I’m not sure if it was the close of the NHL and NBA seasons or what, but the rumor mill has ramped up quite rapidly in the last few days, in case you hadn’t noticed …
- Speaking of which, Jed Hoyer told the media yesterday, per Carrie Muskat, that either he or Theo Epstein had been in contact with every other front office in baseball about possible trades at some point in the last four or five days. If you didn’t have an extremely clear “sell” signal yet, there it is. The point also serves as a reminder for the entirety of the trade rumor season: teams talk to almost every other team at some point about all kinds of possible deals. The vast majority never reach the “final” stages of a trade, but that doesn’t mean the discussions didn’t take place. Hoyer essentially just conceded as much. Teams talk.
- The Marlins may set off the trading season soon by dealing starter Ricky Nolasco – something CBS reports they are desperately eager to do. Nolasco, 30, is pitching well in the last year before free agency, although he’s well-paid at $11.5 million. Nolasco’s 106 ERA+ is his best in six years (indeed, he hasn’t had an ERA+ over 100 since 2008), but his peripherals have always been pretty good (3.47 K/BB for his career, 3.76 career FIP). In the rental market, Nolasco is probably among the better pitching options, right up there with Matt Garza and Scott Feldman (arguably slotting right in the middle, in terms of value, depending on the money). A huge number of teams have been connected to Nolasco, and the story is one to watch closely over the next few days (Nolasco is scheduled to start again for the Marlins on Friday).
- Nolasco moving soon could impact the Cubs in a number of ways. First, because of the similarities to other rentals the Cubs might trade, the return the Marlins get for Nolasco could set a baseline of expectations for a trade involving Feldman or Garza. Because the former is much cheaper and the latter much better, you’d like to see the Cubs getting a better return, but it’ll be a starting point. Second, and most obviously, whatever team lands Nolasco could immediately be out of the market for a starting pitcher, reducing the market for the Cubs’ starters. On the other hand, and finally, a Nolasco move could make teams in that team’s division – imagine if he heads to the tightly-packed NL West – feel a greater sense of urgency to make a move of their own.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean suggests he won’t be making any moves soon, putting well into words a point I’ve tried before to articulate when discussing why the Cubs may not be able to make early trades even if they wanted to. “The best way to put is, the price of business right now is prohibitive,” Sabean said, per SFGate.com. “Thus, we’re not going to do business, to spend all our money now or clean out our farm system. You’re not going to do anything without getting your clock cleaned as of this date. If somebody’s going to trade somebody this early, they’re going to have to win the deal and you’re going to have to let them win the deal. In doing so, that could wipe out your reserve for the money you spend, or more so, for the guys you want to use up the line when you really have to make a deal.” In other words, if a seller like the Cubs is going to deal one of its best pieces right now – before the market has fully developed and all bidders are in, and while more games remain on the season – they’re going to need to get a serious and obvious haul. Sabean says the Giants aren’t keen on doing that right now, which is understandable.
- (Interesting side note here: most sources expect that the Giants will be the team most heavily interested in Nolasco. If true, who blinks first? Maybe Sabean was sending a direct message to the Marlins: drop your price, or we’re not in right now.)
- Another starter who could really impact the trade market is Yovani Gallardo, and Brewers GM Doug Melvin has all but confirmed that he’s ready to listen. While telling the Sporting News that his team isn’t a “seller,” Melvin said things like this: “For us to win games moving forward, Yovani should be a part of that, but some teams get in pennant races and need that one guy to get them over the hump. It’s not a slam dunk that I’m going to trade Yovani or Lohse, but you never know. There’s a lot we have to consider about our club right now …. That Yovani is not a free agent like guys like [Zack] Greinke or Anibal Sanchez last year, he has more value than just two months of a rental, so the package from another team has to be something that will wow me.” That’s a guy who’s selling, no matter what he calls it. An effective Gallardo is the top arm on the market, partly because he’s under affordable control through 2015.
- Jim Bowden lists 20 positional players who could be traded, a list for which Juan Pierre makes an appearance in the outfield, but Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus fall into the “best of the rest.” And that’s even after the fact that Bowden pegs Pierre’s trade chances at just 10%, but Schierholtz at 30% and DeJesus at 40%. I don’t think those percentages are off, but I do think that DeJesus and Schierholtz are miles more attractive in trade than Juan Pierre (who is hitting .243/.290/.300). Alfonso Soriano has a 25% chance of being traded, according to Bowden, who notes that the Cubs aren’t exactly itching to deal Soriano now that his value has slipped on the trade market and his value in the clubhouse remains very high.
- Tim Dierkes at MLBTR notes that Dioner Navarro could be one of the better back-up catchers available in trade this year. While I can’t see Navarro, alone, returning too much in trade (a Barret Loux-like return, which is what the Cubs got for Geovany Soto last year, would be the absolute maximum), he could be a nice complement to a larger deal.
- The Cubs technically have 10 (well, now 9) days to trade Carlos Marmol if they can find a taker, but Bruce Miles guesses the will be unable.
- Buckle up for a month’s worth of rumors and deals. As BN’er Gonzo put it: