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Top righty Yu Darvish appears to be destined to change uniforms in the coming days, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (via Twitter). While the Rangers have been waiting to decide whether to deal the talented starter, Rosenthal says the club is now informing rivals that it will trade him.

Darvish now clearly represents the top rental hurler available on the market. With the Rangers said to be “confident” of achieving a significant return, per Rosenthal, the organization is “actively exchanging names” with interested contenders.

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In his Inside Baseball column today, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag takes a look at some of the most important remaining trade deadline scenarios. He also runs down some news and notes from both the American League and National League. Among the highlights with relevance to the trade market:

  • The Royals remain on the hunt for rotation help even after netting Trevor Cahill, Heyman writes. (That much may be evidenced by their apparent talks for Francisco Liriano, which are reportedly progressing.) Heyman notes that Kansas City even called the Athletics on Sonny Gray and the Rangers on Yu Darvish, though the team was realistic about the fact that it doesn’t have much of a chance of outbidding the competition for either player.
  • If the Cardinals ultimately make Lance Lynn available, the Yankees would have interest in the right-hander, though Sonny Gray remains New York’s top target. Lynn is a free agent at season’s end, and as such wouldn’t help fill any of the upcoming voids in the Yankees’ rotation after the 2017 season.
  • The Braves have scouted Gray more than any team in the league, per Heyman, though they’re not currently believed to be the favorite to land him. Heyman notes that the money saved in the Jaime Garcia deal could help facilitate the acquisition of Gray, which is a suggestion that has been made in recent days. It seems worth bearing in mind, though, that Gray is only earning $3.575MM in 2017. Plus, any financial crunch the Braves had would only have been present due to the fact that the team acquired Garcia (and Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey) as stopgaps in the first place.
  • Starting pitching remains a target area for the Rockies after picking up Pat Neshek in a trade, and Colorado even considered Darvish as an option, though the Rockies are unsurprisingly on Darvish’s no-trade list. (That’s not a knock on the Rockies by any means, but I’d imagine that most pitchers, if given the opportunity, would want to safeguard themselves from being traded to pitch at Coors Field.)
  • Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is more willing to part with top prospects in order to land Sonny Gray than his front office is, according to Heyman. General manager David Stearns and his staff are reluctant to part with the club’s very top prospects, and Attanasio has been deferring to the preferences of his baseball operations staff. The Athletics are eyeing center field prospect Lewis Brinson, Heyman continues, but it seems that the Brewers’ front office isn’t keen on parting with that level of talent.
  • It’s been reported that the Mets are likely to hang onto lefty Jerry Blevins, and Heyman notes that GM Sandy Alderson’s rationale is that if he traded Blevins, he’d merely be looking to fill that void with a free agent in a market where most relievers will enter the offseason seeking three-year deals. (Of course, that logic could also be used to argue that Blevins’ value is all the higher, and the Mets managed to pick up Blevins on a one-year guarantee even though he reportedly sought three years himself early last offseason. Boone Logan, who also signed a one-year deal in Cleveland, was also reportedly seeking three at one point.)

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In recent seasons, the veteran-laden Tigers have frequently headed into the summer as trade deadline buyers, but with a 45-55 record this year and J.D. Martinez already out the door, 2017 looks like a different story. One star who could be on the move is Justin Verlander, who joins a starting pitching market that also includes Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish. The Tigers have a variety of other players potentially available, including Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, and they’ve reportedly discussed package deals, so if the Tigers trade Verlander, it could be along with one or more of his teammates.

Justin VerlanderThat’s not to say a Verlander trade would be easy. It’s impossible to discuss the righty’s potential market without noting his contract — he’s making $28MM per season through 2019, plus a $22MM vesting option for 2020. That option contains no buyout and only vests if Verlander finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019, but the $66MM or so remaining on Verlander’s contract is still a significant obstacle. At last check, the Tigers did not appear willing to take on a significant portion of Verlander’s deal, though they reportedly would pay the remainder of his 2017 salary. His full no-trade clause could present another potential problem.

And then there’s Verlander’s performance — he finished second in AL Cy Young balloting just last season but has taken a big step backwards this year, with a 4.50 ERA and 8.7 K/9 over 124 innings, plus a 4.1 BB/9 that’s almost twice as high as it was in 2016. At 34, that’s a serious concern, particularly when considered alongside his hefty contract. That means the Tigers might not get much if they trade him. Also, his star status in Detroit might not ordinarily be an impediment, but it might be in this case, since, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently pointed out, fans might react poorly to a Verlander deal for a limited return.

