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Yankees keeping tabs on Phillies’ Cliff Lee

With 80 percent of their Opening Day rotation on the disabled list, starting pitching is a top priority for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as the July 31 non-waivers Trade Deadline approaches.

There has been speculation that the Yankees and Cliff Lee could finally be a match after several close calls in the past, with Lee returning to the mound in a 7-4 Phillies loss to the Giants on Monday. Yet the Yankees were “just observers” for that start, the New York Post reported, citing a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

Acquiring Lee, whom the Yankees chased twice in 2010, could be expensive. Lee turns 36 next month and is due $25 million next season; the Phillies want the acquiring club to pick up a major portion of the salary. Lee would also receive a $12.5 million buyout if a $27.5 million team option is not picked up for 2016.

Lee has missed most of this season with a left elbow strain and hadn’t pitched since May 18. Another potential roadblock is Lee’s no-trade clause. The Yankees are among the 20 teams that Lee can block a trade to, according to FOX Sports.

– Bryan Hoch

Miami relievers being closely watched

ATLANTA — About a dozen scouts are at Turner Field, and many of them are keeping a close watch on Marlins’ relievers.

Specifically, they’ve got their eyes on closer Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn.

The Marlins, for now, are committed to staying the course. They’re striving to string together some wins and get back to .500 by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

One thing is clear, if the Marlins did make Cishek and/or Dunn available, there would be strong interest in both.

Cishek, making $3.8 million in his first year of arbitration, would draw the biggest crowds, and bring in the largest payoff. The 28-year-old doesn’t qualify for free agency until 2018. Clearly, his price tag will rise in arbitration, but Miami also could target him as an extension candidate, seeking to lock him up for several more seasons perhaps an affordable rate.

If Cishek were to be moved, it likely would be to bring back a controllable starting pitcher or a big league ready second baseman.

Dunn, making $1.4 million in his first year of arbitration, will be a free agent in 2017.

This is an interesting time for the Marlins. They’re wanting to put themselves into the picture as buyers. They’ve made it clear, a controllable starter and a second baseman are on their wish list.

The club has a good, young core that they’re trying to add rather than subtract. The organization is striving to build stability with its nucleus, and retaining Cishek would be a positive signal to the clubhouse.

Joe Frisaro

Braves might remain quiet

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.

Like with another of other clubs, Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller has been on the Braves’ radar.  There has even been some discussion about the Cubs’ southpaw Wesley Wright.  But some members of the Braves’ organization believe their best option to add a left-handed reliever might come in the form of a rejuvenated and improved Luis Avilan, who was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett this past weekend with the hope that he will regain the form he possessed last year.

If the Braves do land a reliever or bench player, they will likely have to strike a deal with which they do not incur any cost for this season.  They went well over their budget when they gave Ervin Santana a $14.1 million in March.

-  Mark Bowman

Rays in no rush to deal Price

The good news for Rays fans is that the Rays are on a hot streak and have moved to within 7 1/2 games of first place in the American League East. The bad news is that there still are four teams in front of them.

Thus, the fate of David Price remains in question.  At the very least, it’s fair to speculate that the Rays will wait until the July 31 trade deadline to make a move.  By doing so they can see where they stand at that point.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post quotes an quoted an executive, who spoke about the Rays’ situation by saying: “I think they take it down to the wire.  That allows them to make sure they know who they are while making a couple teams sweat to the end that one of their competitors are going to get him. … It wouldn’t surprise me if Price actually ends up a July 31 decision.”

–Bill Chastain

No bites on Colon — at least not yet

Multiple published reports this week stated that the Mets have not received much interest on Bartolo Colon, their 41-year-old starter who is available on the trade market. That may be partially because teams are waiting to see what happens with David Price, and partially because Colon is 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA over his last four starts.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made it clear last week that he would be hesitant to become a seller at the deadline, but if the team’s recent slide — three straight losses after winning nine of 11 — continues, things could change rapidly. Colon is due $11 million next season in the final year of his contract.

