Traditionally, we’ve had enough rumor fodder to fill Lukewarm Stoves – like this – just about all year round. Sure, things slow down in September and October, when moves can’t be made, and in April and May, when moves aren’t usually made, but for the most part, Major League Baseball is a year-round rumor and transaction business (which is awesome).
But still … one period of time outshines the rest, and it’s happening right now.
After tonight’s All-Star game, we will officially be in full-on rumor season. And as we’ve seen over the past few days alone (David Peralta, Zack Wheeler), a contending – but needy – team like the Cubs will be involved all over the place. Here’s the latest.
- At MLB.com, Rays GM Erik Neander made a passing comment – amid a conversation about their broader plans this July – that got me thinking: “I think we’re likely to be the most aggressive, the more that the division is in play.” On the surface, that’s a pretty obvious point, but then I got to looking at the divisions. In the American League, there are essentially zero competitive divisions. The SMALLEST first-place lead is 5.5 games. The NL West (Dodgers up 13.5 games) and the NL East (Braves are up 6.0 games) are fairly similar.
- So with that in mind … could we be in store for an extreme buyers market? If a lot of teams feel the way the Rays do, we might see a whole lot of inactivity on the buyers’ side of things. Obviously, things can change over the course of a couple weeks, but for most divisions that just probably won’t be the case.
- Of course, the NL Central is the extreme opposite:
The last-place Reds are 4.5 games out of first … which is a smaller gap than ANY OTHER SECOND-PLACE TEAM IN MLB (outside of the NL Central).
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) July 9, 2019
- It’s entirely possible that most teams out there are looking at a buyers market, while the NL Central teams – who might see (1) five buyers and (2) a lot of rival up-bidding – could be facing something different.
- And to that end, Ken Rosenthal discusses what nine teams – including the Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds – might do over the next couple weeks, and it’s pretty interesting. While I would’ve guessed that the Cardinals, who were fairly aggressive over the past two offseasons, would consider themselves buyers at the deadline, Rosenthal doesn’t really seem to think so. He also seems to think the Pirates are sure-thing sellers, especially on Corey Dickerson, Jordan Lyles, and Melky Cabrera if they slip any further in the standings. The Reds, by contrast, are a team Rosenthal believes could add this July, especially now that Joey Votto is finally getting hot, Scooter Gennett is finally back, and … how often they’ve beaten the Cubs this year (grumble).
- Joel Sherman gets into a similar effort with respect to the Red Sox, Phillies, and Braves, but first gets into a fairly polarizing, but not unfair conversation about the Cubs. Namely … could Theo Epstein repeat something as similarly shocking as the Nomar Garciaparra trade back in 2004 … with Kris Bryant (or others). It seems ludicrous, given how good Kris Bryant has been, but I’m just not sure anymore. And, hey, the Red Sox did go on to win the 2004 World Series, so that kind of trade doesn’t *have* to indicate a full-on white flag.
- And even if it did, I don’t think anyone would hate to do what the Yankees did so successfully – with the help of the Cubs – back in 2016. Perhaps, it’s a longer discussion for a different time, but I don’t think it should be dismissed outright. If you’d like more on this general conversation, Ken Rosenthal discusses the Cubs unexpected move towards mediocrity right here.
- The Cleveland Indians have begun closing the gap in the NL Central, but Joel Sherman thinks they’ll still try to trade Trevor Bauer this month and the Yankees appear to be among the frontrunners. The Astros are mentioned, as well, especially because Bauer is not a rental player, though there is expected to be plenty of suitors. Despite the Cubs reported interest in Zack Wheeler, I doubt they’ll come calling on Bauer.
- Maybe the Red Sox will, though:
#RedSox pushing to add a starting pitcher, sources tell The Athletic. Would prefer to act sooner rather than later. Casting wide net.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 8, 2019
- The Diamondbacks are right there fighting for a Wild Card spot, but would that really stop them from selling? Their CEO Derrick Hall seems to think not, I’m not so sure. Maybe I’m just thinking wishfully after our conversation about David Peralta, but after trading Paul Goldschmidt and not re-signing Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin, I just can’t see them sitting on their hands this July, hoping – in the best case scenario – for a one-game playoff that leads to a five-game series against the Dodgers with home field advantage.
- A few weeks ago, the Washington Nationals appeared to be barreling towards selling, and I had my eyes on free-agent-to-be Anthony Rendon. But just a few weeks later … and they have a better record than the Cubs. Maybe they have a worse shot at winning their division, but I doubt they’ll be shipping anyone out of town soon. In fact, they could be buyers … of their own people! Recent reports suggest Rendon might actually be currently engaged in extension talks with the Nationals, which, if accomplished, could make them even more aggressive on the market over the next few weeks. With that said, other reports have suggested that Rendon is looking for a deal in Nolan Arenado’s range (eight-years, $260M) and as much as I think he’s a great player, I don’t see that happening right now. More on that potential deal right here.
- And finally, no matter how hard Farhan Zaidi tries, I just don’t buy his efforts to mask the Giants’ intentions this July. He can say they don’t need to do anything – and that they might even trade younger players for guys that can help them win now! – all he wants, but they *should be* sellers, and probably will be. NOW BRING ME WILL SMITH.