Welcome to Deadline Day, the last chance major league teams have to make a trade without needing the players involved to clear waivers. The deadline arrives at 4 p.m. Eastern, but there's already been one blockbuster. The Oakland Athletics and Boston Red Sox pulled off a huge deal this morning, with Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes heading to the Bay Area in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes and a draft pick. But there is still plenty of time to answer the day's other big questions. Will the Rays trade David Price, the other ace on the market? Will Oakland's fellow American League contenders make moves to keep pace with the A's? Will the Dodgers flex their financial muscle in the pursuit of pitching? Which seller will pick up the best return?
All those questions and more will be answered by this afternoon. Until then, follow all the rumors and moves right here with SI.com's MLB writers Jay Jaffe and Cliff Corcoran, who will be posting their thoughts and analysis throughout the afternoon.
austin jackson and drew smyly in price deal — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2014
CC: Can't wait for the Yankees to get Stephen Drew and play him at second base.
JJ: If only Stephen Drew were alive to see this deal go down: .176/.255/.328 in 145 PA.
CC: Drew has never played any position other than shortstop and DH in the majors or minors. Drew since July 5: .215/.329/.477 with a .244 BABIP. He's coming around, and he's a lefty bat heading to the new Yankee Stadium.
JJ: In general, Drew's performance and that of Kendrys Morales really do underscore the need to take whatever deal is out there, go to spring training and work towards a better deal next year. Huge cost for both via their late entries and poor showings.
Might be a moot point shortly, but the Rockies had a big scouting presence at Syndergaard's last start. — Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 31, 2014
CC: Because why not throw in some Troy Tulowitzki speculation, though word all day has been that the Mets are not making a trade today.
CC: 30 minutes left and that in the air. Buckle up!
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Asdrubal Cabrera he will play 2B with Washington. — Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 31, 2014
CC: That's a nice move by the Nationals. Cabrera's range at short was poor, but he has good hands and he goes a long way toward filling the hole that had opened up with Ryan Zimmerman being out for possibly the majority of the remainder of the season with a Grade 3 hamstring strain.
JJ: He's a decent complement to Espinosa, whose strength is defense. Both are switch-hitters, too.
JJ: Doesn't surprise me. His deal and versatility make him an obvious keeper.
CC: So a firesale is not in order in Tampa Bay.
JJ: We haven't heard anything from the Braves, either.
CC: The Angels did a lot to reinforce their bullpen already. They could use a starter, but competition is significant.
CC: A three-team Price deal could break the internet. But the Pirates need to make a move, ideally for a pitcher, particularly with the Cardinals and Brewers making moves today. It's worth remembering, however, that the Pirates did a good job of adding in August last year.
JJ: With Marlon Byrd yes. Justin Morneau, meh.
CC: It was a good move, it just didn't work out as well as they hoped.
JJ: Marlon Byrd is apparently in tonight's Phillies lineup, which tells you nothing is imminent on that front. Waiting for Jim Bowden to confirm.
Source says Tigers appear to be front runner for Price. — Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) July 31, 2014
CC: Good point by Matt Vasgersian on MLB Network: If the Tigers get Price, they'll likely only be able to sign one of him or Max Scherzer.
JJ: Well, Scherzer reaches the market first, and I'd be surprised if Detroit signs even one of those two, because the Verlander deal ain't lookin' so hot.
CC: Not at all, though neither Price nor Scherzer has been worked as hard as Verlander was, and Scherzer's workloads have been very reasonable in his career.
CC: I just don't think the Yankees or Tigers can compete in terms of a return for Price.
JJ: Perhaps not, but it's telling that they're even in the conversation at the moment, because it hints that other returns may not be as strong. You'd think they'd be blown out of the water.
CC: The Yankees are only going to get worse as they have nothing to offer other teams. Can't compete in the marketplace.
JJ: Orioles, that's not a bad move either. Since the O's didn't want to trade Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy, and then lost Hunter Harvey for the season due to a flexor mass strain, Rodriguez was the top chip they were willing to deal. I'm a bit surprised they haven't done something about second base or catcher, but Dan Duquette has taken a fairly conservative approach in his dealings since taking over.
