The Pirates are slugging it out in a tough race in the National League Central, and they may be working on adding an All-Star to their rotation. Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that the Pirates are emerging on the periphery of the talks to acquire Jon Lester from Boston.
Several teams have been linked to Lester in the last few weeks, and the southpaw is thriving with a 10-7 record and a 2.52 ERA for the Red Sox this season. Lester, who can be a free agent after the season, has said that he’d consider going back to Boston even if he’s traded.
The Pirates should have Gerritt Cole returning from the disabled list in August, so adding Lester could really give the team an additional boost. Lester could cost Pittsburgh heavy-hitting prospect Josh Bell, a former second-round draftee who was recently promoted to Double-A.
– Spencer Fordin
Disclaimer: No indication Rockies owner can be swayed into dealing Tulo … Still, team has to be prepared if talks occur
We preface everything here with the simple statement, based on conversations with sources inside and outside the Rockies organization:
Owner Dick Monfort has no interest in trading shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at Thursday afternoon’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. The belief that a healthy Rockies club, with an improved rotation and a bullpen overhaul, is a winner next season means odds are against Monfort moving Tulowitzki — signed for extreme riches through 2020 — this offseason.
But the way to not get caught off guard is to be prepared, even if you know nothing may happen.
In the days leading to the Trade Deadline, the Rockies are getting ready for the magic phone call, even if it’s not coming.
The Rockies spent much of Monday studying the Mets organization, looking at current Major Leaguers and prospects, and gauging the abilities of young pitchers who have not reached their arbitration years. Any Mets pitcher who is anyone, whether he is working in Queens – like National League Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom – or prospects such as righty Noah Syndergaard (No. 1 on the MLB.com Mets Top 20 Prospects list) or Rafael Montero (No. 6), the Rockies are prepared to discuss. If the names of numerous position players come up, the Rockies are prepared.
But here’s the thing. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Monday said it is “unlikely” the team will make any deal, and sources throughout the game are saying it’s unlikely anything serious will occur with the Rockies. And, as can’t be stated enough, it’s all fantasy unless Monfort changes his belief that the Rockies will win with Tulowitzki.
But that’s the way these things work. Oh, it’s not only the Mets. We hear the Rockies have beefed up their knowledge on the Cardinals and the Angels – two teams with the money and Major League-ready players to make the Rockies’ baseball people at least listen if they were to call – and a few other teams that may have interest. Speaking of which, since Tulowitzki’s showing up at Yankee Stadium Sunday sparked so many conspiracy theories, we are told the Yankees are not one of the teams that the Rockies believe have players it takes to pull off a Tulowizki deal.
There’s absolutely no indication either team will make that call before the deadline. Nonetheless, the Rockies want to have detailed information if talks ever begin.
Other fronts appear to be quiet, although there is interest.
• We identified the Pirates as a team that is taking a look at Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, and now we’re told that 5-6 clubs are interested in Hawkins, knowing he can pitch in any situation. But two issues are making it hard to deal the 41-year-old reliever with the ageless right arm:
The Rockies believe his influence is strong enough on young players and young pitchers that they want to keep him around, even though the team is in last place.
The Rockies’ requirement for help at the start of next season, plus pitchers under club control applies to Hawkins. Teams in contention haven’t offered what the Rockies want.
• It’s doubtful the Rockies will move lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who has pitched better at Coors than any pitcher in their history. The Rockies have been listening when clubs inquire, but after it surfaced that the Rockies coveted Orioles righty Kevin Gausman and a whole haul of prospects, no other team’s interest made it to the rumor stage. Expect the Rockies to make the $14 million qualifying offer to De La Rosa, a free agent after this season, and use that as the basis for keeping him.
• While the Rockies have scouted lefty Brett Anderson since his return from a broken left index finger, but there are no active discussions. The Rockies are expected to pick up Anderson’s $12 million option for next season.
– Thomas Harding
Seldom has a defending World Series champion been so clearly in the middle of the action from a sellers’ perspective leading into the July 31 trade deadline. But such is life for a Red Sox team that was 48-58 entering play on Tuesday, and 8 1/2 games out for a Wild Card spot.
