At the height of trading season, teams often send confusing messages, making it difficult to decipher their intentions.
That said, the Chicago White Sox will be a team to watch in the next week, with the non-waiver deadline approaching at 4 p.m. ET July 31.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams already has acquired third baseman Kevin Youkilis and right-handed reliever Brett Myers. But rival executives who know him well say Williams is almost certain to make another move in response to the Detroit Tigers’ acquisitions of right-hander Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante on Monday.
“Kenny’s going to do something,” one exec says. “No way he’s going a week without doing something.”
And that “something,” based on Williams’ history, might not be small.
In Williams’ perfect world, it might be Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke.
The White Sox want to add another starting pitcher and Greinke is high on their wish list, according to major league sources.
The question is how Williams, with a thin farm system, could muster a package to acquire Greinke. And the answer might be by trading right-hander Gavin Floyd for prospects the Sox then could add to a deal for Greinke, who is a potential free agent.
The upgrade from Floyd to Greinke over 10 to 12 starts might not be terribly significant, but Greinke potentially is much more of a difference-maker, particularly if the White Sox reach the postseason.
What’s more, the Sox are eager to move Floyd, sources say.
So, here is one scenario based on recent scouting activity. It is purely speculative, and certain caveats apply. But the idea is this:
Floyd to the Blue Jays for a package headed by Class A left-hander Justin Nicolino, then Nicolino and another piece — perhaps one of the White Sox’s young major league relievers, perhaps one of their outfield prospects, Jared Mitchell or Trayce Thompson — for Greinke.
Nicolino, 20, was the Jays’ No. 5 prospect entering the season, according to Baseball America. The White Sox scouted his most recent start on Sunday. And the Blue Jays had two scouts at Floyd’s start Monday night.
Now, it’s possible this all means nothing.
It’s possible the White Sox were more interested in some of Nicolino’s teammates or opponents than Nicolino.
It’s also possible the Blue Jays were more interested in Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano and other players than Floyd. The Jays employ so many scouts, they routinely send multiple representatives to games.
But there is this:
Floyd, who has a $9.5 million club option for next season, likely is more attractive to the Jays than Liriano, who is a potential free agent.
And there is also this:
The White Sox and Blue Jays combined with the St. Louis Cardinals on a three-team, 11-player trade last season that sent center fielder Colby Rasmus to Toronto and right-hander Edwin Jackson to St. Louis.
Two and two does not always equal four during trading season, so the above speculation should be taken as just that — speculation.
But Williams routinely demonstrates his willingness to make bold moves, as well as a certain fearlessness at the deadline.