- Olney lists Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Pat Neshek as five players that definitively will be traded prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. All of those players are known to be available, with the Athletics and Phillies at differing stages of a lengthy rebuilding process and the Tigers aiming to pare down payroll by moving short-term veterans. But, Olney’s strong characterization of the likelihood is nonetheless notable, especially since both Gray and Wilson are controllable beyond the 2017 campaign. The Brewers, Cubs, Astros, Yankees, Braves and Indians are among the teams in the mix for Gray, though likely not all to the same extent. Alonso, meanwhile, has reportedly had talks with the A’s about an extension, though Billy Beane’s rebuilding comments yesterday certainly lend credence to the notion that a trade could be the likelier outcome.
- The Braves, meanwhile, are “very much open to offers for Julio Teheran,” Olney reports, citing execs with other clubs that have spoken to Atlanta about the righty. Olney’s report meshes with recent indications from David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as he writes that the Braves would like to move Teheran for a package of prospects but would first prefer to acquire a suitable rotation replacement for him. Teheran has struggled mightily at Atlanta’s new SunTrust Park this season (7.58 ERA, 13 HR in 46 1/3 home innings; 2.53 ERA, seven HR in 57 road innings), so perhaps the Atlanta front office thinks now more than ever that he’s best suited for a change of scenery.
Approximately a dozen teams have expressed interest in Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia, but the club isn’t ready to sell, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (on Twitter). Thanks in part to Garcia, who fired seven one-run innings in a win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday, the Braves (45-45) are at the .500 mark for the first time since April 17. Overall this season, the 31-year-old Garcia has logged a 4.33 ERA (4.25 FIP), 6.88 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 54.7 percent ground-ball rate through 106 innings. As an impending free agent, Garcia and his $12MM salary may well end up on the move in the coming weeks if the Braves don’t make up more ground in the National League playoff race. The team has a realistic chance to contend, though, as it’s a manageable 5.5 games out of a wild-card spot.
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.
The Braves are among teams with interest in Rangers infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar, who is seemingly available, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The Rangers are looking for pitching, suggests Heyman, who notes that the Braves have a potentially on-the-move veteran in Jaime Garcia at the big league level and plenty of arms in the minors.
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Profar was one of the premier prospects in baseball only a few years ago, but injuries and poor performance have damaged his stock in recent seasons. The 24-year-old has thus far amassed 718 trips to the plate in the majors, and he has hit a weak .229/.309/.329 during that span. Profar has spent most of this year at Triple-A Round Rock, where he has batted .300/.380/.438 in 231 plate appearances. That’s far better than the .172/.294/.207 line he has produced in 70 PAs this season with the Rangers.
Despite his unimpressive track record in the majors, Profar still offers youth, switch-hitting capability and defensive versatility, having appeared in between 19 and 57 contests at first base, second base, shortstop, third base and left field during 180 appearances in Texas. He’s also cheap this year (his salary is just north of $1MM) and controllable via arbitration through 2019. And given the Braves’ interest, it’s worth noting that president of baseball operations John Hart was in the Rangers’ front office when they signed Profar as an international free agent in 2009.
The Braves aren’t done looking for a controllable starter after missing on Jose Quintana, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (links to Twitter). Atlanta pushed hard for the southpaw, per the report, with the team dangling Ozzie Albies as a headliner — though Passan’s source makes clear that talks never reached an advanced stage. It’s interesting to hear that Albies was offered up, but that was surely a prerequisite to get in the door on Quintana. Whether the intriguing young middle infielder could also be on the block in trade concepts involving other pitchers isn’t clear, but it seems that the Braves are still looking to be aggressive in adding arms for 2018 and beyond.
Here’s more from the NL East:
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that his organization will remain in a selling position unless things go “exceedingly well” before the deadline, as Marc Carig of Newsday writes. As the team sits eight games under .500, reaching a realistic position of contention would likely require a prolonged winning streak combined with stumbles from one or more front-running teams. Alderson reiterated that the club will not be looking to do more than cash in some expiring veterans, saying that a trade involving a core veteran would be “exceedingly unlikely.” Alderson also addressed some of his broader roster-building philosophies, including the relative value of defense in player evaluation, which you can read about at the above link.
