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On The Move presented by Penske

Trade Talk: Thor, Hamels, Britton, Fiers, Gray

The latest news and rumors leading up to July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline
MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Thor to DL amid trade rumors
July 22: The Mets announced Sunday that Noah Syndergaard will be placed on the 10-day disabled list after contracting hand, foot and mouth disease. While the Mets don't expect Syndergaard to be out long, the ailment could reduce the already slim chances he had of being dealt. The right-hander won't be eligible to return from the DL until July 31 -- the same day as the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Thor to DL amid trade rumors
July 22: The Mets announced Sunday that Noah Syndergaard will be placed on the 10-day disabled list after contracting hand, foot and mouth disease. While the Mets don't expect Syndergaard to be out long, the ailment could reduce the already slim chances he had of being dealt. The right-hander won't be eligible to return from the DL until July 31 -- the same day as the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Syndergaard experienced a notable dip in velocity near the end of Friday's start against the Yankees, and he described having a "dead arm" feeling in his postgame comments. Mets assistant general manager John Ricco and manager Mickey Callaway both cited the illness as a possible underlying cause.

The right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.89 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 15 walks this season, posting strikeout and walk rates roughly in line with his outstanding career marks. He was sidelined just over a month earlier this season with an injury to a finger on his pitching hand after missing much of last year with a torn right lat.

Per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Twitter, Zack Wheeler remains the most likely Mets starter to be traded before the non-waiver Deadline. Although the Mets will continue to engage teams on Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard, they see the offseason as a better time to deal both because they are seeking Major League talent in return, and contenders typically don't want to subtract from their MLB roster in the midst of a postseason race.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Mets are engaging teams on their aces (in case) but since they seek major league talent back for deGrom or Syndergaard, they see wintertime as a better opportunity to deal an ace. Contenders loathe to subtract from teams in a pennant race.

Hamels to start Monday amid swirling trade rumors
July 22: Cole Hamels has been the subject of intense trade speculation in recent weeks, but he doesn't appear close to changing teams just yet. According to a report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan on Sunday, Hamels will start for the Rangers against the Athletics in Texas on Monday.

With his future in question, Hamels has struggled recently, going 1-2 with a 9.53 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP over his last four starts. He's 5-8 with a 4.36 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 rate in 19 starts overall this season. The 34-year-old southpaw is making $23.5 million this year and has a $20 million team option for next year along with a $6 million buyout. He also has a partial no-trade clause, although he'd likely waive it to join a contender. In a relatively thin market for pitchers this summer, Hamels is one of the more attractive arms for teams in need of starting pitching, including the Yankees, Mariners, Phillies and Red Sox.

Cubs deep in talks with O's for Britton, seeking bullpen help
July 22: With Manny Machado having made his debut in Dodger blue on Friday, the Orioles have shifted their focus to their next big trade piece: Closer Zach Britton. And the Cubs may be the frontrunners -- they're "deeply involved" in talks with the O's about Britton, according to a report from The Athletic's Patrick Mooney on Saturday.

Although the Cubs have one of the best bullpens in baseball this year, they're still looking to add help at the Trade Deadline. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein was quoted in an article by MLB.com's Carrie Muskat on Sunday as saying, "You're always looking to upgrade this time of year when you have a competitive team. No matter how well your 'pen has pitched, there's always a desire to look around and see if you can tweak it and improve it. You're always cognizant of the fact that you can address it after July 31."

Chicago's bullpen has the fewest losses and second-lowest ERA in the National League this year entering Sunday. The Cubs already bolstered their relief corps by trading for Jesse Chavez on Thursday, but they don't appear to be done given their interest in Britton. Cubs closer Brandon Morrow went on the disabled list Thursday with right biceps inflammation, but Epstein insists his injury isn't a factor in their search for relief help leading up to the Deadline.

A's interested in Fiers
July 22: The A's made a major statement about their status as American League contenders by acquiring reliever Jeurys Familia from the Mets. And they're not done yet. The club would like to upgrade its starting rotation, and is interested in Detroit right-hander Mike Fiers, although serious discussions have yet to begin, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. 

The A's have used 12 different starting pitchers this year, and of the season-opening rotation -- Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Daniel Gossett and Andrew Triggs -- only Manaea is still on the active roster. 

Fiers has a 3.00 ERA over his last 14 starts, while averaging exactly six innings per outing. He's become one of the most attractive starting pitchers leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, along with J.A. Happ and Nathan Eovaldi

Fiers is scheduled to have one more season of arbitration eligibility in 2019 before becoming a free agent. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Tigers before the season. 

Despite struggles, Gray likely staying put
July 22: There has been some speculation that the Yankees might try to move Sonny Gray at the Trade Deadline, but Fancred's Jon Heyman reported Sunday that New York is more likely to hang on to the struggling right-hander. Per Heyman's report, the Yankees are interested in adding starting pitching rather than trading it away, as they've been linked to several available arms on the trade market, including Toronto's J.A. Happ.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: There���s said to be a bit of interest in Sonny Gray in trade, as there are folks who believe he���d do better in another market. But Yanks��� main interest is in adding to rotation, not subtracting from it.

Some believe Gray, who spent his first 4 1/2 seasons with Oakland before being dealt to New York last year, could use a change of scenery to a smaller market. The 28-year-old has struggled at Yankee Stadium this year, posting a 7.62 ERA with a 1.89 WHIP in nine home starts. The Yankees may be hopeful he can turn his season around, however, after winning his two most recent starts. Gray is also under contract through 2019, so New York might prefer to wait and see if he can adjust to pitching in the Big Apple with more experience.

Bundy, Gausman, Schoop drawing trade interest
July 22: Though Zach Britton is looking like the next Orioles player to go after Manny Machado was dealt to the Dodgers on Wednesday, Baltimore still has a number of attractive trade candidates beyond the southpaw, including right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

According to Roch Kubatko of Masnsports.com, the O's have been receiving inquiries about all three, with the Brewers asking about Schoop and Gausman, the Yankees checking in on Gausman and the Braves expressing interest in Bundy, Gausman and Schoop.

