The Braves, on the hunt for starting pitching, sent a top scout to Detroit this weekend to watch Tigers right-handers Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (on Twitter). Neither Verlander nor Fulmer seems like a realistic trade candidate, however. The Tigers reportedly want a noteworthy haul for Verlander, even though he’s 34, in the throes of a down season and still owed nearly $70MM through 2019. Verlander also has a full no-trade clause, so he could veto a deal even if the Braves do present an offer to the Tigers’ liking. Unlike Verlander, the 24-year-old Fulmer is both cheap and in his prime. Detroit would justifiably demand a ransom in return, then, but there’s no indication it’s interested in parting with him.
More from the National League:
- Realistically, no one would have expected the Brewers to hold a 5.5-game advantage in the NL Central this late in the season, which could lead to an agonizing deadline for the team’s decision-makers, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. The Brewers, who were in on now-Cub Jose Quintana before the White Sox traded him Thursday and have interest in the Athletics’ Sonny Gray, must weigh whether to make a bold strike that eats into their farm system or take a more conservative approach. General manager David Stearns doesn’t seem eager to part with a prospect haul, telling Haudricourt: “We’ve worked very hard to build our system and organization as a whole where the level of young talent we have is a good place to be. I don’t see us, whether it’s this year or any year going forward, moving from that strategy.” Nevertheless, Haudricourt points to Gray’s team control, his connection to Milwaukee pitching coach Derek Johnson (who coached Gray at Vanderbilt) and the Brewers’ rotation questions as reasons why acquiring him would make sense.
- Speaking of the Brewers, their success has come without having left fielder Ryan Braun at full strength, and his health will continue to be an issue for the rest of the season. Manager Craig Counsell said Saturday (via the Associated Press) that the Brewers will evaluate Braun daily through the end of the year, given that a strained right calf has hampered him for a while and forced him to the disabled list twice. While the 33-year-old has once again been a quality contributor to Milwaukee’s offense, having hit .260/.343/.553 across 169 plate appearances, Counsell believes there’s enough talent on hand to weather Braun’s issues. “We certainly want a healthy Ryan Braun, but we’ve had success with this team because of depth and we’ll continue to rely on that if we have to,” Counsell said.
- Phillies outfielder/infielder and trade candidate Howie Kendrick has been out this month with an injured left hamstring, and a return doesn’t seem imminent. Kendrick will join the Phillies in Miami on Monday, but only so the team can evaluate him to see if he’s healthy enough to embark on a rehab assignment, tweets Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- Currently in possession of a wild-card spot, the Rockies will temporarily remove one of the best starters from their rotation in order to preserve his arm, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland, who’s top two among Rockies starters in innings (110 1/3), ERA (3.67) and ground-ball rate (55 percent), is likely to head to the bullpen and could then log some time in the team’s Triple-A rotation before resuming his starting role in Colorado. Another rookie, righty Antonio Senzatela, looks primed to take Freeland’s place in the meantime. Freeland threw three shutout, no-hit frames in relief Saturday, when the Rockies lost starter Tyler Chatwood to an undisclosed injury in the first inning, per Saunders.