Every Major League general manager knows that you can make or break your season at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The Deadline, which comes at 4 p.m. ET today, is last chance for GMs to wheel and deal freely and make significant upgrades to their rosters. Just last year, the World Series champion Royals landed Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto in the final days of July, and the National League-pennant-winning Mets redefined their season by acquiring Yoenis Céspedes minutes before 4 p.m. on deadline day.
This year's Deadline buildup has been epic, as three of MLB's top relievers moved to first-place clubs in the last week, with the Cubs trading for Aroldis Chapman last Monday, the Nationals acquiring Mark Melancon on Saturday, and the Indians landing Andrew Miller Sunday morning.
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The second Wild Card -- which was added in 2012 -- has made the "win now" move more enticing than at any time in history. With six teams within five games of the two NL Wild Card spots, and five teams within five games of the Wild Card in the American League, not to mention the crazy three-team race shaping up in the AL East, or the classic Dodgers-Giants rivalry that is sure to go down to the wire in the NL West, today is sure be packed with wild rumors, serious smartphone interaction and some last-minute dealmaking.
As the clock ticks toward 4 p.m., here are the hottest trade rumors you need to know:
Beltran heading to Rangers
The Rangers acquired outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Beltrán from the Yankees for Minor League right-handers Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson and Nick Green.
Beltran will likely be the Rangers' designated hitter down the stretch, but he could also play outfield. Beltran makes up for the loss of Prince Fielder, who is out for the season after having neck surgery.
Tate, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 Draft out of UC Santa Barbara, has struggled in his first full year of pro ball. In 65 innings for low Class A Hickory, he has a 5.12 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 27 walks. He was the Rangers' No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Dodgers land Hill, Reddick
A's left-hander Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick were traded to the Dodgers in exchange for Minor League right-handers Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton.
Hill is 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 14 starts this season, but he has pitched just once since July 7 because of blister issues and left his July 17 start because his blister tore off after five pitches. More >
Rangers land Lucroy, Jeffress
According to multiple reports, the Rangers have acquired Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer Jeremy Jeffress in exchange for Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz.
The clubs have not confirmed.
Lucroy, one of the game's best two-way catchers, is under club control through next season.
Braves interested in McCann
MLB.com Braves beat writer Mark Bowman tweeted Monday that the Braves, who acquired outfielder Matt Kemp from San Diego on Saturday, will continue to be buyers as the Trade Deadline approaches.
Bowman reports Atlanta is searching for help at catcher and the team has had discussions with the Yankees about trading for Brian McCann. The Braves would want the Yankees to pay a portion of the money left on McCann's deal if a deal were to go through.
The Yankees are asking for more than what the Braves are willing to part with, according to Bowman.
Heyman also reported the Braves' interest in McCann, citing his clubhouse leadership and ability to manage a pitching staff as the main draws. With the Braves likely to rely on young arms moving forward, McCann would help develop the team's youthful pitching staff.
The 32-year-old catcher is hitting .236 with 15 home runs and 42 RBI this season for the Yankees.
Bruce heading to Mets?
The Mets are on the verge of finalizing a deal to acquire Reds outfielder Jay Bruce.
The deal was completed pending physicals, but the teams were trying to rework the agreement because of a medical concern with one of the Minor Leaguers going from the Mets to the Reds, Rosenthal reported.
Bruce is hitting .265 with 25 home runs and a National League-best 80 RBIs in 2016.
Rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo is heading to Cincinnati in the deal, along with two lower-level prospects, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo!.
Rosenthal also reported that one of the prospects could be 19-year-old left-hander Max Wotell, a third-round Draft pick in 2015 who is the Mets' No. 16 prospect as ranked by MLBPipeline.com.
Sources told both Jeff Passan of Yahoo! and Rosenthal over the weekend that the Mets were the favorites for the three-time All-Star.
The Reds have not commented on or confirmed the reports.
Red Sox bolster 'pen by landing Abad
The Red Sox acquired left-handed reliever Fernando Abad from the Twins in exchange for Minor League right-hander Pat Light.
Abad, 30, has made 39 relief appearances with the Twins this season, going 1-4 with a 2.65 ERA and .220 opponents' batting average, including a .269 average on balls in play. He has allowed only two home runs and eight extra-base hits, holding opposing hitters to a .317 slugging percentage. Abad has held left-handed batters to a .458 OPS, the fifth-lowest mark among American League relievers who have faced at least 50 lefties.
