July 31, 2006
First, if you're at all interested in the trade deadline, make sure you check out ESPN's SportsNation chat from 12-5 this afternoon - it should have the latest news from all the experts on potential and actual trades. I'm not going to keep up on everything through the afternoon - if you want that, follow the chat and mlbtraderumors.com.
The Tigers acquired Sean Casey from the Pirates for a minor league pitcher.
The Reds got Rheal Cormier from the Phillies to help their bullpen, also giving up a minor league pitcher.
Where will the big names land? Miguel Tejada seems to be staying in Baltimore. Apparently the Astros made a run at him, but two trades were denied. The first: Morgan Ensberg, Adam Everett, and stud pitcher Roy Oswalt for Tejada. The second? Oswalt, All-Star outfielder Lance Berkman and closer Brad Lidge for Tejada. And the Orioles turned them both down! Seriously, is this a joke? If I were the Orioles, I would have jumped on either of those deals as quickly as possible, and if I were the Astros and the Baltimore front office called proposing either deal (especially the second), I would have permanently blocked the Orioles' phone number. That's how ridiculous both deals sound. But the Baltimore front office found a way to turn down both offers, and I can't see anybody beating either of those deals.
According to some sources, the Soriano hunt is down to two teams, the Angels and Astros, though I personally won't count the Twins out either. But there are some new players on the horizon. The first is the Red Sox, who have inquired about Soriano as a counter-strike to the Yankees' Abreu deal. It's pretty likely that nothing will happen on this front. But when Theo Epstein is among the voices talking, there's always a chance that something will get done. The second franchise that has popped onto the scene is the Florida Marlins. Most people are wondering why the Fish would go after Soriano, as they are looking towards next year as contenders, not this year. But Jayson Stark has a different take on things: The Fish have a ton of young pitching prospects, which is what the Nationals are looking for. But most of the teams in the hunt (particularly the Angels) are more loaded with position players in their farm system. So this could turn out to be essentially a three-team trade - the Nationals deal Soriano to Florida for pitchers, and the Fish then spin him off to Los Anaheim for some of their position players.
The third big name who has jumped on the market comes from San Fransisco. And no, he hasn't been indicted for steroid use. But the second-biggest name from the Giants is Jason Schmidt, and he may be on the move. The Giants have lost their last six, and they're looking to get something from Schmidt, who's in his walk year. The Mets are the biggest player, though if they won't trade Lastings Milledge for Zito, they probably won't trade him for Schmidt either. And the Giants are looking for a good package in return. So don't be shocked if this deal doesnt' happen, but there are some other potential suitors out there as well - the White Sox, Rangers, and Red Sox may be interested.
There's only one 300-game winner on the market, but it's still only the Padres and Dodgers who are interested in acquiring Greg Maddux. The Dodgers have been hotter on his tail, but if the Padres trade a pitcher to fill their gaping hole at third, they may try to get Maddux to fill that pitcher's place. Right now it's almost 50-50, and that's if he gets traded (also not a guarantee).
The Yankees don't have anything major up their sleeve. One source said that Pirates RP Roberto Hernandez is all but guaranteed to become a Yankee. But I didn't see anything else about him; other rumors have the Pirates packaging reliever Salamon Torres and 1B Craig Wilson to the Big Apple.
The Red Sox right now are trying to complete one of two three-team deals, both of which would involve the Padres and Mike Lowell. The first would send Lowell to the Pads, San Diego setup man Scott Linebrink and Tampa Bay shortstop Julio Lugo to Boston, and presumably prospects from both teams to Tampa. The second deal would also send Lowell to San Diego, and Colorado first baseman Ryan Shealy would come to Boston along with a pitcher from one of the teams. I don't know what the Rockies would recieve from this deal. Either of these deals would be very good for the Sox, in my mind. The Padres desperately need a third baseman - if these deals both fall through, they will likely go after Cleveland's Aaron Boone (he will probably cost them Linebrink). Although Morgan Ensberg, who has been the Padres' number one choice all along, may be back on the market in Houston.
Here's a funny article: Dontrelle Willis might go to the Cardinals. What's so funny? The Marlins put both Willis and Miguel Cabrera on waivers late last week. The waiver thing is complicated, but the one important effect in this case is that players cannot be traded until their waivers expire. The waivers on both Willis and Cabrera conveniently expire just after the 4 pm deadline. So it's literally impossible for Willis to be leaving Miami.
Arguably the hottest name on the market right now is the Rockies' Ryan Shealy. Shealy is a young first baseman who would already be playing every day in the big leagues except that he has to be behind Todd Helton in the Colorado system. One might wonder why they don't try to move Helton instead, but he has an enormous contract and has been loyal to the Rockie franchise for many years. Shealy has been mentioned in big talks with the Red Sox (see above), and is also eyed by rebuilding teams such as Kansas City or Pittsburgh (who would each presumably give back a reliever in return).
The Rangers need a starter, and they apparently have interest in the Phillies' Jon Lieber. Their main trading chip is Brad Wilkerson, who they have also tried pairing with catcher Rod Barajas to make a deal. But nothing looks imminent on the Arlington front.
Update from Jayson Stark: The A's are now in the running for Soriano. Kinda strange b/c he's not the typical "Moneyball" guy (high OBP), but I don't know how close those talks are.