The trade deadline is upon us, and the rumors are coming in hot and heavy. Some deals have already completed Thursday and more should be on the way.
Here's three of the hottest stories to follow with a special concentration on the San Diego Padres.
Joaquin Benoit Possibly on the Move
With John Lackey already dealt from the Boston Red Sox to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, per Peter Gammons of the MLB Network, the Los Angeles Dodgers have apparently set their sights on bolstering their bullpen.
Sox get Kelly, Craig for Lackey— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 31, 2014
Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Dodgers have their eye on San Diego's 37-year-old reliever, Joaquin Benoit. The veteran's contract situation is manageable.
#Dodgers not getting Lackey. Told fully in on relievers, led by Benoit. Feel 50-50 they will get some relief help— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2014
Benoit isn't an unrestricted free agent until 2017. He's owed $2 million this season and $8 million for next year, but there is a club option for 2016.
In 42 appearances this season, Benoit has amassed a sparkling 1.88 ERA and an 0.84 WHIP. He's also averaging 9.81 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. His presence could help solidify the Dodgers bullpen, which has been one of the few problematic areas for the team.
Los Angeles currently ranks just 21st in the major leagues in bullpen ERA and 17th in batting average against for its relievers. Brian Wilson, Pat Maholm and Chris Perez have all struggled to ERAs well over 4.50.
Grouped with J.P. Howell and Brandon League, Benoit could give the Dodgers a third dependable setup man to get the ball to the team's closer, Kenley Jansen.
After spending his first eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, Benoit has been well travelled. The Dodgers—or any other team Benoit is traded to—would be his fourth club since 2010.
Chris Denorfia Getting Attention from Mariners and Braves
The Seattle Mariners are apparently still interested in Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, but if they don't complete a trade for the coveted veteran, then Chris Denorfia appears to be the backup plan.
Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mariners wouldn't be alone in their pursuit of the Padres' 34-year-old veteran outfielder.
Denorfia would be a definite downgrade from Rios for the Mariners as it pertains to offense, but he could provide excellent defense. Though he's hitting just .242 with one home run this season, Denorfia has committed just one error in 94 games.
He can play every outfield position. Because of his versatility, he could find some at-bats with the Mariners' light-hitting outfield group.
In Atlanta, Denorfia's at-bats wouldn't be as plentiful playing behind the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., as well as right fielder Jason Heyward, who is dealing with a bad back, but should be fine, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
Fredi says Heyward (back) will likely return to the lineup tomorrow or Thursday. #Braves— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 29, 2014
Still, Denorfia's could be a late-inning defensive replacement, a pinch runner or a valuable veteran clubhouse presence. His current manager had nothing but good things to say about him at the end of last season.
Per Corey Brock of MLB.com, manager Bud Black said:
When you say heart and hustle, there are a couple guys that come to mind, but Deno is right there with them. Every day that he comes to the ballpark, he comes in fresh. ... People around the league -- other managers, coaches, players -- have a great deal of respect for Deno.
Those words appear to be ringing true as at least two teams vie for Denorfia's services to close the 2014 season.
Denorfia is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, so the team that lands him could be renting him for only the stretch run.
Andrew Miller Drawing Interest from Multiple Teams
Boston Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller is on the wish list of almost every team in the market for a proven left-handed reliever, per Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet.
Possible landing spots for Miller: BAL, DET, PIT. #RedSoxTalk— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) July 31, 2014
The 29-year-old has been solid and consistent this season, especially in the last two months. In June and July, Miller allowed just two earned runs in each month. He also struck out 16 batters in both months, as well.
His ERA for the season is 2.34 in 42.1 innings, and his WHIP is just 0.90.
The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates would do well to acquire a specialist in the midst of such a strong season for the stretch run. Miller has spent the last 3.5 seasons with Boston and has really come into his own since 2012.
He is a free agent at the end of the season and could return to Boston during the offseason. Per Rob Bradford of WEEI 93.7 in Boston, Miller wouldn't close the door on a potential return to Beantown.
I completely understand the way the game works. It’s not a grudge. I’ve loved my time here and I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to an end in the next couple of days, but if it does it won’t spoil it for me. If it does I’m certainly not going to burn a bridge on the way out of town. There’s value to us for both of us, so by no means will I close out that angle.
The Red Sox would do well to keep in touch.
All stat references per Baseball-Reference.com.
All contract information per Spotrac.