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Cards, Cubs renew rivalry to open second half

MLB.com

The second half opens with a renewed rivalry as the Cardinals face the Cubs on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.92 ERA) opens the five-game series for the first-place Cubs. The 28-year-old has struck out 83 batters and has a 1.20 WHIP in 19 starts this season. Chicago enters Thursday riding a three-game sweep of the Padres heading into the All-Star break.

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The second half opens with a renewed rivalry as the Cardinals face the Cubs on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.92 ERA) opens the five-game series for the first-place Cubs. The 28-year-old has struck out 83 batters and has a 1.20 WHIP in 19 starts this season. Chicago enters Thursday riding a three-game sweep of the Padres heading into the All-Star break.

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The Cards counter with righty Carlos Martinez (6-5, 3.08 ERA), who looks to get back on track after allowing three runs on six hits over five innings in a loss to the Reds in his last start. However, Martinez has won three of his past four starts, posting a 2.63 ERA with 22 strikeouts in that span.

Catcher Willson Contreras and second baseman Javier Baez return to the diamond after making their first All-Star Game appearance. Contreras hammered the National League's first run in his first All-Star at-bat with a solo shot to left in an 8-6 loss to the American League. Baez swung at Red Sox ace Chris Sale's first pitch, roping one into center field.

"Hitting that ball was something special for me and my family -- they're here -- and for the fans," Contreras said. "I'd do anything for the fans, and this was for the fans in Chicago."

St. Louis begins the second half aiming to hit the reset button while remaining committed to playing for a postseason berth. On Saturday, Mike Shildt moved from the Cards' bench coach to become their new skipper following a midseason replacement of Mike Matheny, who managed St. Louis since 2012. Shildt won his first game as a manager in a 6-4 victory over the Reds at Busch Stadium.

"He was so good at the lower levels," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently recalled. "I think he would be defined as a true teacher. To me, I always think that's so important at those kind of teams. He's always been able to change his message, to adapt his message to the students or, in this case, players. The one thing I've always admired about him is his ability to adapt."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Indians deal for ace reliever Brad Hand

Fellow reliever Cimber also goes to Cleveland; Friars get top prospect Mejia
MLB.com @MLBastian

ARLINGTON -- Brad Hand struck out Indians catcher Yan Gomes in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Washington. The left-handed reliever followed that by inducing a groundout off the bat of Cleveland's Michael Brantley to end the eighth inning. Now, those three are teammates.

On Thursday, the Indians pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Padres to acquire Hand and right-hander Adam Cimber in exchange for highly touted catching prospect Francisco Mejia. Hand and Cimber immediately boost a bullpen that has been a trouble area for the Tribe this season, while San Diego nets Cleveland's top prospect in return.

ARLINGTON -- Brad Hand struck out Indians catcher Yan Gomes in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Washington. The left-handed reliever followed that by inducing a groundout off the bat of Cleveland's Michael Brantley to end the eighth inning. Now, those three are teammates.

On Thursday, the Indians pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Padres to acquire Hand and right-hander Adam Cimber in exchange for highly touted catching prospect Francisco Mejia. Hand and Cimber immediately boost a bullpen that has been a trouble area for the Tribe this season, while San Diego nets Cleveland's top prospect in return.

"Trades like this are always difficult to make," said Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations. "We parted with a guy that we think has a chance to be a really good Major League player in Francisco. But we feel we're adding players to our bullpen that will not only impact our team for 2018, but for years to come."

Video: 2018 ASG: Hand strikes out Gomes swinging in the 8th

The Indians optioned Mejia to Triple-A after Sunday's game against the Yankees and will option righty Adam Plutko to the same affiliate, vacating two spots on the 25-man roster for Hand and Cimber. Antonetti noted that there will likely be a "series of moves" prior to Friday's game against the Rangers.

There are two main motivating factors behind the Tribe's willingness to part with Mejia, who ranked No. 1 among the Indians' prospects and No. 15 overall, according to MLB Pipeline. First and foremost, Cleveland's bullpen ranked 29th in the Majors in ERA (5.28) heading into the All-Star break as manager Terry Francona has cycled through 19 relief arms. Beyond that, the Indians might lose a wave of players in free agency this offseason.

Hand -- one of the game's elite back-end arms -- is under contract for 2019 ($6.5 million) and '20 ($7 million) with a club option worth $10 million (or $1 million buyout) for '21. Cimber is a rookie this season, so he is under control through at least '23. After this season, Indians relief ace Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen are among the team's impending free agents.

"That was really an important element of it," Antonetti said. "We were seeking to not only impact this year's team, but to help better position us moving forward. We know we have some guys in our bullpen who are approaching the end of their contracts and we are going to have to remake our bullpen in some fashion for 2019. And this trade gives us two really good options."

The Hand deal could be just the first of many for the Padres. A source tells MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that San Diego has drawn significant interest in right-hander Kirby Yates and, to a lesser degree, righty Tyson Ross.

The Indians, who could benefit from upgrading in center or right field, may not be done dealing, either.

"One of the things this trade allows us to do," Antonetti said, "is continue to have the flexibility to improve other areas of the team. We remain engaged with teams right now on other trade concepts that we'll continue to weigh as we approach the [July 31 non-waiver Trade] Deadline."

This season, the 28-year-old Hand has turned in a 3.05 ERA with 24 saves and 65 strikeouts against 15 walks in 41 outings (44 1/3 innings). His 35-percent strikeout rate ranks 11th overall among MLB relievers. Over the past three seasons for San Diego, which claimed the lefty off waivers from the Marlins in April 2016, Hand has posted a 2.66 ERA with 280 strikeouts vs. 71 walks in 213 innings.

Cimber, 27, has a 3.17 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 10 walks in 42 appearances (48 1/3 innings) this season for the Padres. A side-arming righty, he has limited right-handed hitters to a measly .482 OPS. If the Indians take on the Yankees or Astros in the playoffs, Cimber could come in handy against some of their right-handed sluggers.

"It's a guy with a little bit of a unique look," Antonetti said of Cimber. "He's a very low-slot right-handed reliever that's dominated right-handed hitters and has improved against left-handed hitters. We think he's a guy we can leverage in key situations in games to get some of the best right-handed hitters out."

Francona uses Allen as his primary closer, but the manager is also flexible with how he utilizes his late-inning arms.

Hand is most likely headed for a setup role with Cleveland, but he could just as easily share save chances with Allen depending on matchups. Miller, who works as a high-leverage weapon for the Tribe, is still working his way back from the 10-day disabled list (right knee). The veteran lefty logged a rehab outing for Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, striking out two in one clean inning.

"[Miller's] outing the other night was really encouraging," Antonetti said. "His fastball velocity and shape to his pitches is starting to creep back to where he is when he's at his best. We'll continue to allow him to work through things in the Minor Leagues, and at some point here in the next few weeks, he can be an option for us."

The American League Central-leading Indians did not want to part with Mejia unless the incoming package came with multiple seasons of control. That goal was achieved by netting Cimber as the secondary piece to the trade, which greatly enhances the look of Cleveland's bullpen with October in mind.

The acquisition is similar to when the Indians got Miller from the Yankees before the 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline while he still had 2 1/2 years remaining on his contract. As with Hand, they traded outfielder Clint Frazier, then their No. 1 prospect, for an elite left-handed reliever in Miller with multiple years of team control.

Mejia, 22, was splitting his time between catching and the outfield this season due to him being blocked at the MLB level by Gomes (signed through 2019 with team options for '20 and '21) and Roberto Perez (signed through '20 with team options for '21 and '22). Francona emphasized over the past few weeks that the switch-hitting prospect preferred to focus on catching.

"We asked a lot of Francisco this year, no doubt about about it," Antonetti said. "We asked him to try to develop defensively at a couple different positions while trying to perform at a young age in Triple-A against some really good pitching. So there were a lot of challenges on Francisco's plate, and to his credit, he handled them really well."

The Padres plan to keep Mejia at catcher, but will send him to Triple-A El Paso for the time being.

