Hold on tight, baseball fans, because the next few days figure to be a complete whirlwind.
The MLB trade deadline is nearly upon us, and contenders are reaching out to the bottom-dwellers of the league in hopes of luring a critical piece or two. Pennants may very well be won or lost with the right move, especially considering the caliber of players who are reportedly on the market.
With that in mind, let’s visit the rumor mill to hear the latest gossip.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports filled fans in on the latest regarding Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox:
Sources: #RedSox getting “hit hard” on both Lester and Lackey from most contenders, including AL East clubs.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 28, 2014
Lester is one of the best pitchers in baseball and is anchoring what is otherwise a struggling Boston pitching staff, but the Red Sox may not re-sign him after the year (don’t forget the four-year, $70 million offer they put forth that was borderline ridiculous). If they hope to salvage an enticing prospect package in exchange for the southpaw, they need to trade him this season.
Which pitcher gets traded this year?
The Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners are both in contention for playoff spots in the American League, and adding a pitcher of Lester’s caliber would obviously be a major boost.
However, any conversations about Lester have to look toward the future because he figures to make major money even though he is on the wrong side of his 30th birthday. He has only missed two starts in the past seven years, so durability isn’t much of an issue, and he sports a sparkling 2.52 ERA this season.
There is a lot at play here, including talent, prospects, money and age. If a team ultimately decides to trade for Lester, it will come after some serious deliberation on both sides.
Speaking of dominating lefties on last-place teams, Morosi fills fans in on the latest regarding Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies:
Cardinals and Dodgers are teams with best chance to acquire Cole Hamels from Phillies, sources say, but price is very high. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 28, 2014
Jayson Stark of ESPN had an interesting perspective on the Hamels’ situation, including a quote from an unnamed executive:
Hamels has four years left on his contract after this season, at $22.5 million a year. And the Phillies have told teams they’re willing to take on $10 million of that. But that still means any team dealing for him would be on the hook for $20 million a year. And given that, one AL executive said, the asking price is ‘just not realistic.’ While clubs basically look at Hamels as a guy the Phillies clearly don’t want to trade, they remain frustrated that the Phillies don’t factor in all the money that would be assumed when they ask for every team’s top three or four young players. ‘That has to count for something,’ the exec said, ‘if you’re assuming all that salary. But Ruben wants his doors blown off in order to trade him. And you don’t get your doors blown off if this kind of money is attached. It doesn’t work that way.’
The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers may not want to blow the Phillies’ door off, but Hamels does boast a 2.72 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and .230 batting average against. Plus, they could ultimately be competing against each other for a wild-card spot if the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants win the National League Central and West, respectively.
The Cardinals and Dodgers both rank in the top 10 in the majors in ERA, but whichever pitching staff added Hamels would have a serious leg up on the other during the stretch run of the season.
David Lennon of Newsday provided an update on Noah Syndergaard:
Told that #Mets will not include Syndergaard in any type of deal. Can always change, but that's thinking at this moment.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) July 28, 2014
Syndergaard is one of the top pitching prospects across MLB, but there has recently been a rumor flying around connecting the New York Mets with Troy Tulowitzki, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan. Tulowitzki is one of the best players in all of baseball, so it may take a package centered around a prospect of Syndergaard’s ability, which is what makes Lennon’s update so fascinating to land the shortstop.
The Mets are 8.5 games back in the National League East, so giving up some of their best young assets, including Syndergaard, may not be the best move for their future. Oftentimes, teams on the verge of the postseason and a potential World Series run are the ones giving up their prospects for veterans like Tulowitzki.
That certainly does not describe the Mets.
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