Deadline roundup: Lester might trump Price
The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is coming up quickly. Clubs are sorting out whether they're buyers or sellers and trying to assess how new Draft-pick compensation rules affect their valuation of players, all while also trying to, you know, win ballgames.
From now until the Deadline, we'll be checking in on the trade news around baseball, with help from MLB.com's reporters. The countdown is underway.
Another ace on the table? David Price has dominated trade chatter to this point, but could we be focusing on the wrong American League East ace?
The Red Sox are in an interesting position with Jon Lester, because there has long been an eagerness on both parts to extend what has been a successful partnership, but the Red Sox have generally shown a reluctance toward long-term deals at free-agent market prices since their 2012 nightmare, and Lester did not exactly leap at their reported four-year, $70 million offer last winter. More likely, Lester, who hits free agency after this season, could be in line for something closer to the six-year, $159 million deal Zack Greinke got from the Dodgers. The Red Sox have not appeared willing to go there.
Now that talks have officially been tabled until the offseason, the Red Sox have to decide whether, A) they're going to make a serious increase in their offer at season's end; B) they're going to let Lester walk and receive a Draft pick as compensation or; C) they should trade Lester now and get the best return possible.
Price might not even be traded, given the Rays' recent surge, and that could up the interest in Lester, even though the acquiring team would be giving up less than it would take to land Price (who is under contractual control through 2015).
The Red Sox, who entered Friday 9 1/2 games back in the East with the fourth-worst record in the AL, might find offers for Lester to be tempting in the coming days. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal is among those speculating that a Lester deal would be worthwhile to the Red Sox, as they could land at least one premium prospect piece for him.
Here's the catch: A.J. Pierzynski, in the wake of his release by the Red Sox, has sat untouched, like a plate of broccoli at a little kid's birthday party. Kurt Suzuki, on the other hand, appears plenty attractive to Cardinals and Orioles teams dealing with the absences of their All-Star catchers.
Yadi Molina is out until mid-to-late-September with a torn thumb ligament, and Matt Wieters is done for the year following Tommy John surgery. Little wonder, then, that those two clubs, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, have shown an interest in Suzuki, the Twins' All-Star who is a pending free agent.
Signed to a one-year, $2.75 million deal last winter, Suzuki has been sensational as the replacement for Joe Mauer behind the dish, and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported earlier this week that Suzuki and the Twins have had some exploratory discussions about an extension. But the two sides do not appear to be close to a deal, and Suzuki is certainly an attractive trade chip at the moment.
Blue Jays bats: Jose Bautista hasn't played a game at third base this season, but when he recently took some ground balls at the position, it opened the door to speculation that he could move -- at least on a part-time basis -- to accommodate another outfielder.
The Blue Jays have been looking for another bat, and they have the option of adding one at third base (and moving Brett Lawrie to second full-time) or second base. But the outfield is also a possibility.
The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders noted that the Blue Jays have scouted the Rockies' Brandon Barnes, who functions as a sort of utility outfielder in Colorado. Heyman reported earlier this week that the Blue Jays have also shown an interest in bringing back Alex Rios, who is certainly a Rangers trade candidate.
Toronto is also monitoring the starting and relief pitching markets. With Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, Nolan Reimold and Adam Lind all coming off the DL soon, those might be their greater needs, anyway.
On the Rox: Rockies trade possibilities are not limited to Barnes. Far from it.
MLB.com's Thomas Harding reported Friday on a variety of circumstances involving the Rox, first and foremost that Troy Tulowitzki, contrary to prior speculation, does not have a no-trade clause. Don't expect anything imminent on the Tulo front, especially now that he's on the DL, but current talks could lay the groundwork for further offseason chatter.
More pressingly, the Rox appear open to at least discussing offers for Drew Stubbs, who has been targeted by the Mariners, but it has been reported that they aren't aggressively shopping him. They'll also, Harding notes, listen to offers for veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins.
Jorge De La Rosa is a trade target for teams in need of starting help, but the Rockies' own need in that department could compel them to make a qualifying offer to De La Rosa this offseason, perhaps as the starting point toward a longer-term discussion.
Bartolo bartering: Bartolo Colon is owed a little more than $14 million between now and the end of 2015 -- a significant sum for a 41-year-old whose ERA has risen this season. But Colon's near-perfecto in Seattle this week, combined with some advanced numbers like xFIP that make him look better than his ERA would indicate, demonstrate that he can still be an effective arm and, ergo, an attractive trade target.
The money might be a little bit less of an issue if the Mets are willing to eat about $2 million of Colon's remaining salary, as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported.
Yankee watch: Meanwhile, in the Bronx, a Yankees team that's been quite active already continues to look for more Deadline help. Former Yankee Ian Kennedy is an option in the starting department, and the Yanks have engaged in talks with the Padres -- with whom they already worked out the Chase Headley deal -- about him. But Heyman reported Thursday night that there is "nothing hot at all" between the two clubs. The Padres don't appear to be in a hurry to move Kennedy, an effective weapon on whom they still have another season of control.