They say the home stretch is the longest, and for buyers and sellers on the market—as well as fans—that couldn't be more accurate.
So begins the final week and change before the trade deadline at the end of the month, which means the MLB rumor mill is alight with buzz. Veterans are presumably getting shipped to contenders in exchange for a farm-system boost to theoretically build a brighter future.
Not only is it a stressful stretch for all involved, but it bleeds into negotiations themselves. The savvy sellers know to wait until the last minute and get the best possible deal for departing assets, which in turn causes the contenders to invest more in a fleeting chance at a World Series than they would have just a few days ago.
It's a dangerous game of cat and mouse, as well as a great time for fans. Here's the latest.
Is John Danks on the Way Out?
Brian Cashman wants starting pitching. End of story.
The latest target appears to be Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks, who has played his way out of favor and comes equipped with a contract that pays him $15.75 million this season and two years after the fact, per Spotrac.
The notion that the Yankees have interest and engaged in talks for the 29-year-old comes from CBSSports' Jon Heyman:
There is no evidence the sides are close to a deal and may be in only the early stages of talks. The White Sox are looking for young players and prospects as they continue their rebuild.
The Yankees have no left-handers in their rotation now that CC Sabathia is out for the year and Vidal Nuno has been traded (for McCarthy).
In 20 starts this year, Danks has been a shell of his former self with an 8-6 record, a 4.35 ERA and 87 strikeouts to 46 free passes.
While miserable in a sense, Danks would provide valuable innings for New York as the team continues to scrap its way to the top of the AL East. Even better, he should come at a bargain-bin price with the White Sox (48-54) surely acting as sellers and wanting to shed the ridiculous contract from the books.
Marlon Byrd is Expensive...
As one of the surest bets to be traded after a bit of a career revival of sorts this season, 36-year-old Marlon Byrd sure isn't any closer to finding a new home.
The reason being, of course, the cellar-dwelling, 43-58 Phillies. According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the price is simply too high:
#Phillies are still listening on Marlon Byrd, but no one likes the asking price enough to take the plunge yet.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 23, 2014
Of course, that's the smart move for Philadelphia at this juncture, as Byrd has been one of the lone bright spots this season, and they might just believe this getaway to futility is a temporary one, not something that will stretch out for years.
But if it does, holding out for the best possible deal makes sense. Byrd is on fire and on a two-year contract worth $8 million per year through 2016, per Spotrac:
The potential suitors are numerous, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com notes:
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.
If Byrd is to be moved, which seems a sure thing, the transaction will go down right at the deadline. The drama is worth it for Philadelphia in order to garner up as many assets in return as possible, and if nothing comes to fruition, Byrd remains in town and helps the turnaround effort.
...As Is Ryan Howard
Ryan Howard seems a lost cause in Philadelphia, pretty much the polar opposite of his aforementioned teammate.
Howard has fallen completely off a cliff this season, with no padding on the way down to help make his tumble any easier to watch:
It should come as no surprise, then, that the front office is exploring the idea of getting out from under his ridiculous contract, as Salisbury reports:
Multiple sources say the team has also discussed moving on without Howard. The team has floated his name in trade talks but Howard is owed the remainder of $25 million for this season and $60 million over the next two seasons. No team is interested in taking on that amount of money -- or even part of it because the Phils know they’d have to eat a large portion of Howard’s salary -- for a declining player.
The logical next step is to release Howard. Sources say team officials have discussed the possibility of paying off Howard and moving on without him after the season.
It's bad news for the brass in the City of Brotherly Love that word has crept out of their intention to release the 34-year-old slugger outright, as no team would be foolish enough to go ahead and surrender assets in a trade given his impending trip to the market.
Perhaps that would explain why, according to Salisbury, that manager Ryne Sandberg has been quick to accredit Howard's recent trips to the bench as a way to explore other options:
“I’m interested to see what he can do,” Sandberg said of Darin Ruf. “I know what [Howard] can do. I've seen him for 100 games. I know what he can do. I think it's important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also going forward.”
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman went ahead and did the legwork for Sandberg, noting the stat comparison between Howard and Darin Ruf:
darin ruf in minors this year .237/.298/.322/.620 ryan howard in majors this year .224/.309/.377/.682— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 24, 2014
It's the proverbial rock and a hard place for the Phillies. There are a ton of moving pieces at the moment, with Howard both the most costly and embarrassing—they signed him to a five-year, $125 million extension just two years ago.
In a steep decline, Howard is on his way out of the city that he has called home for the past decade—how and his final destination are to yet be determined.