July 17 news and notes: D-backs hitters gaining interest

— In their quest to put an end to 19 consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates — one game behind National League Central-leading Cincinnati — could be in the market for a bat. Pittsburgh entered Tuesday’s action 10th in the NL with 4.08 runs per game and 13th with a .246 team batting average. Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Pirates have been in touch with the D-backs about prized outfielder Justin Upton. Morosi says it’s unclear if Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington would part with a couple of the organization’s Minor League jewels in exchange for the 24-year-old Upton, who hit .289 with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs a year ago. This season, Upton totes a .271 average with with seven round-trippers and 38 RBIs. Arizona, at 43-46, sits six games out of the lead in the NL West. According to Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, Upton can block a trade to four teams: the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Indians.

— Upton isn’t the only D-backs player garnering interest. Morosi also reports that the Tigers could be in pursuit of Arizona infielders Stephen Drew and Ryan Roberts. Drew, a shortstop, has played just 13 games this season since returning from a broken ankle. He’s a career .269 hitter in seven seasons with the D-backs. He was the club’s first-round selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. Roberts, 31, is batting .239 with six homers in 76 games.

— While the D-backs try to stay afloat in the NL West, the Marlins are trying to get back to sea level in the NL East. At 43-46, Miami sits nine games behind the division-leading Nationals and six games out of the second Wild Card spot. Our own Joe Frisaro says the Marlins could be sellers should they fall out of contention in the next two weeks, and if they do pawn off their players, perhaps no one is safe. ESPN’s Buster Olney says the Marlins would listen to offers for anyone, including Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Johnson, though they would have to be more than overwhelmed to part with their top performers.

— Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster (5-3, 1.86 ERA) continues to attract plenty of attention on the trade market. Dempster, who currently sports a 33-inning scoreless streak, has the ability to veto any trade, since he has been in the league for 10 years, and five with one team. Olney reported that the Red Sox were actively in pursuit of the 35-year-old, though the Dodgers, Yankees, Braves and a whole host of other clubs have also expressed interest. However, WEEI.com in Boston reported that the Red Sox do not have Dempster on their wish list.

– Zack Meisel

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