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MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Saturday

July 31 News and Notes

Last-minute flurry — 3:59 p.m.

• Red Sox get catcher Jerrod Saltalamacchia from the Rangers for RHP Roman Mendez, first baseman Chris McGuiness, a player to be named later and cash considerations. More at FOX Sports Southwest.

• Yankees get Kerry Wood from Indians for a player to be named. Chan Ho Park designated for assignment to make room for Wood.

• Dodgers get pitcher Octavio Dotel from Pirates for Andrew Lambo and James McDonald.

• The Giants got pitcher Javier Lopez from the Pirates for right-handed pitcher Joseph Martinez and outfielder John Bowker.

• The Braves have acquired outfielder Rick Ankiel and reliever Kyle Farnsworth from the Royals. In exchange for Ankiel and Farnsworth, the Royals receive Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and minor-league left-hander Tim Collins. The key to the deal for Kansas City was Collins, who the Braves just got from the Blue Jays in the Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez trade. — FOX Sports South

• Ramon Ramirez traded to Giants.

• Orioles trade pitcher Will Ohman to Marlins for pitcher Rick VandenHurk.

 

ChiSox still seeking Dunn — 3:15 p.m.

The White Sox are still working on a deal for the Nationals’ Adam Dunn. The deal would include Edwin Jackson-plus. A source says "This thing is far from over."

Astros don’t expect to move pitchers — 2:39 p.m.

With 90 minutes to go, the Astros do not expect to move pitcher Brett Myers or pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. — Ken Rosenthal

Red Sox seeking inquire about Beimel — 1:55 p.m.

Source: The Red Sox have inquired about at least two left-handed relievers today:  the Rockies’ Joe Beimel,  the Nationals’ Sean Burnett. The Rockies’ asking price too high.  — Ken Rosenthal

Giants pursuing 11th-hour deals — 1:20 p.m.

The Giants, as expected, have been very active today.

They are still speaking with the Jays about outfielder Jose Bautista and reliever Scott Downs, sources say, although it’s been particularly difficult for them to find common ground on Downs.

San Francisco is also engaged in talks with Arizona about Kelly Johnson, who has experience in the infield and outfield. — Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

 

Pirates’ deal for catcher tied to concussion concerns with Doumit — 12:30 p.m.

As the clock moves toward the trading deadline, the talk continues:

• The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired catcher Chris Snyder from Arizona because of concerns about the future of Ryan Doumit. Doumit is on the disabled list with what is being described as a mild concussion. But it’s the third time this season he has been bothered by concussion symptoms. There is a fear he could face a Mike Matheny situation. (Matheny retired in 2007 because of on-going symptoms of post-concussion syndrome.)

Even healthy, there are growing concerns about Doumit’s catching skills and the Pirates feel they could maximize his bat by putting him at first base, if need be.

• The Pirates were looking to move lefty Paul Maholm even before his Thursday dugout incident with manager John Russell and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan over an intentional walk to Ian Stewart. With runners on second and third and one out in the second inning, Maholm was ordered to walk Stewart. He got pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez out, but Dexter Fowler, who was in a 3-for-44 slump, then doubled home two runs, and Maholm had a meltdown. The Pirates think he needs a change of scenery. The Pirates, however, “have to make a baseball trade this time," one source said. "We can’t afford to keep stockpiling prospects. We have to add bodies who can help us improve at the big-league level at this point.”

• The Yankees often get mentioned as a possible destination for available players. The interest, however, is usually a lot more limited than is portrayed by teams trying to drive the price of their players up. General manager Brian Cashman was trained by George Steinbrenner that you do your homework and get a feel for any player who is up for trade, whether you want to pursue him or not, because things change every day and you need to stay ahead of the curve.

• The Nationals are asking a high price for first baseman Adam Dunn because he is the most legit bat available and the Nationals aren’t worried about keeping him because they aren’t interested in re-signing him anyhow. With a lack of bats on the trade market, the Nationals feel that if they can get a steal in the deal, they have to move him.

• The Rockies are in limbo because of uncertainty about first baseman Todd Helton.

Helton is spending the weekend on a rehab assignment with rookie-level Casper (Wy.). He went 0-for-2 as a DH on Friday with a walk and game-winning sacrifice fly for the Casper Ghosts. He’ll play again Saturday and Sunday in an effort to determine whether he has enough lower-body strength back to be activated from the disabled list.

The Rockies had a deal to acquire Jorge Cantu from Florida for lefty Franklin Morales, but had to back off because if Helton is healthy Cantu would become a bat off the bench. They also had the chance to move Brad Hawpe to San Diego, where Hawpe has hit some monster home runs, but had to back off that because if Helton isn’t healthy they will move Hawpe to first base.

Hawpe was a first baseman when he signed out of LSU and in limited play at first while Helton has been on the disabled list, Hawpe has shown above-average defensive ability at his natural position. — Tracy Ringolsby

Source: Cardinals close to getting Westbrook — 11:31 a.m.

The St. Louis Cardinals are close to landing starting pitcher Jake Westbrook in a trade with the Indians, sources said Saturday.

The teams are still trying to work out the money. Westbrook would get more than $2 million in bonuses if he is traded and still has $4 million remaining on his contract.

Westbrook is scheduled to start Saturday for Cleveland in a 1:07 ET game against Toronto.

Westbrook has been with the Indians since 2001. He is 6-7 this year with a 4.65 ERA.

— Ken Rosenthal

Sources: White Sox tried to get Manny — 11:19 a.m.

Leave it to the White Sox to try and pull off a deadline shocker.

The White Sox, frustrated by their inability to land Adam Dunn, made a run at Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez on Friday, but their overtures were rejected, major-league sources say.

“Not happening,” said a source with knowledge of the discussions. Full story …

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Source: New teams enter the fray on Dunn — 11:14 a.m.

Expect the unexpected today. A source says the Nationals are getting late interest from new teams on slugger Adam Dunn. "Longshots" are being explored.

— Ken Rosenthal

Brief note on the Yankees — 10:19 a.m.

The Yankees will make one last run through the thin bullpen market while trying to add a bench piece.

— Ken Rosenthal

Latest on the Marlins — 10:10 a.m.

A few notes on what we’re hearing on the Marlins:

*They likely will not move outfielder Cody Ross. They can’t find a deal to match up.

*They’re still trying to add a bullpen piece.

*Infielder Wes Helms is not a Yankees target.

— Ken Rosenthal

It’s decision day for the Cubs — 9:32 a.m.

Ted Lilly’s time as a Cub could be winding down, with at least four teams still in the race for him as of Saturday morning.

The left-handed starter could still go to the Dodgers, Twins, Tigers or Yankees, with the four clubs showing varying interest.

Infielder Ryan Theriot is still a possibility for the Dodgers or Yankees, as well. The Denver Post reported a Theriot-for-Kelly Johnson swap has been discussed with New York.

The Cubs have also received "minor sniffs" on outfielder Xavier Nady and infielder Mike Fontenot.

— Ken Rosenthal

Dunn’s fate remains undecided, unclear — 2:53 a.m.

The latest on the twisting, confusing, seemingly never-ending Adam Dunn sweepstakes:

• The White Sox are again saying that they are “dead” on Dunn, but they sent out similar signals on Thursday, only to revive discussions with the Nationals on Friday

If, as some rival executives suggest, the Nationals no longer want right-hander Edwin Jackson, there seemingly is little basis for a deal.

The White Sox obtained Jackson for righty Daniel Hudson, their top pitching prospect, and another highly regarded young pitcher, lefty David Holmberg

To acquire Dunn without including Jackson, they likely would need to part with another strong prospect package.

• Dunn, abruptly shifting course, told reporters Friday that he would be comfortable becoming a DH for the final two months of the season.

In a recent interview with CBSSports.com, Dunn had said he would “probably go home” rather than serve as a DH. Yet, even if his newfound enthusiasm is sincere, there is no way to know how he would adjust to the new role after spending his entire career in the National League.

The Yankees, who acquired Lance Berkman on Friday when they became frustrated with their inability to get Dunn, seemed unconcerned about the difficulty of such a transition; they figured Dunn would be so thrilled to be a Yankee, everything would be fine.

The Rays, on the other hand, would have greater reason for worry. They released Pat Burrell after he adjusted poorly to being a DH. Dunn offers greater upside, but still would be a gamble — and the Rays still would need to satisfy the Nationals with a trade offer.

• If not the White Sox, if not the Rays, then who? The Nationals lost leverage when the Yankees shifted to Berkman and dropped out of the bidding. The Giants are involved in a variety of pursuits, but do not seem serious about Dunn.

Yet, the unexpected often occurs in the final hours before the deadline. Perhaps there is a mystery team — or teams — on Dunn.

Perhaps the White Sox will figure out another way to get him.

Perhaps the Rays will be satisfied that he is worth the risk.

By 4 p.m. ET, the outcome will be revealed.

Ken Rosenthal

Source: Astros open to dealing Myers — 2:45 a.m.

Earlier this week, a trade of Astros right-hander Brett Myers seemed unlikely — particularly if the club dealt Roy Oswalt.

Late Friday, however, one major-league source indicated that the Astros have become more open-minded to offers for Myers, their ace-of-the-moment. As of Saturday, sources were saying that the Astros were fielding offers for Myers and another starter — Wandy Rodriguez.

It’s possible now that Myers, signed to a one-year, $5.1 million contract in January, will be the top right-handed starter moved in the final hours before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver deadline.

Perhaps Astros officials are embracing the ideas of saving money and getting younger, as evidenced by trades of Oswalt (to the Phillies) and first baseman Lance Berkman (to the Yankees).

The Twins are among the teams involved in the Myers talks, one source said.

Minnesota has a need for starting pitching and may want to counter the addition of Edwin Jackson by the rival White Sox. The Astros would probably ask them for one of their young starters — Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn — as part of the package.

Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

 

July 30 News and Notes

Blue Jays may be sellers as deadline nears — 11:58 p.m.

The Blue Jays could be one of the most active clubs in the hours leading to the non-waiver deadline.

Or not.

“It’s a total guess,” said one source with knowledge of the club’s discussions. “There are a million balls in the air.”

Among them:

Jose Bautista. At least one rival executive believes the Jays will not trade Bautista, who hit his major-league leading 31st home run on Friday night.

The Jays’ asking price, the exec said, leads him to believe that the Jays are willing to keep their right fielder. Bautista, earning $2.4 million, would be affordable for the Jays next season in his final year of arbitration, with a salary in the $5 million range.

The Giants are among the teams that have spoken with the Jays about Bautista.

Scott Downs. Many in the industry say the Jays have maintained a similarly high price on Downs, the most coveted left-handed reliever on the market.

Downs projects as a Type A free agent. If the Jays kept him and offered him arbitration, they could either re-sign him at a salary comparable to his current $4 million or recoup two high draft picks if he departed.

Kevin Gregg. The Jays will want value, though not extreme value. The Jays can retain the right-handed Gregg, who is 23-for-27 in save opportunities, on a $4.5 million club option next season.

Shaun Marcum. The best starting pitcher not surfacing in trade rumors.

Marcum, earning a mere $850,000, has a 2.04 ERA in three starts since returning from the disabled list. He is 10-4 overall with a 3.24 ERA, after a sterling effort against the Indians on Friday night.

Executives in the industry are divided on whether the Jays are actually willing to trade Marcum. One reason for Toronto to keep him: He’s not scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2012 season.

For what it’s worth: The scouting audience at Marcum’s start on Friday wasn’t especially big.

*John Buck. Anybody want an All-Star catcher with less than $700,000 remaining on his contract? Buck will not come cheaply, considering his 14 homers and .814 OPS.

*Jose Molina. Buck’s backup is a top defensive asset. He would come with a .751 OPS and ample post-season experience with the Angels and Yankees.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

Source: Giants talking to Jays, could make late deals — 8:44 p.m.

