It’s a wonderful time to be a baseball fan. The MLB playoff race is heating up, the trade deadline—at 4 p.m. ET on July 31—is rapidly approaching, and drama is at a fever pitch.
Considering the amount of overall drama involved—both on and off the ball field—some fans might even consider this stretch of the season more exciting than some of the postseason matchups. Not only can you watch your favorite teams play, but you can spend their off-time daydreaming about potential moves that could be made.
Naturally, smoke and rumors are also high this time of year. We’re here to examine some of the latest storylines and chatter surrounding the MLB trade market as the deadline approaches.
Yankees Interested in Gray, Alonso
Expectations weren’t exactly high for the New York Yankees heading into the 2017 season. Even though the Yankees usually retool rather than rebuild, this was seen as a season for progress, not pennant chasing.
New York has certainly surprised. Power-hitter extraordinaire Aaron Judge has helped turn the spotlight back to the franchise, the team sits right behind the hated Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings and a postseason run is a real possibility. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees have been buyers heading toward the deadline.
New York recently traded to acquire Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox. Now, another big trade appears to be in the works.
“Multiple sources indicated Tuesday that the Yankees were making progress toward a deal with Oakland, which could send not only Gray—who was slated to start for the A’s on Tuesday in Toronto—but also first baseman Yonder Alonso to New York.
“MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported Tuesday that the A’s are focused on adding a young center fielder, with Yankees No. 5 prospect and Futures Game participant Estevan Florial ranking high on their list. A source said the Yanks are not opposed to dealing Florial.”
Adding Gray and Alonso would help strengthen the Yankees’ roster and increase the team’s chance of winning now. This isn’t a franchise interested in long and steady rebuilds, so parting with prospects in order to acquire them certainly fits New York’s M.O.
There is a chance the Yankees could have some competition from the Atlanta Braves in their quest for Gray, however, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com:
Jon Morosi of MLB.com recently reported that the Washington Nationals are also looking to enter the fray for Gray.
However, Feinsand made it clear that the Yankees are the front-runners for a potential deal with the A’s: “The A’s have been heavily scouting the Yankees’ system of late, fueling speculation that New York is the leading candidate to land Gray and Alonso.”
Morosi backs up the idea that New York is in good position here, pointing out that the A’s are interested in acquiring a young center fielder and Florial in particular:
This deal seems to make almost too much sense not to happen by the deadline.
Could the Rangers Keep Darvish?
The Texas Rangers aren’t entirely out of the wild-card race, but they could be in the selling mood right now. With this being the case, there has naturally been plenty of speculation surrounding pitcher Yu Darvish.
According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and possibly the Chicago Cubs could potentially be interested in acquiring Darvish:
However, there’s a chance that the Rangers don’t want to move Darvish at all. At least, this is the theory recently submitted by T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:
“The needle is swinging back toward Yu Darvish remaining with the Rangers. The needle seems to swing with every trade rumor and tweet that emerges, but Major League sources indicated Monday the Rangers were strongly leaning toward not trading Darvish unless they are overwhelmed by an offer or their postseason hopes crash with another losing streak this week.”
Given the fact the Rangers are only a handful of games out from a wild-card spot, it does make sense for the team to at least wait until right up until the trade deadline to determine the future of one of their best pitchers.
Of course, it also makes just as much sense to move Darvish if the Rangers think a wild-card game is about as far as they’ll advance in the postseason. He’s entering the final year of his current contract, and if Texas can’t re-sign Darvish next offseason, they’d lose him with nothing in return. Trading him now would at least yield some potential pieces for the future.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com recently pointed out, though, dealing Darvish would only make sense if the price is right:
“Sources told ESPN that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels began calling potential suitors Monday and telling them the team is open to trading Darvish for the “right deal.” If no team offers a return package to the Rangers’ liking, Daniels has informed clubs that Texas will hold on to Darvish and continue to make a push in the American League wild-card race.”
Texas is in prime position to get a solid return for Darvish because a number of teams are interested. Theoretically, the team could start a sort of bidding war for his services. Expect the Rangers to let things play out right before the trade deadline, where the team can properly weigh its postseason chances against potential trade return.
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