Officials from several teams tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that this year’s deadline market is lacking in top-tier starting pitching. Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray are the top names available, though both have their share of flaws; Quintana’s rather shaky performance this year and Gray’s long-term health are concerns. With the market thin on aces, Sherman wonder if the Cardinals and Tigers would consider shopping controllable young stars Carlos Martinez or Michael Fulmer, each of whom would score an enormous return at the deadline. The Cards and Tigers could get more than the prospect package the White Sox landed for Chris Sale last winter since so many teams would be vying for those stars. It should be noted, however, that “there is no indication whatsoever” that either St. Louis or Detroit would even consider moving either pitcher.
- Mets officials dismissed any notion of trading Steven Matz, in relation to Sherman’s consideration of teams trading controllable young arms. Elbow problems kept Matz from debuting until June, and he has a 2.12 ERA through five starts, though advanced metrics paint a much less impressive view of Matz’s performance. While the lefty would be a big trade chip if made available, it’s also certainly understandable why the Mets see him as a future building block, especially since Matz hasn’t even reached arbitration eligibility yet.
- The Padres have received interest in starters Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin and Clayton Richard, as well as relievers Craig Stammen and Jose Torres.
- The Yankees have already been linked to Padres reliever Brad Hand, but Sherman reports that closer Brandon Maurer’s name has also come up in talks between the two teams. Maurer has a 5.60 ERA over 35 1/3 IP for San Diego this year but he has been victimized by a inordinately low 52.9% strand rate. ERA indicators (2.95 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 3.31 SIERA) and his peripheral numbers (8.92 K/9, 5.00 K/BB rate) paint a much more positive view of his 2017 performance. San Diego had interest in Gleyber Torres prior to his Tommy John surgery, though officials from the Padres and other teams believe that the Yankees’ farm system is deep enough that they’ll be able to make deals without moving any of their top prospects.
- Control may be more of a commodity than pure talent in the reliever market, according to one NL executive. “My sense is that if you have a reliever who is under control through at least next year, you can expect more interest and a greater return than for a slightly better reliever who is a free agent after this season,” the executive said.
- One team is looking to add controllable pieces both its bullpen and in general is the Rangers, in a return to their strategy from the 2015 deadline. One AL official feels Texas will add one or two relievers, and whomever the Rangers may add, “I would be shocked if that player did not have control through at least next season.”
- The Red Sox are still waiting to see if Carson Smith can be a bullpen asset for them this season before fully exploring the relief market. Smith is expected to start mound work this week as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery, though his process was already delayed when he was shut down from throwing for a spell last month. Given that it would surprising to see Smith even return to action before July 31, one would think Boston will end up looking at relief help and counting on Smith only as a potential bonus down the stretch.
- The Mariners are one of only a few teams open to adding payroll in deadline trades, which one official describes as not “as good as having prospects, but it is an asset.” The M’s began 2017 with a record payroll of more than $155.2MM, so with such a major financial investment already made, it makes sense that GM Jerry Dipoto and company are willing to spend a bit more to get the team over the hump. Dipoto recently stated that the team is still planning to add at the deadline, though Seattle ends the first half with a 43-47 record (albeit four games out of a wild card spot).