With all that in mind, here are a few potential landing spots for Verlander.

Cubs: Even after acquiring Jose Quintana, the Cubs are known to have interest in starting pitching, and Verlander would give them another veteran arm to help them manage the possible losses of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey to free agency next winter. They’ve reportedly scouted Verlander and have discussed him with the Tigers, and they’re one of only a handful of teams who clearly could afford him. They’re also reportedly interested in acquiring a catcher, so perhaps there could be a deal involving both Verlander and Avila, particularly since Avila makes a mere $2MM and has been productive this season. The intensity of the Cubs’ interest in Verlander is unclear, and as with all teams, his contract will be an obstacle.

Astros: Houston has been connected to Verlander, along with Wilson, although the Detroit Free Press’ Anthony Fenech characterized the Astros’ level of involvement in Verlander trade talks as “minimal.” The team’s recent return to health, with Collin McHugh returning from injury and Dallas Keuchel set to come back this week, might make the Astros more likely to pursue top-end starters rather than innings eaters, since they currently have enough reliable arms to fill out their rotation. Their interest in Verlander, then, might depend on whether they still see him as an ace-type pitcher. Verlander’s contract would of course be a factor as well, although the Astros do appear to have the payroll flexibility to add him, particularly if the Tigers are willing to pay what’s left of his 2017 salary.

Yankees: The Yankees have been connected to a variety of rotation possibilities and could potentially afford Verlander, although their luxury-tax bill is a concern. They haven’t recently been connected to Verlander in particular, though, and based on published reports, seem to have greater interest in Gray. They also have a clear need for another A’s veteran, Yonder Alonso, which might give them further incentive to continue talking with Oakland. Verlander could, however, represent an interesting alternative to Gray whose acquisition likely wouldn’t cost the Yankees top prospects.

Dodgers: L.A. has repeatedly been connected to Darvish, while there haven’t been many indications they’re seriously interested in Verlander. Still, they have an injured ace (Clayton Kershaw), and their seemingly wide-open wallet would give them a big advantage if they decided they had serious interest.

Nationals: The Nats haven’t been strongly connected to Verlander, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal recently indicated that they aren’t in on Gray or Darvish. Injuries to Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross have left them with some rotation questions, however, and they generally aren’t shy about adding big-name players. They’ve also been connected to Wilson.

Brewers: Milwaukee has reportedly shown interest in Verlander, along with other rotation options. The Brewers have also been connected to Wilson and Kinsler, again raising the possibility the Tigers could strike some sort of package deal. And the Brewers under owner Mark Attanasio have never been shy about adding big-name pitching as they’ve prepared for past stretch runs, adding CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke in past seasons in which they contended. All that written, it seems especially unlikely that they would consummate a deal for Verlander. His age and salary could potentially pose big problems for a generally budget-conscious organization (although one with few long-term commitments at the moment). And the Brewers’ 2017 run at the NL Central title, while impressive, has if anything been a pleasant surprise from a team that seemed to be rebuilding. They recently fell into second place, behind the Cubs, and their fade might make them less likely to make a big move.

Rockies: Acquiring Verlander would be a break from the Rockies’ M.O., but they’ve shown interest in rotation upgrades and have limited payroll obligations beyond 2017, so Verlander could theoretically be a fit. They have enough interesting young arms to fill out their rotation, but could potentially benefit from a veteran anchor. Of course, it’s not clear that Verlander is the right veteran anchor for them, given his contract, fly-ball tendencies and sketchy 2017 performance thus far. It’s also unclear whether Verlander would accept a deal that would place him in Coors Field, a stadium that could potentially hurt his future earning power.

Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks have already swung one big trade with the Tigers, and there have at least been whispers about the possibility they could look to improve their rotation. Most current rumors about the Snakes focus on other areas, however, and all five of their current starters have performed capably this year.

Red Sox: Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is no stranger to headline-grabbing trades, and he was general manager of the Tigers when Detroit drafted Verlander in 2004. With Eduardo Rodriguez’s recent return to health, though, the Red Sox five healthy starting pitchers who each could potentially pitch well for the remainder of the season, and most rumors about the team since their acquisition of infielder Eduardo Nunez have pertained to relievers, not starters.

Mariners: The M’s have been connected to Gray, and the odds that Jerry Dipoto will find a way to insert them into a significant trade can never fully be discounted. They are, however, below .500 at this point and already have big salaries for Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz on the books for 2018.