In 2016, Mejia put himself on the national radar with a 50-game hitting streak. He made the World roster in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in each of the past three seasons, and he's hitting .279 with 30 extra-base hits and a .755 OPS through 79 games at Triple-A Columbus this year. Mejia, who had two brief stints with Cleveland this season, hit .455 with a 1.193 OPS in 24 games in June, ending that month with eight multihit games in a row.

"We all feel that Francisco's going to be a really good player," Antonetti said. "But in order to be able to get back what we view are really high-leverage, high-impact relievers, we knew we were going to have to give up a lot of value. We were fortunate that we do have some catching depth within the organization, and that depth allowed us to consider a trade like this."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Adam Cimber, Brad Hand

With Machado off the market ... now what?

Contenders seeking help on left side of infield still have options
MLB.com

While the Manny Machado saga may be over for now -- it will resume in the offseason, when Machado is set to become a free agent -- the search for a difference-making player on the left side of the infield is ongoing for a number of clubs, including the Phillies and Brewers.

Though there aren't any Machado-level bats left on the trade market, contenders still have several viable options who can handle the hot corner. But for teams specifically seeking a shortstop, the choices are less inspiring.

While the Manny Machado saga may be over for now -- it will resume in the offseason, when Machado is set to become a free agent -- the search for a difference-making player on the left side of the infield is ongoing for a number of clubs, including the Phillies and Brewers.

Though there aren't any Machado-level bats left on the trade market, contenders still have several viable options who can handle the hot corner. But for teams specifically seeking a shortstop, the choices are less inspiring.

Catch up on the latest Trade Talk

Here's how the third base/shortstop market breaks down after the Dodgers' blockbuster trade for Machado on Wednesday.

Next-biggest names
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays

This group would have been far more alluring prior to this season, but Beltre has battled injuries and displayed diminished power this year and Donaldson hasn't played since late May due to a left calf ailment. With Beltre owning veto power over any trade due to his 10-and-5 rights and Donaldson potentially having just a handful of games to show he's healthy before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Moustakas may be the only one of these impending free agents who is actually dealt. The Phillies reportedly are honing in on the Royals third baseman after missing out on Machado, and the Cardinals, Braves, Red Sox and Yankees have also been linked to him. Meanwhile, Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the club won't consider a Beltre deal unless it is "beneficial for all parties involved."

Video: KC@MIN: Moustakas crushes two solo homers

Versatile vets
Eduardo Escobar, 3B/SS, Twins
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/3B, Mets
Derek Dietrich, 3B/OF, Marlins
Yangervis Solarte, 3B/2B, Blue Jays
Josh Harrison, 2B/3B, Pirates

There could be some good value here, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Escobar, Cabrera and Dietrich have each posted a wRC+ of at least 120 this season, and Solarte has solid contact skills (14.4 percent strikeout rate in 2018) and power (16 homers). Harrison has struggled (71 wRC+ in '18), but he was an All-Star as recently as last year.

Video: BAL@MIN: Escobar drives a 2-run homer to right field

All five of these players can handle multiple positions, so they could be targets for teams in need of a second baseman, third baseman or even an outfielder (in the case of Dietrich). However, Escobar is the only one who is likely to draw any interest as a shortstop, and even he isn't a great option there due to his defensive limitations. The Phillies, Brewers and Indians are the teams that are most likely to pursue one of the players in this group, and the Red Sox could also jump into the mix with second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left knee) possibly out for the year. That said, teams looking for a second baseman may prefer to trade for someone such as Brian Dozier, DJ LeMahieu or Whit Merrifield instead.

Best-available shortstops
Freddy Galvis, SS, Padres
Jose Iglesias, SS, Tigers
Jordy Mercer, SS, Pirates
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Rays
Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals

Video: LAD@SD: Galvis flashes brilliant defense at shortstop

Among the teams that were reportedly involved in Machado trade discussions, the Phillies, Brewers and D-backs each still has a glaring hole to address at shortstop. The problem is, the remaining crop at the position is filled with light-hitting players, and none represents a significant upgrade over what those three clubs have there now. Among the five, Mercer has the best wRC+ with 86. As a result, the trade interest in these players may be minimal.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Complete guide to trade market for pitchers

MLB.com @jonmorosi

At this time last year, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were the biggest names on the starting-pitching market.

The industry expected all three to be dealt. And they were -- even if Verlander didn't become an Astro until seconds before the Sept. 1 deadline to set postseason rosters.

At this time last year, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were the biggest names on the starting-pitching market.

The industry expected all three to be dealt. And they were -- even if Verlander didn't become an Astro until seconds before the Sept. 1 deadline to set postseason rosters.

In 2018, there's little consensus about which high-end pitchers are truly available -- especially among starters -- let alone where they might be heading. So perhaps the conditions are ripe for a blockbuster, the sort of landscape-changing deal no one sees coming.

Here's an overview of the names and teams to watch in the days ahead.

All-Star-caliber starters

Top names: Jacob deGrom, Blake Snell, J.A. Happ, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Cole Hamels, Michael Fulmer, Chris Archer, Nathan Eovaldi, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Noah Syndergaard

The possibility of a deGrom or Syndergaard trade has been discussed at length in media circles, but it's unclear if the Mets have made actual progress on either front. For now, it is likely that both right-handers will remain in Flushing because of high price tags and a general reluctance to deal with the Yankees, Phillies and Braves for geographic/competitive reasons.

The Rays, Twins and Angels are poised to exert the most influence on the market for high-end pitching, because the circumstances favor sellers. Tampa Bay isn't shopping Snell. Minnesota isn't in a hurry to move Berrios -- or Gibson, for that matter. But the conditions are ripe for a motivated contender (like Milwaukee) to assemble an overwhelming offer.

Gibson, 30, is one of this year's sleeper trade candidates, with a career-best WHIP (1.23) and K/BB (2.48) rate. He can become a free agent following the 2019 season, so there's value in the Twins moving him now.

The less-talked-about possibilities, such as Gibson, have become more appealing with the struggles of Happ and Fulmer late in the first half.

Teams shopping: Yankees, Mariners, Rockies, Braves, Brewers, D-backs

Gray's struggles over the past calendar year have thrust the Yankees right back into the market for a No. 2 starter. The Brewers' need for a top starter became even more acute when Junior Guerra landed on the disabled list just prior to the All-Star break.

Similarly, the Braves need a veteran arm to help fuse together a rotation beset by injures over the past month. The D-backs and Rockies are in a similar position: They have depth among their starting pitchers, so they'd need to land a No. 2 starter (or better) to make a rotation move worth their while at this year's July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Depth starters

Top names: Tyson Ross, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Clayton Richard, Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers, Francisco Liriano, Jake Odorizzi, Lance Lynn, Ivan Nova, Danny Duffy, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, James Shields

As one baseball scout observed recently, the Reds bought Harvey's stock when it cratered, and now they are positioned to sell at a decent profit. Harvey's WHIP since moving to Cincinnati is 1.17; he hasn't done that over a full season since helping the Mets reach the 2015 World Series.

Video: MIL@CIN: Harvey tosses 5 2/3 scoreless innings, K's 6

Wheeler and Fiers are among the Major League leaders in innings pitched over the past 30 days, which is more important than it sounds: Scouts are canvassing ballparks across the Majors this month because contenders need pitchers who are healthy and effective right now.

Teams shopping: Athletics, Phillies, Nationals

The Nationals face a deficit in the National League East and need arms to fill out the back of their rotation, with Erick Fedde on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg set to return from the DL on Friday. The Phillies, like the Nats, have ace-level pitching but could add a veteran for the stretch run.

The A's are an unpredictable presence in this sector of the market. For Oakland, adding a rental starter (like Happ or Lynn) at a reasonable cost is the safest strategy.

Setup relievers

Top names: Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley, Brad Ziegler, Amir Garrett, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Jose Leclerc, Mychal Givens, Trevor Hildenberger, Alex Wilson, Seunghwan Oh, Xavier Cedeno, Luis Avilan, Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Edgar Santana, Richard Rodriguez, Kyle Crick, Alex Claudio, Jake Diekman, Ryan Pressly, Matt Andriese, John Axford

Raisel Iglesias is hardly the only Reds reliever in demand, as Garrett, Hernandez and Hughes are in demand across the business. The Pirates' right-handed setup group -- Santana, Rodriguez and Crick -- has been among the best in baseball this year, but it's unclear how available any of them will be.

