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Texas hold him? Darvish in demand, but ...

Rangers' intentions for trade market will solidify this week
MLB.com @feinsand

Several teams around the league are wondering whether the Rangers will make Yu Darvish available, eager to throw their hats in the ring for Texas' ace.

A source says the Rangers likely will hold him, and MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan has reported the same. According to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, the current plan is to hold on to Darvish unless things completely unravel this week. Texas entered Tuesday 3 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Several teams around the league are wondering whether the Rangers will make Yu Darvish available, eager to throw their hats in the ring for Texas' ace.

A source says the Rangers likely will hold him, and MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan has reported the same. According to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, the current plan is to hold on to Darvish unless things completely unravel this week. Texas entered Tuesday 3 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Why is there so much interest in Darvish? For teams looking for a rental starter, he's not only the best of the bunch -- he's the best by a wide margin.

Following Monday's trades that saw the Twins (finally) acquire Jaime Garcia and the Royals land Trevor Cahill, the rental market for starters has become thin. 

Video: Twins acquire Garcia, Recker in trade with Braves

"It doesn't seem like there's a ton of starting pitching out there," one general manager said.  

Sonny Gray remains the crown jewel of the market, and while the sweepstakes for Oakland's ace "is heating up" according to the GM, the fact that he has two years of control remaining puts him in another category from the impending free agents. The same goes for Justin Verlander, who has two years and $56 million remaining on his deal beyond 2017. 

Lance Lynn of the Cardinals (8-6, 3.30 ERA) is the best available would-be free-agent starter, though it's unclear whether St. Louis plans to be a seller as long as the National League Central remains fairly close. Among the other available rental pitchers are Philadelphia's Jeremy Hellickson (6-5, 4.73), San Diego's Jhoulys Chacin (9-7, 4.26) and Clayton Richard (5-10, 5.35) and the Angels' Jesse Chavez (5-10, 4.88). 

"Very spotty," a second GM said of that group.

Toronto hasn't declared any intentions to sell as it sits only 6 1/2 games out of an AL Wild Card spot, but if the club decides to unload some arms, Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.52) and Francisco Liriano (5-5, 6.15) could be on the move as a source says the Blue Jays have received interest in both pitchers. Although both are having subpar seasons, the price tag wouldn't figure to be very high and a change of scenery could benefit them.  

Video: TOR@CLE: Estrada strikes out Lindor in the 1st

Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ could also draw interest -- though he falls under the non-rental category, as he's owed $13 million in 2018.  

Given the thin nature of the starting-pitching market, the consensus among executives is that teams will seek to bolster their bullpens the way the Yankees did last week, with the addition of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle

A number of quality relievers are available, including San Diego's Brad Hand, Detroit's Justin Wilson, Miami's AJ Ramos, Philadelphia's Pat Neshek, Addison Reed of the Mets and Anthony Swarzak of the White Sox.  

"If you're looking for pitching, the bullpen options look a whole lot better than the starters," a third GM said. "Darvish could change that, but for now, it's a pretty shallow pool."

Brave new world?
Despite trading Garcia to the Twins on Monday, the Braves are still looking into buying and selling before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. A source said Atlanta is in the mix for Gray, though the Braves are not believed to be the front-runners.  

Video: TB@OAK: Gray goes 6 1/3 vs. Rays to earn the win

One GM tabbed the Dodgers as the most likely team to land Gray -- and that was before Clayton Kershaw's four- to six-week injury timetable was announced. Another GM views the Yankees as favorites, predicting a package built around Minor League infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo.

Trade talk
The Marlins have been getting calls on right-hander Dan Straily, but according to a source with knowledge of Miami's plans, they have no intention of dealing him this week. … According to a source, the White Sox are looking to unload Melky Cabrera, though they'll need to chip in some of the $6 million or so he's owed through the end of the season. … A source said the Red Sox are making a bullpen upgrade their top priority before the Deadline.

Mark Feinsand, executive reporter for MLB.com, has covered the Yankees and MLB since 2001 for the New York Daily News and MLB.com.

Yu Darvish