Once the MLB All-Star Game and break comes and goes, well, you can bet the trade market is going to heat up more than the New York City blacktop on a July afternoon. If anything, the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics was an indication of a big summer of wheeling and dealing to come.
And yes, the whispers are already starting. Below, you'll find three juicy rumors to whet your appetite until the main course arrives.
Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox
Will Middlebrooks just can't seem to put it all together. Before going down with a broken finger, the 25-year-old was hitting .197 with two home runs and nine RBI in 21 games this season. There's potential for far more, of course, but he hasn't lived up to expectations just yet.
Still, there's been buzz around the third baseman, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
The Red Sox have been receiving decent trade interest in recent days in third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who's on injury rehab following his slow start in Boston. But while he looks like a logical trade candidate who may benefit from a change of scenery, Red Sox people are said to seem quite reluctant to deal Middlebrooks.
There could be two reasons for this. The first one is fairly obvious. Middlebrooks, only 25, has big power and it isn't easy to come by power bats in baseball these days.
The other possible reason involves a bit more supposition. Middlebrooks, if he can show something in the second half, could be seen as a possible piece in case Boston tries to make a run at Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton.
At some point, somebody is going to rescue Stanton from the Miami Marlins, so if the Red Sox indeed harbor secret hopes of being the team to do so, keeping hold of Middlebrooks as a potential trade chip in that deal makes perfect sense.
Or maybe they just aren't ready to let him go. Or maybe they're trying to inflate his value by projecting a reluctance to move him. Or maybe...
...We'll just have to wait to see what happens, because who knows what they're actually thinking?
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Once again, David Price finds himself as the subject of trade rumors. And once again, it appears the Tampa Bay Rays could end up holding on to him for one reason or another.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has more:
If the Rays trade David Price, which remains likely, they are open to trading him within the AL East.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 6, 2014
One exec observed there aren't many premium prospects (eg Addison Russell) in "buyer" farm systems; so, few teams have pieces to get Price.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 6, 2014
And Buster Olney of ESPN says the team is playing the waiting game as it decides whether or not it can make a run at the postseason this year:
Rays will wait until the AS break to assess their situation in standings, re: David Price. If Price traded, I'd bet Zobrist will be, too.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 7, 2014
At 41-50 and 8.5 games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, the Rays don't exactly seem likely to reach the postseason at this juncture. Then again, the Rays have a way of becoming very hard to beat in August and September every year. And don't look now, but they did just go 9-2 on a road trip and are 17-8 in their last 25.
Price himself thinks the Rays have figured it out, as he told Mike Bauman of MLB.com:
Obviously, we expected to play better baseball at the beginning of the year. We expected to play up to this caliber. This is the type of baseball we expected to play. I don't know if anybody expected us to hit it the way we are now. We base ourselves off pitching and defense, and we've definitely improved in both of those aspects. We'll take whatever our hitters give us.
In many ways, the Price situation is a no-lose situation for the Rays. If they think they can get back in the race, they'll be keeping a player who is currently 8-7 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 159 strikeouts. If they deal him, they're going to add some very nice chips in the farm system, the bread and butter of the team's organizational structure.
At the moment, it looks like the Rays' recent play and the fact that they may not get the huge package they would want in exchange for Price means he's likely to remain in Tampa Bay—just like every other time his name has popped up in rumors.
Jake Peavy, Boston Red Sox
Things have not gone well for Jake Peavy this year. The Boston Red Sox hurler is 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 110.2 innings pitched. Those numbers aren't exactly screaming "come trade for me" to other teams, but according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Sox might have some suitors anyway:
According to a major league source, a few teams in the NL would have interest in Peavy if the Sox would provide some salary relief for the prorated portion of the $16 million he’s owed this season. Peavy can be a free agent after the season. “No team is going to give up a lot for him, but if the Red Sox want to move him to make room for a youngster like [Rubby] De La Rosa, they could do that,” said the source. It seems the Red Sox will hold on to Peavy, who pitched better in his last outing in front of a lot of scouts.
If the Sox are going to hold on to Peavy, it's likely at least in part because they would be selling him for 20 cents on the dollar at this point. The hope will be that after recording four quality starts in his last five appearances, he's turning a corner.
Other teams might be convinced of that as well, but it sounds like they'll still want a discount in any deal with Peavy. That leaves the Red Sox negotiating from a place of weakness, so Peavy remains likely to stick around in Beantown.