That sound you just heard was another daytime cricket chirping, as the 2013 MLB trade deadline continues barreling toward its 4 p.m. Eastern deadline without much movement.
The Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers made July's biggest moves thus far, acquiring starting pitchers Jake Peavy and Matt Garza, respectively. The two righties were viewed as the likeliest big names to be on the move this summer—the problem is their incumbent teams didn't wait to make a move.
Peavy's move to Boston Tuesday night has sparked a quiet Wednesday, with more players seemingly being pulled off the market than put on. The San Diego Padres acquired Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy this afternoon (per CBS Sports' Scott Miller), but the market has been stagnant elsewhere.
Dbacks will get LHP Joe Thatcher, AA RHP Matt Stites and another player from Padres for Ian Kennedy— Scott Miller (@ScottMCBS) July 31, 2013
This is partially an unintended consequence of MLB adding a fifth playoff team in each league. More teams than ever are within striking distance of that coveted second wild-card spot than ever. That theoretically should mean that there are more buyers—and there are.
It's just that no one is selling anything anyone wants. There have been big names bandied about on the market, but the market has come with a ton of smoke and little fire with barely over an hour to go before the cutoff date.
With that in mind, here is a quick look at some of the big names you've heard about who won't be going anywhere today.
No Deal for Phillies' Lee, Utley Getting an Extension?
Once the Peavy market shook out late Tuesday night, intense eyes shifted toward Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Easily the best pitcher available for a certain price, Lee's name was big enough to possibly shift the entire power of the pennant race.
The 34-year-old lefty is widely regarded as one of the NL's top hurlers, compiling a 10-4 record with a 3.04 ERA and 1.01 WHIP this season. Lee was a bastion of consistency as the team crumbled around him. The Phillies have lost eight of 10 games since the All-Star break, pushing them 11.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
When Lee was scratched from his latest start, the speculation he could be headed elsewhere hit an apex. Well, it seems that won't be the case. ESPN's Jim Bowden is citing sources close to the organization saying Lee will not be on the move before the 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline:
Cliff Lee is not getting traded today according to #source— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 31, 2013
What's more, Philly might even be looking to double-down on some of its veteran talent. In a subsequent ESPN report, the Phillies are said to be working on a long-term extension with second baseman Chase Utley. He is in the last year of his contract, and was right alongside Lee on the trade market over the last couple weeks.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman is reporting the deal would keep Utley in the City of Brotherly Love for the next two or three seasons, with an annual salary of about $13 million. The 34-year-old veteran is a homegrown talent who has spent his entire career with the franchise. He's hitting .277 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI thus far, a solid comeback season after two straight injury-plagued campaigns.
While one would have to run the cost-benefit analysis of keeping an aging second baseman with waning range into his late-30s, it seems the club is willing to view him as a Derek Jeter-like figure worth keeping around as a franchise ambassador and, in this day and age, that's at least worth commending a bit. Even though it'd probably be an overpay.
Orioles, Pirates Make Up Morneau Market? Could Situation Stretch Until August?
It seems the Minnesota Twins have run the cost-benefit analysis on Justin Morneau's franchise ambassador status. The result wasn't good for the 32-year-old first baseman's future in Minneapolis.
With the Twins sitting 14 games behind the surging Tigers in the AL Central, their exploration of the market for Morneau is pretty understandable. He's struggled mightily in July, his average plummeting from .291 on the month's opening day all the way down to .262. His power numbers have also waned in recent years, the 2006 AL MVP season seeming like eons ago.
Still, a 32-year-old expiring contract with Morneau's skill set is bound to draw some cursory interest—especially with the market for hitters looking barren. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and another mystery team have reached out to Minnesota recently, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
ESPN's Buster Olney followed up Heyman's report by ruling the Orioles out of the mix, citing Tim Kurkjian's television appearance where he said money made them balk:
The Orioles are not strong on Justin Morneau, reports @Kurkjian_ESPN; the money just doesn't match up for them.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 31, 2013
With the market moving fast, could Pittsburgh be Morneau's destination? Well, not so fast on that one either, folks. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted that the Pirates have players ahead of Morneau on their list of targets—though their interest is still there should those options fall through. Berardino also cites the Texas Rangers as another team that has only cursory interest in landing the Canadian first baseman.
That tepid market—related both to Morneau's performance and large contract for the rest of the season—has left it more likely than not that he'll stick in Minnesota through Wednesday's deadline. However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting the Twins think they can move him during August's waiver period:
The #Twins believe that Morneau would clear waivers in August and could be moved then— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 31, 2013
Teams are allowed to trade players past July 31, but they must first clear waivers first. A player like Morneau is more likely than not to clear waivers because of his hefty contract, and the possibility that Minnesota could just let him walk in return for that cash influx.
Either way, this is a situation worth monitoring not only in the coming hours but the coming weeks as well.
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