The Angels, Blue Jays and White Sox project to be among the most active sellers in the middle-relief market. In Avilan and Cedeno, the White Sox have two left-handers to move.

Teams shopping: Indians, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, Dodgers, D-backs, Giants, Rockies

With four NL West teams listed above, the division title could be determined by which team does the most to improve its bullpen at the Deadline. With Manny Machado on his way to Los Angeles, the Dodgers' greatest need is probably fortifying the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Meanwhile, the Indians, Red Sox and Mariners -- possible playoff foes of the Yankees -- must fortify their bullpens in order to go pitch for pitch against the top bullpen in the American League.

Closers

Top names: Raisel Iglesias, Felipe Vazquez, Kyle Barraclough, Zach Britton, Blake Parker, Keone Kela, Jeurys Familia, Bud Norris, Fernando Rodney, Joakim Soria, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Shane Greene, Brad Brach

Brad Hand was the top name on this list, but with him having been traded to the Indians on Thursday, that distinction is shared by Britton, Iglesias and Barraclough.

Video: CIN@CHC: Iglesias retires Heyward to notch 5-out save

Parker's presence on the list is the result of the Angels' recent struggles and his steady performance for a second straight season. Meanwhile, a trade involving Vazquez is unlikely, since he is signed through the 2021 season with club options for '22 and '23.

Romo isn't the most sought-after name among this group, but he's intriguing. As one of the Rays' "openers," he's the lone pitcher in the Majors this year with at least five starts and 10 or more saves.

All-Star closer Blake Treinen would've headlined this list as recently as one month ago, but the A's are playing too well to move him now.

Teams shopping: Astros, Braves, Cardinals

Yes, the Indians got Hand, but don't be shocked if they add another reliever, as their bullpen ERA currently stands at 5.28, which ranks 29th in MLB, ahead of only the Royals. Hand --- who is under contract through 2020 is with a team option for 2021 -- as a perfect fit for Cleveland, as Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are entering free agency after this season.

The Cardinals will be fascinating to follow at the Deadline; depending on how their playoff chances evolve after the dismissal of manager Mike Matheny, St. Louis could trade current closer Norris or add another reliever. The Astros seem destined to add a closer given Ken Giles' recent demotion to Triple-A, but don't be surprised if they wait until July 31 to see if prices drop on guys like Familia or Britton.

Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com.

Don't look now, but Dodgers aren't done

Prospect depth allows for more deals after Machado blockbuster
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- After overwhelming the Orioles with a 5-for-1 deal to get All-Sar shortstop Manny Machado on Wednesday, the Dodgers are still buyers on Thursday.

General manager Farhan Zaidi said they aren't necessarily done improving this first-place club, and that the firepower of a deep farm system allows management to pivot and address the bullpen before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.

LOS ANGELES -- After overwhelming the Orioles with a 5-for-1 deal to get All-Sar shortstop Manny Machado on Wednesday, the Dodgers are still buyers on Thursday.

General manager Farhan Zaidi said they aren't necessarily done improving this first-place club, and that the firepower of a deep farm system allows management to pivot and address the bullpen before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.

"We're going into the Trade Deadline and we have to pursue every opportunity to make this team better," Zaidi said. "We're going to continue to look for upgrades that make sense for us."

So even after spending a month to land "the biggest difference maker available," the front office knows the bullpen needs improvement. Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia, Raisel Iglesias and Keone Kela are among intriguing possibilities. Zaidi said a next move might not come until the Deadline.

Despite adding Machado's remaining $6.3 million to a payroll now pushing the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold, Zaidi downplayed concerns that the club can't afford another acquisition without triggering an outsized penalty.

"We will be mindful of the overall payroll, like we always are," Zaidi said. "In most trades, particularly in this Deadline period, it's more about the talent than the money for teams. When you're on the selling side, you want to make sure you get the right players. We still think we've got a pretty good farm system.

"If we have a match on a player and the team we're talking to likes the players we're offering, teams are usually flexible about figuring how to make the dollars work. We're going to continue to shop and look for ways to make the team better, and we'll deal with any potential financial hurdles as they come up."

In other words, if the Dodgers offer enough quality players, the trading club can justify picking up salary of the departing player. Another option is enticing the trading club to take on the salary of, say, Logan Forsythe in exchange for a better return of prospects.

Only one of the five players Los Angeles dealt -- former Dodgers No. 4 prospect Yasniel Diaz -- is considered a top prospect by MLB Pipeline. So, Zaidi said, the Dodgers still have appealing prospects to trade because of the work of the player development system and Josh Byrnes and Billy Gasparino, who run the Draft.

"They continue to bring these players along that are productive in the Minor Leagues in a way that other teams highly value those guys," Zaidi said. "This trade, there were three drafted players over recent years, and not players that were picked in premium spots in the Draft, which speaks to a really good job by our scouting department.

"A player we signed from the international market [Diaz] was considered the centerpiece, and that involves a different set of scouts. Even Breyvic Valera, our staff did a nice job identifying him when he was DFA'd, and he carried value for the Orioles. Having all aspects of the organization do their jobs as well as they have facilitates this kind of trade."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers

6 most likely to be traded and where they'll go

Machado deal may be a catalyst to a busy couple of weeks
MLB.com @RichardJustice

Manny Machado's trade from the Orioles to the Dodgers means that we can return to our regularly scheduled programming. He wasn't holding up every other potential trade, but let's just say a lot of general managers signed off a lot of telephone calls with: "We should touch base after this Machado thing is resolved."

Now it's settled, and with 13 days until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, other dominoes could fall quickly as teams position themselves for a sprint to the finish line.

Manny Machado's trade from the Orioles to the Dodgers means that we can return to our regularly scheduled programming. He wasn't holding up every other potential trade, but let's just say a lot of general managers signed off a lot of telephone calls with: "We should touch base after this Machado thing is resolved."

Now it's settled, and with 13 days until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, other dominoes could fall quickly as teams position themselves for a sprint to the finish line.

Seventeen of 30 teams are within 5 1/2 games of a postseason spot as baseball comes out of the All-Star break on Thursday night with a Cardinals-Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

Here are six players who could suddenly become hot commodities in the post-Machado trade discussions. (The list originally had seven, before the Indians acquired reliever Brad Hand from the Padres on Thursday morning.)

1. Orioles closer Zach Britton
The O's should have gotten the hang of things by now after listening to offers for Machado and Britton for the past 12 months. Even the teams bidding for Machado could turn their attention to Britton, because he could upgrade every contender. He has looked more and more comfortable since returning from the disabled list on June 12. The impending free agent begins the second half having made seven straight scoreless appearances.

2018 salary: $12 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Astros
Keep an eye on: Red Sox, Mariners, Indians, Brewers, Braves

Video: TEX@BAL: Britton K's Gallo to record the save

2. Royals super utility man Whit Merrifield
OK, Kansas City does not want to trade Merrifield. Because he won't reach the open market until after the 2022 season, the Royals will only do it if an offer overwhelms them, which is probably what's going to happen. That's the value of someone with an .812 OPS and the ability to play anywhere on the diamond.

2018 salary: $570,000
Contract status: Under team control for four more seasons
Front-runner: Phillies
Keep an eye on: Brewers, Giants, Indians, Braves

Video: Merrifield's 5-hit game highlights his strong week

3. Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas
Moustakas played in 31 postseason games for Kansas City in 2014-15, and he may flourish if a trade puts him back on a contender. With the Royals having two highly regarded trade chips, look for general manager Dayton Moore to play the market for max value.

2018 Salary: $6.5 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Braves
Keep an eye on: Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals

Video: KC@MIN: Moustakas belts a solo homer to right field

4. Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ
Happ is an experienced veteran left-hander in the final year of his contract and is possibly the best available starting pitcher. He also has had a tough couple of weeks, which will not help his value. But the demand for starting pitching should make Happ easy to move.