Should the Mets become full-blown sellers, second baseman Daniel Murphy is also a prime candidate to be traded. A first-time All-Star, Murphy has one more year under team control and should make around $8 million through arbitration — a hefty sum for a Mets team that has seen its payroll hover from $85-95 million in recent seasons.

–Anthony DiComo

Orioles seeking starters and bullpen help, casting wide net

ANAHEIM— The Orioles are casting a wide net leading up to this year’s Trade Deadline and it’s no secret that the club is looking for both rotation and bullpen help. They’re exploring some interesting ways to get there.

According to industry sources, Baltimore has dangled right-hander Miguel Gonzalez in potential trade talks  with at least three clubs, including San Diego, with the thinking that the Orioles could potentially land a starter in return. One interesting name that has come up in preliminary talks is Padres starter Ian Kennedy. Kennedy’s stock has never been higher as he’s pitched to a 3.26 ERA in 21 games and he’s under team control —as an arbitration eligible— in 2015.

The uncertainty in dealing with San Diego, who traded closer Huston Street to the Angels over the weekend, is that the front office is undergoing massive changes. However, it’s believed that assistant general manager A.J. Hinch is itching to get a few deals done before the organization officially hires a new GM.  Gonzalez, who is coming off back-to-back eight-inning starts, isn’t a guy the Orioles necessarily want to part with but he could be moved to the bullpen when injured Ubaldo Jimenez is deemed ready to return.

Baltimore is also one of several clubs with interest in A.J. Burnett, a potential fit that would make sense given that the O’s expressed interest in Burnett this winter.  While Burnett has a no-trade clause it does not include Baltimore, sources confirmed to MLB.com, and he lives in nearby Monkton, Md.    The O’s were linked to Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa earlier this month, although reports were that Colorado was asking for a steep price tag that includes right-hander Kevin Gausman and hasn’t come down much.

The Orioles are also seeking a sixth or seventh-inning reliever type to help bridge to Darren O’Day and closer Zach Britton along with a left-handed hitter. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Monday that he’s been in contact with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette regarding trade scenarios but typically Duquette doesn’t bring up specifics until talks become serious.

“He’s brought up one player’s name to me,” Showalter said of Duquette’s conversations with him regarding trade possibilities. “But I know, I think Dan is in tune and wired to everything that may be out there. And more importantly the cost to get it. What price? not only financially but what we look at is what it takes away from us. Not only here but below.  Everybody’s price right now compared to what it would be two hours beforehand. [Now], it’s like “we would never do that.” Two hours before the deadline, it’s “Oh, we did do that.” There’s a bit of poker being played.  I don’t dwell on it to much because I like our people and I don’t like, I know Dan doesn’t either, giving someone away that fits where we are and where we are going.”

Duquette has been hesitant in the past to deal any of the organization’s top prospects, and by all accounts it doesn’t look like his stance has changed. The Orioles have been able to acquire some attractive pitching depth in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues however, which make a trade or two more plausible.

Showalter said despite the down year for the American League East, and the O’s current first-place status, the organization isn’t tempted to go all-in at the expense of its future.

“There’s two thoughts of that [thinking]..how did we get there?,” Showalter said of his current group, which entered Monday with a three-game lead over the Yankees and Blue Jays. “I think we got a pretty good grip of who we are and who we are not.”

 

–Brittany Ghiroli

Marlins weighing whether to buy or sell

ATLANTA –- The Marlins are striving to get back to .500 at a time trade rumors heat up.

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and Miami is weighing whether to make an major moves.

Plenty of ground needs to be made up as they sit in fourth place in the National League East.

“For all of us who have been around as players, that’s this time of year,” Miami manager Mike Redmond said. “This time of year there is always a lot of speculation about guys — trades, and all that stuff.”

Closer Steve Cishek has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, although the Marlins have told teams the right-hander is not available. Lefty reliever Mike Dunn is another potential candidate who could be moved.

