Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up

Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up

Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- A very slow midsummer trade season showed a few flickers of life on Friday, as three trades were made and talks on several other fronts continued.

Texas and Cleveland got things started, with the Rangers sending outfielder Kenny Lofton to the Indians for Minor League catching prospect Max Ramirez. A few hours later, the Phillies picked up second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to help fill the void created when Chase Utley broke his right hand in a game against the Nationals on Thursday.

The Padres acquired outfielder Scott Hairston from their National League West Division rivals, the Diamondbacks, in exchange for right-handed reliever Leo Rosales.

Lofton, back with Cleveland for a third stint, is expected to man left field since the Tribe already has All-Star Grady Sizemore in center field. Lofton could platoon with Jason Michaels, who would start in left field against left-handed pitching.

Lofton was batting .303 with a .380 on-base percentage, seven homers, three triples, 16 doubles, 21 stolen bases and 23 RBIs in 84 games this season entering Friday's action. Lofton was on a one-year deal with the Rangers worth $6 million, and he hasn't played any other outfield position besides center.

Ramirez, obtained by the Indians last year in the deal that sent closer Bob Wickman to Atlanta, is expected to report to one of the Rangers' Minor League affiliates. The 22-year-old was batting .303 with 12 homers and 62 RBIs at high Class A Kinston and played in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8.

Iguchi, who is eligible for free agency after the season, is making $3.25 million. The 32-year-old is batting .251 with 17 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 31 RBIs in 90 games with the White Sox this season. He's a career .273 hitter with 39 home runs, 169 RBIs and 216 runs scored in three seasons, all with Chicago.

The Phillies sent Michael Dubee, son of Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, to the White Sox to complete the deal for Iguchi. Dubee, a 21-year-old right-hander and an 18th-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA last year in rookie and Class A ball.

The Phillies may not be finished making deals.

Phillies special assistant to general manager Charley Kerfeld was among the scouts at Houston's game on Friday night against the Padres at Minute Maid Park. The Astros have had scouts following the Phillies recently.

The Phillies and Astros had discussed Houston second baseman Mark Loretta, but those talks died with Philadelphia's acquisition of Iguchi. The Astros had been pursuing Philadelphia outfielder Michael Bourn, though the Phillies have been unwilling to deal the 24-year-old.

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Bourn, a left-handed hitter, is a Houston native and a product of the University of Houston. He leads all NL rookies with 16 stolen bases. Bourn, who can play all three outfield positions, can also bat leadoff, though he usually bats eighth for Philadelphia.

The Phillies, five games back in the NL East and 2 1/2 games out in the NL Wild Card, would like to add bullpen help for the stretch run.

Houston relievers Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler have been attracting attention from other teams, but the Astros have been reluctant to deal any of their relievers on the Major League roster.

Astros GM Tim Purpura does not discuss specifics regarding potential trades, but he did confirm that he had spoken with "probably eight or nine" GMs on Friday.

"There's still interest in a number of our guys," Purpura said. "And our goal still is if we're going to deal a player we have under our control for more than a year, we have to get players back who are under control for more than a year. And we're still pursuing some of those."

Purpura estimated the chances were "50-50" that the Astros would make a deal before Tuesday's non-waiver deadline.

"If we make a move, we want it to help us this year, next year and future years; it's a delicate balance," Purpura said. "I don't think we're ever going to be real sellers. We're not going to strip the core of this club, we've got a good core. If we can augment it, great, if not, we'll keep working on it more this season and in the offseason."

Purpura isn't obligated to trade players who will be free agents this winter such as Loretta or Mike Lamb, unless it makes sense in both the short and long term.

"The only obligation is to get something for us if it's something that can truly help us in the future," he said. "A couple of [Class] A ball prospects or Double-A guys that replicate what we've already got in our system, I don't feel any pressure or compulsion to do it. No matter how we come out of this, we still want to finish strong. I don't feel like I have to move anybody."

The Phillies are also eyeing Toronto's Josh Towers.

Talks were still ongoing on Friday between Texas and the teams eyeing Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira.

The Braves and Red Sox are still believed to be the front-runners for the 27-year-old slugger, but the Dodgers and Angels aren't out of the running yet.

The Braves are pursuing C.J. Wilson, but the Rangers have resisted including the left-hander in any proposal.

