An NL GM called Phillies president-in-waiting Andy MacPhail a “cautious, prudent trader” and noted that unlike Samardzija, Cueto, Leake, Kennedy and Scott Kazmir, Hamels doesn’t have to be traded right now.
- The Royals, Nationals, Cubs, Mets, Yankees and Pirates are all in the mix for Ben Zobrist at this time.
- Another GM told Gammons that there are “at least 16 teams” that are pursuing bullpen help. The Braves’ Jim Johnson is drawing quite a bit of interest, with the Blue Jays and Red Sox among the teams to reach out to Atlanta for the purpose of inquiry.