Here’s the latest hot stove buzz from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe…
- The Royals and Indians are among the teams looking at Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia. Kansas City has a void at third base with Mike Moustakas out for the season, and Valencia is a known quantity, having played for the team in 2014. The Tribe have also received below-replacement level production at the hot corner all season, though Jose Ramirez has played well splitting time between third and left field. Valencia could perhaps be a better fit for Cleveland in left given his rough defensive metrics (-13 Defensive Runs Saved, -26.9 UZR.150) at third base this season, though his bat certainly plays for either the Indians or Royals. Valencia is hitting .333/.381/.552 with 11 homers over 218 PA for the A’s, though that comes with the caveat of a .373 BABIP. The Mets are another team known to have interest in Valencia, though their subsequent signing of Jose Reyes may have addressed their infield needs.
- While Valencia is a right-handed bat, Cafardo notes in another item that “the Royals seem to be in on every left-handed hitter.” K.C. has posted middle-of-the-pack offensive statistics against righty pitching this year and is lacking in lineup balance, though the return of Alex Gordon from the DL should help on both counts. Cafardo implies that Padres outfielder Jon Jay (a left-handed hitter) could be a Royals trade target.
- The Marlins “possibly” have interest in Pirates southpaw Francisco Liriano. The lefty is having a down year, though the Fish could see Liriano as an answer to their pitching search due to the presence of Miami VP of pitching development Jim Benedict (who was credited with getting Liriano on track when the two were in Pittsburgh).
- Speaking of Pirates arms, closer Mark Melancon is also drawing attention from teams in need of bullpen help. Cafardo cites the Astros, Giants, Mets and Red Sox as teams who could be potential fits. Melancon is a free agent at the end of the season and thus could be a logical trade candidate if the Bucs decide to become deadline sellers. Melancon has a 1.53 ERA through 29 1/3 IP this season, though advanced metrics indicate that this is the weakest of his four seasons as a Pirates. Melancon has a 2.93 FIP, 4.18 xFIP and 3.88 SIERA, while experiencing drops in his strikeout and grounder rates (and an increase in BB/9).
- Ervin Santana “is seen as perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market,” with one AL assistant GM describing the Twins veteran as “the one guy out there who could be a sure thing in the middle of the rotation.” Santana has a 4.64 ERA, 6.37 K/9 and 2.39 K/BB rate over 77 2/3 innings this season, with ERA indicators backing up his unimpressive ERA. I would guess Minnesota would have to eat a fair amount of money in a Santana trade, as the righty is owed roughly $33.8MM through the 2018 season (plus a $14MM club/vesting option for 2019).
- Even a mid-tier arm like Santana could draw trade interest, however, as Cafardo predicts that little pitching will be available at the deadline. Teams may focus more on offense, and Cafardo lists 15 position players who could be targeted as we approach August 1. Many of the names have already cropped up in trade rumors, though Cafardo speculates that some unlikely names as Joe Mauer or Khris Davis could also get some attention.