When is Matt Garza going to be traded? And who will pursue him? Continue clicking for the latest rumors.
It has already been a busy July around Major League Baseball thanks to trades involving Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston and Ricky Nolasco. Looking forward, top contenders, hapless pretenders and everybody in between have been linked to other teams or individuals through insider rumors.
By the end of month, the MLB competitive landscape will be transformed by midseason rentals, under-the-radar transactions and—with any luck—a few legitimate blockbusters.
What's going to happen to Matt Garza? Will the defending World Series champs wave the white flag? And when will the Detroit Tigers finally find a closer?
Keep your eyes glued to the rumor mill as all these stories develop.
Francisco Rodriguez would bolster a relatively shaky Arizona bullpen.
It's no surprise that the last-place Milwaukee Brewers would be willing to shop their veteran relievers. Thanks to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, we've learned the identities of several potential trade partners.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have scouted and even held discussions about Milwaukee's right-handed options.
This is what we've come to expect from general manager Kevin Towers. He acquired bullpen help at the non-waiver deadline each of the past two summers (Brad Ziegler in 2011, Matt Albers last year), and the need for late-inning assistance is even more obvious right now.
John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez would be welcomed additions to the NL West leaders, who aren't getting sufficient production from Heath Bell, David Hernandez nor J.J. Putz.
Per MLB.com, the Diamondbacks pitching staff ranks 25th and 26th among the 30 clubs in ninth-inning earned run average and batting average against, respectively.
Tim Hudson quickly shot down this rumor that spawned from a Peter Gammons tweet.
Right-hander Brandon Beachy was performing so well before undergoing Tommy John surgery last summer, that Gammons' belief is the Atlanta Braves may trade a current rotation member to make room for him toward the end of this month.
Among the starting five, Hudson ranks last in earned run average, strikeout rate and innings pitched per outing. Meanwhile, his $9 million salary is the highest of any Atlanta pitcher.
As MLB.com points out, however, Hudson's tenure in the majors and with the Braves organization gives him the power to veto any trade offer.
Stay tuned for a resolution when Beachy actually rejoins the active roster.
Jim Johnson hasn't been nearly as competent in his second year as a full-time closer.
Wei-Yin Chen returned from a prolonged stint on the disabled list to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 6-1 win on Wednesday night. His seven solid innings and consistency prior to suffering the oblique injury have the organization feeling much more confident in its starting rotation composition.
However, the team's quest for extra relievers is only the beginning.
MLB.com's Adam McCalvy spotted an Orioles scout at a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets (he/she was undoubtedly interested in the former).
Since Opening Day, the O's have dealt Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop, so depth and quality are both issues.
With Andrew Miller out for the season, expect the Red Sox to be aggressive.
Throughout the 2013 season, the Boston Red Sox have struggled to find consistency from their late-inning relievers. On top of that, they'll almost certainly be without southpaw Andrew Miller the rest of the way after he suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot, per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
Nick Cafardo, also of the Boston Globe, tweeted that the AL East leaders are "looking everywhere" for a quality arm. He cites the Chicago White Sox as a potential trade partner with options like Addison Reed, Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom (and Jesse Crain, if he returns to full strength later this month).
For now, Miller's injury leaves Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara as the only active Red Sox relievers with sub-3.00 earned run averages.
We've practically been receiving hourly updates on the status of Matt Garza. So long as Jake Peavy is on the disabled list and Cliff Lee costs a small country to acquire, the fiery 29-year-old appears to be the consensus No. 1 starting pitcher on the trade market.
Though his departure was once considered imminent, the Chicago Cubs are rapidly emerging as a dark-horse candidate to retain his services down the stretch and beyond 2013.
Sources inform John Perrotto of USA Today that Garza's representatives have spoken to the Cubs about a possible contract extension. Garza himself told reporters, including Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com, that the likelihood of him remaining in the Windy City is "as real as a trade...fifty-fifty."
David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com vehemently disagrees with that sentiment. Garza's perpetually rising trade value is too enticing, he tweets.
The eight-year major league veteran leads all Cubs starters in strikeout-to-walk ratio and ranks second only to Travis Wood in terms of ERA, WHIP and BAA.
