There are just two days remaining before the non-waiver trading deadline, and with that, a number of big names have started to appear in the latest rumors. Here’s a look at some of the other topics generating buzz as we approach the deadline, listed in rough order of the amount of heat they are producing in the rumor mill.
Red Sox making John Lackey, Andrew Miller available for trade
Boston's phones are ringing off the hook these days, primarily due to teams inquiring about lefthanded ace Jon Lester, but two other Red Sox pitchers are also generating a ton of interest. Miller, a lefthanded reliever, has been dominant this season and will be a free agent in the fall, and veteran righty John Lackey has a very attractive 2015 club option for the league minimum salary, which was triggered by his November 2011 Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers — one of the top suitors for Lester — and Royals have both reportedly shown interest in both pitchers. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports that while Lackey would be affordable for Kansas City next year, the more than $5 million he has remaining this season could be a problem for the Royals, who are chasing their first postseason berth in 29 years.
The list of teams interested in Miller appears to include the Braves, Nationals and Pirates, with Atlanta perhaps the most enthusiastic of the bunch given that the only lefty in its bullpen at the moment is rookie Chasen Shreve, who made his major league debut barely more than a week ago. The Red Sox are well aware that demand exceeds supply on pitchers like Miller and, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, have asked at least two inquiring teams for a top prospect in a multi-player package for the lefty. Given that the market has been favoring sellers this month, they just might get that. Miller seems far more likely to be moved in the next two days than Lester, who would command a sizable return but is a rental, as he can be a free agent at the end of the season.
Dodgers looking to move Matt Kemp or Carl Crawford
Along with Lester, Kemp may be the biggest name on the trading block, and there remains a possibility that the Red Sox and Dodgers could find a way to trade the two stars for one another amid a larger deal. However, any trade involving Kemp would likely require Los Angeles to eat some significant portion of his remaining contract; he is owed roughly $114 million for the rest of this season and the next five years. Other than Boston, the Mariners have shown significant interest in Kemp, while Cleveland and Texas have both checked in on him.
Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers seem to be offering Carl Crawford as an alternative to inquiring teams. They’d have to eat a lot of his contract as well, as he’s owed $62.25 million for the next three years plus roughly $6.75 million for the remainder of this season. But there’s less chance of Crawford, who turns 33 next week and is three years older than Kemp, making L.A. regret such a move.
Market for the Phillies' Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo remains active
The interest in Byrd, who is on pace to break his career high for home runs set just last year, has reportedly increased lately. The Pirates, who acquired him from the Mets last August for their first playoff drive in 20 years, may be eyeing a reunion. The Mariners have been discussing Byrd with Philadelphia, but they are one of the four teams he has on his limited no-trade list, and Stark reports that Byrd would want his $8 million option for 2016 picked up for waiving that clause.
With Byrd already under contract for $8 million for 2015 and owed roughly $2.7 million for the remainder of this season, that option provision has reportedly scared off the Royals, one of the other teams on his no-trade list. The Giants are also said to be interested, as were the Reds, though Cincinnati's recent skid (it has lost nine of 10 and fallen a game below .500) has the team reevaluating making any moves this week. Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Pirates are also eyeing Phillies lefty Antonio Bastardo, who is also generating a fair amount of interest elsewhere, raising the possibility of Pittsburgh trying to acquire both players in a single deal.
Buzz surrounding Troy Tulowitzki
Tulowitzki made headlines on Sunday when, in New York for a doctor’s appointment while on the disabled list, he attended a Yankees game as a spectator just two weeks after telling the Newark Star-Ledger how much he’d like to succeed his Derek Jeter as the Yankees shortstop. Later that day, the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reported that Tulowitzki would welcome a trade to the Red Sox. On Monday, Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan reported that the Mets would be willing to include top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in a trade for Tulowitzki, though Newsday’s David Lennon contradicted that report. The Rockies' stance appears to be to force Tulowitzki to demand a trade, though he’s coming increasingly close to doing so. The Cardinals are apparently another team that is interested, as they were last winter, and one that, unlike the Yankees, likely has the prospects to get a deal done.
Tulowitzki is owed $118 million for the next six seasons plus a $2 million bonus if he is traded, roughly $5.3 million for the remainder of this season, and has various award bonuses in his contract, as well. Teams are interested despite that contract and his problematic injury history because, when healthy, he is one of the best players in the game. That’s also why any sort of heat on a possible Tulowitzki trade is worth noting, even if it is extremely unlikely that he will be dealt in the next two days. It is also why, unlike many of the other players listed above, Tulowitzki won’t make it through waivers to enable a possible August trade. However, given the buzz he is generating now, he should be a major player of interest once again come the offseason.
Marlins targeting starting pitcher
Miami has the exact same record as Cincinnati: 52-53, one game below .500. Both teams are six games behind in their respective divisions and 4 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot. But while reports have the Reds playing it cautiously amid a losing streak, the Marlins have won eight of their last nine, with five of those wins coming against the Giants, Braves and Nationals. Miami is now said to be in hot pursuit of a starting pitcher, with the Athletics' Tommy Milone, who was displaced by the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade and has asked Oakland to trade him, a top target.
The Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer adds Arizona’s Wade Miley and the Padres' Ian Kennedy to that list, though both would demand higher prices in terms of prospects, as I discussed regarding Kennedy last week. Miley won’t be arbitration eligible for the first time until January and has three team-controlled years left, which makes him the least likely of the three to be traded. If the Marlins do decide to add to their rotation, it means they won’t be trading relievers Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn, both of whom have drawn significant interest.