via Trade Buzz.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin won’t reveal whether he has decided to buy, sell or hold at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, which looms less than two weeks away.
Which way is he leaning?
“Staying prepared,” Melvin said simply.
Like so many Major League teams, the Brewers are somewhere in the middle. On one hand, they have been playing much better — back to within three games of .500 at 44-47, only four games off last year’s pace, when they won 96 regular-season games and the National League Central.
On the other hand, the Brewers seem stuck in fourth place, seven games behind the co-division-leading Reds entering a crucial series in Cincinnati set to begin Friday night. While going 10-5 over their last 15 games, the Brewers have gained one game on first place. They also hold a valuable trade chip in Zack Greinke, a free agent to be who seems determined to test the market.
The outcome of the weekend Cincinnati series could push Melvin one direction or the other.
“It’s a gut feel,” Melvin said.
I laid out Melvin’s three options — buy, sell or hold — in a story today while the Brewers enjoyed an off-day.
Melvin is in a tough spot — the Brewers will draw nearly three million fans to Miller Park this season, have not made a “sell” oriented move since 2006, and players like Ryan Braun still honestly believe the team can make a run for the postseason. But, Melvin made some comments in my story boosting Greinke’s value in a trade, if the Brewers opt to go that way.
It’s going to be an interesting weekend in Cincinnati…
– Adam McCalvy
After the Cubs beat the Marlins on Thursday to improve to 14-5 since June 25, Jeff Baker apparently joked that the players expect to add pieces and be buyers, not sellers, at the Trade Deadline. On Thursday, the Cubs did just that, acquiring right-handed pitcher Justin Germano from the Red Sox for cash considerations. Right-handed pitcher Jairo Asencio was designated for assignment to make room on the roster. Germano, 29, was expected to be available Friday in St. Louis when the Cubs open a three-game series. However, Casey Coleman, who was to start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, was scratched and will be in St. Louis in case Germano can’t make it.
Germano’s contract was selected by the Red Sox on July 4 and he threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief on July 7 against the Yankees before being designated for assignment on July 13. The Cubs are Germano’s fifth Major League team. He has pitched for the Padres (2004, 2007-08), Reds (2006), Indians (2010-11) and Red Sox (2012). At Triple-A Pawtucket, Germano was 9-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 17 appearances, including 16 starts.
Asencio, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians on June 1, had a 3.07 ERA in 12 big league appearances with the Cubs.
– Carrie Muskat
- As the mystery surrounding Cole Hamels’ future continues, ESPN’s Jayston Stark reports the Phillies are making a strong push to sign the left-hander before the trade deadline. With contract length having been the major obstacle in negotiations to this point, the Phillies are reportedly now willing to offer Hamels a six-year deal. According to Stark’s report, the Phillies have basically put trade talks on hold regarding Hamels, as they push to lock him up.
- While the Dodgers are now working with a healthy Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports the club is looking to add another bat to the roster. Though they’ve already talked to the Cubs about pitchers Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, Heyman reports they’ve also inquired about a plethora of hitters, including Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Josh Willingham, Michael Cuddyer, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez and Chase Headley. The Phillies and Brewers aren’t sellers as of yet and, according to Heyman, the Twins and Rockies don’t appear ready to part with Willingham and Cuddyer, respectively. That leaves Headley as the most logical option on that list, but a number of teams remain insterested in the Padres third baseman, including the Indians, Orioles and Diamondbacks.
- Accordng to a tweet from ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Cubs are still working to trade Dempster as soon as possible, though it apparently won’t be to the Red Sox. Stark’s tweet indicated that a source has said the Red Sox are out of the running for Dempster, but remain interested in Garza.
- Paul Casella
Ryan Dempster is still on the Cubs roster and prepping for Friday’s start in St. Louis. But he’s also a hot topic regarding trade rumors as the deadline approaches. Dempster has talked to the Cubs brass about potential moves but says no deal is imminent. As a player with 10 years of Major League service and the last five with the same team, Dempster can veto any trade.
“It’s just kind of like, ‘Hey, there’s teams interested,’ and that’s great. Nothing imminent, not that I know of,” Dempster told reporters at Wrigley Field, including MLB.com’s Cash Kruth. “I’m sure if they have something, they’ll come to me. But right now I’m just trying to get ready for tomorrow’s game.”
Dempster’s stock is at an all-time high, as the right-hander — who is 5-3 with a 1.86 ERA on the season — has tossed 33 consecutive scoreless innings. Dempster said he’s conscious of the streak, and said he “[wants] to shatter” Orel Hershiser’s all-time mark of 59 consecutive scoreless innings, set in 1988.
“I know I haven’t given up a run in five starts. I’m not naive,” Dempster said. “Like I said when I had a no-hitter going before, I know when I have a no-hitter going. I know that I have it, so I’m just going to try to keep it going, for sure. When you don’t give up any runs, you win games, so I like that.”
Between the scoreless-inning streak and preparing for his next start, Dempster said he doesn’t spend much time keeping up with the rumor mill. Although he said it’s flattering so many teams are reportedly interested in him, he’s still focused on his next start, which will take place in a Cubs uniform. On Thursday, Dempster played catch with his son Brady at Wrigley.
“I just think that there’s a lot of things between pitching and on-the-field stuff and then stuff about trades, and it’s a lot of information to try to process, so for me, I try to limit what I read and my focus is just going out there and pitching,” Dempster said. “Probably my biggest focus right now is just going out there and be ready every fifth day. I still have a job to do, and I take a lot of pride in that, so if I’m not putting my attention, my sole focus into that, I’m doing the team a little bit of a disservice.”