All signs point toward a scenario where Jake Peavy wakes up on August 1 with a Chicago White Sox uniform hanging in his locker.
The 32-year-old—hard to believe he's still that young—fractured a rib on June 4. Manager Robin Ventura doesn't plan on sending him out for a rehab assignment until after the All-Star break, according to Chuck Pleiness of ESPNChicago.com, and he won't need more than two starts before rejoining the major league rotation.
August trades commonly involve veterans like Peavy whose expensive contracts deter bottom-dwellers from making a waiver claim. Bruce Levine, also of ESPNChicago.com, envisions the White Sox moving their No. 2 starter next month.
Peavy's overall stats aren't pretty, but keep in mind that he posted a 3.34 ERA and 194/49 K/BB last summer, and a comparable 2.97 ERA and 63/15 K/BB through nine starts in 2013. He only struggled in the two outings immediately prior to the rib injury.
Brandon Phillips is one of several Cincinnati hitters slumping at the plate.
The Cincinnati Reds are headed toward the All-Star break as the third best team in the NL Central, and their means of improving seem to be limited.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that they lack the minor league depth to complete trades for any elite hitters.
Even coming off a comfortable victory on Wednesday afternoon, the Reds have dropped eight of their past 14 contests. In that stretch, they're averaging barely three-and-a-half runs per game. Production from the catchers and middle infielders has been particularly disappointing recently.
Fay writes that Josh Willingham is a name to keep in mind once August rolls around, but only if he returns from knee surgery before Ryan Ludwick comes back to the Reds.
Gallardo has been less effective in 2013, but he's controllable beyond this season.
Much like in 2011, the Cleveland Indians are contemplating a major upgrade to their starting rotation that would allow them to pull away from the Detroit Tigers.
A source within the organization names Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza as "the Indians' main and only pitchers of interest," according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The former would be on their book through at least 2014 with a $600,000 buyout on his 2015 team option. Long-term control might not be a good thing, however, considering how inconsistent Gallardo has pitched this season (4.85 ERA, 4.11 FIP in 107.2 IP). His fastball velocity and average strikeout rate have dipped dramatically.
Then again, he's only a few months removed from being a legitimate, top-of-the-rotation workhorse, not to mention one with playoff experience.
Garza would cost the Tribe nothing in salary beyond this summer, but considerably more in terms of prospects. He has been arguably the hottest pitcher in baseball over the past four weeks (0.97 ERA, 34/8 K/BB in last 37.0 IP).
The two-time All-Star has the longest hitting streak in the majors so far in 2013.
The Colorado Rockies have quietly played terrible baseball since the second half of June, yet they remain within striking distance in the mediocre NL West. There's optimism, though, that the impending returns of Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki will lead to dramatic improvement, both offensively and defensively.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that several teams are already targeting right fielder Michael Cuddyer in case that turnaround doesn't take place.
Even accounting for the high altitude of Coors Field, it's been a strong season for the 34-year-old. His 27-game hitting streak—which was part of a 46-game on-base streak—made that abundantly clear.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are among a handful of contenders who would consider offering prospects and absorbing some portion of the nearly $14 million that his contract guarantees from the end of July through the 2014 season.
Andy Dirks could be shipped elsewhere if Detroit identifies the right bullpen reinforcement.
Enough with the buzz about the Detroit Tigers pursuing relievers. That's just stating the obvious.
ESPN Insider Jim Bowden takes a more interesting angle in his subscription-only column by dropping names of players who the Tigers could possibly offer to complete such a trade.
He writes that controllable outfielders like Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia—the only "Avisail" in MLB history, in case anybody cares—will be "expendable." The latter, who just turned 22, was recently demoted to Triple-A.
If Detroit pursues a true difference-maker, top prospect Nick Castellanos might be involved, according to Bowden.
According to Houston Astros manager Bo Porter, Bud Norris won't be used for the remainder of the first half. Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle wonders which uniform Norris will be wearing when he finally returns to the mound.
The 28-year-old boasts very acceptable numbers for a middle-of-the-rotation option: 3.63 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 81/36 K/BB in 114.0 IP. More importantly in the eyes of contenders, he's making only $3 million in 2013 and is controllable for another two years through arbitration.