2018 salary: $13 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Mariners
Keep an eye on: Yankees, Nationals, Brewers

Video: 2018 ASG: Happ retires Cain to secure the AL's win

5. Rays starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi
In nine starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi's performances have ranged from excellent to tough. He allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings in his last start before the All-Star break, but in three outings before that, he'd allowed two earned runs in 19 innings. Given the market, Eovaldi should be an easy match with a contender. 

2018 salary: $2 million
Contract status: Free agent after this season
Front-runner: Giants
Keep an eye on: Yankees

Video: TB@NYM: Eovaldi adds 7th K to close 4 perfect innings

6. Padres reliever Craig Stammen
Including Hand, GM A.J. Preller held a couple of nice chips in a pitching-starved market. Stammen has value, not as a closer, but as a multi-inning reliever who can deepen any bullpen. He's not having his best month, but plenty of teams like him. 

2018 salary: $2.25 million
Contract status: Signed through 2019 season
Front-runner: Braves
Keep an eye on: Yankees, Mariners

Video: CHC@SD: Stammen K's Schwarber, the side in 7th inning

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Zach Britton, Nathan Eovaldi, Brad Hand, J.A. Happ, Whit Merrifield, Mike Moustakas, Craig Stammen

These aces lead our poll for Cy Young Awards

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Chris Sale has been close before, finishing second in American League Cy Young Award voting last season and finishing third in 2014. In the past six seasons, he has finished in the top six every year. In short, Sale has done everything except win an actual AL Cy Young Award itself.

Is this the season that changes? Sale edged ahead of Justin Verlander in the latest AL Cy Young Award poll done by MLB.com's Baseball Writers' Association of America members.

Chris Sale has been close before, finishing second in American League Cy Young Award voting last season and finishing third in 2014. In the past six seasons, he has finished in the top six every year. In short, Sale has done everything except win an actual AL Cy Young Award itself.

Is this the season that changes? Sale edged ahead of Justin Verlander in the latest AL Cy Young Award poll done by MLB.com's Baseball Writers' Association of America members.

Sale got 23 of 32 first-place votes, with Verlander getting the other nine. While five pitchers made it onto ballots, voters have settled on clear front-runners.

Trout still reigns in MVP poll; Arenado tops in NL

Meanwhile, Mets ace Jacob deGrom was atop the National League voting, finishing slightly ahead of the Nationals' Max Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner with the Tigers (2013) and Nats (2016-17).

As for deGrom, he hasn't finished higher than eighth in NL Cy Young Award voting since winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2014. But this season, he leads the NL with a microscopic 1.68 ERA.

Video: PHI@NYM: deGrom strikes out 7 over 8 shutout innings

Lately, deGrom has been on a roll only slightly less impressive than Sale's. He has allowed one earned runs in 16 innings this month. In 19 starts this season, deGrom has given up two earned runs or less 14 times.

Here's a look at the voting:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Chris Sale, Red Sox (138 points)
Sale leads the AL with a 2.23 ERA, 188 strikeouts and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings. His starting nod for the AL All-Star team on Tuesday reflected a closing kick in which he has allowed one earned run in his past four starts. Since allowing four earned runs in a June 1 start in Houston, Sale has given up one more than that in five starts combined. In 20 starts this season, he has allowed more than three earned runs only twice.

2. Justin Verlander, Astros (96 points)
Verlander leads the AL in innings and WHIP, and even after a couple of tough starts, his ERA is sitting at 2.29. While the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros jockey for AL seeding, Sale and Verlander could have a similar battle for the AL Cy Young Award.

Video: OAK@HOU: Verlander K's 6 over 6 scoreless frames

3. Luis Severino, Yankees (33 points)
When Severino is at his best, there's virtually no one better. He's also 24 years old with 73 Major League starts under his belt. Severino is coming off a career-high 193 1/3 innings in 2017 and is at 128 1/3 after 20 starts. How that workload impacts his performance will be a storyline to watch in the second half.

Video: BOS@NYY: Severino fans 6 over 6 2/3 scoreless frames

Others receiving votes: Trevor Bauer, Indians; Blake Snell, Rays; Gerrit Cole, Astros.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Jacob deGrom, Mets (133 points)
deGrom has a 1.63 ERA in his past 10 starts. In that stretch, he has been credited with one victory, four losses and five no-decisions. Here's another: In his past 15 starts, deGrom has allowed 14 earned runs. Because he can't be a free agent until after the 2020 season, deGrom would bring a bundle of prospects on the trade front if the Mets decided to deal him.

2. Max Scherzer, Nationals (102 points)
Scherzer is following up a NL Cy Young Award-winning season with an even better one. His 2.41 ERA is the lowest of his career, and he leads the NL in WHIP, innings and strikeouts. Scherzer is also cruising toward his sixth straight 200-inning season. He has been so dominant for so long that his greatness is taken for granted.

Video: BOS@WSH: Scherzer K's 9, records 1,000th K with Nats

3. Aaron Nola, Phillies (39 points)
This is what the Phillies predicted for Nola when they made him the seventh pick of the 2014 Draft out of LSU. He spent just one season in the Minor Leagues before debuting in 2015. Nola has made the difficult step from potentially good to potentially great this season.

Video: PHI@NYM: Nola fans 10, allows 1 hit, drives in 3

Others receiving votes: Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Luis Severino, Justin Verlander

Which club is the new No. 1 in Power Rankings?

MLB.com @alysonfooter

As the second half gets underway -- and we use the term "half" lightly, considering teams have already played around 95 games -- interesting storylines surrounding the 15 or 16 teams that are realistically in contention are everywhere.

In the National League East, three clubs have taken turns with occupying the top spot in the division, including the upstart Braves, who, with off-days, have spent 66 days in first place. Today, the Phillies, who haven't had a winning season or made a postseason appearance since 2011, are in first place, one-half game ahead of Atlanta. So far, it's looking like stunning turnaround for the Phils, who finished 66-96 last season.

As the second half gets underway -- and we use the term "half" lightly, considering teams have already played around 95 games -- interesting storylines surrounding the 15 or 16 teams that are realistically in contention are everywhere.

In the National League East, three clubs have taken turns with occupying the top spot in the division, including the upstart Braves, who, with off-days, have spent 66 days in first place. Today, the Phillies, who haven't had a winning season or made a postseason appearance since 2011, are in first place, one-half game ahead of Atlanta. So far, it's looking like stunning turnaround for the Phils, who finished 66-96 last season.

The Nationals woefully underachieved in the first half, ending at .500 (48-48) and 5 1/2 games behind the Phillies. But it would be premature to write them off, regardless of how uninspired their season has been so far. Veteran teams often have the advantage when it comes to maneuvering through August, which most players agree is the toughest month of the long baseball season to get through. The Nats have enough players who have been around a while, and they've been part of Washington's strong regular-season finishes. They may have a run in them.

On to the post All-Star Power Rankings...

Biggest jump: The Dodgers jumped six spots, from No. 11 to No. 5. They're 10-4 in July, won five of their past seven heading into the break, and they acquired Manny Machado in a trade with the Orioles on Wednesday to help them hang on to first place in a still-tight NL West.

Video: Farhan Zaidi on acquiring Machado from the Orioles

Biggest drop: The Brewers dropped five spots, from No. 4 to No. 9. Perhaps no team was happier to see the All-Star break arrive than the Brew Crew, which lost six straight to close the first "half." Milwaukee went 2-8 in its past 10 games, allowing the Cubs to create some space in the NL Central, though Chicago's lead is still a small margin -- 2 1/2 games.

Power Rankings Top 5

1. Red Sox (2 last week)
All-Star designated hitter J.D. Martinez had 29 home runs at the All-Star break, tied with Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski (1969) for the second most by a Red Sox player. David Ortiz had 31 in 2006. Also, Mookie Betts was the first Boston outfielder to start three straight All-Star Games since Fred Lynn, who did so from 1978-80. Betts leads the Majors in batting average (.359), slugging (.691) and OPS (1.139).

Video: Must C Crushed: Betts concludes 13-pitch AB with slam

2. Astros (1)
If All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Alex Bregman's past month is any indication of what's to come for the 24-year-old third baseman, the juggernaut that is the Astros' offense should have no issue coasting to the postseason. Bregman has 20 homers on the year, a career high. He also has 12 homers in his past 29 games, and seven in his past 14 home games.