The Giants could be among the most active clubs in the final hours before Saturday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

The Blue Jays are one team with which the Giants have had extensive conversations, according to one source.

San Francisco is interested in two of Toronto’s most attractive trade pieces: left-handed reliever Scott Downs and right fielder/third baseman Jose Bautista. Like other teams, the Giants have found the prices on both players to be very high — and perhaps prohibitive.

However, it’s also possible that the talks could lead to a deal for players with lower acquisition costs, such as right-handed reliever Jason Frasor.

Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay would have had great appeal to the Giants one month ago. But Travis Ishikawa, a similar player to Overbay, has emerged for San Francisco. — Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

 

Sources: Cards, Indians talking about Westbrook — 8:40 p.m.

Early Friday, the Cardinals were not confident that they would add a starting pitcher by the non-waiver deadline at 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

They still are not confident, major-league sources say, but they are at least talking about acquiring Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook, according to major-league sources.

Activity on Westbrook picked up Friday as the deadline grew nearer. But when asked whether the Indians and Cardinals were making progress, a source with knowledge of the discussions said, “Not yet.”

The Indians will move Westbrook, but only if they get the value they are seeking, another source said. They are not under financial pressure to move his contract.

Westbrook, because of lucrative trade bonuses in his contract, is owed nearly $6 million for the rest of the season. The Indians are willing to pay a portion of that sum to receive better prospects.

Matching up with the Cardinals, though, might not be easy for the Indians. The Cardinals thinned out their system in deals for Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Khalil Greene over the past 18 months. — Ken Rosenthal

 

Reds could emerge as suitor for Cubs’ Lilly — 4:11 p.m.

Unexpected suitors for players frequently emerge in the final 24 hours before the non-waiver trade deadline.

The Reds could be such a team on Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly, but only if they step up their pursuit quickly.

A source with knowledge of the talks described Lilly-to-Cincinnati as a “remote” possibility. The Reds have shown interest in Lilly, but not in the last few days, another source said.

Lilly, 34, can be traded to the Reds without his approval; Cincinnati is not one of the 10 teams on his no-trade list.

He is 1-1 with a 4.91 career ERA in three career starts at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark, but has held the Reds to a .

179/.267/.282 slash line in those games.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

Dodgers maintain interest in Cubs’ Lilly — 3:15 p.m.

The Dodgers have discussed acquiring both Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly and second baseman Ryan Theriot, but are more inclined to just add Lilly, major-league sources say.

It is not known whether a deal for Lilly is close. The Dodgers also are exploring trades for Pirates lefty Paul Maholm and a number of relievers, sources say.

Lilly, who has more than $4 million left in the final year on his contract, would require a greater immediate financial commitment than Maholm, who has about $1.5 million left this season and is signed for $5.75 million next season with a $9.75 million club option for 2010.

The Dodgers already have made one trade, acquiring outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Royals. The additions of a starting pitcher and/or a reliever would further deepen and strengthen their staff.

Lilly or Maholm could join a rotation that already includes left-hander Clayton Kershaw and right-handers Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla.— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

Twins still have interest in Lilly — 2:20 p.m.

Ted Lilly remains a trade option for the Twins, but as of mid-day Friday ET, virtually every team pursuing Lilly was continuing to report that the Cubs were asking a high price for the veteran left- hander.

The Twins maintain interest in Lilly and Blue Jays lefty reliever Scott Downs even after obtaining closer Matt Capps from the Nationals on Thursday night.

But for the Twins to complete a deal for either pitcher, the price would need to drop to their liking. The team isn’t optimistic that will occur, major-league sources say.

Lilly’s contract allows him to reject deals to 10 teams, including the Twins. He likely would require some form of compensation to approve a trade, but is open to playing in Minnesota, according to one of his friends.

“He would welcome an opportunity to pitch in Minnesota and contend for a world championship,” Lilly’s friend said. “He has not been approached.” — Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

ChiSox acquire P Jackson from D-backs — 10:11 a.m.

The White Sox have made their move in the trade market, landing starting pitcher Edwin Jackson from the Diamondbacks.

Chicago traded pitchers Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg to Arizona in exchange for Jackson, who threw a no-hitter against Tampa Bay earlier this season.

Jackson, 29, has played for the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers and Diamondbacks in his eight major-league seasons. He is 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA this season. His best performance was June 25 against the Rays, when he threw a 149-pitch no-hitter in a 1-0 Arizona win.

Jackson was an All-Star in 2009 with the Tigers. He is 44-49 with a 4.74 ERA for his entire career.

Hudson entered the season as the third best prospect in the White Sox organization, according to Baseball America. He was 1-1 with a 6.32 ERA in three starts with the White Sox in 2010. Holmberg started the season ranked No. 8.

Cards not feeling pressured to grab pitching help — 10:51 a.m.

Don’t be surprised if the Cardinals refrain from adding a starting pitcher before the non-waiver deadline Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

The remaining choices are not terribly appealing. Several of them would clear waivers in August, when the acquisition costs should be lower. And right-hander Kyle Lohse is close to returning from forearm surgery.

A look at the Cardinals’ trade options — and the options for other teams that also are pursuing starters:

• Ted Lilly, LHP. Difficult to imagine the Cubs trading Lilly to their biggest rival. The Dodgers want Lilly and Cubs second baseman Ryan Theriot, and the Mets and other teams remain in the mix.

• Edwin Jackson, RHP. The Diamondbacks are in serious discussions on a trade that would send Jackson to the White Sox.

• Aaron Cook, RHP. The Rockies would move him for a bullpen piece and a prospect, sources say, and Cook is the type of pitcher who could revive under pitching coach Dave Duncan. But he is owed more than $12 million through next season – too much for a pitcher who is his 4-7 with a 5.08 ERA – 1-6 with a 6.17 ERA on the road.

• Jake Westbook, RHP. The Indians would help pay down the rest of his money – nearly $6 million for the rest of the season, including about $2.3 million in bonuses if he is traded. But Westbrook, 6-7 with a 4.65 ERA, almost certainly will clear waivers. The Cardinals always could jump if they had a more pressing need in August.

• Jeremy Guthrie, RHP. Rival executives say the Orioles might not make another trade, fearful of robbing Buck Showalter of his remaining talent and possibly losing 115 games. Regardless, the Orioles likely would ask high on Guthrie, who is under club control for two more seasons after this one. — Ken Rosenthal

July 29 News and Notes

Giants looking for left-handed relievers — 9:55 p.m.

With Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler on the disabled list, the Giants are checking into the trade market for left-handed relievers, one source said.

They have asked the Blue Jays about Scott Downs but were not enthused about the asking price.

San Francisco doesn’t currently have a left-handed reliever on its active roster. — Jon Paul Morosi

Twins focus on adding to bullpen — 9:12 p.m.

As of Thursday evening, sources say the Twins had become more focused on adding a reliever than a starter.

Here are a few updates on their trade pursuits:

• The Twins are engaged in trade talks with the Toronto Blue Jays regarding relief pitchers, sources say. So far, though, they have balked at the asking price for Scott Downs & Co. set by Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

• Discussions with the Nationals on Matt Capps have gained momentum, one source said.

• Multiple sources say it’s unlikely that the Twins will deal for Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly, whose contract includes a no-trade clause that covers Minnesota.

• The Twins have been told they would need to overpay in order to acquire Brett Myers from Houston. So, they aren’t optimistic about their chances of doing that, either.

Jon Paul Morosi

Source: Tigers in market, but not for big names — 6:35 p.m.

Despite losing six of their past seven games, the Tigers haven’t stopped trying to upgrade their major-league roster.

But they aren’t trying to swing a blockbuster, either.

The Tigers acquired third baseman Jhonny Peralta from the division rival Indians on Wednesday. And if they make another trade before Saturday’s non-waiver trade deadline, “it’s not going to be a major one,” one source said.

As such, sources say Detroit isn’t pursuing Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly or Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn.

Any deals will likely be aimed at keeping the team competitive until Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge return from injuries. One reason for the Peralta trade, according to a source, is that the Tigers didn’t want to overexpose their young players.

The Tigers did have a scout watching the Jays and Orioles in Toronto on Wednesday night. The Jays have a number of available relievers, and Detroit has been trying to upgrade its bullpen for weeks.

Jon Paul Morosi

Rangers in market for infielder? — 6:32 p.m.

The Rangers have acquired Jorge Cantu from Florida. And even though they are in bankruptcy, they might not be done dealing yet.

Ian Kinsler is on the disabled list with a strained left groin, so the Rangers are open to adding a second baseman.

The Rangers aren’t desperate to make yet another trade, because they have utility infielders Joaquin Arias and Andres Blanco on the active roster. But they have considered Ryan Theriot (Cubs), Cristian Guzman (Nationals), Kelly Johnson (Diamondbacks), Joe Inglett (Brewers) and Craig Counsell (Brewers).

Given the bankruptcy, a deal would be more feasible if the other club picked up the salary.

One source indicated that the Rangers and Cubs don’t match up particularly well in trade talks.

Jon Paul Morosi

Is Berkman the next Astro to go? — 5:50 p.m.

Roy Oswalt is gone, and in a separate deal the Astros just acquired a potential long-term replacement for first baseman Lance Berkman.

So, is Berkman the next to go?

Such a move would be difficult to pull off with less than 48 hours remaining before the non-waiver deadline Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Berkman, like Oswalt, holds a full no-trade clause. He is “in play,” and the Astros are talking about him with other clubs, according to a major-league source.

The Astros on Thursday acquired Triple A first baseman Brett Wallace from the Blue Jays for outfielder Anthony Gose, one of the players they received for Oswalt.

Berkman, batting a career-low .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs, is not performing nearly as well as Oswalt was before the Astros sent him to the Phillies.

Any club that acquired Berkman would take on nearly $5 million in salary and inherit his $15 million club option or $2 million buyout for next season.

The Astros included $11 million in the Oswalt deal, and presumably would be willing to include money in a Berkman trade as well.

Ken Rosenthal

Interest in Lilly about to pick up? — 10:24 a.m.

If the Astros trade right-hander Roy Oswalt, they will be even more unlikely to move righty Brett Myers.

And if the Astros won’t trade move Myers, then Cubs lefty Ted Lilly will be the best starting pitcher left on the market — assuming, of course, that there isn’t a late rush on a mystery starter.

Last July, that starter was the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez. This year, it could be the Royals’ Zach Greinke. But for now, Lilly would be the best known starter available.

The Phillies’ acquisition of Oswalt would end their interest in Lilly.  But the Twins and Dodgers remain active on Lilly, the Mets and Tigers  are on the periphery and other teams could enter the mix.

The Twins are on Lilly’s no-trade list; he would need to be compensated in some form to approve a deal, sources say. Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee invoked his no-trade rights to reject a trade to  the Twins, but Lilly is more open to a trade, sources say.

— Ken Rosenthal

Rays’ top targets off the board — 12:55 a.m.

The Rays remain open to making a major trade, but their chances of completing such a deal have diminished markedly.

The team’s two biggest targets, Royals right fielder David DeJesus and Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth, are off the board.

DeJesus suffered a season-ending injury last week when he tore a ligament in his right thumb.

Werth became unavailable when Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino went on the disabled list Wednesday with an abdominal strain in his left side; the Phillies moved Werth to center on Wednesday night and promoted top prospect Domonic Brown to play right.

The Rays targeted Werth and DeJesus in part because of their defensive skill; the team is tied with the Rangers for the major-league lead in defensive efficiency, a statistic that measures the percentage of batted balls that are converted into outs.

Trade targets such as Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn and Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder are much less attractive to the Rays. Neither is a strong defender, and Dunn has been adamant about his reluctance to become a designated hitter.

— Ken Rosenthal

 

July 28 News and Notes

Rockies no longer seeking Cantu — 10:35 p.m.

