- The Cubs and Dodgers recently had scouts watching the Phillies’ Pat Neshek in action, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link). Both teams have been known to be looking at other relievers, so it isn’t any surprise that Neshek is on their radar. Neshek, widely expected to be moved before the deadline, has been linked to several teams — Chicago and L.A. are the newest names on a long list that includes the Nationals, Royals, Red Sox, Yankees, Brewers and Rays.
- The Phillies could still trade 2B/OF Howie Kendrick if they keep him through the non-waiver trade deadline, writes Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice, who argues that Pat Neshek is the Phillie most likely to be traded by the end of the month. Kendrick only recently returned from a hamstring injury, giving the Phillies a limited amount of time to showcase him before July 31. Lawrence argues Kendrick’s injury troubles and his approximately $3.3MM in 2017 salary he’ll have left beginning on August 1 make Kendrick a candidate to clear waivers and leave Philadelphia in August, just as Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz did in years past. I’d argue that Kendrick’s .349/.403/.476 line this year could make that scenario somewhat unlikely, but there’s little doubt that the timing of his return could make dealing him a bit tricky for the Phils.
The Phillies announced that Howie Kendrick has been activated off the 10-day DL, with Brock Stassi heading down to Triple-A in corresponding move. Between this hamstring strain and a strained oblique earlier this season, Kendrick has been limited to just 33 games and 139 plate appearances in his first season in Philadelphia, though the veteran has been raking when he has been able to play. Kendrick is hitting .349/.403/.476 this year, and while some regression is surely baked into those numbers (his BABIP is a whopping .443), Kendrick’s bat, positional versatility and respected clubhouse presence make him a valuable trade chip for the Phillies. He’ll have 11 days to audition for other clubs and prove he is healthy before the deadline.
- Even before he has made his return, some teams have expressed interest in trading for Kendrick, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes in a rundown of the Phillies’ potential deadline plans. Jeremy Hellickson has also drawn interest. While these two veterans and first baseman Tommy Joseph are being shopped, sources tell Zolecki that reliever Pat Neshek is definitely the most likely — and maybe the only –Phillie to be moved prior to the deadline. Kendrick, Hellickson, Joaquin Benoit and Daniel Nava could still be dealt but not until the August waiver period.
The Pirates are on a roll in the NL Central, having just swept the division-leading Brewers in a four-game series. Even prior to today’s win, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote in his weekly notes column that Pittsburgh not only continues to look unlikely to trade Gerrit Cole but is now also unlikely to deal outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who has undergone a remarkable turnaround at the plate since late May.
- The Tigers appear all but entirely unwilling to move young starter Michael Fulmer, per Heyman. That’s largely unsurprising, though perhaps it might have been expected that the club would at least entertain some scenarios in the interest of covering all its bases. While he’d surely draw a major haul, it would probably be tough for the team to part with its best asset while so many expensive veterans remain under contract. Meanwhile, Heyman notes that shortstop Jose Iglesias could be had for the right price, though it’s hard to see that coming together with such limited demand at the position.
- Though the White Sox are clearly in the midst of another aggressive sale, Heyman writes that there are no plans to move Jose Abreu at this time. The slugger is in the midst of a fine season, but there’s a limited market for first base help at this time. With another two years of control beyond this season, the ChiSox will perhaps have more opportunistic times to market him. Derek Holland, on the other hand, could very well be moved in the coming week, and the South Siders would like to move Melky Cabrera as well but would probably need to pay down most of the remainder of this year’s $15MM salary.
- The Indians are a possible landing spot for Jay Bruce, as their offense is currently without the injured Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis. The Mets are known to be looking to move Bruce, and it’s worth noting that USA Today’s Bob Nightengale recently reported that Cleveland was in the mix for slugger J.D. Martinez right up until the time he was traded.
- With limited trade partners for Yonder Alonso — especially following the Yankees’ acquisition of Todd Frazier — the Athletics once again touched base with Yonder Alonso’s reps at MVP Sports about an extension, per Heyman. They’ll circle back again and do so later this week as the two sides attempt to find a middle ground. Oakland is in the midst of an all-out rebuild, as executive vice president of baseball ops Billy Beane recently indicated, but Alonso could provide some leadership for the team’s younger players. And, if he sustains his breakout through season’s end and into 2018, he could certainly become a marketable asset in the future when there’s more of a need at his position.
- The Rangers aren’t likely to re-sign Yu Darvish after the season, Heyman writes, as Darvish’s camp has already thrown out Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175MM contract as a potential comp. Texas isn’t prepared to bid that highly to retain Darvish, which is why they’ve at least signaled to teams that they’ll listen to offers on Darvish if they struggle too much between now and the deadline. There’s no plan to move Cole Hamels at this time, though, he adds.
- While the Diamondbacks may have made their biggest move already, the club is still looking at ways to bolster the pitching staff. Heyman pegs Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada as a possibility, though it’s unclear if he’s actively under consideration. It’s fair to wonder, too, whether the club would be better suited to focusing on bullpen help — though, of course, looking at starters doesn’t preclude that possibility.