Video: DET@HOU: Bregman crushes his 20th homer of the season

3. Yankees (3)
With 161 home runs in 95 games, the Yankees are on pace to set the all-time single-season home run record. They're on pace for 274 and the record is held by the 1997 Mariners, who hit 264.

Video: NYY@BAL: Bird breaks first half HR record with slam

4. Cubs (5)
The Cubs ended the first half leading the NL in runs (476), team batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.345) and OPS (.771). Chicago is the second team in a row to lead the NL in those four categories at the break, after Washington did it last season.

Video: CHC@SD: Baez drives in 5 in Cubs' 11-6 victory

5. Dodgers (11)
Many players have contributed to the Dodgers' resurgence that lifted them from last place to first, and among the most impactful is Matt Kemp, whose presence on the NL All-Star team is one of the best stories of the season. Kemp was traded last December from the Braves to the Dodgers, with neither team believing he would make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He was not only voted in by the fans as one of the NL's starting outfielders, he also has made a case to finish high in NL MVP Award voting. Kemp ranks seventh in the NL with a .310 batting average, 10th with a .522 slugging percentage and 12th with an .874 OPS.

Video: COL@LAD: Kemp lines go-ahead solo HR to center in 8th

The rest of the Top 20
6. Indians (6 last week)
7. Braves (9)
8. Phillies (8)
9. Brewers (4)
10. Dbacks (10)
11. Mariners (7)
12. A's (14)
13. Nats (13)
14. Rays (15)
15. Cardinals (12)
16. Rockies (18)
17. Giants (16)
18. Angels (17)
19. Reds (19)
20. Pirates (NR)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

B.A.T. working to find solutions in Puerto Rico

Organization visited island in May to see how relief efforts are going
MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

The bond between Major League Baseball and Puerto Rico is a strong one, and it's filled with passion and lots of history.

And like a true family, the two sides have come together in a time of need. The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) stepped up to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year.

The bond between Major League Baseball and Puerto Rico is a strong one, and it's filled with passion and lots of history.

And like a true family, the two sides have come together in a time of need. The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) stepped up to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year.

"Before the hurricane, we were probably averaging between 60-80 applications a month [in Puerto Rico]. Now, after the hurricane, we're looking at 120-150," said Erik Nilsen, executive director of B.A.T. "Us wanting to do what we can, we advised our grand committee and came up with a plan to offer disaster relief assistance."

B.A.T.'s plan for Puerto Rico includes help with food, water, medical bills and other supplies. B.A.T. also helps families rebuild their homes and much more.

"We're trying to find solutions for the situations down there, whether that's senior care or rebuilding people's homes," Nilsen said. "We are also trying to find situations where people can succeed. We've kind of looked at this with an open mind, and when we were down there, we asked the players, 'What more can we do to help you guys get back to where you need to be?'"

Created in 1986 by a group of former Major Leaguers, The Baseball Assistance Team was formed to confidentially help members of the baseball family in need of assistance. More than three decades later, the organization still provides members of the baseball family with medical, financial and psychological help, along with other types of assistance.

Throughout the years, the organization has awarded more than 3,600 grants and more than $35 million "to restore health, pride and dignity to members of the baseball family."

B.A.T. also assists front-office staff, umpires, scouts and trainers, but in Puerto Rico, the grant recipients have been primarily former Major League and Minor League players and their families.

"Especially in Puerto Rico, with everything that happened with the hurricane, mental health is something that we've also looked into," Nilsen said. "Obviously, the financial assistance is by far the biggest need. But medical-wise, there's a bunch of people down there that need medical assistance."

Nilsen, along with B.A.T. coordinator Vladimir Cruz and former Major League player Benny Ayala, who serves as the Puerto Rico consultant for the organization, toured the island in late May to assess the quality of assistance provided to grant applicants and recipients.

The trio visited with senior-age grant recipients on the first day and spoke to 16 grant recipients -- many of whom work in baseball as instructors for academies or provide individual instruction -- from the southern parts of the island on the second day of the visit. They also met with three more grant recipients from the San Juan metropolitan area.

"We weren't going down for recognition or to be thanked, but just to learn what's going on and how we can help people better," Nilsen said. "The applicants were just so grateful and so thankful and humble. We have the resources to help people, and actually going down and seeing it for ourselves made us realize there's so much work to be done down there."

The group met with more than 50 players at the Puerto Rican Sports Hall of Fame Museum on the third day. There was also a visit with workers at the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy and at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School on the final day of the trip to discuss their needs.

"The baseball family in Puerto Rico stays together, everybody tries to help each other," Ayala said. "We are a very close group and we're going to continue to help people."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

One bold second-half prediction for every team

MLB.com @williamfleitch

The All-Star festivities are a welcome break, but don't get too comfortable: It's going to start getting real serious real quick now that this little week-long celebration is over. Every Major League Baseball team has a lot of decisions to make in the next two weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline; decisions that will affect not only the rest of this season, but seasons in the future.

It's an exciting, unsettling time for a fan, but worry not: The Thirty is here to help. Here is one second-half prediction for each MLB team. Some involved on-field performance; some guesstimate about trades; some are just goofy. But you have questions about the second half. We have some probably wrong, but hopefully entertaining answers.

The All-Star festivities are a welcome break, but don't get too comfortable: It's going to start getting real serious real quick now that this little week-long celebration is over. Every Major League Baseball team has a lot of decisions to make in the next two weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline; decisions that will affect not only the rest of this season, but seasons in the future.

It's an exciting, unsettling time for a fan, but worry not: The Thirty is here to help. Here is one second-half prediction for each MLB team. Some involved on-field performance; some guesstimate about trades; some are just goofy. But you have questions about the second half. We have some probably wrong, but hopefully entertaining answers.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays
Josh Donaldson not only won't be traded, but you'll start hearing rumblings about his re-signing with the Blue Jays.

Donaldson is still rehabbing his strained left calf muscle, and he is expected to return before the Trade Deadline passes. That's probably still too soon for him to be traded in time, and even though he could theoretically pass through waivers and be traded in August, here's betting that he spends the final month of the season slowly working himself back into shape and floating the idea of a one-year pillow contract to rebuild his free-agent case after the 2019 season. Heck, one season of Donaldson and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as teammates wouldn't be all bad, would it?

Video: WLD@USA: Guerrero on his son preparing for the majors

Orioles
The Manny Machado haul will be better than you think, but still not enough.

The minuscule return the Tigers got for J.D. Martinez last year had many worrying that the Orioles won't get much for Machado. But even though they waited a year (or two!) too long to trade Machado, and though they only got one Top 100 prospect, they still did better than Detroit did. Unfortunately, it's still but a tiny drop in the bucket of their rebuild, which is going to take much longer than one suspects anyone in Baltimore is prepared for.

Rays
The Rays will win enough games to win the Wild Card … last year.

Tampa Bay is better than you think, and it could easily surpass the 85 wins Minnesota notched to grab the second AL Wild Card spot last year. But 85 wins isn't going to cut it this time.

Red Sox
The Red Sox will trade for a third baseman, but Rafael Devers will end up being better in September anyway.

Like last year, the Sox are heavily mentioned in trade talks for a third baseman, particularly with Devers' first half struggles. But he's still a massive talent, and he's only 21 years old: He's on the disabled list right now with left shoulder inflammation, but when he gets back, look for the kid to hit his way back into the job before getting hot in the playoffs and make the idea of anyone else playing third base other than him look ridiculous.

Video: Devers heats up with .375 average, 2 HRs in last week

Yankees
The Yankees will trade for a top-tier starter … and they'll still finish second.

The Yanks need a second starter behind Luis Severino, and they'll get one. But it might not matter, because they still won't catch the Red Sox and will thus, depending on what happens in the AL Wild Card Game, perhaps only have the need for one postseason starter anyway.

AL CENTRAL

Indians
The Indians will get hot in August and make everyone forget they were ever doubted.

The Tribe has been treading water all season and is still 7 1/2 games up. Wait until the Indians finally figure it out. They might not win 22 games in a row this time, but August is going to be a fun month to be a Cleveland fan again.