Texas has also been talking with San Diego about Brad Wilkerson, but the Padres acquisition of Hairston ended those discussions.

Elsewhere on the trade front:

Braves: Atlanta remains interested in several players, with starting pitcher Jon Garland and Teixeira at the top of the list. General manager John Schuerholz continues to look for ways to improve the team without mortgaging the immediate future by letting go of either Yunel Escobar or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Devil Rays: Things seem to be moving along trade-wise in the Devil Rays' neck of the woods, but it's just not clear yet in which direction.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that if the Twins, who are 9 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central, have a good upcoming series against their division rival Indians, they're more likely to pursue a big bat to help their lineup. They're interested in Rays utility infielder Ty Wigginton, but won't deal starter Matt Garza for him as the Rays have proposed. Tampa Bay scout Lee Elia was at the recent Twins-Blue Jays series.

The New York Post reported, however, that the Yankees and Rays are nearing a deal which would send Wigginton to New York in exchange for Scott Proctor, whom the Rays would likely convert into a starter if he comes to Tampa Bay. Also reported to have interest in Wigginton are the Red Sox and the Mets.

Mets: With the demotion of Joe Smith to Triple-A, the Mets could be even more inclined to try to pry reliever Chad Cordero, or possibly even Jon Rauch, away from the Nationals. Manager Willie Randolph could use a reliable arm to take some stress off overworked setup men Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano, and if Cordero's July is any indication, he could be a perfect fit. As for second base, Minnesota's Luis Castillo has joined the group of potential fixes that already included Mark Grudzielanek and Wigginton.

Indians: The acquisition of Lofton fills a pressing need and could mean the Indians are finished dealing. They would like more pitching, specifically a reliever, but nothing appears to be imminent on that front.

Nationals: Washington came into the trading period presumed to be sellers, but that has not been the case so far. Just days after signing utility infielder Ronnie Belliard to a two-year contract, the Nats are on the verge of doing the same with first baseman Dmitri Young. Young was the team's lone All-Star representative this year, but him and Belliard were both expected to be in a different uniform before the trade deadline. Young's contract is reported to be for two years and $10 million, and may involve him playing some time in the outfield when first baseman Nick Johnson returns to the lineup from a year-long injury.

Pirates: Salomon Torres has been one of the hottest names on the rumor mill for the Pirates lately, but the grievance he filed against the Pirates could diminish his value. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, if Torres wins his case against the Pirates, his contract would be terminated no matter where he's playing. MLB.com reported that the Braves are considering Torres, as well as Pirates relievers Shawn Chacon and Damaso Marte, but they were scared off by the Bucs' asking price. Chacon also appears likely to be traded, as the Pirates have yet to begin talks on a contract extension with the right-hander.

Red Sox: Boston's continuing efforts to unload outfielder Wily Mo Pena haven't paid off yet.

According to a report in Friday morning's Boston Globe, the Red Sox have been rebuffed several times while trying to deal for Teixeira, who is signed with the Rangers through 2008. The cost, according to The Globe, is still prohibitive. Texas is asking for a combination of top prospects Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and a third player in return.

The high price on other available veterans, including Chicago's Jermaine Dye and Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, makes it unlikely that the Red Sox will be willing to make a major deal. That is, unless the price comes down at the 11th hour. Even smaller deals such as Tampa Bay's Wigginton could require Manny Delcarmen or Double-A phenom Justin Masterson in return. According to The Globe, Kansas City closer Octavio Dotel remains a target.

Tigers: Multiple media outlets reported that the Tigers might make a deal for Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth, a former Tiger who last pitched for Detroit in 2005. He had a 2.32 ERA in 46 games that season before he was dealt to the Braves at the 2005 trade deadline. But don't expect the Tigers to panic, even though their bullpen has been inconsistent over recent weeks. Manager Jim Leyland said he didn't expect any deals to be made and wouldn't care either way if the Tigers ended up making a deal before the deadline.

Yankees: Talks between the Yankees and Devil Rays seems to be heating up again over Wigginton, according to the New York Post. Tampa Bay likes Proctor, and if it obtains him, it might even convert him to a starter. While it could be a one-for-one swap, the Yankees may have to add a prospect to any deal to obtain Wigginton, who has garnered interest from multiple teams. Also, the Tigers didn't dismiss a report claiming they were interested in Farnsworth.