The Rockies have abandoned their pursuit of Marlins first baseman/third baseman Jorge Cantu, according to a major-league source.

The team is likely to become a seller instead.

Right-hander Aaron Cook, outfielder/first baseman Brad Hawpe and left-handed reliever Joe Beimel are among the Rockies who could be moved by the non-waiver deadline Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, the source said.

The Phillies have shown interest in Beimel while also exploring trades for Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt and Cubs lefty Ted Lilly. The Rockies would replace Cook with righty Jhoulys Chacin. They are unlikely to move left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a potential free agent, believing they could re-sign him or gain a draft pick if he left for another club.

Infielder Melvin Mora and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs also are unlikely to be traded; other clubs are interested in them, but unwilling to give much in return, the source said.

— Ken Rosenthal

 

Twins closely monitoring Blue Jays’ bullpen — 8:08 p.m.

The Minnesota Twins have assigned a scout to follow the Toronto Blue Jays and their troupe of relief pitchers, a major league source said.

The Twins are checking into bullpen upgrades, but it’s not as if theirs is in bad shape. Minnesota entered Wednesday with the best relief ERA in the American League: 3.16.

Toronto could move one or more relievers from a group that includes left-hander Scott Downs and right-handers Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp and Casey Janssen.

The Twins would probably value closing experience in an acquisition; their current closer, Jon Rauch, has allowed a .375 batting average this month.

Minnesota currently has two left-handed relievers, Jose Mijares and Ron Mahay, so it’s not imperative that they add a southpaw such as Downs.

— Jon Paul Morosi

Cardinals interested in O’s Tejada — 6:26 p.m.

The Cardinals are showing interest in Orioles veteran infielder Miguel Tejada, but it’s unclear if a match is possible. The longtime shortstop has been Baltimore’s starting third baseman this season.

All-Star infielder Ty Wigginton is the other Oriole drawing the heaviest interest, sources say. The Yankees are interested in Wigginton, who has 16 homers this season. However, the Yankees are skeptical that Baltimore would trade him to a division rival.

Wigginton’s versatility — he has played first, second and third this season — makes him a good fit for many teams. He could be a fallback option for Texas if the Rangers can’t get Marlins third baseman Jorge Cantu.

— Ken Rosenthal

Jays show interest in D’backs’ Kelly Johnson — 5:24 p.m.

The Jays, one of the busiest teams in the majors right now, have spoken with the Diamondbacks about Kelly Johnson, multiple major league sources said.

However, the talks have not progressed far, one source said.

Johnson is enjoying the best statistical season of his career, posting a .276/.366/.499 line in 94 games. He is earning $2.35 million this year.

Johnson is an appealing player for the Jays on a number of levels: He isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2011 season; he would be a high on-base-percentage player for a team that doesn’t walk very much; and he could fit into the lineup in left field or at second base.

Aaron Hill, an All-Star second baseman for Toronto last year, told Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail that he would be willing to switch positions if it meant the team could upgrade its offense.

Toronto pursued Johnson as a free agent during the offseason as well.

The Jays have done well lately in acquiring multiposition players who weren’t well-known: Jose Bautista joined the team in a quiet August 2008 trade and now leads the majors with 30 home runs.

— Jon Paul Morosi

Updates from the NL West — 3:42 p.m.

The deadline frenzy is beginning in the NL West.

The latest, according to major-league sources:

• The Dodgers are considering trades for the Royals’ Scott Podsednik and one other outfielder as they await the returns of the injured Manny Ramirez and Reed Johnson, according to major-league sources.

• The Giants also are talking to the Royals about Podsednik and weighing a variety of other options, including the Marlins’ Jorge Cantu, Royals’ Jose Guillen and several left-handed and right-handed relievers.

• The Dodgers, too, are active in the bullpen market, focusing specifically on the Blue Jays’ trio of left-hander Scott Downs and right-handers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor – though Downs is “a longshot,” one source says.

• The Padres, too, are looking for help, focusing on two or three modest additions, most likely on the offensive side. The Rockies remain in the mix for Cantu, but also could end up sellers; the Phillies have shown interest in left-handed reliever Joe Beimel.

— Ken Rosenthal

Sources: Marlins’ Uggla swaps agents — 2:59 p.m.

If the Marlins indeed plan to sign Dan Uggla to a contract extension, they will be negotiating with a new agent for the second baseman.

Uggla has left Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council to join Terry Bross of Gaylord Sports Management, major-league sources say.

Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest told reporters earlier this week that he anticipated exploring multi-year deals with more than one of his current players.

Uggla, earning $7.8 million this season, has one more year of salary arbitration remaining before he is eligible for free agency.

— Ken Rosenthal

Twins have asked about Lilly as pitcher search rolls on — Updated 2:57 p.m.

The Twins have asked about Chicago Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly. Minnesota, however, is on Lilly’s no-trade list, so it would be easier to deal him to other clubs.

The Twins are actively looking for rotation and bullpen help, sources say. At this point, there is no favorite in their search for a starter, according to one person with knowledge of their plans.

Lilly is owed about $4 million the rest of the season. It would require additional compensation for him to waive his no-trade to the Twins. He is 3-8 with a 3.69 ERA in 18 games this season.

Houston’s Brett Myers is another possibility, but it’s not known if Minnesota is actively speaking with the Astros about him.

The Twins would have an easier time standing pat if Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn were performing better. But the two have combined for a 5.68 ERA this season.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

At least three teams in race for Cantu — 9:45 a.m.

The Giants are making a strong run for Marlins third baseman Jorge Cantu and appear to hold an edge over the two other teams bidding for him, according to a major-league.

The Rangers and Rockies also are pursuing Cantu, and talks remain fluid. However, the Rangers would need the Marlins to pay most or all of the approximately $2 million remaining on Cantu’s contract. The Rockies, 2-10 since the All-Star break, might be less enthusiastic about their chances of reaching the post-season.

The Marlins are believed to be seeking a young left-handed pitching prospect for Cantu, who is a free agent at the end of the season. The Giants would not trade either of their major-league left-handed starters, Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner, for a rental.

— Ken Rosenthal

Tigers cautious as they look for help  — 8:36 a.m.

For all their injury troubles, the Tigers are still only four games out in the American League Central.

“We’re not conceding,” general manager David Dombrowski said Tuesday.

The Tigers continue to explore trades, Dombrowski said, but will not deplete their farm system at a time when they are dealing with so many needs.

Right fielder Magglio Ordonez is out 6-8 weeks with a broken ankle. Third baseman Brandon Inge will be out at least three more weeks with a broken wrist. Second baseman Carlos Guillen will miss at least two weeks with a calf strain.

On the pitching side, right-handed reliever Joel Zumaya is out for the season with a fractured elbow, and the Tigers were looking for a starting pitcher even before their other injuries hit.

One option for the Tigers is to hold off making any moves until the August waiver period, when the status of some of their injured players will be clearer. But Dombrowski said he is seeking immediate upgrades to help the team to stay in contention.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 27 News and Notes

Nats looking to make moves to acquire D-backs’ Jackson? — 10:31 p.m.

The Nationals are not the only team expressing interest in Diamondbacks right-hander Edwin Jackson, according to major-league sources. In fact, the Nats are not even expressing direct interest, the sources said.

Instead, the Nationals are first trying to obtain the necessary starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks through a trade for first baseman Adam Dunn. The D-backs, just as they did when the moved right-hander Dan Haren, want a potential 200-inning replacement.

Left-hander Joe Saunders filled that need in the Haren trade, and the D-backs preferred him to additional prospects. A potential Jackson trade would follow the same blueprint. The D-backs, even as they rebuild, do not intend to simply turn their rotation over to youngsters.

The A’s and Padres went almost all young this season, knowing that their pitcher-friendly home parks would help protect their inexperienced starters. The Diamondbacks have no such luxury. Their home stadium, Chase Field, is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors.

Two or three other clubs also are pursuing Jackson, one source said.

The White Sox, pressing hard for Dunn, likely would need to include right-hander Dan Hudson in any deal with the Nationals. The Nats then could send Hudson or one of their own pitchers to the D-Backs for Jackson.

— Ken Rosenthal

Giants looking for upgrade in outfield — 1:40 p.m.

The Giants are 16-5 since July 3 — the best record in the National League during that span, according to research through Baseball-Reference.com.

Their lineup has improved since Buster Posey became the fulltime catcher and Travis Ishikawa took over at first base. But general manager Brian Sabean hasn’t stopped looking for offensive upgrades in the outfield.

San Francisco is still pursuing Washington’s Josh Willingham, along with Kansas City’s Scott Podsednik and Jose Guillen, major-league sources say.

The Giants face competition from the Braves, among others, in the pursuit of Willingham. The Nationals may elect to keep Willingham, particularly if they trade Adam Dunn.

— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

Yankees, Red Sox favorites to land Downs — 2:03 p.m.

The Yankees and Red Sox are among the favorites to land Blue Jays left-hander Scott Downs, according to a major-league source.

But maybe those teams should think twice before making such a deal, even though Downs is considered the top lefty reliever on the market.

Over the past three seasons, Downs’ numbers against the three AL East powers — the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays — are much worse than his numbers against all other clubs.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are batting .289/.379/.454 against Downs since the start of the 2008 season. All of his other opponents are batting .205/.266/.276.

Downs’ ERA against the three AL East powers during that time is 4.35. His ERA against all other clubs is 1.66.

— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

 

Rockies are looking to make some moves — 12:33 a.m.

A week ago, the Rockies looked like certain buyers, ready to possibly add a right-handed bat, a bullpen piece and possibly a starter.

No more.

While the Rockies have not decided to sell, they are preparing for the possibility, according to a source with knowledge of the club’s thinking.

For now, the Rockies remain very interested in trading for Marlins infielder Jorge Cantu. But they could move players such as outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, infielder Melvin Mora and first baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe no matter which course they pursue.

The Rockies, losers of six straight games, are in fourth place in the NL West, eight games back, and in fifth place in the wild-card standings, five games back.

After getting swept four straight in Philadelphia, they have four games left, all at home, before Saturday’s non-waiver deadline – three against the Pirates, one against the Cubs.

If the Rockies continue to sputter, it’s possible they could also trade right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt, left-handed reliever Joe Beimel and possibly a starting pitcher – either right-hander Aaron Cook, who is under contract for $9.25 million next season, or left- hander Jorge De La Rosa, who is a potential free agent.

Hawpe has lost playing time, and the White Sox are looking into him as a possible alternative if they fail to land the Brewers’ Prince Fielder or Nationals’ Adam Dunn, a source said.

— Ken Rosenthal

Rangers interested in Oswalt — 12:54 a.m.

Imagine a Rangers rotation with both Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt.

The Rangers did, revisiting their Oswalt discussions with the Astros even after acquiring Lee, according to major-league sources.

The talks went nowhere, with one source saying, “there is not a match at all.”

The Rangers, in obtaining Lee, traded players of interest to the Astros.

And heaven knows how the Rangers could have afforded Oswalt on top of Lee while in bankruptcy.

Perhaps the Rangers could have asked the Astros to accept right-hander Rich Harden and the remainder of his $7.5 million salary. But Oswalt is earning twice that much this season, and the Rangers almost certainly would have needed additional cash in the deal. They received

$2.25 million from the Mariners in their trade for Lee, who had about $4.2 remaining on his contract.

Hey, the Rangers can dream.

Their revived the Oswalt pursuit, while a complete longshot, offered yet another sign of the team’s desire to seize the moment.

The Rangers are looking for significant ways to improve, not simply trying to shuffle the deck.

— Ken Rosenthal

July 26 News and Notes

Marlins ‘confused’ as trade deadline approaches — 1:16 p.m.

A rival executive posed a simple question Monday: Why would the Marlins resist trading outfielder Cody Ross when they are likely to non-tender him this offseason?

