MLB Trade Rumors: Recent Buzz Surrounding Matt Kemp, Josh Willingham and More

Tim KeeneyContributor IJuly 27, 2014

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and several teams have important decisions to make. 

In the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays are holding onto the second wild-card spot, but there are another six teams within five games of them. Over in the NL, all three division races are separated by 2.0 games or less. 

A large majority of the league has a strong argument to be buying at the deadline, and it's going to be very intriguing to see how these next four days play out. 

Let's take a look at the most recent gossip. 


Red Sox in the Market for Matt Kemp?

Matt Kemp sometimes forgets which way the bat goes, but the Red Sox are still interested
Matt Kemp sometimes forgets which way the bat goes, but the Red Sox are still interestedDon Boomer/Associated Press/Associated Press

Ten games out in the AL East and 7.5 back in the wild card, the Boston Red Sox's postseason hopes are quickly dwindling. But that's not stopping Ben Cherington from looking to make a major splash at the deadline. 

According to ESPN's Gordon Edes, the Sox are considering a trade for probably the most expensive available right-handed bat on the market:

The Red Sox are considering making a move for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, according to a club source.

With the Sox in need of more offensive production in the outfield, the right-handed-hitting Kemp could be the major piece in a trade for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, especially with the Dodgers reluctant to part with top outfield prospect Joc Pederson.

Well, that seems risky. 

We are just a couple of seasons removed from Kemp being one of the most dangerous hitters in the majors. Many will argue he should have won the MVP in 2011, and he followed that up with an All-Star campaign in 2012. There's massive potential in Boston. 

"If he's healthy," one top talent evaluator said of Kemp, via Edes, "he would absolutely destroy that ballpark [Fenway Park]."


There's a little problem, though: He hasn't been healthy. Kemp has dealt with debilitating shoulder and ankle injuries over the past couple of years, and it has resulted in a .748 OPS over the last two seasons. His defense has also tailed off, and in 2014, he owns a laughable -1.1 wins above replacement (WAR), per Baseball-Reference.

And, as it turns out, paying $107 million over the next five years to a below-replacement-level player isn't a great way to get back to the World Series. 

Again, there's great potential still left in Kemp's bat, and according to Edes, the Dodgers would have to pay a large portion of his salary. But giving up John Lester, who has been lights out this season, is a tough way to try and unearth that potential. 

This one seems unlikely. 


Yankees Targeting Josh Willingham?

Jim Mone/Associated Press

From one AL East team to another, the New York Yankees are also reportedly in the market for an upgrade in the outfield. 

Compared to the Sox, though, they are shopping on the clearance rack. 

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, New York is eyeing Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham over players like Marlon Byrd and Alex Rios, "partly because of Willingham's reasonable $7 million salary and status as a free agent after the season."

The 35-year-old, who missed time this year with a fractured wrist, is hitting a pedestrian .215/.357/.420. He is showing signs of life, though, going .240/.321/.480 in seven games to start the second half

Either way, he has some good pop (.468 slugging percentage in his career). He would present a power upgrade over Ichiro, provide some insurance for Carlos Beltran, who is still limited to DH duty, and would come at a relatively cheap price. 


Several Teams Eyeing Alex Rios?

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Alex Rios was shipped from the Chicago White Sox to the Texas Rangers last August, and it appears he's not done moving. 

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, a quartet of teams have checked in on the 33-year-old outfielder:

Of those, it doesn't sound like New York is a realistic destination, thanks to Rios' no-trade clause:

That leaves the Mariners, Giants and Reds, but according to a source cited by Bleacher Report's Will Carroll, the Cincinnati appears to be the front-runner:

On the one hand, Rios is hitting a very solid .299 with 16 stolen bases. He presents a clear upgrade over the current left field platoon of Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick. 

On the other hand, he has questionable patience at the plate (19 walks to 74 strikeouts), and his power has disappeared. His .428 slugging percentage would be his lowest mark since his abysmal 2011 season. 

Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan certainly doesn't understand Cincy's interest:

There is value when it comes to Rios, but if this deal happens, grading it will be all about whatever price the Reds or another team end up paying.