Posted July 30, 2012

Where things stand with the top players still on the market

Chase Headley, Hunter Pence, James Shields, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Shin-Soo Choo, Stephen Drew, Trade deadline

With the Red Sox’ playoff chances uncertain, Josh Beckett could be traded out of Boston. (AP)

The July 31 trading deadline is now less than 30 hours away. With Cole Hamels re-signed and Zack Greinke traded to the Angels for a trio of prospects on Friday night, the top two starting pitchers who were expected to be dealt have been spoken for, and while most of the names on the next tier are still available, the prices may be steep. Meanwhile, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot in the way of impact bats on the market. Here’s our rundown of where things stand with the top names who may still be on the block; for a rundown of the needs contenders are trying to fill, read Cliff Corcoran’s story here.

Pitchers

Ryan Demspter, Cubs: Dempster is in limbo after turning down a trade last week that would have sent him to the Braves in exchange for Randall Delgado because he was said to prefer going to the Dodgers. However, the Cubs didn’t like Los Angeles’ offer as much as they did Atlanta’s, and their attempt to package Dempster with Alfonso Soriano hasn’t stirred the Dodgers’ interest enough, though L.A. could still use an offensive upgrade in leftfield.

Matt Garza, Cubs: Garza left his July 21 start against the Cardinals after three innings due to a cramp in his right triceps. He has fluid buildup in the muscle, and while he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, he will miss at least one turn, all but removing him from the market until the offseason.

James Shields, Rays: Now just two games out of the AL Wild Card at 53-49, the Rays may be wavering in their resolve to deal. If they do, they’re said to be looking for a package “north of Greinke” because Shields is under team control through 2014. The Cardinals, who have yet to make a move to cover for the loss of Chris Carpenter, are said to be interested, as are the Indians, Braves, Dodgers and Rangers.

Josh Johnson, Marlins: Miami’s hope for a “dream package” in return for Johnson wasn’t helped by the 28-year-old righty walking six Padres on Sunday. The Rangers, who have shown some interest, were unwilling to include slugging third base prospect Mike Olt in a deal for Johnson, and not surprisingly, they have shown no intention of dealing shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar.

Josh Beckett, Red Sox: Beckett is a relatively new name on the market, though one major league executive told ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that the team is “trying to dump” the 32-year-old righty, whose 4.57 ERA and conflicts with the local media have made for an ugly situation. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported that Boston called the Braves and Rangers about Beckett, who has 10-and-5 rights, which mean he could refuse any deal. Owed another $31.5 million on his deal through 2014, Beckett’s contract makes him more likely to be dealt during the waiver period next month, since teams will be cautious about assuming his salary.

Jonathan Broxton, Royals: The top name in closers on the market — at least after Huston Street signed an extension with the Padres — Broxton is hardly an elite reliever these days. He has 23 saves and a 2.27 ERA, but his 6.3 strikeouts per nine are just over half of the 11.7 per nine he struck out for the Dodgers from 2005-2010, before his elbow troubles began. The Giants, who lost Brian Wilson earlier this year, are said to be interested. They have been patching through with Santiago Casilla doing the bulk of the closer work, and while he has saved 24 games, he has blown four out of seven save opportunities this month. The Rangers, who have been flustered in their quest for a starter, have apparently shifted their focus to the bullpen, with Alexi Ogando possibly rejoining their rotation.

Hitters
Shane Victorino, Phillies: Swept by the Braves over the weekend, the Phillies are now 45-57, 12 1/2 games out of the Wild Card and 16 1/2 back in the NL East; the time has come for them to sell. The Reds, Dodgers, Giants and Pirates are said to be interested in Victorino, a pending free agent whose .261/.324/.401 line would represent career lows in all three categories. Pittsburgh may be out of the running by now.

Hunter Pence, Phillies: According to Passan, the Phillies have been more aggressive in marketing Pence than Victorino. Dealt from the Astros to Philadelphia on July 29 last year, the 29-year-old righty is hitting .271/.336/.447 with 17 homers this season while making $10.4 million in his third year of arbitration eligibility; as a Super Two, he has one more year of club control remaining, so he would fetch a bigger package than Victorino. On Sunday, the Giants were said to have a deal in place for him, but that rumor originated via a spoofed Twitter account, then gained new life when it was passed along by San Francisco TV station KPIX; it has since been refuted by the Giants’ front office. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that he may be too expensive for San Francisco but not the Dodgers, who demonstrated their new-found ability to take on salary via the Hanley Ramirez trade. Furthermore, the Mariners, who aren’t contenders, are said to be looking for players under club control such as Pence.

Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: At 50-52, the Indians have fallen into third place, 5 1/2 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central, and they’re now eighth in the Wild Card race, five games back as well. While Cleveland hasn’t announced its intention to punt, it is said to be engaging in discussions on Choo, who has rebounded from a miserable 2011 by hitting .291/.378/.484 with 12 homers. The 29-year-old lefty is making just $4.9 million this year, and has one more year of club control before he can reach free agency. The Rangers, Reds and Pirates have shown interest, with the latter apparently including recently promoted Starling Marte in their talks. The team’s second-best hitting prospect coming into the season, Marte is a 23-year-old centerfielder who is blocked by Andrew McCutchen, and who would have less value in a corner outfield position due to his modest power and overly aggressive approach at the plate; he debuted last week with a home run in his first major league plate appearance.

Chase Headley, Padres: The 28-year-old third baseman, who is under club control through 2014, has drawn plenty of interest from contenders including the Yankees, Dodgers, and A’s, but the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that San Diego has “grown leery” of trading him based upon the offers they’ve received.

Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks: Since returning from a nearly year-long absence due to a severe ankle injury, Drew has hit a meager .203/.273/.266 in 79 plate appearances. The trade of Ryan Roberts to Tampa Bay was thought to signal the Diamondbacks’ intent not to deal Drew, but the team turned around and added the Astros’ Chris Johnson over the weekend. That frees up Willie Bloomquist, who had shifted over to third base, to return to shortstop; he has hit a relatively robust .299/.323/.395 while filling in. Drew continues to draw interest from the A’s, though. FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal suggeststhat an unspecified mystery team may be more interested. Joel Sherman thinks the Yankees may be that team, noting that some executives think that he could play third base, and that Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers worked in the Yankee organization in 2010 after leaving the Padres.

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