The question is reasonable, considering that Ross is making $4.45 million and stands to earn even more in 2011, his final year of salary arbitration.

The Marlins, however, are not certain sellers — they are 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card race after winning two of three from the Braves this weekend.

In fact, one source with direct knowledge of the club’s thinking describes team officials as “confused” as to their next step.

The Marlins are coming off a 7-3 homestand that included four walk-off victories. But another test awaits for the Fish — a seven-game trip to San Francisco and San Diego.

If the Marlins are swept four straight by the NL wild-card leading Giants, they would fall 10 1/2 games behind in the wild-card race and become near-certain sellers.

For now, the Marlins are talking about trading third baseman Jorge Cantu to the Rangers, but such a move would not necessarily compromise them short-term — the team would move Chris Coghlan to third base and promote hot-hitting prospect Logan Morrison to play left field.

Ross, despite hitting .171/.256/.229 in July, is coveted by the Braves as well as other clubs. The Marlins lack an obvious replacement for him with Cameron Maybin at Single A recovering from a shoulder injury.

Even if the Marlins retain Ross for the rest of the season, they would not be certain to non-tender him in December. Most of the industry identified second baseman Dan Uggla as a possible non-tender candidate last offseason, and the Marlins re-signed him — albeit under union pressure to add payroll — for $7.8 million.

Ken Rosenthal

Blue Jays may not find suitors for Overbay — 12:45 p.m.

Lyle Overbay is a free-agent-to-be. He plays for a non-contending team. He’s available.

But there’s no obvious place for him to go, raising the possibility that Toronto will wait until August to trade him — if he is dealt at all.

Overbay, 33, is an everyday first baseman. But he doesn’t hit for power, in the way that most first-division players at his position do.

He’s a very good defender — too good, perhaps, to be viewed as a designated hitter. That creates complications in a market where many contenders are set at first base. For example, the Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers would like to upgrade their lineups but are committed to their own first basemen.

The best course of action for the Blue Jays might be to wait until August. Overbay will probably clear waivers, since he’s earning $7 million this year. And if an established first baseman goes down, Overbay will be in demand.

Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos “won’t trade Overbay just for the sake of trading him,” one source said, implying that Anthopoulos will insist on receiving prospects of value in return. But Anthopoulos will have a hard time getting the players he wants unless a rival club likes Overbay as an everyday player.

Overbay doesn’t have great numbers for the season. But he has hit well lately, with an OPS of .894 and four home runs this month.

One team that had been looking for help at first base — San Francisco — may have found its solution in-house. Travis Ishikawa has received regular playing time this month and is batting .353 in July. Much like Overbay, Ishikawa is a good defender who doesn’t hit many home runs.

So for now, consider Overbay a secondary option for teams looking for left-handed hitting, first base help or some combination thereof: the Rangers, White Sox and Angels, among others.

Jon Paul Morosi

Can Dodgers afford to keep Martin? — 11:00 a.m.

The Dodgers face a major decision on catcher Russell Martin. Maybe not right away. But soon.

Martin’s OPS dropped from .843 to .781 to .680 from 2007 to ’09, and is at .680 again this season. But his salary, currently $5.05 million, will continue to rise in his final two years of arbitration.

Would the Dodgers pay $6 million or more for such limited production next season under the strict budgetary limitations of owner Frank McCourt?

The question probably answers itself.

The Dodgers are not actively shopping Martin, major-league sources say, but would at least consider moving him in the right deal.

An immediate trade seems unlikely — the Dodgers would be left with a catching tandem of A.J. Ellis, who is 29 and has only 62 career at-bats, and Brad Ausmus, who is 41 and coming off back surgery.

If Martin fails to revive, a more realistic scenario would involve the Dodgers entertaining deals for him before the deadline to offer him his next arbitration-inflated contract in December.

— Ken Rosenthal

 

Rays likely to keep Upton — 9:30 a.m.

While trade interest in Rays center fielder B.J. Upton is significant, he remains unlikely to be moved, major-league sources say.

The Rays are trying to enhance their chances for this season. Upton is batting only .228/.315/.392, but the Rays believe that top outfield prospect Desmond Jennings is not ready and that the defensive dropoff from Upton to a Ben Zobrist/Sean Rodriguez combination in center field would be too steep.

Upton, who turns 26 next month, actually ranks near the bottom of the center-field rankings in two advanced defensive metrics — Ultimate Zone Rating on fangraphs.com and the plus-minus ratings on BillJames.com. But the Rays, who use their own metrics, likely see him in a better light. Upton also adds value with his base-running even when he is not hitting.

The Rays are drawing heavy interest not just on Upton, but also Rodriguez, infielder Reid Brignac and right-hander Wade Davis. Their preference is to use their prospect depth to land a hitter such as the Phillies’ Jayson Werth, not detract from their current roster.

— Ken Rosenthal

 

July 25 News and Notes

Angels might not be done dealing — 9:10 p.m.

First, the Angels traded for infielder Alberto Callaspo.

Then they stunned many in the industry by dealing for Dan Haren on Sunday.

And they might not be done yet.

Sources said Sunday night — after the Haren trade — that the Angels haven’t halted their pursuit of a power bat.

Among the hitters they are monitoring: Garrett Jones of the Pirates and Derrek Lee of the Cubs.

Sources could not confirm if the Angels are involved in active talks for either Jones or Lee.

While Callaspo has taken over at third base since arriving from Kansas City, the Angels don’t have a true everyday first baseman. Mike Napoli, a catcher by trade, has made most of the starts there since Kendry Morales’ season-ending injury.

Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

 

Blue Jays believe LHP Downs will merit multi-year offers — 6:38 p.m.

Scott Downs is not Juan Cruz.

Thus, the Blue Jays believe they are justified in asking a high price for Downs in trade discussions.

Cruz, a right-handed setup man, lingered on the free-agent market due to his Type A status in 2008-09, signing a two-year, $6 million deal with the Royals only after camps opened.

Downs also is a setup man and also projects as a Type A this offseason.

The difference is, he’s left-handed — as well as more reliable than Cruz was then.

Quality left-handed relievers generally are in demand on the open market, even if they’re Type As.

Billy Wagner signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Braves last offseason. Mike Gonzalez signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Orioles.

Granted, both Wagner and Gonzalez are closers. But the Jays believe it’s reasonable to assume that Downs, because of his track record, will merit multi-year offers.

Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, proved last offseason that he was not afraid to offer arbitration to his free agents. Downs will be 35 next season, but his salary in arbitration does not figure to rise much above his current $4 million. The Jays would not be afraid to keep him at that price.

Meanwhile, a team that trades for Downs can re-sign him to a multi-year contract, attempt to retain him on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal in arbitration or receive two high draft picks if he signs with another club.

The Jays view those as attractive options — attractive enough for them to aim high in any trade.

— Ken Rosenthal

Surveying the buzz surrounding Haren — Noon

Trade talks are fluid. Circumstances shift by the hour. But by process of elimination, the Yankees still loom as the most logical team to end up with right-hander Dan Haren — if the Diamondbacks lower their price.

Here is what is known as of noon ET on Sunday:

• The Tigers, a suitor for Haren, lost two regulars on Saturday night — right fielder Magglio Ordonez for 6 to 8 weeks with a broken ankle, and second baseman Carlos Guillen with a right calf strain.

Even before these latest injuries, it was far from certain that the additions of one or two players would make the team a World Series contender. The Tigers already were without third baseman Brandon Inge, who is out 4 to 6 weeks with a broken left hand, and reliever Joel Zumaya, who is out for the season with a fractured right elbow.

Under such circumstances, it’s difficult to imagine the Tigers making a splash at the deadline; they’re all but in survival mode.

True, the Tigers would get Haren for two more years after this one. But the Diamondbacks, according to major-league sources, want the Tigers’ top pitching prospect, right-hander Jacob Turner, who some clubs project as a future No. 1 starter.

One final obstacle: The Tigers are on Haren’s no-trade list.

• The Phillies remain one of three principal suitors for Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt — and perhaps the leading one. They are less focused on Haren, sources say.

The Astros are not enamored of the Cardinals’ young talent and are struggling to find a match with the Dodgers. They have asked the Dodgers for a major-league position player in a package for Oswalt, presumably outfielder Matt Kemp or first baseman James Loney. Such a request is a non-starter — and that is before the teams would even address the question of how much salary the Dodgers could absorb.

• Oswalt, who has a full no-trade clause and effectively can choose his next club, reportedly lists the Cardinals as his No. 1 choice.

The Cardinals, however, remain skeptical that the Astros would trade Oswalt within the division even if they came up with a match.

They also are out on Haren, according to an official with a rival club.

• The Twins remain a wild card; they could attempt to press their advantage now that the Tigers are in such a vulnerable position.

However, the Twins have yet to engage the Astros on Oswalt, and they are on the no-trade lists of both Haren and Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly, sources say.

• The Yankees and Diamondbacks did not formally speak on Saturday, but a number of back-channel conversations took place, according to a source.

The Yankees maintain understandable reservations about Haren, who was used hard in the first half of the season and would be moving from the NL West to the AL East — and also to Yankee Stadium, a danger zone for flyball pitchers.

However, the Yankees remain willing to trade Triple A right-handers Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister and a third prospect for Haren while taking all of the remaining $33 million on the pitcher’s contract, sources say.

The Diamondbacks wanted right-hander Joba Chamberlain along with Nova and McAllister in the initial conversations between the clubs.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 24 News and Notes

Tigers unwilling to give up a prospect to get Haren — 8:08 p.m.

At this point, it would be an upset if the Tigers acquired Dan Haren.

Detroit is trying to upgrade its rotation but hasn’t pursued Haren as seriously as the Yankees or Phillies, sources say.

So far, at least, the Tigers have been unwilling to include one of their top three pitching prospects in an offer: Rick Porcello, Andy Oliver or Jacob Turner.

As long as that remains the case, Detroit probably isn’t going to get Haren.

Since many of the Tigers’ best young players are in the majors — Porcello, Ryan Perry, Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson, Danny Worth, Scott Sizemore, Alex Avila — it will be difficult for them to put together a package that would compete with those offered by the Yankees or Phillies without including Turner or Oliver.

One source indicated that the Diamondbacks have only mild interest in the next tier of Detroit prospects: Triple-A left fielder/first baseman Ryan Strieby, Triple-A outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, Triple-A left-hander Charles Furbush, high Class A center fielder Daniel Fields and low Class A left-hander Giovany Soto.

— Jon Paul Morosi

 

Did Phillies shuffle Double-A rotation with trade in mind? — 7:40 p.m.

It’s the sort of thing that raises antennae at this time of year.

Phillies pitching prospect J.C. Ramirez was scratched from Sunday’s start with the Reading Phillies. The team said he will pitch Monday instead.

No official explanation was given.

Maybe the reason is very simple: Ramirez ran up a high pitch count while throwing eight innings in a July 15 start. He took his regular turn the next time and struggled. Perhaps the Phillies simply want him to get additional rest before taking the mound again.

Or maybe the move was trade-related.

The Phillies are known to be speaking with the Diamondbacks about right-handed starter Dan Haren — and the Astros regarding Roy Oswalt. They are also open to trading everyday right fielder Jayson Werth.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

 

Marlins suddenly have hope again — 10:18  a.m.

Florida took three out of four from Colorado and then rallied to beat Atlanta on Friday night. Suddenly the Marlins are buyers instead of sellers on the trade market. A quick rally that pulled the Marlins to within 5 1/2 games of the NL wildcard is all ownership needed to rekindle post-season hopes.

Remember, this is a team that four weeks ago fired manager Freddi Gonzalez because ownership felt the team was a legitimate contender in a division that includes Atlanta, the Mets and Phillies. As a result, ownership is going to look for any reason to reinforce that belief as opposed to starting to  unload players and admit not only the team isn’t a contender, but that Gonzalez was fired without a legitimate reason.

