Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Trade buzz from All-Star week
By Jim Bowden
Don't be surprised if Matt Garza is wearing a different uniform next week.
The All-Star break is always a fun time for those in the baseball industry, and it gives front offices a little bit of a break, as the league discourages them from announcing any deals during the festivities so as not to distract from the main events.
But that doesn't mean GMs aren't talking. In fact, trade conversation was rampant this week, and we should get ready for a flurry of activity once games get going again on Friday.
• The biggest name out there right now is Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, and I'm told there is an 80 percent chance he is traded before his next start, which is scheduled to come next Monday or Tuesday in Arizona.
The Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox are all interested, while the Diamondbacks are a real dark horse in this race, especially if they are willing to part with left-handed starter David Holmberg. The 21-year-old isn't overpowering, but he has a 2.97 ERA in 19 starts for Double-A Mobile this year.
• The Colorado Rockies are running parallel courses. They are seeing what starting pitching is available (and at what cost), while at the same time trying to get a feel for what kind of value their guys have. In other words, they could be buyers or sellers at the deadline and have even touched base on Garza, but at this point the prospective cost makes it prohibitive for them.
If the Rockies sell, relievers Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle would be most likely to go. They'd consider moving Michael Cuddyer if they were blown away, but we see fewer blockbusters at the deadline these days, making such a deal very unlikely.
• MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner surprised many at Tuesday's news conference when he said potential suspensions for the Biogenesis scandal would not have to follow the 50- or 100-game structure set forth in the drug agreement. Weiner also said he doesn't think players will have to serve suspensions until 2014 because of the amount of time needed for appeals for all the players.
However, there is a twist. Some speculate that certain players would rather take a suspension this year -- particularly if their team is out of the race -- just to get the incident behind them.
Things are obviously a bit trickier for players whose clubs are contending, and the two teams in the race that could be most affected are the Texas Rangers, because of Nelson Cruz, and the Detroit Tigers, because of Jhonny Peralta.
• The Chicago White Sox have been shopping almost all of their players, but so far they have been extremely disappointed in the offers they've fielded for right fielder Alex Rios. However, with very few bats available they should still do fine, as teams always get a bit more desperate right before the deadline.
The Justin Morneau era in Minnesota is likely over soon. But where will he land?
• The Yankees have been trying to use Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and catching prospect J.R. Murphy to get a bat, but so far no luck. Hard to see a fit with the Twins in a Morneau deal for any of those guys, as Minnesota already has an All-Star catcher on a long-term contract and Hughes and Chamberlain are free agents after this season.
• The San Francisco Giants are used to being buyers, but if they keep losing they could make the unpopular move of trading Tim Lincecum to a contending team to try to reload for 2014. The fan base might not like it but it's probably the right decision, depending on whether they can get a decent prospect to fortify a middling farm system.
• The Nationals had one of the best benches in baseball last year, but have gotten very little from their reserves in 2013. As a result, they are looking for a left-handed bench bat. They have great starting pitching, which should keep them in the race, but their offense needs help.
• The Cardinals are reviewing their options but at this point are not pursing anything specifically or aggressively. Can't blame them, as they are arguably the most well-rounded club in the league.
• The star of the Home Run Derby was Yoenis Cespedes, but the guy who really opened eyes was Clovis (Calif.) High School shortstop Jacob Gatewood, who put on a show during a modified derby competition among high schoolers during commercial breaks. He is committed to USC but likely won't ever make it to campus, as he is among the early candidates to be the No. 1 overall pick next June.
• As always, I got a huge kick out of watching the Futures Game, and I see reason for optimism for the Seattle Mariners. Taijuan Walker looked great in the Futures Game, and the Mariners should be opening the 2014 season with three guys with No. 1 stuff -- Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Walker.
• Outfielders Christian Yelich of the Miami Marlins and Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers both showed during the Futures Game that they should be considered among the top prospects in this game. Both are going to hit and their power will continue to trend upward.