- It seems that righty Edinson Volquez may not be so quick to return to the Marlins rotation as had been hoped. As Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter, MRI results on the veteran’s balky left knee showed patellar tendinitis. Skipper Don Mattingly suggested that it doesn’t look to be a significant long-term problem, but Volquez also won’t return from the DL on Sunday. There hasn’t been much suggestion that he’s likely to factor as a trade piece, though the injury further clouds that possibility. Given his hefty salary for 2018 ($13MM), Volquez could also certainly be moved in August.
- One Marlins player who very clearly is in demand is right-handed reliever David Phelps, as Spencer also reports. He’s “drawing far more interest” than is closer A.J. Ramos, per the report, with about ten teams inquiring on the former and only two or three asking about the latter. It sounds as if both have a good chance of changing hands, ultimately, but it’s not all that surprising to hear that the steady Phelps is in greater demand. Indeed, he could even be seen as a possible rotation candidate for 2018 by some organizations that would be interested in adding him to their pen down the stretch.
- Braves righty Arodys Vizcaino could well factor in trade talks as well. He’s throwing off a mound today and seemingly won’t be far off from a return, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). It had been a bit unclear just when he’d return, but it seems as if the talented — if somewhat enigmatic — reliever ought to have plenty of time to display his form for possible suitors. Veteran right-hander Jason Motte, though, may be headed in the other direction. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that Motte is heading to the DL with a back strain. He may have held some interest to contenders, though his peripherals lagged his results in Atlanta (and the ERA had begun to creep northward anyway).
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After a nearly silent All-Star break on the rumor front, the Cubs and White Sox stunned the baseball world by announcing a blockbuster deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana from Chicago’s American League club to its National League team in exchange for minor leaguers Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete. Over the past 24 hours, both teams have addressed the media, pundits from around the media have weighed in on the swap, and others have reported details on alternative talks that each team had leading up to the blockbuster move. Here’s a before-and-after, if you will, of how what might be the summer’s biggest trade transpired…
- The Yankees, Brewers and Astros were all involved in varying levels of trade talks regarding Quintana before the Cubs ultimately acquired him, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter). The Braves, too, were in on Quintana “until the end,” USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Meanwhile, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets that the Rockies were “never really in” on Quintana despite a potential need for some rotation upgrades with some of their younger arms sputtering lately.
- The Cubs tried to engage the Tigers in trade talks on Michael Fulmer before acquiring Quintana, reports Nightengale in a full column. However, Detroit gave no indication that it was willing to listen unless the Cubs were willing to include both Javier Baez and Ian Happ in trade talks. They also inquired on Justin Verlander, per Morosi (also via Twitter), though he notes that, similarly, talks between the two sides “never gained momentum.”
- While many were stunned to see the Sox and Cubs line up on a trade — their first since 2006 — White Sox GM Rick Hahn scoffed at the notion that their shared city would serve as an impediment to trade talks, writes Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “This notion that we wouldn’t do business with them because they’re in town — or somehow we would actually take an inferior baseball deal for non-baseball reasons because of emotion or a rivalry or something totally unrelated to putting the best possible team on the field for the next several years — is laughable,” said Hahn. The South Side GM went on to laud Jimenez’s upside, calling him a potential middle-of-the-order bat with power potential and the ability to hit to all fields. Hahn adds that yesterday’s package was “far and away the best offer, the best possibility, that we’ve discussed with any club since we’ve started this process roughly a year or ago or so.”
- The Cubs believed that they were out of the running to acquire Quintana after talking to Hahn in June, president of baseball operations told reporters (via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times). Hahn, though, re-engaged with Epstein on Sunday night, and the two talked over the next few days, including a conversation that included Hahn ducking behind an exhibit at All-Star FanFest in Miami to avoid being seen (per ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, on Twitter). Ultimately, it became clear that the Cubs would have to part with two of their very best prospects to get the deal done. “This deal had zero-percent chance of happening without both Eloy and Cease in it,” said Epstein. The Cubs president went on to say that they’ve been trying to acquire a pitcher like Quintana for “a long time” and added that his analytics and scouting teams “[dug] deep” to determine whether there were any changes that led to Quintana’s slow start t the season. “Our assessment on both fronts was that he is the same guy, and our staff felt that way with conviction,” Epstein said.
