The rampant speculation that defines the Major League Baseball trade deadline season may not lead to deals right away, especially since trades in the middle of the season come with more risk due to the fact there are only about 60 games left.
However, just because deals don't happen on July 31 doesn't mean that nothing is in the works for the waiver deadline at the end of August or possibly laying the foundation for negotiations in the offseason.
With so many teams in contention, or believing they are because the second Wild Card spot skews everything, there are going to be a lot more buyers than sellers. That gives teams with assets to move leverage.
We've got the latest word on the biggest deals being discussed and what it would mean for the stretch run.
Rockies More Open to Exploring Tulo Market?
With injuries to key players Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Troy Tulowitzki, the Colorado Rockies have been in a free fall, losing five straight games to start the second half before a win on Thursday and 25 of their last 32 overall.
The player generating a lot of buzz prior to July 31, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, is Tulowitzki:
Rockies ownership has strongly stated it does not want to deal CarGo and, especially, Tulowitzki. But the extended run of poor play by the franchise, the growing contracts of the two players and the teeming disenchantment of the fan base has moved many within the industry to believe that decision could change, if not now, then this offseason.
Sherman does note, citing American and National League executives, that the Rockies front office is "not ready yet to trade a huge piece now" and that owner Dick Monfort is "too loyal" to Tulo to move him.
However, Sherman's sources also state that the St. Louis Cardinals are "enamored" with the All-Star shortstop and "would move significant pieces" to make a deal happen.
One interesting trade partner mentioned in the piece, brought up by an NL executive, is the New York Mets because they match up with Colorado's need for pitching.
There are a lot of moving pieces in that report and no one is saying that Tulo, who is currently on the disabled list with a hip injury, will be moved before July 31.
Which team needs to make a deal before the deadline the most?
The Mets are a fascinating possibility to explore, though, because of all the young arms coming through that system. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom are already in the big leagues. Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard are in Triple-A.
They clearly have a need at shortstop with their current crop hitting .233/.338/.294 with 102 total bases.
The Cardinals don't have the impact arms at the upper levels of the farm system because everyone graduated last year. Unless they want to trade Michael Wacha, which would be a mistake, especially in light of Shelby Miller's regression, there's not a lot to entice the Rockies right now.
Teams aren't going to put their best foot forward to land Tulowitzki while he is on the disabled list, so don't hold your breath for the next week. If you want to look at the winter meetings for some movement, it doesn't sound like you would be out of line.
Red Sox, Cardinals Still Talking Peavy?
With the Boston Red Sox failing to make a notable dent in the standings following the All-Star break, it's become increasingly obvious to everyone watching baseball that 2014 is going to be a lost year.
They are 9.5 games back in the American League East and 6.5 back in the Wild Card race with seven teams ahead of them for the second spot through July 24.
As a result, general manager Ben Cherington can feel free to trade players in the final year of their contract or who no longer fit with the team's long-term plans.
One such player is Jake Peavy, who has had a disappointing year with a 4.72 ERA and league-leading 20 homers allowed in 124 innings. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports there could be a trade partner in the National League:
Peavy to #STLCards doesn't appear dead. Red Sox dispatched top scouts to watch Cards' New York-Penn League team in last few days.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 24, 2014
With Miller going through the dreaded sophomore slump (4.25 ERA, 73 strikeouts and 55 walks in 110 innings) and Wacha and Jaime Garcia on the disabled list, the Cardinals need depth in the rotation.
At the very least, Peavy would give manager Mike Matheny someone who can eat innings down the stretch until Wacha returns, which isn't expected to happen until September. according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Cleveland Seeking Long-Term Assets
Cleveland has hung around in the Wild Card race long enough to become buyers at the deadline, though everything about this team screams mediocre. The team is 51-51, has a run differential of plus-three and the offense's 10th-ranked OPS is balanced out by the pitching staff's 19th-ranked ERA.
If general manager Chris Antonetti decides to make a move at the deadline, ESPN's Jim Bowden reports it won't be for a short-term fix:
Indians not looking for rental trades rather trades for players with multi-year control— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 24, 2014
In addition to being a .500 team, Cleveland is stuck in limbo with what it can do because the last two major free agents it signed (Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, both of whom signed prior to the 2013 season) have been disappointing this year.
Swisher has a .624 OPS in 84 games, while Bourn has played in just 66 games due to injuries and had a .316 on-base percentage prior to being placed on the disabled list. Those two account for $28.5 million of the team's $84 million payroll this season and are signed through 2016.
The best option for the front office will be to trade any impending free agents it can, led by Justin Masterson, if he comes off the disabled list soon enough to rebuild any value before August 31, and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Dealing those two would come off as punting this season to a fanbase that has seen its share of players traded over the years, but there's no indication either player will return after this season.
Cabrera is in the final year of his deal and top prospect Francisco Lindor is in Double-A and should be ready for the start of 2015. Masterson gave Cleveland an opportunity to sign him to a short-term deal in the offseason, but the team rejected his proposal.
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