MLB Rumors: Analyzing All the Latest Whispers, News and Speculation
Buckle up, baseball fans.
With the halfway mark of the 2014 season approaching, it's time for contenders to take the next step on the road to postseason contention. Over the next six weeks, the 2014 MLB All-Star Game will take center stage, followed by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Between now and then, the fate of October could be determined.
From legitimate news reports to unfounded speculation, it's imperative for fans to determine which rumors to grasp onto as the season careens into the second half.
As conjecture flies, Bleacher Report is here to unearth the best rumors, dissect the ramifications and bring perspective to the season thus far.
Here is what you need to know about the latest banter surrounding the game right now.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs and are accurate entering play on June 26. All contract figures are courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts at Baseball Prospectus, and roster projections are via MLB Depth Charts.
Phillies Could Aggressively Shop Cliff Lee
If Philadelphia Phillies starter Cliff Lee was 100 percent, it would be hard to imagine any contending team choosing a better mercenary to acquire this summer.
Over the course of a 13-year career, the former Indians, Mariners and Rangers star has earned a reputation as a postseason genius, backed by 89 strikeouts and a 2.52 ERA across 82 postseason innings, including 16 scoreless LCS innings.
Of course, Lee isn't healthy right now and hasn't been since an elbow injury landed him on the disabled list in May. For the Phillies, that is simply a detail for a potential fire sale of their aging, declining roster.
According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the Phillies expect Lee back in the rotation sometime close to the All-Star break and will shop him when he's back on the mound. Furthermore, the team is willing to eat much of the $50 million left on his deal over the next season-and-a-half.
While Lee has been very durable in his career, three to four July starts may not be enough to convince contending teams to surrender top-tier prospects for his services. Yet, if he's healthy, no starter on the market can match his combination of talent and October success.
Rays Ready to Move David Price
On Wednesday afternoon, Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Across 8.1 innings, the former Cy Young winner struck out 11 and walked just one, making his ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratio 144/14 on the season.
Despite that excellence and a contract that keeps Price under team control through the end of the 2015 season, the Rays are willing to move the 28-year-old immediately, per Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required).
When dissecting the potential ramifications of a Price deal, dismiss his 6-7 record and 3.63 ERA. Both of those numbers are worth consideration, but the SO/BB ratio and his 2.99 FIP (fielding independent pitching) are far more predictive when determining what Price could do for a team in the pennant race.
Considering Price's season-long dominance, the thought of him matching the post-trade efforts of CC Sabathia (11-2, 1.65 ERA) for the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers or Randy Johnson (10-1, 1.28 ERA) for the 1998 Houston Astros isn't crazy.
Rangers Willing to Move Veterans
Terms like "bad luck" or "snakebitten" aren't strong enough to describe the almost unimaginably difficult season endured by the 2014 Texas Rangers.
After signing Shin-Soo Choo and trading for Prince Fielder, the perennial AL West contenders were expected to compete for a division title. With a slew of injuries—including season-ending surgery for Fielder—Texas has lost seven consecutive games and owns just a 2.6 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason, per ESPN.
Thus, it's time for the Rangers to sell.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Rangers will listen to offers for veterans not named Yu Darvish or Adrian Beltre—two franchise cornerstones for 2015 and beyond.
That leaves shortstop Elvis Andrus, outfielder Alex Rios and reliever Joakim Soria as potential targets for contenders. In particular, Andrus could be a major contender for a swap, according to one rival GM: "I think Andrus might make more sense than people realize (as a trade piece)."
Giants Thinking About Future Payroll Concerns
When looking at the current standings, it's easy to see why the San Francisco Giants would be portrayed as buyers in the upcoming trade market. The NL West leaders own the best run differential in the National League and lead the Dodgers by three games.
If the Giants want to capture the division title and avoid a potential one-game playoff to make the postseason, reinforcements are likely going to be needed.
Over the next six weeks, general manager Brian Sabean will likely upgrade a very good roster, but the reinforcements may not be players vying for new $100-million deals.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, it would be hard for the Giants to justify signing available starters like David Price or Jeff Samardzija due to payroll concerns moving forward.
Prior to the start of the 2016 season, the Giants must make long-term decisions on Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Sergio Romo and Mike Morse, potentially limiting their ability to re-sign another star to a lucrative, long-term deal.
Rockies May Dangle Veteran Pitchers
Entering the month of June, the Colorado Rockies owned a 28-27 record and had the second-best run differential (plus-30) in the National League. Led by MVP favorite Troy Tulowitzki, there was ample reason to be excited about a potential bounce-back year for the nondescript franchise.
Since then, the Rockies have lost 16 of 23 games and been outscored by 43 runs. As Colorado's 2014 season is spiraling out of control, it's fair to wonder when—or if—the Rockies will sell off veteran pieces at the deadline.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, selling is a reality for the Rockies—but not when it comes to big offensive names like Tulowitzki or injured stars like Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer or Nolan Arenado.
Instead, the Rockies could gauge interest for veteran arms like starter Jorge de la Rosa and relievers Rex Brothers and LaTroy Hawkins. In particular, de la Rosa's availability could interest contenders in need of rotation help.
The 33-year-old lefty owns a 54 percent ground ball rate this season—a number that could lead to success away from Coors Field.
Which rumor are you most interested in?