Yesterday I was lucky enough to talk to MLB Trade Rumors' Ben Nicholson-Smith. As readers of this site know, I am an MLBTR addict and it is my homepage. It is the best site for baseball rumors and terrific articles. It was great talking to Ben who is a top contributor to the site. We talked about, well, of course, MLB trade rumors!
1. Where do you see Beltran being traded?
I hate to cop out here, but I think it’s too early to say. The Pirates, Indians, Phillies, Red Sox, Giants, Yankees, Braves and Brewers are among the contending teams that could use an offensive boost, so there are a lot of possible fits. It appears that the Mets are willing to pick up a significant portion of Beltran’s $18.5MM salary, but they’ll still be asking for teams’ best prospects. Will the Mets trade Beltran within the NL East? Will they absorb his entire salary? Which contender will surrender a top prospect for a rental player? Until we know the answers to these questions, I won’t know where Beltran is headed.
2. How about Ubaldo Jimenez?
I think Jerry Crasnick of ESPN made an apt comparison this week, when he suggested the Rockies’ willingness to listen on Jimenez resembles the Diamondbacks’ willingness to listen on Justin Upton last winter. Is Colorado looking to part with its best pitcher? Of course not. But Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd is willing to listen to offers, since they’ll give him a sense of what teams are looking for and how his top pitcher is valued within the game.
3. Jeremy Guthrie has had a rough year in Baltimore, but has a successful past. Can you see him being traded?
Absolutely. Guthrie is a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter who has consistently made his starts since joining the Orioles’ rotation in 2007. He’ll appeal to contenders. But he earns $5.75MM in 2011 and is due for a raise in 2012. He’s no longer the bargain he once was, so it may be time for Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to listen to some offers and make a move.
4. Any sleeper big trades out there right now?
I don’t have any specifics for you - if I did they’d be on MLB Trade Rumors right now! - but I’ll tell you that I’ll be watching the Rays, Nationals and Blue Jays closely this July, since any one of those teams could make a surprise move some time in the next two weeks.
5.The Pittsburgh Pirates- what happened?
It’s incredible, isn’t it. The obvious answer to your question is pitching and defense. They’re a better defensive club than they were a year ago, and their starting pitching has been consistent and effective. I’ll give Andrew McCutchen some credit for an incredible season and remind everyone that the NL Central doesn’t feature a powerhouse this year, something that plays in Pittsburgh’s favor.
6. Is Ryan Lavarnway a trade chip for the Red Sox, or can you see him with a future role?
His performance in the upper minors (.319/.392/.589) has been a pleasant surprise for Boston, but let’s not forget that there’s a big difference between the upper minors and the Major Leagues (just ask former Red Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo). I’m no prospect guru, but I know that there aren’t many catchers who hit like Lavarnway, even in the minors. Does that make him a trade chip? Not necessarily - as recently as a couple of months ago, the Red Sox seemed thin behind the plate, so they could very well decide to keep Lavarnway around.
7.Do the Red Sox need to make a move?
Baseball Prospectus gives the Red Sox a 99.4% chance of making the playoffs. That’s about as good as it gets on July 20th, but it sure doesn’t mean Boston’s roster is perfect. They could use more offense from right field and a more stable left-handed relief presence. Though every contender could improve itself in the right deal, the Red Sox have far fewer holes than most clubs - even good ones.
8. Which starting pitchers can you see going to the Yankees?
I can see the Yankees acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, Hiroki Kuroda, Guthrie or any elite pitcher that becomes available. Like the Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox and others, the Yankees figure to check in on the top available arms. The problem is, there aren’t many elite arms available this year. The market is saturated in back-of-the-rotation starters and lacks a true ace (assuming the Rockies aren’t motivated to move Jimenez).
9. If they fall farther, could James Sheilds of the Rays be on the trading block?
I think the Rays would absolutely consider trading Shields if the Rays fall out of contention. First of all, that’s a big if - they’re seven games above .500. Second of all, the value of the right-hander’s team-friendly contract is not lost on anyone in baseball, including the Rays. Acquiring Shields from Tampa will cost a lot in terms of prospects, just as Matt Garza did.
10.Thoughts on the JJ Hardy extension?
Manny Machado is probably two or three years away and Hardy can be one of the top shortstops in the game. Granted, he has been inconsistent throughout his career, but when he’s playing well, he’s an excellent player who can handle one of the toughest defensive positions out there. $7MM per season for three years is reasonable and while there’s risk in any long-term contract, the Orioles had to balance that against the risk that Hardy would leave via free agency after the season and leave them exposed at an important defensive position.
11. How much will Jose Reyes make in free agency?
I wrote earlier in the month that Reyes had every reason to ask for as much as Carl Crawford ($142MM) or more. He appears to be in fine form now that he has returned from the disabled list, but his history of injuries, particularly leg injuries, could scare a few suitors away and drive his free agent value down. At this point I’d say he’s headed for a deal worth $125MM or so, but free agency tends to come down to recent performance, so let’s wait and see what Reyes does in August and September before drawing any conclusions.
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