Posted July 31, 2013

Trade deadline spotlight: Deadline day

Trade deadline
Justin Morneau, Twins

Even if the Twins miss out on trading Justin Morneau today they could still trade him in August. (AP)

Here’s where things stand as the clock ticks toward the non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Starting pitching

The Red Sox’ acquisition of Jake Peavy via a three-way deal with the White Sox and Tigers took the biggest name off the market while fulfilling Boston’s glaring need for pitching, which means it will be quite a surprise if there’s a bigger impact move on Wednesday. There haven’t been any indications on movement in the Cliff Lee market, and the Red Sox, the most likely suitor for him, filled its need for a relative pittance given the gap between the traded Jose Iglesias and top prospect Xander Bogaerts.

The Royals might have moved Ervin Santana, but with seven wins in a row to push their record to 52-51, they’re far less likely to do so now than they were last week, and there hasn’t been a major murmur about him since the weekend.

That means the next pitcher likely to move is the Astros’ Bud Norris, who like Peavy was scratched from Tuesday’s start in anticipation of a trade. The Orioles are believed to be the most interested team, with the Pirates and Diamondbacks the other two most heavily connected over the last 24 hours. Pittsburgh and Arizona were both in on Peavy, but neither got it done.

Given Brandon Beachy’s rough return from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday (seven runs in 3 2/3 innings) in the wake of Tim Hudson’s injury, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Braves push a little harder for some rotation insurance. Phil Hughes’ recent struggles have all but eliminated the market for the Yankees’ righty.

Relievers

Teams added plenty of bullpen help on Monday. The Tigers added Jose Veras, the Rays got Jesse Crain and the Braves acquired Scott Downs. Tuesday saw more minor moves, with Marc Rzepczynski going to the Indians and Brayan Villareal going to the Red Sox in the Peavy deal. So far, it appears likely that the pieces still in play are relatively small. There’s no indication Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is going anywhere, and there hasn’t been much discussion regarding Texas’ Joe Nathan, though the Rangers are still desperate for some offense.

The Cubs’ Kevin Gregg is still available, and as a free agent is among the team’s top priorities to trade. No teams have been specifically attached to him lately, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if a team like the Pirates — who last week lost Jason Grilli for four to eight weeks due to a flexor strain — add him as late-inning insurance.

Giants lefty Javier Lopez is one reliever who may yet be on the move, with the Tigers still a possible destination. The Cubs’ James Russell is drawing interest from the Reds. The Orioles are pushing for Oliver Perez, who’s experienced an unlikely rebirth as a lefty specialist in Seattle. Joe Thatcher is another lefty to keep an eye on; the Padres are said to be more likely to move him than righty Luke Gregerson.

Corner outfielders

The White Sox’ Alex Rios left Tuesday night’s game after fouling a ball off his left foot. He suffered a bruise, which isn’t believed to be serious, but there’s little indication he’s going anywhere. The Yankees are done pursuing outfielders in the wake of the Alfonso Soriano deal, and after indications that such a deal might go down, the Pirates’ interest in Rios “has lost steam” according to one report. Given how much money remains on his contract — around $19 million including a buyout of his 2015 option — he’s a candidate to be dealt in August. Meanwhile, the Pirates appear to have turned their attention to the Cubs’ Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus (both discussed at length here), neither of whom would cost nearly as much as Rios in either prospects or cash.

Infielders

The Mariners’ Mike Morse, who was activated from the disabled list earlier this week, is suddenly “very available” and could appeal to the Yankees as a first base option, with other teams possibly interested in him as an outfielder. Justin Morneau has been considered by the Orioles but he’s been viewed as declining defensively as well as offensively. He has $4.7 million remaining on his deal and could be moved in August.

The Angels’ late entry into the market led to a surprising move in the intradivisional trade of Alberto Callaspo to the A’s for prospect Grant Green. Though Erick Aybar drew interest from the Cardinals, he’s likely to stay put, but Howie Kendrick is still available. The 29-year-old second baseman is hitting .298/.338/.444 with 11 homers and is due almost $19 million for 2014-2015, not to mention around $4 million for the rest of this year. While he drew interest from the Royals, he has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to 12 teams, and Kansas City is one of them. The Dodgers briefly discussed Kendrick with the Angels.

The Phillies are trying to work out an extension with Chase Utley. Michael Young, who has a full no-trade clause, may only be willing to accept a return to the Rangers, with the Red Sox his second choice and the Yankees believed to be third. The Sox may be out of the running, as they’re expected to recall Will Middlebrooks from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Iglesias, and will give him a shot to reclaim his job, with Bogaerts a possibility down the line.

Biogenesis factor

According to a slew of reports, MLB is preparing to hand down 50-game suspensions to eight players not including Alex Rodriguez:  Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Rangers rightfielder Nelson Cruz, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Mariners catcher/first baseman Jesus Montero and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, minor leaguers Fautino de los Santos (free agent), Fernando Martinez (Yankees) and Cesar Puello (Mets). Missing from the list are Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon, and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal. Those three served recent 50-game suspensions that appear to have fulfilled whatever discipline might be connected to the Miami-area clinic. In other words, it doesn’t appear MLB came up with enough evidence to indicate that they’ve committed a separate offense.

The Tigers’ acquisition of Iglesias appears to cover for the potential loss of Peralta, though it’s unclear whether he’ll appeal in an attempt to continue playing. Cruz apparently hasn’t decided whether to appeal or accept, and with Lance Berkman in rough shape and David Murphy struggling, the Rangers are significantly exposed. Cruz and Peralta are both caught in a bind, because the perception that they’ve quit on their teams in the middle of playoff races by not fighting the charges carries its own stigma; such a move could be seen as even more selfish than taking performance-enhancing drugs.

As for the Yankees, A-Rod and his representatives have given every indication they will appeal any sanction, but even if commissioner Bud Selig’s attempt to subvert the Joint Drug Agreement is on shaky legal ground — he literally risks a federal case or the reopening of the Collective Bargaining Agreement — they need some infield insurance. With Callaspo off the table and Young only a distant possibility, it’s unclear where New York will turn. The loss of Cervelli means the team’s catching corps could use fortification; expect the Yanks to discuss Carlos Ruiz with the Phillies again.

3 comments
Mike26
Mike26

Whoever gets Bud Norris is guaranteed at lest 2 world titles.