Manny Machado is a Dodger. Zach Britton is a Yankee. Just last night, Seung-hwan Oh was traded to the Colorado Rockies for prospects.
Needless to say, the heat leading up to the July 31 trade deadline is rising, and fast. Players like Cole Hamels, JA Happ, and others could still be moved at any time, and the market is full of potential buyers. The last 24 hours alone have shown trade season is far from over.
It’s now not a matter of time if the New York Mets trade righty Zack Wheeler, but when. The Atlanta Braves are still looking for a big bat or arm to add to stay competitive in the NL East race. Speaking of the NL East, with the Washington Nationals underachieving, what does that mean for impending free agent Bryce Harper?
Finish off that second cup of coffee, folks. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Braves eyeing Tigers slugger?
The 44-60 Detroit Tigers are rebuilding, despite sitting third in the AL Central, which means they’re looking to shed some of their younger, higher-priced players. Enter 26-year-old outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, who is batting .298 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI this season, is earning just north of $6m, and has one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency in 2020.
Per Mark Bowman of MLB.com, the Atlanta Braves are a team that could pursue Castellanos if the front office opts to pursue a bat. This would present an interesting conundrum for the Braves, who have a fully loaded outfield with Ronald Acuña Jr., Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis manning all three spots. Unless Markakis and his expiring contract (plus his .319 batting average) are moved, finding a place for Castellanos could prove tough.
That is, only if the Braves view him as an outfielder. Castellanos came up as a third baseman and though he hasn’t manned the hot corner in a few years, it’s still a possibility.
However, it’s unlikely on Atlanta’s end. Johan Camargo is firmly parked at third base, and he is a 24-year-old switch-hitter who also grades out as a better defender. The Braves could still be in play for Castellanos but until talks move forward and players exchanged are named, this can remain in the rumor pile.
Scouts turn out to watch Wheeler
At long last, after some injury-plagued years, Mets righty Zack Wheeler is living up to the hype. The 28-year-old is 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA since June 1 and is looking like a solid mid-rotation option as well as an innings eater. More importantly, teams in need of an arm are taking notice.
Wheeler spun seven innings of two-run ball against the San Diego Padres two days ago in a 6-3 win and according to Andy Martino of SNY, at least a dozen scouts were in attendance to watch. This included representatives from the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and more. Martino also speculated Wheeler could net the Mets a Top 10 prospect from whichever team acquires him.
Wheeler is 4-6 with a 4.33 ERA this year, and the high-ish ERA can be attributed to struggling through the first two months of the season. The Mets are wisely selling high on him as he is running hot, is only earning $1.9m this year, and has another year of arbitration remaining.
But who will land Wheeler? The Red Sox just traded for Nathan Eovaldi, so they’re out of the running, leaving the Mariners, Yankees, and mystery teams as players. Seattle doesn’t have the prospects the Mets would want while the Yankees do. However, will Bronx Bombers GM Brian Cashman be smart enough to land Wheeler while not gutting the Yankees’ farm system?
Wheeler is almost definitely going to be moved before Tuesday’s deadline, so keep your eyes and ears open in this case.
Will the Nationals trade Bryce Harper?
This is a question that has wracked the brains of many baseball fans and experts alike. The Washington Nationals are 50-51 and seven games out of first place in the NL East, and could just be a hot streak away from getting right back in the race. However, Stephen Strasburg just hit the DL with a pinched nerve in his neck, right after coming back from a shoulder issue. Even if he only misses one start, this is proving to be a lost season for both him and his team.
That said, with star outfielder Bryce Harper only batting .216 despite 25 homers and 59 RBI, could GM Mike Rizzo try to sell his team’s biggest bat? At a minimum, such a deal would restock Washington’s farm system and net the team more than a draft pick if Harper leaves via free agency this winter.
Unfortunately for teams who want Harper, they’ll probably have to wait until then. Speaking to Joel Sherman of The New York Post, Rizzo said “something extreme would have to happen” for Harper to be sent to another team. Does Strasburg’s injury count as that? At this point, it doesn’t look like it, so expect Harper to remain in DC for now.
However, a day is a lifetime in MLB trade negotiations, so don’t be shocked if the Nats wind up doing a 180 if Strasburg’s prognosis changes.
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