Latest: Britton, Machado, Beltre, Astros

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we’ll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Phillies eyeing Britton
July 12: As the Phillies sit tied with the Braves atop the National League East, they appear to be ramping up their search for relief. Philly has spoken with the Orioles about closer Zach Britton, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports.

The 30-year-old Britton — who missed the first two-and-a-half months while recovering from offseason surgery to fix a ruptured right Achilles tendon — has a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings, but that mark is inflated by one rough outing on June 22 (four runs on five hits in one-third of an inning). Eleven of his 12 other appearances have been scoreless.

The Phillies have a number of promising young arms in their bullpen, including rookie closer Seranthony Dominguez. But Britton would bring a veteran presence, ninth-inning experience and a left-handed option to a Philly club whose only proven southpaw on the active roster is Adam Morgan (5.25 ERA).

Video: NYY@BAL: Britton seals 5-4 win, earns 2nd save of ’18

Yanks have inquired about a Mets starter
July 12: In their ongoing search for rotation help, the Yankees have contacted the Mets about a starter — but not one of the two you might expect.

While Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the bigger names, they’re also more likely pie-in-the-sky options for a potential trade between the two rival New York teams. The Yanks instead have checked in on fellow right-hander Zack Wheeler, as Marc Carig of The Athletic notes.

Tweet from @MarcCarig: A Yankees-Mets trade still seems quite unlikely. But the Yankees have recently inquired about Zack Wheeler, who has pitched better of late. Since June 1, he has a 3.44 ERA for the Mets. Perhaps, it���s just due diligence.

Wheeler has a 4.43 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP to date, but a better indication of why the Yankees might be interested is his performance since June 1, as Carig points out. Going back even further, the 28-year-old has a 3.50 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings across his past 10 starts, and he had pitched into the sixth inning in nine straight before his most recent hiccup.

Handicapping the Machado sweepstakes
July 12: There’s been no chill in the Manny Machado rumor mill. Just about every contender has been connected with, linked to or expressed interest in the star O’s shortstop.

In fact, Baltimore reportedly has upward of eight offers, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman writes for Fancred. Heyman handicaps those, placing odds on each — and has the Dodgers, Yankees and Brewers as the frontrunners.

The Dodgers might have the biggest need for Machado given Corey Seager‘s early-season (and season-ending) Tommy John surgery. Chris Taylor has handled shortstop in his stead, but Machado would be a clear upgrade for a team that’s motivated to win their first World Series since 1988 after falling short in Game 7 last year.

The Yankees’ interest in Machado has been getting the most hype, especially over the past 48 hours. The latest, from Wednesday night, is that they made a “strong offer” to Baltimore. However, their need for a shortstop — or third baseman, if Machado would switch back to his old position — may not be as pressing as their search for a starting pitcher.

The Brewers have had trouble filling shortstop all year long, as youngster Orlando Arcia hasn’t been able to follow up his breakout 2017 and currently is in Triple-A. Milwaukee’s shortstops have produced a .550 OPS — second worst in MLB this season.

Would Beltre accept trade to contender?
July 11: If a contending team can convince the Rangers to part with Adrian Beltre, they just might be able to win over Beltre, too.

Beltre told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo on Wednesday that he would be open to a trade if it gave him the chance to win a World Series. While Beltre has become a franchise icon in Texas — he’s made three All-Star teams with the Rangers, placed in the Top 10 of MVP voting four times and notched his milestone 3,000th hit last year — the Rangers sit in last in the American League West, 14 games under .500 at 40-54.

“If it’s the right situation I would consider going with the chance that I could win a championship,” Beltre said. “It’s not going to happen here [with Texas], unfortunately. So to be able to go somewhere and help a team win a championship, that’s important to me.”

Video: Adrian Beltre building on incredible career in 2018

The 39-year-old veteran has full no-trade protection due to 10-and-5 rights, which are afforded to players with at least 10 years of Major League service time and have spent at least the past five consecutive seasons with the same team. So Beltre, who will be a free agent after this season, would need to OK any potential deal that Texas swung.

If he’s willing to do that, though, then he could be a valuable contributor to a contender in need of a proven third baseman or right-handed bat. Teams like the Indians, Braves or Yankees could potentially all find room for a player like Beltre.

Will Giles’ demotion spur Astros to acquire a closer?
July 11: In a surprising move, the Astros demoted closer Ken Giles today, sending him to Triple-A following another ninth-inning meltdown Tuesday night. Cue the speculation that the defending champs still need a stable back-of-the-bullpen presence — perhaps now more than ever.

