Get ready for an endless stream of rumors over the next 24 hours.
With about two-thirds of the league still in contention for a playoff spot and the rest of the teams ready to blow up the major league roster to build the farm, speculation is going to be running rampant from now until the trade deadline.
Let's take a look at the most recent gossip.
Jon Lester Talks Heating Up
"Oh, my God, the Boston Red Sox are having a fire…sale. Oh, the burning! It burns me! Evacuate all the schoolchildren!"
The 48-58 Sox already shipped Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants, and it's clear they are very much intent on clearing house. According to The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham, ace Jon Lester is being actively shopped with the determination to deal him:
And it doesn't appear as though he was exaggerating. Manager John Farrell, via the team's official Twitter feed, confirmed that the 30-year-old has officially been scratched from his Wednesday start:
Nothing is official yet, but the players, including Dustin Pedroia, are already talking as though he's gone:
In terms of suitors, there likely aren't many teams that wouldn't love to acquire Lester, who owns a sparkling 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and has given up a whopping three earned runs in 29.0 July innings (0.93 ERA).
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, though, there are four leaders: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers.
It's likely going to take top prospects to lure a deal out of the Red Sox, who are out of contention this year, and if that's the case, the Buccos would be in the best position to brew up an enticing package.
Pittsburgh has the top farm system in the league, per Baseball America's (subscription required) rankings (h/t PiratesProspect.com). According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan and Tim Brown, a deal centered around Josh Bell could get it done.
No matter who ultimately offers up the best package, though, it seems clear at this point Lester will soon be switching teams for the first time in his career.
Cole Hamels on the Block, No Deal Close
According to sources cited by Fox Sports' Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal, the Philadelphia Phillies have made Cole Hamels available, but nothing is imminent:
The 30-year-old left-hander has been electric this season. After tossing eight shutout innings against the New York Mets Tuesday, he now boasts a 2.55 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He has a terrific 3.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio and owns a 1.58 ERA since the start of June.
In terms of age, handedness and production, Hamels' 2014 campaign is actually quite similar to Lester's. However, the difference is in the contract. Far from a potential midseason rental like the Boston lefty, Hamels is owed $90 million from 2015-2018 with a $20 million club option in 2019, per Spotrac.
Unsurprisingly, that's forcing Philly to drive the price up.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports the Phils asked the Los Angeles Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias. And. Not or. That would be three top-51 prospects in Baseball America's rankings. It's like that annoying guy in your fantasy league: "We don't really want to trade him, but what the hell, let's see what you say to this ridiculously over-the-top offer."
ESPN's Dan Szymborski joked about the offer:
Hamels is a tremendous lefty who is under team control for several years. His worth is obvious. But there are hardly many teams who can put together that kind of package, let alone actually be willing to pull the trigger and cripple their farm like that.
Ultimately, you shouldn't expect him to go anywhere in the next two days. Unless, you know, a certain first baseman who is set to make about a billion dollars over the next three years is also included.
Mariners Eyeing Josh Willingham?
Since the All-Star break, the Seattle Mariners are 4-7. Of those seven defeats, five have come by one run. Finally, in four of those particular games, they scored two runs or less.
The Seattle Times' Ryan Divish noted another peculiar stat:
It's all a fancy way of saying, the M's pitching…good, the M's hitting…bad (real bad, Michael Jackson). Unsurprisingly, as they compete for the second wild-card spot, they've been mentioned in most rumors surrounding anyone who can swing a bat without falling over.
The newest, coming from Morosi, involves Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham:
On the surface, it's a pretty "meh" option. The 35-year-old is hitting just .219 with 10 home runs.
However, Willingham's .361 on-base percentage would immediately rank behind Robinson Cano as the second-best on the team, while his .421 slugging percentage (which is still more than 40 points below his career average) ranks behind only Cano, Kyle Seager and the currently injured Michael Saunders.
The M's shouldn't be in the market for a left fielder with Dustin Ackley spontaneously combusting this month, but the veteran right-hander is an upgrade at either right field or designated hitter in Seattle.
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