MLB trade deadline buzz: Tuesday’s edition

With the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching, baseball reporters Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have all the latest buzz. All times below are ET.

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Bucs’ Sanchez still hurt amid trade rumors — Updated 9:33 p.m.

Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez is out of the lineup Tuesday night, but not because he is headed to the Giants.

At least not yet.

Sanchez, according to a source close to him, is not a “healthy scratch,” a player removed from the lineup because he is about to be traded. He is still suffering from a slight meniscus problem in his left knee and might not play Wednesday, either.

Still, the Pirates and Giants have discussed Sanchez at length, and with the Pirates in San Francisco, Giants trainers even examined Sanchez’s knee on Monday night, the source said.

The addition of Sanchez on top of first baseman Ryan Garko could significantly boost the Giants’ offense. The Giants rank 12th in the National League in OPS at first base and 16th at second.

Braves may use Hudson in bullpen — 8:34 p.m.

The Braves had shown interest in Blue Jays right-hander Jason Frasor and A’s righty Michael Wuertz but backed off in part because their bullpen solution might come from within.

His name: Tim Hudson.

Hudson, coming off Tommy John surgery, is expected to return in mid-August. But rather than use him as a starter, the Braves could ask him to pitch in relief.

The Braves currently are set with five starting pitchers: Right-handers Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami.

Hudson, 34, has not pitched in the majors since July 23, 2008. He finished the ’08 season 11-7 with 85 strikeouts and a 3.17 ERA.

Working out of the bullpen would be less taxing on him than re-entering the Braves’ rotation in the middle of a pennant race.

Twins looking for infield, bullpen help — Updated 7:38 p.m.

The Twins have needs around the infield and in the bullpen. And they’d love to address them with a single move.

One major league source said the Twins are targeting teams that have made players available in both areas.

For example, they’d love to acquire second baseman Freddy Sanchez and left-hander John Grabow from the Pirates, or shortstop Orlando Cabrera and right-hander Michael Wuertz from the A’s.

The Twins love Sanchez’s defensive versatility; his ability to play third base is especially valuable, with Joe Crede ailing. But Sanchez missed Monday’s game in San Francisco and told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his left knee is “sore and tender.” Sanchez is 0-for-17 with eight strikeouts in his last four games.

One source with knowledge of the Pirates’ plans said three teams were interested in Sanchez as of Tuesday afternoon: the Twins, Giants and one other team that emerged recently.

Minnesota remains interested in Toronto shortstop Marco Scutaro and Pittsburgh shortstop Jack Wilson, the source said Tuesday afternoon.

The Twins would also like to add a starting pitcher, now that it appears Kevin Slowey will miss the remainder of the season. But the market for rotation help is crowded — you’ve probably noticed — so the team isn’t optimistic about its chances of landing an impact starter.

Washburn available — 6:44 p.m.

Jarrod Washburn is officially available.

The Mariners informed the Yankees on Tuesday that they would listen to trade offers for the veteran left-hander, who is 8-6 with a 2.71 ERA this season.

The Yankees, seeking another starting pitcher, have not yet made an offer for Washburn, but plan to present one shortly.

Halladay price tag for Red Sox is steep — Updated 6:07 p.m.

To get Roy Halladay, the Red Sox must overpay.

The question — amid increasing industry chatter that the Sox are making a push for the Blue Jays ace — is by how much.

The Red Sox obviously would need to start any offer with right-hander Clay Buchholz, then make the rest of the package enticing enough to persuade the Jays to trade Halladay within the division.

The Sox, however, are extremely reluctant to move some of their other top prospects, including Class A outfielder Ryan Westmoreland.

Sox officials strongly denied a Yahoo! Sports report that said they offered at least Buchholz, Class AAA right-hander Michael Bowden and Westmoreland for Halladay.

But at first glance, such a package does not appear implausible, particularly when compared to the Jays’ initial request from the Phillies — left-hander J.A. Happ, Class AA right-hander Kyle Drabek and Class A outfielder Dominic Brown.