Giles’ ERA climbed to 4.99 after he allowed three runs on three hits without recording a single out Tuesday. That’s a career-worst mark and more than twice as high as his ERA from 2017, when he struggled with consistency, ultimately losing the closer’s job as the Astros defeated the Dodgers in the World Series.

On the heels of that disappointment, questions have sustained about whether the Astros would be able to rely on Giles in 2018. While his walk rate has improved dramatically (0.9 BB/9), the 27-year-old’s hit (10.6 H/9) and strikeout (9.1 K/9) rates are career worsts by quite a bit. He entered the season allowing just 6.9 hits per nine and striking out 12.4 batters per nine in his first four seasons.

Tweet from @byCBoutwell: AJ Hinch on the #Astros��� decision to option Ken Giles pic.twitter.com/xHoT0iUylI

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand recently covered a handful of relievers — including Reds righty Raisel Iglesias and Padres lefty Brad Hand — who could be fits for Houston. Sitting atop the American League West, the Astros have designs on repeating, but they’ll need to iron out their late-inning situation, and Giles’ ongoing struggles might propel them to turn to the trade market.

Crew has talked with Twins about Dozier, Escobar
July 11: The Brewers have been linked often to the starting pitching market, but there’s another area of need they may be trying to address.

Milwaukee has engaged in trade talks with the Twins, with the focus being on infielders, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports. The main aims? Second baseman Brian Dozier and versatile veteran Eduardo Escobar, who has experience at second, short and third (his primary position this year).

Video: MIN@MIL: Escobar crushes a solo homer in the 9th

The Brewers have lacked steady production up the middle, with young shortstop Orlando Arcia struggling to the point of being demoted to the Minor Leagues and veteran Jonathan Villar posting a .314 on-base percentage at the keystone.

Both Dozier and Escobar will be free agents at season’s end. The former is in the middle of a down 2018 (.717 OPS) but totaled 76 homers from 2016-17, while the latter is having a career year with an MLB-high 35 doubles and 14 taters.

Samardzija an option for Yankees?
July 11: For all the attention being focused on Manny Machado, the Yankees still need a starting pitcher, too. One option that hasn’t been talked about much but could be in play: Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

According to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on Wednesday, the Giants have “let the Yankees know” that Samardzija is available.

That’s no guarantee that New York will actually pursue the 33-year-old right-hander. The Yankees could, for example, go after other options like the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ or the Rangers’ Cole Hamels. Samardzija has an expensive contract — he’s signed through 2020 on a five-year, $90 million deal — and has had trouble with the home run ball in recent seasons, which according to Nightengale gives the Yankees cause for concern about how he’d pitch with the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.

The Giants aren’t out of contention by any means, currently above .500 and within striking distance in the National League West, but they might want to move Samardzija’s contract if they find a suitable trade partner. Samardzija just returned from the disabled list to make his first start since May, allowing three runs in five innings against the Cardinals this past weekend.

Machado’s top choice in free agency?
July 11: Everything related to Manny Machado right now is trade talk, but what about the longer term?

Machado, after all, will be a free agent at the end of the 2018 postseason, meaning after he’s traded this month (assuming that happens), he’s going to be looking at big-money, multiyear offers from multiple teams. Does any club have the inside track from Machado’s point of view?

Machado has told friends the Yankees are “easily his first choice,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.

Machado continues to make it clear that he prefers to remain at shortstop rather than switching back to third base. The Yanks, of course, have Didi Gregorius at short through 2019 and Miguel Andujar, a rookie this year, appears to have a handle on the hot corner.

That said, Gregorius will be 29 at the start of next season and has slumped badly (.234/.277/.346) since a blistering April. Might New York consider going after Machado, who is younger (just turned 26) and more productive with the bat, and possibly trading Gregorius this offseason?

Video: Morosi on Andujar’s availability for a Machado deal

Will A’s buy or sell?
July 11: The A’s have surged of late, winning 11 of their past 14 to move 10 games over .500 entering Wednesday. That seemingly puts them in position to acquire talent ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline to try to make a postseason push. Or does it?

Problem is, the defending champion Astros and equally hot Mariners remain ahead of them in the American League West, with Oakland still six games behind Seattle for the second AL Wild Card spot. That’s not an insurmountable deficit, but it’s significant enough to give the small-market A’s pause as they ponder their approach this month.

The club is evaluating its direction, according to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, who reports the A’s may choose to target from a pool of rental starting pitchers — like Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ and Twins righty Lance Lynn — but only if they come out of the All-Star break and make it through their first series (against the Bay Area-rival Giants) in a reasonably good position.

