Yankees working on deal for Kennedy?

The Yankees added left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano from the Rockies on Thursday, but they could be in the market for more arms, according to reports.

The Yankees are in talks with the Padres regarding right-hander Ian Kennedy, reports ESPN’s Jim Bowden.

Kennedy, a former first-round pick by the Yankees in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, is 8-9 on the year with a 3.66 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 135 1/3 innings. The Yankees dealt Kennedy to the Diamondbacks before the 2010 season in a three-team deal that sent Curtis Granderson to New York and Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson to Detroit.

Bowden reports third-base prospect Eric Jagielo and 19-year-old left-hander Ian Clarkin could be sent to the Padres in a deal. Both were first-round selections by the Yankees last year. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, however, reports that the Yankees are unwilling to give up both players for Kennedy.

The Yankees have also had discussions with the Rockies about left-handed starter Jorge De La Rosa, according to Bowden.

As of late Thursday, the Padres hadn’t had any substantial discussions regarding trading Kennedy and nothing was imminent.

As is the case with reliever Joaquin Benoit, the Padres don’t feel a need to push a deal now for Kennedy, who is under team control through 2015.

Michael Lananna

Astros not likely to move Qualls

While players like designated hitter Chris Carter or lefty reliever Tony Sipp could draw interest, one Astros player who will draw interest and likely won’t be moved is closer Chad Qualls, who has a 1.78 ERA and 11 saves this year. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 31 of his last 33 outings (0.59 ERA in that span).

“I hesitate to use the word ‘untouchable,’ but he likes it here, he’s comfortable here and he’s pitching well,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “To have a guy who’s capable of pitching late in the game, in close games, we’re going to have opportunity going forward. This is a team that’s improving, and as the team improves you have more save opportunities, more opportunities to pitch at the end of close games. We need more Chad Qualls. We don’t need less.”

The Astros signed Qualls in December to a two-year, $6-million deal with a $3 million option for 2016. Qualls, who was drafted and developed by the Astros, wants to finish his career in Houston and be part of the team’s turnaround.

“That’s why I signed here in the first place is to help get this team back to its winning ways and start bringing some victories to the city of Houston, kind of like the old says,” said Qualls, who was a reliever on the 2005 World Series team. “Obviously, I want to be part of that and stay here. I would love to be able to stay here for 2 ½ years and even beyond that and retire as an Astros. That’s been my plan all along is that I prefer to stay here.”

Brian McTaggart

What’s next for Tigers before trade deadline?

Could Wednesday’s trade for Joakim Soria be the opener of a two-part move to upgrade the Tigers bullpen? Possibly.

“Our bullpen has been a situation that has been our major focus, and I guess would continue to be our major focus if we are going to do something,” Dombrowski said on his Thursday morning conference call. “I’m not sure if we will or will not, but we’re still open-minded to it.”

Could the Tigers shift direction and make that much-speculated move for a left-handed hitting outfielder or a veteran shortstop? That seems less likely.

“I don’t know that either one of them would be real high on our priority list at this point,” Dombrowski said.

The part about acquiring another reliever was one of the first questions posed to Dombrowski on the call. The spotting of a Tigers scout watching the Phillies, whose bullpen includes lefty Antonio Bastardo, sparked discussion of whether the recent struggles of Ian Krol to go with Phil Coke’s up-and-down season might Detroit to add a southpaw.

Dombrowski wasn’t getting into details on a game plan for the final days before next Thursday’s nonwaiver Trade Deadline, but he clearly left the door open for another move.

“I wouldn’t say specifically what we’re addressing. I guess we’re open-minded to a lot of different thought processes,” he said. “Our bullpen has scuffled at times. I think that a real key is you want to have people out there who put up zeroes for you, that can put down shutdown innings and also throw strikes on a consistent basis. We’ve scuffled, not everybody, but a lot of guys collectively at that. Again, we remain open-minded if something happens that makes sense to make us better before the trading deadline.”

Positionally, on the other hand, Dombrowski seems pleased. He praised Eugenio Suarez and his handling of the shortstop job.

“We are comfortable with Suarez. He’s done a very nice job for us,” Dombrowski said. “To sum it up, he’s mature beyond his years and seems to handle situations very well. He’s been solid defensively for us, which is first and foremost, and we think he can continue to do that. He’s a youngster, so you have to realize he’ll go through some ups and downs, but he’s also contributed offensively. … But he doesn’t seem overwhelmed at all.”

As for the lefty bat situation, Dombrowski indicated that he expects Andy Dirks to make it back to the big leagues in time to make a difference.

“I think Andy Dirks is going to come back here,” he said. “He’s making progress again. I think he’s going to help us.”

Jason Beck

Dodgers Looking, Not Finding

With a week before the trade deadline and the back end of the starting rotation taking on water, the Dodgers are not close on any transaction as they prepare for the weekend showdown series in San Francisco. The front office would move Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford to open a spot for top prospect Joc Peterson, but all three have huge contracts. Most trade partners want Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias, but management has resisted all inquiries for the system’s few jewels so far. The stalemate could drag into August, when more clubs become sellers and supply balances with demand. — Ken Gurnick

Mariners reacquire Kendrys Morales from Twins

Looking to bolster their offense for a playoff push over the final nine weeks of the season, the Mariners added a familiar bat on Thursday as the club acquired first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales from the Twins in exchange for relief pitcher Stephen Pryor.

Morales led the Mariners with a .277 average and 80 RBIs and hit 23 home runs in 2013, but signed with the Twins on June 8 this season after turning down Seattle’s $14.1 million qualifying offer last winter when he became a free agent for the first time.