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Re: Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up

Red Sox Interested In Wigginton

CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox are among the teams interested in acquiring Tampa Bay Devil Rays infielder Ty Wigginton, according to a major league source, though a source familiar with the Sox said a trade was not close as of yesterday afternoon.

Wigginton, a righthanded batter, is hitting .274 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs, and a .326 on-base percentage this season.

Wigginton is 29 years old and has played 36 games at second base this season, 32 at third, 17 at first, and 15 as the designated hitter.

Major league sources also have confirmed the Sox have interest in Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira; White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye; Oakland outfielder Bobby Kielty, who was recently designated for assignment; and Dodgers third base prospect Andy LaRoche, who has been hot in Triple A Las Vegas, a team the Red Sox' Allard Baird has been scouting.

He's got right stuff
There is no danger of Manny Delcarmen being named the Red Sox' closer. Not with the overpowering Jonathan Papelbon on the roster. But in terms of pure stuff, according to catcher Doug Mirabelli, Delcarmen rates a tick higher on the scale.

"If you rate the guys' stuff on our team, [Josh ] Beckett's got the best stuff," said Mirabelli. "Then you've got Manny. Then Papelbon."

Delcarmen has an innate ability to throw a baseball that, Mirabelli said, is surpassed on the Red Sox only by last night's starter.

"Who's got better stuff?" Mirabelli said. "It's the guy that's got better numbers, I guess is how that works. If you were to scout both of them, the makeup for Papelbon would be higher than, say, a Manny. But as far as pure stuff, they would definitely be similar. Papelbon's body type, he's tall and strong. But in my opinion, Manny's fastball comes out of his hand cleaner."

It's not news to Delcarmen, who has been hearing similar compliments for some time.

"They've been telling me that for the last two years, saying that my stuff is better than it really is," Delcarmen said with a smile. "Compared to Papelbon, I mean, he's our closer. I think his stuff is just unbelievable. A couple guys said me, him, we're similar with our fastballs. He just has that mound presence. But it feels good to hear it from Dougie."

Starting over
Joel Piñeiro accepted an optional assignment to Pawtucket after clearing waivers this week, and started the PawSox' 12-2 loss in Toledo last night, throwing three hitless innings with a walk and a strikeout. Piñeiro was designated for assignment Monday. It's unusual for a pitcher with his major league service time to make that decision rather than opt to become a free agent. The Sox did make an effort to trade the righthander. "He's trying to get starter's innings," manager Terry Francona said, before adding that he thought Piñeiro wanted to go back to starting . . . Francona was positive in his assessment of the job Dave Magadan has done after replacing last year's hitting coach, Ron Jackson. After deep slumps, Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp have hit well lately. J.D. Drew appears potentially on the cusp. But Manny Ramírez and David Ortiz haven't matched their production of recent years. "He always has time for every hitter," Francona said of Magadan. "I know he's very knowledgeable. I hear it when he talks, he breaks it down and makes it kind of easy to understand, which I appreciate and I think most hitters do. All things we've asked him to do, he does. We'd love everybody to be hitting .300 with 30 home runs, but that I don't think is an indicator that he's not doing his job."

Better off with him?
With Ortiz's four-game injury timeout coinciding with the Sox' five-game winning streak, the designated hitter took quite a bit of needling from his teammates. But Francona, certainly, was happy to have Ortiz back in the lineup. The Sox, however, managed just four hits, one by Ortiz, in losing, 1-0, to the Indians . . . Mike Lowell and Lugo were out of the starting lineup. Francona had given both players the choice of resting last night or tomorrow in Tampa. Lugo pinch ran for Alex Cora in the eighth and was caught stealing second to end the inning . . . Brendan Donnelly reached 90 feet in his throwing program. "Not real aggressive, trying not to let it get overly aggressive, but he's throwing," Francona said . . . The manager said the goal for Curt Schilling's outing today for Pawtucket in Toledo is to get him up and down as many times as possible, in throwing about 65 pitches. The team also will be looking at how he rebounds from the performance . . . The loss ended Boston's five-game winning streak, tied for its longest of the season. It also marked just the second time the Sox were shut out this season. The Sox' last 1-0 loss was Sept. 11, 2005, at Yankee Stadium . . . The complete game was Beckett's first in the American League . . . Indians starter Fausto Carmona has not allowed a run in his last 18 innings . . . The Indians' other 1-0 win this season also featured a home run by Franklin Gutierrez . . . "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out" was the favored game in the visitors' clubhouse. Wily Mo Peña took one look at the screen and pointed out a resemblance between himself and the computerized Tyson.