Should the A’s falter between now and then, there’s a chance the club could look to sell some if its expiring pieces, including catcher Jonathan Lucroy and infielder Jed Lowrie, who was named an All-Star replacement Tuesday.

Video: OAK@CLE: Lowrie drills solo HR for 100th hit of 2018

Yanks see Happ as a “realistic” option over deGrom, Thor
July 10: The Yankees have long been linked to rumors relating to rotation upgrades, and in that realm, is Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ. On Tuesday, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the New York front office views Happ as a more “realistic” option than Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in an otherwise thin market for available starters. A potential in-city agreement has been touted by many in baseball circles unlikely for a multitude of reasons. And Happ will be a free agent at season’s end and will likely not cost the Yankees nearly as much as it would striking a deal with their rivals across the East River. 

Happ, who on Sunday was named an All-Star for the first time, has quietly emerged as one of the top starters available, though his stock could be dwindling of late: the 35-year-old has a 7.94 ERA over his last four starts, and the opportunities to steer in a more positive direction before July 31 are running thin.

Over the weekend, Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network reported that the Cubs “may have interest” in Happ, in part due to their rotational uncertainty relating to Yu Darvish‘s injury and Tyler Chatwood‘s struggles. 

Red Sox in the hunt for Machado, Britton
July 10: The Red Sox and Yankees have been locked in a battle for American League East supremacy all season long. Might the two soon have a showdown over a pair of highly sought-after Orioles?

Amid reports that the Yanks may be angling for Zach Britton as part of a potential blockbuster deal involving Manny Machado, there’s news that the Red Sox are also in play for the slugging infielder and lefty reliever.

LISTEN: Morning Lineup Podcast on latest Machado rumors

Boston’s interest in Machado was reported by The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday night. While the Red Sox don’t have an obvious need for Machado with Rafael Devers at third and Xander Bogaerts at short, a package built around Devers could bring the O’s to the bargaining table. Devers, 21, is in his second season and remains under team control through 2023.

Given Boston’s bullpen needs, however, the Red Sox may be more likely to land Britton. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Boston has been scouting the closer.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Red Sox, who have the pen as a priority, are scouting Zach Britton as well. while the o’s have been reluctant to trade with the Yankees in the past, they did make a big deal with Boston a few years ago (Rodriguez for miller)

Britton, 30, would be a good fit for the Red Sox, who are without a proven southpaw reliever. A free agent at the end of 2018, Britton missed the first 2 1/2 months while recovering from offseason surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles tendon. He currently sports an elevated 4.63 ERA, but that has come in a just 11 2/3 frames, and 10 of Britton’s 12 appearances have been scoreless.

Dodgers, Brewers haggling with O’s over Machado
July 10: There’s no rest when it comes to Manny Machado rumors these days. The latest, from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic (subscription required), is that the Orioles are zeroing in on specific young players in discussions with the Dodgers and Brewers.

From the Crew, Baltimore is seeking right-hander Corbin Burnes, a 23-year-old who ranks No. 2 in Milwaukee’s farm system and No. 56 overall per MLB Pipeline. From the Dodgers, the O’s have their eyes on Gavin Lux, a 20-year-old infielder who checks in at No. 12 in LA’s system.

Selected in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Burnes was just called up Sunday and is in line to make his big league debut in a bullpen role for now. Pitching in hitter-friendly Triple-A Colorado Springs, Burnes had a 5.15 ERA but an impressive 9.3 K/9 rate.

A first-rounder in 2016, Lux is due for a bump up prospect rankings as he’s in the middle of a breakout campaign (.319/.396/.509) at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, where he’s playing both shortstop and second base.

Neither the Dodgers nor Brewers, who are thought to be among the frontrunners to land Machado, appears willing to part with these prospects so far, according to Rosenthal’s report. Whether one of them eventually gives in to the O’s demands or Baltimore winds up having to set its sights on lower-tier prospects because of Machado’s impending free agency remains to be seen.

Merrifield among underrated trade chips — or not?
July 10: It’s difficult for any trade candidate to fly under the radar during the chaotic weeks leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but MLB.com’s Richard Justice names 10 potential stealth options whose impact is likely to exceed their buzz this month.

Among them? Royals utility player Whit Merrifield, a 29-year-old who has followed up his breakout 2017 with another strong season (.303/.369/.427, 27 doubles, 16 steals entering Tuesday). That, along with Merrifield’s defensive versatility — he’s started at first base, second base, center field and right field in 2018 — has increased interest in the late bloomer.