Tweet from @masnRoch: Have heard #brewers asked about Schoop and Gausman. #yankees have checked on Gausman. #braves have expressed interest in Schoop, Gausman and Bundy #orioles

Bundy, Gausman and Schoop are all under team control beyond this season, so the Orioles don't face the same urgency to trade them as they did with Machado and do with Britton, Brad Brach and Adam Jones. In fact, Gausman is controllable through 2020, and Bundy through '21.

Of course, the O's should be able to get significant returns for the two right-handers because of that control, and it may behoove the club to trade both now with its rebuilding period likely to last several years.

Schoop, meanwhile, can become a free agent after the '19 season. Baltimore would be selling low on him, as he is hitting just .229 with 11 homers and a .656 OPS in 78 games this year after making the American League All-Star team in '17.

Royals reportedly have lofty asking price for Merrifield
July 22: After missing out on Manny Machado, the Brewers are still exploring ways to improve their offense. Among the options they're considering? Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, according to Robert Murray of The Athletic (subscription required). But as was the case with Machado, the cost to acquire Merrifield won't be cheap.

"A lot," a rival executive said of what it would take to pry Merrifield (controllable through 2022, earning $569,500 this season) from Kansas City. "Under control and cheap for multiple years. Three higher-end prospects, at least."

"Top 10-15 prospect plus 1-2 younger, upside players," another exec said. "I think it takes an intriguing headliner."

The Brewers were believed to be one of the three finalists for Machado, along with the Dodgers and the Phillies, but they reportedly weren't willing to part with second baseman Keston Hiura (Milwaukee's No. 1 prospect, No. 30 overall, per MLB Pipeline), right-hander Corbin Burnes (Milwaukee's No. 2 prospect, No. 55 overall) or righty Freddy Peralta (Milwaukee's No. 9 prospect).

Per Murray, the "belief around baseball" is that Milwaukee won't trade Hiura. However, the club might be more open to including Burnes or Peralta in a deal for a non-rental player such as Merrifield than it was for Machado, who is set to become a free agent at the end of this season.

Second base has been a weak spot all year for the Brewers, who entered Sunday with a .642 OPS at the position. Merrifield, meanwhile, has recorded a .795 mark. 

Marlins and Rays arms drawing trade interest
July 22: Teams in need of pitching help are looking to the Marlins and Rays, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported Sunday. According to Frisaro's report, at least a dozen scouts were spotted at this weekend's three-game series between the two clubs at Tropicana Field. Marlins closer Kyle Barraclough and lefty reliever Adam Conley have been getting the most attention, while Dan Straily -- who started Friday and has logged five straight quality starts -- could also be an option for teams in need of rotation help. Brad Ziegler, who opened the season as Miami's closer and will be a free agent this winter, is available as well.

Frisaro noted that the Marlins' asking price for Barraclough and Conley is high, as both have yet to reach arbitration. Straily, the team's most consistent starter over the past several seasons, has yet to reach arbitration as well. Miami is also seeking a large return for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, although the club may opt to keep him in the hopes of negotiating a contract extension this winter. Realmuto, 27, still has two seasons to go before reaching free agency.

The Rays, meanwhile, have been getting a lot of interest in starters Chris Archer and Nathan Eovaldi. Scouts were able to catch a glimpse of both this weekend, as Eovaldi tossed six innings of one-run ball Friday and Archer fanned 13 over six innings Sunday. Eovaldi has been solid in 10 starts since opening the season on the disabled list, registering a 4.26 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and a 6.6 K/BB ratio over 57 innings. Archer has also battled injuries this year, but has a 4.30 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 90 innings. On Saturday, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported that Archer is drawing "significant interest" on the trade market.

Olney: Cabrera could be next Met to move
July 22: Though recently moved closer Jeurys Familia and the Mets' starting rotation have drawn much intrigue leading up to the Trade Deadline, the buzz around veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera has steadily grown among teams that could either use an upgrade in the infield or clubs that might value Cabrera's positional flexibility in the stretch run and into the postseason.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: Asdrubal Cabrera could be the next Met to move: He's hitting .280, .332 OBP, 17 homers, positional flexibility. Brewers, Cleveland, Phillies among the teams with interest in him.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Familia not the only Mets player drawing interest; source says multiple teams have inquired about Asdrubal Cabrera, though no deal is imminent. Brewers and D-backs believed to be among potential suitors.

According to reports by ESPN's Buster Olney, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Matt Ehalt of The Record, the Brewers, Indians, Phillies, D-backs and Mariners are among the teams that are believed to have expressed interest in the 32-year-old, who has exclusively played second for the Mets this season but also saw time at third last year and spent several seasons as Cleveland's primary shortstop earlier in his career.

Teams like the Indians (Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez) and Mariners (Dee Gordon, Jean Segura, Kyle Seager) have established starters in the infield that wouldn't be displaced by Cabrera, but there's plenty of Ben Zobrist-like value that Cabrera could provide to such clubs with his veteran bat and positional versatility that could prove valuable in the postseason. The Brewers, D-backs and Phillies have clear needs in the infield.

The switch-hitting Cabrera is slashing .280/.332/.487 this season with 17 homers and 53 RBIs, and is on pace for his eighth consecutive season of at least 135 games played.

Tigers may look to move Iglesias
July 22: Five years after the Red Sox dealt him to the Tigers as part of a three-team trade for Jake Peavy, Jose Iglesias may be on the move at the Trade Deadline once again. Following a slow start to the season, Iglesias has enhanced his trade value over the past several months by batting .295/.325/.421 since April 13. The slick-fielding shortstop has also been more aggressive on the bases this year, nabbing a career-high 12 steals.

For teams that missed out on Manny Machado, Iglesias could provide an upgrade on the left side of the infield. Iglesias has logged time at third base and second base in the past as well, so he could have value as a utility infielder. The 28-year-old will be a free agent after this season, which might lead Detroit to shop Iglesias in the coming days.

Red Sox scouting Twins, Royals
July 21: Red Sox senior vice president of player personnel Frank Wren was in attendance at Friday's Twins-Royals game in Kansas City, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.

Tweet from @MikeBerardino: Among scouts here tonight for #mntwins-#Royals: #RedSox senior VP/BB Ops Frank Wren, who goes back to the #Expos days with Boston baseball czar Dave Dombrowski.