If Miami gets hot, the club may become buyers. They’ve been surveying the market for a controllable starting pitcher, and a speedy second baseman.

The direction could turn in a number of ways in the next week to 10 days.

If the Marlins have a successful seven-game road trip to Atlanta and Houston, chances are the club won’t part with established players. If not, and an offer is enticing, then in all likelihood, Miami will listen.

Redmond says all players can do is focus on their task at hand.

“It can become a distraction if you make it a distraction,” Redmond said. “Guys have just got to focuse on doing their jobs, and playing one game at a time. You can’t get too caught up on what you read and what you hear.”

Joe Frisaro

Pirates have eyes on Philly. But is it for A.J.?

Seeking potential rotation insurance for Gerrit Cole’s extended absence with a sore lat and an erratic Francisco Liriano, the Pirates have their eyes on the Phillies — as has been reported — but not necessarily on A.J. Burnett.

The Pirates were singled out as one of the clubs that scouted Burnett’s start on Friday — against the Braves. However, according to a reliable club source, the scout that night in Citizens Bank Park is assigned to the Braves, so he just “ran into A.J.”

However, the Braves have left Philadelphia but the Pirates still had a scout in Citizens Bank Park — for Cliff Lee’s Monday night start, the left-hander’s first since going on the DL on May 21 with a strained left elbow. Lee is a popular target of shoppers: As many as 10 teams reportedly are on site to check him out.

For the Bucs to get seriously involved for either veteran, the Phillies would have to cover the majority of the salaries owed them.

Burnett is still owed all of his $7.5 million signing bonus, the first payment of that due on Dec. 15, and the prorated portion of his $7.5 million salary for 2014. He also has a $1 million buyout on his $15 million  mutual options for 2015.

Lee’s contract calls fro $25 million this season and next, with a whopping $12.5 million buyout of his 2016 option of $27.5 million.

Tom Singer

For the Cards: Is the Price right?

After wrapping up a series in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, the Rays jetted to St. Louis, where they arrived about the time the Cardinals took the field to face the Dodgers in a Sunday night. Among those in the stands for the Sunday night game was David Price, who, along with Evan Longoria, tweeted pictures of watching the game from seats in left field.

It’s ironic, of course, given the steady dose of speculation about Price potentially landing in St. Louis for a pennant race before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Cardinals will not, however, see how Price fares in Busch Stadium this week, as the Rays’ rotation did not line up to feature him in St. Louis.

As the Trade Deadline nears, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has played his cards close to the vest, though it is known that the Cardinals have been evaluating the starting pitching market. Price, who is making $14 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible again next year, is considered the gem of that group.

The cost (in talent, as well as dollars) of landing Price will be exceptionally high given that the Rays lefty will not be free-agent eligible until after the 2015 season. The Cardinals have the young talent to make the swap, but they also have to decide whether such a trade would be in their best interest for both the short- and long-term. If the Cardinals can get a commitment from Price to sign beyond 2015 that would make the cost much more palatable.

There is also the question of whether the Rays are ready to punt on this season to build up for the next. Though the Rays were 18 games under on June 10, they have made up substantial ground over the past five weeks and now sit just six games out of a postseason berth. That certainly doesn’t position them as definite sellers.

– Jenifer Langosch

Report: Royals eyeing OF Alex Rios

If the Royals are looking to buy before the Trade Deadline in an attempt to keep up with the Tigers in the AL Central, they could be looking to bolster their outfield, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman is reporting. 

Heyman wrote Monday that Kansas City is looking to add to its offense by trading for Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, who for five years played for the division rival White Sox. 

Rios has appeared in 96 games this season for the Rangers – after being dealt from Chicago to Texas on August 9 last year – batting .302 with four homers, 42 RBIs and eight triples. His .765 OPS this year is 78 points higher than Kansas City’s team OPS (.687), which is second-to-last in the American League.

The Rangers are paying Rios $12.5 million this season and hold a $13.5 million club option on the 33-year-old for 2015.

– Joey Nowak

 

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