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Re: Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up

Atlanta eyeing Teixeira
MLB.com

Mark Teixeira to Atlanta?

A move to the National League East team would make sense in many ways, but it remains to be seen whether the Rangers and Braves will be able to reach an agreement on a trade that would send the 27-year-old first baseman from Texas to Atlanta before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

For now, however, Atlanta has apparently moved past Boston as the front-runners for Teixeira's services.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, the two sides still had not reached agreement on a deal that would send Teixeira to the Braves for switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and prospects. The identity of the other players involved is believed to be one of the holdups in completing this deal. According to sources, Braves pitching prospect Jo-Jo Reyes and 18-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus are among those who have been discussed.

Teixeira, who is batting .300 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs, is making $9 million this year and is eligible for arbitration this winter. He would give Atlanta another middle-of-the-order bat that could significantly enhance its playoff chances this season. Teixeira would also fill the void at first base, provide the left-handed power upgrade the lineup needs and soften the impact the Braves would face if slugger Andruw Jones leaves via free agency after the season.

The Rangers would get at least three outstanding young prospects to build around, with Saltalamacchia, who can also play first base, the best of the bunch.

After Atlanta and Boston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have also shown interest in Teixiera.

Elsewhere on the trade front Wednesday:

Angels: Once offered a $62 million contract from the Angels in 2005, Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is reportedly being targeted by general manager Bill Stoneman. Konerko, batting .261 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs, joins teammate Jermaine Dye as Chicago's potential trading chips. Dye is a free agent at the conclusion of this season, while Konerko (signed through 2010) must waive his limited no-trade clause to make the switch to Anaheim.

Astros: No fewer than a dozen scouts, including Arizona vice president/special assistant to the GM Bob Gebhard and Pittsburgh special assistant to the GM Pete Vuckovich, were on hand for Tuesday night's game started by Dodgers left-hander Mark Hendrickson and Astros right-hander Jason Jennings at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros are willing to move Jennings, who becomes a free agent at season's end, for the right price, but are equally willing to keep the right-hander for the remainder of his contract and perhaps get draft pick compensation if he leaves via free agency.

With Hunter Pence on the shelf for the next four to six weeks, the Astros are scouring the market for a center fielder who can step into that role this year, and possibly beyond. If the Astros can find a true center fielder, they could move Pence to right field next year, with Carlos Lee staying put in left.

Astros owner Drayton McLane met with GM Tim Purpura and his staff on Tuesday and confirmed the Astros are talking to "multiple clubs about different opportunities."

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"You've got to respond to what other people want to accomplish and what they're willing to give," McLane said.

The Astros are getting the most calls about relievers Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge, but none are facing free agency and the Astros intend to keep the trio as the core of next season's bullpen. Infielders Mark Loretta and Mike Lamb are also drawing attention, but the Astros aren't likely to deal either player.

Athletics: The Red Sox continue to express interest in A's outfielder Bobby Kielty. The switch-hitter was designated for assignment prior to Monday's game with the Angels, and rumors began immediately that the Red Sox were an interested party. They have offered pitcher Joel Piniero, whom they designated for assignment, but the A's are not interested in the right-hander.

Cubs: Cubs GM Jim Hendry may not be finished making deals.

"I'd like to tinker with it a little if we could," Hendry said Tuesday.

The Cubs are hoping they can survive without Daryle Ward, sidelined with a calf injury. They're hoping Jake Fox can provide a right-handed bat off the bench. If Kerry Wood has a successful rehab, it'll be like adding a new arm to the bullpen. Wood was scheduled to pitch three times this week for Class A Peoria, starting Tuesday.

"If we get Woody back, it would be better than any trade we could make," Hendry said.