Jon Lester’s availability for an elite prospect has been well-chronicled, with teams near and far checking in on the ace lefty. But John Lackey has also found his way into the middle of the rumor mill and has a more team-friendly contract for an acquiring team than Lester, who is a free agent at season’s end. When Lackey signed with the Red Sox, an extra year at the player minimum was tacked on to the end of the contract if Lackey ever missed a season due to elbow woes. That’s exactly what happened in 2012, and 2015 is the year Lackey gets paid the minimum.
Andrew Miller, who has been a dominant lefty reliever at times for the Sox this season, is a free agent at the end of the season and another enticing potential addition for a lot of contenders. The one player the Red Sox are very hesitant to deal is their reliable closer Koji Uehara, who would likely return to Boston for the qualifying offer in 2015. Uehara will be 40 next April.
Lester takes the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday night in what should be a high-drama event, given Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
– Ian Browne
David Price remains a Ray on Tuesday morning and he’s scheduled to pitch Wednesday afternoon against the Brewers, a day before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline.
In random conversations Monday night at Tropicana Field, several scouts expressed the opinion that the Rays ace will remain with the team for the rest of the season. One noted that unless the Rays get blown away in a deal, they would likely be well served to keep him since he still will have great value after the season.
Of note, veteran lefty Erik Bedard was designated for assignment Monday, which means the Rays would need to find a starter for Wednesday if Price were to be traded, or bumped while talks about a trade took place. If that were to happen, it’s likely right-hander Alex Colome would get recalled from Triple-A Durham to make the start. Long-man Cesar Ramos has also seen work as a starter this season and could be another option.
The Phillies front office has been frustrated lately with its lack of success on the trade market, but it is still trying to complete at least one deal before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Ruben Amaro Jr. traveled with the team to New York, where it opened a three-game series tonight against the Mets at Citi Field. But Amaro was nowhere to be found before the game as he continues to call teams to find a trade partner for a group of players that includes right fielder Marlon Byrd and left-hander Antonio Bastardo.
“Am I expecting any (trades)?” Ryne Sandberg said. “I don’t know one way or another. Just from what I hear, if there is (a trade) it’ll be very late in the process.”
Byrd and Bastardo remain the most likely Phillies to be moved, which is nothing new. Byrd is hitting .266 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs. His 20 homers are tied for eighth among right-handed hitters in baseball, which makes him valuable. Byrd can block trades to four teams, including the Mariners and Royals. He makes $8 million next season and he has an $8 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests with 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 1,100 plate appearances in 2014-15, including 550 plate appearances in 2015, which is a sticking point to some teams.
Left-hander Cole Hamels remains available, but the asking price remains extraordinarily high. This also is nothing new. The Phillies want to keep Hamels because he is the rare Phillies player signed to a mega contract still in his prime, but they will consider trading him if they are absolutely blown away by an offer.
Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are unlikely to be moved by Thursday, but they could be traded in August if they clear waivers. Lee is owed at least $37.5 million following this season, while Papelbon is owed at least $13 million. A.J. Burnett remains a possibility, but he seems to be a second choice for teams still hoping for a pitcher like David Price, Jon Lester or Hamels. Burnett’s player option could be worth more than $10 million next season. The money owed to Lee, Papelbon and Burnett has made trading them difficult.
- Todd Zolecki
The Astros would be willing to ship one of their starting pitchers in any possible deals to add some offense. The Astros have six healthy starting pitchers when you include right-hander Brad Peacock, who was recently sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City after a pair of shaky starts. That leaves right-handers Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart and Collin McHugh and left-handers Dallas Keuchel Brett Oberholtzer, though Feldman’s three-year, $30-million deal makes him difficult to move.
Houston general Jeff Luhnow indicated Monday no deals were in the works. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is Thursday.
“Our offense has been struggling, so as we have conversations, we’ll explore options that might give us some help offensively,” Luhnow said.
