July 2012

D-backs and Cubs not talking Upton deal

A baseball source said Tuesday morning that the D-backs are not currently discussing a deal with the Cubs involving outfielder Justin Upton and pitcher Matt Garza.

The D-backs are not expected to deal Upton prior to the deadline, though GM Kevin Towers has said he will listen to offers on any player on his roster.

“All I can tell you I have had no dialogue about Justin Upton today or yesterday,” Towers said on Monday. “I think clubs have a pretty good feel that at this point in time we’re 4 1/2 games out and he’s a big part of our ballclub, but I would say unless something drastically changes in the next 24 hours that Justin Upton is going to remain here.”

— Steve Gilbert

Reports: Phillies at it again, this time with Pence

The Phillies aren’t done yet.

Shortly after dealing outfielder Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, it sounds like another Philadelphia outfielder — this time, Hunter Pence — is also heading west.

According to multiple reports, talks between the Phillies and Giants had been heating up this afternoon. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, a deal is now just about finished. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki also says the deal is close, and CBS’ Danny Knobler reports that it’s minor league catcher Tommy Joseph heading to Philadelphia in exchange. Giants right fielder Nate Schierholtz is another player who could possibly be involved in the swap.

Pence came over to Philadelphia from Houston in a Trade Deadline deal last year and hit .324 in the final 54 games for the Phillies. He’s hit .271 with 17 homers and 59 RBIs for the last-place Phillies this season.

Joseph, the Giants’ second-round pick (55th overall) in the 2009 Draft and No. 5 prospect, according to MLB.com Prospect Watch, has hit .260 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 80 games for Double-A Richmond this year. He was the starting catcher for the U.S. team in this year’s Futures Game in Kansas City, going 1-for-1 with a walk, a run and an RBI.

When all is said and done, the Phillies outfield could be awfully depleted by their game tonight against Washington. With Joe Blanton, Juan Pierre — and perhaps even Cliff Lee — still possible trade targets, there still may be more action before the Deadline hits.

— Joey Nowak

Orioles turn attention to other pitchers

With talks stalling between the Phillies and the Orioles over Joe Blanton –with money being the biggest issue right now– Baltimore has turned its attention back to other available starters, according to several sources. Unfortunately, there’s not much the Orioles can get with limited trade chips and top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado off the table.

Baltimore does not want to pick up all of the approximately $3 million left on Blanton and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is aggressively scouring the rest of the market to try to make a deal.  They had initial interest in top-tier arms like Zack Greinke –who has since been traded to the Angels– and tried to get Paul Maholm from the Cubs who dealt the lefty to Atlanta for a better package. The O’s maintain some interest in Arizona’s Joe Saunders, according to a source and have inquired on Seattle’s lefty Jason Vargas in the past. A separate source also indicated they are actively looking on the relief market to possibly flip someone in a second deal.

As of 12:15 ET, nothing is imminent.

The bottom line is there’s not a whole lot out there that the Orioles can get with the trade chips they’re willing to deal, unless teams asking prices fall. But with a big market for starting pitching, that’s unlikely to happen. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is today at 4 p.m. ET.

–Brittany Ghiroli

7/31 Dempster & the Dodgers

The Dodgers acquired outfielder Shane Victorino from the Phillies on Tuesday but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says they’re not done. Rosenthal reports the Dodgers are focused on Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster and want him before today’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline. Dempster was scheduled to start Tuesday night for the Cubs against the Pirates. However, the Cubs were expected to have pitcher Casey Coleman in Chicago as a contingency plan. Dempster has hinted he’d prefer to go to the Dodgers. As a player with 10-and-5 rights, he has veto power.

— Carrie Muskat

Marlins trying to trade Buck before deadline

ATLANTA — The Marlins are aggressively pursuing at least one more trade, but it doesn’t involve Josh Johnson.

Johnson is expected to remain with the Marlins, but some other possible deals are in the works, according to a source.

The Marlins are seeking outfield help, and they are exploring the trade market.

Miami is trying to trade catcher John Buck, who is signed through 2013. Buck is making $6 million this year and next. The 32-year-old is batting .169 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.

Brett Hayes has started at catcher the past two games. If Buck is dealt, Miami could be ready to promote Rob Brantly from Triple-A New Orleans.

Brantly, a left-handed hitter, was one of three prospects the Marlins acquired from the Tigers last week for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez.

The non-waiver trade deadline is at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Miami also would listen to offers for Carlos Lee and Heath Bell.

Joe Frisaro 

Victorino for Lindblom, Martin

The Dodgers have acquired Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino for reliever Josh Lindblom and Minor League pitcher Ethan Martin. — Ken Gurnick

7/31 Soto to Rangers

It’s now official. Geovany Soto moved up in the standings, traded by the Cubs to the Rangers for Minor League right-handed pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named or cash consideration. Soto, 29, has been in the Cubs system since he was drafted in 2001. The trade was reported Monday night as Soto was pulled from the game after the Pirates sixth inning, but wasn’t finalized until Tuesday morning. As he left Monday night’s game, Soto was greeted in the dugout by handshakes and hugs from his teammates. He was batting .199 this season in 52 games this season. He missed time because of a torn meniscus in his left knee. The 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, Soto was being paid $4.3 million this year, and on track to go to arbitration for the third time this offseason.

The defending American League champion Rangers lead the West division by 3 1/2 games.

The Cubs were expected to call up catcher Welington Castillo from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday with Clevenger taking over as the regular catcher. Clevenger was in the weight room, preparing in case he was needed to pinch hit when he got word that he had to get into the game to catch.

Brigham, 24, was 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Frisco this season. He went 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA (16 ER/40.0 IP) in 21 relief outings last season. In 2012, Brigham was named to the mid-season Texas League All-Star team. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Central Florida Christian Academy in Orlando, Fla. In 135 Minor League appearances, Brigham is 27-42 with one save and a 4.40 ERA.

— Carrie Muskat

Dodgers Closing in on Victorino

The Dodgers are close to adding veteran leadoff hitter Shane Victorino to their collection of stars in a trade with the Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom and a Minor Leaguer, according to a baseball source. Lindblom became expendable with the Tuesday night acquisition of reliever Brandon League. — Ken Gurnick

Reports: Dodgers close to dealing for Victorino

Shane Victorino, one of many Phillies whose name has been floating around this week, is close to be shipped out west to Los Angeles, according to multiple reports on Tuesday morning.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted that the two teams are close to finishing a deal that would send reliever Josh Lindblom and another player to Philadelphia for Victorino, who would fill L.A.’s need for a leadoff hitter. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki has also confirmed that report.

If that’s the case, as FOX’s Ken Rosenthal writes, it would likely take the  Dodgers out of the running for Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano.

In his second season with the Dodgers, Lindblom has 43 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, with a 3.02 ERA. Victorino, a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover, was an integral part of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series club and has three times in his career stolen at least 34 bases in a season and twice score more than 100 runs.

— Joey Nowak

D-backs update

Busy night of trade rumors for the D-backs. FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the D-backs are seeking a “premier” starting pitcher and speculated that it could possibly be the Phillies Cliff Lee or the Mariners Felix Hernandez.

However, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported early this morning that the D-backs are not in on either Lee or Hernandez.