It's unclear which players the Red Sox were scouting, but both teams are sellers leading up to the Trade Deadline. Minnesota's Brian Dozier and Kansas City's Whit Merrifield would both be fits in Boston with second baseman Dustin Pedroia possibly out for the rest of the season with left knee inflammation. The Red Sox are also pursuing bullpen help and could be interested in Twins relievers Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke.

Boston may be targeting Kansas City's Mike Moustakas as well after being linked to Manny Machado. In return, the Red Sox could offer 21-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers, who was activated from the disabled list on Saturday. Devers, who had been sidelined since July 11 with left shoulder inflammation, is hitting .241/.292/.424 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs in 89 games this year.

White Sox unlikely to deal Abreu
July 21: Despite some interest from the Astros, the White Sox appear unlikely to move All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, according to a report by USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Tweet from @BNightengale: The Chicago #Whitesox are strongly inclined now to keep 1B Jose Abreu instead of trading him

MLB.com's Richard Justice had previously reported that Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow was looking to add a big-name bat before the Trade Deadline, and that Abreu was among the players that Houston was exploring.

But the great value that the White Sox reportedly place in Abreu's clubhouse presence, his influence over many of the team's young players and the plethora of top talent in the upper levels of Chicago's Minor League system could have been factors in the organization's inclination to hold on to Abreu, who is under team control through 2019.

The Astros have also been connected to Orioles closer Zach Britton, and they were believed to be discussing Rays catcher Wilson Ramos before he went on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain earlier this week.

Video: Justice on Astros' interest in Abreu, Archer rumors

Phillies, Braves eyeing Moose, Escobar?
July 20: The Phillies and Braves also had scouts in attendance for the Twins-Royals contest Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan reported. Both clubs could use upgrades on the left side of the infield, and with Kansas City and Minnesota each positioned as sellers for the upcoming July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Mike Moustakas and Eduardo Escobar could soon be on the move.

Tweet from @FlannyMLB: Scouts from the Phillies and Braves here tonight -- both teams have been said to have interest in Mike Moustakas.

NBC Sports Philadelphia reported last month that the Phillies had discussions with Kansas City about Moustakas. Though third baseman Maikel Franco has been hitting well of late, Philadelphia could use an offensive upgrade at the position, and recently missed out on acquiring Manny Machado. Meanwhile, Atlanta's starting third baseman, Johan Camargo, entered play Friday with a .768 OPS, and shortstop Dansby Swanson's OPS was .715 to begin the second half of the season.

Moustakas signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal last offseason to return to the Royals after declining Kansas City's qualifying offer to become a free agent. He entered play Friday hitting .249/.306/.466 with 19 home runs. Escobar, also due to be a free agent at season's end, is having the best season of his career at the plate, slashing .271/.327/.507 with 14 homers and an MLB-leading 35 doubles entering play Friday. He is also able to play shortstop, were he has appeared in 21 games this season.

Could Hand trade lead to Reds dealing Iglesias?
July 20: With left-hander Brad Hand now a member of the Indians after being dealt by the Padres on Thursday, the Reds' Raisel Iglesias is arguably the best reliever on the trade market. And as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand writes, the Hand trade reaffirmed the lofty return the Reds might be able to get by moving the right-hander.

In exchange for Hand and righty reliever Adam Cimber, the Padres landed catcher/outfielder Francisco Mejia, MLB Pipeline's No. 15 overall prospect.

Iglesias, 28, has been one of the best relievers in the National League since he moved to the bullpen on a full-time basis in 2016, and he has posted a 2.36 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP and a 9.9 K/9 rate this season.

But if another team, such as the Astros or the Braves, offers a prospect on the same level as Mejia, the Reds could be tempted to deal the closer, who is owed slightly over $11 million across '19-20 (though he can opt into arbitration this offseason).

Rosenthal: Why Rox could target deGrom
July 20: Imagine Jacob deGrom with the Rockies. OK, it might be unlikely but that didn't stop MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal from suggesting as much in a story for The Athletic (subscription required).

Given that the Rockies -- just two games out of a National League Wild Card spot after wrapping the first half with five straight wins -- are on a never-ending hunt for pitchers, making a play for the MLB ERA leader would be something. And as Rosenthal explains, it would give star third baseman Nolan Arenado reason to think about sticking in Colorado when he hits the open market after the 2019 season.

From the Mets' point of view, the Rockies could be one club to entice them into actually making their ace right-hander available, by dangling top-notch youngster Brendan Rodgers, among others. The 21-year-old 2015 first-round pick ranks as MLB Pipeline's No. 6 overall prospect and has 17 homers and an .846 OPS at Double-A this year. While Rodgers is in line to replace free-agent-to-be DJ LeMahieu at second base in 2019, the Rockies also have infield prospect Garrett Hampson as a candidate.

Cardinals unlikely to move arms, but Jose Martinez could go
July 20: The Cardinals are unlikely to trade any of their high-end pitchers as the Trade Deadline draws near, according to president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.

"For us, the one core we have is pitching," Mozeliak said before Thursday's series opener at Wrigley Field. "And to start trying to arbitrage that would have to be a very special-type deal, otherwise it would make no sense to us. None of that has presented itself to me. No one has called me with any great ideas that way. One of the responsibilities is us looking at potential trades, potential partners, but nothing that I've looked at would make sense in that regard. I don't envision us moving pitching."

As far as what St. Louis might do before the Deadline, Mozeliak, for the second time this week, responded with the succinct answer of "TBD." Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests the Cardinals could look to trade first baseman Jose Martinez, who is set to move to a bench role as the club puts more emphasis on defense.

"Yeah, at some point," Mozeliak said about considering trading the slugger. "Right now, that asset could be a great bat off the bench. Obviously, long term, that is something we need to think through."

While Martinez is a poor defender, he has posted a 130 wRC+ this season and could be of particular interest to AL teams. More >

Angels reliever Johnson returns from DL

Cole optioned to Triple-A after impressive stretch with Halos
MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Angels activated veteran right-hander Jim Johnson off the 10-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Taylor Cole to Triple-A Salt Lake ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Astros at Angel Stadium.

Johnson, 35, hasn't pitched since June 11 after missing nearly six weeks with a lumbar strain. Prior to the injury, he logged a 3.93 ERA over 34 1/3 innings while working primarily as a back-end reliever for the Angels.