Royals
Mike Moustakas will be traded, which will lead to the Royals averaging about two runs a game in the second half.

Seriously, imagine pitching to this Royals lineup without Moustakas in it.

Video: KC@MIN: Moustakas crushes two solo homers

Tigers
Christin Stewart will be their low-rent Rhys Hoskins in September.

Stewart is on the Minor League DL right now, but the Tigers will call him up in September and let the slugging outfielder loose. He'll go nuts, getting Detroit fans probably a little bit too excited.

Video: Christin Stewart is Minor League Player of the Year

Twins
Byron Buxton will return, finish the season on one of his hot streaks and the hype train will begin again.

Buxton will then start next season slowly and we'll go through all this again.

White Sox
You'll get to see Eloy Jimenez, at least briefly.

Have you noticed a theme in the AL Central? It's all about excitement for players who aren't on the active roster.

Video: Eloy Jimenez on working hard, preparing for Majors

AL WEST

Angels
The strangest, most upsetting streak in MLB will continue.

Mike Trout, who will win his third AL MVP Award (and theoretically could have six at this point), will remain winless in the postseason for his career. Seriously, this factoid is so upsetting.

Video: 2018 ASG: Statcast™ measures Trout's 401-ft. HR in ASG

Astros
The Astros, who totally don't need the help, will end up getting one of the top players available at the Trade Deadline, just because they can.

I'm thinking Brad Hand.

Video: Hand on trade chances, All-Star Game and McGwire

Athletics
The A's will continue their tradition of having quietly fun teams that are a blast to watch and cheer for, that nevertheless fall short of the ultimate prize.

Being an Oakland fan seems exhausting.

Mariners
The Mariners will end their playoff drought!

That's the good news! The bad news is that they'll only get one playoff game, they'll be on the road, they'll lose it and Felix Hernandez won't even get to pitch in it. SAD EMOJI.

Rangers
Bartolo Colon will start the last game of the regular season, and he'll get a standing ovation because everyone will think it's his last game.

(Narrator: It wasn't.)

Video: TEX@DET: Colon strikes out 3 in complete-game effort

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves
Ronald Acuna Jr.'s gonna get hot.

The Braves rookie has been fine, not spectacular, since finally getting called up this spring. But the explosion is coming. And it might come just in time for an Atlanta team that is undoubtedly one of the most exciting in baseball right now.

Video: ATL@MIL: Acuna Jr. collects a pinch-hit single in 7th

Marlins
Someone will give up very little in a trade for Justin Bour and be happy they did.

Bour is a classically underappreciated power-hitting first baseman who any contending team would be ecstatic to have on their bench in October. If he's traded, you watch: He'll have a big postseason moment.

Video: MIA@MIL: Bour slugs a solo homer to right-center

Mets
The Mets won't trade Jacob deGrom.

Not because they shouldn't -- they should, as my colleague Mike Petriello pointed out -- but because with Sandy Alderson ill and out of commission, there probably just isn't the organizational fortitude right now for such a major trade. It's a shame, too: This could be a transformative moment for the Mets.

Video: deGrom on his future with the Mets, trade rumors

Nationals
The Nationals will make the playoffs.

This is probably a fool's bet, but it still just seems insane that this Nats team, this particular season, will fall short. Here's betting they have one last push in them. Heck, knowing them, this will be the year they make it to the NL Championship Series.

Phillies
Playoffs or not, Gabe Kapler's going to do a victory lap.

Even with their recent run, the Phillies are the team of the three NL East contenders I feel might end up falling short of the playoffs this year, but that's still an unquestioned victory considering where this franchise was just one year ago. No one's making coconut oil jokes anymore.

Video: Nola on his improved performance, Kapler's positivity

NL CENTRAL

Brewers
The Brewers will get one of the best players at the Trade Deadline.

This is the year the Brew Crew has been working toward, and it feels like a CC Sabathia-esque trade would serve them perfect in their breakthrough year.

Cardinals
The Cardinals are not coming around.

This has been the most frustrating Cardinals season, both on and off the field, in more than two decades, leading to widespread speculation that major changes could be in order. Some Cards supporters are hopeful that the team has one run left in them, a finishing kick that could save everything (and everyone). They are kidding themselves.

Cubs
Yu Darvish will come back, but only briefly.

Get used to the phrase "lost season" being used a lot at the Cubs' Spring Training camp next March.

Pirates
Austin Meadows will finish the season hitting above .300.

It took Meadows a little longer to arrive than he and the Pirates might have been hoping, but he's here now. This is only going to get better.

Video: PIT@SD: Meadows smacks an RBI double to left in 9th

Reds
The Reds aren't going to finish in last place.

Cincinnati has looked like a different team entirely since Jim Riggleman took over, and now the Reds are motivated to keep it going in the second half. They'll pass somebody … will it be the Pirates, or even the Cardinals?

NL WEST

D-backs
The D-backs will trade for one, maybe two, starting pitchers.

Arizona doesn't need an ace right now so much as it needs some volume innings. There are plenty of those guys on the market; Lance Lynn might look pretty nice in a D-backs jersey, actually.

Video: MIN@CWS: Lynn fans Abreu to earn 1,000th career K

Dodgers
The Dodgers are making the playoffs.

You didn't really think they were dead back in May, did you? The way baseball works, heck, this will be the Dodgers team that wins the World Series.

Video: Kemp, Jansen discuss first half of season

Giants
The Giants aren't gonna give up the ghost.

You have to admire the Giants and their total lack of interest in planning for the future. Maybe they have info about the end of the world that we don't? San Francisco will probably sit tight at the Trade Deadline and try to ride this out, hoping the club can catch lightning in a bottle this fall. For what it's worth, this has worked for the Giants before.

Padres
You're not seeing Fernando Tatis Jr. this year.

Sorry. Be patient.

Video: WLD@USA: Tatis Jr. rips a single off a 102-mph heater

Rockies
The Rockies will finish under .500.

Coloado has hung in all right, and you understand the Rockies going for it after making the playoffs last year, but the NL is a little too packed this year. And those Nolan Arenado questions are looming: Remember, he's a free agent after next season.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

MLB

Trade Talk: Padres, Britton, Beltre, Dozier

The latest news and rumors leading up to July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline
MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Hand deal could spark flurry of moves for Padres
July 19: By now, you're aware the Padres made a big move by trading closer Brad Hand and righty reliever Adam Cimber to the Indians for top catching prospect Francisco Mejia on Thursday morning. It looks like that could set off a flurry of deals for San Diego, who has a number of available arms, as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand points out.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Hand deal could spark flurry of moves for Padres
July 19: By now, you're aware the Padres made a big move by trading closer Brad Hand and righty reliever Adam Cimber to the Indians for top catching prospect Francisco Mejia on Thursday morning. It looks like that could set off a flurry of deals for San Diego, who has a number of available arms, as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand points out.

Tweet from @Feinsand: The Hand deal could be just the first of many for the Padres. A source says San Diego has drawn significant interest in RHP Kirby Yates, and to a lesser degree, RHP Tyson Ross.

After years of injuries, the 31-year-old Kirby Yates started to emerge after arriving in San Diego last season, and he has come into his own this season with a 1.43 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP and a 11.5 K/9 rate. His lack of track record (just 192 MLB innings in his career) raises some questions, but Yates' stuff and years of club control (through 2020) are appealing.

Similarly, Tyson Ross is 31 and has a laundry list of injuries in his nine-year career, so suitors rightly could be somewhat skeptical. While his ERA is 4.32 this year, Ross has shown flashes of his former All-Star self with 10 starts (of 19 total) in which he's allowed two or fewer runs, plus he's struck out 97 batters over 108 1/3 frames.

Beyond those two, fellow righty Craig Stammen -- who has a 2.91 ERA and a 9.9 K/9 mark and is due just $2.25 million in 2019 -- has been mentioned as another reliever the Padres could dangle.

Cubs could be a "main player" for Britton
July 19: Manny Machado was their biggest chip -- and the biggest one on the trade market -- but the Orioles have another key piece in Zach Britton, who is likely to be moved soon after Machado. Interest in the lefty reliever has increased, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. The Cubs reportedly are at the front of the line as a "main player," Bruce Levine of 670 The Score notes.