The Marlins do have players that contenders would like, including right-handed pitcher Ricky Nolasco, second baseman Dan Uggla, third baseman/first baseman Jorge Cantu and outfielder Cody Ross. They could still deal Cantu or Ross, but the price will be steeper. –Tracy Ringolsby

July 23 News and Notes

Royals put two-pitcher pricetag on Greinke — 5:17 p.m.

The Royals will listen if teams want to trade for right-hander Zack Greinke, just as they would on any player, major-league sources say.

But when clubs inquire about Greinke, the Royals respond by saying they would want two major-league-ready pitchers with top-of-the rotation potential in return.

Their logic is that Greinke gives them a chance to win 35 times a year. To move him, they would want to multiply that number to, say, 70 times a year.

Greinke, 26, is under club control for this season and two more, just as Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez was at last year’s non-waiver deadline.

The Red Sox, Yankees and other clubs attempted to trade for Hernandez, figuring the Mariners might balk at signing him to an extension.

The Mariners kept Hernandez, then extended him with a five-year, $78 million contract in January.

More Royals: Part of their motivation for trading third baseman Alberto Callaspo was to give them a better chance to keep outfielder David DeJesus next season.

As it turned out, they could not have traded DeJesus, who suffered a season-ending thumb injury on Thursday just hours after the completion of the Callaspo trade.

But the Royals, when projecting their 2011 payroll, determined that they could not carry both Callaspo, who figures to earn $2.5 million in arbitration, and DeJesus, who can be retained on a $6 million club option.

Several clubs, including the Red Sox and Giants, had expressed interest in DeJesus. But if he had stayed healthy, the chances of the Royals moving him would have reduced to “50-50” with the trade of Callaspo, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

While righty Sean O’Sullivan beat the Yankees earlier this week, Class A left-hander Will Smith was the bigger prize from the Angels in the Callaspo deal.

O’Sullivan, 22, projects as back-of-the-rotation starter who probably would be a swingman on a championship club. Smith, 21, projects as a No. 4 starter, and some with the Royals believe he could be a No. 3.

The Royals are attracting varying interest on their potential free agents – reliever Kyle Farnsworth, infielder Willie Bloomquist, designated hitter Jose Guillen and outfielders Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel.

Bloomquist should be attractive to teams in need of bench help; he plays every position but catcher and stole 25 bases last season. Teams are “kicking the tires” on Guillen, according to a source; if he moves, it likely will be close to the deadline. — Ken Rosenthal

 

Mets, Tigers could show interest in Lilly — 2:35 p.m.

Ted Lilly’s 10-team no-trade clause includes the Phillies, Twins and Rays, according to major-league sources.

But two teams with interest in Lilly — the Mets and Tigers — are not on the list. So, they could acquire him without his permission.

Interest in the Cubs left-hander increased after his strong outing against the Astros on Wednesday, sources say. Depending on how the team sets its rotation, Lilly may make only one more start before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline — probably in Houston next week.

Lilly is just 1-3 with a 5.44 ERA over his last seven starts. He has roughly $4 million left on his contract for this year and is eligible for free agency after the season.

— Jon Paul Morosi

Nationals may be playing risky game with Dunn — 1:18 p.m.

The Nationals could be playing a dangerous game with first baseman Adam Dunn.

 

Some in the industry believe the team might offer Dunn a new contract just before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, then trade him if he rejects the deal.

Such a strategy, though, could backfire.

A last-minute contract offer, if unacceptable to Dunn, likely would irritate his teammates; third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been outspoken in his desire for the team to retain Dunn.

Trading Dunn also would eliminate one of the Nationals’ few strengths — the combination of Zimmerman, Dunn and Josh Willingham in the middle of their order.

“Anything is possible, but we clearly do like Adam Dunn, make no mistake about that,” Nationals president Stan Kasten said on Thursday.

The White Sox continue to identify Dunn as their top trade target, sources say. The Rays also have inquired. The Angels acquired infielder Alberto Callaspo on Thursday, in part because they were unsure of obtaining Dunn or Prince Fielder.

Dunn, completing a two-year, $20 million deal, is eligible for free agency. Kasten has said that he would be comfortable negotiating with Dunn after the season, if necessary.

Might be smarter than a last-minute bid to justify a trade.

— Ken Rosenthal

Notes on the Cards: Is Oswalt the right fit? — 12:40 p.m.

A few things to remember about the Cardinals as they pursue starting-pitching help:

— Their goal is to add an innings-eater, not necessarily an ace such as Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt or Diamondbacks righty Dan Haren, major-league sources say.

The Cardinals already have three pitchers performing at top-of-the-rotation levels — right-handers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and lefty Jaime Garcia.

The team also is encouraged by the progress of righty Kyle Lohse, who is recovering from surgery on his forearm and could begin a rehab assignment early next week.

If Lohse returns and the Cardinals add the equivalent of a No. 4 or 5 starter, their rotation would be in terrific shape.

— The Cardinals thinned out their farm system by trading seven prospects for Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Khalil Greene over the past two years.

They parted with infielder Brett Wallace for Holliday, reliever Chris Perez for DeRosa and reliever Luke Gregerson for Greene.

The Astros like Class A right-hander Shelby Miller, the Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect, but are less enamored with the team’s other young players, according to a source with close knowledge of the talks.

— Prospects aside, it would be difficult for the Cardinals to absorb another big salary as they prepare to negotiate with first baseman Albert Pujols this off-season. Pujols can become a free agent after the 2011 season.

Oswalt will earn $16 million in ‘11 and might require a team to exercise his $16 million option for ’12 to waive his no-trade clause. Haren will earn $12.75 million in both ’11 and ’12.

Carpenter, Lohse and Wainwright already are an expensive trio — they will earn $33.7 million combined next season. Carpenter and Lohse are under club control through ’12, Lohse through ’13.

The Cardinals could end up with Oswalt, in particular, if the pitcher will waive his no-trade clause for no other club. But the Astros will do what is best for the Astros, not what is best for Oswalt.

The Cardinals’ other need is an offensive upgrade over Brendan Ryan at shortstop, but for now the team has slowed down its search, sources say.

— Ken Rosenthal

July 22 News and Notes

Big Papi talks PEDs with FOX Radio hosts — 7:52 p.m.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz talked about PEDs with Steve Hartman and Sean Farnham on KLAC/FOX Sports Radio.

Steve Hartman: Why did you fight so hard against any kind of rumor that would link you to any performance enhancing drugs?

David Ortiz: I totally gave up on talking about that kind of situation because it was [like] somebody coming in and saying, ‘Hey you stole my car.’ Well why are you saying that I stole your car? Show me some proof that I stole your car. ‘I don’t have any proof that you stole my car but you stole my car.’ It really pissed me off because my image through the game always had been the kind of guy that wants the game to do good, the game to be loved by the fans, the kids, by everyone.

"The instance when this whole situation came out (was) because somebody was trying to find out somebody from the other side. This came out of New York and we’re playing in Boston. And when I came out and asked a question about ‘why are you saying that I used whatever?’ Nobody had an answer for me. The biggest reason why I got so mad it was because there was no explanation for me out there. And I just figured it was somebody trying to hurt people."

Sources: Teams lining up for D-backs’ Haren — 4:28 p.m.

The suitors are lining up for Dan Haren — if the Diamondbacks decide to trade him.

The Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals, Twins and Tigers are all pursuing the right-hander, major-league sources say.

The same sources indicated that no deal was close as of Thursday afternoon.

Some in the industry have questioned whether Arizona will trade its ace, given that the organization doesn’t know who its general manager will be beyond the end of this season.

However, financial considerations could outweigh that factor.

Haren is affordable over the remainder of this year, with roughly $4 million due. But then he will earn $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons, followed by a $15.5 million club option for 2013.

If the Diamondbacks are overwhelmed by a prospect package, they may seize the opportunity to liberate themselves from that contract. That would enable the team to have greater roster flexibility heading into 2011.

— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

Sources: A’s not aggressively shopping Sheets — 12:13 p.m.

The A’s seemingly have every reason to trade right-hander Ben Sheets.

— Left-hander Brett Anderson could rejoin their rotation as soon as Sunday, giving the team six strong starters.

— Sheets is on target to reach all of his incentives and earn an additional $2 million on top of his remaining salary, which presently is around $3.5 million.

— Sheets will not be a ranked free agent, so the A’s will not receive draft picks when he signs with another team.

The A’s, however, are not aggressively shopping Sheets and do not appear motivated to trade him, major-league sources say.

Sheets, 32, is pitching as well as almost every pitcher on the market, with a 3.64 ERA in his past 14 starts. But all of the A’s starters are 26 and under, and two of them — Anderson and lefty Dallas Braden — are coming off injuries.

Trading Sheets would leave the club without a veteran safety net.

For example, the A’s currently have the option of starting Anderson on Sunday or giving him one more rehabilitation start at Class AAA. The presence of Sheets, who is barely second to lefty Gio Gonzalez in innings pitched, affords them that flexibility.

The A’s, winners of seven of their last eight games, also are trying to build momentum for next season. They are over .500 for the first time since June 11, and Sheets has distinguished himself as a mentor and teammate.

The A’s are under no pressure to dump payroll, sources say. They obviously would listen to attractive offers for Sheets. But unlike in previous seasons, they are not in a seller’s mode.

— Ken Rosenthal

Padres checking, but not on verge of trade — 11:30 a.m.

The Padres are checking around for a hitter but weren’t on the verge of making any trades as of Thursday morning, one major-league source said.

Prices on the available players are “too high” now, the source said. San Diego has been linked to Milwaukee’s Corey Hart, among others.

The Padres will be careful about trading prospects for short-term players, according to the source, because their modest payroll requires a steady introduction of inexpensive talent.

— Jon Paul Morosi

Reds aiming to save wear and tear on current bullpen — 9:05 a.m.

The Reds have been aggressive in looking for late-inning bullpen help, sources say.

The reason is simple: The team doesn’t want its key relievers – Francisco Cordero, Nick Masset and Arthur Rhodes – to grow fatigued over the season’s final two months. Another veteran who can handle the eighth inning would lighten the workload on the others.

Masset, Cordero and Rhodes (in that order) rank among the top 15 relievers in the majors in appearances. That is the most of any team.

Masset has been terrific lately, but one never knows when the bill for a taxing May – 16 appearances in 29 games – will show up.

Among the teams that could part with relievers: the Blue Jays (Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen); Mariners (David Aardsma, Brandon League); Pirates (Octavio Dotel, Joel Hanrahan, Javier Lopez); Orioles (Will Ohman); and A’s (Jerry Blevins, Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow).

— Jon Paul Morosi

Tigers have eyes on Cubs’ Lilly — 1:45 a.m.

The Tigers remain active buyers, despite a seven-game losing streak that ended Wednesday night. Here’s an update on their activity, based on conversations with numerous major-league sources this week.

•: The Tigers are trying to upgrade their rotation and have a slight preference for left-handed starters, because their roster doesn’t currently have one. The Tigers have kept in touch with the Cubs about Ted Lilly, who had a terrific start against Houston on Wednesday.

•: Speaking of left-handers, the Tigers haven’t shown interest in Nate Robertson, whose contract was recently designated for assignment by the Marlins.

•: And while we’re on the subject of former Tigers: The team isn’t pursuing a reunion with Pudge Rodriguez. The Tigers will, however, consider upgrades behind the plate; Detroit catchers have accounted for the lowest OPS at the position in the major leagues this year.

•: The Tigers had a scout watching Arizona’s Dan Haren on Wednesday night, but it will be a surprise if something happens there. Some in the industry question whether Haren will be traded unless the Diamondbacks can get a clear "win," because Arizona GM Jerry Dipoto is not assured of remaining in the job beyond this season. And the Tigers probably won’t put together that sort of package, given that many of their best young players are currently contributing in the big leagues.

