* The Rangers, who scouted the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton earlier this month, had a scout at Thursday’s Tigers-Indians game, reportedly to check out the Indians’ Shin-Soo Choo according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. With the Rangers scoring the fewest runs of any American League club this month entering play Friday, general manager Jon Daniels could be interested in adding another power bat to the lineup ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. According to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, however, Texas may have to look elsewhere with the Indians now likely to hold onto Choo.<p>
* It appears the Angels haven’t given up on Rays starter James Shields just yet according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, though one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking described the Angels’ chances of acquiring a starter as “below average and diminishing” as of Thursday. Rosenthal reports the Angels – who he says are also still in the mix for the Brewers’ Zack Greinke — are not the only team still interested in Shields despite his recent slump. He also lists the Rangers, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals as potential suitors.
* Though the Rockies currently sit in last place in the National League West, don’t expect them to be major sellers at the trade deadline reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman reports that Colorado wants to keep both Michael Cuddyer and reliever Matt Belisle, though the Rockies could be willing to part with Marco Scutaro, Jason Giambi, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Reynolds and Jonathan Herrera.
* The Dodgers have already landed Hanley Ramirez and remain in talks for the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster — and they’re still interested in more, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Knobler writes that the Dodgers have expressed interest in acquiring either Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham of the Twins, though the Twins have said it’s unlikely they part with Willingham. It’s also possible that a potential Dempster deal could expand to include either Alfonso Soriano or Bryan LaHair.
- Paul Casella
Though Cliff Lee has notched just one win so far this season, the Phillies still consider the lefty an integral part of their future and do not plan to trade Lee ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
According to Heyman’s report, trading Lee would somewhat negate the recent signing of Cole Hamels to his six-year deal. This week’s sweep of the Brewers and the club’s 8-3 record in its last 11 games are also likely contributing factors to keeping Lee.
General manager Ruben Amaro seemed to confirm the notion that Lee will be staying put through the season with his comments Friday.
“I may have, but that is what the plan is right now,” Amaro said when asked if he had said this week that he plans to keep the rotation together through the season. “Plans can change, but that’s what the plan is right now.”
The southpaw’s contract would present a bit of an obstacle on the market, as well, considering it guarantees around $97 million through 2015, not to mention he has 21 teams on his no-trade list. Texas, one of the eight clubs not on that list, has scouted Lee, but appears more interested in landing Zack Greinke, Josh Johnson or James Shields.
- As the mystery surrounding Cole Hamels’ future continues, ESPN’s Jayston Stark reports the Phillies are making a strong push to sign the left-hander before the trade deadline. With contract length having been the major obstacle in negotiations to this point, the Phillies are reportedly now willing to offer Hamels a six-year deal. According to Stark’s report, the Phillies have basically put trade talks on hold regarding Hamels, as they push to lock him up.
- While the Dodgers are now working with a healthy Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports the club is looking to add another bat to the roster. Though they’ve already talked to the Cubs about pitchers Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, Heyman reports they’ve also inquired about a plethora of hitters, including Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Josh Willingham, Michael Cuddyer, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez and Chase Headley. The Phillies and Brewers aren’t sellers as of yet and, according to Heyman, the Twins and Rockies don’t appear ready to part with Willingham and Cuddyer, respectively. That leaves Headley as the most logical option on that list, but a number of teams remain insterested in the Padres third baseman, including the Indians, Orioles and Diamondbacks.
- Accordng to a tweet from ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Cubs are still working to trade Dempster as soon as possible, though it apparently won’t be to the Red Sox. Stark’s tweet indicated that a source has said the Red Sox are out of the running for Dempster, but remain interested in Garza.
- Paul Casella