CC: Rodriguez was a top-70 prospect coming into this season, a 21-year-old lefty in Double-A. A nice job by the Red Sox again. Rodriguez is a back-end rotation prospect, but he's a real prospect. Not bad for two months of a match-up reliever.
Indians have traded Asdrubal Cabrera more coming. — paul hoynes (@hoynsie) July 31, 2014
JJ: Maybe Nick Franklin? Stopgap for shortstop until Lindor is ready. That would make sense but I'm just spitballing.
CC: They're a bubble team. One game under .500, five games out in the wild-card race.
JJ: Yeah, I don't really see them as in it anymore.
Cabrera to the Nationals. More soon... — Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 31, 2014
CC: Cabrera will play second base in Washington, I assume, with Rendon staying at third.
JJ: Oh, that's not a bad move.
CC: Walters is a shortstop with a lot of pop but brutal on-base percentages. He was on the major league roster but not considered an upgrade on Danny Espinosa.
CC: Jay, you didn't have the Tigers in your look at Lester's suitors the other day. I'm hard pressed to see what they could offer for Price that would be competitive with what the Mariners and Cardinals have.
JJ: Yeah, I didn't see them coming at all. I've heard that they didn't want to give up Drew Smyly for Lackey (via Jon Heyman). but maybe either he or Rick Porcello would be part of a Price package.
CC: That was something Joel Sherman mentioned on MLB Network earlier, saying it was pure speculation. I think they'd have to deal from the major league roster, which gets tricky for a team that is cruising to a division title and looking to load up for the postseason.
JJ: I agree. But we know Mike Ilitch wants himself a World Series win before he shuffles off this mortal coil, and I think that's the recurring theme here: Good teams getting more aggressive, adding pieces to fortify their chances beyond just winning the division. Going all in for a trip to the World Series.
CC: And giving up not insignificant major league contributors to do it, at least in the Lester and Lackey deals.
CC: Imagine the Cardinals trading for Masterson, Lackey and Price given the pitching talent they entered the year with. One thing we know for sure: With Craig gone, Taveras isn't going in a potential Price trade.
JJ: Agreed. Maybe Randall Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty.
CC: That was who we expected to see in the Lackey trade. Craig was a big surprise.
JJ: Not that big. I think they've wanted to clear Taveras' path for awhile.
CC: Sure, but they sold low on Craig at a point at which Taveras has yet to start hitting. An offseason trade of Craig would have been less surprising.
CC: <braces self>
Tigers are NOT getting Andrew Miller — Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 31, 2014
chris denorfia is going to the mariners — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2014
JJ: Denorfia has carved out a spot as a modestly successful lefty-masher (.301/.367/.443 career) but has hit just .253/.311/.326 against them through 103 plate appearances in 2014.
CC: Denorfia hasn't hit a lick this year and won't be helped all that much by moving from Petco to Safeco, but he has hit well on the road in his career and against lefties and is well regarded defensively. He could help the Mariners, even if only as a platoon bat to give Ackley, Jones, and Morrison the occasional day off against lefties.
JJ: If that's the best the Mariners can do to upgrade their outfield then LOL. Also: Ackley is hitting .253/.300/.367 for a 91 OPS+, Jones is at .258/.287/.313 for a 72 OPS+. Only three guys on that team with an OPS+ above 100: Cano (141), Seager (136) and Saunders (116 but currently on the DL).
CC: All lefties, by the way. The Mariners are very lefty-heavy. So they added a right-handed "bat" that will allow them to ship Stefen Romero back to Triple-A. It won't make them worse.
JJ: As Bart Simpson famously observed, they're behind and going to catch up by going slower — cuckoo!
Dodgers reiterated they're not back in on David Price — Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 31, 2014
Despite rumors of more David Price talks as deadline approaches, the Dodgers still plan to keep Pederson, Seager and Urias. — Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) July 31, 2014
JJ: That's going to be a nice defensive outfield with Parra playing next to Gomez.
CC: They have nice depth in the outfield, now, too. A solid move. They need to give Parra the red light on the bases, though. He's 15-for-30, an even 50 percent, over the last two years.