Prior to losing to the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night, Norris was in the best groove of his career. He maintained a 2.85 earned run average in that 12-game stretch and averaged more than six-and-a-half innings per start.
Here are the latest quotes Smith gathered from general manager Jeff Luhnow:
It’s so hard to tune out all the noise around you, and Bud has done a tremendous job of that this year. And he is our best pitcher, and he’s been our most valuable pitcher this year, and he will continue to be. And we need him. There’s no doubt about it. He’s a leader on the team. He’s a leader on the field and in the clubhouse.
The right-hander has exceeded all expectations coming off a rough season.
The Kansas City Royals find themselves in buy-or-sell limbo. They trail both the division-leading Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays—AL's No. 2 Wild Card—by five games in the loss column despite strong play in June and early July.
Should the team abruptly implode, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports insists that Ervin Santana could be among the most sought-after starting pitchers on the market. There's no denying his top-of-the-rotation stuff, and in 2013, he's shown the ability to locate his fastball consistently.
Although it's a bit outdated, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star presented a unique perspective in his July 1 column:
Now ... if the Royals fall out of contention? Yeah, the market could easily open on Santana. I doubt it would be a best-offer situation, though. The return will have to be better than the projected compensatory draft pick.
He's alluding to the possibility that the Royals might keep the free-agent-to-be through season's end regardless, in order to extend a qualifying offer for the 2014 campaign.
The peripheral numbers suggest that Phil Hughes could be more effective in a larger ballpark.
As a disclaimer, Jon Heyman acknowledges that Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto refers to his club as "neither a buyer nor a seller at this point."
However, if the Halos find a few million dollars of cash underneath the sofa cushions, they could be in play for impending free agent Phil Hughes. Heyman recalls how L.A. nearly drafted him back in 2004.
The 2013 rotation is unsettled behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Hughes' 7.4 K/9 helps him pitch out of jams, and last summer, he proved his arm could hold up for 32 starts.
L.A. has already added Ricky Nolasco, but there could be more acquisitions between now and July 31.
MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom chatted with two general managers: Ned Colletti of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the aforementioned Kevin Towers.
Without stating it directly, Bloom implies that L.A. might continue adding pitching depth to prevent the rival Arizona Diamondbacks from doing the same.
"The Dodgers are still seriously shopping," he writes, so don't count them out in the bidding for Yovani Gallardo or Matt Garza. Either would slide nicely into the No. 5 rotation spot in place of a struggling Chris Capuano and disabled Ted Lilly.
Cishek, 27, is enjoying a career year as Miami's closer.
The Miami Marlins have quickly assembled a deep and formidable bullpen, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tells us not to expect its leader, Steve Cishek, to depart via trade. He believes that Miami's asking price would deter even the most desperate contenders:
The 27-year-old right-hander with the deceptive, side-arm delivery is an ideal trade chip because he is affordable for three more seasons, and three years away from being up for free agency...
...If the Marlins were to listen to offers for Cishek, they’d likely command another team’s top prospect.
Hypothetically, let’s say the Tigers were interested in Cishek. To get the Marlins’ full attention, they’d probably have to have Nick Castellanos, Detroit’s No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, in the package.
In his past 16 appearances, Cishek has been practically untouchable: 0.00 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, 17/1 K/BB in 15.1 IP.
Per FanGraphs, Jim Henderson has the best WAR of any Milwaukee Brewers reliever this season. As the team sheds veterans on expiring contracts, the second-year right-hander isn't being shopped as openly.
Now, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports is insisting that he won't be dealt like teammates John Axford, Mike Gonzalez and Francisco Rodriguez.
Henderson began the summer in the closer's role, but he now sets up for K-Rod. He has maintained a 1.95 earned run average and 3.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 33 appearances. The 30-year-old won't gain arbitration eligibility until the 2016 season.
It should come as some consolation to Brewers fans that at least one familiar face/effective arm will return to the pitching staff in 2014.
It's anybody's guess as to who's on the phone with general manager Terry Ryan, but Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports tweets that other teams have initiated Justin Morneau trade talks.
The former AL MVP has entered the decline phase of his career and dropped from a tolerable .440 slugging percentage in 2012 to only .406. Even worse, he's earning a $14 million salary and is inexperienced outside of first base.
