It’s been a few days since our last report, and a lot has happened in that time. J.A. Happ was sent from the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Yankees. Eduardo Escobar went from the Twins to the Diamondbacks. The Kansas City Royals finally found a taker for Mike Moustakas in the Milwaukee Brewers.
The crazy part? Trade season hasn’t slowed down in the least and there are still plenty of names that could be moved ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.
In New York, specifically Queens, the New York Mets continue their efforts to rebuild in dealing a young pitcher. Zack Wheeler has tremendously upped his value over the last two months and has several interested suitors, but asking price appears to be an issue.
Further south, in Tampa Bay, Chris Archer is also on the verge of being moved to a team that, well, doesn’t really need to get involved at this point.
And in Toronto, another move with serious implications could be on the horizon.
Shake off the weekend rust, baseball fans. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Blue Jays shopping Osuna
Toronto closer Roberto Osuna is currently serving a domestic violence suspension but is eligible to return August 5. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that with the Jays in full sell mode and Osuna having some baggage attached, Toronto’s front office is indeed trying to move him.
Osuna, 23, has not pitched since May 9 but has nine saves with a 2.93 ERA on the year. He has 103 career saves since debuting in 2015 and, despite his suspension, is eligible to play in the postseason. This means contenders looking to beef up their bullpen ahead of the playoffs have plenty of reason to be interested in the young righty.
However, teams take domestic violence matters seriously, so Toronto trying to trade Osuna could prove difficult. His work on the mound speaks for itself but at this rate, Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins will probably have to sell low if Osuna has indeed fallen out of favor north of the border. For a team that needs to rebuild like the Blue Jays do, that’s not a good look.
Throw in that Osuna has two years of arbitration left, and it looks even worse for Toronto if they get little to nothing in return for him.
Chris Archer talks “intensifying”
Per usual, the Tampa Bay Rays are trying to shed salary and ace Chris Archer could be the latest victim. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported Saturday that trade talks surrounding Archer were “intensifying,” and Jon Heyman of Fancred reported yesterday that the San Diego Padres were the favorites to land him. Joel Sherman of The New York Post added the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees were also interested, noting a pair of Rays scouts had recently watched New York’s top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. However, despite that, the Yankees were still considered a “long shot” to land the young right-hander.
Archer turns 30 near the end of the season and is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA this year. He has struggled with injuries in 2018 and missed June save for one start. His numbers aren’t the greatest, but his FIP and xFIP of 3.62 suggest the defense behind him hasn’t been the best. Moreover, whichever team trades for Archer will get to enjoy his talent for at least another year. He has $7.5m guaranteed to him in 2019, plus club options for 2020 and 2021 worth $8.25m apiece.
But what’s more interesting is the Padres’ involvement. San Diego is nowhere near close to contending, and the Rays are asking for top prospects in any deal for Archer. Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times noted “a catcher and a power-hitting outfielder” would be a good jumping off point in trade talks, and the Padres would be foolish to give that up. They only just acquired a switch-hitting catching prospect in Francisco Mejia as part of the Brad Hand trade. Their top outfield prospect, 23-year-old Buddy Reed, is more of a speed guy despite his 12 home runs and .301 batting average across High-A and Double-A ball.
Another possibility is Josh Naylor, who is 21 and batting .313 with 14 homers and 65 RBI at Double-A San Antonio, but the fact is the Padres shouldn’t be selling the farm for Archer. He does not put them in the thick of the playoff race at all, this year or the next. If anything, he’d just help sell tickets at this point. San Diego is dead last in the NL West, largely due to a young team full of prospects that have yet to pan out fully, so maintaining minor league depth is important.
In trading for Archer, that would all go out the window.
Teams balking at Mets’ asking price for Wheeler
Zack Wheeler has undergone a complete turnaround in the last two months. The once injury-prone righty is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA in the month of July and has posted a 3.20 ERA since June 1, and teams in need of a starter have called the Mets to inquire about his services. According to Heyman this morning, four teams have shown the “most interest” in Wheeler: the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Milwaukee Brewers.
However, according to Heyman, none of these teams will meet New York’s asking price and that could lead to Wheeler remaining with the Mets.
Of all the teams interested, the Brewers seem the most likely destination in this writer’s opinion. The Yankees just traded for J.A. Happ and don’t really have a need, nor a place for Wheeler unless Brian Cashman is trying to sell high on Sonny Gray (3-0, 1.11 ERA his last three starts). The Phillies and Braves are both division rivals and while the Mets are about to rebuild, it’s hard to see the front office let alone the Wilpon ownership give the green-light on such a deal.
Enter the Brewers, who are locked into a tight battle with the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central crown and need to make a move to counter the Cubs’ recent acquisition of Cole Hamels. Wheeler’s playing well now, so just imagine how strong he’ll look playing on a contending team.
Still, a trade hinges on New York dropping its asking price ahead of tomorrow’s deadline, so be sure to keep an eye on any rumors involving Wheeler.
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