In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag takes a look at the tightly packed AL Wild Card race. He also provides some notes from both the American League and National League. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of relevance to the transactional landscape:
- While the Astros could still conceivably renew their pursuit of Tigers righty Justin Verlander, it may be that the talks are over barring a significant change of heart from one or both of the organizations. Heyman cites a source who said he felt negotiations were “put to bed last week.” In other news regarding Houston, Heyman says the club “never got serious” in their apparently limited pursuits of Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish in July, and one source indicated to Heyman that it never even made an offer for Quintana this summer. The Astros, of course, pursued Quintana extensively this offseason, so the front office was likely already well aware of Chicago’s lofty asking price for Quintana.
- It seems the Giants have yet to place righty Jeff Samardzija on waivers, with Heyman suggesting it’s seen as unlikely he’ll be claimed when he does go on the wire. But the belief is that the starter could be targeted if he does clear waivers. Samardzija has carried compelling strikeout (160) and walk (23) numbers through his 155 2/3 innings on the year, though he has also allowed 22 home runs and owns a 4.74 ERA. He has turned in four-straight quality outings, it’s worth noting.
- The Rays are interested in finding a right-handed hitter, according to Heyman, though it’s unclear just what the club might realistically look to do. Tampa Bay has not performed as had been hoped when the team reshaped its roster over the summer, which surely also alters the picture. Reserves such as Trevor Plouffe, Daniel Robertson, and Peter Bourjos have all struggled with the bat, though finding upgrades will be challenging at this stage. (As mostly goes without saying, the decision to part with Tim Beckham has not looked good thus far.)
- After striking a variety of deals already, the Mets are “still working hard” to deal away more players this August, Heyman writes. Veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson still seems like the most obvious possible trade piece, though perhaps infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, lefty Jerry Blevins, catcher Rene Rivera, or even recently-acquired reliever A.J. Ramos could be moved.
- The Braves are considering exercising their $8MM club option over knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for the 2018 season, per Heyman. That option comes with a $500K buyout, effectively making it a $7.5MM decision. The Braves are pleased with the 42-year-old’s durability, innings and leadership. Through 141 frames this season, Dickey has a 3.89 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 49.5 percent ground-ball rate. Realistically, the club would be hard pressed to find better value on the open market and will need the innings next year.
- Some clubs believe that the Angels are the team that placed the claim on Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, per Heyman, who notes that Anaheim is still in the market for a second base upgrade. However, the Halos have only “limited” interest in Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips, who has reportedly cleared revocable waivers and is having a solid season at the plate.