Royals: Kansas City has been on the lookout for starting pitching, although the Royals have mostly been connected to lower-tier options like Francisco Liriano, Marco Estrada and Jaime Garcia (plus Trevor Cahill, who they already acquired). It would seem extremely unlikely that they’d take on Verlander’s contract, given their uncertain future as an organization and the fact that their 2017 payroll is already the highest they’ve ever had.

Indians: The back of the Indians’ rotation has struggled, although Danny Salazar’s recent return to health helps them in that regard, and trading for a pitcher with Verlander’s salary would be out of character for them.

Braves: The Braves look like longshots at best to acquire Verlander at the deadline, since they aren’t contending, and they recently traded a veteran arm in Garcia. It’s also unclear whether Verlander would be willing to accept a trade to a below-.500 team. If the Braves do acquire someone of Verlander’s ilk, that might be more likely to happen in the offseason. They’ve been connected to a variety of controllable veteran starters, however, and have enough money coming off the books next year that they could theoretically afford him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Here’s the latest chatter on the trade market for pitching …

  • The Red Sox and Diamondbacks are among the teams with interest in Twins righty Brandon Kintzler, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter). Kintzler, 32, represents an interesting potential addition to the trade market as Minnesota ponders a change in plans. The sinkerballer owns a 2.84 ERA with 27 saves on the year. As regards the interest from Boston, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Red Sox had looked into Pat Neshek before he was dealt to the Rockies, due in part to their desire to add a “different look” to their setup mix. With the side-armer now off the market, Boston isn’t a lock to move onto other targets such as the MetsAddison Reed or the MarlinsAJ Ramos, Crasnick notes.
  • While the Astros continue their search for arms, the club has done some “background work” on Twins righty Ervin Santana, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter links). Santana’s velocity has wavered a bit, though perhaps that’s not the real issue in assessing his value. The veteran righty has produced a strong 3.37 ERA over 136 1/3 innings, following up on last year’s near-identical 3.38 mark, but he’s managing just 6.9 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 and has benefited from a .227 BABIP and 82.9% strand rate.
  • The Dodgers are also looking at starters, of course, and Morosi hears they are (Twitter links) increasingly confident in landing a big name. Currently, Los Angeles is focused more on Rangers star Yu Darvish than either Sonny Gray of the Athletics or Justin Verlander of the Tigers, he notes. Of course, at this point it’s still unclear whether Darvish will be marketed at all, and it’s not really known how keen the Dodgers’ interest is in the other two starters.
  • The Cubs are the most interested team in Verlander, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, but suggests that the Tigers star’s contract may simply be too great an obstacle to overcome. CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine hears similarly, tweeting that there’s “no traction” between the Cubs and Tigers at this point, though he notes that talks aren’t completely dead. As Nightengale suggests, Verlander would be easier to move in the offseason when teams have greater payroll flexibility.
  • Given the lack of interest they’re receiving in many of their trade assets, the Mets could look to package closer Addison Reed with another piece, reports Newsday’s Marc Carig. Lucas Duda may have been one possibility for such an approach, though he was just dealt alone. Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, and catcher Rene Rivera are among New York’s other potential chips that could be paired with Reed in trades to various teams, which could allow the Mets to enhance the return they’d receive, relative to what they’d net in separate deals, Carig continues.
  • Adam Wainwright’s recent injury won’t have any bearing on whether the Cardinals decide to trade Lance Lynn, nor will their recently improved play, per MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal (all links to Twitter). The Cardinals are open to moving Lynn if they’re presented with an offer they find appealing, as they’re not likely to make Lynn a qualifying offer and risk paying him $18.1MM or so in light of the diminished draft-pick compensation for players that reject a qualifying offer. The Cards are trying to balance winning now with staying competitive in the future, per Rosenthal, who notes that they’d like to strengthen their 2017 bullpen. Reading between the lines, perhaps they’d be amenable to moving Lynn for some MLB-ready relief help, though that’s just speculation at this point.

from MLB Trade Rumors http://ift.tt/2w4Gkj5
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Here’s the latest chatter on the trade market for pitching …

