Could the Wahoos be on the verge of acquiring the top pitcher on the market? Signs are starting to point to yes.
Carlos Beltran, Colby Rasmus, Edwin Jackson and Kosuke Fukudome were all off the market before the weekend, taking their talents to new cities and new teams, and while the flurry of activity has died down somewhat today, there's no doubt that this lull is nothing more than the calm before the storm.
Saturday has brought a lively mix of action and reaction from a few teams. The Rangers pounced on the opportunity to pick up a top-flight reliever and dealt two players to the Orioles to get Koji Uehara. And the D-Backs, who are just four games back of the Giants snatched solid starter Jason Marquis from Washington.
The rest of the day should be just as entertaining and will likely feature moves from teams like the Boston Red Sox, who are closely pursuing Erik Bedard (although not as close as they were before his implosion last night), the Indians, who appear to be making some moves that might be pre-cursors to dealing for Ubaldo Jimenez, and the Atlanta Braves, who are hot on the trail of Carlos Quentin among others. And look out for the New York Yankees, who haven't talked a big game so far, but are still the Yankees.
There are still some incredibly big names on the market, including B.J. Upton, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Heath Bell.
All could be looking for new homes tomorrow, but for now, they'll have to settle for being members of this list, the 12 hottest names still on the block.
UPDATE (7:36 PM)
As the good ole magic eight ball says, all signs point to yes. More confirmation coming that the Indians and Rockies are engaged in serious talks. Jon Heyman has reported that in addition to Pomeranz and White, the Rockies have also requested Lonnie Chisenhall, the team's top hitting prospect coming into the season. Meanwhile, MLB.com has confirmed that White has been pulled from his one-inning rehab stint this evening.
UPDATE (7:22 PM)
In addition to the Pomeranz hint (being yanked from his start), Troy Renck of the Denver Post is reporting that the teams are in serious talks now, with Alex White and Jason Kipnis being considered targets of the Rockies, in addition to Pomeranz. If the Rockies could swing that deal, it would give them two future workhorses and an offensive second baseman. Talk about a steal!
UPDATE (7:15 PM)
In an interesting piece of news, Indians pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz has been pulled from his start today, according to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi. Could this be a pre-cursor to the Indians pulling off a massive trade coup?
UPDATE (6:09 PM)
The Tigers called up top prospect Jacob Turner to start today's game against the Angels, and the 20-year old performed better than expected, tossing 5.1 innings of two-run ball. The game hasn't finished yet, but Turner is in line to pick up his first big-league victory. You have to wonder if it will be his last start in a Tigers uniform though, as the Tigers still appear to be one of the top suitors for Jimenez.
It seems unfathomable that Jimenez will be switching teams considering what the Rockies are asking in return, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from churning out some great stuff over the past 24 hours.
According to MLBTradeRumors, the Rockies were in talks with Detroit yesterday, discussing the top prospects that would be involved in a hypothetical deal. According to Dan Knobler of CBS Sports, any deal that involves Detroit would most likely center around Rick Porcello or the team's top prospect, Jacob Turner.
Other teams in on the right-hander, who through 20 starts is 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA, include the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Reds.
Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman has described the Yankees as "lurking" in their efforts to acquire Jimenez. You have to wonder if they're playing the same game that Texas played in 2010 when they Cliff Lee away from New York after finding out what kind of package the Yankees were discussing with Seattle.
Joel Sherman from the New York Post is another person advocating the wait-and-see approach, making the point that the Yankees are unlikely to move both Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances for anyone, including Jimenez.
According to the terrific duo over at Fox Sports (Ken Rosenthal and Paul Morosi), these are the prospects that the Rockies are eyeballing from each possible suitor:
- From the Red Sox: Triple-A right-hander Kyle Weiland and Double-A third baseman Will Middlebrooks
- From the Yankees: Right-hander Ivan Nova, Double-A right-hander Dellin Betances, and Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero (The Yankees consider prized Double-A lefty Manny Banuelos to be untouchable.)
- From the Tigers: Double-A right-hander Jacob Turner, whom the Tigers would be highly reluctant to move
- From the Reds: First baseman/left fielder Yonder Alonso and at least one of the team’s major league-ready starting pitchers (The Reds consider Triple-A catcher Devin Mesoraco and Single-A infielder Billy Hamilton untouchable.)
- From the Indians: Double-A lefty Drew Pomeranz, whom the Indians would be highly reluctant to move
UPDATE (7:44 PM)
UPDATE (6:04 PM)
Word now has it that the Nats might use the Yankees as an intermediary to get Span. The Twins still want Storen, and the Nats are back-tracking on his availability. One alternative might be to involve New York, who has great interest in reliever Tyler Clippard. They might have some prospects who interest Minnesota more and could be crucial in closing this deal.
You wouldn't think there would be much interest for a light-hitting outfielder, but in Span's case, you'd be dead wrong.
