Pitching is the hottest commodity on the MLB trade market as the July 31 trade deadline inches closer.
The teams contending for playoff positions are in the hunt for the starters and relievers who could improve their respective pitching staffs and give them an advantage over their closest competitors.
Madison Bumgarner, Mike Minor and Robbie Ray are among the many names that have been mentioned on the rumor mill, but there could be some hesitancy for their teams to sell.
The San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks are in the mix for the National League wild-card spots, while the Texas Rangers are in the same position in the American League.
Before the deadline, more clarity should be shed on the situations facing certain teams. But one thing is for sure already, and that is there is a hefty market for pitching.
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According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the chances of the Texas Rangers trading Minor are on the rise.
Morosi noted the Rangers are increasingly open-minded about dealing the 31-year-old left-handed pitcher.
In his report, Morosi noted the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers were suitors, and he tweeted that the Atlanta Braves are open to a reunion with Minor but that serious talks with the Rangers have yet to begin.
On Wednesday, Minor hit out at the potential of the Rangers dealing him before the July 31 deadline, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"We've been playing well all season," Minor said. "Anytime that we lose a couple games, they're supposedly ready to deal guys when we have two-and-a-half months left in the season."
Minor, who is 8-4 and coming off a 12-win season, is one of the most coveted pitchers on the trade market—if he is available, that is.
The All-Star selection has 121 strikeouts in 122 innings, and he has only conceded 98 hits and 37 earned runs in 19 starts.
Minor's frustration is understandable since Texas is 4.5 games out of the wild-card spots in the American League.
However, the Rangers have dropped their past four games, including a two-game set to Arizona, and they are set to face the Houston Astros in a three-game weekend set.
The series against Houston opens up a 10-game divisional road trip, with stops in Seattle and Oakland. If the Rangers are unable to reverse their losing form during that stretch, it would make sense for them to turn into sellers and get the most out of Minor.
Atlanta might make the most sense for Minor, if a deal happens, because he is familiar with the franchise and it has a clear lead in the National League East.
Philadelphia, which is chasing the Braves, has won one of the worst rotations in baseball; it has given up 452 earned runs and 165 homers.
The concern for the Phillies could come in which prospects they send back in return for Minor or any other potential pitching target.
If the asking price is high, Philadelphia might be forced to include right-handed pitcher Adonis Medina. That might not sit well with the organization since it gave up top prospect Sixto Sanchez in the J.T. Realmuto deal with the Miami Marlins in the offseason.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, the Phillies have spoken to the San Francisco Giants about Madison Bumgarner.
As highlighted, the Phillies are in desperate need of acquiring a quality arm for their rotation in order to make a playoff push.
The Phillies are a half-game behind Milwaukee for the final NL wild-card spot, and Salisbury reported they have inquired about Minor and the Detroit Tigers' Matthew Boyd.
Even though the Giants are on a six-game winning streak, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported the recent success is not throwing a wrench in their plans to trade Bumgarner and a few relievers.
If the Giants are set on selling, they should find a way to get a large return for Bumgarner, who is a free agent at the end of the 2019 season.
Before the All-Star break, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Houston, the Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee and Atlanta were among the teams interested in Bumgarner.
The market is there for the left-handed hurler, but he may have more of a choice as to where he lands compared to other pitchers.
Rosenthal noted Bumgarner has an eight-team list that he is willing to waive his no-trade clause for.
Houston stands out among the list of potential landing spots because it would add Bumgarner to a Justin Verlander-led rotatio that would be dangerous in the postseason.
Minnesota could use Bumgarner's experience, but it is not on the eight-team list, so it could face difficulties bringing in the 29-year-old.
Just like Houston, Milwaukee has been willing to make deals at recent trade deadlines, so it can't be counted out in its quest of the NL Central title.
Atlanta could also be a fit because it has a plethora of prospects to deal, especially on the mound. If the Giants are looking for young arms in return, the Braves could be the perfect trade partner.
According to Morosi, Milwaukee is among the teams kicking the tires on Arizona's Robbie Ray.
Ray, who is two years removed from a 15-win campaign, is 8-6 with a 3.92 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 21 starts.
Arizona sits in the same boat as a few other potential sellers because it has experienced an uptick in form during July.
The Diamondbacks are in the thick of the NL wild-card race at 1.5 games back of Milwaukee for the final playoff position.
If Arizona continues to trend in an upward direction, it may not be willing to trade some of its best pieces.
Just like Texas, the next week will be important for Arizona's trade status, with six home games to come against Milwaukee and the Baltimore Orioles.
If the Diamondbacks are able to compete with the Brewers over three games at home, belief could seep into the franchise that they could make a serious push into the postseason.
Conversely, a dip in form could alter their mindset and allow them to become sellers while teams like the Brewers circle like vultures.
The schedule in July is favorable, with the six home games and a four-game set in Baltimore. If those games go in Arizona's favor, Ray might not be as available as some buyers hope he is.