A major-league source indicated Monday night that the Phillies remained the front-runners for Halladay, followed by the Red Sox.

The Phillies appear at an impasse with the Jays, though they still have not ruled out including Drabek in a package for Halladay.

Rays set to pull back efforts? — 5:12 p.m.

A few days back, the Rays were bursting with creativity, talking about all of the available big names — Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, etc.

Now, the Rays might be getting ready to pull back, according to a major-league source.

Monday night’s loss to the Yankees dropped the Rays 7½ games behind New York in the AL East and five behind Boston in the wild card.

Thus, the Rays’ next two games against the Yankees could determine the Rays’ course.

Even if the Rays win both, they will still be 5½ out in the division and five back in the wild card if the Red Sox beat the A’s twice.

If the Rays’ prospects are that discouraging — or worse — they could make their entire bullpen available with the exception of left-hander J.P. Howell, the source said.

One rival GM says the Rays would be “nuts” to sell, saying, “I guarantee you, the Yankees and Red Sox are just as worried about the Rays as they are about each other.”

The Rays’ problem, though, is that the Yankees and Red Sox only figure to improve before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET.

The Yankees could get Jarrod Washburn. The Red Sox could get Roy Halladay. And then where would the Rays be?

Maybe in sell mode.

The Rays could move right-hander Dan Wheeler, who has put together strong back-to-back seasons, but has slightly over $1 million remaining in 2009 salary and $3.5 million in 2010, with a $4 million option or $1 million buyout for ’11.

Their other available relievers could include righties Chad Bradford (slightly over $1 million left), Grant Balfour (slightly under $500,000), Joe Nelson (slightly under $500,000) and Lance Cormier (about $225,000).

The next two nights are looming large.

Rockies want another reliever, but … — 2:36 p.m.

The Rockies would love to add a second left-handed reliever to complement Franklin Morales, but there are two problems:

  • Few such pitchers are available for a reasonable acquisition cost.
  • The Rockies had “one bullet to shoot” financially, and they fired it when they added Indians right-hander Rafael Betancourt and the approximately $1.1 million remaining on his contract, according to a major-league source.

    The Rockies no longer are willing to move outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, who earlier drew trade interest from the Phillies and other clubs. They will be more willing to listen on Spilborghs this offseason when he becomes eligible for arbitration for the first time.

    Beimel might be the Nat on the move — 2:23 p.m.

    Could it be that left-handed reliever Joe Beimel is the National most likely to be moved?

    The Nats’ price for Josh “Grand Slam” Willingham remains high, and the team might choose to build around him. Willingham, currently sporting a 1.006 OPS, is a high-character type and the Nats can control him for two more seasons.

    The market for first baseman Nick Johnson, meanwhile, appears all but

    dry: The Red Sox acquired Adam LaRoche, the Giants acquired Ryan Garko and the Mets are in no position to buy.

    Johnson might be the perfect August acquisition for an American League team with a sudden need for a hitter, presuming he clears waivers.

    That leaves Beimel, who has a 3.43 ERA and .716 opponents’ OPS in 44 games.

    Mariners set to shop pitchers? — 1:12 p.m.

    Facing a 7½-game deficit in the American League West, the Mariners are shifting into “sell” mode — if they aren’t there already.

    Left-hander starter Jarrod Washburn is available, and general manager Jack Zduriencik would probably consider offers on Sean White and Mark Lowe, who have been surprisingly good in setup roles.

    “They’re about ready to do some things,” an official of one contender said.

    One baseball man wondered if the Mariners would make former first-rounder Brandon Morrow available in trade talks. But it’s doubtful that Zduriencik would sell low on Morrow, who has walked seven hitters between two unsuccessful Class AAA starts.

    D-backs official: Haren staying — 12:29 p.m.

    Lest we start wondering if another ace might be thrust into the midseason swap meet, one senior Diamondbacks official said emphatically Tuesday morning that Dan Haren isn’t going anywhere.