•: Manager Jim Leyland has been outspoken in his desire to add a reliever, and the search for one presses on. The Tigers have kept tabs on David Aardsma and Brandon League in Seattle. They will also get a firsthand look at Toronto’s late-inning passel — Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen — when the Blue Jays visit Detroit this weekend.

•: Detroit isn’t pursuing Ryan Theriot of the Cubs. His batting average since the start of May is around .250, with minimal power. Danny Worth is comparable at the plate and better in the field.

•: The Tigers liked Seattle’s Jack Wilson in the past, but the circumstances are vastly different now. He is older and more expensive than Worth. Wilson also has a very long injury history and is under contract for next year. There are too many negatives there for the Tigers to trade for someone who is so similar (offensively and defensively) to a player they already have.

•: Despite losing Brandon Inge to a broken bone in his hand, the Tigers aren’t taking a hasty plunge into the market for third basemen. Don Kelly has become a league-average defender at third, possibly a tick above. Scott Sizemore, who recently returned to the majors, will get a chance there, too. If neither can handle the job, the Tigers will have time to check in on Ty Wigginton & Co. before July 31.

Jon Paul Morosi

July 21 News and Notes

ChiSox accelerate talks for Prince Fielder — 1:42 p.m.

As of Tuesday, the White Sox were still focused on acquiring the Nationals’ Adam Dunn, viewing the Brewers’ Prince Fielder as too expensive in both prospects and dollars.

Check that.

The White Sox are trying to accelerate talks for Fielder, according to a major-league source. The problem is that the Brewers want starting pitching, and the White Sox, after losing right-hander Jake Peavy to a season-ending shoulder injury, have little to spare.

Right-hander Daniel Hudson, the White Sox’s top pitching prospect, currently is the team’s No. 5 starter. The Brewers like him, but do not project him as a top-of-the-rotation type, sources say.

Fielder is earning $10.5 million this season. He is under club control for next season, and his salary likely will rise in arbitration to the $13 million to $14 million range. After that, he is a free agent.

The White Sox, seeking a left-handed bat, could use Fielder as both a first baseman and DH. Paul Konerko, their starting first baseman, is a free agent after this season.

— Ken Rosenthal

Source: Mets looking at relievers — 1:59 a.m.

The Mets, disenchanted with most of the starting pitchers on the trade market, are currently focused more on relievers, according to a major-league source.

Pirates closer Octavio Dotel and Blue Jays left-hander Scott Down are among the possibilities that the Mets have discussed, sources say.

While the Mets remain interested in Cubs lefty Ted Lilly, they seem cooler on three available right-handers — the Indians’ Jake Wesbrook, A’s Ben Sheets and Astros’ Brett Myers, sources say.

Westbrook, between his remaining salary and trade bonuses in his contract, would be owed more than $6 million for the rest of the season if he were dealt by July 31. Sheets would require a similar financial investment — he could reach incentives on top of his salary that would push his remaining payout to the $6 million range. Some Mets officials like Myers, who would be less pricey — about $3.5 million including a buyout of his $8 million mutual option for 2011. Lilly, meanwhile, would be owed about $4 million if he were dealt on July 31.

Given the costs of all of these pitchers — in both dollars and prospects — the Mets could turn to two of their alternatives at Triple-A, left-hander Pat Misch and right-hander Dillon Gee.

Misch, 28, made 22 appearances for the Mets last season, including seven starts, and had a 4.12 ERA. He has a 2.72 ERA in his last six starts at Buffalo and overall is 9-3 with a 3.27 ERA. Gee, 24, has a 2.20 ERA in his last four starts and overall is 9-5 with a 4.51 ERA.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 20 News and Notes

Potential trade for Westbrook an expensive prospect — 12:19 p.m.

If the Indians deal right-hander Jake Westbrook, someone will have to pay.

Westbrook will receive a $2 million bonus if traded, and his salary would increase by a pro-rated portion of $1 million, according to a copy of his contract obtained by FOXSports.com.

Thus, if Westbrook is traded on July 31, he would be owed nearly $6 million — approximately $2.3 million in trade bonuses and the remaining portion of his $11 million salary, which would be approximately $3.6 million.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, upon awarding Westbrook a three-year, $33 million extension in April 2007, said the contract included “significant” trade protection, but did not detail specifics.

The bonuses in Westbrook’s contract seemingly would make it more difficult for the Indians to trade him to clubs that have payroll concerns. The Mets and Dodgers — two of the teams looking for starting pitching — fit that description.

The Indians could include cash in a trade to help reduce their trading partner’s obligation to Westbrook. If they agreed to such a provision, they would expect better prospects in return.

Westbrook, 6-5 with a 4.67 ERA, is a free agent at the end of the season. The Indians value his veteran presence and might want to re-sign him.

— Ken Rosenthal

Sources: Oswalt attracting only limited interest — 11:40 a.m.

As the clock ticks toward the non-waiver trade deadline, Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt continues to attract only limited interest, major-league sources say.

The market for Oswalt is “slow,” one source says, with clubs reluctant to trade top prospects while absorbing the rest of the pitcher’s contract. Oswalt is owed about $6 million more this season and $16 million next season.

The Astros are only willing to pay a small percentage of that money, and Oswalt also would ask a team to pick up his $16 million option for 2012 in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause, sources say.

The no-trade clause is complicating the Astros’ efforts to trade Oswalt in other ways as well. The list of teams that Oswalt would approve for a trade is fluid — “a moving target,” in the description of one source.

The Rangers were interested in Oswalt before they acquired left-hander Cliff Lee. Oswalt prefers the National League, and the Phillies and Mets are among the teams that have contacted the Astros. But sources say that Astros general manager Ed Wade is “trying to hit a home run” for Oswalt, indicating that his price is high.

The Astros also are fielding offers for right-hander Brett Myers, who is earning $3.1 million this season with an $8 million mutual option or $2 million buyout for 2011.

However, they might be reluctant to trade both Oswalt and Myers; the two moves, in combination, could leave them without a top-of-the-rotation starter for next season.

Then again, the Astros could trade Myers and try to re-sign him at the end of the season. Myers, who turns 30 on Aug. 17, likes Houston and is believed to be open to returning.

— Ken Rosenthal

July 19 News and Notes

Tulowitzki set to return to Rockies — 8 p.m.

The Rockies finally have their five-man rotation in place.

Next is to get the offense back on track.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who has been out for a month with a broken left wrist, will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Colorado Srpings on Wednesday and Thursday. With the SkySox going on a West Coast trip after Thursday, Tulowitzki will then move to Double-A Tulsa for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The Rockies are looking at activating Tulowitzki on July 28.

First baseman Todd Helton, bothered by a lower back strain, is eligible to be activated on Tuesday, but manager Jim Tracy indicated it is more likely he will be activated on Wednesday if he handles a Tuesday workout without any problem. Tracy said he has been impressed with Helton’s bat speed during weekend workouts in Cincinnati.

— Tracy Ringolsby

July 16 News and Notes

Jays may get the best of the Escobar trade — 12:46 a.m.

To some, the Braves got the better of the Blue Jays on Wednesday, trading two fading players, shortstop Yunel Escobar and left-hander J.J. Reyes, for veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez and two prospects.

But look at this from the Jays’ perspective.

Escobar, 27, is six years younger than Gonzalez. The Jays will control him for three more years. And until this season, most rival evaluators and executives considered him a rising star.

The Braves acquired a surer thing. Gonzalez, with 17 homers, was in the middle of a career year. Escobar, with no homers since last Sept. 2, had the third lowest slugging percentage in the majors through the All-Star break

Perhaps even more significant, Escobar’s maturity issues had become impossible for the Braves to overlook; he clearly had fallen out of favor with his teammates and manager Bobby Cox.

So, why did the Jays bother?

• Escobar’s talent. Good shortstops are difficult to find; Escobar is a strong defender (when focused) and his OPS in his first three seasons was an impressive .801. This season, inexplicably, it’s .618.

• Gonzalez’s trade value. The Jays moved him at his peak; Gonzalez, 33, likely would have brought a lesser return this offseason, even though his $2.5 million club option for 2011 is quite affordable. Let’s not forget, Gonzalez’s career on-base percentage is .294.

• Escobar’s future. The Jays’ possibilities will multiply if Escobar snaps out of it. Another Cuban, Adeiny Hechavarria, 21, still looms as the team’s shortstop of the future. But Escobar could become a trade chip or an asset at another infield position.

Two more points:

• The Jays could have played it safe and kept Gonzalez next season as a bridge to Hechavarria. But low-revenue teams need to take occasional risks on young talent. High-revenue clubs can outspend them for more established players.

• The two prospects traded by the Jays – Class A infielder Tyler Pastornicky and Class AA left-hander Tim Collins, both 20 – project as future major leaguers in the opinion of most rival executives. Pastornicky, though, might be nothing more than a utility man, Collins nothing more than a middle reliever.

Ken Rosenthal

July 15 News and Notes

Dodgers place LHP Sherrill on waivers — 6:39 p.m.

The Dodgers placed left-hander George Sherrill on outright waivers Wednesday, according to major-league sources.

The move apparently is intended to produce one of two outcomes — Sherrill getting claimed on waivers or accepting a minor-league assignment.

The waivers, which expire Friday, are irrevocable. The Dodgers will lose Sherrill if another team claims him and assumes the approximately $2 million remaining on his contract.

Such a move — which would give the Dodgers additional payroll flexibility before the July 31 non-waiver deadline — is unlikely.

Even if Sherrill clears waivers, he could end up remaining with the Dodgers. His five-plus years of service time would give him the right to reject a minor-league assignment.

Sherrill, 33, has allowed 45 baserunners in 19 2/3 innings, recording 16 walks to 11 strikeouts and posting a 7.32 ERA.

The only sign of encouragement in his statistical line is his opponents’ .371 batting average on balls in play, an indication, perhaps, of poor luck. The league BABIP normally is around .300.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 14 News and Notes

Angels would make a great fit for Cubs’ Lee — 11:50 a.m.

Derrek Lee has remained noncommittal on the issue of his no-trade clause. But some friends of the Cubs first baseman said this week that they believe he would accept a deal to the right team.

And if the Cubs formally decide to sell, it’s hard to imagine a better fit than the Angels.

The Angels, 4.5 games back in the American League West, are still looking for an upgrade at first base because of Kendry Morales’ season-ending injury. And they prefer someone who isn’t under contract for next season.

Why? They plan to pursue Carl Crawford as a free agent and would like to have the flexibility of sliding Bobby Abreu into a DH role once Morales returns to first.

So, what would be in it for Lee?

First, he would probably be comfortable in Anaheim; he lives in California during the offseason.

Meanwhile, the chance to play for a true contender could be a boon to Lee’s free-agent value. He had a disappointing first half — .233, 10 home runs, 36 RBIs. So did the Cubs.

If Lee wants to gain momentum before hitting free agency this fall, he’d be helped by finishing strong for a contender.

— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

July 13 News and Notes

Red Sox speak to Royals about OF DeJesus — 2:46 p.m.

The injury-depleted Red Sox have spoken to the Royals about outfielder David DeJesus. Whether those discussions lead to a trade remains to be seen.

The clubs talked about 10 days ago and agreed to stay in contact, according to major-league sources. The Royals are scouting the Red Sox’s minor-league system, but the teams have yet to exchange names.

DeJesus, 30, plays all three outfield positions, and his addition would be welcome at a time when the Red Sox are still awaiting the return for Jacoby Ellsbury and proceeding cautiously with Mike Cameron.

A rival executive said recently that the Royals wanted “to hit a home run” if they traded DeJesus, who is earning $4.7 million this season and can be retained on a $6 million club option in 2011.