- While the Cubs have made at least some contact with the Athletics on righty Sonny Gray even since acquiring Jose Quintana, Heyman says that it’s not at all clear that Chicago will be “a strong player” for another controllable starter.
- With Jaime Garcia seemingly going off the board, there ought to be greater focus now on Phillies righty Jeremy Hellickson. He ought to be easier to obtain now than he was last year, Heyman notes, as the Phils are willing to hold onto at least some of his $17.2MM salary to improve the prospect return.
- There’s still a wide market for Phillies reliever Pat Neshek, per Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (Twitter link). Among the teams in pursuit are the Brewers, Rays, and Yankees, but it seems there’s no favorite at the moment. While Tampa Bay has been tied mostly to southpaws, the team is also interested in righties such as Neshek, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick noted today on Twitter.
- The Phillies aren’t in contention — far from it — but are still showing interest in Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Nightengale adds. Other organizations are also said to be looking into the speedy veteran, who is under contract for $38MM over the next three seasons. It’s a bit surprising to see this particular link, as the Phils already control Cesar Hernandez and have variety of interesting middle infield prospects moving toward the majors. CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman argues as much, but notes that Gordon could conceivably be involved in some of the broader talks between the clubs.
- Phillies outfielder/infielder and trade candidate Howie Kendrick has been out this month with an injured left hamstring, and a return doesn’t seem imminent. Kendrick will join the Phillies in Miami on Monday, but only so the team can evaluate him to see if he’s healthy enough to embark on a rehab assignment, tweets Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
The Phillies have strong interest in Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and would be glad to take some of Miami’s underperforming contracts to facilitate his addition, according to a report from veteran journalist Ken Rosenthal. (With FOXsports.com evidently morphing into a vlog, Rosenthal is writing from his Facebook page during what is sure to be a short-lived foray into free agency.)
From the Phils’ perspective, that would preferably mean taking on some lower-priced contracts that are clogging the Marlins’ books in the near-term. While the Phillies have at least weighed internally the idea of taking on Giancarlo Stanton’s massive contract as part of some swap, Rosenthal makes clear that the team has not expressed interest in doing so and that discussion of that concept never “got started.”
Other organizations, though, have reached out to Miami regarding Stanton. And as Rosenthal suggests, it seems reasonable to expect that there’d be a taker for him at some price point, though the prospect of taking all of his contract remains daunting. That explains all the chatter about possibly packaging Stanton with another player, though Rosenthal says he doesn’t expect that to occur.
While the creative possibilities are endless, it seems the Marlins will be taking a cautious approach at the deadline with regard to its most notable players. Despite an inclination in the baseball operations department to embark upon a rebuild, says Rosenthal, the organization is not willing to deal core players while still orchestrating the sale of the team itself.
That stance also seemingly means that Yelich is off-limits for the Phillies at the moment. There’s little rush to add to the MLB roster in Philadelphia, of course, but the interest (along with the possible trade concepts discussed above) strongly suggests that the team is looking into ways to install pieces for 2018 and beyond. That could conceivably result in any number of interesting scenarios this summer and over the winter to come.
The Red Sox have “keen interest” in Phillies righty Pat Neshek, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The 36-year-old Neshek (who has already tossed a scoreless inning in tonight’s All-Star Game) is widely expected to be traded, given his status as an impending free agent on baseball’s worst team. The sidearmer has worked to a pristine 1.27 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate thus far in 2017. And, unlike in many previous seasons, Neshek has held left-handed opponents in check quite well. Right-handed opponents are hitting .234/.253/.286 against Neshek this season, while lefties are hitting .180/.231/.313. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported that the Sox had scouted Neshek over the weekend as well, and he’s also been linked to the Nationals this summer.
More on the Red Sox…
- A promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket could be just days away for third base prospect Rafael Devers, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The 20-year-old Devers has crushed Double-A pitching this season, hitting at a .300/.369/.575 clip with 18 homers, which led to a second appearance on a Futures Game roster in is career. While many expect the Sox to trade for help at the hot corner, Speier notes that Devers could emerge in the Majors later this summer and provide Boston with a boost at its greatest position of need. Manager John Farrell has said that Devers will play in Triple-A before jumping to the Majors, though one would imagine that a strong showing there would tempt the Red Sox to take a glimpse at their potential third baseman of the future.
- Speier also spoke to Chris Sale, a number of his Red Sox teammates, and many other players throughout the American League about what, specifically, makes Sale such a dominant force on the mound. He also breaks down Sale’s unique delivery in terms of horizontal and vertical release point, noting that while a few other lefties have a similar release most are relievers (with the exception of Oakland lefty Sean Manaea), and none with that arm slot have Sale’s velocity. Speier breaks down each of Sale’s offerings using info from Brooks Baseball, Baseball Savant and other data sources, and the column even includes an animation to illustrate what it’s like to face Sale from the batter’s box. It’s an interesting look at one of the game’s great talents that is stuffed with quotes from his peers, coaches and others.