  • The Red Sox and Diamondbacks are among the teams with interest in Twins righty Brandon Kintzler, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter). Kintzler, 32, represents an interesting potential addition to the trade market as Minnesota ponders a change in plans. The sinkerballer owns a 2.84 ERA with 27 saves on the year. As regards the interest from Boston, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Red Sox had looked into Pat Neshek before he was dealt to the Rockies, due in part to their desire to add a “different look” to their setup mix. With the side-armer now off the market, Boston isn’t a lock to move onto other targets such as the MetsAddison Reed or the MarlinsAJ Ramos, Crasnick notes.
  • While the Astros continue their search for arms, the club has done some “background work” on Twins righty Ervin Santana, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter links). Santana’s velocity has wavered a bit, though perhaps that’s not the real issue in assessing his value. The veteran righty has produced a strong 3.37 ERA over 136 1/3 innings, following up on last year’s near-identical 3.38 mark, but he’s managing just 6.9 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 and has benefited from a .227 BABIP and 82.9% strand rate.
  • The Dodgers are also looking at starters, of course, and Morosi hears they are (Twitter links) increasingly confident in landing a big name. Currently, Los Angeles is focused more on Rangers star Yu Darvish than either Sonny Gray of the Athletics or Justin Verlander of the Tigers, he notes. Of course, at this point it’s still unclear whether Darvish will be marketed at all, and it’s not really known how keen the Dodgers’ interest is in the other two starters.
  • The Cubs are the most interested team in Verlander, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, but suggests that the Tigers star’s contract may simply be too great an obstacle to overcome. CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine hears similarly, tweeting that there’s “no traction” between the Cubs and Tigers at this point, though he notes that talks aren’t completely dead. As Nightengale suggests, Verlander would be easier to move in the offseason when teams have greater payroll flexibility.
  • Given the lack of interest they’re receiving in many of their trade assets, the Mets could look to package closer Addison Reed with another piece, reports Newsday’s Marc Carig. Lucas Duda may have been one possibility for such an approach, though he was just dealt alone. Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, and catcher Rene Rivera are among New York’s other potential chips that could be paired with Reed in trades to various teams, which could allow the Mets to enhance the return they’d receive, relative to what they’d net in separate deals, Carig continues.
  • Adam Wainwright’s recent injury won’t have any bearing on whether the Cardinals decide to trade Lance Lynn, nor will their recently improved play, per MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal (all links to Twitter). The Cardinals are open to moving Lynn if they’re presented with an offer they find appealing, as they’re not likely to make Lynn a qualifying offer and risk paying him $18.1MM or so in light of the diminished draft-pick compensation for players that reject a qualifying offer. The Cards are trying to balance winning now with staying competitive in the future, per Rosenthal, who notes that they’d like to strengthen their 2017 bullpen. Reading between the lines, perhaps they’d be amenable to moving Lynn for some MLB-ready relief help, though that’s just speculation at this point.

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With his knee failing to progress as hoped, Marlins third baseman Martin Prado is weighing a surgical approach, manager Don Mattingly tells Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel (via Twitter). He’ll make a final decision tomorrow.

The 33-year-old infielder had drawn some interest as a trade candidate. In the midst of a roster reshaping and organizational sale, the Marlins have seemed motivated to move some of the sizable contract — three years and $40MM — that Prado just began this season.

Leg troubles and performance problems, though, had already made a trade seem like an unlikely proposition. Prado was slashing just .250/.279/.357 in his 147 plate appearances on the year, and recently hit the DL for the third time after two prior placements connected to hamstring troubles.

In any event, today’s news makes it all but certain that Prado won’t be traded in the next few days. His contract will surely clear waivers in August, so he could conceivably be dealt at a later point, though that’d likely also require that he make it back on the field in time to prove his health.

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The Rangers are shopping right-handed reliever Jeremy Jeffress, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter). It’s unclear at this point just where interest may lie, but it’s certainly plausible to imagine a number of organizations taking a look at the veteran hurler.

Jeffress, the former Brewers closer, was traded to Texas alongside Jonathan Lucroy at last year’s non-waiver deadline. But he has struggled in his new environs — particularly in 2017.

The 29-year-old righty has followed up last year’s 2.33 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 60.3 percent ground-ball rate with an unsightly 5.21 ERA through 38 frames. Jeffress’ strikeout rate remains nearly identical to his 2016 level, but his walk rate has spiked to 4.3 BB/9, his grounder rate is down to 54.9 percent, and his fastball velocity is down more than a mile per hour (though still at an average of 94.3 mph).

Jeffress was worked hard in April, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News recently noted, and then ultimately required a DL stay for a back injury in June. His health, then, appears to be at least partially in question, and interested teams will also need to weigh Jeffress’s DWI arrest last year.

There is, perhaps, both some near and long-term upside in the righty. If he can get back on his prior track, Jeffress might be of real use down the stretch. He’s earning only $2.1MM this year, so it won’t cost much in cash. And with two more years of arb control remaining, Jeffress has some potential future value as well.

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