Craig Edwards of FanGraphs argues that the Royals should look to move Merrifield while his value is this high and before he turns 30. Meanwhile, Rustin Dodd of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that Merrifield is open to an extension to stay in KC. With Merrifield under club control through 2022, the rebuilding Royals could face a possible dilemma as they weigh their options here.

Video: Merrifield’s 5-hit game highlights his strong week

Eovaldi might quietly be best starting pitcher on market
July 10: Eight starts into the season, Nathan Eovaldi is drawing increased interest as the best starter on the market right now, according to a report by Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs. The Rays right-hander, 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA, increased his trade value when he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Mets on Sunday. He’s walked just six batters and struck out 44 in 48 1/3 innings, sporting a career-best 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Video: TB@NYM: Eovaldi K’s 9 over 7 shutout, drives in a run

After two seasons with the Yankees in 2015-16, New York released Eovaldi upon learning he’d need Tommy John surgery. Now on the other side of that surgery, the 28-year-old has recorded four quality starts, having given up no more than one hit in two of those outings. Eovaldi has improved his arsenal immensely, and increased fastball height mixed with an effective cutter makes him a talking point as the Deadline nears.

Brewers, Cubs could have interest in Marlins’ Dietrich
July 10: Teams have been calling about Derek Dietrich, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The versatile Dietrich would be a good fit for Milwaukee as it looks to contend. The Brewers have started six players at second base this year with minimal production to show for it. Dietrich, 28, is posting career offensive numbers with two seasons remaining before becoming eligible for free agency. Interestingly, Dietrich was out of the lineup on Monday when the Marlins played the Brewers.

Dietrich had outstanding June in which he hit .344/.402/.563 with a .964 OPS, five homers, six doubles, seven walks and 11 RBIs in 27 games. In addition to moving around the diamond, Dietrich can slug, drive the ball and get on base. Dietrich is the longest-tenured Marlin, having debuted for Miami in 2013. It would benefit the Marlins to wait until the offseason to take offers for the super-utility man, but Dietrich would be an asset to any club looking to add depth to its bench.

Dodgers pursuing Dozier, looking at improve at second base
July 9: Based on a tweet from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan on Monday, the Dodgers are looking at other position players besides Manny Machado.

Tweet from @JeffPassan: Sources: Dodgers have stepped up pursuit of a position player and are looking beyond Manny Machado. Have had conversations with Reds about Scooter Gennett, Twins about Brian Dozier and Mets about Asdrubal Cabrera. Dodgers��� versatility allows them to pursue a number of positions.

According to Passan’s tweet, Los Angeles has also inquired about Scooter Gennett, Asdrubal Cabrera and Brian Dozier. With second baseman Logan Forsythe slashing .202/.260/.301 entering Monday, the Dodgers appear more likely to hone in on upgrading at the keystone. MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi confirmed Monday that the Dodgers and Twins have discussed a trade involving Dozier, who will be a free agent at season’s end. Dozier, 31, entered Monday batting .222/.305/.402 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs. While he’s been hindered by a .247 BABIP this year, he’s coming off back-to-back seasons of at least 30 homers and would add more thump to Los Angeles’ lineup.

Red Sox may seek catcher with Vazquez sidelined
July 9: With Christian Vazquez scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday for a fractured right pinkie finger, the Red Sox may be in the market for another catcher. Vazquez, who was placed on the disabled list Sunday, is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora both said Monday that they are comfortable with Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart behind the plate until Vazquez comes back. Swihart has started only one game at backstop this year, however, so Dombrowski may seek a more experienced backstop at the Trade Deadline. The Rays’ Wilson Ramos is available and would add some extra punch to MLB’s highest-scoring lineup, as Leon (.683 OPS) and Swihart (.460 OPS) have both disappointed offensively. If both continue to struggle over the next few weeks, Dombrowski may look to shore up the position with a more accomplished bat.

Braves likely to add pitching help
July 9: While the Braves have been players in this summer’s Machado sweepstakes, they’re also expected to be in the market for a reliever. Arodys Vizcaino recently spent time on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, and the team has said it will monitor his workload in the second half. He has not received a save opportunity since returning from the DL on July 3, and Atlanta may want another proven late-game option in case his inflammation flares up again.

The Braves may also look to add an established starter to their rotation. While they have received strong performances from their starters thus far thanks to breakouts from Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz, as well as an unexpected resurgence from Anibal Sanchez, they might want another frontline starter to guard against possible regression from them in the second half. With a plethora of young talent to trade from, Atlanta should have no trouble landing an arm it desires.

Video: PIT@NYM: Wheeler tosses 7 shutout innings vs. Pirates

Published on Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:09:44 +0000

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