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ANAHEIM -- The Angels activated veteran right-hander Jim Johnson off the 10-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Taylor Cole to Triple-A Salt Lake ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Astros at Angel Stadium.

Johnson, 35, hasn't pitched since June 11 after missing nearly six weeks with a lumbar strain. Prior to the injury, he logged a 3.93 ERA over 34 1/3 innings while working primarily as a back-end reliever for the Angels.

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Cole impressed in his first stint with the Angels, posting a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings in six appearances. Manager Mike Scioscia said he believes the 28-year-old has the potential to be an effective option in the bullpen because of his ability to throw multiple innings.

"I think there's no doubt he showed plus stuff, and I think we're excited about that," Scioscia said. "I think as he refines it, he's got the potential to be part of a championship-caliber bullpen in a multi-inning role, much like [Yusmeiro] Petit did. But obviously there's stamina, there's durability that he's going to have to develop. He's got three really good Major League pitches."

Two more players should rejoin the Angels' ranks on Monday, as Albert Pujols is expected to come off the disabled list after missing 10 days with left knee inflammation and right-hander Jaime Barria is projected to be recalled from Class A Advanced Inland Empire to start against the White Sox.

Fishing for opportunities
On July 4, the Angels dropped Mike Trout from the No. 2 spot in the lineup to No. 3 in an attempt to give him more chances to hit with runners in scoring position. The move hasn't yielded the results the Angels had been hoping for, as Trout hadn't driven in a teammate since June 19. Over his past 25 games, Trout slashed .214/.394/.310 with two RBIs, both on solo homers.

Scioscia said he believes the statistical oddity is due more to a small sample size, though he acknowledged that the top of the lineup needs to do a better job of setting the table for Trout.

"The goal of him hitting third is to get him up there, especially earlier in the game, with more guys on base," Scioscia said. "We're not firing on all cylinders for that to happen the way we think it will. When you're talking about Mike's opportunities, they've been a little limited ... because we've been in a little bit of a lull where a lot of guys just aren't doing what they can do the last three weeks. Let's check in after another 20 games and we'll see if we get a little bigger picture to see if the guys in front are setting the table a little bit for Mike."

Sho-ing bunt
In his first at-bat of Saturday's 7-0 loss to the Astros, Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box against ace right-hander Justin Verlander with a man on first and no outs. Ohtani attempted to beat the shift by bunting, but he ended up grounding into a forceout after Verlander successfully fielded the ball and fired to second. Scioscia said Ohtani decided to bunt on his own in that spot.

"He had asked about it earlier in the season, and he feels very comfortable and confident doing it," Scioscia said. "I think the premise of it is very sound. There's going to be times when it's there and you need to take advantage of it, especially when you're facing some pitchers that you're not going to sit back and get 13 hits off of. I was fine with it. You always hope that it's something that's going to work."

Bridwell update
Right-hander Parker Bridwell underwent arthroscopic surgery this month to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow. Bridwell also received a stem-cell injection, according to Scioscia. Bridwell went 10-3 with a 3.64 ERA for the Angels in 2017, but he's been limited to seven starts between the Majors and Triple-A this year due to injury.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Taylor Cole, Jim Johnson

Theo: Cubs on lookout to keep adding to 'pen

Darvish's next step is throwing off mound; Smyly throws simulated game
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Cubs relievers boasted the second-best ERA and had the fewest losses in the National League entering Sunday, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says they're on the lookout to add an arm before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"You're always looking to upgrade this time of year when you have a competitive team," Epstein said Sunday. "No matter how well your 'pen has pitched, there's always a desire to look around and see if you can tweak it and improve it. You're always cognizant of the fact that you can address it after July 31."

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CHICAGO -- Cubs relievers boasted the second-best ERA and had the fewest losses in the National League entering Sunday, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says they're on the lookout to add an arm before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"You're always looking to upgrade this time of year when you have a competitive team," Epstein said Sunday. "No matter how well your 'pen has pitched, there's always a desire to look around and see if you can tweak it and improve it. You're always cognizant of the fact that you can address it after July 31."

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The Cubs have been linked to Orioles reliever Zach Britton, who could give them another closer option. Brandon Morrow is currently on the disabled list with right biceps inflammation, and Epstein said that injury isn't influencing what moves they may make. The Cubs did pick up an extra arm on Thursday in right-hander Jesse Chavez, who is a versatile pitcher and a "real stabilizer," Epstein said.

Video: STL@CHC: Maddon talks Cubs acquiring reliever Chavez

The Cubs have been using young relievers such as Dillon Maples, Justin Hancock, Luke Farrell and Randy Rosario in key roles this season. Manager Joe Maddon wouldn't mind having a more experienced pitcher to call upon as well.

"You have young guys in the bullpen you think are going to be really good, but when it gets to that high-leverage moment in the latter part of the game, it's tough to just call their name before you've had the chance to break them into that moment," Maddon said. "Sometimes you're forced to do it."

Britton, 30, was sidelined at the start of the season until mid-June because of a ruptured right Achilles tendon. He has not given up an earned run in his past eight outings, and he has walked 10 while striking out 13 over 15 2/3 innings overall.

Video: NYY@BAL: Britton seals 5-4 win, earns 2nd save of '18

Chicago reliever Pedro Strop knows Britton from their days together with the Orioles.

"If you can add a guy like that to the bullpen, I'm not going to say you don't need it," Strop said. "You're talking about one of the best closers in the game.

"We're good," Strop said of the Cubs relievers, "but if you can add him, our bullpen could be so deep."

The Cubs entered Sunday with the best record in the NL, yet they still need reinforcements.

"Pitching is the main need," Epstein said. "The end of August, we might be looking for somebody who can play defense or steal a bag. I'm not saying we have a perfect position-player group, but [prospect] David Bote is a really good player and we can't find a spot for him now. There are intriguing guys out there who you'd love to have, but roster space and playing time are realities you can't get around."

Worth noting
Yu Darvish played catch from 135 feet on Sunday, and the next step will be to throw off the mound, Epstein said.

"Today was his best day in a long time, and he threw really well and felt really good," Epstein said of Darvish, who has been out since May 23 with right triceps tendinitis.