Clay Rapada, Carmen Pignatiello and Neal Cotts are pitching for Triple-A Iowa if the Cubs need more help in the 'pen. Sean Gallagher and Juan Mateo both are starting for the Triple-A team, and could be called upon.

"Sometimes, your own solutions come from in-house," Hendry said.

Devil Rays, Phillies, Twins: A scout from Tampa Bay was in attendance to watch the Twins in Toronto on Tuesday, adding fuel to the rumor that the Twins are interested in Devil Rays infielder Ty Wigginton.

Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. watched prospect Kevin Slowey pitch for Triple-A Rochester on Saturday. The Phillies need an arm, and the Twins may be interested in Pat Burrell. The 30-year-old left fielder started off the season slow, but is batting .404 in July and has 12 home runs this season.

Giants: Scouts from the Phillies and Braves were spotted at the Giants game on Tuesday, presumably to check out starting pitcher Matt Morris or reliever Steve Kline. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Phillies' trade talks only include Burrell.

Marlins: The scarcity of scouts at any of Dontrelle Willis' recent starts, along with Florida GM Larry Beinfest's insistence that Willis won't be traded, could be seen as further indications the D-Train will be staying in Miami.

Nationals: A day after hearing that teammate Ronnie Belliard signed a two-year, $3.5 million extension, Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young said he wants to stay in Washington, but acknowledged there is a "ceiling on what to accept and not accept" in terms of a contract extension. Young, who is making $500,000 this year, declined to say what kind of money he was looking for, and said his agent, Adam Katz, was handling the negotiations.

GM Jim Bowden has said he wants Young to stay, but it's no secret that Young also is on the trade block. It has been reported that the Braves, Twins and Angels have interest in his services, but Young would prefer to be the Nationals' leader for the next few years.

Rangers: In addition to Teixeira, the Rangers could deal Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Akinori Otsuka, Joaquin Benoit, Jamey Wright and Eric Gagne.

Red Sox: It may only be a matter of time before Kielty joins the Red Sox in Wily Mo Pena's current role. Pena has been mentioned in rumors involving the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

According to The Boston Herald, Todd Helton has hit the rumor mill again, months after an offseason in which the Red Sox reportedly fell short of acquiring him from Colorado.

Royals: Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek continues to attract interest from other teams, with the Mets believed to be the front-runners for the 2006 Gold Glove Award winner. The Royals would want a strong player in return. The organization views Grudzielanek in very high regard because of his defense, solid hitting in the No. 2 hole and veteran leadership with Kansas City's many young players, including Tony Pena. Esteban German, similar to Grudzielanek offensively, is viewed as a serviceable everyday second baseman if Grudzielanek is traded. Grudzielanek has a $4 million player option that triggers if he gets to 500 at-bats this season -- a number that is well within range.

Tigers: Detroit is keeping up the search for bullpen help, and it had scouts at Texas and Kansas City on Tuesday.

White Sox: Prior to Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of the Tigers, manager Ozzie Guillen said that this year's trade market was slow and that there were few opportunities for a team like the Sox to make a move. But that hasn't stopped other teams from trying. Add Jon Garland and Konerko to the long list of White Sox players who could be on the move.

The New York Post reported earlier this week that the Yankees were interested in making a deal for Garland. The Chicago Tribune cited an industry source, saying that the Angels had expressed interest in Konerko. A deal for Konerko seems unlikely. He was recently signed to a major contact extension and is a fan favorite, much like Mark Buehrle in Chicago. Dye and Jose Contreras remain the front-runners to be moved, although Tadahito Iguchi and Javier Vazquez have also been mentioned as potential trade chips.

Yankees: Key members of the front office met in Tampa, Fla., for more than three hours on Tuesday, discussing how they want to improve the club, according to the New York Post. With little specifics reported, it seems the Yankees are falling farther out of the Teixeira sweepstakes with their unwillingness to deal top prospects Joba Chamberlain -- who was just promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- or Phil Hughes. The Yankees are still scouting the White Sox, however, according to the report.

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Re: Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up

No trades in making for Sox
dailyherald.com

There were no new developments on the White Sox’ trade front Wednesday, but general manager Kenny Williams still has six days to wheel and deal — if he so chooses — before the nonwaiver deadline.

Before the Sox lost to the Tigers 13-9 at U.S. Cellular Field, manager Ozzie Guillen again made it sound like no moves are coming.

