Available pinch-hitters 

July, 22, 2014
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In an era of increased specialization, one of baseball's unique jobs is not faring well in general. While offense is down throughout the game, pinch hitters are struggling at an even higher rate in 2014.

Entering Tuesday, pinch hitters were hitting a mere .211 this season, a full 41 points below baseball's batting average for all hitters, and last year pinch hitters batted just .217.

That is something to keep in mind as July 31 approaches. All teams looking to add a backup position player hope the new player can provide value as a pinch hitter. Here are some veterans who might be available with their pinch-hitting prowess in mind:
  • Travis Snider, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: The promotion of Gregory Polanco has cut into Snider's at-bats, and Snider could be a bargaining chip as the Pirates look to add another reliever. Snider is tied for the major league lead with 11 pinch hits, including a run-scoring double against the Rockies last Friday that snapped an eighth-inning tie.
  • Ryan Doumit, OF/C, Atlanta Braves: Evan Gattis returned from the disabled list Monday, moving Doumit further down the depth chart in Atlanta. Doumit has a .248 BA and four home runs in 149 career pinch-hit at-bats.
  • Bobby Abreu, OF, New York Mets: Even if the Mets are not major sellers at the deadline, they could look to deal the 40-year outfielder. But a word of caution: Abreu may be hitting .259 overall, but he's just 2-for-27 (.074) as a pinch hitter, his primary role for any contender.

Would A's deal Tommy Milone? 

July, 22, 2014
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Tommy Milone, demoted to the minors earlier this month following the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel has asked the Oakland Athletics to trade him, reports Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Rosenthal adds “the Athletics have received trade inquiries on Milone, but the team is not eager to move him, knowing he might be needed due to injury or ineffectiveness.”

The A’s have no incentive to accommodate Milone, who is better than many starters currently in the majors. The southpaw owns a career 3.84 ERA in 468 2/3 innings, and had gone 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts prior to his demotion.

If the A’s were to listen on Milone, they could ask interested parties to take struggling reliever Jim Johnson off their hands as part of a package deal. The Athletics would like to avoid eating the remainder of Johnson’s $10 million contract and move him before the deadline, but have found no takers, reported John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune.

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Cliff Lee staying in Philly? 

July, 22, 2014
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It is an old baseball adage that you never read too much into any particular game. But when it comes to assessing the trade value of Cliff Lee, there may be no other choice.

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Twins ready to sell? 

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
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Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan dropped a strong hint Monday that the Twins will soon be trade deadline sellers.

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Alex Rios a fit in KC? 

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
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The Kansas City Royals, who scored a grand total of two runs in three losses to the Red Sox last weekend, are interested in dealing for Rangers outfielder Alex Rios.

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The centerpiece of the July 31 trade deadline sweepstakes remains David Price, who not only is enhancing his market value but also is putting the Tampa Bay Rays back in the postseason picture.

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Are the Marlins ready to sell? 

July, 21, 2014
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Could the Miami Marlins soon be joining the relatively small list of trade deadline sellers?

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The market for Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett may be picking up steam.

Over the weekend, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported the Phillies and Orioles "have had very preliminary talks on a trade" that would send Burnett to Baltimore.

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Any takers for Jim Johnson? 

July, 21, 2014
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Call it addition by subtraction if you want, but the Oakland Athletics are looking to find a new home for reliever Jim Johnson.

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Benoit the next Padre to go? 

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
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The San Diego Padres already have traded away their closer, and are talking to teams about their top set-up man.

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The market for Cliff Lee 

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
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In what amounts to an audition, Cliff Lee returns to the Philadelphia Phillies rotation Monday night against the Giants, his first outing since landing on the disabled list in late May with a strained flexor-pronator tendon in his elbow.

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The Boston Red Sox remain in last place in the American League East, but the idea of another round of October baseball at Fenway Park no longer seems farfetched. The Sox have won seven of their last games after a weekend sweep of the Royals and are 7 games off the pace in a relatively mediocre division.

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The Chicago Cubs have already contributed to the biggest deal thus far in 2014 -- sending Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics -- but may not yet be done supplying players to contending teams this season.

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Rios injury puts trade talk on hold 

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
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The second half of the season already doesn't look like it's shaping up to be any better for the Texas Rangers. The team, which already has 14 players on the disabled list, watched as Alex Rios left Saturday's game after fouling off the first pitch he saw from Toronto Blue Jays rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman.

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Brewers not expected to deal 

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
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The Milwaukee Brewers are likely to be battling it out with the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central crown well into September. For the moment, it seems the team is pretty confident that they've got the players they need to win that battle.

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