The MLB All-Star break came and went, and now the 30 major league franchises have no choice but to stare down the rest of the season and decide whether they are in the buyers or sellers camp in 2014.
July 31 is the trade deadline, and teams would be loathe to linger on the deals that can either set them up for future success or bring in the high-caliber talent that will put them over the top in their respective divisions.
Pitching, as always, it as a premium this late in the season. Let's check out the buzz on some of the better pitchers who could be on the move this month.
Rays Continue to Engage in David Price Trade Talks
Let's start off with David Price, the man who's seemingly led the charge when it comes to midseason trade rumors in the major leagues. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Seattle Mariners may be looking to deal a few high-profile prospects to secure Price and/or Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays:
The Rays are said to have talked to the Mariners about pitching prospect Taijuan Walkerplus two or three other top young players in talks involving pitcher David Price, league sources said. Talks are ongoing and fluid, and deals being discussed could include just Price from Tampa Bay, Price plus Ben Zobrist or Zobrist alone.
Price is 9-7 on the year with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, per Baseball-Reference.com. The Rays are 44-53 on the season and operate on a very limited budget. To his credit, Price has been very understanding about all the talk surrounding his situation with the team.
"Since 2012, (the Rays and I) both understood that for Tampa to continue the kind of success we've had over the past five or six years, this is the way they operate. I would love to stay there and for us to continue to be successful. But I don't know if that's a possibility," he said, via ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
The Mariners have a wealth of prospects to offer. Taijuan Walker is a tall, right-handed pitcher with a bright future ahead of him. The 21-year-old has thrown just 10 innings so far this year with the big club, giving up seven hits and four earned runs while striking out nine. He would be a tantalizing replacement for Price, especially if the Rays are looking for like-for-like players from other teams.
Developing young players is a hallmark of the Rays' recent success, and this could be a trade that is too good for the team to pass up, as it looks to move one expensive player for several cost-effective building blocks.
Phillies Would Rather Move Lee Over Hamels
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Philadelphia Phillies would be more inclined to trade starting pitcher Cliff Lee than Cole Hamels this season.
The Phillies are dead last in the NL East and could be looking to bolster their farm system, which was ranked 25th by Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks in February 2014.
As Heyman writes, both pitchers have no-trade clauses, and Hamels is more likely to use his in a possible trade:
Both Lee and Hamels have no-trades with at least 20 teams on them, but people around the team suggest Hamels is more likely to invoke his, as he wants to remain in Philly. Lee, like closer Jonathan Papelbon, would likely choosing winning over city, they say.
If the Phillies are willing to sell a top-of-the-line starter to revamp the organization, they would almost certainly get more for Hamels than Lee.
Both pitchers are left-handed, always a plus, but Hamels is having the better season and is five years younger than Lee.
Lee is currently on the disabled list and is 4-4 on the year with a 3.18 ERA. At 35 years old, franchises around the league may not be looking to get much more out of him than a solid performance down the stretch run this season. Hamels, sporting a 3-5 record and a 2.93 ERA, would be a blockbuster move that could land the Phillies a wealth of excellent prospects.
Tigers Are Looking at Joakim Soria
The Detroit Tigers are looking for a reliever to bolster the bullpen for the second half of the season. According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, they have their eyes on Texas Rangers reliever Joakim Soria:
The Rangers are in an interesting position. They've won at least 90 games over the past four seasons, but injuries to the likes of Prince Fielder and inconsistent performances have them in last place in the AL West this season.
They may not be quite ready to start giving up solid veterans in the hopes of turning their play around over the next couple of seasons.
The right-handed Soria boasts a 2.60 ERA with 16 saves and 40 strikeouts in 30.1 innings pitched this season. He could fill the role of set-up man for the Tigers or perhaps supplant closer Joe Nathan, who has five blown saves and a 5.61 ERA on the year.
Soria is used to taking on the closer role, as his 176 career saves will attest to, so he may not be best suited for a typical reliever role where he is called upon to eat innings. The Tigers will likely have to give up players or prospects that the Rangers believe will set them up for a bounce-back season in 2015.