There’s “increasing buzz” that the Rangers will listen to offers on top starters Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels if they don’t open the second half of the season with strong play, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. It’s been previously reported that the Rangers will hold onto Darvish even if they fall out of the race, so that’d represent something of a change of mindset for GM Jon Daniels & Co. Darvish is set to hit the open market at season’s end, so if the Rangers are out of the race and don’t trade him, they run the risk of losing him to free agency (though he’d obviously receive and reject a qualifying offer, affording Texas some draft compensation). Hamels, meanwhile, hasn’t been listed as a potential trade target to date. He’s earning $23.5MM this year and next, and he’s owed at least $6MM as the buyout on a $20MM club option for the 2019 campaign. That contract and a bizarrely low strikeout rate (4.9 K/9) could complicate Hamels’ market, though he’s shown recent improvement with 12 strikeouts in his past 14 1/3 innings of work.
More trade chatter from around the league…
- The Marlins have told other clubs that they’re ready to sell off assets, a rival executive tells Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller. According to Miller, the Marlins have spoken to more than 10 teams about right-hander David Phelps, and there are two or three clubs that are showing “serious” interest in closer AJ Ramos. “They’re working on it and talking to clubs,” the exec tells Miller. “But the conversations always end with one caveat, that they don’t know that the owner won’t bail at the last minute.” Miller adds that Giancarlo Stanton isn’t likely to move until the Marlins accept that they won’t get someone to take his salary and give prospects back. The industry feeling is that it’d have to be almost a straight salary dump. (Stanton can also veto any deal via his no-trade clause.) Miller’s column features a look at all 30 teams and their possible deadline course as well.
- Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are available in trades, writes Jon Morosi of MLB.com, but the Athletics, Tigers and Pirates have each set a lofty asking price. Perhaps more interestingly, Morosi adds that the Braves have said right-hander Julio Teheran isn’t available, though he’s reportedly been drawing interest and others (including David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports) have said that Atlanta would at least consider offers. In addition to that overview of the market for pitchers, Morosi runs down a position-by-position preview of the market for bats.
- Heyman reports that there’s little to no genuine interest in Justin Verlander at this time due to his huge contract and underwhelming numbers. Furthermore, he notes that due to Verlander’s status as a legend in Detroit, they can’t accept an underwhelming return and effectively signal to Tigers fans that his trade was a salary dump. There’s also very little interest in Ian Kinsler, according to Heyman, as the he’s struggled in 2017 and few teams are on the hunt for second base help. He adds that Alex Avila, J.D. Martinez and Justin Wilson are all drawing strong interest, however, so GM Al Avila should make some deals in the next 18 days.
- In his weekly AL Notes column, Heyman reports that with few top starters left on the market, the Astros may instead pursue high-end bullpen help in an effort to shorten the game and load up the relief corps for the postseason. Unsurprisingly, their list of targets would include Zach Britton, if he’s available. (Most clubs in the league would perk up at the notion of acquiring a healthy Britton.)
- Heyman also notes that Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia is one rental pitcher that interests the Royals. On the subject of Kansas City, he also notes that while the team does have interest in Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, K.C. would want Miami to pay down some of the roughly $41MM remaining on Gordon’s contract, which the Fish aren’t willing to do. The same is true of the Angels and Blue Jays, he adds, both of whom like the player but not his current salary.
- Meanwhile, in his NL Notes column, Heyman writes that the Reds are believed to be willing to listen to offers on closer Raisel Iglesias but would only move him for a package that would “blow them away.” The 27-year-old Iglesias has emerged as one of baseball’s best relievers and is controllable through the 2020 season. He’s affordable at the moment ($3.5MM in 2017), but his contract allows him to opt into arbitration once eligible, so his salary is going to balloon quite a bit between now and 2020. Heyman also notes that the Reds would be interested in a two- or possibly three-year deal with Zack Cozart but recognize that he can earn more than they’re willing to pay when he gets to free agency.
- The Yankees, Nationals, Dodgers, Cubs, Brewers, Royals, Angels and Mariners could all be in the mix for lefty Brad Hand, Heyman reports. Regarding the Dodgers, Heyman and Robert Murray report that San Diego asked Los Angeles for top prospect Alex Verdugo in return, though there’s “no likelihood” of L.A. meeting that price. The Padres are also getting calls on cheap starters Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin, each of whom inked a one-year deal worth $1.75MM this past offseason.