Though Sonny Gray has garnered most of the headlines in Athletics trade rumors, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Jed Lowrie, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson are all drawing interest as well. The A’s are hoping to move Lowrie to clear a spot for prospect Franklin Barreto to play in the Majors on a full-time basis, she notes. Barreto is currently getting at-bats, but Oakland also has Marcus Semien on the mend and returning perhaps in a week or more. Doolittle and Madson are both in the midst of strong seasons, although the injury-prone Doolittle has been limited to 14 2/3 innings. Madson, meanwhile, looks even better than he did in his 2015 comeback; he’s averaging 9.8 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 with a 54.4 percent ground-ball rate, leading to a 2.35 ERA. Of course, he’s also earning $7.5MM this year and next, and his contract calls for incentives for finishing games, which could make the price even more steep. The Rangers, Cubs, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Braves and Astros have all been scouting Oakland recently, according to Slusser.
Some more trade chatter from around the game…
- The Giants aren’t looking to rebuild so much as they’re looking to reload, president Larry Baer tells Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. Baer acknowledged that the 2017 campaign hasn’t been anything close to what the organization had hoped, but he also indicated that even if the front office moves some veterans this summer, the ultimate goal will be to return to contention in 2018. “Directionally it’s, ‘How can we get right back there in 2018,” said Baer. “It’s not how can we get right back there in 2022 or 2021.” Pavlovic notes that it’s possible the Giants could try to trade Johnny Cueto and still re-sign him this winter if he exercises his opt-out clause with a new team, and Baer wouldn’t rule out that possibility, simply stating that it was “possible” but declining to speculate too heavily.
- The Yankees are looking for bullpen help “right now,” writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman as part of his weekly American League Notes column. The duo of Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances is formidable in the late innings, but the recent struggles of Tyler Clippard and others have GM Brian Cashman on the lookout. Cashman told Heyman that the Yankees aren’t looking for a first baseman at the moment, though recent injury news regarding Tyler Austin and Greg Bird, of course, could change that line of thinking in a hurry.
- There’s been no serious talk between the Pirates and other clubs regarding Andrew McCutchen just yet, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Part of the reason for that is the parity that exists in Wild Card races, as many teams that could eventually add some veteran pieces remain uncertain that they’ll be in the hunt a month from now.
- Also via Morosi, Tigers catcher Alex Avila is “on the radar” of the Cubs and the Blue Jays. Avila has had a staggering turnaround in his return to Detroit, hitting a ridiculous .315/.431/.586 with 11 homers while earning just a $2MM salary on a one-year deal. While many fans are understandably skeptical of Avila’s turnaround, I’ll point out that Avila’s 57 percent hard-hit rate leads all players with at least 190 plate appearances, and he entered play Thursday tied with teammate J.D. Martinez for the third-highest average exit velocity in baseball (93.7 mph), trailing only Aaron Judge and Miguel Sano. Avila has always had a massive walk rate, as well, and that’s been the case once again in 2017 (16.4 percent). There’s some regression coming, of course, as even with his batted-ball profile he’s probably not going to sustain a .426 BABIP.
- One more from Morosi, who notes that the Dodgers’ primary focus remains on starting pitching at this time. They’re considering controllable options rather than rental pieces, with Morosi linking Los Angeles to the the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, the Athletics’ Sonny Gray, the White Sox’ Jose Quintana and the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole.
- For those still looking for more trade-related content to peruse, Heyman penned a column highlighting nearly 100 possible trade candidates, ranging from valuable-but-unlikely-to-move names (e.g. Josh Donaldson, Gerrit Cole) to bad contracts that current teams would like to escape in a potential salary dump (e.g. Junichi Tazawa, Matt Cain). There are some quotes from scouts, general managers and other league execs mixed in throughout.