Could Alex Rios' six-hit night on Tuesday expand the list of teams interested in acquiring him?
As we get closer to the July 31 trade deadline, who is and who isn't available will become clearer. Reports on which players are being heavily scouted by which teams also begin to surface more frequently.
For now, there are simply too many teams still in the playoff hunt—all but six teams are within 10 games of a playoff spot—to get a full understanding of what will happen in the next three weeks. Tuesday, I wrote about seven players who could hit the trade market if their teams don't turn things around very soon.
What we do know right now is that there is a pretty good group of players on the teams that are furthest out, and they've been among the most mentioned names on the hot stove.
Here are seven of those players, along with which uniform I believe they' ll be wearing by Aug. 1.
Talks surrounding Jesse Crain have died down temporarily after he landed on the disabled list with a strained shoulder. But they'll heat up quickly if he can make it back in time to pitch in a few games before July 31.
The 32-year-old, who has an 0.74 ERA with 19 holds and an 11.3 K/9, is eligible to return this weekend. A July 19 return—Game 1 of the second half—would be more realistic, though. If he can pitch in three or four games between then and July 30, including appearances in back-to-back games, his value could once again peak just in time.
The Sox won't have much of a window, but there shouldn't be a shortage of interest if he can prove he's healthy. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe speculated late last month that three AL East teams—the Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees—could have interest. With Crain out, however, the Red Sox are reportedly looking at three other White Sox relievers.
In reality, there aren't many contenders, if any, who don't have at least some level of interest in Crain with the way he was pitching.
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds
With setup men Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton on the disabled list, the Reds are struggling to find consistency in the late innings. Acquiring Crain would give them a reliable option to get the ball to Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning.
Yovani Gallardo has been unimpressive in 2013, posting a 4.85 ERA, 9.7 H/9 and 7.4 K/9. All these totals would be career worsts, by far, which is why his value has taken a major hit. It's also one of the reasons why the Brewers would consider trading the 27-year-old.
General manager Doug Melvin knows the return won't be anywhere close to what he would've gotten had Gallardo been at his best, but he also knows he has leverage because of Gallardo's age, contract ($11.25 million in 2014, $13 million club option in 2015) and limited alternatives for teams looking to acquire a starter who is better than a back-of-the-rotation upgrade.
The right-hander can block trades to the Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Indians, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees—he could also choose to waive his no-trade clause to go to any of those teams.
One team not on the list that has shown interest are the Diamondbacks, via Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The Indians are also pursuing him, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, while the Rockies were also scouting Gallardo a couple weeks ago, so says Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
Prediction: Colorado Rockies
Drew Pomeranz and Roy Oswalt were recently inserted into the Colorado rotation, giving the Rockies a chance to quiet any trade talks if they pitched well.
The 35-year-old Oswalt allowed 15 earned runs and 29 hits in 17.2 innings, however, before going on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, while Pomeranz has allowed nine earned runs in 8.1 innings over his first two starts.
Expect them to continue their pursuit of a starting pitcher, which could lead them to Gallardo.
At this point, it's easier to sort out which contending teams haven't shown interest in Matt Garza. That list has likely grown with each of his last five starts, all very impressive (37 IP, 4 ER, 24 H, 8 BB, 34 K), although his rising trade value is also likely to push many teams out of the mix.
The asking price for the 29-year-old is "incredibly high," according to a major league executive who spoke to ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required), and the Cubs could continue to hold out until some team meets their asking price. There is an obvious risk involved with that strategy, so the Cubs are hoping someone steps up soon.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports listed some teams who scouted Garza's most recent start, including the Blue Jays, Indians, Padres, Pirates and Rangers, as well as some other potential suitors. The Dodgers have also scouted the right-hander heavily, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks
Although it doesn't seem like it, the Diamondbacks still have a 2.5-game lead over the surging Dodgers. Arizona has the farm system to get a deal done for Garza and the need at the top of the rotation.
Raul Ibañez is on pace for a career season, but his age will certainly make teams wonder if he can keep it up. As you can imagine, career seasons at age 41 aren't very common.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the Rays have checked in on the Mariners' hitters, which likely includes Ibañez, Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales, all potential fill-ins for designated hitter Luke Scott.
