With just days to go until the July 31 trade deadline, the MLB rumors are rampant as teams fight to position themselves as championship contenders or sell off assets and play for next year.
There are quite a few rumblings concerning big names on big-market franchises, and a potential blockbuster always adds a jolt to the excitement around the 100-game mark of the season.
Let's take a look at some of the potential moves that could go down before the playoff push.
Jon Lester Garnering Interest
The Boston Red Sox look like cellar-sellers with a 47-56 record that has them firmly entrenched in last place in the AL East. According to ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes, the team could have a potential trade partner for starting pitcher Jon Lester:
One major-league source said the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Rays ace David Price, have had discussions with the Sox regarding Lester, but if so, those talks have not progressed very far to date.
The Los Angeles Dodgers may not seem to need rotation help at first glance, with the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but the back end of the rotation has faltered a bit.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is susceptible to the occasional spotty start, while Dan Haren has gone completely off the rails. The 33-year-old righty is 1-4 with a 6.92 ERA in his last five starts, per Baseball-Reference.com. However, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly still has some faith in Haren.
He said, via MLB.com's Ken Gurnick:
In Pittsburgh, their leading winner has eight wins and Danny's got eight wins. Dan Haren has done a pretty good job. It's like we cut him up because he's not Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu. I take exception to people who want to throw him aside. At this pace, he'll win 14 or 15 games.
This confidence may be the reason talks have not progressed very far, as Haren did pitch very well early in the season and could return to form.
It should also be noted that Lester had made it known he could very well boomerang right back to the Red Sox after a trade without any issue.
"Yeah, why not?'' Lester said, via Edes. "I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love. Like I've said many times, this is where I want to be. If they trade me, I completely understand."
That would certainly be quite the haul if the Red Sox got some spare parts or prospects and have their trade piece come right back to them.
Matt Kemp Might Not Be Going Anywhere
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a glut of players in their outfield. Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke are all healthy and capable players.
It makes sense to alleviate the pressure by engineering a deal for one of these players, but according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers aren't close to any significant deals and are wary of trading Kemp:
There have been rumblings about a potential Hollywood exit for Kemp. The center fielder's agent, Dave Stewart, recently made some fairly cryptic comments that have fueled talks of a Kemp exit.
"Eight years is a long time to be in one place,” Stewart told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. “Sometimes change is good. This might be the time to change."
It will be tough to move Kemp and his gigantic contract, which is set to pay him approximately $21.5 million a year through 2019, per Spotrac.
Dan Szymborski believed trading for Kemp could doom another general manager in a column for ESPN Insider (subscription required):
At this point, with Kemp in the post-star phase of his career, the situation that most comes to mind is the infamous trade that saw the Los Angeles Angels send Mike Napoli to the Toronto Blue Jays for the privilege of drastically overpaying Vernon Wells.
Any general manager looking to acquire Kemp this summer better remember that trade, because bringing in Kemp for anything but a bargain-basement price is likely not going to lead to October trophies but rather November résumé updating.
The Dodgers should try to part ways with Kemp, Ethier or Crawford. All three are injury risks, and the future of the franchise, Joc Pederson, is stuck in Triple-A with a ridiculous .327/.458/.594 slash line. Kemp's trade value could be the best it will be for a long time; he hit .317 in June and .381 over the past week, per Baseball-Reference.com.
Pederson, a center fielder, and Puig have the potential to become one of the best young outfield pairings in the majors. The only thing stopping them is the pileup of players at the big club.
Miami Marlins Could be Buyers at the Trade Deadline
The Miami Marlins were always going to be a tough read at the trade deadline. They have excellent building blocks in the form of Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, not to mention the potential return of flamethrower Jose Fernandez next season.
They're 49-53 and 7.5 games back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East, but there is an outside chance at a wild-card spot if they pick things up over the past few weeks. According to MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro, that might be exactly what the team has in mind for its trade-deadline strategy:
Five days before the deadline, the Marlins are hoping to become buyers. Winning four of five to open their road trip has raised optimism and hope they can make a playoff push.
A starting pitcher is on their shopping list, but the urgency could subside if Brad Hand and Jacob Turner reach their potential in a hurry. Hand is doing so, coming off an impressive two straight wins of throwing at least seven innings.
This could be a huge gamble for the Marlins. If they try to buy their way into the playoff race, they would face a difficult task in beating out the top teams in the NL like the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and Nationals.
They do need help at the back end of the rotation. Pairing a solid pitcher with the likes of Henderson Alvarez and Tom Koehler could give them a playoff bump but just barely. Jacob Turner has struggled so far in the rotation, sporting a 6.03 ERA.
Frisaro also noted that Marlins are uninterested in dealing Stanton at this time. The team should definitely hold on to their star slugger, but being aggressive and buying players might not be the best move for them long term, especially when they do have stars to build around.