The race to the MLB trade deadline is underway.
July 31 looms large over all of the sporting world at this juncture, especially with free agencies in the NBA and NHL finally cooling off and the NFL still in the infancy of training camps.
Now is about the time when teams that finally, painfully, choose to be sellers rake in a ton of assets, much to the chagrin of the fanbase, which naturally wants to compete and keep major names.
It's also the time that contenders mortgage the future in the hopes of a World Series win, which is always a risky endeavor.
With the final week on approach, here is the latest on some of the big names.
Gordon Beckham is Now Open For Business
Guess who is back in the rumors once more?
Gordon Beckham, of course.
Fans will recall that the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays were flirting with the idea of doing a deal back in October, as noted by MLB.com's Scott Merkin and Gregor Chisholm:
There's a strong possibility that nothing short of an overwhelming offer would pry loose Beckham from the White Sox, as even in their current reshaping mode, the club hopes to contend in 2014. A trade involving Beckham could be revisited closer to the non-waiver Trade Deadline if the White Sox appear out of contention, with young players such as Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson rising quickly through the system at second base.
Well, here we are right before the deadline, and the White Sox are in fourth place in the AL Central at 47-52. True to the above, the White Sox have given the green light to move the 27-year-old slugger, per Fox Sports' Jon Morosi:
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
One can safely presume the Blue Jays would be interested yet again considering the need for hitting in the lineup. Beckham is solid in that regard this season, with seven homers and 28 RBI on a .232/.284/.369 slash line. Those numbers are well in tune with his averages in recent years:
It helps that Beckham is arbitration-eligible yet again and is due just $4.175 million this year, per Spotrac.
While Morosi does not mention any team outright, more than a few are sure to line up now that the White Sox have identified themselves as sellers and put a strong overall package like Beckham on the block.
A New Suitor Emerges for Marlon Byrd
He may be 36 years old, but Marlon Byrd continues to be one of the hottest names on the market, as right-handed power hitters who are on favorable contracts do not come around all that often.
With the Philadelphia Phillies floundering in the basement of the NL East, it was only right that Byrd—on a contract that pays him $8 million per season through 2016, per Spotrac—became one of the hottest names available.
As his numbers show, Byrd is in possession of one hot, rejuvenated bat:
Byrd is coveted by teams looking for a right-handed power bat. Seattle and Cincinnati fit that description. Byrd has a no-trade clause to Seattle so he’d likely want his $8 million option for 2016 guaranteed to go there. Byrd’s 2015 salary is already guaranteed at $8 million.
Cincinnati is not on Byrd’s no-trade list and the Reds do have interest in him. Sources say they also have interest in lefty reliever [Antonio] Bastardo. The Reds have scouted the Phillies recently.
Now, Salisbury has taken a peek into the mind of Byrd on this matter in the past, with the veteran saying, “I don’t want to get traded. I signed a two-year deal here for a reason. The thought process was to retire as a Phillie. At the same time, this is a business and I know how it works."
But even Byrd has to have an itch to get the heck out of dodge and spend his last few years with a competitive club. The Reds are in the hunt for the NL crown, even with a wealth of injuries decimating the lineup.
One way or another, it appears Byrd will wear a different uniform sooner rather than later. He's too hot of a commodity on too bad of a club to have it play out otherwise.
David Price Is Still Popular
By far the hottest starting pitcher on the market, and perhaps the top player on the market overall, David Price is going to reel in quite the prize for the Tampa Bay Rays—if the front office elects to let him go.
Considering the Rays are stuck in a rut at fourth in the AL East, it's not all that hard to see them becoming sellers at the deadline, especially when Price has a 3.06 ERA in 21 games and has struck out 173 batters while issuing just 21 free passes.
Even better, Price is only on the books for this season, at a lump sum of $14 million, per Spotrac.
Perhaps the most notable team to pursue Price about a week out from the deadline is the Seattle Mariners, as noted by Morosi:
Mariners are having ongoing trade discussions with Rays regarding David Price and Ben Zobrist, sources say. No deal imminent. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 17, 2014
ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) explains why the move is perfect for Seattle:
They haven't made the postseason in more than a decade, and their attendance has plummeted. If Seattle moves on Price, its rotation would be incredible with Price joining Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. The impact of the deal might turn out to mirror what happened in Milwaukee in 2008, after the Brewers traded for CC Sabathia and got into the postseason dance.
In theory, Seattle could certainly build an extremely scary lineup if Price somehow comes to town, but as Olney hints, the fact that the Rays have been on a hot streak as of late and have won the second-most games in the MLB this month is only driving the price higher.
The longer teams that want Price wait, the longer his price goes up if the Rays keep unexpectedly winning. It's an interesting scenario to keep an eye on and one that could eventually help Tampa Bay get rich in terms of farm talent—if the team trades him at all.