Drew Smyly, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last year, threw a simulated game at Wrigley Field and will do so again on Thursday. If all goes well, the next step for the left-hander would be a rehab assignment. Smyly will be stretched out in the Minors so that he'll be a possible spot starter later this season.

"It'll be good for him to get the reps in and get his feel back and lock in his mechanics and test his arm," Epstein said. "It also allows for some versatility when he is ready to come back. He could start or go right to the 'pen and be in more of a hybrid role."

• Infielder Tommy La Stella was one of the three Cubs position players who pitched in relief on Friday. It was the first time he did so since his sophomore year in high school.

Video: STL@CHC: La Stella retires Fowler to complete outing

"As soon as I realized I was going to be able to throw it over the plate, I was relieved," La Stella said on Sunday. "It had been awhile since I busted it out. It felt good -- it was very nostalgic for me."

La Stella, catcher Victor Caratini and outfielder Ian Happ all pitched in, combining for 3 1/3 innings.

"At that time, it's all about saving the bullpen," La Stella said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs

Doolittle has setback; Goodwin dealt for prospect

MRI reveals stress reaction in All-Star reliever's foot; KC sends pitcher Condra-Bogan to Nats
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- An MRI on Saturday morning revealed a stress reaction, the precursor of a stress fracture, in the bridge of Sean Doolittle's left foot. Doolittle, who wore a walking boot Sunday for the first time in a week and a half, didn't have a timetable for his return, but said the injury is measured by weeks, not months.

Two days ago, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Doolittle was close to returning from left toe inflammation after throwing off a mound. Doolittle didn't recover well from that training, though, so he underwent a second MRI. That MRI revealed Doolittle's stress reaction, which the right-hander compared to a bad bone bruise. Since stress fractures can't be seen on MRIs until about three weeks after the injury, this wound didn't show up in Doolittle's original MRI, which he had July 7.

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WASHINGTON -- An MRI on Saturday morning revealed a stress reaction, the precursor of a stress fracture, in the bridge of Sean Doolittle's left foot. Doolittle, who wore a walking boot Sunday for the first time in a week and a half, didn't have a timetable for his return, but said the injury is measured by weeks, not months.

Two days ago, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Doolittle was close to returning from left toe inflammation after throwing off a mound. Doolittle didn't recover well from that training, though, so he underwent a second MRI. That MRI revealed Doolittle's stress reaction, which the right-hander compared to a bad bone bruise. Since stress fractures can't be seen on MRIs until about three weeks after the injury, this wound didn't show up in Doolittle's original MRI, which he had July 7.

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Video: WSH@PIT: Nationals place Doolittle on 10-day DL

"At this point in the season, with everything that's going on, to not be able to help, it's a really frustrating feeling," Doolittle said. "I want to be there with my guys. I feel like I'm placing a burden on the bullpen by not being with them. The challenge is going to be harnessing that energy and throwing it into whatever rehab I can do."

Martinez is comfortable relying on Kelvin Herrera, the Nationals' replacement closer, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler with Doolittle sidelined for longer than expected.

Still, while Doolittle has put together perhaps the best season of his career, Herrera, Madson and Kintzler have struggled of late. Doolittle, who was named an All-Star this year, has recorded a 1.45 ERA while recording 22 saves in 23 opportunities over 37 1/3 innings. Herrera has allowed five runs in 10 2/3 innings since the Royals traded him to the Nationals on June 18. Kintzler and Madson have notched 3.72 and 4.98 ERAs, respectively.

The Nationals, who sit 6 1/2 games back of the Phillies in the National League East, recalled Sammy Solis from Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday to add a seventh man to their bullpen. Solis recorded a 4.50 ERA in 40 games with the Nationals before they demoted him June 30. Left-handed batters hit .245 off Solis, but Martinez said the left-hander made adjustments against those hitters with Syracuse.

"[Doolittle's] really bummed out about it, and I am too," Martinez said. "He's going to be missed, but this is the reason we went out and got Herrera. We got qualified guys who can close."

Doolittle injured his left toe avoiding a liner back to the mound during the Nationals' win over the Marlins on July 5 at Nationals Park. Doolittle said he can walk on his foot and strengthen it. The 31-year-old will try to throw on one foot or on his knees to keep his arm fresh.

"We might have to get creative with what I do," Doolittle said. "[Strength and conditioning coach Matt Eiden], he's an evil genius. He'll come up with something."

Goodwin dealt to KC for prospect
The Nationals traded Brian Goodwin to the Royals for Minor League pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan on Sunday afternoon to relieve their outfield logjam.

Condra-Bogan, 23, has a 2.08 ERA with 39 strikeouts and two walks in 16 games with Class A Lexington this season. The right-hander will join an array of young pitchers in the Nationals' farm system.

The Nationals had a crowded outfield of Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor, so Goodwin came off the bench most of this season. A Nationals' first-round selection in the 2011 Draft, Goodwin was hitting .200 in 48 games. Goodwin played a larger role last year, hitting .251 over 74 games.

"Of course anybody would want to play a lot more, but he knew what his role was and he accepted it," Martinez said. "He was sad because this is the first team that he's played for. He knows no better. I said, 'This will open up the doors for you and you'll get a chance to play and you'll kickstart your career.'"

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Washington Nationals, Sean Doolittle, Brian Goodwin, Sammy Solis

Mariners activate Zunino; Paxton near return

Left-hander on track to start Tuesday vs. Giants; Freitas optioned to Triple-A
MLB.com

SEATTLE -- The Mariners took another step toward returning to full strength Sunday as catcher Mike Zunino was activated off the 10-day disabled list and inserted in the lineup for the afternoon's series finale against the White Sox.

Seattle also expects to get starter James Paxton off the DL on Tuesday to start the series opener against the Giants at Safeco Field.

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SEATTLE -- The Mariners took another step toward returning to full strength Sunday as catcher Mike Zunino was activated off the 10-day disabled list and inserted in the lineup for the afternoon's series finale against the White Sox.

Seattle also expects to get starter James Paxton off the DL on Tuesday to start the series opener against the Giants at Safeco Field.

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Catcher David Freitas was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a spot for Zunino, who had been sidelined since July 5 with a bone bruise on his left ankle. The 27-year-old played two rehab games in Tacoma, going 1-for-5 with an RBI.

