Though a late, unexpected surge from the NBA provides some serious competition, few things this time of year can compete with the craziness of the approaching MLB trade deadline.
The sprint between now and Monday’s non-waiver deadline won’t just be an entertaining affair for fans—it signals the beginning of the push through fall and the playoffs as well as a potential major shift in power throughout the league.
Tuesday night provided a great example when the San Francisco Giants pulled Eduardo Nunez from a game and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal revealed he’d been traded to the Boston Red Sox.
Call it the beginning of the madness, especially with some of the rumors making the rounds. Here’s the latest.
The Darvish Puzzle Continues
Yu Darvish seems like one of the most obvious players about to find himself on a flight to a new city before the deadline passes.
If only it were so simple.
The Texas Rangers can hardly keep their head above water at 49-51 and Darvish sits on an expiring contract, yet it doesn’t sound like the brass there has plans to settle for just any deal.
Here’s USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:
At best, it’s likely a bargaining stance more than anything as the Rangers continue to sit on the outside of the wild-card race looking in, especially after having picked up all of four wins over their last 10.
Not that the Rangers need to work too hard at drumming up interest in a 30-year-old ace with a 3.44 ERA, 143 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP.
FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman detailed the interested teams:
Much about a potential sweepstakes involving the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers might come down to how well the Rangers play over the next few days. If the team finds hope in the race, the idea of keeping Darvish and trying to make it happen isn’t so outlandish—the Rangers could then try to ink him to an extension in the offseason.
At worst, such a scenario is what the Rangers hope to encourage other teams into thinking if the front office wants the best possible return. One of the market’s most interesting names will do nothing short of command more and more of the spotlight as the cutoff approaches.
Justin Verlander-to-the-Cubs Gains Steam
The idea the Chicago Cubs want to land Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander isn’t new.
But momentum gained in this area on the rumor mill is a different story.
Verlander gaining steam seemed obvious the closer the deadline crept because he isn’t just an option for the Cubs, not when a team like the Dodgers could use him as a fallback option if the Rangers get stingy in trade talks surrounding Darvish.
It means the Cubs might need to hurry if the brass there views him as strongly as reported in a note by the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman: “The Cubs also are believed to be interested in Verlander as a piece to not only help defend their title now but also assist in the near future with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey likely leaving as free agents after the 2017 season. Houston also is viewed as interested in Verlander.”
Verlander, 34, has entered “consolation prize realm” at this stage of his career thanks to an odd marriage between his contract and performance. The former calls for $56 million over the next two seasons, yet the latter is a rough-looking 4.50 ERA and 62 earned runs over 124.0 innings, which flirts dangerously close to the 77 he coughed up over 227.2 innings the year prior.
The 45-win Tigers aren’t dummies, though, which explains why Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported the Tigers will eat up to $12 million of Verlander’s salary in a deal.
For the Cubs, a team with impending free agents and whose top six pitchers in innings pitched all have an ERA of 3.83 or higher, it might be wise to get out ahead of the market here and strike up a deal before other teams jump into the fray.
Ramos Sweepstakes Catches Fire
Fans haven’t had to look far this month to see AJ Ramos become one of the hottest names on the trade block.
The 45-win Miami Marlins are an obvious trade target for teams not only due to performance, but because the front office already shipped away David Phelps in a move that brought back a handful of quality prospects.
Ramos, 30 years old with a 3.76 ERA, 46 fanned batters and 19 saves—not to mention 91 and counting over all of three years—is worth much more.
Plenty of interest on the market should make this obvious enough, as Nightengale illustrated:
Interest from three contenders in the National League speaks volumes to how big this particular race could get in the coming days. Ramos isn’t just a stud player—he’s sitting on a nice contract that keeps him under team control through 2018.
Based on above comments, it’s not hard to see why the Cubs would have an interest. But for teams like the Colorado Rockies, being set at closer doesn’t disqualify the team from taking an angle of pursuit here because there is no such thing as having too many quality late-inning arms during the postseason stretch.
For a rebuilding team like the Marlins, a bidding war among contenders is the best possible outcome to what has already been a successful stretch of future-minded moves.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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