- Also via Wittenmyer’s column, Epstein said that the team isn’t necessarily done yet, though their play in the next two weeks will dictate what other moves are or aren’t made. “We need to play well coming out of the gates here, and we’ll assess what we’re trying to do in large part based on how we play and where we are in the standings, and how realistic we think a World Series run is this year,” Epstein said. “Everything is still on the table for this year.”
- ESPN’s Keith Law opines (Insider subscription required and recommended) that both clubs did well in the trade. The Cubs picked up a durable arm that has a near-ace-level track record over the past three years whose raw stuff “didn’t really waver” even through his struggles earlier this season. Quintana can help offset the loss of right-hander Jake Arrieta after the season, joining Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks in the rotation for the next several years. His contract is also affordable enough that the team can comfortably pursue rotation help on the free-agent market this winter. Law projects Jimenez as a middle-of-the-order bat and suggests that he alone could’ve been an acceptable return, though the inclusion of Cease sweetens the deal. Cease has questions about his command as well as his durability and may end up in the ’pen, though his velocity and pair of potentially above-average secondary offerings make him a nice upside play. Law notes that he’s been leapfrogged by a pair of pitching prospects on the Cubs’ organizational rankings, which might’ve made him easier to deal.
- Both Nightengale and Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network opine that it’s ridiculous that this is just the second trade these two teams have made this decade and offer praise for Hahn and Epstein for their pragmatic approach to dealing with one another. Teams are making more rational and data-driven decisions than ever before, Rosenthal notes, ultimately surmising that that trend should also include a willingness to deal within the same city and within the same division.
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan writes that Quintana’s contract was every bit as important to the Cubs as Quintana himself. With significant arbitration raises looming for players like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Carl Edwards Jr. and others looming in the next two years, the team’s enviable young core is going to rapidly become considerably more expensive. Shedding money from aging veterans like Arrieta, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist will obviously free up some cash, but Quintana’s contract meets an important nexus of future payroll flexibility, remaining under the luxury tax and improving the near- and long-term roster.
- 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 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.
- The Braves have placed utilityman Danny Santana on the 10-day DL with a bacterial infection on his calf, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes. Further tests are required to indicate whether or not Santana has a staph infection. Atlanta acquired Santana from the Twins in May, and he has hit .230/.287/.402 in 94 PA for the Braves, though he has recently performed better at the plate after a slow start. Santana has also provided the Braves with some useful versatility, starting games at second base, third base and all three outfield spots.
With few controllable starters available at the non-waiver trade deadline, teams have been reaching out to the Braves to gauge the availability of right-hander Julio Teheran, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The Astros are one of multiple teams that has inquired, Heyman notes, and the Braves haven’t completely ruled out moving him prior to the deadline.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution adds more context to the story, noting that the Braves privately discussed the possibility of shopping Teheran this offseason, but were only going to put him on the market if they were able to land an arm such as Chris Sale, Chris Archer or Jose Quintana to take Teheran’s spot in the rotation. Atlanta was never able to pull off a trade for a front-line starter, and thus Teheran was retained to make the first start in the history of SunTrust Park.
That new park, of course, may have adversely impacted Teheran’s trade value. Atlanta’s new home has proven to be exceptionally hitter-friendly, and Teheran has been torched for a 7.58 ERA there, as compared to a 2.88 mark on the road. Of the 20 homers he’s yielded this year, 13 have come at home, despite the fact that he’s pitched four more innings on the road.
Attributing his struggles solely to the home park isn’t prudent, though, as Teheran has a 4.51 FIP and 4.49 xFIP away from SunTrust park, suggesting that much of that road split is a mirage. He’s seen his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates all trend in the wrong direction this year, both at home and on the road. Teheran’s velocity has fallen a couple of miles per in recent years as well, and he’s currently sporting his worst swinging-strike and chase rates since 2012.
That said, it’s hard not to find Teheran’s contract highly appealing. He’s earning $6.3MM this season and is guaranteed $8MM in 2018 plus $11MM in 2019. The deal also carries a $12MM club option ($1MM buyout) for the 2020 season. All told, he’s guaranteed just $22.995MM through the end of the 2019 campaign (including the remainder of this year’s salary) and can be controlled through 2020 for $33.995MM. Even if Teheran is more of mid-rotation workhorse than a top-of-the-rotation arm, that’s a highly reasonable rate for a pitcher that has made at least 30 starts in each of the past four seasons with solid run-prevention numbers.