Zunino has hit just .189 this season for Seattle, but has 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in 60 games and has been outstanding defensively.

Among catchers with at least 400 innings played, he ranks third in the Majors with six Defensive Runs Saved, per FanGraphs.

The Mariners are 36-18 in games started by Zunino this year, compared to 23-22 when he's not in the lineup, including 4-8 while he was on the DL the past two weeks.

"We've missed him behind the plate and hopefully we can get his bat going, too," manager Scott Servais said. "He knows the league so well. Probably most importantly, he has a good rapport with all our pitchers in understanding their strengths and weaknesses and how to get them through innings.

"I think David Freitas does a good job with that as well. Z is a little more accomplished all-around player, obviously, and it's good to have your regular guy back there."

Freitas was recalled from Tacoma when Zunino went on the DL and hit .111 (2-for-18) with one home run in six games. The 29-year-old is batting .192 in 78 at-bats in 29 games overall this season.

Freitas' departure leaves Chris Herrmann as the backup to Zunino. Herrmann's put up a .216/.341/.405 line with one homer and two RBIs in 37 at-bats over 15 games.

Worth noting

• Paxton came out of a 40-pitch bullpen throwing session on Saturday with no issues with the stiff lower back that forced him to the 10-day DL prior to the All-Star break. He'll slide back into the rotation on Tuesday, as expected, after missing one start.

The big lefty threw just 17 pitches and gave up a pair of home runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last outing on July 7 at Colorado.

"He felt fine, threw all his pitches and got after it in his bullpen, so no hesitation about bringing him back," Servais said.

Erasmo Ramirez, on the 10-day DL since May 1 with a strain in his right shoulder, will make a second rehab start in Tacoma on either Tuesday or Wednesday. The 28-year-old right-hander threw two perfect innings in his first outing for Tacoma on Friday.

• Right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla, who has been sidelined the past six weeks with a strained elbow, is playing catch at 90 feet as he begins ramping up his throwing program in an attempt to get back for the stretch run.

"No issues at all, his elbow feels good," Servais said. "We'll keep stretching him out before he gets on the mound."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, James Paxton, Mike Zunino

Royals acquire outfielder Goodwin from Nats

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals' rebuild marches on, they continue to search all areas for ways to improve their depth.

The latest effort came on Sunday when the club acquired outfielder Brian Goodwin from the Nationals in exchange for Minor League pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan.

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KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals' rebuild marches on, they continue to search all areas for ways to improve their depth.

The latest effort came on Sunday when the club acquired outfielder Brian Goodwin from the Nationals in exchange for Minor League pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan.

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Goodwin, 27, will be added to the Royals' Major League roster once he reports, and a corresponding move will be made at that time.

Goodwin, a left-handed batter, was the 34th overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Nationals.

In 48 games for the Nats this season, Goodwin hit .200 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Goodwin played a career-high 74 games last season for Washington and slashed .251/.313/.498 with 21 doubles and 13 home runs.

Goodwin can play all three outfield positions and it is likely he will get a long look by the Royals, especially as they will be without outfielder Jorge Soler (left toe fracture) for another month.

Condra-Bogan, 23, was signed by the Royals in January out of the independent Frontier League. He was recently promoted to Class A Advanced Wilmington. He had a 2.08 ERA in 16 appearances at Class A Lexington.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Brian Goodwin

Adames called up, draws critical walk in rally

Williams sent down day after making MLB debut
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- After making his MLB debut in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Rays No. 8 prospect Justin Williams returned to Triple-A Durham. Tampa Bay recalled infielder Willy Adames -- the team's No. 2 prospect -- in his place.

With Matt Duffy (back spasms) and Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) out Saturday night and Adeiny Hechavarria (sore oblique) having to leave after the seventh inning, the Rays had to bring in Carlos Gomez to play second base in the eighth and ninth innings. Hechavarria does not feel like he's headed to the disabled list, but he's not yet ready to be back out at shortstop.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- After making his MLB debut in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Rays No. 8 prospect Justin Williams returned to Triple-A Durham. Tampa Bay recalled infielder Willy Adames -- the team's No. 2 prospect -- in his place.

With Matt Duffy (back spasms) and Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) out Saturday night and Adeiny Hechavarria (sore oblique) having to leave after the seventh inning, the Rays had to bring in Carlos Gomez to play second base in the eighth and ninth innings. Hechavarria does not feel like he's headed to the disabled list, but he's not yet ready to be back out at shortstop.

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"Obviously, with Hech and his oblique -- I think he's going to be more day to day -- we needed another infielder," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Sending down Justin Williams, it's tough. I think we pride ourselves in trying not to make those quick decisions. But he was on the roster. We needed somebody, just because of the injuries to the bench lately.

"It's not ideal, but [Williams will] go down there. I reassured him, we all reassured him, he's done some good things. He's definitely in the plans. He's a young player. Part of that core we're excited to see what the future brings. But he's done good things. He'll go back down there and continue to do so."

Duffy started at third base in Sunday's 6-4 walk-off win over the Marlins at Tropicana Field. Adames started at shortstop, and though the rookie went 0-for-3, he drew a critical walk during the Rays' ninth inning rally, which ended on a pinch-hit grand slam by Daniel Robertson.

Video: MIA@TB: Choi, Robertson lift Rays to comeback win

Williams, 22, made his debut Saturday when he pinch-hit for Hechavarria in the seventh inning, grounding into a double play to end the frame.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames, Justin Williams

Rangers activate Claudio, recall Bibens-Dirkx

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers reinforced their bullpen on Saturday by activating left-hander Alex Claudio off the disabled list and calling up right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx from Triple-A Round Rock. Right-hander Ricardo Rodriguez was sent down to Round Rock.

Activating Claudio gives the Rangers a seven-man bullpen again. Adding Bibens-Dirkx for Rodriguez gives the Rangers a fresh reliever after they used six in Friday night's 11-inning loss to the Indians.

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers reinforced their bullpen on Saturday by activating left-hander Alex Claudio off the disabled list and calling up right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx from Triple-A Round Rock. Right-hander Ricardo Rodriguez was sent down to Round Rock.