“Believe me, right now any player for the White Sox that thinks they’re going to get traded, they’re not going to get traded,’’ Guillen said. “Not right now. There’s nothing out there.

“Making a trade is not easy, a good trade. You’re not going to sit there and give players away and say, ‘Here, here, because we play bad we’re going to give up.’

“No. If it’s something that is not the right thing for the organization, Kenny is not going to do it.’’

Unless contending teams drastically up their offers before Tuesday, the Sox seem perfectly content playing out the rest of the season and beefing up the 25-man roster over the winter.

That could be good news for right fielder Jermaine Dye, who had a long talk with Williams in the dugout before batting practice Wednesday.

Eligible for free agency at the end of the season, Dye again expressed a strong desire to remain with the Sox.

“It’s always been my first choice,’’ said Dye, who put the White Sox in front with a mammoth 3-run homer off Detroit starter Kenny Rogers in the first inning. “I like it here. I won a (World Series) championship here.

“Who wants to leave a place where they’re comfortable and happy and enjoy it? The stadium is great, and the fans are great. The city is great. Why would you want to leave?’’

What about playing on the North Side for the Cubs?

“Write about it,’’ Dye said with a tinge of humor. “Some (trade rumors) are true, some aren’t. There are a lot of rumors being thrown around. If I’m gone, then I’ll just put that uniform on and give them 100 percent for the rest of the year and see what happens.’’

Dye, 33, said he wouldn’t be interested in a one-year contract to stay with the White Sox.

“This is probably going to be my last contract,’’ he said. “If it does come to free agency, hopefully a team will want me for longer.’’

After pitching 4¿ innings and allowing 9 runs on 12 hits in yet another forgettable start, Jose Contreras deflated his trade value even more.

Not only did Contreras lose his 13th game — tying him with St. Louis’ Kip Wells for the major-league lead — the right-hander is 1-9 with an 8.27 ERA over his last 11 starts.

“You give him every chance you can to come out on top, and he couldn’t,’’ Guillen said. “I know he’s not hurt, but nothing was there. Nothing.’’

The Tigers and the White Sox combined to score 22 runs on 29 hits (19 by Detroit) and 7 walks.

“Real bad pitching on both sides,’’ Guillen said. “You never thought Contreras and Rogers would give up that many runs. It was real poor pitching on both sides.’’

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Re: Trade Winds: Rumor mill heating up

We could be looking at a dull deadline day
July 28th, 2007

(Sports Network) - Rumors are running rampant as we draw closer to Tuesday's trade deadline for Major League Baseball. Unfortunately I think that's all they are, just rumors.

Sure, you are going to have the minor deals like we saw in the past couple of days for Kenny Lofton and Tadahito Iguchi, but there are really no difference- makers on the market this year.

Mark Teixeira is the biggest name being thrown around, but supposedly the asking price on him is astronomical. You can hardly blame the Rangers for asking so much for him given their recent trade history, but nobody is giving up three stud prospects for a player due to become a free agent after next season.

Not to mention he is represented by the one and only Scott Boras.

The two teams that have the best shot at landing him, though, are the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Braves had been the clear-cut front runner in that sweepstakes until recently, as the Angels jumped into the mix and have reportedly agreed to part with Joe Saunders in a deal.

Boston and the Yankees are also supposedly interested, but neither is willing to part with the prospects, and rightfully so.

Teixeira to the Braves would no doubt help, but him to the Halos would be huge. Not only would they be stealing him from a divisional opponent, but Teixeira gives the Angels the one thing they are missing and that is a big bat to compliment superstar Vladimir Guerrero.

Last year Angels owner Arte Moreno balked at a deal for Alfonso Soriano at the deadline and it cost his team. He can't make that same mistake again. The Angels desperately need another bat and Teixeira fits the bill. Anaheim already has as good of a shot as any team in the AL, but acquiring Teixeira would put them over the top as far as I am concerned.

Other than Tex, though, there is not one player being bandied about that is going to have a significant impact on any of the playoff races. Plus, thanks to the wild card more teams still feel like they are in it and are less inclined to become sellers.

Everyone is looking for a starter, but the cupboard is bare in that department. Unless you think the likes of Jose Contreras or Matt Morris can win you a pennant.

