With just six days until the trade deadline, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Will the Cardinals and Hicks hammer out an extension?
The Cardinals are one of this trade deadline’s few clear sellers with multiple interesting rental options for buyers to pursue. That group of players includes right-hander Jordan Hicks, though Katie Woo of The Athletic indicated that Hicks ultimately may not move at all. The sides are reportedly having discussion regarding a multi-year contract extension that would keep Hicks in St. Louis long-term. While the Cardinals would be expected to move Hicks before the deadline if an extension doesn’t come together, Woo notes that there’s optimism a deal could be done as soon as today. In the event that Hicks signs, the Cardinals would still have a pair of rental relievers to market in Chris Stratton and Drew VerHagen, though neither would be expected to command a return similar to Hicks, who sports a 2.25 ERA and 1.92 FIP dating all the way back to mid-April.
2. Song’s final rehab appearance:
Phillies right-hander Noah Song is expected to throw two innings in a final rehab start for the club’s Triple-A affiliate today, per MLB.com. Song, 26, did not pitch professionally from 2020-2022 due to his service as an officer in the US Navy. The Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason anyhow due to his impressive stuff and strong numbers in the minors prior to his military service, giving him an opportunity to reach the big leagues for the first time in his career. That was derailed by a back issue that sent Song to the 60-day IL to open the season. The maximum time for Song’s minor league rehab assignment is set to expire later this week, meaning the Phillies will have to decide whether to add him to the active roster or return him to the Red Sox organization. In 9 2/3 innings of work in the minors this year, Song sports a 3.72 ERA and 29.8% strikeout rate.
3. Astros getting healthy, gaining on Rangers:
After winning the first two games of their current three-game set against the Rangers, the Astros head into the series finale tonight just one game back of their division-leading rivals. A win tonight would put the clubs in a tie for first place in the AL West, and Houston appears likely to get reinforcements from the injured list ahead of tonight’s game, which will begin at 7:10pm CT. Both Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve could be activated from the IL today, adding a pair of high-end bats to an Astros lineup that ranks just ninth in the AL with a roughly league average 101 wRC+ since losing Altuve to injury earlier in the month. Alvarez has hitter, slashing .277/.388/.589 (166 wRC+) with 17 homers in 242 plate appearances this season. Altuve has been limited to just 32 games this year due to injuries but has still managed to slash .261/.374/.479 — good for a wRC+ of 138.