The 2014 Major League Baseball trade deadline is on Thursday, July 31, and the rumors surrounding top names like Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp and others have the landscape of the league possibly shifting.
With the Colorado Rockies drawing interest in Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, the Boston Red Sox interested in Kemp and the Philadelphia Phillies willing to move closer Jonathan Papelbon, the trade deadline could feature several blockbuster deals.
Here are all the latest rumors as the trade deadline approaches.
Mets Kicking the Tires on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez?
The New York Mets are one of the worst teams in the National League, but the franchise understands the importance of continuing the rebuilding process. Two players the team is reportedly targeting are Colorado Rockies stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
Colorado has remained adamant that the team will not move either top player, but New York and several other teams have continued to check on the availability of the potential trade chips.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Rockies may not be willing to move the players now, but the feeling is that it won’t be very long before the franchise has no other option:
As a symbol of where they are in their rebuilding effort and the growing strength of their farm system, Mets officials have told their Rockies counterparts if Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez are ever made available, they want in on the action…
An AL executive who checked in with the Rockies described a club in some disarray concerning who will be making front office decisions in the future, but not ready yet to trade a huge piece now. An NL executive said he believes owner Dick Monfort will consider the move more than ever, but ultimately is too loyal and committed to those players to move them.
For Tulowitzki, he is having another excellent season. The shortstop has racked up a .340 batting average, 21 home runs, 52 RBI and a .432 on-base percentage. On the other hand, Gonzalez has only amassed a .248 batting average, 10 home runs and 36 RBI this season.
The Rockies have gone 43-61 thus far in 2014, and the team must begin the rebuilding process at some point. With Tulowitzki being 29 years old and Gonzalez being 28 years old, it’s almost time for the franchise to move the players for premier prospects.
Moving one or both of these players would be waiving the white flag for the next several years, but the possible return for these top stars could yield a huge boost for the farm system in Colorado and the long-term success of the franchise.
It’s time for the Rockies to make a blockbuster trade.
Possible Jon Lester for Matt Kemp Deal Brewing?
There was a time when Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was one of the most feared hitters in the majors, but two shoulder surgeries and an ankle injury have limited his productivity.
One team reportedly interested in acquiring Kemp is the Boston Red Sox, and the organization may be willing to deal one of its top starting pitchers, Jon Lester, to make the deal happen.
In a report from Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, a possible trade between Los Angeles and Boston could come to fruition before the deadline:
He has had debilitating ankle and shoulder injuries that have limited his play the last two seasons, is still owed roughly $118 million on a contract that runs through 2019, and has a mixed reputation as a clubhouse presence, but 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.
The Dodgers have a plethora of outfielders on the roster and in the farm system, and alleviating some of the fiscal pressure caused by Kemp’s high-paying contract would help the franchise in the long term.
The Red Sox are looking to get any return on Lester due to the fact that he may leave via free agency this offseason, and Los Angeles may be the kind of team that would lock up Lester to a long-term contract and further secure one of the best rotations in the league.
Neither player has performed as well as many had expected, and a change of scenery for both men could be the key to unlocking their fullest potential. If Boston and Los Angeles can work out the details of a deal, this would be a smart trade for both teams.
Phillies Trying to Move Jonathan Papelbon?
After winning the World Series in 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies have been in a slow decline and currently sit fifth in the National League East with a record of 46-59. It’s time for the franchise to become a deadline seller.
One of the biggest pieces that needs to be moved is closer Jonathan Papelbon, but the market for an expensive, 33-year-old relief pitcher is not high right now. Philadelphia will likely have to eat much of his salary in a deal.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Phillies are in a tough position with Papelbon:
The Phillies are telling teams they'd absorb a portion of the $18 million remaining on closer Jonathan Papelbon's deal if they are interested in trading for the closer. Papelbon's market seems light, if existent, after both the Angels and Tigers filled back-end bullpen needs with Huston Street and Joakim Soria, respectively.
Despite his team's lack of success, Papelbon has been one of the most consistent players on the roster, racking up a 1.83 ERA, 25 saves and 40 strikeouts in 44.1 innings of work. Any team looking for a strong bullpen presence should be kicking the tires on the veteran.
The trouble is that Papelbon is a closer and likely wouldn’t want to take on the role of setup man if he is moved. Most teams in contention already have a solid closer, and his desire to play for a winning franchise could be the reason he isn’t dealt.
Add in the fact that Papelbon has been so outspoken about his desire to leave the city, and there are likely organizations who may have been interested that now wouldn’t make the deal for a player who could become a distraction in the locker room.
As much as Philadelphia tries, it looks like Papelbon will be a member of the Phillies for the foreseeable future.
*Stats via MLB.com.