Trade Deadline Insider: E-Rod hot commodity, Halos are buyers

July 27th, 2023

As contenders around the league look to upgrade their starting rotations by Tuesday, is becoming one of the hottest trade properties out there.

The Tigers left-hander has been drawing plenty of scouts to his recent starts, with the Rangers, Rays, Reds, Phillies and D-backs among the clubs keeping a close eye on the 30-year-old.

Rodriguez was having a stellar first half, posting a 2.13 ERA in 11 starts when a left index finger injury landed him on the injured list for five weeks from late-May to early-July. Since his return, Rodriguez has pitched four times, producing two good starts and two subpar outings, though his 3.23 FIP in July suggests he's pitched better than his 5.66 ERA this month suggests.

"He's not the best starter available, but he's been pretty good this year," a National League executive said. "He would help a lot of rotations out there."

The biggest question surrounding Rodriguez is whether he plans to opt out of the final three years and $49 million of his contract at the end of the season. The opt-out clause could complicate trade scenarios for some clubs, because while most expect Rodriguez to exercise the clause to become a free agent, any acquiring team would be taking on his contract without knowing that for certain.

Assuming he has a strong finish to the season, Rodriguez would almost assuredly opt out, putting him in position to land a deal worth more than the $49 million he's owed. But given his health history – he's only topped 150 innings twice in his career – there is definitely some risk involved for any club that trades for him.

"I'm not opting out if I'm him," one American League executive said.

Those scouts on hand to watch Rodriguez's past two starts have also stuck around to watch Michael Lorenzen, Detroit's lone All-Star representative this season. Lorenzen will be a free agent at the end of the year, making him an attractive rental candidate who can start during the regular season and potentially move to the bullpen for the postseason.

The Tigers are also said to be considering trades of at least one of their relievers, with 27-year-old right-hander Jason Foley drawing significant interest.

Angels finally Sho their cards

For weeks, the baseball world has wondered whether the Angels would trade prior to the Trade Deadline. Shortly after 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reported that the Angels had pulled Ohtani off the trade market.

"I never heard he was officially on [the market]," quipped one AL executive.

The Angels' recent play pulled them back into the AL Wild Card race, prompting ownership and GM Perry Minasian to approach the final days of July as buyers rather than sellers, sources said.

"They are in buy mode," another AL executive said an hour after the Verducci report broke, confirming that Minasian had, in fact, been reaching out to teams in an effort to add to his roster.

Less than three hours later, shortly before midnight ET, the Angels began their summer shopping, sending Minor League catcher and left-hander -- their No. 2 and 3 prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline -- to the White Sox for right-handed starter and righty reliever . With one move, the Angels addressed their rotation, their bullpen -- and put any Ohtani trade talk to bed.

"Good for Perry," an AL exec said. "I respect that he's playing his hand this way."

Much ado about nothing?

Early Wednesday, it appeared there was some momentum in talks between the Rays and White Sox with regard to , who was slated to start for Chicago later that night.

Lynn, who has a limited 10-team no-trade clause that includes Tampa Bay, was said to be willing to waive the clause to play for the Rays, giving him an opportunity to get back to the postseason. Interestingly, the other teams on Lynn's no-trade list are the Angels, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Padres and Yankees, many of whom fall into the buyer category this week.

As Wednesday went on, a report surfaced that the Dodgers were also in talks with the White Sox about Lynn, setting up a potential bidding war for the 36-year-old. Lynn has had a rough season, posting a 6.47 ERA in 21 starts, but he has struck out 144 in 119 2/3 innings, averaging nearly six innings per start.

The day came and went without a trade, so Lynn made his start for the White Sox, allowing seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Cubs. Presumably, trade talks involving the right-hander will continue on Thursday.

Trading places

The Twins and Marlins made an interesting trade on Wednesday, as Minnesota sent  to Miami for  in a swap of right-handed relievers.

A number of executives saw the move as a "change of scenery" trade for both teams, hoping the deal would allow each pitcher to start fresh after rocky 2023 campaigns.

López has a 5.09 ERA in 37 appearances for the Twins this season, while Floro has a 4.54 ERA in 43 outings for the Marlins.

"López needed a change of scenery," an NL executive said. "He has more upside than Floro, but Floro has more of a track record."