With a mere nine days remaining until the MLB trade deadline on July 31, rumors are swirling around multiple contenders and pretenders around the league.
A few surprise teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are well outside of the mix and looking to move veteran players. Then there are franchises looking to make the postseason this year hoping to add those valuable assets.
As several division races heat up, the time is now for teams to make a move that can help them. Teams like the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates are on the outside looking in with a chance to contend.
Here's a look at the latest rumors surrounding some of the biggest trade prospects in the MLB.
Winning Affecting Possible David Price Move for Rays
For a team like the Rays, this has been a disappointing season thus far. But with a five-game winning streak, all seems back to normal in Tampa Bay, right? Wrong.
Two straight series wins over the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins before and after the All-Star break would appear to be a great sign for the Rays. Unfortunately, all it has done is complicate matters for the franchise and David Price, in particular.
Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required) provides the latest on rumors about the starting pitcher:
The Rays will factor many things into their decision as to whether to trade Price, including their place in the standings, how well they are playing, their need for prospects and Price's trade value, which gradually slides downward as he nears free agency. But one executive involved in the conversations with Tampa Bay believes that, ultimately, it's the potential buyers that will clarify the choice for the Rays with the quality of their offers.
Will he stay or will he go? That's the question Tampa Bay must answer before July 31 while they also look to climb back into the AL East race.
Currently fourth in the division at 47-53, the Rays still have a shot to overtake every other team in the East. The Baltimore Orioles currently hold the lead but are without injured Matt Wieters, and the New York Yankees have question marks with Masahiro Tanaka.
Basically, what the decision will come down to now is simply how aggressive teams are in trying to acquire Price. The former Cy Young winner has been nearly flawless during July, pitching 31.2 innings over four starts while allowing just three earned runs, including his last two scoreless starts.
Making a swap for Price won't be easy, and it clearly won't be a given anymore with the Rays winning again. With Wil Myers reporting progress with his wrist injury and Chris Archer pitching well in three of his last four starts, the Rays have youth to get back into the chase.
Whether or not Price will be a part of that climb will be decided by July 31.
Alex Rios Among Potential Targets for Royals
He might not be showing the same power from years prior, but Alex Rios has still been a consistent force at the plate this season.
Unfortunately, his offensive prowess has been on the Texas Rangers, a team that was 3-14 during the month of July. That makes them dealers on the trade market and fifth in the AL West.
For the Kansas City Royals, the team is trying to make a push for their first postseason berth since winning the World Series in 1985. With a slumping offense, the Royals apparently have interest in Rios, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
The Royals are looking for corner bats as they try to fix their offensive woes and get back into the AL Central race, and Rangers right fielder Alex Rios is one player they've considered.
Kansas City is 14th in the AL with a .687 OPS and 12th with 388 runs, so it understands it needs some help.
Heyman goes on to say that the Royals are also interested in other options like Marlon Byrd and Domonic Brown, but Rios is a clear option for the team. With his consistency at the plate, the Rangers slugger might just be what Kansas City needs in the lineup.
Looking for their first playoff berth in nearly 20 years, the Royals will still have to overtake both the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. Following a sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City might be another fringe team like the Rays when the deadline comes.
A.J. Burnett Drawing Interest from Pirates
On the heels of a three-game winning streak, the Pirates are right back in the thick of the NL Central race. If they plan on overtaking both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals along with holding off the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh will need help in the starting rotation.
Help might just be on the way in the form of a familiar face, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports:
A.J. Burnett holds no grudge against Pirates for not getting the start in NLDS Game 5 last year; sides parted on good terms.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 21, 2014
During his two seasons with the Pirates, Burnett finished with a 26-21 record and never saw his ERA rise above 3.51 either year. He also collected over 180 strikeouts both seasons as he returned to form after three down seasons with the Yankees.
If the Pirates truly do have interest, it could wind up being huge for both sides. Burnett is currently on a Philadelphia Phillies team that is nowhere near a playoff spot and Pittsburgh needs help to get there.
While several other teams might be looking to add Burnett, the familiarity of Pittsburgh might be just what both sides need.
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