In fact, the Nationals seem hell bent on acquiring Span and penciling him in as the starting centerfielder for the next few years. According to Buster Olney, the Nats have been searching for the right guy to man center for them, and GM Mike Rizzo seems to think that Span is just that guy.
Two days after claiming that reliever Drew Storen was untouchable, the Nats apparently made him available with the idea of including him in the deal for Span. Getting much more out of Washington has proven difficult for Minnesota, who are a bit wary of Span's recent concussion, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Other names that have been discussed include Ian Desmond, whose light-hitting, great-defense style of play seems right in line with what Ron Gardenhire likes out of his middle infielders, and outfielder Roger Bernandina.
For the season, Span is hitting slightly under .300 with just four steals in 56 games. He's posted a solid BB:K ratio of 24-to-26.
UPDATE (6:46 PM)
If USA Today's Bob Nightengale is to believed, just because the Rangers snatched up Koji Uehara doesn't mean they're still not all-in trying to acquire Bell. With Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter gone, however, the team has lost two valuable trade chips.
Once upon a time, Bell was the darling of the 2011 trade deadline.
Of course, that was months before we even got close to late July. Nowadays, there isn't much action on the part of teams trying to acquire Bell, nor do the Padres seem to be actively trying to deal him.
Still, if you believe Bell's quotes from yesterday, it seems like a deal will get done sooner than later.
According to Jayson Stark, it appears that the Rangers have stepped up and are now the favorite to acquire the 33-year-old reliever, who has saved 119 games the past three years, including 30 this season. Before that stretch, Bell was one of the top setup men in the game.
Bill Center, of the San Diego Union-Tribune, also sees the Rangers as the favorite, although he has heard the Cardinals revving up their interest over the past few days.
The Angels, who are looking for reliable setup men, are also rumored as having some interest, according to Rosenthal and Morosi.
UPDATE (6:55 PM)
Guthrie pitched brilliantly last night with several teams in attendance. According to the Sun's Dan Connolly, the game was attended by scouts from the Cardinals, Tigers, Brewers and Rangers. The Red Sox are still very interested, especially after a poor showing from former Oriole Erik Bedard last night. Guthrie confounded Yankees hitters for seven strong innings, allowing just four hits and one run. You can make the argument that Guthrie has been the best pitcher (by far) on the worst team in baseball. His performance against New York earned him just his fifth win of the season, despite racking up 12 quality starts in 24 outings. Somehow, he has a league-leading 14 losses.
The rumor mill has continued to churn out daily tickets on Guthrie, despite the fact that the Orioles have no intention of dealing the veteran starter.
The Tigers and Red Sox have kicked the tires on Guthrie, who, despite his league-worst 4-14 record, has actually been the Orioles' best pitcher so far this year. Both teams have been rebuffed, but as the deadline gets closer and teams up their offers, you have to wonder how long the O's will be willing to hang on to the 32-year-old right-hander.
UPDATE (6:50 PM)
Thanks to his terrible showing last night it seems like teams are cooling on Bedard. That likely includes the Red Sox, who might choose to move on to other players in light of the lefty's five-run, four-walk outing that lasted just 1.1 innings. Taking into account that the M's already dealt one-fifth of their rotation in Doug Fister, it might make more sense at this point to hang on to the Canadian.
From one current Oriole to a former Baltimore player.
Bedard has drawn a ton of interest over the past few weeks, but none more intense than that of Boston, who appeared to be close to a deal for the lefty last night.
No deal has been announced so far, but Mariners scouts were spotted taking in a few games at different minor league affiliates for Boston last night.
A few other teams that have kicked the tires on Bedard include the Tigers, White Sox, and Yankees, although according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, Bedard really loves pitching in Seattle and there's still a chance that the Mariners could ink him to an extension.
Bedard is pitching tonight against Tampa Bay. If he performs well or even just guts out seven or eight innings, look for interest to continue climbing.
For the season, Bedard has made only 15 starts, equaling the totals he put up in both 2008 and 2009. (He missed 2010 due to an injury.) He's pitched well, posting a 3.00 ERA while striking out 85 batters and walking just 26 in 90 innings.
Upton's batting average has regressed each year since 2007 and has bottomed out at .228 this season.
Still, there's going to be quite a market for his services, thanks to the fact that he offers some decent pop and has great speed. He's also a pretty good defender when he's motivated, and actually he's quite capable of hitting for average, despite what he's shown these past few seasons.
Despite the low batting average, Upton is among the Rays' team leaders in home runs (16) and RBI (54). He also has 23 steals.
The Phillies have been among the teams inquiring about the availability of Upton, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Sherman has also mentioned the Cardinals as a potential suitor now that they have gotten rid of Colby Rasmus, and the Royals, who are looking for a major league-ready center fielder while they wait for Bubba Starling to work his way through the system.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick has shot down rumors that the Braves have some interest in the moody outfielder, reporting that Atlanta doesn't want to part with Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcanio, or Mike Minor.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, Upton appears to be the backup plan for the teams that end/ended up on the short end of the stick in their attempts to acquire Carlos Quentin or Hunter Pence.