Light made his Major League debut this season, making two relief appearances in a pair of big league stints and allowing eight runs (seven earned) over 2 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old has spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Pawtucket, going 1-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 36 strikeouts while converting each of seven save opportunities.
Mets show interest in Pearce
The Mets are one of a handful of teams showing interest in Rays infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce, according to Morosi.
The Indians also have been linked to the veteran.
The 33-year-old Pearce, a right-handed batter, is hitting .309/.388/.520 with 10 home runs in 60 games this season. He's owed the rest of his $4.75 million salary and is a free agent at season's end.
Jays eye Hellickson, Santana
The Blue Jays continue to be in the market for starting pitchers, and Morosi reported the club has had discussions regarding Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and Twins righty Ervin Santana.
Hellickson mostly like will be dealt, though ESPN's Jayson Stark reported this morning the Phillies could hold the free-agent-to-be if the price they seek isn't met. Morosi reported that the Giants and Tigers also are talking to Philadelphia about the 29-year-old, who is 8-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts.
Santana to Toronto has picked up steam today, however, and he's a longer-term option. He's signed for $13.5 million in 2017 and '18, with a $14 million team option in '19 or a $1 million buyout pending his number of combined innings in the '17 and '18.
Santana has a 3.66 ERA in 20 starts for Twins.
The addition of any starter would more than likely shift young right-hander Aaron Sanchez to Toronto's bullpen. Sanchez will pass his career-high innings threshold after his start on Sunday against Baltimore, and although no date has been set, he is expected to shift to the bullpen for the stretch run of the season.
Giants acquire Smith from Brewers
The Giants bolstered their bullpen today by trading for Brewers left-hander Will Smith.
Smith, 27, is tough on both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He has made 27 appearances for the Brewers this season after missing the first two months with a torn ligament in his right knee. Smith rehabbed the injury without surgery and is pitching with a brace.
The Brewers are getting San Francisco's No. 1 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, 21-year-old right-hander Phil Bickford, plus 26-year-old catcher Andrew Susac, who has appeared in the big leagues.
Susac could make an early impact for Milwaukee, which was working today to trade Lucroy when the Smith trade went down.
Tribe lands Guyer
The Cleveland Indians today acquired outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Minor League outfielder Nathan Lukes and Minor League right-hander Jhonleider Salinas.
Guyer, 30, is batting .241 with 12 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 63 games. He has appeared in 25 games in left field, 18 games in center field and 12 games in right field this season after making at least 15 starts at all three positions last season for the Rays.
Lukes, 22, is batting .299/.369/.444 (109-for-365) with 22 doubles, eight triples, five home runs and 33 RBIs in 94 games this season between Class-A Lake County and Class A Lynchburg.
Salinas, 20, is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings in nine games (four starts) with the Rookie-level Arizona League Indians this season.
Sale changing his Sox?
The White Sox engaged in discussions with the Boston Red Sox late Sunday night in regard to Chicago left-hander Chris Sale, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Nightengale said the Red Sox and Dodgers are the likeliest candidates to land Sale, who is tied for the Major League lead in wins entering play Monday.
Names connected with a possible Sale deal with Los Angeles include left-hander Julio Urías, first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, outfielder Alex Verdugo and second baseman Willie Calhoun, MLB.com's Phil Rogers reported. Those players are ranked Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6, respectively, among MLBPipeline.com's list of the Dodgers' Top 30 prospects. More >
Mariners looking to get Cozart
The Seattle Mariners are nearing a deal to acquire shortstop Zack Cozart from the Cincinnati Reds, according to Bob Dutton of The News Tribune.
Cozart is batting .266/.317/.462 with a career-high-tying 15 home runs and 41 RBIs, and he maintains a reputation for superb defensive ability. Making $2.9 million this season, he will be third-time eligible for arbitration this offseason.
Seattle has a promising 22-year-old shortstop in Ketel Marte, but it is looking for a veteran infield presence.
