The New York Yankees have a bit of a problem.
So do the rest of the teams on the market, but the Yankees are perhaps the most notable thanks to the club's ability to remain relevant in the face of adversity.
As is the case with most of the teams looking to upgrade on the mound through free agency in the hopes of chasing a World Series, the Yankees don't have a ton of cost-effective options—especially with Cliff Lee's recent return to the mound being nothing short of a disaster.
Pitchers and the Yankees are the highlight, but there's plenty of rumbling from around the league. Here is a sampling of the most notable nuggets with the deadline at the end of the month on the horizon.
Tommy Milone's Demands
By no means a household name, Tommy Milone is set to light the trade market on fire.
Milone is 27 years of age and a four-year pro who, for all intents and purposes, has been rather effective in that timespan:
The problem is, Milone has been placed on the back-burner by the Oakland Athletics after the front office swung a trade with Chicago for both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, this has resulted in a trade request:
Left-hander Tommy Milone has asked the club to trade him, major-league sources tell FOX Sports. The Athletics have received trade inquiries on Milone, but the team is not eager to move him, knowing he might be needed due to injury or ineffectiveness, sources say.
Milone, 27, would have become eligible for arbitration this offseason if he had remained in the majors all season. But his time in the minors could delay his eligibility for at least one year.
It's easy to see why Milone may be frustrated with his current situation, especially since he has now been demoted three times in the past year. He had seemed to turn a corner and tallied six wins and a 2.55 ERA in his prior 11 starts before the club made the blockbuster deal and subsequently sent him packing.
While near impossible to tell what it would take to make a deal come to fruition, one thing is certain—it's hard to blame Milone for feeling as if he does not belong in the minors. Expect plenty of interest in the coming week if other clubs even think that he's available.
Alex Rios, the Newcomer to the Block
A reunion might just be in the works between the Toronto Blue Jays and Alex Rios.
Unless Kansas City has something to say about it.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays want to bring back the slugger they shipped away to Chicago in 2009. At 33 years old, Rios is one of the best overall bats on the market, although Heyman writes that "A friend of Rios said the trade rumors have bothered him, perhaps accounting for a drop in production this summer. He was at a high of .335 on June 9 and 10."
Coming equipped with a contract that pays him $12 million this year and a $13.5 million option with a $1 million buyout next year, per Spotrac, one can glean from his numbers that Rios was bound to be a hot commodity:
But the Blue Jays are not alone in their pursuit, as Heyman also notes that the Royals would love to grab Rios in order to get back in the AL Central running.
One would think that the Texas Rangers would have few qualms about giving up Rios in a deal, especially with them sitting alone in the cellar of the AL West, but Heyman hears the front office would pick up his option for next season.
Kansas City presumably needs a hitter like Rios the most considering it ranks No. 23 in the league in terms of scoring, but the cost will be steep for both teams, especially when the fact a bidding war between the two teams—or more—can drive the price higher.
Yankees' Pitching Search
It seems inevitable, no?
The Yankees and Lee are simply destined to join forces at one point or another, so why not now, with the Phillies laughably bad and the front office in New York more desperate than ever?
At second place in the AL East despite injuries to players such as Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, the Yankees will of course look to continue to upgrade the roster for the playoff push, and adding Chase Headley, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, certainly is not enough.
According to Jesse Spector of Sporting News, the Yankees were in attendance at one of Lee's rehab starts recently and continue to show further interest. It helps that Lee imploded on the mound in his return Monday, allowing six runs and 12 hits in less than six innings of work.
As Heyman explains, Lee is quite expensive too:
That is pretty much true on the money. In fact, Lee is guaranteed the most money of any pitcher (or player) through the end of next year, with about $48 million guaranteed for that year plus two months iand 10 days, thanks to a $25 million salary plus a $12.5-million buyout on a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016.
That's a double-whammy for the Yankees, who don't mind doling out the cash or paying a lesser price with Lee's trade value diminished. As scouts told Heyman, among other things, he's viewed as "Definitely flatter than usual" and "Not his normal self."
There are other options for the Yankees on the mound, but Lee has been the crown jewel of the organization's eye for the better part of six years, and they find the Phillies in a vulnerable situation.
If Lee somehow avoids donning the pinstripes yet again, the team will surely make another move of some sort, but the notion that the two are going to finally work together is difficult to ignore.