With just two and a half shopping days left until Monday afternoon’s non-waiver trading deadline, here’s a look at the rumors that were providing grist for the mill as Friday night’s action drew to a close.
Dodgers attempting to acquire Jay Bruce from Reds via three-team blockbuster featuring Yasiel Puig
The biggest and most persistent rumor Friday night concerned a potential three-team deal that would send outfielder Jay Bruce to the Dodgers. The most compelling permutation of this rumor suggested that the Dodgers would send pitching prospects and possibly Yasiel Puig to a third team, possibly the Rays, with that team sending hitting prospects to the Reds. Another version had the Rays sending a starting pitcher to each of the other two teams. The Reds and Dodgers were active trading partners over the winter, having come close to an Aroldis Chapman deal, then rebounding with the three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox.
The current Dodgers front office has shown a knack for three-team transactions, having pulled off the Frazier deal, which netted Trayce Thompson among others, the three-team deal with the Marlins and Braves at last year’s deadline, and having strung together two simultaneous deals to land Howie Kendrick from the Angels and Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies the previous off-season. Nothing appeared imminent as the night drew to a close, but virtually every major rumor monger tweeted out some piece of information concerning a potential Bruce-to-Dodgers scenario at some point Friday night.
Rangers, hungry for front-end starting pitching, trying to pry Vince Velasquez away from Phillies
It’s no secret that the Rangers need rotation help, but Friday night’s rumor mill found them focusing in on a surprising target, 24-year-old Phillies righty Vince Velasquez. Acquired from the Astros in December’s Ken Giles trade, Velasquez has emerged as a potential front-end starter for the rebuilding Phillies, who would seem loathe to part with him given his five remaining years of team control. However, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury cited a source Friday night that described trade talks between the two teams regarding Velasquez as “pretty deep” and the Rangers reportedly had two scouts watching his start in Atlanta Friday night (6 IP, 2 R in a hard-luck loss). The Phillies already landed three of the Rangers’ top prospects in last year’s Cole Hamels deal, another example of the Rangers addressing an in-season starting pitching shortage by acquiring a player with multiple years of control remaining, but Texas has plenty more elite and near-ready talent to offer.
Nationals willing to trade Lucas Giolito straight-up for Andrew Miller?
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi dropped this bombshell on twitter Friday afternoon:
That was soon followed by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman saying the Yankees would not make that trade and ESPN’s Jim Bowden saying the Nationals would not trade Giolito under any circumstances. Still, the mere thought of such a trade makes for a fascinating Rorschach test regarding the relative value of prospects versus established major leaguers, as well of as starting verses relief pitching. Miller and Giolito are both about as good as you can get in their respective categories, that being a dominant late-game reliever and a near-ready rotation prospect with ace potential.
Were Giolito, who made his major league debut earlier this season, to fulfill his potential, he would be inarguably more valuable over the remainder of his team controlled years than Miller would be over the final two years of his contract, and could even surpass Miller in value in the next two seasons. Right now, however, he’s back in Triple A, licking his wounds after poor showings in his second and third major league starts. Would the Nationals, who entered Friday’s action with a 93.7% chance of reaching the Division Series per Baseball Prospectus’s Playoff Odds Report, be crazy to sacrifice arguably baseball’s top pitching prospect for what’s likely to roughly 150 innings from Miller? Would the Yankees, who had an 11.1% chance of making the playoffs at all, be crazy to say no? The Yankees’ front office might be interested to know that, per Morosi, roughly two-thirds of the Yankee fans on his timeline were in favor of the swap.
Brewers collecting offers for Jonathan Lucroy
The Brewers have, unsurprisingly, received significant interest from multiple teams regarding catcher Jonathan Lucroy, one of the best established stars believed to be available at this year’s deadline. Per FOXSports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers asked those teams on Thursday to make specific offers that “met [a] minimum standard,” and are said to be evaluating those offers, suggesting a Lucroy will indeed be switching teams in the next couple of days. The Mets, who had previously offered Travis d’Arnaud in return, are known to have made a new offer. Cleveland is believed to be their primary competition at the moment, though the Braves, Rangers, and a mystery team have also shown interest.
Mariners inquiring on Zack Cozart
With Ketel Marte out with mononucleosis, the Mariners have reportedly called the Reds about slick-fielding Zack Cozart. Cozart is having a career year at the plate and, with one year of team control remaining, could be a valuable trade chip for the Mariners in the off-season, allowing them to potentially break-even on a trade, an attractive prospect given their slim playoff chances (25.9% per BP’s odds). That per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, though Stark’s report that the M’s are also interested in Bruce has been contradicted by other sources.
Braves close to flipping Jim Johnson, again
With Arodys Vizcaino out with an oblique strain, Jim Johnson is closing games again in Atlanta, picking up his fifth save of the season and third in the last four days Friday night. That has likely helped drive up his value, and per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, the Braves are indeed close to trading the veteran righty yet again (he was part of last year’s mega-deal between the Braves, Dodgers and Marlins, going from Atlanta to L.A.). Cotillo names the Mets and Blue Jays as teams that have shown interest in Johnson.
Mets and Angels discussing Joe Smith
Covering all their bases when it comes to generically-named right-handed relievers, the Mets are also reported to have been discussing a potential deal for Angels’ sidearmer Joe Smith, who, like Johnson, will be a free agent at the end of the year. The Indians, Mariners and Cardinals are also supposedly interested in Smith.
Starting-pitching targets adjust value as deadline approaches
Velasquez may have been a hard-luck loser, but the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi and the Brewers’ Junior Guerra helped their teams in two ways Friday night, picking up wins and, arguably, boosting their trade value with impressive outings. Odorizzi, who has three team-controlled years remaining, worked 6 2/3 scoreless frames against the Yankees, striking out five without issuing a walk and dropping his ERA from 4.10 to 3.88 in the process. The 31-year-old rookie Guerra, meanwhile, held the Pirates scoreless for eight frames before finally giving up a run on the second out of the ninth inning and getting the hook. Guerra now has a 2.17 ERA in his last 14 starts and has taken scoreless outings into the eighth inning against the Dodgers, Nationals and Pirates.
On the other side of things, Ivan Nova, who opposed Odorizzi in Tampa Bay, got lit up by the Rays for five runs in 4 1/3 innings, inflating his season ERA to 4.90 and left the mound barking at home plate umpire Laz Diaz. Meanwhile, A’s lefty Rich Hill was officially scratched from his Sunday start due to a blister on his left middle finger and could land on the disabled list. The 36-year-old Hill has been excellent when healthy, but has made just two starts since the end of May due to a groin strain and the blister, not counting the July 17 start in which he was removed during the first batter when the blister tore open.
Cleveland roasts Twins over scoreboard rumors blunder
Carlos Beltran has reportedly been of interest to the Cleveland front office, but when the Twins’ scoreboard attempted to squeeze that rumor into limited space on Thursday many misconstrued the line “NYY Beltran to Indians” to mean that Cleveland had acquired the veteran slugger. In response, the Indians posted a rumor about the Twins on their scoreboard prior to their thrilling 5–3 comeback win over the A’s Friday night.