– Carrie Muskat
- USA Today’s Bob Nightengale provided the splashiest rumor of the day, reporting that the Marlins had informed the Red Sox of their willingness to deal third baseman Hanley Ramirez and closer Heath Bell, in exchange for left fielder Carl Crawford and a prospect. But ESPN’s Buster Olney later shot down that idea, tweeting that the proposal “immediately died.”
- According to our own Joe Frisaro, the Marlins are more likely to explore trading Ramirez during the offseason. Miami, scuffling below the .500 mark, still could look to move the likes of starting pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson or infielder Omar Infante below July 31.
- Three different scenarios remain in play for Brewers ace Zack Greinke, Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal reported at FOXSports.com. The 28-year-old could walk away as a free agent after the season. He could sign a long-term contract to remain in Milwaukee, although the report stated there is “no evidence,” that a formal offer has been made. Greinke also could be traded before the deadline, although he will start only twice more before then, following an extended break.
- Greinke, along with the Phillies’ Cole Hamels, is a prime deadline target for the Rangers, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Texas also could consider bringing back Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee.
- Several teams have looked into acquiring third baseman Chase Headley or outfielder Carlos Quentin from the Padres, but San Diego’s asking price for both has been “exorbitant,” reported CBSSports.com’s Scott Miller. The club also might attempt to re-sign Quentin this winter.
– Andrew Simon
Pretty much since he took the job over the offseason, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has viciously tried to fend off rumors that the club considers center fielder Peter Bourjos — currently without an everyday role — a trade chip.
That took place again on Wednesday, in the midst of a couple of reports — from Jon Heyman and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com — saying that Bourjos is available for the right deal. Dipoto publicly denied that once again, saying: “At no point have we offered Peter Bourjos for anyone, starter or reliever.”
The Angels are indeed looking for pitching, for the bullpen and rotation, and they’ve been linked to a bevy of player, like Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Broxton and, of course, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. But you can probably throw out 50 other names that the Angels have considered, tabled, had talks about and sent advanced scouts to watch. The Angels have been looking to upgrade the bullpen — particularly with another left-hander — for a while now.
As for starting pitching? The health of Dan Haren could go a long way in deciding how aggressive they get in that pursuit — and, perhaps, whether Bourjos is in fact dealt.
Here’s what Dipoto said when asked about how important the next week, with Haren returning and Ervin Santana making a couple of tough starts, is to their starting-pitching pursuit …
“We just want to get [Haren] back 100 percent healthy to compete. And we feel, and I’ve been very forthright with that, that he’s the best addition we can make. We anticipate that that’s the case. And in Ervin’s case, it’s not as simple as just determining where he is in the next two starts. Ervin’s got a history of being a better second-half performer than first. It’s the way it looks from last year. I’m just looking at his track record, what he does. And we’re not two starts away from kicking Ervin Santana out the door. Ervin’s going to be in our rotation. The Ervin component is not going to have any effect on what we do at all.”
The Royals had a scout at Comerica Park on Tuesday, and word is Kansas City is interested in designated hitter Kendrys Morales — despite the presence of Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler.
“We have nothing significant or imminent at this time,” Dipoto said. “Like everybody is, we’re just doing our due diligence.”
– Alden Gonzalez
Despite a stretch in which the team has lost 17 of its last 24 games, including six of seven, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday that the Orioles are still buyers on the trade market.
“We really need to stabilize our pitching, which is what we are looking for,” Duquette said in a phone interview with MLB.com. “We still want to have another pitcher.”
Duquette said he doesn’t think “it’s feasible” for the club to add more than one starter, given that there are too many other teams looking for pitching. The Orioles, who will not part with top prospects Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy, probably don’t have enough in their system to acquire more than one effective rotation guy.
The Orioles hope that their young starters, who have all struggled mightily this season, can improve enough to help get the team back on the right track. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Orioles are not trying to trade any of those pitchers.
Brian Matusz and Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta are currently in Triple-A, while Zach Britton struggled in his season debut and Chris Tillman was unable to get out of the first inning in his second start this year.
“My hope is that they establish themselves with the Orioles,” Duquette said. “That’s what they are trying to accomplish.
“I think they should be competitive. They all have the skills, they have all the equipment to be Major League pitchers. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be. We’ve got a lot of baseball left to go, but … I don’t see anything holding them back from being competitive Major Leaguers.”
Duquette said middle infield depth also remains a focus, but the Orioles are optimistic Robert Andino (left shoulder strain) will return in a few weeks, and the O’s going with a platoon of Ryan Flaherty and Steve Tolleson until then. While adding a bat atop the order is on the wish list, nothing takes priority over finding another starting pitcher.
“If we got one starter and got a little bit better performance from who we have, we’d be OK,” Duquette said. “We need to be in contention, or we need to have the idea that what we are going to do will improve the team enough to make the playoffs.
“And you never know that for sure, but I think it’s important for us to have a good year. It’s important for us to finish strong and win more games than we lose, and try to go for the pennant.”
Duquette has previously said that he has the ownership’s backing to improve at the deadline and add pieces as he sees fit, and he didn’t back off that stance on Wednesday.
“Anything that we do, we would do with the idea to strengthen the team for this year,” he said.
Even if the current club continues to falter?
“I hope we are in contention until the end of the month, so we are adding,” Duquette said. “That’s the direction we are working on, and working toward.”