The Athletics and Royals have announced a swap of outfielders, with the fleet-footed Billy Burns headed to Kansas City in exchange for Brett Eibner. Both were playing at the Triple-A level for their respective teams, but have been in the majors at points earlier in the year. Burns, 26, brings to Kansas City an elite set of wheels that should play well in the spacious outfield at Kauffman Stadium, and his overall skill set should fit in well with the Royals’ general style of play. Burns boasts an extremely high contact rate and has fanned in just 13 percent of his plate appearances at the Major League level, which is characteristic of the approach the Royals have utilized to great effect in the past two seasons. However, his overall offensive game took a notable step back in his sophomore season. After posting a .294/.334/.392 slash in 555 PAs last season (good for fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, though that award was really a two-horse race), Burns batted just .234/.270/.302 in 292 PAs before being optioned back to Triple-A earlier this summer. Eibner, 27, has just 85 plate appearances at the Major League level, where he’s batted .231/.286/.429 with three homers and six doubles. He ranked among the Royals top 30 prospects, per Baseball America, in each of the past five offseasons, checking in at No. 17 overall on the two most recent iterations of said list. Though the former second-rounder is older than most would associate with the term “prospect,” he does have an impressive track record in Triple-A, where he’s hit .280/.354/.471 with 37 homers in 961 plate appearances in parts of three seasons.
Injuries always play a major role in shaping the trade deadline; indeed, waiting to see how health issues shake out is one of the biggest reasons that clubs wait until they are under the gun to make their moves. We already have covered some notable recent developments — Rich Hill isn’t yet ready for a start for the Athletics; Mets center fielder Juan Lagares just went down to thumb surgery; the Rangers lost Prince Fielder for the season; and Royals reliever Luke Hochevar is likely headed for his own season-ending surgery. Here are a few more less-impactful, but still notable injury updates from recent days: The Astros added infielder Luis Valbuena to the DL yesterday with a hamstring injury, as Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Though it still seems like a relatively minor injury, it could shake things up for Houston.
How much are you really worth?
The D-backs punched and the Dodgers punched right back in a seventh inning that saw 12 runs scored and left Los Angeles with an 8-7 lead on its way to a 9-7 win Friday night.
The Indians’ offense looked lost for most of Friday night against A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman. A defensive miscue by Oakland, followed by a handful of key hits, helped Cleveland turn things around in a hurry in a 5-3 comeback win at Progressive Field.
Athletics lefty Rich Hill will not make his scheduled start on Sunday, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links). That means he won’t have a chance to prove to potential trade suitors that he’s at full health; to the contrary, it seems, he isn’t quite ready to return to the bump with a blister on his finger still causing problem. It’s certainly still possible that Hill could be traded on or before Monday’s deadline, but it’ll take some creativity. Teams will surely be willing to roll the dice on his reasonably-priced contract, so an August trade could be tough since he’d likely be claimed off waivers. To get things done before then, Oakland may need to take a reduced return or try to work out some sort of conditional arrangement in which the final price depends upon how many starts Hill is ultimately able to make.
Here’s a Trade Deadline aficionado’s guide to Friday’s schedule — with an eye on the available starting pitchers.
12:29pm: Yesterday, Milwaukee asked teams with interest to make offers of a certain “minimum standard,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). It’s not entirely clear whether the request was for best and final offers, but Rosenthal adds that discussions are still taking place. Among several teams to put their chips on the table are the Mets, per the report. With the Brewers still evaluating their options, multiple teams remain in the hunt. 11:27am: Jonathan Lucroy is one of the most talked-about names on the trade market right now, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick adds some context to the complications in working out a deal, reporting the eight teams to which Lucroy can block a trade (Twitter link). Lucroy can block trades to the Twins, Angels, Athletics, Padres, Mariners, Nationals and, most interestingly, the Indians and Tigers. Both of the two latter teams have been connected to Lucroy in trade rumors this week, though both Crasnick and his colleague Jayson Stark were told this morning that the Tigers are no longer in the picture (links to Twitter).
Many potential deals are in the works as the non-waiver Trade Deadline — Monday at 4 p.m. ET — approaches. Here is a look at the latest news, reports and rumors.
Ichiro Suzuki is now just two hits away from 3,000 career hits.