Even with Manny Machado now on the Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB trade talks are still reaching a fever pitch. There are plenty of other names that could be moved to one of many teams with a specific need, especially those looking to make a playoff push.
The next domino to fall is almost certainly going to be Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton, who has garnered interest from a plethora of teams looking to strengthen their bullpen. At this point, however, the finish line is fast approaching, and it’s only a matter of time before the southpaw dons a new uniform.
Meanwhile, where in the world is Mike Moustakas and his highly moveable contract?
Oh, and let’s not forget the Chicago Cubs may want to make an addition with the NL Central race tightening.
Fasten your seatbelts, baseball fans. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Cubs eyeing Eovaldi?
Tampa Bay Rays righty Nathan Eovaldi has dazzled in his return from Tommy John surgery, pitching to a 3-4 record, 4.26 ERA, and 0.98 WHIP. The 28-year-old has issued just eight walks in 57 innings pitched, incredible for someone whose BB/9 for his career is on the high side at 2.79. Eovaldi is also earning just $2m this year and would come at a low cost to teams in need of rotation help, and several have expressed interest.
Per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Chicago Cubs are one of those teams and recently had someone from their front office watch Eovaldi recently. Chicago ranks eighth in MLB with a staff ERA of 3.72 but is also in a tough battle for the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. Adding someone to beef up a rotation already featuring Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks could push Chicago ahead in the race, especially since the Cubs already rank fifth in runs scored.
Eovaldi also has plenty of experience playing in the National League, having spent time with the Dodgers and Miami Marlins, and pitching coach Jim Hickey could continue to mold the young righty into a reliable arm. This trade has not even entered negotiations, but Eovaldi is definitely a name to watch.
Paging Mike Moustakas?
Before Manny Machado took over the spotlight and Zach Britton followed, Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was considered a half-decent trade target. The lefty-swinger has posted a line of .247/.309/.460 with 19 home runs and 59 RBI this season, and he’s only earning $6.5m this year after the free agent market failed to materialize for him last offseason. Moustakas’ contract also holds a $15m mutual option for next season.
Well, there now appears to be at least one suitor interested in Moustakas. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported last night that Milwaukee had discussed trading for Moustakas and moving regular third baseman Travis Shaw to second base. For added context, Shaw has never once played second base on the professional level.
Not only that but Moustakas’ hitting has gotten progressively worse this season. He hit .296 in April, .255 in May, .217 in June and is now hitting .164 this month. That could change if he shifts from cavernous Kauffman Stadium to more hitter-friendly Miller Park, but the Brewers should not make this deal unless it’s at a minimal cost. No disrespect to Moustakas, but he isn’t exactly worth top prospects this year.
His trade market has yet to take shape, but keep in mind the Royals are last in the AL Central and need to sell off as many pieces as they can. That includes Moustakas, so don’t sleep on him with July 31 a week away.
Four teams in on Zach Britton
Zach Britton remains the hottest name on the trade market, and four teams appear to be closing in. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported just this morning the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, and Boston Red Sox as the finalists for the left-hander, and that New York and Houston had “sweetened their offers” recently. This confirms an update from Jim Bowden of The Athletic that stated Houston and New York were “in the lead.”
Each of these teams could use Britton to their advantage, so let’s break each of them down. Boston would likely use Britton as the setup man to closer Craig Kimbrel, which would really increase the team’s chances of breaking away in the AL East race. However, Boston’s minor league system is weak as can be, so finding pieces that tickle Baltimore’s fancy could be tough.
Chicago has a pressing need at closer with Brandon Morrow injured yet again but, like Boston, the minor league options that could entice the Orioles are few and far between. Someone like Addison Russell could be included in the deal, but putting a package together could still prove tough.
Houston has a definite need for Britton. Closer Ken Giles was recently optioned to the minors due to ongoing struggles, so Britton could slide right into that ninth-inning role and immediately boost an Astros bullpen that trails only the Yankees with a 2.96 ERA as a unit. The Astros also have plenty of depth in both the majors and minors and are operating from a position of strength. That means GM Jeff Luhnow could easily convince Baltimore to take on a lesser package since Britton’s contract is up at the end of the year.
Finally, we have the Yankees, who currently sit six games behind the Red Sox for first in the AL East. Adding a starter should be GM Brian Cashman’s priority, but the trade market in that area is, in a word, thin. Thus, why not add Britton to what is already the best bullpen in MLB? He could instantly become part of a strong bridge to closer Aroldis Chapman, and could even take some save opportunities himself if Chapman’s balky knee continues to flare up, or if Chapman just needs a day off. New York also has the minor league pieces to swing a deal.
Trade talks for Britton are definitely rounding third base with so few teams now in the mix, so don’t be shocked if he’s moved before the end of the week, if not today!
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