As the Braves continue to hover around .500, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at their approach to the coming trade deadline. Atlanta has played well of late and is now welcoming back slugger Freddie Freeman, which perhaps gives some cause for optimism. While a postseason berth still seems a tall task, the club may well choose to avoid a sell-off after entering the year with the stated aim of being more competitive. O’Brien explores some ways in which the team might deal a few veterans while still sustaining (or even improving) the quality of the current roster — in particular, by looking into trades for controllable starting pitching.
Here’s more from the eastern divisions:
- The Mets are seeing some progress from second baseman Neil Walker. Per James Wagner of the New York Times, via Twitter, Walker is taking balls at second base today as he begins to work back from a significant hamstring injury. It still seems unlikely he’ll be ready to return before the trade deadline, though his large salary makes him quite a plausible August trade piece as well.
- It seems there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding Yankees first baseman Greg Bird. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes, GM Brian Cashman says that Bird’s longstanding ankle issue could end up requiring exploratory surgery. That possibility is just that at present, however, as Bird himself suggests that he’s in no rush to go under the knife. Cashman noted that the organization is doing everything it can to determine the cause of the ongoing pain Bird is experiencing. Given his questionable status, among other factors, the team seems to have a rather obvious deadline needs at first base.
- Veteran Matt Holliday could conceivably contribute at first base, at least on a part-time basis, but he too is on the DL. There’s good news on that front, as Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network reports on Twitter. Holliday tells her that he finally received a diagnosis for his illness — it’s viral in nature — and is now feeling better.
- Whatever happens at first, the Yankees do not seem presently inclined to make drastic changes across the diamond, as MLB.com’s Matthew Martell writes. “Who do you want me to play there?” Cashman said when pressed about the status of third baseman Chase Headley. “Headley’s our third baseman. Sorry you don’t like it.” There’s probably still room for the team to consider alternatives in the trade market, of course, though a significant upgrade may be tough to find. Headley owns a serviceable .255/.347/.373 batting line, right in line with his work since landing in New York, and has generally rated as a steady enough defender. He’s also owed $13MM this year and next.
- While Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said yesterday that he still wants to improve the team’s roster in the near-term, Jon Morosi of MLB.com writes that “multiple executives around the Major Leagues” think the Jays will end up selling. A few deals involving pending free agents wouldn’t be a surprise, of course, but Morosi suggests there’s potential for more significant pieces changing hands — though it’s not clear from the report whether any sources from within the Toronto organization view that as a real possibility. The Cardinals have internal interest in star Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, per the report, though that hasn’t resulted in any trade talks to this point. Surely, plenty of other teams feel the same way about Donaldson and other core Jays performers. If Shapiro is to be taken at this word, a true rebuild isn’t really under consideration, though perhaps some lateral moves for younger or more controllable players could still be entertained.