Britton has made 15 appearances this season after returning from offseason surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles. Though he got off to a rough start, the 30-year-old has not given up a run over his past seven outings (seven innings) while showing a dramatic increase in velocity.

As many as eight teams have been connected to Britton, including the Phillies and Red Sox, an industry source recently told Levine.

Indians put other AL contenders on notice
July 19: Having missed out on landing Manny Machado, the Indians reacted quickly by pulling off their own blockbuster to acquire Padres relievers Adam Cimber and Brad Hand, arguably the best bullpen piece on the trade market. The deal cost them their top prospect -- and MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall catching prospect -- in Francisco Mejia, but it also put other American League contenders on notice, as MLB Network Radio host Jim Duquette discusses.

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: The #Indians addition of Brad Hand puts the onus on other AL contenders to answer according to @Jim_Duquette #RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/U5IxPBFXW0

The Astros and Red Sox, specifically, were in play for Hand because of their need for an elite lefty reliever. With that no longer an option, perhaps those clubs will turn their attention to the next-best candidate in O's southpaw Zach Britton, whose market is gaining momentum now that Machado has been moved.

While the Yankees weren't linked closely to Hand, they are still very much looking to upgrade their rotation. Plus, the Indians' bullpen -- with Hand and Cimber joining Cody Allen and Andrew Miller (once healthy) -- could rival the Yankees' collection of relievers, which might give New York something else to think about as it battles Boston for the AL East down the stretch.

Daniels: Rangers won't consider Beltre trade unless it benefits 'all parties involved'
July 19: Adrian Beltre can become a free agent after this season, but that doesn't mean the Rangers are actively shopping him.

In a Q&A session with Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels said the club will need to be "motivated to even have the conversation" about dealing the veteran.

"If someone has real interest and wants us to consider it and talk to ownership and talk to Adrian, we will based on their level of interest," Daniels said. "But if it's more of tire kick, that doesn't appeal to us. For us to consider anything, it's got to be beneficial for all parties involved."

Although Beltre is one of the best remaining players available for clubs looking to boost the left side of their infield after the Dodgers acquired Manny Machado on Wednesday, contenders may not be lining up to trade for him.

For one, Beltre can veto any trade due to his 10-and-5 rights, and he reportedly wants to play with the Rangers next season. Furthermore, he has been spending more time at designated hitter due to injury concerns, and he's produced just four homers with a .739 OPS over 261 plate appearances in 2018.

Could Brewers land Dozier?
July 18: After falling short in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, the Brewers could turn their pre-Deadline attention to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Among the players the #Brewers are expected to target now that they have lost Machado: #Twins 2B Brian Dozier. Team also will explore pitching upgrades as well.

With Machado no longer available after the Orioles traded him to the Dodgers on Wednesday night, Dozier would be a quality consolation prize for the contending Crew. The 31-year-old Dozier has struggled in 2018 -- batting just .230 -- but he's still notched 16 homers, 60 runs and five steals in 93 games. Dozier ranked among the baseball's top keystone men over the previous two seasons, batting .269/.349/.522 with 76 homers, 210 runs and 34 steals in 307 contests.

If acquired, Dozier would be a significant upgrade over Hernan Perez, who has reached base at just a .282 clip in 2018, and Jonathan Villar, who has struggled when healthy (.315 OBP) and is currently on the DL with a sprained right thumb. Dozier would likely only serve as a half-season rental for Milwaukee, though, as he is set to be a free agent after this year.

The Brewers could also look to bolster their pitching staff, which currently ranks fourth in the National League with a combined 3.65 ERA. Despite the strong numbers, Milwaukee could use an ace to shore up a rotation that currently consists of Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley and Brent Suter.

Ramos may not return by Trade Deadline
July 18: A strained left hamstring already cost Wilson Ramos a chance to start the All-Star Game. Now it could impact the Rays' chances to trade the backstop.

Ramos, who was voted in at catcher but missed the Midsummer Classic due to the injury, is having a strong season with a .297/.346/.488 line to go with 14 home runs. The 30-year-old, however, was placed on the 10-day DL Wednesday and appears likely to be out beyond the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Tweet from @TBTimes_Rays: #Rays officially put Ramos on DL with left hamstring strain, as expected. He is likely to miss extended time, past July 31 trade deadline. Also reinstated LHP Jose Alvarado from family medical emergency list.

While Ramos' trade value already had taken a hit, it's now even lower, which is a tough outcome for the Rays. Not only could Ramos have brought back a nice return in a depleted catching market, but he also is a free agent at season's end, thus limiting the Rays' opportunity to get anything of real value for him. Perhaps they'll revisit shopping him in August, before the waiver Trade Deadline at the end of next month.

Phillies turn attention elsewhere after missing out on Machado
July 18: After heavy pursuit, the Phillies missed out on Manny Machado -- who is heading to the Dodgers -- but that doesn't mean they're going to sit still. As they exit the All-Star break with a half-game lead over the Braves in the National League East, the Phils are aiming to add ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Among their top targets now? Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Eduardo Escobar of the Twins, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes. The Phillies are looking for an upgrade on the left side of their infield, where youngsters Maikel Franco, Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford have struggled with injuries and inconsistency. Although both Moustakas and Escobar primarily play third base, Escobar has experience at shortstop.

Both Moustakas, who has 19 homers and a .772 OPS, and Escobar, who owns an .834 OPS and an MLB-high 35 doubles, can be free agents at season's end. As rental players, they could help the Phillies' quest to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2011 -- and may not require a huge return that would dent their promising future. More >

Video: Slugger Moustakas delivering at the plate, in field

Cardinals among clubs on buy-or-sell bubble
July 18: The second half is about to start and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away, but there still are a handful of teams who can't clearly be labeled as buyers or sellers … yet.

The Cardinals -- sitting four games out of a National League Wild Card spot at 48-46 and coming off the dismissal of longtime skipper Mike Matheny just before the break -- are one such club. St. Louis has a few intriguing trade chips, as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi points to versatile infielder Jedd Gyorko (signed through next season with a club option for 2020) and 2017 breakout outfielder Tommy Pham (under club control through 2021).

The 29-year-old Gyorko's power is down this season -- he's slugging .411 after posting .495 and .472 marks in 2016 and '17, respectively -- but his ability to play all four infield positions could prove useful to a contender.

Pham is an especially interesting name to float, given that he came from nowhere to slash .306/.411/.520 while compiling 23 homers and 25 steals last year. He is, however, already 30 years old and has slumped to a .243/.326/.396 line so far in a streaky 2018 campaign. Morosi notes that the Cardinals' outfield depth, including rookie Harrison Bader's emergence, could make Pham worth dangling for a sizable return. More >

Dodgers complete deal for Machado
July 18: While the expectation since late Tuesday night has been that the Dodgers will be the winners of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, nothing had been finalized as of Wednesday afternoon. However, the blockbuster deal is now complete.

In exchange for Machado, Baltimore will receive outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-hander Dean Kremer, righty Zach Pop and second baseman Breyvic Valera. Ranked as Los Angeles' No. 4 prospect and the No. 84 prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline, Diaz is the most talented player in the group, with Bannon (No. 27) and Kremer (No. 28) also ranked among the club's Top 30.

The 21-year-old Diaz is slashing .314/.428/.477 at Double-A this season, and he showed off his power by homering twice in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, joining Alfonso Soriano (in 1999) as the only players to pull off that feat in the showcase's 20-year history.

Video: WLD@USA: Diaz clobbers 2-run jack, game-tying HR

Though there was a reported snag involving an issue with the physical of one (or more) of the prospects headed to Baltimore, according to MLB Network Radio host and former Mets GM Steve Phillips, the Orioles and Dodgers have worked past any medical issues.

Will teams wheel and deal well before Trade Deadline?
July 18: Conventional wisdom says front offices tend to wait until the last week -- or even the last day -- before making massive moves at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But that no longer appears to be the case, as activity has picked up sooner over the past several years, including during the All-Star break on occasion.

