It makes for a strange rumor mill when the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox have a ton in common.
Both franchises are floundering around near the bottom of their respective divisions and are very much sellers at this point with the trade deadline approaching at the end of July.
But the dawn of the annual Midsummer Classic equates to funny season, so this is to be expected. There are also contenders on the market looking to add that proverbial missing piece or simply on the hunt to replace an injured star so that they can, at the very least, tread water after the break.
With so many nuggets of info being tossed around at once, let's take a moment to set things straight by breaking down three of the hottest new items.
Little Interest in Daniel Murphy?
With the Mets bumbling around at 43-50 and in fourth place in the NL East, the franchise is an obvious seller with the faint hopes of bringing on assets to build for the future.
There is just one problem with this strategy—the Mets have just one star player, and there has been little in the way of interest in his services, as explained by Mike Puma of The New York Post:
Mets haven't gotten any calls recently asking about Murphy. A club official said it's been quiet on all fronts regarding possible trades.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 11, 2014
To be completely fair to 29-year-old Daniel Murphy, who is on his way to the All-Star Game, it has been quite a strong season despite the rest of the team around him wasting away. Given his pace at the moment, he'll be able to finish with numbers greater than or in the neighborhood of his stats from last few seasons:
Apparently, this is not enough to garner serious interest on the market nor is the fact Murphy is so productive at the plate that he is near the league lead in hits overall.
Trade rumors are something that have chased Murphy all season, so the fact that the meeting with general manager Sandy Alderson to reveal his All-Star selection had him holding his breath should be no surprise, as captured by Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com:
"It was great. He was surprised," Alderson said today after a military appreciation event at the VA St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens. "I think when he came in he thought he might have been traded.”
With the way things sound at the moment, he's not going anywhere. That can change as the deadline nears, so keep an ear to the ground.
Cardinals Have Options without Yadier Molina
With the race to the top of the NL Central becoming only more heated as the season progresses, the St. Louis Cardinals can ill afford to lose a key cog in the machine.
Well, that has happened thanks to a thumb injury to Yadier Molina, which might cost him the rest of the season, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Forget Molina's contributions at the plate—his real weight in gold is worth much more behind it, as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick details:
As the Elias Sports Bureau notes, the Cardinals have a staff ERA of 3.53 with Molina and 3.81 without him over the past five seasons. They've erased 40.9 percent of opposing base stealers during that time frame, compared to 31.9 percent with all their non-Molina catchers.
"It's the equivalent of losing Adam Wainwright," said an American League scout. "Yadi is one guy in the lineup, but this affects 12 guys on the pitching staff. Tony Cruz is a great backup and I guarantee you he's learned a ton from Yadi just by osmosis. But there's no way he can replace Yadi offensively, and Yadi is by far the best defensive catcher in all of baseball. It's going to be a challenge."
Who is one person in the MLB who is arguably as good at the plate and might just be available?
His brother, of course.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Tampa Bay is willing to listen to offers for Jose Molina:
It'll be interesting to see if the Cardinals consider another Molina -- Jose -- as they search for an alternative to Yadier. TB will listen.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 11, 2014
A few things. Jose has a .189/.225/.196 slash line at the moment with three RBI. He's also 39 years old and due $2.75 million next season, per Spotrac.
But he also happens to be renowned around the league for his ability to frame pitches, and as Grantland's Ben Lindbergh breaks down, it makes quite the difference:
Fast found that Molina, the best receiver, was worth 35 runs above average per 120 games, and Doumit, the worst, was worth 26 runs below average...Molina has saved his teams 111 runs — or, using the standard 10-runs-to-a-win conversion, about 11 wins — because of framing from 2008 to 2013.
Can the Cardinals, at this stage of the game with a deep playoff push potentially in the cards, put a price tag on production like that? Sure, Jose is a career backup, but the Cardinals can rotate him with Tony Cruz and at the very least give themselves a fighting chance without Yadier.
The question is, how much will it cost?
Red Sox Update Selling Block
In a perfect world, the Red Sox would find a trade partner for Stephen Drew as they rebuild and prepare for next season.
But in that perfect world, Boston would not be in this situation to begin with.
Drew has just 12 hits, five RBI and two home runs in 89 at-bats to go with a .135/.198/.258 slash line since re-signing with the team in May. Now, the Red Sox would like to move on, but Drew will have to up his play in the batter's box first, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:
3 things learned: Red Sox would prefer to keep Bogearts at 3rd. They also want to keep Uehara for next season. Can deal Drew if he hits.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) July 11, 2014
Drew recently explained his troubles to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald:
There’s no regrets,” Drew said. It’s something that, we’ve got to look at that (free agent compensation) rule that kind of hurt some players and myself. It’s difficult to come up here and these guys have three months on you until the season’s over all the time. Not making excuses. It’s just, I’ve had great at-bats and some sucky ones. It’s definitely frustrating not hitting like I know I’m capable of.
As Lauber notes, a trade might just be what Drew needs to rehab his image before hitting the open market this offseason. Helping a team to the playoffs does much in the way of stock rehabilitation.
On the flip side, the Red Sox would love to get something, if anything, out of him before the season concludes. That includes at the plate and on the market, although those things must come hand in hand at this point.