Relievers are like gold, but teams hold onto them like the precious commodities they are. Sure, you can get a closer from a bad team (Chad Cordero, Chris Ray, Al Reyes, etc.), but it is buyer beware there. I am not a fan of acquiring someone just because they close games for a 100-loss team.

Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel are probably the best of that bunch, but neither will come cheap.

The real action is going to come after the deadline this season. I have a feeling once Barry Bonds breaks that record that everyone seems to be talking about, he will be available in a waiver deal. And don't think the Yankees won't start unloading if they fall out of the race in early August.

But until that happens all we have is Tuesday's deadline, so let's take a look at some of the bigger names that could be dealt:

INFIELDERS

Jack Wilson - Pittsburgh recently picked up Cesar Izturis, all but signaling the end of Wilson's tenure in the Steel City. The only problem is there is not much of a market for a .249 hitter with $14 million owed to him over the next two seasons. Who would have guessed that? Toronto has actually come out and said they are not interested. I thought Boston could have been a possibility, but with Julio Lugo starting to hit, the Red Sox are probably out of that mix too.

Richie Sexson - Seattle has been trying to pawn him off on someone for a long time now. They haven't had any takers in the past and they won't have any by Tuesday. Unless they come to grips with the fact that they would have to take 30-cents on the dollar for him.

Kevin Millar - Millar could actually help a team. He is versatile and knows how to win. The only problem with him is he is a self-described "idiot". So if you can put up with the hot-foots and other dumb locker room gags like that, he is your guy.

OUTFIELDERS

Jermaine Dye - There was a lot of Dye talk earlier in the season, but it cooled off. Now comes word that the Red Sox are heavily pursuing him. Dye would apparently waive his no-trade clause to go there, provided they can guarantee him at least five starts a week. Could the Red Sox be giving up on JD Drew already?

Ken Griffey Jr. - A change of scenery could be in the cards for Griff. Earlier in the year there were rumors that he would accept a deal to play for the Cubs and low and behold those rumors are starting to surface once again. It would be nice to Griffey in a pennant race again.

Adam Dunn - See Richie Sexson

Reggie Sanders - Trade deadline day has to be Sanders' favorite day of the season. It seems like every year he is involved in some sort of rumor. Sanders, who has played for eight teams in his 17-year career, can help a team win. The Red Sox and the Mets are his most likely destinations, but chances are he probably stays put.

STARTING PITCHERS

Ian Snell - This could be an interesting one. Pittsburgh has not said Snell is available, but there have been rumblings recently that he may be and if he is there will be a long line of suitors.

Jon Garland/Jose Contreras - One of these two is going to be dealt. Probably not both. The Mets were supposedly high on Contreras a few weeks back, but have backed off since then. Can't figure out why. Maybe it is his 13 losses and 6.22 ERA. Anyway, it seems more and more likely that Garland will be the one moved.

Jason Jennings - A new name that has surfaced is that of Jennings. My guess is that he stays in Houston, despite being an utter disappointment. Seattle is supposedly hot on his trail, so we will wait and see on this one.

RELIEVERS

Eric Gagne - Gagne has a limited no-trade clause and wants to close, taking a lot of teams out of the mix. However, the New York Yankees are one team he can be traded to. Of course, the Yankees have no need for a closer, but a Gagne- Mariano Rivera combo would be awesome.

Octavio Dotel - It looks as if he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and is throwing the ball well. A report this past week had him interested in signing an extension with the Royals, but they can get a ton in return for him, meaning he is as good as gone.

Scott Proctor/ Kyle Farnsworth - The Yankees are offering these two clowns to anyone that will listen. Proctor has struggled all season, while Farnsworth has been a disaster since joining the club last season. There has to be a team out there that would take a chance on one if not both of these two. Proctor is the more likely of the two to be sent packing.

Dan Wheeler/Chad Qualls - You might as well add Brad Lidge to this group, as well. Houston is going nowhere fast and can a boatload in return for their trio of relievers.

As you can see it is not exactly the cream of the crop there, but some of those players could help a team, I guess.

I am predicting a dull deadline, though, with more rumors than actual trades being completed. Last year a total of 12 trades were made at the deadline. I would be shocked if there is that many deals this coming Tuesday.

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