Teams that wouldn't mind having Ibañez play in the outfield regularly could also have interest, although that's no certainty. A team like the Pirates or Royals would have to decide if his bat (.853 OPS, 22 HR) is enough of an upgrade to make up for the defensive concerns.
Prediction: Baltimore Orioles
The O's have been going with a designated hitter combination of Chris Dickerson (.706 OPS), Nolan Reimold (.574 OPS) and Brian Roberts on days when he doesn't play second base and Alexi Casilla (.614 OPS) fills in.
Should I point out the obvious? OK, Ibañez would be a much better option.
In a slump since his name started popping up in trade rumors a few weeks back, Alex Rios broke out in a big way on Tuesday with a 6-for-6 game that included a triple and two stolen bases.
It's just one game, but it likely eases the concerns of interested teams that might not think Rios could handle the pressure of a pennant race if he can't handle the spotlight that comes with a few trade rumors.
Rios is now on pace for 20 homers and 35 stolen bases and is under contract for at least one more season ($12.5 million in 2014, $13.5 million club option in 2015). He's arguably the best outfielder expected to be available on the trade market.
The 32-year-old can block trades to the Astros, Athletics, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Royals and Yankees, while the Diamondbacks, Giants and Rangers were reported to be scouting him a couple weeks ago, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.
With the Giants fading quickly and the Diamondbacks in pretty good shape after the return of center fielder Adam Eaton, the Rangers would appear to be the front-runner, especially if Nelson Cruz ends up being suspended as part of the Biogenesis investigation.
Prediction: Texas Rangers
Even if Cruz avoids a lengthy suspension, the Rangers have gotten very little production out of David Murphy.
Top prospect Jurickson Profar is getting a chance to play the outfield, but he doesn't provide the power potential necessary from a corner outfielder, not to mention he's learning a brand-new position on the fly.
Rios would be a solid pickup for the remainder of the season and would also give the Rangers a leg up on the offseason, when Cruz is set to become a free agent.
As the Mariners fall further out of contention, the only thing that has kept Michael Morse's name out of very many trade rumors up to this point is his current stint on the disabled list with a strained quad muscle. He's reportedly close to starting a rehab assignment, via Larry Stone of The Seattle Times, and he could be ready to join the M's after the All-Star break.
This should be plenty of time to show that he's healthy and ready to step into the middle of a contending team's lineup. Prior to the DL stint, the 31-year-old slugger had a .767 OPS and 11 homers in 56 games.
Most of his value lies in his ability to crush left-handed pitching (21-for-69, 5 HR, 5 2B). He also plays first base and is good enough to fill in occasionally in the outfield, so he's not limited to the American League.
The Rays, who have looked into the Mariners' hitters, via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, could be an ideal fit with left-handed hitters Matt Joyce and Luke Scott always options to sit against left-handed pitching. The Yankees could also be on the lookout for a right-handed hitter who could fill in at first base, designated hitter and the outfield, as would the Rangers.
Prediction: New York Yankees
Mark Teixeira's season-ending thumb injury has made Lyle Overbay the starting first baseman, at least until Kevin Youkilis comes back from the disabled list late in the season.
The veteran has put up solid numbers against right-handed pitching, but he can't hit lefties. Unfortunately, the Yankees don't have any other options.
Morse would be a terrific alternative to spell Overbay, designated hitter Travis Hafner and get a start of two per week in left field.
To waive his no-trade clause or to not waive his no-trade clause? That will be the question over the coming weeks now that the 37-year-old Alfonso Soriano has hit his way into trade rumors with 20 hits in his last 54 at-bats, including eight homers.
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Soriano is reportedly open to accepting a trade to a contender. The Cubs, meanwhile, are willing to eat a majority or the remaining portion of his contract (estimated $26 million), so says ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.
Interestingly enough, two of his former teams—the Rangers and Yankees—could be great fits, and he's not so bad in the outfield that National League teams will completely shy away from him. If the Cubs have to pick up the bill on his contract, however, the price could be high.
Prediction: Detroit Tigers
Left fielder Andy Dirks (.670 OPS) isn't having the best season, and while Soriano might balk at a trade that cuts into his playing time should the Tigers want him to platoon with Dirks, the 2013 Tigers might be his best chance at a World Series ring after 15 years in the league.
Outfield prospect Nick Castellanos could be closing in on the majors, but the Tigers might prefer to go with a veteran over a rookie down the stretch.