The Red Sox are unlikely to pay a steep price for a hitter who is more of a complementary player than a difference-maker. The team is lukewarm to most of the hitters on the market, with the possible exception of Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth. But the Phillies likely would want more for Werth than the Red Sox are willing or able to give.

DeJesus’ .326 batting average ranks seventh in the American League. His .395 on-base percentage ranks eighth. His .855 OPS, if he sustained it all season, would be a career-high.

The Red Sox have been short in the outfield all season. Ellsbury, who has appeared in only nine games due to fractured ribs, is not expected back until August. Cameron missed almost all of May with an abdominal strain, and only now is returning to form.

The addition of DeJesus also would give the Red Sox the depth to eventually trade Ellsbury, who has been at odds with the team’s medical staff and also rankled teammates during his extended absence from the club.

Cameron, DeJesus and right fielder J.D. Drew all would be under club control through next season. The Sox also could pursue a free-agent outfielder such as Werth or Carl Crawford this winter.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 11 News and Notes

Gaskill, bird-dog scout who discovered Ryan, dies at 89 — 5:14 p.m.

R.C. "Red" Gaskill, the bird-dog scout who discovered a Texas high school pitcher named Nolan Ryan, passed away on Saturday following a short illness. He was 89.

Gaskill began his scouting career while working for Union Carbide, and would provide tips on players he saw to Red Murff, the New York Mets scout who was credited with signing Ryan.

Gaskill was a World War II vet and survived his ship being torpedoed at the battle of Leyte Gulf.

In addition to playing baseball on the semi-pro level and serving as a summer-league coach, Gaskill scouted for 35 years for the Mets, Montreal Expos, Cleveland Indians and California Angels. He was honored by the Scout of the Year Foundation in 2002, the same year he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Scouting Hall of Fame.

 July 10 News and Notes

Sources: D-backs break off talks with their No. 1 pick — 9:42 p.m.

Arizona has broken off negotiations with first-round draft pick Barret Loux, a right-handed pitcher out of Texas A&M, FOXSPORTS.com learned, in a move that might have played into the firing of general manager Josh Byrnes.

Loux, the sixth pick overall, saw his 2009 season cut short because of elbow surgery to remove bone chips, and in pre-draft discussions was considered a likely late-first-round or second-round pick in. Although he returned to pitch for A&M in 2010, Loux reportedly did not pass a physical required for signing with Arizona.

Loux, however, wound up being taken by Arizona even though scouting director Tom Allison and his scouting staff were debating right-handed pitcher Deck McGuire of Georgia Tech and left-handed pitcher Chris Sale of Florida Gulf Coast for the selection, according to several scouting sources.

Allison, however, was overruled by Byrnes and then-pro scouting director Jerry Di Poto, now the acting general manager. During the spring, Di Poto’s professional scouting staff was assigned to evaluate talent for the draft instead of their normal assignments in pro scouting.

Sale was eventually selected by the Chicago White Sox with the 13th pick in the first round, and is already signed. McGuire went to Toronto with the 11th selection overall.

Arizona president Derrick Hall was did not respond to a voice message or text message on Saturday night.

Tracy Ringolsby

 July 9 News and Notes

Sources: Scouts flock to watch Haren, Nolasco — midnight

With Cliff Lee gone to Texas, the search for starting pitching moved to Arizona, where potential trade targets Dan Haren and Ricky Nolasco paired up on Friday night.

The Phillies, Dodgers, Reds, White Sox, Angels and Yankees all had scouts in attendance, sources say.

It wasn’t clear how many of the talent evaluators – if any – were there on specific scouting missions for Haren and/or Nolasco.

The Diamondbacks have maintained a very high price on Haren, sources say. Haren will earn $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons, followed by a $15.5 million club option for 2013.

Haren is Arizona’s ace, making him difficult for the organization to trade – particularly when the general manager, Jerry Dipoto, has the job only on an interim basis.

Nolasco is earning $3.8 million this year. He has gone year-to-year with the Marlins and is on track for free agency after the 2012 season.

Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

Porcello pushed back to pitch for scouts? — 1:27 p.m.

The Tigers have pushed Rick Porcello back one day in the Triple-A Toledo rotation — and not because he’s hurt, sources say.

One source told FOXSports.com that the decision came from Detroit — not the organization’s minor league officials — raising the possibility that Porcello will pitch before a special scouting audience on Saturday in Toledo.

Porcello has gone from Rookie of the Year candidate in 2009 to potential trade chip in 2010, even though some in the industry express doubt that the Tigers will actually move him. His struggles in the big leagues this season — 4-7, 6.14 ERA — prompted a demotion to the minors last month.

But he still has trade value, and the Tigers won’t rule out the possibility that he could be moved in a deal for pitching before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

When asked this week if Porcello is absolutely untouchable, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski replied, “I don’t ever use the word ‘untouchable’ on any players, but he’s not a guy we’re looking to trade.”

The Tigers are reluctant to part with Porcello for a two- or three-month rental. It’s more plausible that they would move him for a pitcher who would be under control for multiple seasons beyond 2010.

The current trade market includes two pitchers who match that description: Houston’s Roy Oswalt and Arizona’s Dan Haren. However, one source told FOXSports.com senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal that Oswalt would not waive his no-trade clause to come to Detroit.

Haren will earn $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons, followed by a $15.5 million club option for 2013.

Haren is probably a better fit for the Tigers, anyway, because he has demonstrated that he can have success in the American League; Oswalt is a career National Leaguer. (The Tigers also pursued Haren via trade after the 2007 season, and it’s worth noting that Detroit manager Jim Leyland picked Haren to start the 2007 All-Star Game.)

Other teams may shy away from Haren for payroll reasons. The Tigers, though, are in a more favorable position. They will have roughly $30 million in starting pitching coming off their books after the season, when Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis file for free agency.

One source indicated Friday that talks between the Tigers and Diamondbacks are not yet serious.

When asked if the pending free agency of those pitchers could enable the Tigers to add a big-dollar starter at the deadline, Dombrowski said, “Those would be things I wouldn’t (discuss). Those are our issues to know. … We do have payroll coming off.”

— Jon Paul Morosi

July 8 News and Notes

Sources: Phillies interested in Blue Jays reliever — 7:46 p.m.

The Phillies, still uncertain of how they will approach the trade deadline, have shown interest in Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs, sources say.

Philadelphia has only one left-handed reliever on its active roster: J.C. Romero. The division rival Braves (Jason Heyward) and Mets (Ike Davis) have produced left-handed power hitters since the start of spring training, magnifying the Phillies’ need for another lefty.

Left-handed hitters are batting .271 against the Phillies, the second-worst mark among contending teams.

Downs, who should be a sought-after free agent following this season, is 3-5 with a 2.65 ERA in 41 appearances this year.

Interest in Downs has been “constant all year” and then picked up recently, one source said. Toronto will demand a high price for him in any deal, since the left-hander is likely to carry Type A draft pick compensation this offseason.

Jon Paul Morosi

 

July 7 News and Notes

Rival GM says Rangers in lead for Lee — 2:28 p.m.

 

One rival general manager believes the Rangers have become the favorite to land Cliff Lee.

In order to do that, they will likely need to part with Justin Smoak, currently their everyday first baseman. And sources say the Rangers’ reluctance to include Smoak in an offer for Lee is one of the biggest remaining barriers in their talks with the Mariners.

Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik is said to covet Smoak, a switch hitter who is well suited for the Mariners’ home ballpark.

The Rangers’ ongoing sale — through a bankruptcy process — is a significant element in the trade dialogue, sources say. Lee has roughly $4 million left on his contract for this season, which is almost certainly too rich for the Rangers to afford right now. The Mariners can pay the remainder of Lee’s salary to facilitate a deal, but they will ask for better players as a result. Smoak is likely to be one of them.

If the Rangers deal Smoak, 23, they will need to find a new first baseman in the near term. Smoak is hitting .208 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 69 games this year. He has started virtually every game at first since debuting on April 23.

Smoak, however, has struggled to hit left-handed pitchers; entering Thursday, he had a .143 batting average against them.

The obvious internal replacement for Smoak would be Chris Davis, who was the Rangers’ everyday first baseman prior to Smoak’s call-up. Davis, 24, has played first and third base at Triple-A Oklahoma City and is leading the team with a .354 batting average.

Many in the industry believe that Smoak is a superior player to Davis, although Davis has been the more productive hitter in the major leagues and is a better defender. One rival executive even suggested the Rangers would be “crazy” to trade Smoak.

First base is a relatively easy position for teams to fill externally, and the Rangers could invest more money there once their sale is complete. But Smoak will be affordable for years to come, so the team may prefer to keep him and allocate future free agent dollars toward pitching.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

The Reds also interested in Lee — 6:29 p.m.

One year after the Indians dealt him to the Phillies, the other team in Ohio would like to acquire Cliff Lee.

A number of people in the industry say the Cincinnati Reds are motivated to get Lee — and have the prospects to entice the Mariners.

Cincinnati has become a “sleeper” team in the Lee sweepstakes, one rival general manager said Wednesday. A separate source said the teams have exchanged names “in preliminary fashion” but have yet to discuss firm proposals.

Lee is the most-talked-about commodity on the midseason trade market, and there are several reasons why the Reds could be a fit.

… The Mariners need offense, and Cincinnati has two big hitters at Triple-A who could headline an offer for Lee: third baseman/first baseman Juan Francisco or first baseman/left fielder Yonder Alonso.

… The Reds also have pitching prospects to trade, including starters Matt Maloney and Travis Wood. (Both are currently on the major-league club.)

… Unlike the talent-rich Rangers, the Reds don’t play in the same division as the Mariners — or even the same league. (The Rangers are a strong suitor for Lee, but trading within the division can be problematic.)

… The recent injury to Aaron Harang, Cincinnati’s Opening Day starter, has given the front office great incentive to trade for a pitcher.

One source said the Reds are aware that they would probably need to surrender Francisco or Alonso in order to obtain the Mariners’ ace.

Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik was fond of Alonso leading up to the 2008 draft, when the Reds selected him in the first round. After a disappointing June, Alonso is batting .379 with three home runs in his first seven games of July.

The Reds entered Wednesday with a two-game lead in the National League Central despite having three starting pitchers on the disabled list: Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez and Harang.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Mariners want too much to get Lee — 1:20 p.m.

Executives from two different clubs interested in Cliff Lee say that the Mariners are seeking a mammoth return for the ace left-hander following a report of a substantial offer from the Twins.

One of the execs, labeling the Mariners’ request a “crazy ask,” said the M’s proposal was in excess of the Twins’ offer, as reported by AOL Fanhouse — Triple A catcher Wilson Ramos and Single A outfielder Aaron Hicks.

The Mariners’ aggressiveness can be interpreted in one of two ways: They are either close with the Twins and trying to determine if another team will top the Minnesota offer, or they are still trying to drive up the bidding.

Both the Twins and Mariners have denied comment on the AOL Fanhouse report, which is unconfirmed. The Twins, according to one major-league source, offered Ramos and right-hander Kevin Slowey, not Ramos and Hicks. Other sources say that the Mariners want players who are close to the majors; Hicks, while considered the Twins’ top prospect, does not qualify.

The Twins, Mets, Yankees and Rangers are the teams engaged in the most active discussions with the Mariners, sources say. The Rays, Phillies, Reds and Dodgers are among the other clubs with interest in Lee.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 6 News and Notes

Yanks’ interest in Lee hinges on price — 3:30 p.m.

The Yankees’ interest in trading for Mariners left-hander Cliff Lee is real, but only at a suitable price.

Lee, the biggest prize in this year’s trade market, is a known target of the Twins, Rangers, Mets and other clubs.

The sincerity of the Yankees’ interest has been in question, but they are indeed “kicking the tires,” according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

The source, however, estimates that the Yankees’ chances of landing Lee are “less than 50 percent,” and says that such a move likely would require the team to spin right-hander Javier Vazquez to another club.