JJ: This is the first indication we've seen of the Dodgers putting top prospect Joc Pederson into the mix.
CC: I'll be curious to see if the Lackey deal pressures the Pirates into getting a Price trade done, though it could be difficult to compete if the Dodgers are willing to trade Pederson.
CC: The Reds appear to be in sell mode. I heard earlier they were making Ryan Ludwick available. With the Cardinals adding Lackey and the Pirates actually ahead of St. Louis in the standings heading into today's action, I think the Reds are bowing out, leaving the NL Central as a three-team race.
JJ: Re: The Stark tweet, the Reds are just 2-10 since the All-Star break and aren't likely to get either Joey Votto or Brandon Phillips back before late August, so waving the white flag appears to be in order.
JJ: I'm on record as not believing it would happen, but given that everybody kept their blue chip prospects out of a Lester trade, the Rays have their run of the place, so to speak.
We're 2 1/2 hours until the trade deadline and everything is very quiet on the Dbacks front. — Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) July 31, 2014
JJ: Yesterday we heard rumors of Arizona marketing Gerardo Parra, and it figures they might unload Aaron Hill and/or Martin Prado, but so far no go. They're also willing to trade the vital organs of Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson, all of which are full of more grit than anyone can stomach.
Mariners considered a sleeper for Asdrubal Cabrera. — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 31, 2014
JJ: Don't forget that the Mariners signed Asdrubal Cabera as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela back in 2002, then traded him to Cleveland for Eduardo Perez in June 2006. He's headed towards free agency at the end of this year, and the Indians, who traded Justin Masterson yesterday, recently promoted top prospect Francisco Lindor to Triple-A Columbus at the tender age of 20. That said, Cabrera isn't exactly the solution to Seattle's offensive woes, hitting .246/.305/.386 for a 96 OPS+, which is a ringer for what he hit last year.
CC: I worry that Cleveland is going to rush Lindor because of the timing of Cabrera's free agency. My impression is that Lindor could use more time in the minors next year, but Cleveland is no longer in a rebuilding stage.
JJ: Yes, I doubt Lindor comes up for more than a September cup of coffee even if Cabrera is dealt.
CC: I think even having him start next season in the majors would be rushing him.
JJ: Cabrera's a crap fielder, by the way: -7 DRS this year, -16 last year, and in the red 10 runs for his career.
CC: "But teh web gemz!"
JJ: For what it's worth, here's what Baseball Prospectus' Nick Faleris said about Lindor earlier this month, when BP ranked him fourth on their midseason top-50: "Another year, another level, another solid showing as one of the younger talents in the league. Lindor’s game remains that of a future plus to plus-plus defender at the six spot with a top-of-the-order on-base and hit profile, positive value on the bases, and makeup for miles. He will be in Cleveland for good no later than Opening Day 2015, and should serve as the face of the franchise for years to come."
CC: See, everyone gets a Red Sock!
JJ: Awaiting David Ortiz to the Padres.
CC: The Red Sox will have control over both Kelly and Craig through 2018. That's impressive, four years of two established major league regulars for a year and change of Lackey.
JJ: The Sox add a whole lot of club control with the Lackey move. Allen Craig is amid a down year but has three years and $25.5 million remaining on his deal, plus a $13 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2018. Kelly won't even be arbitration eligible until after the 2016 season.
Turning our attention elsewhere for a moment, here's one via Ken Rosenthal:
CC: Did you enjoy that chocolate cake? Because we have a saltine here if you'd like that as well.
JJ: Hey, there are 29 other teams besides the Red Sox whom we have to report on, and Bonifacio (.279/.318/.373) would be a significant upgrade at the keystone for some of those teams.
CC: I just assumed they'd all get someone else off the Red Sox roster.
JJ: Denny Doyle is a bit over the hill.
Sox get Kelly, Craig for Lackey — Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 31, 2014
CC: Lackey is a major impact move in that division, with the Reds reportedly considering selling today, the Pirates just a half-game ahead of the Cardinals and in more desperate need of someone like Lackey, and the Brewers still hanging on to first place, just 2 1/2 games in front of St. Louis.
