It’s an annual rite of passage for every single MLB season—July rolls around and the contenders and pretenders start to talk shop.
After all, those who see a chance at the World Series will typically give up young talent for established veterans, and the struggling clubs are more than happy to look toward the future with prospects. The trade between the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics that involved Jeff Samardzija was a perfect prototype for that exact situation.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest rumors as the trade deadline gradually approaches.
Chicago White Sox
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports filled fans in on some of the latest Chicago White Sox rumors:
Sources: White Sox are willing to move Gordon Beckham in the right deal now, but Jose Quintana remains unavailable. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
The White Sox have struggled to stay near .500 all season, and they were on the wrong side of that line Monday.
The argument could be made that they are still in the American League Central race because they are less than nine games back, but given their inconsistency and the fact that the Detroit Tigers are in first place without a vintage season from ace Justin Verlander, it’s probably safe to say Chicago won’t be playing in October.
That’s why it makes some sense that Chicago is shopping Gordon Beckham. He isn’t that young anymore at 27, and he’s not exactly tearing up the league offensively at .244 with seven home runs and 24 RBI. If it can get anything in return in terms of young talent, Chicago has to jump on that.
It’s also smart for the White Sox to hang onto Jose Quintana.
He is only 25 years old and has a bright future ahead of him. He is pitching well this season and just shut out the Seattle Mariners in 7.2 innings in his last start. What’s more, young left-handed pitching is just so valuable in the league that even teams who are not in the race would be wise to hold onto it because it could help in future playoff pushes.
Aaron Hill and James Russell
The MLB Network's Peter Gammons provided the latest on Aaron Hill and James Russell:
Two trade names heard very often this weekend:Aaron Hill, James Russell— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 7, 2014
This is a classic case of sellers looking to ship off veteran talent at the deadline. The Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t going anywhere this year as bottom-dwellers in their respective divisions and have an eye toward the future.
Hill is struggling a bit at the plate this year with an average south of .240 and six home runs. Perhaps a change of scenery could pay dividends for the career .271 hitter, who has always provided solid defense.
As for Russell, the southpaw seems to be the next domino in the Cubs’ fire sale.
They are clearly building for the future and loading up on prospects, and Russell could give a contender some much-needed help as a lefty specialist near the backend of the bullpen. Cubs team president Theo Epstein discussed the number of young prospects he has in the system because of moves that involved players like Russell, via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times:
We’re not smart enough to know how all the pieces fit together, but it’s easy to be excited about a lot of the different permutations. I think we have a chance to have really good homegrown solutions at a lot of positions.
Of course, if teams want to talk to us about trades at some point, we have a nice inventory to discuss.
If Russell could net the Cubs some more prospects, Epstein and company will not hesitate to move him.
Morosi noted that a trade could be in the works between the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres:
Talks between Padres, Blue Jays on Chase Headley remain ongoing, source says. Toronto's need increased in light of Encarnacion injury.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
The Blue Jays likely see a golden opportunity to seize a division title this year because the typically dominant Yankees and Red Sox are struggling, but the Edwin Encarnacion injury is major setback. They could really use another bat in the lineup while he is on the disabled list.
Who wins the AL East?
Chase Headley has underperformed this season at the dish with a .229 average, six home runs and 27 RBI, but he would give Toronto a short-term fill-in who has a history of producing.
Headley is not that far removed from 2012, when he was one of the best hitters in all of baseball and slugged 31 home runs and drove in 115 RBI as a force in the middle of the Padres lineup.
If Toronto could get even half of that while Encarnacion is out, it could make a charge at the Baltimore Orioles.
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