Do Cubs Have 2 Top Starting Pitcher Trade Candidates?
In his latest blog (insider subscription required), Buster Olney of ESPN.com ranks nine starting pitchers that could be available in a very limited trade market. Two Chicago Cubs pitchers lead the way with Scott Feldman at the top and Matt Garza right behind him.
Feldman, who signed a one-year, $6 million deal (another $1 million possible in incentives) for 2013, is having a terrific season and has boosted his value with an amazing run in which he's allowed just six earned runs in 40.1 innings over his last six starts.
I recently wrote about some "quick fix" ideas for several contenders and I had the Rockies, who need as much pitching as possible to stick around in the playoff hunt, picking up the 30-year-old Feldman.
The attention could quickly turn to Garza, however, with the 29-year-old free agent-to-be set to return from the disabled list on Tuesday to make his 2013 debut. Olney notes that Garza could become "the most sought-after pitcher of the summer" if he pitches like he did when he was with the Rays a few years back.
Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com gave their thoughts on Garza and what his return means in the short term and long term.
One big-name starting pitcher that is not likely to dominate the rumor mill anytime soon is Rays lefty David Price, who is on the disabled list with a strained triceps. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes, Price could return in a few weeks, but questions will surround his health and teams won't have enough time to evaluate him once he returns.
Would the Mariners Sacrifice Pitching Depth for a Bat?
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (insider subscription required) thinks the Mariners can stick around and make a run at the playoffs, especially if they can utilize their deep farm system to add another bat.
While their offense has been much better in May with Raul Ibañez leading the way (12-for-36, 6 HR, 15 RBI), they've struggled with consistency and are getting very little offense up the middle: second baseman Dustin Ackley has a .563 OPS; the shortstop combination of Robert Andino and Brendan Ryan came into Monday with a combined .171 batting average and one homer.
Bowden mentions corner outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Josh Willingham, which the M's already have plenty of, but he does think the Padres will trade Chase Headley if they're out of the playoff race at the trade deadline and that he could be a fit in Seattle.
Moving Kyle Seager to second base would make room for Headley at the hot corner. If they were willing to move one of their top pitching prospects—Danny Hultzen or Taijuan Walker—in a package (as they reportedly were in the offseason deal that nearly got done with Arizona for Justin Upton), they could be one of the most likely teams to land Headley.
The Padres don't plan on trading Headley, though, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Of course, that's because, like most teams, they expect to be in playoff contention at the trade deadline. And their 15-8 record since April 23rd signals that they could be right. So don't hold your breath on any team acquiring Headley this season.
Braves Looking for Relief Help After Injury to O'Flaherty?
Losing one of the top left-handed setup men in the game to a season-ending injury is tough to overcome for any team. Fortunately, the Braves had another lefty reliever in Eric O'Flaherty ready to step into the high-leverage role with Jonny Venters out for the 2013 season with an elbow injury.
But O'Flaherty could be headed for the same fate with Tommy John surgery the likely possibility after it was revealed that he had a torn ligament. A third lefty in the 'pen, 23-year-old Luis Avilan is having a solid season (2.12 ERA, five holds in 19 appearances), but he's unproven and his eight walks and eight strikeouts in 17 innings don't exactly point to success as a late-inning setup man.
The Braves are holding strong at the top of the NL East with a 25-18 record, but with O'Flaherty, Venters and three other relievers, including Jordan Walden, on the disabled list, they could be looking for bullpen help in the near future.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports thinks lefty Mike Dunn (1.74 ERA, 20.2 IP, 16 H, 9 BB, 20 K, 6 holds) of the Marlins would be a good fit, while MLBTR has a list of potential lefty reliever trade candidates, including James Russell (0.52 ERA, 17.1 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 19 K, 7 holds) of the Cubs.
Braves general manager Frank Wren acknowledged that the trade market has yet to develop and an American League executive described the relief pitching market to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com as "non-existent". The Braves do have the resources to go out and make a trade now, however, so I wouldn't expect them to stand pat very long if the bullpen loses a few late-inning leads.
Another team searching for relief help is the Detroit Tigers, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Despite Jose Valverde's strong performance (8 IP, ER, H, 4 BB, 7 K, 4 Sv) since re-joining the team and Bruce Rondon's dominance in Triple-A (0.00 ERA, 15.2 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, 19 K, 9 Sv), the overall bullpen depth has taken a hit, with Al Alburquerque and Brayan Villarreal both being sent to the minors after struggling and lefty Phil Coke looking more like a lefty specialist who shouldn't be allowed to face right-handed hitters, who have a 1.013 OPS against him.
Knobler also mentions the Marlins as a team who could be willing to deal a reliever early in the season, with closer Steve Cishek being a possibility. Cishek is having trouble against left-handed hitters but is nearly un-hittable against righties, who have just three singles against him in 27 at-bats. The Marlins have received interest in Cishek, Dunn and Ryan Webb, according to Ken Rosenthal in his Full Count video.