stoveThe Trade Deadline is just about two days away, and the activity is picking up – see the Tigers and Braves each picking up a reliever today.

  • Nate Schierholtz continues to draw interest from a number of teams, including the Pirates (as we’ve heard before), according to Jon Morosi. Morosi writes separately that the Pirates should be as motivated as any team to improve at the Trade Deadline, given the opportunity for a great season that lies before them (and the wasteland of awfulness that lies behind them for the last two decades). Morosi suggests a blockbuster with the Giants, which has Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence, and Sergio Romo going to the Pirates. It sounds sexy on paper, but with some $8 million owed to Lincecum the rest of the way, $5ish million to Pence, and almost $7 million to Romo through 2014, it could be a very¬†expensive¬†trade for the Pirates, unless the Giants ate a ton of salary. By contrast, Schierholtz makes less than $1 million the rest of the way, and will get a slight bump on his $2.25 million salary next year in arbitration. To the extent there’s a bake-off in a situation like this, the Cubs may have one of the best outfield bats available because of Schierholtz’s fantastic contract and production. (Obligatory caveat that I see just as much value in the Cubs keeping Schierholtz for next year.)
  • Jesse Crain, despite being on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, is garnering a lot of trade interest, and Bruce Levine reports that Crain was seen handing out envelopes to the White Sox’s clubhouse staff after yesterday’s final game of a home stand. Those tips are a tip-off that Crain doesn’t expect to return to the White Sox. Jeff Passan says a deal is not close, though. The Rays could be involved, although it’s unclear how Crain’s injury will impact the trade. The 32-year-old free-agent-to-be is consistently good, and has been absurdly good this year. If his injury hasn’t derailed interest, then there’s yet another reliever on the market to step on the Cubs’ efforts to shop guys like Kevin Gregg and James Russell (or Matt Guerrier, if the Cubs are really trying).

  • One reliever who probably isn’t on the market anymore is Jonathan Papelbon, whose contract, strange team situation, and declining performance have potential buyers staying away. The Tigers have long made at least a little bit of sense, but they got their man (Jose Veras) earlier today.
  • The Phillies are also unlikely to move Chase Utley, as Jon Heyman reports that the team is working on an extension with him. To the Phillies: I know you want to preserve faces of the franchise and all that, but how are those Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard extensions working out? Utley, who is a free agent after the season, turns 35 in December.
  • Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles want to make a big move (but then he lists Jake Peavy, Justin Morneau, and Michael Young as their targets, so “big” might be a fluffy concept here), and they might even make Dylan Bundy available in the right deal. Bundy, you may recall, was the best pitching prospect since sliced bread before he underwent Tommy John surgery this year. His stock is still plenty high, and every organization – including the Cubs – would love to have him. I’m not sure that the Cubs have a “big” piece to offer, though. Sure, Jeff Samardzija would certainly be big enough to net Bundy (and more), but I’m not sure I see the teams lining up. Bundy and Kevin Gausman probably gets you thinking about moving Samardzija, but that’s a steep, steep price for the Orioles. Bundy, and two of Jonathan Schoop, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Josh Hader? I’m not actually proposing trades here or playing the let’s-make-up-a-trade thing. I’m just trying to gauge whether there’s a realistic package for each side available.

  • Jayson Stark says a Jake Peavy deal in the next two days is likely, and he breaks down the potential buyers. On Pence, by the way, Stark hears the Giants will only deal him if they’re “blown away,” given that they’d like to re-sign him.
  • On the Cubs-specific front, things are relatively quiet right now. Not that that means anything.

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