JJ: It remains to be seen how he and the Cardinals handle next year's $500,000 option. I can't believe he'd retire rather than forgo it, but it seems likely that he'll parlay that into a multi-year extension.
CC: Lackey's performance the last two years, strong postseason record, and league-minimum option for next year (triggered by his TJ surgery) make him tremendously valuable on this trade market, particularly with Lester already traded and Price unlikely to go. I'd expect a two-year deal to replace the option, but that just adds to his value. He's not a rental.
CC: This is unsurprising with the Red Sox having gone into full seller mode with the Lester deal, but Miller has been fantastic this season and could be an impact arm into the postseason.
Industry source: Red Sox are expecting to move Miller by 4 p,m. Lots of interest from "lots of teams'' with offers improving. — Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) July 31, 2014
JJ: I expect that the Sox will move Lackey as well. Reportedly he has asked to be traded. Oh, and there it is:
Sox close to a deal with Cardinals for Lackey, according to multiple sources — Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 31, 2014
CC: Lackey would have a far greater impact on the Cardinals' fortunes than Justin Masterson seems likely to, and with both in place, the could keep both Carlos Martinez and Shelby Miller in the bullpen. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are cleaning house. Lester, Gomes, Doubront already gone, Miller, Lackey expected to go.
JJ: A.J. Pierzynski gone, too.
CC: That was a mercy killing.
JJ: Lackey is in the midst of a good season, with a 3.60 ERA, 108 ERA+ and 3.56 FIP through 21 starts. In both of his seasons since returning from Tommy John surgery, he has posted better strikeout-to-walk ratios than he had in any of his previous 10 seasons and is at 3.6 this year.
CC: His velocity has been up as well, even if only slightly, relative to 2007-11.
CC: Per Ken Rosenthal, the most essential of several essential Twitter-follows on a day like this, it sounds like Alex Rios is definitely going to be traded today.
Rios has a $14 million option for 2015 and a limited no-trade clause that blocks deals to six teams, including the Royals, Yankees, and A's, meaning it'll cost extra for any of those three to acquire him.
Cliff Corcoran: Hello, everyone. Well, this deadline day has already trumped last year’s dud with this morning’s Lester/Cespedes trade. I’m eager to read Jay’s take on that swap and the accompanying Sam Fuld-for-Tommy Milone deal that adds a warm body to the Athletics' outfield picture and another bat that could platoon with Jonny Gomes, who went to the A’s with Lester. That trade seems to have sucked some of the air out the room, however, as our breath is slightly less baited in its wake, but the rumors are still flying and there are plenty of players who could be on the move, so let's dig in for the home stretch.
Jay Jaffe: Greetings, folks. Yes, once again the A's have shocked the baseball world and shaken up the trade market, and as with the one-two punch created by acquiring both Samardzija and Hammel, one sidelight to acquiring Lester is that they keep him out of the hands of their potential competitors.
CC: Taking Lester off the board early, however, gives those teams time to turn toward Plan B. That likely doesn't mean David Price, I think the Rays are going to stand pat, but Bartolo Colon, Ian Kennedy, and roughly half of the Phillies' rotation seem to be in play. With regard to the Phillies, however, I only expect to see A.J. Burnett traded today. The Royals are the team most recently mentioned as a suitor for him.
CC: One item that I'm seeing in my Twitter timeline is that the Twins and Kurt Suzuki are still far apart in their extension talks. Suzuki isn't a difference-maker, but is perhaps the only starting catcher on the block today. The Twins are in what seems to be a sign-or-trade situation with him this afternoon, and the Cardinals and Orioles are two contenders who need catching help.
Jay Jaffe and Cliff Corcoran will be along shortly to handle SI's trade deadline tracker, but first, we wanted to get you caught up on the big moves so far.
First, the day's early blockbuster: Oakland getting Jon Lester from Boston for Yoenis Cespedes. Stay tuned for Jay's analysis of the deal and who came out ahead.
From earlier today: Our preview of Deadline Day, and the players and teams to watch.