With the Minnesota Twins in the middle of a rebuilding project, expect them to kick in plenty of cash in any deal to ensure that a decent prospect comes back their way.
Byrd is enjoying one of his finest seasons at age 35.
Never in their wildest dreams did the New York Mets imagine that Marlon Byrd could actually seize an everyday role. For a modest $700,000 base salary, he's slashing .268/.313/.506 with 15 home runs.
SI.com's Jay Jaffe expects him and Alex Rios to appeal to similar crowds, including the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.
Although the Mets have won 16 of their past 25 games, they are widely expected to peddle veterans like Byrd at the trade deadline.
Chamberlain is amid the worst season of his seven-year Yankees career.
The New York Yankees see themselves as contenders, but they seem eager to unload surplus major league pitchers. Ken Rosenthal hears that trades involving Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes "could happen soon."
Neither homegrown right-hander has lived up to lofty expectations.
The club shows no interest in locking up Chamberlain, an impending free agent, who has spent most of the past three seasons on the disabled list. Despite impressive velocity, the 27-year-old is struggling to locate his pitches, as evidenced by a bloated ERA, WHIP and OPS against.
Similarly, Hughes is finishing up his final year under team control in less-than-spectacular fashion. His knack for inducing fly balls makes him a poor fit for Yankee Stadium, as he seldom completes a start without surrendering home runs.
Besides him, the Yankees rotation includes Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova. After the All-Star break, David Phelps (15-day DL) and Michael Pineda (Triple-A) will also be viable starting options, and both of them earn a fraction of Hughes' salary.
General manager Billy Beane has remained tight-lipped this summer and given no indication that the Oakland Athletics will complete any major trades.
Oakland might lose Bartolo Colon in the second half to a Biogenesis suspension, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is optimistic. Colon told her that investigators haven't contacted him and that the team seemingly "hasn’t heard anything" either. Besides, potential replacements would come internally.
That means the hot topic—if you could call it that—is infielder Adam Rosales. The A's officially designated him for assignment on Monday. The 30-year-old could be traded, demoted or released.
So far in July, Cole Hamels looks like his old dominant self.
ESPN's Jayson Stark identified the Philadelphia Phillies as a potential seller in late June. He even obtained quotes from a major league executive who insisted that Jonathan Papelbon trades were being discussed with the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.
More recently, Ryan Howard underwent knee surgery, and Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported that Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz could be had at the right price.
Contradicting all this information, however, Buster Olney tweets that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is conducting himself like a buyer in his latest talks with other teams.
This news isn't wholly surprising when you consider that only six National League teams enter July 11 above the .500 mark. Inconsistent as the Phillies have been, they remain closer to the second-place Washington Nationals than the fourth-place New York Mets, and neither wild-card spot is out of reach.
On an individual level, Ben Revere has batted around .400 since the second week of June, and Cole Hamels has excelled in consecutive outings. Roy Halladay continues to progress in his recovery from shoulder surgery, leading to expectations of a second-half return.
If the Phillies actually seek improvements, they will presumably prioritize relief pitching.
Travis Snider is one of six Pirates to start in right field. None have played particularly well.
Bleacher Report's own Matthew Smith explained how the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox could wind up as trade partners. The former is expected to load up for the NL pennant race by adding bullpen depth and/or a reputable right fielder.
However, Pirates general manager Neil Huntington hasn't indicated what his priorities are, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He would be content to improve any way possible.
The franchise competed for significant portions of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but it collapsed down the stretch.
Contending teams will be intrigued by Endinson Volquez's potential.
Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego sums up the San Diego Padres' situation perfectly:
Two weeks ago, the Padres appeared to be in the thick of a bevy of trade talks for a starting pitcher to push the team over the top. However, the reality of a 10-game losing streak that sent the team spiraling toward the bottom of the NL West likely means general manager Josh Byrnes will be a seller—not a buyer—this month.
Last year, Francisco Liriano and Brandon League were dealt to playoff hopefuls. Sanders suspects that comparable players like San Diego's Edinson Volquez and Huston Street could draw interest this time around.
That's a huge "if" considering the deficit that the San Francisco Giants face in the NL West is far from insurmountable. Remember that they spent half of the 2012 campaign looking up at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Differences abound, however, between the championship roster and the guys Bruce Bochy is currently working with.
