With the Fourth of July behind us and less than a month until the trade deadline, we have entered the real meat of the 2016 trade season.
No, that doesn’t mean anything changes in any formal way, but most of the rumors that pop up now have at least a little more weight than they would have, say, two weeks ago ago.
To that end, let’s check in on the latest rumors …
- According to Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe), the Yankees may be the most interesting team to watch between now and the August 1 trade deadline – and we all know why that is. GM Brian Cashman has three bullpen arms (Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman) that would likely be the best reliever on any team they went to, and he’s apparently been asked about them a lot (quoted saying, “Tis the season,” in regards to the number of calls he’s received). Taking it one step further, Cafardo reports that the Cubs have “spent some serious time watching them,” implying that if and when the Yankees decide to sell, the Cubs will clearly be calling.
- George A. King III confirms (New York Post) that each of the Cubs, Rangers and Nationals have had scouts in attendance for the Yankees trio of relievers, lately, adding that the Yankees will be hard pressed to be anything more than a .500 team in 2016. As a matter of fact, the Yankees (40-42) are currently two games below .500, 7.0 games behind the Orioles in the AL East (fourth place) and 4.5 games back of the Second Wild Card slot (behind seven other teams). If they choose to hold onto their bullpen pieces for next season (or because they simply can), that’s one thing, but if they are holding out hope for contention, I suspect they’re making a mistake.
- In the same piece at the Boston Globe from before, Cafardo reports that the Dodgers have been sniffing around on the Rays Chris Archer, but have mostly been rebuffed. Despite having a pretty poor season (4.50 ERA, 4.21 FIP), there is an obvious connection with Andrew Friedman, who is now running the Dodgers front office. If Archer were to be made available, the Cubs (and about 10 other teams) would be interested as well, but I doubt the Rays will want to sell low on a pitcher who finished with 5.3 fWAR last year and is on an affordable long-term contract. Other potentially available starting pitchers mentioned are Braves right hander Julio Teheran and Rays left hander Matt Moore.
- Seemingly out of left field – or rather, third base – Cafardo mentions the potential for the Rays to shop third baseman Evan Longoria and wonders if the Chicago Cubs might be a fit. Apparently, one of the many veteran scouts in attendance for the Rays-Red Sox series predicted a trade and Cafardo connected the dots to his former manager’s new team. There doesn’t seem to be much of a fit for the Cubs from where I sit, but Longoria has been playing well this season once again: .278/.329/.521, 18 HRs. That said, the Cubs have a barrage of talented, young infielders and outfielders, while Longoria is 30 about to enter a six-year, $100 million extension next season. Seems doubtful.
- According to Jenifer Langosch (MLB.com), the St. Louis Cardinals expect to be buyers at the 2016 Trade Deadline, given their presence near the top of the NL Wild Card race (currently 2.0 games out), but are unsure of what exactly to buy. “It’s certainly one of the more difficult teams to evaluate in terms of, ‘Where is your quick fix?'” Mozeliak said on Monday. So instead of finding a specific area of concern and addressing that issue on the market, the Cardinals are focusing on who’s available and what might it cost to acquire them (uh … ok?). Langosch guesses that the improvements might come from the bullpen, but Mozeliak didn’t jump on that theory, suggesting that their relievers have been really good over the past week and a half. Although Langosch suggests otherwise, it sure sounds like the plan is to stand pat.
- At ESPN, Doug Padilla discusses just how Clayton Kershaw’s injury has influenced the Dodgers plans and what they might do in the future (they’ve already traded for Bud Norris and brought back Brandon McCarthy), but the most interesting comments come from President Andrew Friedman. According to Friedman, a lot of starting pitchers will be technically “available,” at the upcoming deadline, but the cost of acquisition will simply be very high. In fact, Friedman reveals that the same was true this past offseason, but none ended up moving, because of the price teams put on starters. What I love about those comments is the reminder of just how little anyone actually knows. This may seem like a slow/boring market, but in reality some bigger names could be discussed at any time. Just remember that.
- The Rangers and Rays have reportedly discussed a trade that would send right handed starter Jake Odorizzi to the Rangers in exchange for a bat, though no deal appears to be close. The Rays, for what it’s worth, are reportedly interested in high-end names like Joey Gallo, Jurickson Profar and Lewis Brinson in return. The Cubs were reportedly interested in Odorizzi over the offseason (and could certainly find a suitable bat to offer in trade), but there haven’t been any concrete connections for a good long time now. Given Odorizzi’s age and control, the asking price will likely be quite high, even if he hasn’t gotten the results he’s hope for this season. The Rays (for starters), like the Yankees (for relievers), will be another team to watch heading into the deadline.
- The Diamondbacks (37-48) sure aren’t having the season they hoped for back in April, which means they may soon look to sell. Two likely trade candidates, then, will be set-up man Daniel Hudson and closer Brad Ziegler. Each have contracts set to expire at the end of the season, but have pitched to varying degrees of success in the past. Hudson (4.50 ERA, 3.82 FIP), doesn’t appear to be a particularly attractive option in 2016, but has had some success in the past. Whereas Ziegler (2.65 ERA, 3.19 FIP), if available, may be someone the Cubs want to check in on. Even though Ziegler is 36 years old and is getting better actual results than the peripherals suggest, he has done so for nine straight seasons and would likely cost a heck of a lot less than many other available options. Just someone to keep an eye on.
- Speaking of under the radar trade candidates, Jeff Todd lists 10 of them at MLB Trade Rumors – five of which are relievers. Among the most interesting names is Brandon Kintzler (RHP, Twins), who would come with a 2.28 ERA, 0.8 BB/9 and a 65.3% ground ball rate over 23.2 IP in 2016. He’s cheap, comes with 1.5 years of control, and carries a pretty heavy reverse split for his career (keeping lefties to just a .280 wOBA over 82.0 IP). That checks a lot of boxes for the Cubs, who are likely to be looking for a left-handed reliever (or, well, someone who can consistently get lefties out). Then again, there’s also A’s lefty Marc Rzepczynski, who also has a sub-3.00 ERA overall in 2016 and a completely dominant line against lefties for his career (.233/.289/.300). None of these guys have been directly linked to the Cubs so far, but you have to imagine that each will come across their radar sooner or later (if they haven’t already).
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