Morales is expected to join the Mariners on Friday. After sitting out the first three months of the season, he got off to a slow start with Minnesota, hitting .234 with 11 doubles, one home run and 18 RBIs in 39 games. But the 31-year-old has heated up of late and hit .292 during a 12-game hitting streak that was snapped Wednesday with an 0-for-4 outing against the Indians.

Morales signed a pro-rated $12 million deal with Minnesota that will pay him about $7.4 million for the season, based on his late start. He’s owed about $4.7 million now for the remaining 63 games of the season.

Morales offers options both at first base and DH for Seattle, which is currently a half-game ahead of the pack in the race for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

Corey Hart is hitting .212 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 51 games as the club’s primary DH, while Logan Morrison has batted .211 with five homers and 18 RBIs in 43 games while handling most of the first base duties.

The Mariners pitching has been outstanding this year with the lowest ERA in the Majors at 3.11 while posting a 53-48 record, but Seattle is 14th out of 15 American League teams in runs per game and batting average and last in on-base and slugging percentage.

The Twins signed Morales when they were 29-31 and 2 1/2 games back in the Wild Card standings, but they’ve since fallen to last in the AL Central at 46-54 and are 6 1/2 games behind Seattle in the Wild Card race.

Pryor, 25, made one appearance for Seattle this season after opening the year on the disabled list while recovering from surgery to repair a torn right latissimus dorsi muscle. He pitched in 34 games for Seattle from 2012-14 with a 2.81 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 32 innings and was regarded as one of the Mariners’ promising young relievers before injuring his lat muscle early last season after throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his first seven appearances.

-Greg Johns

Report: Sox, Lester holding off talks until offseason

if Jon Lester is going to remain in Boston next year, we won’t know it until the season is over. 

According to a report from the Boston Herald on Thursday, the Red Sox and their ace southpaw have decided to stall any talks of a contract extension until the offseason. Lester, 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA this season, is expected to be highly sought-after on the free agent market this year. 

“I’m not going to discuss Jon’s situation out of respect for both Jon and (general manager) Ben (Cherington) other than to say that both sides have put further discussion off until after the season,” principal owner John Henry wrote in an e-mail to the Herald. “It’s clear that both Jon and our organization would like to see Jon back next year if possible.”

Lester had previously said he did not want extension talks to be a distraction to the team during the season. He was an All-Star this season for the third time in his career.

– Joey Nowak

Did Cole, Liriano cool Pirates’ interest in rotation help?

The Pirates are keeping one eye on the trade market and the other on their two pitchers who will dictate how zealous they will be as the end-of-July deadline approaches.

Before and during Wednesday night’s game, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano both sent messages to GM Neal Huntington to “cool it.”

Huntington’s reads on Cole, on the DL with a sore lat, and on Liriano, whose pitching has been hurting, will greatly influence whether pitching help will be needed for the stretch.

Cole felt so good in a sim game that he wound up going 10 pitches over his target of 60.

Liriano one-upped him in his Wednesday night start, holding the Dodgers hitless for 4 1/3 innings and winding up allowing four hit4s and one run in seven innings. In his last 14 innings, covering three starts, Liriano has yielded one earned run and  seven hits, while fanning 15.

Feeling more secure in what they can expect from the duo — and saying so publicly — could also just be a negotiating tactic, obviously. Teams lower the price on available pieces if they know you are not desperate for them. That’s when it becomes a buyer’s market.

Either way, Cole and Liriano both had the Bucs feeling better about their rotation on Wednesday night than they felt over their morning coffee.

Tom Singer

Colon: “I don’t know anything about” trade rumors

Bartolo Colon did his best to avoid the subject of trade rumors after his win over the Mariners on Wednesday, calling them a “decision for upper management.”

“I can’t control that stuff,” Colon said.

What Colon can control is making himself attractive to contenders, should the Mets fall out of realistic contention and decide to deal him. After posting a 5.88 ERA over his previous four starts, Colon rebounded by taking a perfect game into the seventh against the Mariners. He finished with 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

ESPN Deportes reported earlier this week that the Giants have expressed interest in the 41-year-old right-hander.

–Anthony DiComo

Epstein: No rush to make moves

The Trade Deadline is approaching, but Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says he is not frantically trying to make changes to the roster.

“We’re not in a rush to make moves,” Epstein said Wednesday.

The Cubs made their splash on July 4 when they dealt Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s. Epstein said they are evaluating the current roster to determine who they’d like to keep, who can help the team going forward, and what they can do on the field with the next generation coming up.

“There’s value to keeping players who have roles here for the sake of continuity and leadership and performance on the field,” Epstein said. “We’re not in any rush to make trades for the sake of making trades.”

– Carrie Muskat

Bautista to remain in RF?

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has been spotted taking groundballs at third base for the past couple of weeks. That led to speculation that Toronto has at least contemplated moving him to third on a permanent basis in order to make room for another outfielder prior to the upcoming Non-Waiver Trade Deadline.

The rumors increased on Wednesday afternoon when Jon Heyman of CBS Sports indicated that the Blue Jays have expressed an interest in Rangers outfielder Alex Rios. If Toronto made that type of move then Bautista would have to move to third while Brett Lawrie would assume everyday duties at second base when he returns from a fractured right index finger.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did his best to dismiss any notion that a move is on the horizon by stating the club hasn’t talked about Bautista switching positions for more than a game or two when required. When asked why he responded: “He’s a right fielder. He can go over there occasionally and play a couple of games but I don’t think you’ll see that.”

– Gregor Chisholm 

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