The 2014 MLB non-waiver trade deadline looms on July 31. As teams gear up for the final stretch of the regular season, the All-Star break is approaching, so trades—or at least rumors about them—are even more likely to transpire.
Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leads the MLB in batting average but is languishing on a team that isn't in contention for the playoffs. It appears that he could be landing elsewhere before the season ends, based on the recent buzz.
A tumultuous season has Boston Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy reportedly on the block, and a move to another club would mark his third since 2012. While the struggling Peavy could benefit from a different atmosphere, a formidable setup man in Joaquin Benoit is also rumored to be highly coveted.
Below is an overview of the latest updates, analysis and developments on these latest sources of MLB trade chatter.
Troy Tulowitzki Disgruntled in Denver?
There is no doubting Tulowitzki's talent or his popularity, evident in his leading the National League All-Star voting. Thus, it makes sense that he'd want to go someplace where winning a World Series is more realistic.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that a trade is unlikely before July 31, meaning Tulowitzki will be stuck at Coors Field through the 2014 campaign. However, one of Tulowitzki's friends painted quite the picture.
"I think the guy is going to lose his mind," said the friend, as per Rosenthal, who also noted that Tulowitzki is attracted to the idea of remaining loyal to the Rockies—provided they can win more consistently.
That's far easier said than done given the current foundation in Colorado. Although the offense is a well-oiled machine, the Rockies don't have the pitching to complement it, ranking dead last in team ERA and near the bottom of baseball in quality starts and WHIP.
Tulowitzki recently spoke out about his competitive desire, as per The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla:
...I want to be somewhere where there's a chance to be in the playoffs every single year. [...] What people need to understand about me is: Winning's my main priority. I've been around the game a little bit now, and I understand those years where we did win, how much more fun I had. And then there are years such as this.
Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post provided some pertinent analysis regarding Tulowitzki's plight in Denver:
The Rockies aren't good, and last night was one game. But you get the feeling Troy Tulowitzki is the best player on the field most nights.— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) July 3, 2014
Quality pitching, particularly from the starting rotation, is pivotal to playoff success. The Rockies can hit all they want, but if Tulowitzki and Co. cannot keep opponents off the scoreboard, they'll continue to sit in the NL West division cellar.
It doesn't appear to be a question of whether Tulowitzki will leave town, barring a drastic enhancement to the pitching staff.
If Colorado can cash in on some premium pitching assets by dealing Tulowitzki, there may be a win-win situation in executing the trade. That's because the Rockies lineup would likely be explosive even without Tulowitzki in the fold.
St. Louis Cardinals Chasing Jake Peavy?
The Red Sox acquired Peavy during last year's trade deadline to bolster their rotation in time for the 2013 postseason.
While Peavy went 4-1 as a starter in the regular season, he struggled at times on the bigger stage, seeing his ERA balloon to 7.11 in the playoffs. Boston still won the World Series, yet are now in last in the American League East.
Things haven't gone swimmingly to say the least in 2014, as Peavy has posted a record of 1-7. It's hard to believe anyone would be interested in picking up the fading 33-year-old, whose best pitching appears to be behind him.
Don't tell that to the St. Louis Cardinals. According to ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes, St. Louis is keen on swapping for Peavy, and ESPN's Jayson Stark confirmed that:
Cardinals parachuted in yesterday to scout Peavy. Remember they had a lot of interest in him at deadline last season— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 7, 2014
CBS Sports insider Jon Heyman believes Peavy is a logical fit for the Cardinals:
nl/st louis would make sense for jake peavy. boston is talking peavy & other things w/many teams. no sign it's imminent tho— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 8, 2014
It's hard to say how much Peavy has left in the tank, but this highlights how thin St. Louis is in the starting rotation. Although Peavy's experience is among the best the Cardinals should be able to find, he won't be more than a short-term solution for ailing usual starters Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha.
While Wacha is still trying to be cleared to throw, Garcia is going to be out for the rest of the season and will undergo shoulder surgery, per MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch:
Jaime Garcia to undergo thoracic outlet syndrome surgery on Friday. #stlcards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) July 8, 2014
Jaime Garcia is having season-ending surgery on Friday, but he believes he'll be back as a contributor in 2015: http://t.co/o90ePIWtTS— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) July 9, 2014
This interest in Peavy intersects at the appropriate time in light of the ominous news regarding Garcia. For the Cardinals to truly compete for the NL Central crown with the Milwaukee Brewers, they will need far better run production, since they rank 28th in that category at the moment.
St. Louis deserves credit just to be in the playoff hunt at this point after the rash of injuries to its staff and poor run support. Continued sensational work from their bullpen and hotter bats will be necessary for the Cardinals to imitate last year's success.
Detroit Tigers Exploring Reunion With Joaquin Benoit
To cut back to the NL West for a moment, San Diego is pretty much in the complete inverse situation as Colorado: nonexistent hitting to go with stupendous overall pitching. A fascinating dichotomy, to be sure.
Benoit has been a critical component of keeping the Padres close in many games, but contenders will no doubt be in the market for middle relievers. The Tigers are apparently one team that's expressed a desire to bring Benoit into the fold already, as per Fox Sports 1's Jon Morosi:
Tigers interested in bringing Joaquin Benoit back via trade with Padres, sources say; 0.701 WHIP, 1.26 ERA this year.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 5, 2014
Of note, Tigers and Joaquin Benoit parted on good terms after last season; would make for a comfortable trade if Padres decide on that.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes how San Diego is somewhat reluctant to part ways with Benoit, despite its obvious need for a bat or two:
#Padres said to have put a very high asking price on Joaquin Benoit, Huston Street. Makes sense, given relative scarcity of sellers for now.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) July 7, 2014
But a 0.68 WHIP and 1.23 ERA should attract more than just Detroit to obtain Benoit's services. His previous three MLB seasons were spent with the Tigers, where he developed into a closer in 2013 but then couldn't find his groove in the playoffs, posting a 6.35 ERA.
Which team has the best chance to turn it around and make the 2014 MLB playoffs?
Holding out in the name of greed may not be good for the Padres, which are running out of time to pick up some desperately needed offensive firepower. In order for Benoit's stellar middle-to-late-inning work to mean anything, they must light up the scoreboard more.
Since the Tigers are among the MLB leaders in batting average and slugging percentage, it is feasible that San Diego could turn up someone solid for Benoit in a prospective trade. One point of possible friction is the Padres' vision for the club's future, which may not be unified just yet in the wake of general manager Josh Byrnes' firing June 22.
The bottom line with these three trade rumors is that the Rockies, the Red Sox and the Padres are all in turmoil and all hold enviable assets. All of them can be shipped away, without sacrificing too much from their current strengths. While it's a far bigger decision to make in the case of Tulowitzki, the nonfranchise cornerstones in Peavy and Benoit are definitely movable. Peavy may not even help the Cardinals, but it would almost benefit the Red Sox to rid themselves of him at this point.
Unless the Rockies can really sell Tulowitzki on their plan—if there is one—to be a surefire championship contender for years to come, though, it may come to a divorce. It's up to Tulowitzki to walk the fine line of continuing to play excellently, attempting to rally his teammates and doing what's best for his future.
Whatever happens in these situations, they will certainly be intriguing ones to monitor as the deadline gets closer for distinct but all-important reasons.