With Manny Machado on his way to the Dodgers, this could be the latest in a recent run of blockbuster-caliber trades to happen well ahead of the Deadline. In fact, we could see a big-name player change teams before the second half resumes for the third straight season, after Jose Quintana (to the Cubs) and Drew Pomeranz (to the Red Sox) did so in 2017 and '16, respectively. More >

Happ picks up save in Midsummer Classic
July 18: J.A. Happ had never made an appearance in the All-Star Game or a notched a save in his 12-year MLB career, but both of those changed Tuesday night.

The Blue Jays lefty, who hadn't pitched in relief since one outing in 2015 with the Mariners, came into the game in the bottom of the 10th with the American League ahead of the National League, 8-5. After giving up a home run to Joey Votto on his first pitch, the first-time All-Star settled down to register his first career save by striking out Christian Yelich, then getting Charlie Blackmon to ground out and Lorenzo Cain to fly out.

Although Happ has hit a bit of a rough patch with a 9.75 ERA in his past three starts, the 35-year-old free-agent-to-be remains one of the bigger trade targets for teams seeking mid-rotation help, including the Phillies, who have "definite interest" in Happ, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies have also been connected to the Rangers' Cole Hamels, another lefty who began his career with Philadelphia, but Salisbury notes "there has been no evidence to date that the Phils are pursuing Hamels." The 34-year-old has a $20 million team option with a $6 million buyout for 2019.

O's also listening on Gausman, Bundy, Schoop?
July 17: While Manny Machado has been the biggest story in Baltimore of late, the Orioles have plenty of other assets that could be moved ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Lefty reliever Zach Britton and outfielder Adam Jones -- both free agents at the end of the 2018 season -- are chief among those names, but the club isn't limiting itself as it faces a rebuilding process. In fact, the O's reportedly are listening to offers on right-handed starters Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, along with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman notes in a New York Post story.

"I think their goal is to trade their walk-year guys, Machado, Britton, [Brad] Brach and Adam Jones, but they are not hanging up the phone if you ask on Gausman, Bundy or Schoop," a baseball executive told Sherman.

Given the O's desire to address their pitching, it would be surprising to see them deal either Gausman, who is 27 and under club control through 2020, or Bundy, a 25-year-old who won't reach free agency until after the 2021 season. Schoop, on the other hand, is due to hit the open market following the 2019 campaign, although his disappointing season so far (.229/.263/.389) means the club would be selling low on a 26-year-old who was an All-Star a year ago.

Rosenthal: 'Almost no doubt' Dodgers will add reliever
July 16: The Dodgers are expected to be a major player in the relief pitching market before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal noted in a Twitter Q&A session for FOX Sports.

The Dodgers are seeking a bullpen arm who can pitch the eighth inning and also spell closer Kenley Jansen from time to time, according to Rosenthal, who said "there's almost no doubt" the club will trade for a reliever.

Tweet from @MLBONFOX: .@kryptonic05 #AskKen pic.twitter.com/y7foYiKfyU

Los Angeles leaned heavily on Brandon Morrow during the 2017 postseason as a setup man for Jansen, but Morrow signed with the Cubs in the offseason.

Though Josh Fields, Tony Cingrani and Pedro Baez have had solid campaigns, all three are on the disabled list with arm injuries, and none is on the level of someone such as Zach Britton, Raisel Iglesias, Jeurys Familia or Kyle Barraclough.

Will Archer be traded?
July 16: The Rays face an interesting decision with Chris Archer, whose name has been floated among trade rumors for years. On one hand, they have a young core that has them above .500 and looks promising going forward, especially if Archer is a part of it. On the other, Tampa Bay could take advantage of a weak market for starters and put Archer in play.

"Given the state of the starting pitching market, the incentive for [the Rays] to move him might never be higher," MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal suggested in a Twitter question-and-answer session on @MLBONFOX.

Tweet from @MLBONFOX: .@jboy819 #AskKen pic.twitter.com/Gm4QrCgP7Y

That said, Archer just came off the DL a week ago for a left abdominal strain that cost him more than a month of action and his performance so far this season has been somewhat inconsistent (4.29 ERA, 1.38 WHIP). In other words, making Archer available now might be undercutting his full value.

As a 29-year-old making $6.25 million this year and under contract for $7.5 million next year with club options for 2020 ($9M) and 2021 ($11M), Archer would be appealing to just about any club looking for rotation help -- not just 2018 contenders. His team-friendly contract also allows the cost-conscious Rays to be patient with their prized right-hander.

Amid trade rumors, deGrom addresses his future
July 16: As Jacob deGrom continues to be at the center of trade speculation, the All-Star right-hander made it clear he's open to staying with the Mets long term.

deGrom's agent Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports initially suggested Monday that the Mets might consider trading their ace sooner than later if they don't plan to offer him a contract extension, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: More from Van Wagenen: ���If the Mets don���t share same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now.The inertia of current situation could complicate Jacob���s relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision.���

The 30-year-old deGrom, who leads MLB with a 1.68 ERA and is under club control through 2020, responded to questions at All-Star media day in Washington, D.C., by stating: "We've said multiple times that we're open to talking [about an] extension. It's kind of up to [the Mets] what they want to do." More >

Video: deGrom on his future with the Mets, trade rumors

Astros might stand pat at Trade Deadline
July 16: The Astros have reportedly discussed dealing for a catcher and a reliever, but there's a chance they won't make any major moves before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in a Twitter Q&A session for FOX Sports.

Tweet from @MLBONFOX: .@nnickk22 #AskKen pic.twitter.com/4gWhpCLIMM

With backstop Brian McCann (right knee surgery) expected to return by September and Max Stassi providing solid production (.792 OPS), Rosenthal notes the Astros are more likely to get a reliever than a catcher.

Per Rosenthal, Houston is seeking someone who can be a "true difference-maker" in the bullpen, such as Zach Britton or Raisel Iglesias.

But with the ability to shift either Lance McCullers Jr. or Charlie Morton to the 'pen during the postseason, as they did last year when they won the World Series, the Astros may not feel a sense of urgency to add a big-name reliever.

Braves not expected to pursue big-name rentals
July 16: The Braves have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 season, unexpectedly putting the team in the "buyer" category as executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos prepares for his first Trade Deadline at the helm. But judging by Anthopoulos' comments in a two-part Q&A with Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves aren't planning to mortgage their bright future for a short-term boost.

"We would prefer not to go after rentals unless the acquisition cost just makes so much sense for us," Anthopoulos said. "There's a lot of pain that has gone into putting together this young talent. We're not ready to throw that all away just because of one season."

MLB Pipeline: Braves Top 30 prospects

Earlier this month, the Braves were mentioned among the contenders for Manny Machado, but that ship has sailed, as the Dodgers acquired the All-Star shortstop Wednesday night. Atlanta has also been connected to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. Like Machado, Moustakas can become a free agent after this season.

One area Anthopoulos could look to address is the bullpen, especially with closer Arodys Vizcaino going back on the DL on Saturday with right shoulder inflammation. The Braves entered the All-Star break with the 19th-best bullpen ERA in the Majors (4.24), and many of their key relievers are inexperienced. However, Atlanta could have limited options if free-agents-to-be such as the Orioles' Zach Britton and the Mets' Jeurys Familia are off the table. More >

Angels unlikely to deal Skaggs or Heaney
July 16: With a 49-48 record at the end of the first half, the Angels remain on the fringe of postseason contention, but they are nine games out of an AL Wild Card spot. That has sparked speculation that the club might consider selling by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, with southpaw starters Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney mentioned as potential pieces.

That no longer appears to be the case, however, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports via Twitter.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: #Angels have no interest in trading Heaney or Skaggs, per source - team needs them to compete in ���19. As I said Saturday, LAA drawing interest in controllable relievers - Parker, Alvarez, Bedrosian, Anderson. Open on any of them, but will want good returns to give up control.

With superstar Mike Trout smack in the middle of his prime and under contract through 2020, the Angels want to win in this window while they can. Both Skaggs (through '20) and Heaney (through '21) are under club control beyond this season, meaning they can be a part of that direction.

It had previously been reported by MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Yankees have recently been scouting Angels games with eyes on Skaggs and Heaney, in particular.