Nothing big happening yet, but who knows. Theo and Jed play this so close to the vest that for all we know, they could be announcing a deal before I finish this piece....
- (Updated 4:25 pm) Jayson Stark tweeted the following, "Execs of 2 teams who spoke to Cubs this week say they're mentioning Bryan LaHair's name regularly in trade talks. Since 5/15: .220/.278/.341". LaHair's biggest value right now is as a LH power bat who is cost controlled for the next several years. LaHair would be a relatively low risk to a team because he can still provide value off the bench and could serve as a stopgap 1B or OF for a team in need of some punch. LaHair's future with the Cubs is limited because of the presence of Anthony Rizzo and the probability that he won't be able to play OF long term.
- (Updated 12:31) The Tigers will not discuss 3B Nick Castellanos but may be willing to part with RHP Jacob Turner and Futures Game all-star C Rob Brantly, as well as LHP Casey Crosby and RHP and closer prospect Bruce Rondon. While I'd like Castellanos (who wouldn't?), there is surely a pretty good package that could be made for the players they are making available, though it would have to be headlined by Turner to even get the Cubs attention.
- The Cardinals have let it be known that they are willing to deal former top prospect RHP Shelby Miller, and when I mean former, I mean as early as the beginning of this year. When healthy, Miller has a plus-plus fastball that sits in the mid-to upper 90s with late movement. To make it even more difficult, he throws it with an effortless delivery that gives him some deception. The curveball and changeup are average with a chance to be plus pitches, combined with good control and command, he has the makings of a front line pitcher. That's the good news. The bad news is his 6.17 ERA this season with an FIP (5.67), that doesn't lend much hope that it's some sort of fluke. Miller is still making batters swing and miss (10.47 K rate), but his walk rate has risen from 3.43 to 5.00 and he's been susceptible to the gopher ball (a career high 1.98 after 0.21 last year).
- The Mets could become suitors as well. They are in the thick of the wildcard race (1.5 games back) and NL East race (4.5 GB). They just lost starting pitcher Dillon Gee. RHP Matt Harvey is having a breakout year in AAA, but the Mets may want to give him a shot at a rotation rather than give him up for a rental. RHP Zack Wheeler is one of the games top prospects in AA after the Mets acquired him for Carlos Beltran. He is almost certainly off limits.
- Phil Rogers overheard during the All-Star weekend that the Rangers are waiting on LHP Cole Hamels but if he doesn't become available, they may look at Ryan Dempster. The implication here is that Texas is looking strictly at a rental, so they're not going to want to overpay. But Dempster should merit a good prospect, perhaps in a team's 5-10 range -- or more depending on the market, which seems to be huge right now. The Rangers have enough depth where if the Cubs could get at talented player. Players like LHP Martin Perez and RHP Neil Ramirez have seen their stock drop with poor seasons. The Cubs could make an upside player for someone like that but they also may instead turn their attention to someone like 20 year old Cody Buckel, who doesn't have ideal size or velocity, but has the breaking stuff, command, and pitchability to be a #3 guy. He was having a tremendous year for Texas' advanced A ball affiliate (1.31 ERA, 2.97/10.62 walk to K ratio) and has held up after his promotion to AA ball (3.22 ERA). And yes, I know you're all probably thinking about 3B Mike Olt, but he is likely out of range for a Dempster rental and rising star 2B Rougned Odor may not be available either.
- In other news, Marlins pick LHP Andrew Heaney, the 9th overall pick, was told by the team that they will not sign him. Heaney was considered the best LHP in the draft and perhaps the most polished of any pitcher. The Marlins are trying to pay him $2.6M though his slot value is $2.8M. It's possible that Miami is trying to clear space to sign 2nd round pick, local H.S. star 3B Avery Romero, who has a commitment to Florida and also remains unsigned. If Heaney were to go back into the draft, he could come into the 2013 nearly ready to enter an MLB rotation, though his upside is more of a #3 type starter.
- Mike Sullivan of the Boston Herald writes that the Cubs aren't really interested in Red Sox OF Ryan Sweeney, though the Red Sox are said to be making him and other OF'ers available. The Sweeney rumor came out a couple of days ago and it was said the Cubs could be interested, but it made little sense to me at the time. Sure, it's possible as a throw-in stop gap guy, but why would the Cubs use their resources for a replacement level , part-time player when they can sign someone off the free agent bargain bin?
- Sullivan also writes that, "a major league source said the Sox have expressed preliminary interest in Garza and Dempster, but he added that they are “not fully engaged yet.”
Filed under: Rumors/Speculation