Activating Claudio gives the Rangers a seven-man bullpen again. Adding Bibens-Dirkx for Rodriguez gives the Rangers a fresh reliever after they used six in Friday night's 11-inning loss to the Indians.

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"Based just on last night's game, we wanted to protect ourselves," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We had the opportunity to add another guy in the bullpen with multi-inning capability."

Bibens-Dirkx has been used strictly as a starter for both the Rangers and Round Rock this season, but has worked both in the rotation and the bullpen in past years. His last outing for Round Rock was on Monday when he threw 108 pitches over 5 2/3 innings. His last outing for the Rangers was on July 8 when he pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Tigers. He got the call Saturday morning from Round Rock manager Jason Wood.

Video: TEX@DET: Bibens-Dirkx tosses 5 1/3 scoreless innings

"I saw the game last night went extra innings, so I put my phone on loud," Bibens-Dirkx said. "I know how things work. I'm glad I did. I'm glad I didn't sleep through it."

Claudio was on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle. Prior to that, he threw five scoreless innings over three games and had a 0.96 ERA in his last seven games.

Mazara has to wait

Outfielder Nomar Mazara was placed on the disabled list Friday with a sprained right thumb, and this may take more than just the minimum of 10 days. Mazara injured the thumb on his glove hand in the first inning of last Saturday's game against the Orioles in Baltimore. He slid trying to catch Tim Beckham's double and injured the thumb in doing so.

"As soon as it happened, I was like, 'Wow,'" Mazara said. "When I got a fly ball, I was like, 'oh, my god!' Playing, catching wasn't fun. I finished the game, but that wasn't a good idea."

Mazara is eligible to come off Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series in Houston.

"It's gotten better, but it still hurts," Mazara said. "The doctor said the pain is not going to go away right away. It just depends on how I feel when I swing."

Rangers beat

• Right-handed reliever Chris Martin, on the disabled list with a strained left groin, threw a 20-pitch light bullpen session on Friday. The Rangers will likely have him throw another bullpen session before considering a medical rehabilitation assignment.

• Third baseman Adrian Beltre had two hits on Friday to give him 3,116 hits and pass Alex Rodriguez for 19th all-time.

Robinson Chirinos' home run on Friday was his 60th as a catcher with the Rangers. That ties him with Jim Sundberg for second-most by a catcher in club history. The leader is Ivan Rodriguez with 212.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Alex Claudio

Mets deal Familia to A's for 2 prospects, int'l cash

New York nets third baseman Toffey, reliever Wahl, $1 million in slot money for closer
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- By the time the Mets reported to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Jeurys Familia's locker was already empty. They had said their goodbyes the night before, understanding that Familia's departure was a matter of when, not if.

It finally happened during their 7-6 loss to the Yankees. The Mets dealt Familia to the A's for two prospects, third baseman Will Toffey and reliever Bobby Wahl, plus $1 million in international bonus pool money.

NEW YORK -- By the time the Mets reported to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Jeurys Familia's locker was already empty. They had said their goodbyes the night before, understanding that Familia's departure was a matter of when, not if.

It finally happened during their 7-6 loss to the Yankees. The Mets dealt Familia to the A's for two prospects, third baseman Will Toffey and reliever Bobby Wahl, plus $1 million in international bonus pool money.

"This trade hits three major areas," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said in a statement. "We got a Major League-ready reliever our scouts recommended, a position player who was a high selection from the 2017 Draft and strong prospect in the A's system as well as receiving international bonus pool money to help in the future."

Video: MLB Tonight on Jeurys Familia being traded to the A's

Toffey, 23, was Oakland's 17th-ranked prospect and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 Draft. He was batting .244 with a .741 OPS at the organization's Class A Advanced Stockton affiliate. Upon acquiring Toffey, the Mets immediately promoted him, assigning him to Double-A Binghamton.

"I think very highly of Toffey," Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi said in a statement. "He's got great strike-zone discipline, gap-to-gap power and is a solid defender."

Wahl, 26, made his Major League debut during a brief stint with the A's last summer. Capable of throwing in the upper 90s, he owned a 2.27 ERA in 34 appearances with Triple-A Nashville. Wahl underwent surgery last year to alleviate symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, but he has responded with 65 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings this season.

Video: CHC@OAK: Wahl gets groundout to complete save

Rather than call Wahl straight up to the big leagues, the Mets assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. A source said the team is recalling Paul Sewald to replace Familia on the active roster.

In addition to the players the Mets acquired in the trade, special assistant Omar Minaya called the international bonus pool money "extremely helpful" for a team that has become increasingly aggressive in that arena in recent years. The Mets also received roughly $3 million in salary relief, as the A's reportedly absorbed the rest of Familia's contract. A day before completing the trade, Ricco said the Mets were willing to take on money to acquire better prospects in deals for Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera and other pending free agents. But they did not do so in this deal.

In Familia's absence, the Mets will likely install Robert Gsellman as their closer, though manager Mickey Callaway said matchups could dictate whom he uses in the ninth. Replacing Familia, who ranked third in team history with 123 saves, will not be easy in any context.

"The A's are lucky to have a quality guy and a quality pitcher like Familia," Callaway said. "He's done a great job for this organization. I know the fans, I know the coaching staff and the players are going to miss him. But I understand it's also necessary at this point to try and strengthen our team in the future. It sounds like we did a pretty good job of that."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook

New York Mets, Jeurys Familia

Braun scores twice in return from disabled list

Nottingham optioned; Albers set for Triple-A rehab stint
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun is back. Now, can he produce in the second half for a team that needs offense?

The Brewers activated Braun from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday after he dealt with a back/rib-cage injury and slotted him into the cleanup spot against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The team optioned rookie catcher Jacob Nottingham back to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room for Braun, who has battled injuries all season and has 63 regular-season games remaining to turn around what so far has been the least productive of his 12 Major League seasons.

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MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun is back. Now, can he produce in the second half for a team that needs offense?

The Brewers activated Braun from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday after he dealt with a back/rib-cage injury and slotted him into the cleanup spot against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The team optioned rookie catcher Jacob Nottingham back to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room for Braun, who has battled injuries all season and has 63 regular-season games remaining to turn around what so far has been the least productive of his 12 Major League seasons.

