MLB Rumors: Analyzing All the Latest Whispers, News and Speculation
The whispers, news and speculation never cease around MLB.
From offseason rumblings to the intrigue of position battles during spring training and the flurry of speculation in advance of the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline, there is always chatter of some sort regarding your favorite team.
So what new bits of gossip that made their way around MLB over the last seven days are there for us to dissect?
As a standard note, this won't be an all-inclusive list. That would take a novel's worth of reading to digest. Rather, we'll examine some of the juicier bits.
With that noted, let's take a look at the latest whispers, news and speculation around MLB.
It Looks Like the Kansas City Royals Are for Real
On May 20, the Kansas City Royals sat seven games behind the Detroit Tigers before a 10-game winning streak propelled them into a 1.5-game lead in the AL Central. Unfortunately, the cushion didn’t last long, and after losing six out of seven, they quickly fell four games back.
Fast forward just over three weeks, and the Royals had fallen into third place and faced an eight-game deficit in the Central. Since then, though, they are 22-5 and now have a two-game lead over the Tigers entering play on Wednesday.
Unlike the last run they went on, however, this stretch seems different.
The offense, for example, has scored at least four runs in 12 out of the last 16 games. And considering that in July the lineup produced two runs or fewer on 10 occasions, that's quite an accomplishment.
Injuries to key players aren’t even slowing the Royals down.
Eric Hosmer went on the disabled list at the beginning of August, and the club has won 14 times versus only three losses in his absence. And when catcher Salvador Perez left Monday night's game against the Minnesota Twins with a sore knee, his replacement, Erik Kratz, stepped in and hit two home runs.
The success on offense merely complements the defense, starting rotation and bullpen, which have been on point all season. To that effect, Bleacher Report’s Jason Catania recently noted several areas, including total defense and bullpen WAR, where the Royals stand out.
If the extended run they have been on is any indication, the team’s jelling and has to be taken seriously after missing the playoffs for 28 seasons.
With a Caveat: Television Blackouts Could Be Coming to an End
If you live in Seattle and have cable and MLB TV, you are currently unable to watch the Mariners game live if you are not at home thanks to blackout restrictions imposed by MLB. Sometimes, regardless of where you are, the game simply isn’t on.
That may all be changing.
According to an AP report pulled from Yahoo.com, president and CEO of MLB Advanced Media Bob Bowman noted that a deal between MLB and “various cable operators, channels and ballclubs” could be close.
Per the report, Bowman said:
Everyone’s trying to solve it. If our hands were 4 feet apart three or four years ago, they are now 6 inches apart. We’re moving in the right way. We continue to talk. The dialogue is professional.
Good news indeed.
There are stipulations, of course. In its theoretic form, individuals will be required to have both a paid local provider and MLB TV. Perhaps a better route to take would be for MLB to make all local games available free with a cable subscription and having individuals pay for out-of-market games only.
It’s all about the money, though, and given the choice between watching your favorite club and not, this is a step in the right direction.
Where, Oh Where Have the Detroit Tigers Gone?
The Detroit Tigers are in a world of hurt right now.
A mere 11 days after left-hander David Price was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, general manager Dave Dombrowski placed Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria on the disabled list.
It gets worse.
One day after that, Justin Verlander left the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates due to soreness in his right shoulder. And while initial reports stated that he hoped to avoid the disabled list, there is a chance he ends up on the DL if he can’t make his start on Saturday, per James Schmehl from MLive.com.
Thankfully, manager Brad Ausmus has Price to complement Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. In three starts with the club entering action on Wednesday, he is pitching to a 3.18 ERA, and while his FIP is a bit elevated at 3.62, his WHIP has fallen to 0.971.
Even with Price’s addition, however, the Tigers face an uphill battle for supremacy in the AL Central.
The bullpen, for example, is terrible, posting a 4.37 ERA and a .275 batting average against this season, per splits over at ESPN.com. For his part, Ausmus is keeping a level head regarding the relief corps, saying, “My frustration level is not high right now,” via Perry A. Farrell from the Detroit Free Press.
Even the offense is in disarray. Overall, the unit is slashing out at .272/.328/.426, but entering play on Wednesday, they’ve put up a .249/.312/.370 slash line over the previous 28 days, according to Baseball-Reference.
Any way it's viewed, the situation is dire in Detroit.
The Oakland A's Are in Need of a Spark
The Oakland A’s have been one of the best teams in baseball for a majority of the season. That much is without question.
Lately, however, things haven’t been going the way anyone would like. In fact, the A’s are 8-10 since the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline going into action on Wednesday.
That is simply not going to get the job done. And if the current struggles continue, they could end up running into a buzz saw in the AL Wild Card Game.
See, the Seattle Mariners have Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the ready, while the Detroit Tigers could send Max Scherzer or David Price to the bump. Any one of those four is capable of locking down any team in the league, making a wild-card matchup the last thing the A’s want.
True, the AL West is highly competitive, and the A’s were bound to run into a rough patch. That said, the postseason could be a short one for manager Bob Melvin’s club if they don’t find a way to win more baseball games than the Los Angeles Angels.
Given the way the pitching staff is constructed, it “will come down to whether the A’s bats can heat back up,” per B/R’s Joel Reuter. Based on past performance, there is no reason to think they can’t, but the time to get moving is now.
Perhaps Coco Crisp's bases-loaded triple on Tuesday evening versus the New York Mets will end up being the spark that gets the club moving in the right direction.
Rusney Castillo, Your Table Is (Almost) Ready
The fight for the services of Cuban sensation Rusney Castillo is coming to a head. Per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:
One of a half-dozen teams -- the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Yankees and Mariners -- who all worked out Castillo privately -- is expected to win the services of the compact and powerful Castillo who is generally viewed as an outfielder by most but is apparently being considered as a possible second baseman by the Yankees. …
Estimates have ranged from $35 million to $55 million for Castillo, though early estimates have tended to be low on some of the Cuban stars. There is a possibility Castillo could possibly be ready to help a contender this year if he signs soon, which is another reason a deal could happen in the coming days.
How much of an impact Castillo will have is unknown, but Yoenis Cespedes had nothing but praise, saying, “If he’s not a five-tool player, he’s a least a four-tool player. He’s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities,” per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
Regarding his landing spot, the bids are sealed, so no one knows what is going to happen, but if he ended up with the Mariners, it would be a coup for general manager Jack Zduriencik.
After all, Zduriencik brought in multiple players, including Austin Jackson, Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia, via trade this season in an effort to provide Robinson Cano and an exceptional pitching staff with some support.
Signing Castillo would be a fitting exclamation point on what has been an aggressive period in Mariners history.
Either way, there will be closure on Castillo's situation shortly.
If the club with the highest bid ends up in the postseason, he will have to be on the roster prior to Sept. 1. If he's not, Castillo will not be eligible for the playoffs.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate as of game time on Wednesday, August 20. Transaction, injury and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information from Cot's Contracts.