    Haren is under contract through 2013. He’s been among the best pitchers in baseball this year — 10-5 record, 2.14 ERA, 141 strikeouts in 143 innings — and figures to be entering his prime at age 28.

    “We’re not trading him,” the Arizona official said. “We don’t want to change our core.”

    Reds not giving up on Rolen — 11:51 a.m.

    The Reds haven’t ruled out acquiring Toronto third baseman Scott Rolen, one major league source indicated Monday night.

    But like a lot of things in baseball, those talks hinge on one man whom the Cincinnati Reds aren’t pursuing in the least.

    You know, Roy Halladay.

    “Toronto,” the source said, when asked about the Rolen talks, “is still busy with Halladay.”

    Lee-Martinez blockbuster in the works? — 11:36 a.m.

    The Indians are indeed considering packaging left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez in the same trade. But the possibility of such a deal occurring, one source said, is “very unlikely.”

    The Red Sox have the prospects and financial flexibility to obtain both players, but almost certainly would be reluctant to trade the number of quality prospects the Indians would require.

    Informed of one report that said both the Red Sox and Rays were trying to negotiate a Lee-Martinez blockbuster, one Rays official said, “Please explain to me how we could do that.”

    The Rays have been talking to the Indians about Lee and Martinez in separate deals, but could not take on the remainder of both contracts without making significant payroll cuts in other areas.

    Lee and Martinez are owed approximately $3.5 million combined for the rest of the season, and the Indians hold club options on them worth a combined $16 million for next season.

    Marlins shopping for … something — 11:25 a.m.

    The Marlins, trailing by only three games in the National League wild-card race, are split on whether to acquire a hitter or starting pitcher.

    While the Marlins rank fifth in the NL in runs per game, their offense lacks consistency — the kind that a player such as the Royals’ Mark Teahen could provide.

    Teahen would come only at a high price, but even someone like Ryan Garko — who was traded from the Indians to the Giants on Monday — might have fit the Marlins’ desired profile.

    A starting pitcher would cost more in talent than a hitter, but the Marlins also could look to bolster a rotation led by right-handers Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad.

    Life goes on for Drabek — Updated 10:26 a.m.

    We interrupt our reporting of covert talks to bring you some news that requires no anonymous sourcing whatever:

    Hey, Kyle Drabek pitched on Monday.

    You know Drabek. He’s the guy Toronto wants from Philadelphia in the Roy Halladay trade. Well, trade talks — even these trade talks — don’t stop the games. So the 21-year-old took the mound Monday night in Reading, Pa.

    And he pitched quite well, allowing two earned runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out five, walked no one and allowed one home run. He earned the win in the Reading Phillies’ 4-3 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs.

    In short, no red flags there. He’s good to go.

    OK, back to the rumors.

    The Blue Jays had two scouts in attendance, and the Indians, who have made Cliff Lee available, had a representative there, too. One source indicated there could be two Indians scouts there Thursday, when prospect Vance Worley starts for Reading.

    Indians salvage something from Garko — 10:11 a.m.

    The Indians appeared to pull off a minor coup by trading first baseman Ryan Garko for Class A left-hander Scott Barnes, the Giants’ ninth-best prospect according to Baseball America.

    The minute after the non-waiver deadline passed Friday at 4 p.m. ET, Garko’s trade value would have plummeted to almost zero.

    Matt LaPorta, the Indians’ top prospect, likely will end up at first base. The team also wants to take another look at third baseman Andy Marte, who has a .963 OPS at Class AAA.

    Thus, Garko would have been a potential non-tender candidate this offseason, when he became eligible for salary arbitration for the first time.

    He is a career .283 hitter with a .355 on-base percentage, but lacks speed and the desired power at first base, and also is not a plus defender.

    Braves seeking relief … target unclear — 12:32 a.m.

    The Braves are trying to add one more reliever. They are one of the many clubs that inquired on A’s right-hander Michael Wuertz, but are in heavier pursuit of a more under-the-radar, unidentified option, according to major-league sources.

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