Cozart has re-established himself this season after a disastrous knee injury last season. On June 10, 2015, vs. the Phillies, Cozart tore both the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments when he slipped on first base running out a ground ball. He required season-ending surgery that stopped the makings of a breakout year. But he was able to not only resume his career in 2016, but also show even more improvement at the plate.
If Cozart is dealt, it would open the door for the Reds to play prospect Jose Peraza regularly at shortstop. Peraza has been on the big league club for a month but has played sparingly.
Rangers pursuing Quintana in addition to Sale, Archer
Add José Quintana to the starting pitchers the Rangers are targeting.
The Rangers are looking for an impact starting pitcher through the trade market and have Sale and Rays right-hander Chris Archer at the top of their wish list, Sullivan reported.
But Texas has spoken to the White Sox about the left-handed Quintana, too, sources told Rosenthal on Saturday. The two sides have not gained any traction on Sale or Quintana, according to Rosenthal, because of "differences in perceived value."
Both the White Sox and Rays are said to have steep asking prices and don't appear motivated to trade their No. 1 starters. Many in the industry assume the White Sox could seek as many as five players for Sale, who is under club control through 2019 at a very reasonable rate ($12 million in 2017, plus a $12.5-million team option in '18 and a $13.5-million team option in '19).
Sale is a five-time All-Star who started this year's game for the American League. The Sox reportedly want third baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo and outfielder Nomar Mazara from the Rangers, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. That, of course, would only be the start for a deal involving the lefty.
The Rays don't need to move Archer, who is signed to a club-friendly contract. The earliest he could become a free agent is after the 2019 season. His deal includes club options in '20 and '21.
Texas has also been linked to Phillies right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and Vince Velasquez. The Rangers had scouts watching Velasquez pitch on Friday and Hellickson on Saturday. However, a baseball source told ESPN on Saturday that a trade between the Rangers and Phillies involving Velasquez is "unlikely."
Tampa Bay pitchers on Dodgers' radar
The Dodgers are continuing their pursuit of Archer, and are exploring their options with the Rays' other available starters, too, according to Rosenthal.
Right-hander Bud Norrisexited his Sunday start with back muscle tightness after just 13 pitches, creating an even more urgent need for Los Angeles to go out and add a starter. Tampa Bay, for its part, seems reluctant to let go of Archer, and does not have the same urgency to deal away an ace as last year at this time with David Price, according to USA Today.
Archer is not the only Rays pitcher whose name has been tossed about. Stark speculated Sunday that Matt Moore is the most likely Tampa Bay pitcher to be traded, and Rosenthal reports that Moore is one of the Giants' targets. Giants general manager Bobby Evans told reporters Sunday that he is considering going after starting pitchers and position players due to the high asking prices of relievers in this year's market. That would lend credence to a possible Giants pursuit of Moore, though Rosenthal is skeptical that San Francisco would have the talented prospects required to get the left-hander from Tampa Bay. Crasnick also reports that right-hander Erasmo Ramírez is one of several pitchers the Giants are looking at for a possible trade.
The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin reported Saturday the Giants, Indians, Dodgers, White Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Orioles and Rangers all had scouts present for Jake Odorizzi's start against the Yankees.
D-backs holding on to Miller
D-backs general manager Dave Stewart maintains that the team intends to keep Shelby Miller, despite what he calls "a ton of interest" in the struggling right-hander from other teams, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports.
"My story to them is the same," Stewart told Piecoro. "We haven't given up on the young man."
Stewart went on to say that any deal involving Miller, however unlikely at this point, would have to bring back a Major League-ready player in return. According to Piecoro, the Marlins were interested in offering Class A pitching prospect Luis Castillo as part of a package, but Castillo was dealt to the Padres on Friday in the deal for Andrew Cashner.
Miller has not pitched in the Majors since July 6 and was sent down to Triple-A Reno after going 2-9 with a 7.14 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 14 starts for the D-backs this season. Arizona traded 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson along with Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte to acquire Miller from the Braves this past offseason.
Padres' Norris likely to be moved
Add the Astros who are also in on Padres catcher Derek Norris.
According to Heyman, the Brewers, Rangers and Astros are all showing interest in Norris, whom Rosenthal reported Saturday is "a near-lock" to be traded before the Deadline. A deal to acquire Norris would obviously only work for Milwaukee if Lucroy is dealt.
Norris is batting .193 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs for San Diego.