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Starting pitcher trade market gaining momentum

MLB.com

In case you haven't noticed, the season already is into July. You know what that means -- trade speculation will run rampant all month long.

Starting pitchers always generate plenty of buzz, and that's been the case so far. What's the latest on some of the big-name starters who could be moved between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline?

In case you haven't noticed, the season already is into July. You know what that means -- trade speculation will run rampant all month long.

Starting pitchers always generate plenty of buzz, and that's been the case so far. What's the latest on some of the big-name starters who could be moved between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline?

Jacob deGrom, RHP, and Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Mets
Currently sporting MLB's lowest ERA at 1.84, deGrom has been at the center of the rumor mill for weeks as the Mets have plummeted in the standings since their 11-1 start.

Syndergaard, meanwhile, has been on the DL since May 25 with a strained right index finger, although he is expected to pitch in a simulated game this week.

Much of the speculation surrounding this pair of Mets right-handers has centered on the possibility of one or both of them being moved across town to the Yankees, who are seeking rotation help.

That outcome may not be realistic, however, given the trade history -- or lack thereof -- between the two clubs, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes.

Morosi points out that the market for deGrom and Syndergaard does not have to be limited to 2018 contenders, though. deGrom, 30, is under team control through 2020, while the 25-year-old Syndergaard doesn't reach free agency until after 2021.

As a result, even rebuilding clubs, such as the White Sox and Padres, could be interested in and make sense for either arm. That is, if the Mets decide to trade deGrom or Syndergaard at all. More >

Michael Fulmer, RHP, Tigers
Speaking of young starters with years of club control remaining, Fulmer fits that bill and then some.

As a 25-year-old righty who won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 and won't be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2022 campaign, Fulmer is in very high demand as a piece that could help a team both now and for years to come.

That just might make Fulmer too valuable to deal, Kurt Mensching writes for The Athletic (subscription required). The rebuilding Tigers must weigh how much they want Fulmer to be a key cog in their rotation going forward against how much of a haul they can get for a promising and productive pitcher who also has battled arm ailments and had elbow surgery that cost him the final month of 2017.

J.A. Happ, LHP, Blue Jays
One of the more underrated arms expected to be available this month, Happ fits in as a mid-rotation starter for any number of teams given his performance and contract.

The 35-year-old lefty appears to be in play for the Brewers, as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports the Blue Jays have been looking into Milwaukee's Minor League system.

A free agent at the end of 2018, Happ is due about half of the $13 million left on his contract, which makes him a cost-efficient option for any contender looking to fill out its five-man staff. More >

Video: Verducci discusses Happ's value, status of Gray

Cole Hamels, LHP, Rangers
With the Rangers languishing in last place in the AL West, it's no secret that they're open to moving Hamels.

In fact, the veteran southpaw may be dealt well in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported that a swap before the All-Star Game -- on July 17 -- is "increasingly possible."

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: #Rangers groundwork on a Cole Hamels trade has advanced to the point that a deal before the All-Star Game is increasingly possible. @MLB

The 34-year-old has struggled some so far in 2018, recording a 4.05 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP while surrendering 20 home runs already. That said, Hamels remains a capable middle-of-the-rotation option who brings durability and plenty of postseason experience (16 starts).

One thing to keep in mind: Hamels is in the final year of his contract, but he has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to 20 teams. His contract also calls for a $20 million club option for 2019 or a $6 million buyout, which may further limit the number of clubs who can afford him.

The Yankees and Mariners are among the clubs who have been linked to Hamels recently. And there has been speculation that he could return to the Phillies, the team with which he spent the first nine and a half years of his career and won the 2008 World Series.

Chris Archer, RHP, Rays
There may not be a starting pitcher whose name has been floated in trade rumors more than Archer's has in recent years.

A big part of that is his performance. The 29-year-old averaged north of 200 innings and 225 strikeouts from 2014-17. While those marks likely are out of reach this year because he's been out since June 2 with an abdominal strain, Archer remains immensely appealing because of his talent and team-friendly contract.

The righty is under contract through 2019 at just $7.5 million, and that comes with club options for both 2020 ($9M) and 2021 ($11M) -- bargain rates for a front-of-the-rotation arm like Archer.

The tricky aspect here is that the Rays have gotten hot of late, winning eight of nine entering Monday games. As MLB.com's Mark Feinsand pointed out, they don't have to trade Archer because of his contract -- and may not be as open to moving him while they remain on the outskirts of the AL postseason picture. More >

Video: Chris Archer a steady source of strikeouts for Rays

Matt Harvey, RHP, Reds
When Cincinnati acquired Harvey on May 8, the hope was the injury-prone former frontline starter would stay healthy, regain some of his stuff and increase his trade value so the rebuilding Reds could spin him by the Deadline.

So far, so good. Harvey has made 10 starts with the Reds, posting a 3.86 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and a 40-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 53 2/3 frames. Just as encouraging? His average fastball velocity has bumped up from 92.6 mph with the Mets to 94.2 mph with the Reds.

Harvey hurled 5 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts and no walks Sunday in shutting down the Brewers, who are in first place in the NL Central.

Given Harvey's lengthy injury history, including Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, teams likely will be wary of relying too much on him. But he should be an intriguing option for contenders looking for a low-cost gamble on a free-agent-to-be.

Jason Catania is a reporter for MLB.com.