The Rockies are not prepared to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at present (not least of which because he is on the DL), but the Mets have reached out to indicate that they would be interested if he is marketed, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. A National League executive tells Sherman that he thinks the Mets could match up well given their young pitching depth and Colorado’s need for the same. On the other hand, sources tell Sherman that the Cardinals think very highly of the star shortstop and would give up a substantial haul to add him. And of course, Sherman also notes, Tulowitzki would have a wider market given his top-tier abilities.
Here’s more from the National League:
Here’s the latest out of the American League:
Here are the day’s minor moves:
10:09pm: The Yankees do have interest in Kennedy, but do not intend to give up both Jagielo and Clarkin for him, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Heyman adds that there is “nothing hot at all” between the clubs at present.
Bowden adds (via Twitter) that a team executive informs him that Cashman has had discussions with many teams with potentially available starters.
10:02pm: The Yankees and Padres are discussing a deal that would send starter Ian Kennedy to New York in exchange for prospects Eric Jagielo and Ian Clarkin, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that San Diego was disinclined to deal Kennedy unless it received an overwhelming offer.
Kennedy has been solid for the Padres this year after coming over from the Diamondbacks mid-year last season. Over 135 1/3 innings, he owns a 3.66 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 9.5 K/9, 2.8 BB.9 and a career-best 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. The 29-year-old is making $6.1MM this year and will pass through arbitration one more time before hitting the open market.
Jagielo and Clarkin were both first-round selections last year for New York. Jagielo, a third baseman, has slashed .243/.321/.470 through 209 plate appearances this year at age 22. Clarkin, meanwhile, is a 19-year-old southpaw who has pitched to a 3.36 ERA through 61 2/3 innings at low-A, notching 9.9 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
9:41pm: There are no talks ongoing regarding Stubbs, Harding reports, but sources tell him that increased activity on the outfielder could occur over the coming week.
7:02pm: The Mariners have inquired with the Rockies about the possibility of acquiring outfielder Drew Stubbs, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Colorado is willing to listen on Stubbs, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com, and would be interested in bringing back a controllable young arm in return.
Stubbs, 29, has played exclusively in center field with the Rockies, though he also has experience in right. He has posted a career-best .297/.335/.498 slash with ten home runs an 11 stolen bases in 258 plate appearances. That comes on the heels of three straight seasons of below-average production with the Reds and Indians, however, which led to his being dealt to the Rockies from the latter club in exchange for southpaw reliever Josh Outman.
The right-handed hitting Stubbs is earning $4.1MM through arbitration this year and should be in line for a nice raise in 2015, his final season of arb eligibility. That contract situation limits his trade value, of course. Colorado is not yet sure if they would like to part with Stubbs, Morosi adds. Of course, he is part of a fairly crowded outfield situation at present, particularly given reports that the club would like to bring back veteran Michael Cuddyer.
The big question for Atlanta Braves fans at every trade deadline is "will the team do anything big?" It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Atlanta front office will add a small piece or two every deadline, as they’ve done for just about every deadline in which the Braves have been in contention.
But a big trade? Those are not quite as frequent in the history of Braves deadline deals, though there have been a couple in the past few years.
Two years ago, the Braves acquired starting pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson, in exchange for a pretty big pitching prospect in Arodys Vizcaino.
The last really big trade came a few hours before the 2011 trade deadline, when GM Frank Wren shipped a package of mid-tier prospects to the Astros for Michael Bourn.
Prior to that, the last really big trade the Braves made at the deadline was the 2007 trade for Mark Teixeira.
Most Braves fans would rather forget about that one, but at the time the slugging first baseman was just what the team needed, and the team shipped off a bunch of prospects who were two or three years away from the majors.
Most years at the deadline, the Braves simply acquire a few parts and pieces they need to round out the roster.
Last year they needed a lefty reliever, so they went out and got Scott Downs.
In 2010, they went out and got outfielder Rick Ankiel and reliever Kyle Farnsworth from the Royals. In fact, that was the second time the Braves had added "The Farns" in a deadline deal, having acquired him from the Tigers in 2005.
These smaller deals are more likely what will transpire at this year’s trade deadline.
The Braves are unlikely to make a big trade at the deadline due to a lack of top-tier prospects in their minor league system. Not only will other teams find Atlanta’s selection of talent limited, the Braves themselves will not want to deplete their minor league system below its current state.
The Braves are also unlikely to tread into the blockbuster deadline trade waters because the team doesn’t have any glaring holes that need plugging. The lineup is set at every position, and the team has done a good job of filling in for the nagging injuries throughout the season.
