The Blue Jays are considered the “front-runners” to acquire outfielder Melvin Upton from the Padres, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The 31-year-old has been a healthy scratch in each of the last two days as the team looks to secure a trade, though skipper Andy Green noted earlier today that “nothing’s done yet,” as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune was among those to tweet. Both the Orioles and Indians remain in pursuit of Upton, according to Rosenthal, so indeed it seems that a deal isn’t quite complete. Prior reports had suggested that Baltimore was the likeliest landing spot, though, so it would appear that there has been some recent movement in the market as San Diego tries to find the best possible return for the resurgent veteran. Toronto has been said to be seeking another outfielder to slot into the mix. As the Jays’ depth chart shows, the team currently features two left-handed-hitting options in Michael Saunders and Ezequiel Carrera, along with righties in center fielder Kevin Pillar and right fielder Jose Bautista. The versatile Upton, who has spent plenty of time in left this year and up the middle in the past, would make a solid fit with the rest of the unit. He offers value on the field and on the bases to go with a bat that has been above-average since the start of 2015, though his ongoing strikeout proclivity remains a concern
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel threw from the main mound at Fenway Park on Monday, marking his first side session since undergoing left knee surgery July 9. The righty has made such encouraging progress that there’s a chance he could be activated during the upcoming West Coast trip that starts in Anaheim on July 28 and ends at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 7.
The Blue Jays activated Jose Bautista off the 15-day disabled list on Monday and designated outfielder Junior Lake for assignment.
You tell us.
Since prospects are the backbone of any trade deadline season, here’s a look around the minor leagues… Both Baseball America’s organizational rankings and rival sources from around the industry have unflattering opinions about the Diamondbacks’ minor league system, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The prevailing view is that the D’Backs have several players who project as “a collection of back-end starters and relievers alongside utilitymen” but perhaps no impact regulars at the MLB level. With not much interest in their prospects, the D’Backs may need to deal from their 25-man roster to address their many needs this offseason, though that could also hurt their depth. Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer get much of the attention when discussing Indians prospects, though beyond those two top names, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer lists several intriguing minor leaguers in the Tribe’s system. Any of these youngsters could be of interest to the Brewers, as Pluto cites the recent reports of the Indians’ interest in Jonathan Lucroy and/or Milwaukee’s top relievers.
With one potential relief pitching blockbuster in the works, let’s look around at some other news and rumors surrounding the bullpen market… The Giants’ list of relief pitching targets includes Angels closer Huston Street, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman reports. Street, who turns 33 in August, is enduring by far the worst season of his 12-year career — the veteran has as many walks (11) as strikeouts over his 19 2/3 innings pitched, and he missed a month due to an oblique strain. His 5.03 K/9 would be a career low, while ERA indicators (5.69 FIP, 6.16 xFIP, 5.67 SIERA) show that Street is actually somewhat fortunate to “only” be posting a 5.03 ERA, though he also has a .358 BABIP. With around $2.8MM still owed to Street this season and $9MM for 2017, the Angels would surely have to eat a big chunk of that contract to facilitate a deal given Street’s struggles. Andrew Cashner has been cited as a possible Giants target, though interestingly, Schulman reports that San Francisco could explore converting the righty into a reliever. I would guess that this scenario wouldn’t happen unless Matt Cain quickly rounds back into form. The Padres are getting a lot of interest in Cashner and are certainly demanding a “starting pitcher” price tag for him, which the Giants likely wouldn’t be willing to pay unless they were totally committed to using Cashner in the rotation. Brewers relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith are also Giants targets, with Schulman reporting that Milwaukee has been trying to include either reliever together with Jonathan Lucroy or Ryan Braun as part of a larger trade. This tactic is of no interest to San Francisco since the Giants have no interest in Lucroy or Braun.
The rumor mill was focused on Aroldis Chapman on Sunday night, with the Yankees reportedly nearing an agreement to trade their closer to the Cubs. But with the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline now a week away, many other potential deals are in the works as well. Here is a look at the rest of the developing news from around the league.
The Cubs did add former closer Joe Nathan to the bullpen this weekend, but that may be a minor fix if the team makes a big splash and acquires hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman.
The Astros will call up their top prospect, shortstop Alex Bregman, prior to Monday night’s game against the Yankees in Houston, the club announced on Sunday afternoon. Bregman is considered the 18th overall prospect in the game by MLBPipeline.com.
While most deadline buzz surrounding the Padres has involved Andrew Cashner and Melvin Upton, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) reports that San Diego is also “pushing hard” to trade catcher Derek Norris. Norris has been rumored as a trade candidate for months, thanks to the Padres’ rebuilding plans and the club’s desire to permanently promote top prospect Austin Hedges (who has crushed Triple-A pitching over the last two seasons). In his examination of the catching trade market, MLBTR’s Steve Adams described Norris as no less than “the likeliest player in all of baseball to get traded.” The issue, however, is that Norris is on pace for the worst hitting season of his five-year MLB career. Norris is hitting just .204/.263/.379 with 12 homers over 312 plate appearances.