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Braun went 1-for-3 with two runs scored in his return, which saw the Brewers snap a seven-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Los Angeles.

He hit the All-Star break with a .235/.283/.427 slash line, with 84 weighted runs created plus and a .301 weighted on-base average -- career lows across the board.

"He didn't have a great first half and I think he'd tell you that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I think his 'expected' [numbers] based on how he hit the ball was better than his surface line shows. I expect him to be better this half just because I think his luck will even out, first of all, but I think he'll play better.

"He's important for us. He's an important option and I'd like to get him in there on a semi-regular basis, for sure."

Braun missed a handful of games last month to have cryotherapy treatment on his troublesome right thumb, but his surgically repaired back is the chief concern for the second half. Twice, he has hit the DL because of back or rib-cage discomfort.

"Anything back, oblique, intercostal, in that area, it's going to be about explosive, rotational exercises. Obviously swinging is at the front of that, but also diving into walls, running, throwing at full speed, stuff like that," Braun said. "So you try to figure out a routine that puts you in optimal position to stay healthy, and I think the routine that I've always had is something I'm going to have to continue to alter, just a little different now obviously at 34 than it was at 24.

"So much is trial and error, just figuring out what makes the most sense to try to put myself in the ideal position to stay healthy when I'm dealing with back issues."

Nottingham, the Brewers' No. 25 prospect, is 4-for-20 in seven games over multiple stints with the Brewers this season.

Last call
• Rather than risk a rainout at Class A Wisconsin, reliever Matt Albers remained at Miller Park on Saturday and faced hitters in a 30-pitch simulated game. His next assignment is at Triple-A Colorado Springs, as the right-hander works back from a right shoulder injury.

"It was a good step," Albers said. "At least one more outing, maybe two, and then we'll see."

Albers posted a 3.45 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 25 appearances before his injury. His progress comes as Brewers officials weigh the merits of trading for a reliever ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

• First baseman/outfielder Eric Thames was on the field for batting practice for a third straight day Saturday, a good sign he's making progress in a comeback from a right hamstring strain. Thames is eligible to come off the 10-day DL on Tuesday.

Jonathan Villar has not done any hitting since the Brewers placed him on the disabled list just before the All-Star break with a right thumb injury. It's unclear when Villar will be back, which is notable because the Brewers are in the market for middle infielders after finishing as runner-up for Manny Machado before he was traded to the Dodgers.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Jacob Nottingham

A's land Familia from Mets for two prospects

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- One of the best bullpens in the game just got better.

The surging A's, suddenly meddling in the American League Wild Card race, fortified an already formidable bullpen with the addition of Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Saturday.

OAKLAND -- One of the best bullpens in the game just got better.

The surging A's, suddenly meddling in the American League Wild Card race, fortified an already formidable bullpen with the addition of Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Saturday.

Oakland traded Triple-A reliever Bobby Wahl and infield prospect Will Toffey to reel in the best rental reliever on the market, tossing in $1 million in international bonus pool money.

"We thought he was the best guy out there," A's general manager David Forst said. "We've talked for a few weeks now about what we can do to add to this team. Obviously the guys have played great, and we've been very open about how we feel like they deserve an opportunity.

"Adding a reliever right now was the best option, and we thought Jeurys was the best guy, so we've been talking to the Mets for a while, and we're happy that it came together."

Modest expectations aside, the 55-43 A's are playing like a contender, entering Saturday just four games back of the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot, with much thanks to a solid offense and a sturdy bullpen.

They're 38-0 when leading after seven innings this season, and 46-0 when leading after eight. Now setup man Lou Trivino and All-Star closer Blake Treinen have elite company: Familia, who is expected in Oakland ahead of Sunday's matinee against the Giants, has extensive closing experience, racking up 51 saves as an All-Star in 2016.

The A's are now equipped with a three-headed relief monster, much akin to the vaunted bullpen trio once dispatched by the Royals -- Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

An underrated version utilized by the A's in 2012, when they relied on Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour, was essential to their surprising playoff push.

"For already having a good bullpen, to be able to bring in an arm like this, man, it's pretty significant," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll figure out how we're going to go with it. I'll certainly talk to him before I say how this is going to be deployed as far as what innings for who. But this is a real significant pickup for us. You can't ask for much more."

Despite a glaring need for starting help, the A's believe they've augmented their club in a similar way by supplementing their relief corps. They're also not ruling out another move ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"We're still talking about a starter, but it's a tough market for starters," Forst said. "Some of them are expensive, both in acquisition cost and dollars, and this is a way to continue to shorten up the game and help our starters that way."

The Mets are the only organization that Familia has known, signing with the club as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2007. Now 28, his tenure in New York included 123 saves, third-most in franchise history, and a 2.66 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning -- including 43 in 40 2/3 innings this season following a mostly forgettable 2017 campaign.

Video: ARI@NYM: Familia locks down a save with a 1-2-3 9th

He served a 15-game suspension at the start of 2017 for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence policy, then missed time later that year recovering from arterial surgery on his right shoulder.

Familia has been at his best this month, throwing seven scoreless innings in July, and his presence allows Melvin to alleviate the wear and tear on Trivino and Treinen. The A's will take on the roughly $3 million remaining on his $7.925 million contract this year before he becomes a free agent.

"I talked to him today, and I said, 'You, Trivino and Treinen are going to be as good as we've had here in a long time, as good as I can remember,' and he was excited about it," Forst said.

Not since 2014 have the A's -- winners of 21 of their last 27 games -- been in position to add, rather than subtract. The losses in that span have been substantial, too; among them, Josh Donaldson and Sonny Gray.

"Three weeks ago, maybe this isn't a conversation," Melvin said, "but the way the team's played in the last month put us in a position to be able to do something like this."

"This is fun," Forst said. "Billy [Beane] said it last week, we want to be on this side, and the conversations we've had the last week, that's why you do this job, to get to this point, to try to add, to try to get better. You always want to be on the buying side, and we're trying to enjoy it. The thing about this part of the season is you're sort of past the marathon phase. This is a sprint now through August and September, and all you have to do now is play well for another 60 games. We got a chance to do that."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Jeurys Familia, Bobby Wahl

Rays call up No. 8 prospect Williams

Outfielder makes Major League debut after Hechavarria exits
MLB.com