The White Sox haven't made a statement declaring their interest in dealing Quentin, but with the team still one game under .500, anything is possible.
After playing coy, the Sox have apparently opened the bidding on Quentin, according to CBS Sports's Danny Knobler.
One team that was rumored to have been interested was Philadelphia. According to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today, the Phillies were one of a few teams scouting the 28-year-old outfielder.
More recently, the Braves have been the team that is linked most closely to the outfielder. Ken Rosenthal went so far as to tweet that the Braves are "hot for Quentin." He also claims that the Sox are head over heels in love with some of the Braves pitching prospects, and when you consider that Atlanta has one of the finest collections of pitching talent in baseball, it's hard not to blame Chicago.
Quentin is having another solid year, posting good power numbers (20 HR, 62 RBI), while maintaining a solid average (.262). He also earned his second All-Star nod.
One reason that the Sox might find Quentin expendable is the emergence of Cuban defector Dayan Viciedo, who is putting up great numbers in Triple-A after hitting .308 in a 38-game trial with Chicago last year.
While his name isn't as glamorous as some of the others on this list, there will likely still be a pretty sizable market for Wiggington, who can play just about every position on the diamond. He's also got a pretty potent bat.
In just 83 games for the Rockies, Wiggington has hit .256 with 13 homers and 40 RBI. The 33-year-old has also played first base, third base, and both outfield corners, making him by far one of the most versatile hitters on the market this July.
According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Pirates are actively pursuing Wiggington. The deal seems to make a bit of sense, since Wiggington played with Pittsburgh from 2004-2005. The Pirates also have some decent prospects and are in a better position than ever before to trade for some bigger-name talent.
In addition to his versatility on the defensive end, Wiggington will come a lot cheaper than Beltran or Rasmus did, making him a more appealing target for smaller-market teams like Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Despite his defensive versatility, which includes playing four different positions this season in addition to seeing time at DH, it's Cuddyer's bat that will be drawing the most interest in the next few days.
Two years removed from hitting 32 home runs, Cuddyer is having a solid offensive year for one of baseball's worst teams.
His average has improved and at .298 currently sits nearly 30 points above his career mark. He's also already eclipsed his home run total of 14 from last year. Somehow, he's figured out how to drive in nearly 50 runs for Minnesota. He also offers great plate discipline.
So, who's been looking into acquiring Cuddyer?
For starters, the Angels, who are looking to upgrade a lineup that is quickly becoming more small-ball oriented than it has been the past few seasons. According to CBS Sports' Scott Miller, Los Angeles has had internal discussions about what it would take to get Cuddyer, who is 32 years old. They've also discussed shifting him over to third base if they do manage to snag him.
After right field and first base, Cuddyer has spent more games (171) at third base than any other position.
Kubel appears more likely to depart Minnesota this trade season than Cuddyer, despite the fact that he's having a less-productive season and has less defensive value.
Still, teams are zeroing in on the 29-year-old Kubel, who has spent most of the year playing in an outfield corner spot.
His .308 average is solid, but he's only played in 59 games this season due to a foot injury that kept him on the shelf for close to two months. He has appeared in at least 128 games for Minnesota in each of the past four seasons.
The Pirates are a team that have long been linked to Kubel, but recently they have cooled, as have Minnesota's efforts to deal Kubel, seeing as how they've pulled to within six games of first place.
Despite the fact that the Reds have two of the top ten catching prospects in the minors, including one (Devin Mesoraco) tearing up Triple-A, they have been reluctant to talk about dealing starter Ramon Hernandez.
Until now, that is.
The Reds' coming off of a four-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Mets, Jayson Stark opines that the team is considering a mass sell-off of talent, including Hernandez, who is hitting a solid .307, but has just 10 home runs and 27 RBI.
Despite Cincinnati's GM, Walt Jocketty, publicly proclaiming his intention to keep Hernandez in order to continue fighting for a playoff spot, most other outlets have been in line with Stark.
According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Reds would most likely demand some pitching for Hernandez, if and when he becomes available.
It's hard to find a guy as consistent as Rodriguez has been over the past few years.
He reached near stardom with the Astros and super-stardom among fantasy baseball competitors, but for several reasons it appears he'll be on his way out before the end of the season.
The Astros would like to move him before Sunday and are actively shopping him, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark.
This season, Rodriguez is having another solid campaign, posting an even 7-7 record, a 3.47 ERA (his lowest since 2009), and 106 strikeouts in 122 innings.
Stark forecasts the New York Yankees as a potential landing spot for Rodriguez.
Before their blockbuster trade, the Blue Jays were also considered hot on the trail for the 32-year-old.