A pitching arms race is taking the MLB by storm.
As the league careens toward the trade deadline at the end of July, contenders are wearing down the trade phones in search of help on the mound and pretenders are lining up like street vendors on a college campus.
Except it's never so simple once two sides go to make a transaction. This much we know by how long it took the Chicago Cubs to ship Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.
Another major deal may be in the works, although other names are very much on the block and stand a good chance of getting moved. That's all included in the latest below, right off the hot stove.
Billy Butler Has Suitors
Not many could have predicted that Billy Butler would be a hot commodity on the market even a month ago, but here we are.
According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the Seattle Mariners have interest in the Kansas City Royals slugger:
These sort of wacky things have a way of getting out when all the bigwigs get together for the All-Star Game. That said, the Mariners are clearly all too serious about upgrading with a righty in the batter's box.
Two seasons removed from an All-Star appearance, Butler's numbers have been anything but great since:
That's a scary downward trend for a 28-year-old hitter, but the caveat is that the Mariners would not have to give up much in return. He would be especially cheap in comparison to a guy like Marlon Byrd, another name the front office has serious interest in, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
Regardless, keep a close eye on the Mariners, if not Butler.
Bartolo Colon Does Not…For Now
The aforementioned arms race has yet to hit New York.
This, despite the fact the team has made it known that Bartolo Colon is very much on the trade block, according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Yet Mike Puma of the New York Post hears that it has been all quiet on that front so far:
Two things I was told today: Mets are still unsure if they will go after a bat, and teams haven't begun calling about Colon.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 15, 2014
Colon's play is certainly not the issue in any potential deal, although better pitchers are still on the market, so it seems a matter of time before the trade phones get kicked up a notch.
With a 3.99 ERA and an 8-8 record, the 41-year-old has fanned 89 batters and issued just 17 free passes. It's a bit of a late-career revival for the veteran, although there are issues.
Outside of the obvious, such as age, the main culprit likely stopping interest from gaining steam is his contract—Colon is due $9 million this season and $11 million next year, per Spotrac.
That's a huge investment for any team to inherit, especially when giving up extra assets just to bring him on board.
Really, the Mets' inability to move him might just be a blessing in disguise if he can keep his current form for another season—a rotation with him, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese sounds great on paper.
The Angels' Dangerous Game
Knowing full and well the first-place Athletics just upgraded in a major way with Samardzija and Hammel, the Los Angeles Angels appear to be of the mindset that they must match with a blockbuster move of their own to keep up in the AL West.
With that end goal in mind, the Angels seem to have narrowed in on the San Diego Padres and pitchers Huston Street and Ian Kennedy, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal illustrates:
The teams have discussed Street, but their talks have yet to include Kennedy, sources say. In addition, a package deal might be difficult to complete with the Padres controlling both Street and Kennedy through 2015.
The Padres likely will trade their potential free agents, third baseman Chase Headley and outfielder Chris Denorfia. They are taking offers for both Street and setup man Joaquin Benoit. But they are "lukewarm" on moving Kennedy, sources say.
At 41-54 at the break and in the midst of a transition in management, many view the Padres as sellers.
To that end, it makes sense the Angels would target them as partners. That goes twofold for the players themselves, though. Street is experienced at 30 years old and is an All-Star after registering 24 saves in 25 opportunities with a 1.09 ERA.
But it is Kennedy who would be the crown jewel of a potential transaction for the Angels, which is why the Padres are not all that hot on dealing him away. He has posted a 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 133 strikeouts to 34 walks in 20 starts this season. Recently, he has been nothing short of on fire, as Corey Brock of MLB.com notes:
Ian Kennedy will head to the All-Star break having allowed 2 ER over his last 3 combined starts -- 21 innings, 22 punch, 14 hits. #Padres— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) July 13, 2014
In fact, even his teammates understand that now might just be the time to trade away the man who has turned out to be the ace in town. As Chase Headley told MLB.com, via ESPN.com, "He looks back to the form I've seen in the past."
The Angels have a rare chance to actually counter what a rival did in a blockbuster move, but acquiring both or one of Street and Kennedy is going to be quite costly—as Rosenthal notes, their farm system ranked dead last in the most recent batch of rankings.
It's a dangerous tightrope for the Angels to walk, but one that, if played perfectly, would pay dividends now and well into the future.