Matt Cain has lost velocity and confidence, while Pablo Sandoval has put on a few too many pounds. Injuries to Angel Pagan and Ryan Vogelsong compromise the outfield and rotation depth, respectively. As of July 11, San Francisco has lost 14 of 16 games by a combined scored of 79-38 to arrive at a season-worst 10 games below .500.
The team will be selling if its fortunes don't turn around swiftly. More specifically, impending free agents will find themselves on the trading block. Danny Knobler identifies Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence as movable assets, as they're among the only Giants to improve from last year to 2013.
Teams are lining up to make offers for Oliver Perez.
Although his team holds the fourth-worst record in the American League, Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik hasn't formally announced a desire to sell. Jon Heyman spoke with him earlier in the week and learned that the M's won't blow up their roster...yet.
"We'll see how this week goes. I'm not going to be the aggressor,'' Zduriencik explained.
Heyman notes that Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Oliver Perez—all impending free agents—have drawn serious interest. As well, slugger Mike Morse, shortstop Brendan Ryan and closer Tom Wilhelmsen could return prospects to Seattle if made available in the coming weeks.
Carpenter hasn't pitched in a professional game since October.
Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook form an elite foursome atop the St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation. The difficultly has been finding someone who can solidify the No. 5 spot.
Chris Carpenter remains a legitimate internal candidate, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but the Cards can only be so patient with July 31 rapidly approaching.
It's hard to imagine this team relinquishing any top prospects for Matt Garza or Jake Peavy. More likely, St. Louis would consider Phil Hughes and Bud Norris as low-cost additions if Carpenter doesn't progress to face live batters.
Raul Ibanez is amid one of the best age-41 seasons in league history.
When Jon Heyman was laying out the Seattle Mariners' stance, he cited the Tampa Bay Rays as suitors for some of their available offensive players.
The fit isn't clear. Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse and Brendan Ryan, for example, wouldn't be significant upgrades over Luke Scott, Wil Myers and Yunel Escobar.
Here's what we do know: David Price will stay put, and the Rays aren't going to be on the receiving end of any major salary dumps.
Manny Ramirez is an internal solution, but Texas wouldn't mind somebody younger and less controversial.
Granting Manny Ramirez a path back to the majors was questionable enough. It's an ominous sign, however, when a contending club views the 41-year-old as a serious promotion candidate.
Per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Texas Rangers seek a right-handed bat. Jeff Baker and Lance Berkman have been on the disabled list, and MLB's investigation into Biogenesis could soon lead to a 50-game suspension for Nelson Cruz, one of only two true power threats that Texas has from the right side.
Assuming that Giancarlo Stanton stays put this summer, Wilson suggests that the Rangers could pursue Alex Rios.
Josh Johnson has been neither durable nor consistent for the Blue Jays.
Jon Paul Morosi explores what's gone wrong with the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays and why they've dug themselves too big a deficit to overcome.
The gist of it is that all the big-contract guys can stay and the bullpen should remain intact for 2014, but that Toronto would be wise to shop its expendable role players. After all, "[GM Alex] Anthopoulos traded away much of the organization’s prospect depth during the winter," so the Blue Jays don't really match up with the notable sellers.
They have plunged back below .500 with uneven performance in July.
Despite the gloomy short-term outlook, the club is sending scouts to watch Matt Garza and the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen, like several other potential contenders.
Right-hander Dan Haren has been a bitter disappointment since signing a $13 million deal.
The Washington Nationals understandably don't feel satisfied with the back end of their starting rotation. Ross Detwiler, Dan Haren and various spot starters have combined for a 5.11 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.
Matt Garza would certainly remedy the situation, and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the Nats and Chicago Cubs have held discussions about his availability.
Kilgore notes that this isn't the first time Washington's front office has considered trading for him:
The Nationals have have shown interest in Garza in the past. Before the Rays traded him to the Cubs before the 2011 season, the Nationals expressed interest in dealing for the right-hander, a person familiar with the situation said. The interest, the person said, was not aggressive, but not insignificant.
Adding someone of Garza's caliber would ensure that the team stays in the playoff hunt, even if Gio Gonzalez's link to Biogenesis leads to a suspension.