The Astros, who have scored six runs in their previous four games, are especially thin in the outfield, where Dexter Fowler (intercostal strain), George Springer (quad strain) and Alex Presley (oblique strain) are all on the 15-day disabled and not expected to return until by Thursday.
“It’s absolutely a concern,” Luhnow said. “The best thing we can do for the Trade Deadline is to get Fowler, Springer and Presley back healthy. That could be an unbelievable coup for us. Hopefully, they’re not too far away.”
– Brian McTaggart
Ever since the New York Post reported last weekend that the Mets “want in on” a potential Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez trade, the baseball world has become awash with rumors. Most have centered around the Rockies sending Tulowitzki to the Mets for a package of Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki and multiple other young players.
If it seemed improbable, that’s because it is. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson admitted as much Monday without referring to Tulowitzki by name, calling it “unlikely” that he acquires anyone — including a superstar shortstop — prior to Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.
“If I had to make a guess, I would say nothing will happen,” Alderson said. “But you never know what’s going to transpire in the next three days or so. Clubs that may be having conversations elsewhere circle back based on what they think their options might be. I’d say we have an opportunity to do a thing or two, but we’re not inclined to at this point. It’s speculation, but I wouldn’t bet on something happening before the deadline.”
Tulowitzki created more tabloid drama Sunday when he showed up at Yankee Stadium, in advance of a doctor’s appointment in Philadelphia, to watch Derek Jeter play one last time in person. But returning to New York as a player remains unlikely.
In addition to the Mets’ hesitance, Rockies owner Dick Monfort has been adamantly against trading Tulowitzki for some time. Then there is the matter of money; Tulowitzki is owed $100 million over the next five years of a deal that runs through 2019, meaning the Mets would need to increase their payroll significantly to support the salaries of him, David Wright ($20 million in 2015) and Curtis Granderson ($16 million).
Ever since the deep-pocketed Guggenheim Partners bought the Dodgers, they’ve been linked with trading for just about every marquee name imaginable. Now Fox Sports speculates that the Dodgers are interested in Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, who would come with nearly $100 million left on his contract.
The club, however, has given no indication it wants to pick up that kind of contract and trade away any of its top three prospects — Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias — with a deal for an elite pitcher likely to cost at least two of them.
The Dodgers will continue to be linked with Hamels, David Price and Jon Lester as Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
– Ken Gurnick
SAN FRANCISCO — With Thursday’s Trade Deadline approaching, the Giants’ interest in acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays could be deepening.
The Giants’ no-risk investment in second baseman Dan Uggla has appeared to be a no-reward venture so far. Uggla has gone hitless in eight at-bats spanning three games and committed two errors, including one that generated an unearned run, in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Dodgers.
With Marco Scutaro unable to play everyday due to his lingering back issues and Joe Panik experiencing a rookie’s growing pains, the Giants again may have to look elsewhere for help at second base. Landing Zobrist would end that search. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.com reported that the Giants had two scouts watching Zobrist this past weekend.
Zobrist also could help in the outfield if Angel Pagan’s recovery from a back ailment continues to stall.
– Chris Haft
Though Jon Lester could certainly be traded by Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, two sources told MLB.com that the Red Sox are not interested in acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers in exchange for the lefty, contrary to a rumor that surfaced Sunday.
In fact, there has yet to be a lot of dialogue between the two teams, though the Dodgers, with World Series aspirations, could certainly become a player for lefty. If the Dodgers were successful in getting Lester, they would have the most impressive front three in the game, featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Lester.
If the Red Sox are to trade Lester, they would need at least one top-level prospect. Would the Dodgers be willing to part with center field prospect Joc Pederson? If so, talks could heat up quickly. But there’s been no indication to this point Los Angeles would include Pederson.
Though Lester certainly warrants a top prospect or prospects in return, he amounts to a two-month rental. Lester is eligible for free agency at season’s end, and he indicated that even if he does get traded, his top desire would still be to return to Boston as a free agent.
Lester has been red-hot of late, pitching perhaps the best baseball of his career. He is scheduled to start for the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway against the Blue Jays, the final game before the trade deadline.