The rotation is also unlikely to change or need an upgrade. The cost of a rotation upgrade in a trade is beyond the Braves' means—both in terms of prospects and salary space. The Braves already extended their budget once this year when they signed Ervin Santana in spring training.
Atlanta also has options in case a starter goes down, beginning with David Hale, who early in the season proved that he could successfully hold down a rotation spot.
Keeping it small...or not at all
The best guess right now for what the Braves will do at the deadline, is something small. It’s no secret that they would like to add a reliever, but with the Huston Street and Joakim Soria deals setting the prospect price for quality relievers extremely high, the Braves may not be willing to pay market rates.
The Braves will spend the next week searching for ways to upgrade their bullpen and bench. But with essentially no financial flexibility and limited attractive options, there is a chance they will remain quiet through the July 31 Trade Deadline.
While they may not want to make a move, the Braves need to make a move to improve one of the worst pinch-hitting corps in the National League (.176 PH average).
Atlanta has also seemingly mined every effective relief nugget out of its minor league system, recently recalling lefty Chasen Shreve from Double-A. It seems prudent to add an experienced reliever now to protect against the possibility of injury down the stretch.
The Braves are big fans of the two-for trade, wherein they trade with one team to fill all their needs. The aforementioned Maholm and Johnson trade was one such deal, as was the Ankiel/Farnsworth trade. Even in the Mark Teixeira trade, the Braves also received reliever Ron Mahay.
In 2006, the Braves got utility man Willy Aybar and reliever Danys Baez from the Dodgers in a single deadline deal.
Atlanta will look to add an experienced pinch-hitter and an experienced reliever at this year’s deadline. While they may not force the issue, or have much minor league depth they wish to part with, the Braves do need to make a move to strengthen their bench and bullpen.
My prediction is that the Braves will go to one team for all their needs and pull off another two-for deadline deal.
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The demotion of Luis Avilan cemented the fact that the Braves' biggest need at the July 31 trade deadline is left-handed relief.
The Braves have just one lefty in Chasen Shreve, who was just recently promoted to Atlanta.
Undoubtedly, general manager Frank Wren is searching for a more reliable option for the stretch run.
A top-end starting pitcher would make a huge splash, but the Braves don't have the financial flexibility to pull off such a move. Even if they did, the Braves would be hesitant to deal multiple top prospects in risking the future of the franchise.
David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that's who the Braves are targeting.
Andrew Miller is lefty #Braves want, but Red Sox might not deal him long as they think they have a decent playoff chance.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) July 22, 2014
The interest makes perfect sense from the Braves' perspective.
The 29-year-old and former first-round pick has put up some gaudy numbers out of the bullpen his past three seasons with the Red Sox.
His ERA has dropped each of the last three seasons from 3.35 to 2.64 and 2.31 this season.
Meanwhile, his strikeouts per nine innings have escalated from 11.4 to 14.1 and 14.5 this season. His 14.5 K/9 is similar to the 15.0 that closer Craig Kimbrel has posted.
Miller has also demonstrated control on the mound with a 0.95 WHIP while holding left-handed hitters to just a .155 average.
Clearly Miller would be an upgrade over Avilan on the mound, who had a 4.85 ERA and 1.65 WHIP with lefties hitting .277 off him this season.
Adding Miller wouldn't require a big financial commitment from the Braves and keep the top prospects within the organization.
Miller is signed through the 2014 season (free agent after this year) for $1.9 million, which would leave approximately $800,000 left on his deal that the Braves would owe.
The Braves could add another prospect in order to get the Red Sox to pay most or all of the remaining salary if they'd prefer to go that route.
Speaking of prospects, I wouldn't expect more than a mid-level prospect to acquire Miller.
A Cody Martin or Aaron Northcraft should be enough to entice the Red Sox. While both are solid prospects, neither are considered elite.
Acquiring Miller won't make a huge splash on or leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
However, it would fill the Braves' biggest need and would clearly make them a better team for the stretch run.
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The game itself had a playoff atmosphere, with defending Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer starting for the Tigers and All-Star snub Garrett Richards for the Angels, and superstars Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout playing on the same field.
However, based on the outcome, the Angels can’t be too excited about the prospects of facing Scherzer and the Tigers again in the postseason.
Though he wasn’t at his best, Scherzer still stole the show Thursday night as the right-hander struck out 11 batters over seven innings and powered the Tigers to a 6-4 win.