Vazquez, like Lee, is a free agent at the end of the season. The difference is that the Yankees want to sign Lee but probably will not re-sign Vazquez — even though Vazquez, after a rocky start, is 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in his last seven starts.

The Rays — who, despite limited resources, express interest in virtually every star player available in trade — also are on the periphery of the Lee sweepstakes, sources say. The Mets, meanwhile, have made little progress in their attempt to land Lee.

As first reported by Peter Gammons, talk of B.J. Upton-for-Lee indeed surfaced Monday night among scouts attending the Rays-Red Sox game.

Such a deal, however, could be problematic both short-term and long-term for the Rays.

Ben Zobrist, who likely would take over in center field, is not nearly as strong a defender as Upton. Desmond Jennings, the Rays’ top outfield prospect, might not be ready to assume such a prominent role.

Long-term, the Rays would be compromised offensively if they traded Upton, then lost left fielder Carl Crawford and possibly first baseman Carlos Pena to free agency. Upton has been a disappointment this season, but is under club control for two more years.

Then again, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has said that he intends to reduce payroll after this season, leaving the team in somewhat of a win-now position.

Lee obviously would enhance the Rays’ chances, even if the cost was Upton.

-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Twins shuffle minor league rotation … but don’t get excited — 11:42 a.m.

Isn’t this a great time of year?

Only in July would a reshuffling of the Class AA New Britain Rock Cats rotation make baseball fans take notice.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson, the Twins’ No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, didn’t make his scheduled start on Monday.

Was it because the Twins and Mariners had agreed to a deal involving Cliff Lee … and Gibson was in it?

Uh, no.

“They just gave him an extra day,” said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor league operations. “He is pitching (today).”

So, he’s not getting traded. At least not right now.

— Jon Paul Morosi

July 5 News and Notes

Phillies open to trade before deadline — 5:30 p.m.

Few imagined that the Phillies would be willing to trade one of their most productive players before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

But the Phils’ seven-game homestand before the All-Star break could determine the course of their season — and the future of right fielder Jayson Werth.

The Phillies, five games back in the N.L. East, will face two first-place clubs — the Braves and the Reds. Right-hander Roy Halladay and lefty Cole Hamels will pitch four of the seven games, beginning with Halladay’s start Monday night against Braves righty Derek Lowe.

For now, the Phillies remain buyers. Sources say they have inquired on the Orioles’ Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada, among others, following injuries to second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco.

Clubs are currently demanding a high price from Philadelphia because they know how desperate the Phillies’ situation is, a source said.

If the Phils remain in contention, they also would pursue a big-name starter, such as Mariners lefty Cliff Lee or Diamondbacks righty Dan Haren.

After opening the season with a $141.9 million payroll, fourth-highest in the majors, the two-time defending National League champions will not concede easily. But if the Phillies somehow fall out of contention, they likely would entertain trading Werth, major-league sources say.

“I could be buying and selling,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday, without referencing a specific player.

Werth, 31, is a free agent at the end of the season. The Phillies have made little progress in their efforts to extend his contract. If they made Werth available, he likely would become the most desired hitter on the market — a potential fit for the Red Sox, Rays and numerous other clubs.

The Phillies are far from being ready to “sell” a popular veteran player. But after this week, they could be closer.

— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Teams continue talks for Mariners’ ace Lee — 4:05 p.m.

With the All-Star break approaching, the Rangers, Twins, Yankees and Mets are among the teams having the most active conversations with the Mariners about left-hander Cliff Lee, major league sources told FOXSports.com on Monday.

The Dodgers have also been involved in talks with the Mariners, sources say; a Dodgers scout was in attendance at Lee’s start in Detroit on Sunday.

The Cardinals, Phillies and Tigers had talent evaluators on hand at Lee’s last start, but they don’t appear to be among the most serious suitors.

The Tigers are interested in Lee for an obvious reason: They have the worst rotation ERA of any winning team in the majors.

Some sources believe that Seattle, which has scored the fewest runs in the American League this year, will prioritize hitting over pitching in any package for Lee. Others believe that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik will pick the most talented group, regardless of position.

Either way, sources say the Mariners prefer close-to-the-majors talent to Class A prospects.

— Jon Paul Morosi

Tigers interested in D-Backs’ Drew — 1:15 p.m.

The Tigers are in the market for middle infield depth and have shown interest in Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, major league sources told FOXSports.com.

And those sources continue to indicate that Drew is among the (many) Arizona players who will be in play before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Interested clubs will pay especially close attention to Drew in the coming weeks. He was recently absent from the lineup because of a sore left knee and has only 13 at-bats in the team’s last eight games.

Drew would be an offensive upgrade for the Tigers, who have had the second-worst shortstop production in the American League (.586 OPS). He would also be a long-term fit. Detroit doesn’t have a set No. 2 hitter or everyday shortstop for the 2011 season; Drew, who won’t be a free agent until 2012, could fill both roles.

The Tigers’ middle infield depth has thinned since the start of the season. Adam Everett, the Opening Day shortstop, was released last month. Scott Sizemore, the Opening Day second baseman, is on the Triple-A disabled list with a hip strain.

Ramon Santiago and rookie Danny Worth are currently splitting time at shortstop, with veteran Carlos Guillen at second base. The arrangement has worked in the short term for the first-place Tigers, even though Worth is batting just .178 over his last 17 games. But the team is also cognizant of Guillen’s injury history.

Guillen has already missed more than one month of the season with a strained hamstring. A recurrence of the injury would be problematic for the Tigers, who would be left with a middle infield of Santiago, Worth and utility man Ryan Raburn.

By acquiring middle infield depth now, the Tigers would effectively obtain an insurance policy to use if Guillen goes on the disabled list after the trade deadline. Other trade possibilities include Willie Bloomquist (Royals), Mike Fontenot (Cubs) and Ryan Theriot (Cubs), but it’s unclear if the Tigers are involved in active discussions on those players.

— Jon Paul Morosi

Behind Votto’s snub — 11:30 a.m.

Just to be clear, Charlie Manuel’s selection of Braves utility man Omar Infante is not what cost Reds first baseman Joey Votto a spot on the National League All-Star team.

Infante made the team largely because of a new re-entry rule that all but requires each manager to select one player versatile enough to man several positions.

The rule, part of a series of changes mandated by the special committee for on-field matters, states that, “one additional position player . . . will be designated by each All-Star manager as eligible to return to the game in the event that the last position player at any position is injured.”

Infante, who has played all three outfield positions and every infield position but first, will be that player for the NL.

The Orioles’ Ty Wigginton, who has played every infield position and the outfield corners, will fill the same role for the AL.

Manuel’s snub of Votto stemmed from his selection, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, of Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, whom the manager referred to, as “my player, my guy.”

Never mind that Votto leads the NL with a .984 OPS, while Howard is 22nd at .850. Votto, at least, will be a strong candidate to win the final-man ballot, given the attention surrounding Manuel’s oversight.

Manuel also snubbed the Padres’ entire major-league leading pitching staff, but his failures to include right-handed starter Mat Latos and closer Heath Bell were less outrageous than his omission of Votto.

Latos could be a late addition; Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, one of Manuel’s selections, suffered a left oblique strain on Sunday. Braves righty Tim Hudson and Cardinals righty Chris Carpenter were the other starting pitchers that Manuel chose over Latos, whose .193 opponents’ batting average is the lowest in the NL.

Bell essentially lost out to Reds lefty Arthur Rhodes; Pirates righty Evan Meek, the other reliever added by Manuel, made the team as his club’s only selection.

Rhodes, a first-time All-Star at 40, is no slouch: He has a 1.09 ERA on the season, and recently had a 33-appearance, 30-inning scoreless streak.

— Ken Rosenthal

July 4 News and Notes

Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals scouting Lee — 12:18 p.m.

The Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals were among the clubs with a scout in attendance at Cliff Lee’s start in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

It marked the second straight start by Lee that the Yankees scouted.

Rival clubs believe the Yankees are pursuing Lee ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, although it’s possible the Yankees are scouting Lee in preparation for his upcoming free agency. 

The Mariners are widely expected to trade Lee this month. 

Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal

July 2 News and Notes

Big dealers? Not necessarily, interim Arizona GM says — midnight

Jerry Dipoto, the Diamondbacks’ interim general manager, says the team’s willingness to make trades is no different than it was under former GM Josh Byrnes.

Others in the industry, however, anticipate that the D-backs will become more aggressive following their front-office shakeup – and specifically, more inclined to trade ace right-hander Dan Haren.

Right fielder Justin Upton, right-hander Ian Kennedy and catcher Miguel Montero are the Diamondbacks’ only untouchables, according to one major-league source.

Haren, the source said, “is the biggest and most talked-about potential trade chip.” But Dipoto, previously the team’s vice-president of player personnel, told FOXSports.com that Haren is “no more likely and no less likely” to be traded than he was before the team fired Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch on Thursday night.

“We will move a player if we think that makes us a better organization,” Dipoto said. “Obviously, we hold Dan Haren in high regard. It’s hard to figure out what makes us a better team trading Dan Haren in today’s market.

“There are things we have to consider. But we’re not going to trade anyone just for the sake of trading them . . . How many guys are moved, the market tells you that.”

Right-hander Edwin Jackson, second baseman Kelly Johnson, first baseman Adam LaRoche, catcher Chris Snyder and closer Chad Qualls are among the other Diamondbacks who could be traded. Byrnes, in fact, was discussing Qualls with another club Thursday shortly before he was fired.

Two factors, in particular, could motivate the D-Backs to increase their activity leading to the July 31 non-waiver deadline and then the Aug. 31 deadline for setting postseason rosters:

• A desire to cut payroll.

Byrnes had indicated that the Diamondbacks did not need to dump all of their high-salaried players to stay within the same $60 million payroll range next season.

Ownership, though, might want to pursue deeper cuts — the team’s average home attendance has declined from 30,986 in 2008 to 26,281 in ‘09 to 25,712 this season.

• Dipoto’s desire to prove himself.

Dipoto, because of his close ties to Byrnes, seemingly faces long odds at becoming permanent GM. But he could make a strong impression by making a series of creative trades.

Still, the Diamondbacks’ strategy is not entirely clear.

“In a perfect world, we don’t blow this up,” club president Derrick Hall said Friday at a news conference. “We make a change here or there, make a few tweaks to bring in a good, cohesive group that understands what it takes to win.”

Dipoto added later, “This is a very talented 25-man roster. Now we have to figure out how to turn the right screws and turn ‘em into a team.”

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

July 1 News and Notes

Sources: Three teams interested in unemployed Dye  — 5:19 p.m.

As teams scour the trade market for hitters, the unemployed Jermaine Dye continues to attract interest.

The Padres, Rockies and Rangers sent out recent feelers to Dye, according to major-league sources.

Dye, a free agent who has yet to play this season, turned down several offers last winter, most for financial reasons.

If he signed with a club, he would require time to get ready. But by contributing in the second half as an outfielder, DH or first baseman, he could build his value for next season.

On the other hand, if Dye sits out the entire year and wants to play in 2011, he might be forced to accept a minor-league contract, just as outfielder Jim Edmonds did with the Brewers this season before making the club at an $850,000 salary.

Dye, 36, batted .250 with 27 homers and 81 RBIs for the White Sox last season. Clubs expressed reservations about his age, his poor second half last season and declining defense in right field.

Yet several comparable free agents from last winter – including Garrett Atkins with the Orioles and Mark DeRosa with the Giants – have proven dubious investments because of performance and/or health reasons.

“It has only been 41/2 years since I was the World Series MVP,” Dye told FOXSports.com in Feburary. “I’m a winner. Hopefully some teams out there can see that.” 

Ken Rosenthal