Luke Gregerson might be the top relief pitcher available with Jesse Crain unlikely to be traded due to a shoulder injury.
The MLB trade deadline is July 31, and as of Friday morning, there are still 22 teams within 10 games of a playoff spot. The teams that are not—the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins—are most likely to be "sellers" over the next six days.
The latest rumors, news and speculation are as follows:
Notable July Trades
-Cubs trade starting pitcher Scott Feldman and backup catcher Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Pedro Strop, starter Jake Arrieta and international bonus slots Nos. 3 and 4 (July 2).
-Marlins trade starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league pitchers Josh Wall, Steven Ames and Angel Sanchez (July 6).
-Cubs trade outfielder Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Ivan Pineyro (July 8).
-White Sox trade reliever Matt Thornton to the Boston Red Sox for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs (July 12).
-Cubs trade starting pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for minor league infielder Mike Olt, minor league pitcher C.J. Edwards and starter Justin Grimm, along with a player or two to be named later (July 22).
-Brewers trade relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league infielder Nick Delmonico (July 23).
Luke Gregerson Top Reliever Available?
With Jesse Crain very likely off the market due to a shoulder injury that will keep him out past the trade deadline, contending teams interested in acquiring bullpen help will have to shift their attention elsewhere if they hope to land a top setup man.
San Diego Padres relief pitcher Luke Gregerson is drawing a lot of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, while Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Detroit Tigers have continued interest in the right-hander. The Padres, however, are seeking young controllable starters in return, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock, making it hard to believe the Tigers will be a match considering how thin their farm system is.
Two seasons ago, the Padres traded away another top setup man, right-hander Mike Adams, who was still under control for another season as Gregerson is now. The return from the Texas Rangers was two very good pitching prospects in Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland.
ESPN's Jayson Stark is hearing from an executive that the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies are talking about a deal that would send Gregerson and an outfielder to Philadelphia. Ironically, the Phillies' need stems from the loss of Adams, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
Cubs closer Kevin Gregg and Astros closer Jose Veras are likely available, as is White Sox setup man Matt Lindstrom, and lefties Mike Gonzalez of the Brewers, James Russell of the Cubs and Wesley Wright of the Astros.
Latest on Peavy
After two solid starts (2-0, 13 IP, 6 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 10 K) since returning from the disabled list, Jake Peavy has most likely thrown his last pitch for the White Sox. Several teams have been scouting the 32-year-old right-hander, and according to Stark, scouts from the Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Dodgers, Reds, Cardinals and Rangers were on hand for his last start against the Tigers.
Unless the Kansas City Royals plan on trading Ervin Santana, Peavy is probably the best available starter on the trade market, and the price is expected to be high to acquire him. He's due $14.5 million in 2014 and will also have a $15 million player option for 2015 if he finishes next season healthy and can pitch at least 190 innings or total 400 innings between 2013 and 2014.
The team that appears in the best position to take on Peavy's salary and send a strong package of prospects back to Chicago is the Boston Red Sox. Scott Merkin of MLB.com writes that the two teams have discussed third baseman Will Middlebrooks, while Peter Gammons tweets that the White Sox would like to acquire pitching for Peavy.
Whether it's a major league-ready position player like Middlebrooks or a top pitching prospect like Anthony Ranaudo or Allen Webster, the Red Sox have the pieces to get a deal done with the White Sox.
Concern over Clay Buchholz's health could contribute to how aggressive Boston will be its pursuit. The 28-year-old is dealing with a shoulder injury that could keep him out at least another month.
The A's were reportedly involved in talks to acquire Matt Garza, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, and now Jon Heyman of CBS Sports thinks they are a dark-horse candidate for Peavy. Their rotation is already very good, but adding Peavy to a group that includes Bartolo Colon, Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone would put them in a much better position to hold off the Rangers down the stretch.
Seattle Mariners Looking to Buy?
Even though they're 7.5 games back in the wild-card race with four teams ahead of them, the Seattle Mariners don't appear to giving up just yet.
#Mariners had high-level scouts at Peavy start yesterday and Brewers-Padres all week, the sort of thing a "buyer" would be expeced to do.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 26, 2013
They've maintained their stance, despite very rough patches, that they plan to hold on to their veteran players and not become "sellers," according to Heyman. With several free agents-to-be who would have interest on the trade market, this appeared to be a very questionable decision.
But considering the way the team has played lately, winning nine out of their last 10 games, general manager Jack Zduriencik could reward his team by adding talent instead of trading it away. The offense appears to be clicking on all cylinders—leading the majors in runs in July—so any upgrades could be to the pitching staff.
The interest in Peavy could also indicate a preference to add another starting pitcher. Seattle could also be the lone team capable of making a hitter-for-pitcher trade with another contender.
The Yankees have been trying to trade Phil Hughes, and the M's could have an abundance of hitters with Michael Morse close to returning from the disabled list. Trading Kendrys Morales or Morse for Hughes could be an option.
Texas Rangers Offensive Upgrade Targets
The Rangers are interested in acquiring a right-handed hitter, specifically an outfielder, although they've also discussed the idea of bringing back Michael Young, according to Heyman. The 36-year-old, who was a seven-time All-Star with Texas, has a .748 OPS with the Phillies.
With designated hitter Lance Berkman not expected back anytime soon from a hip injury and reportedly contemplating retirement due to ongoing soreness in his surgically repaired knee, Young could be a fit as the regular designated hitter with occasional at-bats at first and third base.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports says the Rangers have high hopes in their quest to add a hitter, with Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion each on their wish list. That is highly unlikely, though I'm sure their feeling is that it doesn't hurt to ask repeatedly.
MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reported that the Rangers and White Sox have been in active discussion for Rios, who has a .759 OPS with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases.
The 32-year-old can also play all three outfield spots, which is important with center fielder Leonys Martin slumping, left fielder David Murphy having an overall mediocre season, and right fielder Nelson Cruz's alleged link to the Biogenesis investigation—which could draw a suspension.
Atlanta Braves Seeking Rotation Help After Tim Hudson's Season-Ending Injury
After losing veteran starter Tim Hudson for the season with a fractured ankle, the Braves could ramp up their pursuit of a starting pitcher. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports writes that the Braves were already looking around for starting pitching, but Hudson's injury could give them a sense of urgency to get something done before the trade deadline.
With Brandon Beachy due back from the disabled list next week and Paul Maholm set to return after missing time with a wrist contusion, the Braves likely have enough depth to continue fielding a solid rotation. But losing the 38-year-old Hudson takes away veteran leadership and experience that the remaining members of the rotation do not have.
Morosi tweeted that the Braves are one of the teams actively pursuing Astros starter Bud Norris, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes that the team is more focused on adding a front-line starter, such as Peavy or Santana.
Adding Peavy—who the team nearly acquired five years ago before he was eventually sent to the White Sox—or Santana would give the Braves a clear No. 1 starter with playoff experience in front of an impressive group of young pitchers that includes Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Kris Medlen.