Scherzer was untouchable through three innings and retired the first nine hitters he faced, punctuated by an impressive third inning in which he struck out the side—all of them of the swing-and-miss variety.
Scherzer’s bid for perfection ended the following inning with leadoff single by Kole Calhoun, and the Angels eventually put runners on first and third with two outs. However, he was bailed out of the jam when the next batter, Erick Aybar, popped up a bunt attempt for the third out.
The Angels would get to Scherzer in the fifth inning, though, as they sent eight batters to the plate and pushed across three runs to take a 3-1 lead. The right-hander allowed four hits and a walk in the frame, but was able to avoid further damage with swinging strikeouts of Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton to end the threat.
Detroit answered the Angels’ three-spot with one of their own in the sixth inning, as they regained the lead, 4-3, and more importantly, put the game back in their ace’s hands. After that, Scherzer showed exactly why he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, retiring the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings while striking out four of six batters.
Overall, Scherzer yielded three runs on six hits over seven innings, with 76 of his 102 pitches going for strikes including 14 swinging strikes. The right-hander fanned 11 in the game—his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the season—and walked one batter.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old has been on a roll over his last six starts, with a 2.21 ERA and 50-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40.2 innings. And despite Scherzer’s trio of rough starts between May and June, he still owns a 12-3 record to go along with a 3.37 ERA and 161-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 139 innings.
Yet, it’s Scherzer’s track record of success against the Angels’ big hitters that could make him an absolute force in a postseason matchup.
Regarding Trout, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (via Twitter) notes that only Felix Hernandez (11 strikeouts in 47 at-bats) and Yu Darvish (11 strikeouts in 34 at-bats) have struck him out more times than Scherzer:
The win was Scherzer’s 12th of the season and moved him into tie for first place in the AL with teammate Rick Porcello. However, that might not have been the case if not for Detroit’s late offensive rally and solid relief.
The Tigers responded to the Angels three-run fifth inning by scoring three runs before making an out in the sixth. Torii Hunter plated the team’s second run of the game with a double to left field, and Nick Castellanos subsequently gave them a 4-3 lead with a two-run double.
The Tigers scored insurance runs in the next two frames, courtesy of an Ian Kinsler RBI double in the seventh and two-out RBI single by Austin Jackson in the eighth.
Overall, eight of the Detroit’s starters collected a hit in the game while four different players plated a run. Amazingly, none of those four players had the last name Cabrera or Martinez (applicable for both Victor and J.D.), which speaks to the top-to-bottom potency of the Tigers’ offense.
This brings us to the Tigers’ bullpen, their one glaring weakness during the first half of the season.
Joe Nathan, 39, has saved 21 games so far and has 42 strikeouts in 37.2 innings, but it’s otherwise been a disappointing season for the veteran closer, as he’s also blown five saves and pitched to a 5.73 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. Meanwhile, many of the team’s other core relievers, specifically Ian Krohl (4.55 ERA), Phil Coke (4.79 ERA) and Evan Reed (4.88 ERA), haven’t fared much better.
The lone bright spot has been Joba Chamberlain, who’s enjoying a resurgent season as the Tigers’ setup man with a 2.55 ERA and 22 holds over 46 appearances.
However, help is on the way.
The acquisition of Joakim Soria from the Rangers on Wednesday night gives Detroit’s bullpen much-needed depth and stability moving forward. Plus, the right-hander’s track record as closer makes him an option to assume ninth-inning duties should Nathan continue to struggle during the second half.
Soria was warming up in the bullpen during Thursday’s game and appeared ready to come in during the eighth, but Chamberlain managed to induce an inning-ending double play. Nathan then locked down the save in the ninth by striking out the side for just the second time this season, per Jason Beck of MLB.com (via Twitter).
The Tigers win over the Angels on Thursday night is exactly why they’re poised for success in a five- or seven-game playoff series; no one player had a particularly great game, but the team fired on all cylinders and edged out a close game against a good team and pitcher.
A lot can still happen before October, obviously, but right now the Tigers have the makings of a championship-caliber team.
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With the trade deadline a week away, the Mets need to figure out whether any good trades are available and if certain players on other teams are worth trading for. Furthermore, they need to evaluate their own organization and see which players they can afford to move and which players are better off not going anywhere.
The Mets are in third place in the NL East but are trying to find a way to get back in the race for the division title and/or one of the two NL wild-card spots. If they want to make a big effort toward contending for the playoffs this season, the Mets will need to make some big moves.
Here are three realistic trade possibilities that could work for the Mets.